Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2010

Applications are now open for the 2011 Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowships, until 5th October 2010.  As many of you know, I began this blog to document my own Churchill Fellowship in 2008, when I traveled to Australia and the USA to research local and regional responses to digital preservation.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established when Sir Winston Churchill died in 1965. Thousands of people gave generously so that a living memorial to Churchill could benefit future generations of British people.  Each year approximately 100 British citizens are awarded Fellowships for a wide range of projects. Fellows must travel overseas for between 4-12 weeks.  The Trust’s objective for the Travelling Fellowships is to provide opportunities for British citizens to go abroad on a worthwhile enterprise of their own choosing, with the aim of enriching their lives by their wider experience – through the knowledge, understanding, and/or skills they gain – and, on their return, enhancing the life of their community by their example and the dissemination of the benefit of their travels.

It’s not all work and no play though.  Fellows are encouraged to make the most of this unique opportunity and to take some time out during their travels to explore their surroundings.  During my six week Fellowship, inter alia, I took a journey along the Great Ocean Road, visited the Blue Mountains, flew over Sydney in a seaplane, rode the street cars in San Francisco, and took a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon.

Tempted?  Do get in touch with me if you’re interested and would like a further chat about what a Fellowship involves.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

A quick reminder to UK archivists that the consultation on amendments to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act draws to a close this coming Wednesday, 31st March 2010.  The proposals include some important provisions for digital preservation – including allowing the making of multiple copies of copyright works for preservation purposes – and extensions to the fair dealing provisions and to the library and archive copying regulations.

Apparently, the more responses the Intellectual Property Office sees the better, and personal responses are welcome (although obviously organisational ones with clout are even better), so if you haven’t responded yet, get writing!  You can respond by email to copyrightconsultation@ipo.gov.uk (detailed instructions are on page 7 of the consultation document).

Read Full Post »

I hinted in the post below that there might be some changes coming up on this blog.  This is because, as some of you will already know, I have moved on from West Yorkshire Archive Service, to start a PhD jointly supervised by UCL’s Department of Information Studies and The National Archives provisionally entitled ‘We Think, Not I think: Harnessing collaborative creativity to archival practice; implications of user participation for archival theory and practice‘.

This means that my interests are expanding beyond the original focus of Around the World in Eighty Gigabytes, which I originally set up to document my own voyages of discovery about digital preservation and how international initiatives in this field might be scaled down to apply within the small archives settings with which I was most familiar.  I have umm-ed and ah-ed for a bit about what I should do now – start a new blog or morph this one to cover aspects of user participation?  In the end, I have decided to continue with 80GB.  There are various reasons for this:

  • There are several common strands between digital preservation research and my current interests in user collaboration – they both relate to the impact of digital technologies on archival theory and practice, and many of the major issues (eg authority, context, trust, the cultural challenges of embedding technological change in operational settings) are debated in both areas of research.  I had been thinking that these common themes would make for a good posting on Ada Lovelace day, but I didn’t, er, quite get round to it!
  • I haven’t stopped being interested in digital preservation, or in the impact of digital technology on smaller archives, and I will continue to post on both themes when opportunities arise.
  • I want a space to express my own personal opinions on things which interest me and to explore ideas.  What I post here will not represent the views of The National Archives or UCL any more than my previous postings represented the official stance of West Yorkshire Archive Service.
  • I flatter myself to think there are a few people who read my ramblings, and know me as 80GB.  If they are interested in digital preservation and small archives, and are into following obscure blogs, I suspect they may be interested in reading about the implications of social media on archives too.
  • Putting everything together should mean that I actually update the blog rather more regularly.
  • To be blunt, there are a few events coming up that I think I will want to write about, and I can’t be bothered to set up a new blog…

However, if either of my current readers thinks that this is a really bad idea, they should please let me know in the comments…

Read Full Post »

On Monday I attended an event at the British Library – Digital Researcher: Managing your networks and building your profile.  I hadn’t intended to blog about it here, since the subject seemed somewhat tangential to the focus of this blog (or at least to the focus of this blog hitherto – on which more, possibly, later).

