25th and 26th of March 2019: Digital humanities and using archives workshop


2-days in London attending the digital humanities and using archives workshop. first day, held at the British library, was a conference style session which had some real interest for me as a producer of digital content. it was a combination of speakers some looking at the digital in quite an abstract way, some a bit more practical. I was introduced to the term born-digital, referring to text/items/objects etc. that only exist in a digital form. There was a lot of discussion around how these are preserved and archived, pretty simple for text (though there was mention of the ethical considerations of including archives of deleted files) but more pertinent to my work is the interactive media (interestingly, code is considered a literary literary work for the purposes of copyright).

the word examples given by Linda Clarke and Alistair home about digital works becoming inaccessible or lost completely through a number of factors – defunct technology, dead websites, deletion, corruption etc. I really must consider these issues of access when it comes to building my own digital works – the technology, coding language and platform I choose is very likely to become obsolete. I wonder what strategies I can put in place to try and resolve this? I already have a notion that whatever I make will have to have two versions – one online and one for a physical interactive. I think one approach might be to thoroughly document the development process – building archive with notes sketches, logic designs, pseudocode, etc. So that even if the things themselves become obsolete, the designs will still exist – I’m creating my own ghosts in the full and certain knowledge that they will become the thing that survives… there is something vital here about the nature of the ephemeral and how I’m going to negotiate that…

Today was a more practical session about how to use and navigate archives. I got a few possible search results just in a training exercise, I now need to go through my secondary sources and make a note of the primary sources they use as well as a list of key search terms. it was also some good advice from a couple of secondary students about using archives:

Get library and archive passes well in advance. sign up for their training and have an idea about what you want to see.

Keep track of all collection searches – know about derivations, abbreviations , misspellings etc.

Email the archive in advanced. Give them some context to your study and reference numbers if you have them.

Get a decent camera, scanning app and a battery pack.

Budget for photography and reproduction fees (find out in advance)

Offer to send a copy of the paper/thesis to the archive.

Contact special collections and special project teams.

Create an abbreviation index for museums and archives collections.

Start writing! It helps to find the gaps in your research and helps to plan archive trips.

Twitter! Great for networking and getting support and advice etc. know your hashtags!

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