The Future of Archives is Participatory: Archives as Platform, or A New Mission for Archives

This is the talk I gave this morning—by phone rather than in person because of the Lufthansa pilots’ strike—at the Offene Archive 2.1 conference in Stuttgart. It’s also similar to the talk I gave in Oslo a few weeks ago at the #arkividag conference. While I also made a recording of it as a backup, since I have it all more or less written out I thought I would post it here too. (I’ve inserted a few images from my presentation but not all the transitional slides or ones that are just repeating things in the text or showing screenshots.) There are some interesting ideas in it, I think, and I’m sure some readers will have comments and additional food for thought. Please remember, it’s a talk, not a journal article. The intent is to give people some big ideas to think about. So I might as well do that here on the blog as well!

UPDATE: If you’d prefer to listen rather than read, the recording I made of me reading the talk over the slides is now available at I was reading very slowly and carefully, so I think I sound a bit like a robot, but it’s available if you’d rather listen and see all the slides as they were presented.


                   *                                          *                                                  *

Continue reading “The Future of Archives is Participatory: Archives as Platform, or A New Mission for Archives”

Examples of collecting event or topic-based social media material?

I just asked this on Twitter, and suggestions are coming in fast, so I’ll use this post as a way of documenting them and re-posting the question. I’m looking for examples of repositories actively collecting social media material (that is, things posted on Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) regarding a specific event or topic. I’m also interested in following up to learn whether or not the repository asked permission from those who create the material or not. In some cases it appears that people were asked to contribute (as in the UVa site) but in most others it looks like the creators were not contacted.

This is what people have suggested so far–I haven’t look yet at the content of all of these to see if are what I’m looking for, but they’re all interesting. It would also be interesting to learn to what degree these collections have been “accessioned” into the repository’s holdings and what plans are for long-term preservation, etc. Or are these just online platforms for access (as The Texas Collection by Baylor University on Storify seems to be).

National Library of Ireland, collections documenting the 2011 general and presidential elections 

University of Virginia, materials relating to the resignation and reinstatement of President Teresa Sullivan 

The Tamiment Library, Sites with the topic “Occupy Wall Street”  (“No advanced permission, but we honor robots txt exclusions and have a take down policy.”

Queens College’s Archiving Occupy Project collected “digital traces” with the permission of the creators (see their Collection Development policy in the About section).

Syracuse University, Boston Marathon Tweets (not clear if those are actually part of an accessioned collection or not)

Our Marathon, Northeastern University (not sure if it has social media, not to check)

@MuseumofLondon captured tweets around the Olympics #citizencurators–Life in London during the Games 

UK Web archives captures blogs and websites around events (presumably also including some blogs)

Arab American National Museum, many collections on Archive-It, but see for example Arab America on Social Media

Bentley collected #bbum tweets related to the Being Black at University of Michigan campaign (no link yet, still ongoing)

Minnesota 2.0, a student project with an interesting model, and regarding permissions: “each image in this archive has been “scrubbed” of directly identifying information: last names and personal photos have been blurred.”





Not able to go to Australia? Me neither. Here’s how to follow along with #ICA_2012

The International Council on Archives is holding its annual meeting right now in Brisbane. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not there. But fear not, there are ways to share the archival goodness. First, this site has links to (most) of the speaker’s full papers. Second, if you’re on Twitter (and have stamina) you can follow the #ica_2012 tweets (note the time difference, of course). Third, you can look at my selection of the conference tweets made via Storify.  They’re not in chronological order, but the content is good. That list is labeled “Part 1.” Time permitting I’ll do the same for tweets from tomorrow’s sessions.


Have opinions about how SAA could improve its use of social media?

If you’ll be attending the SAA Annual Meeting, here’s a chance for you to share your opinions about how SAA could improve its use of social media: attend the Open Forum on Social Media on Thursday, Aug 25 from 12:00 PM – 1:15 PM in Columbus C/D at the Hyatt. Here’s what the official description says about it:

Today’s media landscape is changing rapidly. Successful advocacy and outreach demands that organizations make effective use of current and emerging technology to enhance communication with internal and external audiences and stimulate collaboration among constituents. Share your opinions with members of SAA’s Communication Technology Working Group (CTWG) in this interactive planning forum as we explore opportunities to enhance SAA’s use of social media.

The purpose is to inform the activities related to one of the desired outcomes in SAA’s Strategic Priorities Plan (a document you should definitely look at, if you’re not familiar with it), specifically the outcome that states “SAA will harness and cultivate the technology expertise of its members to inform strategic planning, educational programming, and internal and external communication.”