However, about halfway through the day it suddenly struck me that the communities I know best – archives, digital curation, libraries – appear to be well ahead of the crowd when it comes to using social media and exploiting the best of web2.0.  There was an enthusiastic response to Adrian Arthur’s presentation on current work at the British Library, which highlighted several archives initiatives, including @PeggyRamsay and user collaboration features in the Sound Archive, such as tagging, adding metadata and the google maps mashup.  “Cool stuff” said the tweeters in the room (despite the dodgy wifi), “sounds great” thought several of my followers, as I was re-tweeted across in the U.S. and in Australia.  Later in the day, the discussion moved on to the pros and cons of using institutional repositories, and there was even a question on how to cite a tweet, with a response pointing to JISC PoWR.  There is a twapperkeeper archive of #DR10 tweets at http://twapperkeeper.com/dr10, if you want to explore further, and some (not yet all – hopefully that’ll be fixed soon) slides are available on the Vitae website.

[Edit: to say that all the slides are now available at http://www.vitae.ac.uk/dr10]

Much of my early dabbling with social media platforms was prompted by my interest in digital preservation:  I finally caved in and joined facebook when a group was established following the DELOS Summer School I attended in 2008.  I started this blog to document my journeys around digital archives in Australia and the USA on my Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship.  I joined twitter to enable me to keep up with conferences across the world on the subject of digital curation, that I couldn’t get to, and to follow digital preservation people, that I wouldn’t dare talk to (then!).  The purpose of a feed reader finally became evident to me when the number of people blogging about things which interested me grew to such proportions that I could no longer keep up by visiting favourite websites.  Just this morning (as a result of #DR10), I have registered for FriendFeed, and discover – surprise, surprise – that most of the digital curation community are already there.

Until Monday, I suppose I took most of this activity for granted.  The open ethos which informs much code development in the digital curation field also pervades its scholarship, so that I, an ordinary archivist working for an average county record service in the north of England, could grasp the opportunity not only to find out about the latest research in the field, but also to engage in a dialogue with many of its leading figures.  Only on a few occasions can I remember encountering some peer-reviewed, subscription journal wall I could not find a way to circumnavigate.  The same is broadly true of the wider archives and library communities, and for my current research interest in user collaboration – the best example I can think of here would be the Smithsonian’s experiences with Flickr, which were published as an article in Archival Science, but also made available as a pre-print in the Smithsonian’s own research repository.

I guess I just assumed that this was how academia worked in the modern world.  But it seems that sometimes it isn’t.  Nor are my own communities of practice entirely immune to attacks of scepticism about what has been called the democratisation of knowledge production.

But the next time somebody opines in my hearing (as happened to me only last week) that libraries and archives “haven’t really got to grips with the virtual world”, I’ll be asking them what an RSS feed is.

Read Full Post »

Last Thursday I was delighted to attend the culminating workshop for the Society of Archivists‘ (SoA) funded digital curation project at Gloucestershire Archives.  As Viv Cothey, the developer employed by Gloucestershire Archives, has noted, “Local authority archivists may well be fully aware of the very many exhortations to do digital curation and to get involved but are frustrated by not knowing where to start”.  Building upon previous work on a prototype desktop ingest packager (GAip), the SoA project set out to create a proof of concept demonstration of a ‘trusted digital store’ suitable for use by a local government record office.  The workshop was an important outreach element of the project, aiming to build up understanding and experience of digital curation principles and workflow amongst archivists in the UK.  I have been involved with the management board for the SoA project, so I was eager to see how the demonstration tools which have been developed would be received by the wider digital preservation and archivist professional communities.

Others are much better qualified than me to evaluate the technical approach that the project has taken, and indeed Susan Thomas has already blogged her impressions over at futureArch.  For me, what was especially pleasing was to see a good crowd of ‘ordinary’ archivists getting stuck in with the demonstration tools – despite the unfamiliarity of the Linux operating system – and teasing out the purpose and process of each of the digital curation tools provided.  I hope that nobody objects to my calling them ‘ordinary’ – I think they will know what I mean, and it is how I would describe myself in this digital preservation context.

Digital preservation research has hitherto clustered around opposite ends of a spectrum.  At one end are the high level conceptual frameworks: OAIS and the like.  At the other end are the practical developments in repository and curation workflow tools in the higher education, national repository, and scientific research communities.  The problem here is the technological jargon which is frankly incomprehensible to your average archivist.  Gloucestershire’s project therefore attempts to fill an important gap in current provision, by providing a set of training tools to promote experimentation and discourse at practitioner level.

I’ll be interested to see the feedback from the workshop, and it’d be good to see some attendee comments here…

Read Full Post »