Week 2 Blog 8/31


Digital humanities is has the simultaneous and competing desires to preserve, curating, and aggregate historical data. Preservation typically refers to the objective shared by curators and collectors of historical data. Preservation, which can occur in many different formats and venues and servers, typically assumes the responsibility of creating and producing trustworthy, accurate, and authentic memory into the future. As is true in the historical discipline, preservation attempts to present a particular perspective of a historical events, person, place, etc., Digital data curation is performed by professionals who capture information and the methods of research that produced the information as well. Digital data aggregation is the process of structuring and organizing the curation collections, unifying research categories, and integrating the data into a single content management system with a single point of access. The difficulty in this process is controlling the content of the collection, protecting the records utilizing the protection copyright laws and a reliable server, and maintaining a organization responsible for proper acquisition, access, sustainability, and management of data.


With approximately 75 percent of the books ever printed still covered by copyright laws, powerful organizations like Google and Microsoft who are attempt to digitize mass quantities of books in projects such as the Open Content Alliance are having difficulty acquiring the funds necessary to provide widespread access of digital data. Another obstacle preserving mass quantities of data is the lack of funds available to companies who wish to preserve and curate data in impoverished countries. Also mentioned within this week’s readings is the problem archivists have working in groups, typically utilizing the same syntax and words to describe different concepts and behaviors. Digital Stewardship remains an area of concern, requiring constant interaction and cooperation from service providers, policy makers, and stakeholders.

The readings suggest transparency of daily management procedures to ensure open access and use by clients. The article also suggests simplifying the preservation and management process by preserving the content alone. This is only available in limit settings and further limits the amount of data one wishes to curate considering the varying formats (audio, visual, etc.) history is preserved.

Of the archives that I viewed from this weeks readings, I found the Hurricane Memory Bank to be lacking a significant amount of curated data within collections in a meta structure. Research categories were not unified and there seemed to be a hyperlink linking several quasi-integrated concept together. As discussed earlier, the problems seem to originate with the vast amount of copyright laws that exist. Points for aesthetics and user friendliness drop significantly for these types of websites that require multiple access points and time spent browsing.


I have already done a significant amount of research considering family history. Ancestry.com  and various university archives seem to be the platforms with the most authentic evidence. I would utilize an “active archive” in which authorized users (family members) would be able to freely submit contributions and an administrator or group of administrators would be able to approve content after evaluation. I imagine a system similar to Wikipedia, with open source access and NPOV. Administrators would review source material and determine whether the information presented could be seen as defamatory or incidentally offensive. The information would likely be best organized in aggregation form, with particular themes defining each webpage. Collections of images would be available as well. I would prefer to curate the website with an introductory essay and family tree, with each name on the tree being a hyperlink. Considering that this would be a family website and viewed by children, I would prefer to leave topics that were NSFW on a specific portal requiring administrator access.


In order to most efficiently utilize existing financial and literal resources, the archivist must evaluate the interoperability, preservability, and transactibility of the available data. Additionally, the data must be evaluated on its cultural significance and comprehension by the intended audience. I feel that the best way for a website and archive to be preserved is through subscription to a preserving institution. Once the scholarly or cultural significance of the project diminishes, the project could be stored on hard drives via license. This eliminates the problem of migration and having to service and manage a server.

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