Information should be forthcoming about how you can share your opinions if you can’t make it to this meeting, and I’ll pass that along as soon as I get it.

And if you’ll be in Chicago and need more incentive to attend, Rebecca of Derangement and Description fame will actually be presenting at this and handing out special swag to her fans, so what more do you want?


The new book is now available: A Different Kind of Web

It’s been a long time in the works, but my new book is now available for purchase from the SAA Bookstore (SAA Member price $49.95; everyone else $69.95). I say “my book” because I conceived the idea and lined up many many smart people to contribute. Don’t believe me? Here’s the table of contents:

Continue reading “The new book is now available: A Different Kind of Web”

Today IS AskArchivists Day on Twitter!

It seemed so far away, and yet it’s here–today is AskArchivists Day on Twitter! So remember, you can participate in two ways–you can ask questions or answer them. Or you can just follow along and watch the conversation. For information, go to the site page: And kudos to the people who put the project together and all those volunteering to participate. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results.

More fun from The Twitter: #badarchivessessiontitles

How did this start? I think I tweeted about a session here at ACA called “Pimp My Finding Aid” and that inspired @DerangeDescribe to set it off. Presented here, for your amusement, with the names stripped out in case someone in a future hiring position doesn’t have a sense of humor, are the #badarchivessessiontitles tweets so far:


Continue reading “More fun from The Twitter: #badarchivessessiontitles”

You guys really don’t like Sharpies–the #badarchivists Twitter meme

I know today is supposed to include the unveiling of the Romance Novel Contest winners, but I think that will have to be pushed to the weekend by the crush of current events. It all started so innocently, yesterday afternoon, as so many things do, on Twitter. I said something about bad archivists, @sesuncedu replied, and then the lightbulb came on over my head: “oh no . i can see it beginning . this is the start of # badarchivists isn’ t it ?” And so it was! In the past fifteen hours, the Twitterati have devoted their creative talents to defining what #badarchivists are. After the jump, a hopefully complete compilation (as of this morning), but to whet your appetite:

I think there will be a follow-up post for this, with a few observations about the meme and Twitter, but this one is all about the fun. Note that this list is in reverse chronological order, so to see the conversation unfurl, start at the bottom. If the meme continues today I’ll either update this post or run another one if need be. Enjoy, and thanks to all who contributed!

Continue reading “You guys really don’t like Sharpies–the #badarchivists Twitter meme”

Sign up now for “Ask Archivists Day” on Twitter

If your archives is on Twitter, I hope you sign up to take part in “Ask Archivists Day” which will take place on June 9 (which is also International Archives Day). The event is being organized by the same group who brought us “Follow An Archive Day” on Twitter, and I’m helping them with promotion here in the U.S. and wherever else my tentacles reach.

If you are familiar with last year’s successful “Ask A Curator Day,” it’s the same concept. Archives and archivists from around the world volunteer to answer questions posed by the public on Twitter. Details about the process will be outlined soon, but as with most things on Twitter, I don’t think this will be very complicated.

I’m also particularly anxious to tap into my historian, genealogy, family history, museum, social networking and other non-archivist followers to ask you to help promote this in your communities. The success of this event will depend almost as much on getting lots of good questions as getting lots of knowledgeable archivists to answer them.

If you are an archivist interested in participating, as directed on the project blog, add your name and other information to the editable GoogleDoc and start following @AskArchivists on Twitter for more information.

I assume that our special collections colleagues (and maybe also those pesky rare books people!) are also welcome to participate. Although it’s not clearly stated on the site, I’m also assuming that individual archivists can volunteer to answer general, non-repository specific questions. (And I just heard on Twitter that @NDIIP has signed up, so don’t be shy if you think maybe you don’t meet the requirements of  an “archives.”) Anyone who can answer questions the public might ask about the materials we hold and what archivists do will be of use. Although it’s hard to predict (and fun to imagine), I think there will probably also be fact-based questions about history in general, don’t you? And questions about preservation–I would expect a lot of questions about how to take care of “old stuff” and maybe also preserve personal digital content too. The question stream alone should be fascinating. What do people want to know?

So, please sign up and if you have any questions about the project or suggestions for promoting it to the public, please share in the comments here. And of course, don’t forget to sign up to follow @AskArchivists on Twitter and subscribe to the project blog.