"WW1 - dentro la Grande Guerra", a Tool of Knowledge for Everyone
Today you have the opportunity to read an interview with Emanuela Zilio, project manager of what is at the moment one of the most challenging projects in Italy. The name is simple: "WW1 - dentro la Grande Guerra" (WW1 - inside the Great War). Before going to the questions and answers, we let the projects speak with the words of the website:
"WW1 is an editorial platform that addresses the public through a wide interactive map of the War Front containing many so far unpublished contents: 360° interactive and immersive panoramas, emotionally involving videos, certified historical documents like the Albo d’Oro, the Army’s official reports on the Great War, the reconstruction of forts and trenches, the daily life in wartime. A large public will access these materials in a digital format and in both Italian and English.
WW1 opens the way to discover the present and the past through the web, personal mobile devices or touch screens located in railway stations, airports and cities.
WW1 is a live tool growing in time to share knowledge and culture and to make them available through the languages people use as their own. WW1 is a non-profit cultural and historical project."
WWI Bridges: Italy first. What are the main goals of the project if we look at the national scenario?
Emanuela Zilio: First of all, WW1 - dentro la Grande Guerra aims to present the Anniversary of the Great War as a significant historical and social event which can promote knowledge and social improvement both nationwide and worldwide, starting from the Regions which were the set of the conflict.
The Great War interested more than thirty countries for a period longer than four years and still today is capable of moving a general deep pathos. Because of these reasons, it is a challenging opportunity for local Administrations, Institutions, Companies, as well as for individuals throughout Italy to promote the cultural heritage of their country while fostering large economic and social growth.
Second, we want the new technologies to be used as languages and tools to make valuable cultural contents accessible to all people. This will permit to re-discover our huge heritage and to equip Regions, Provinces, Municipalities with a platform suitable to promote knowledge and appeal for tourism, targeting both children and adults.
Last but not least, today we need to work to recover Italy's reputation abroad. We believe this can be done by producing quality projects and encouraging the creation of networks that facilitate the interaction of practices, languages and behaviors between public, private institutions and professionals at local, national and international levels.
WWI Bridges: Could you list the reasons why the international Great War audience should keep always an eye open on WW1 and its initiatives?
Emanuela Zilio: WW1 - dentro la Grande Guerra is a quite articulate project which does not aim to create a series of events that celebrate the past but rather to shape a useful tool to understand our present more deeply. More than “initiatives”, WW1 will make interesting contents on the Great War available by mixing and merging private, public and unpublished materials. People are invited to contribute ideas, project proposals, memories. The work schedule features several milestones with progressive releases, so everyone can add new services and opportunities in the process.
WW1 will host the projects people create themselves during the four years of the commemorations, both nationally and internationally. Specific guidelines will be provided to permit the highest degree of integration.
WW1 is also working to obtain the highest visibility on the international media. This means the possibility to highlight all the projects connected to the platform, whether big or small, on maxi screens in airport boarding areas, railway stations, post offices. It is really challenging for everyone who wants to promote one's territory, the activities related to the Great War, Museums, and events.
WWI Bridges: If we move to the international scenario, WW1 seems to be the only project capable of opening a dialogue on a worldwide basis. What is your growth/promotion strategy when looking outside Italy?
Emanuela Zilio: WW1 is an ambitious project, but for sure it is not the only one on a worldwide basis. Countries like France, UK, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Romania, etc. are already working hard to create interesting activities and services connected to the cultural and emotional tourism of the First World War.
Until now, Italy seems uncapable of promoting one of the richest heritage in the world, our politicians would argue that “culture gives no bread”, we rather believe the contrary. An educated and culturally aware country can produce value, tolerance, social and economic growth.
WW1 is an attempt to create a case in this sense. It wants to open the international dialogue, to learn and share knowledge with those Countries which have a longer experience and a clever approach to cultural dynamics.
For these reasons, WW1 - dentro la Grande Guerra is firmly rooted in the European scenario through cooperating with Europeana, submitting project proposals, creating partnerships with Universities, Research Centers and Museums which are focusing on the same issue.
An international media coverage is also planned.
WWI Bridges: Can you mention some First World War Centenary projects that according to your point of view stand out of the crowd? Why?
Emanuela Zilio: Yes of course. All around the world many projects are springing out. Some of these have a very interesting approach such as the "1914-1918-Online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War". Prof. Oliver Janz and his excellent team in Berlin are working on that project which includes several editors for each Country that took part in the War. According to personal skills and specializations, researchers, professors and experts are asked to write a chapter. Only in Italy, 40 people were selected for the project. WW1 is in touch with some of these authors.
“Europeana 1914-1918 - Your family history of World War One” (http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en) is another amazing operation which surprised even the project leaders because of the huge amount of memories people are bringing out all around Europe. Europeana DB is open and its contents, as well as WW1 ones, go under the Creative Commons Licence CC BY – NC – SA.
WW1 will run a Collection Day for Europeana on Sept 21st, during the Book Fair “Pordenonelegge”.
The Imperial War Museum (http://www.iwm.org.uk/) is probably organizing the most relevant photographic exhibition on the Great War but it is also gathering a very powerful network of actors working on the same issue. In June 2013, The First World War Centenary Partnership reached over 1,000 members from 26 countries.
Apart from the big projects, the most impressive work comes today from the free initiative of individuals. In Italy no funding has been provided by the Government until now local projects and events related to the Great War. Nevertheless, normal people are working hard - many of them as independent actors or workers on voluntary basis - to create something important to commemorate that tragic period and the people who lived it. It is a rather interesting bottom - up approach which is giving birth to thousands of valuable projects such as Tapum, a two months long alpine war path from the Adamello mountain to Redipuglia.
WWI Bridges: "Only the braves", and here the last dangerous question: what is “the childhood dream" that has not been revealed so far, maybe just "to be wise and prudent”
Emanuela Zilio: “...or the fools”. WW1 is itself a childhood dream because it represents the strong will to make our Country create a new model of cultural management and to boost social awareness and economic growth. Abroad, when talking about Italy, it is never a question of place identity, history, beauty, social warmth or accueil but rather a problem of reputation. We need to do something really good to regain it. The Great War is an opportunity we cannot miss.