When it comes to digitalizing archives and information, a historian must take into consideration how they plan to continuously preserve, curate, and aggregate their data.
Preserving data means to protect and maintain it, so when a historian or researcher plans on digitalizing their data, they have to consider how they would go about doing that. Whether it be creating a backup page in case of a website crash or failure, or perhaps creating a secure website to protect from hackers or setting timely reminders to go back and make updates to the website to maintain it.
In regard to curating data, to curate means to collect and organize information. If trying to establish online resources, curating the right information is critical because the way the information is displayed and organized will determine its effectiveness in reaching its intended audience. Due to this, a curator must be careful in their presentation of data, collect factual data, and organize it effectively for their intended audiences.
Aggregating data means to gather a group of information in order to come up with an analysis of it. If a historian wants to create a digital map that links one subject to another, the historian would have to aggregate the necessary data first. If done incorrectly, wrong analysis’s can be made, and incorrect data will be presented to the historians intended audience.
Digital archiving does create tension amongst those in the digital and traditional analog community. For example, those in the traditional community who have written books, have gotten their works copyrighted and feel the need to protect their information because they put their time and energy into the work. This is not a bad thing especially when topics such as profiting are brought up, but for those in the digital community, they believe this restricts information from everyone who can’t afford to purchase that book. Digitalizing that book and making it accessible through the web gives the book and the information in that book a wider audience. This benefit is shown in the book we use for class, “Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web“. Due to it being free, our whole class has access to it.
If I were to digitally preserve my family’s history, I would likely create a website that could only be accessed through a password and or email confirmation. Though the internet can be safe at times, there are always constant threats. I would curate family photos that I have, scan and organize them into the website into a family tree or timeline framework. Family members who wanted to contribute could upload photos to a blog page that would redirect that blog post to my email and then I would validate the information and input it into the family tree. I’d keep things simple, and just post photos with brief descriptions of each family member and their link to other members of the family.
I believe that an archivist should follow their own criteria when determining what materials, they want to preserve and present on their website. Ultimately, it’s their website, and that’s the beauty of digital media, it’s digital so you could easily make changes, scan new materials into the website, reorganize the website, and change the purpose of the website. I personally feel that the Omeka Interface is a good interface to use when creating a website because of the different options it presents which include sharing digital collections and information.