Personal Archiving Systems and Interfaces for Institutions: PDA 2011

And, we’re back. This session is about personal archiving systems being used in institutions. Very interesting and relevant topic given how many institutions are using institutional repositories. So without further ado, on to the summaries!

Enriching the Digital Junk Drawer
Birkin James Diana

Talking about Brown Digital Repository (BDR): instituional repository, platform for digitized library collections, departmental projects, and personal digital archiving piece. Built the BDR uploader: upload, describe, and manage access to them. In a perfect world, students and faculty would use it to store class projects, class materials, etc. (university related stuff and not personal stuff).

Worried about the personal digital archiving space becoming a digital junk drawer. Working assumption: A good repository helps user to navigate to their items/easy to upload and then users’ will be more likely to upload good content (and actually use it). Need quality metadata for this to work. But if you require long forms to create metadata, people won’t upload their materials. (Make it simple and people will actually use it) BDR requires a title and a tag in order to upload materials.

How, then, do you get quality metadata?
The best way is via background processes that do not require user mediation. If you have ability for users to optionally edit metadata, you will get even better metadata. What BDR is interested in is an approach that has background processes but requires user interaction,.

Want to test hypothesis that users will be willing to spend nano-blocks of time organizing and describing their materials if it is easy and they see the benefit of it. Mechanism: occasionally shown a single question about: item, importance of item, and about relationships between items. Show real-time benefit display, better navigation, improved utility-assessment, and more relevant scholarly-resources based on their answers to the questions. Evaluation of experiment via a thumbs-up/thumbs-down toggle and a go away button. Result would be understanding the users’ experience and data to modify weighted randomization algorithms for question frequency/type.

Privileging easy deposit of digital objects over metadata, but want metadata because it is necessary. So using easy-to-use ways of getting that metadata without creating a barrier to use. (Very, very cool. I can’t wait to learn a little more when I have time to research it after the conference is over.)

Digital Collections at the NCAR Library and Archives: Archiving in 21st century
Kathleen Legg from National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

NCAR is “devoted to service, research, and education in the atmospheric and related sciences” and is funded by the government. Legg is focusing more on access. She is working on preserving institutional memory documenting the activities of NCAR.

Vision for archives: trusted resource used by a wide-ranging audience, documents the history of NCAR and development of the atmospheric sciences, and provide an optimal user experience. (Love the user-centric approach)

Flagship collection is the Dr. Warren Washington papers. Dr. Washington received National Medal of Science and is a NCAR scientist. His papers document his work as a scientist, mentor, and as an advocate for diversity issues. Many different formats of materials. Using Washington papers to create a digitization model for NCAR.

Need to move away from traditional ways of access in the archives because researchers expect more in the digital research world. Meet expectations by providing a variety of ways to access collections:

  • Archives website (online finding aid, keyword search capability)
    Have EAD finding aids in ARCHON with ability to keyword search the finding aids–great for experienced archival users
  • Warren Washington Digital Exhibit: a way to increase access to materials for those who are not familiar with archives. Targets students as one main user group. Also serves as a jumping off point for other scholars.
  • OpenSky: Institutional Repository. Launched in September 2010–holds all digital assets from the archives, published NCAR research, and grey literature. Great way to increase understanding of context in scientific research via seamless integration.

Nice work NCAR! Love the user-centric view and seamless access to the materials.

Constructing a Digital Identity Compatible with Institutional Archives
Jay Datema (Bookism)

Great article about personal digital archiving: Jeremy Leighton John, “The future of saving our past” in Nature 459 from 11 June 2009

Talking about technological tools for personal digital archiving:
XML, RSS, Atom
Personal Home Page: PHP, WordPress, Drupal

The Egosystem: photos, blog posts, email, publications, activity streams
The id: Does someone want to read what I did in the future? Family, Institutions, and history may be interested.

Datema’s thinking has been influenced by Jacques Derrida: The Post Card and Archive Fever. Also, loved Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone. Sees social network data as postcards: data moving around and connecting different people and things. See media commons: a digital scholarly network. Many ways to capture your data including his creation Bookism.

Take away: Archives are doing some amazing work in the realm of improving digital archiving and increasing the usefulness to users. I love the user-centric viewpoints of these talks.