Final international conference: Digital archives, Big Data and Memory
The final conference of the international network Digitization and the Future of Archives is open to all practitioners, researchers, and others who take an interest in records and archives, including archivists, records managers and privacy/access officers.
24.08.2022 - 26.08.2022
The conference will address the following themes
- Archival records and social memory
- Archives as ‘big data’ and the reuse of data
- Artificial intelligence and archives
- Privacy and rights-in-records in the digital age
- The future of private archives and personal collections in the digital age
Tom Nesmith, Professor Emeritus, Archival Studies, Dept. of History, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada:
Archives, the Public Square, and Digital Public Infrastructure
The increasing volume and importance of digital communications (spurred on by the pandemic) has prompted a major development in digital infrastructure for storage and overall management of these communications – the cloud infrastructure owned for the most part by giant tech companies such as Amazon. Many governments have chosen not to invest in the increased digital infrastructure now required for managing their own records and have “cloud first” policies for their storage. Non-governmental institutions and private individuals are also using the cloud in vast numbers.
The implications for public archives of this historic shift away from the publicly owned information infrastructure laid down for them since the nineteenth century are profound. The shape of the emerging infrastructure underpinning the management of digital communication may well be the most significant lasting feature of the digital environment for societies and their archives. My keynote discusses why that development requires archival voices in the public square to address it.
Devon Mordell, Educational Developer, MacPherson Institute, McMaster University, Canada:
Oil, Abundance, and Intangibility: Mapping the Contours of an Archives-as-Data Paradigm
Characterizing what he describes as four paradigmatic phases in the archival profession’s thinking around archives and archiving, Terry Cook uses the motifs of evidence, memory, identity and community to represent them. I have elsewhere suggested that a fifth paradigm may be surfacing wherein archives are imagined and operated upon as data sources amenable to computation: that is, a data paradigm. Following Cook’s approach, I will trace out the conceptual ground of an archives-as-data paradigm by highlighting metaphors which have the potential to shape ways of thinking about archives and by theorizing how working with datafied archives may give rise to new notions of professional identity. I will attend particularly closely to the more regressive or otherwise troubling interpretations as a data paradigm takes shape.
In addition to the keynote addresses, the program will comprise two roundtables on current revisions to archival legislation in the Nordic countries and the preliminary results of collecting everyday experience of the corona-pandemic in different countries (Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand).
Conference Fees (incl. 25% Danish VAT)
|Early Bird Registration Fee||DKK 500 (~EUR 67)|
|Standard Registration Fee||DKK 1,000 (~EUR 134)|
|Conference Dinner||DKK 700 (~EUR 94)|
|One-day Fee||DKK 400 (~EUR 54)|
Archival records are not neutral but speak the language of those who collected them. This raises questions about how to handle records from children in public care and other histories of people whose lives were stolen or deeply impacted public authorities or other agencies with power. What is the role of the archives in setting the record straight in cases like these? What about the right to be forgotten or perhaps as an alternative a right to speak back to the archives?
Archives as ‘big data’ and the reuse of data or information once collected for a specific purpose now being reused for other purposes. What are the implications of substituting ‘records’ with ‘data’? What archival and ethical considerations should both archives as ‘big data’ and reuse of data raise? Can rethinking of central concepts in archival theory help us manage and handle archives as big data and reuse of data in ethically and societal responsible ways?
Can artificial intelligence be used to appraise digital records? What search engines will be used to search digital collections – what is current experience and future options? What is so far, our experience with text mining and digital search methods in digital collections? Other relevant experience with use of artificial intelligence in digital archiving?
The EU is working hard to find ways to regulate social media data, and in the Nordic countries we have several laws regulating access and use of data and registers. Present day regulation normally builds on individual rights and property laws. What are the limits to individual rights and individual consent? Is it possible also to speak about communal or common rights? Perhaps as a parallel to speaking of societal or common provenance?
So far public records have been the ones most consistently preserved, at least in the Nordic countries as most archival acts and other types of regulation mainly adheres to public administration. Standards have been the key to preservation of public sector records, but the importance of specific standards for records creation and preservation, such as those developed in the Nordic countries, may be of less importance as international standards becomes the new norm? What is the current experience with handling digital private collections around the world? Will international standards eventually help create common standards for creation and preservation also of private records? And for whom? Only big private companies? What about less resourceful entities such as e.g. civil society organisations and their archival legacy?
The IRFD Network Digitization and the Future of Archives
Aalborg University, Copenhagen Campus