Participatory Archives: Something Old, Something New

Or, “I finally write up a presentation I gave last spring, now with a shiny new definition.” File this one under “better late than never.” I have finally taken the slides for the keynote presentation I gave at the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) meeting last spring and written up explanatory text for them. The text and slides are now posted as a PDF on Slideshare:

Note that this presentation contains more discussion about how I think we should scope “participatory archives,” including a refined definition (bold indicates the additions):

An organization, site or collection in which people other than the archives professionals contribute knowledge or resources resulting in increased appreciation and understanding of archival materials and archives, usually in an online environment. 

I hope this will be a useful addition to the discussion of this concept and why it matters for archives.

Next on my list: writing up a presentation I gave last fall!


Links from MAC talk on participatory archives

If you were among the lucky (?) people in the audience today, here, as promised, are the links to the sites I mentioned in my talk. If you are one of the millions of people who were not there, these are the sites I mentioned as examples of participatory archives. I know there are a great many others, so I apologize if  I left out one of your favorites. I’m happy that there is an overabundance of riches when it comes to choosing examples on this topic. (At least examples that meet the criteria I use.) I’ll probably be posting my slides to SlideShare soon, or I may post them here on the blog so I can add the explanatory text that would help make some of them comprehensible. (Here’s a post about the talk I gave on this topic at the 2011 SAA Annual Meeting.)

Here are the links: Continue reading “Links from MAC talk on participatory archives”

Exploring the Participatory Archives

I’m happy to back from this year’s annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists in Chicago. I was part of a great session, “What Happens After ‘Here Comes Everybody’: An Examination of Participatory Archives,” along with Elizabeth Yakel and Alexandra Eveleigh, moderated by Robert Townsend. We were lucky to be selected by the online publication CMSWire as a session worth highlighting, and so you can read a full summary of our remarks in their article. Below is my presentation (via SlideShare).

The purpose of my presentation was to introduce the concept of participatory archives and propose a definition. That definition is:

An organization, site or collection in which people other than archives professionals contribute knowledge or resources, resulting in increased understanding about archival materials, usually in an online environment.

As you can see from the slides, I think it’s important to make a distinction between engagement and participation. This distinction is not intended to create a hierarchical system in which participation is “better.” Rather I think it will assist us, as a profession whose experience with both types on online activity is relatively new, to think more clearly and have more focused discussions about what makes each type of activity successful.

You’ll see more from me about this in the future, but for now I’d be interested in feedback on this first iteration of the definition, which I know doesn’t necessarily conform to the way others have used those terms.

UPDATE: You can read Alexandra’s own posts about her SAA experiences on her blog, Around the World in 80 Gigabytes, and about our session in particular here. Her slides are up on Slideshare too.