Friday, 16 July 2010

Surveying Born Digital Collections

The idea of creating a survey form was initiated by Glynn Edwards (my direct supervisor) at Stanford in May. Glynn would like to have something to guide the discussion of collecting digital material from a donor in July. She started with the Paradigm records survey (published by the Bodleian Library, Oxford University) and asked people at Stanford for comments. After gathering the comments, I posted the revised survey for the AIMS team to discuss. The main comment was the donors (mostly technical non-savvy) might not be able to understand all the technical terms. I have to thank Michael Forstrom at Yale University for sharing his revision of the Paradigm survey which avoid the use of technical terms.

The main difference between the original Paradigm records survey and the AIMS Digital Material Survey are:

1. Additional technology questions (e.g. web based backup, mobile device, social networking sites, document sharing sites, etc.)
2. Division of the survey into 2 parts: Part I is designed to be a prompt sheet for phone / face-to-face interview with donors by curators / digital archivists. Part II is to be filled out by digital archivists regarding technical details of the tools used to create digital material.
3. Usage of non-technical terms.

I think the survey should be sent before the actual interview as "something for the donor to start thinking about". If the donor is willing to reply before the interview, it helps the digital archivist to prepare as well. In fact, I sent the survey to a donor in July and she replied before the interview mentioning that she used Eudora for her emails. Since I was not familiar with Eudora, the answer helped me to get prepared for the interview as well.

Finally, I have to thank Susan Thomas, project manager of the Paradigm and the futureArch project, for her comments on the AIMS Digital Material Survey and her sharing of the experience in using the Paradigm records survey.

We would like to seek your comments on the survey as well. If you are going to discuss with donors on personal digital archives, why not download the survey and give it a try. Even if you are not collecting personal digital archives in the near future, take a look and tell us what you think.

Click below for the survey:
AIMS Digital Material Survey– Personal Digital Archives

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