PDA 2012: Cases and Examples

First morning session: case studies and examples. Let’s get into it.

How My Family Archives Affected Othersby Stan James (on Twitter @wanderingstan)
Talking about his grandmother and grandfather and how his grandmother burned all her letters after she had let her children read the letters. [Note: Stan spoke at PDA 2011 about his family archiving project] His father is still scanning his materials.

Three points: personal archiving is a hot space; much room for creativity; archiving and relationships

Still working on the family archives and checking out other social media sites to share the images and documents. Used Drupal platform to create own family website (lots more work than he thought it would be). Lots of great features on the website because have tagging metadata. Lots and lots of photos. Began using maps, especially Google Street View, to see how geographical locations have changed since the photos were taken years ago. Also has had many text documents scanned and transcribed via Mechanical Turk. Lots of mashups on the website, like covers from TIME on the website based on the date of the letters written.

Using simple questions and randomly selected photos to get the rest of the metadata entered by the family members (using the website). This project has helped the family members become closer and need to make the interfaces easier to use, especially for those who are not familiar with technology or have mobility issues.

You need to think about privacy concerns of others who are in the photos (but not part of the family) and also geo-location codes for those who don’t want their homes marked online.

The Personal Archive of Sven G. by Sven Goyvaerts
Unfortunately not here

What I’ve learned from gardening my Brain Jerry Michalski, The REXpedition
[Talking now instead of after lunch]

Talking about The Brain and using it for 15 years in one brain space. It’s mind-mapping software. Each link is called “a thought” and links together various thoughts and maps out the connections. Very good if you are a visual thinker and can make your own links to various thoughts. You can drag and drop new links into “the brain” on your desktop. Good way to create context and to make sense out of the world, but you have to rely on organizations like the Internet Archive to be able to find old websites. You can use The Brain instead of bookmarks. Does have a notes field. Doesn’t take a lot of time according to Jerry and helps him improve his memory. Can see his brain at JerrysBrain.com. He isn’t sure what to do with this now because, while it is great for him, he wants to figure out how it could be helpful for others. He wants to do collaborative sense-making.

Unstable Archives: Performing the Franko B Archive by Jo An Morfin-Guerrero (fine art conservator and student at Bristol University)
Part of PhD research on preservation of media and different artistic practices. Franko B is an artist who currently lives in London and does many different types of art including performance art. He started collecting documentation of his artistic work and donated to Live Art Archives at Bristol University. Very controversial to document performance art because you are preserving something that has been created to be ephemeral. [I think this is a very interesting philosophical and theoretical debate] Because the artist himself has collected the documentation and donated to the university in 2009, it is a bit less controversial to archive this collection.

First she just dealt with materiality of the collection because the materials were in very poor containers and not indexed. Then she began worked with the materials and the database records to do media archaeology to see what the materials together mean. Lots of interesting dilemmas for archiving. How do you show moving behaviors through time with static archives? How do you convey the ephemeral nature of the performance art?

Take Home Message
Family archiving is a great way to bring multiple generations of the family together. It is a great way to share memories, but does take a lot of time to create. Check out TheBrain for mind-mapping and contextual bookmarks if you like visual linkages. Performance art in the archives means that we must find new ways of showing context and using the archives to create meaning (and being okay with not always having the answers). Very interesting trio of talks showing the diversity of personal archiving methods and tools.