Monday, 17 May 2010

ECA 2010

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to present a poster about the AIMS project at the 8th European Conference on Digital Archiving at Geneva. The poster attracted a fair amount of interest and in particular the intention to share the tools and best practice with other institutions – many of the other sessions and some posters presenting what were quite institution-specific solutions.

Reflections on the conference
– though with 7 simultaneous sessions there was only some much any one person could see!

First session after the initial keynote welcome was an interesting session “
Envisioning Archival Description” by Victoria Lemieux & Geoffrey Yeo about using visualisation software to represent data and reflect relationships between words, as tested using the British Cabinet papers. There wasn’t enough time for a live demonstration, but the potential of offering an intuitive visual mechanism for looking at large volumes of data was really interesting. Information about word frequency for example could also be used by the archivist to assist with describing the records. The $64,000 questions are the cost of the software and what data / formats this is appropriate for?

There was also a good overview from Robert Sharpe of Tessella about obsolescence, characterisation and preservation planning with particular emphasis on the Planets Framework of tools.

Jaap Kamps “What makes a User Click?” was a timely reminder of the different search strategies between experts and novices and something we must return to when considering making born digital archives accessible on-line.

Jane Stevenson gave a review of the Archives
EAD editor for the
Archives Hub that can now include links to digital objects but emphasised that the files need to be stored locally – they are not a repository. Also reminded me that we (Hull University) owe the Hub some data!

Day 1 ended with a session by Daniel Pitti,
who I met many years ago as EAD took-off in the UK, giving an account of a new
2 year project which seeks to create tools to automatically extract authority records using the new Encoded Archival Context-Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) standard. The project will start with an initial body of more than 30,000  EAD finding aids and look to combine this with more than 10m name authorities from the Library of Congress and OCLC. The aim is to take a step beyond personal name indexes and show a network of relationships (eg between correspondents). With the University of Virginia being one of the project partners it is hoped that AIMS can collaborate with this project further down the line.

Days 2 and 3 to follow...

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