AitA W10: Web Archiving Team @ LOC

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 7.13.31 PM

First class starts off with a Skype visit with LOC web archiving team:



Confronting Our Failure of Care Around the Legacies of Marginalized People in the Archives – Bergis Jules:

“I invite to dig deeper into these project and make contact with the people involved.” – Bergis Jules



Not All Information Wants to Be Free – Tara Robertson:

“Best Practices for Ethical Digitization – There are four things that people who are digitizing culturally sensitive materials can do to try and make their projects more ethical and appropriate. First, a standard librarian technique is to do an environmental scan and learn from what other people have done. Several digitization projects that have handled culturally sensitive materials have put out reports detailing some of their ethical concerns and processes. Second, it is important to have clear contact information posted so that people know whom they can talk to if they have concerns or more information. Third, use technology built by projects that are thinking thoughtfully and deeply about values and ethics. Fourth, librarians need to develop skills in working with communities to determine what should be digitized and what kind of access is appropriate.”

  1. Learn from other digitization projects
  2. Post Clear Contact Information

It can be confusing and intimidating to figure out who to contact at a university, museum, or cultural institution. It is important to make it easy to find out who to contact if one has concerns or additional information about digital collections. It’s also useful to state that your institution is open to receiving more information about specific content and open to requests for content to be removed. It is also important to have clear policies that are posted publically so that people know about criteria, timelines, and processes for inquiries and complaints.

The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection describes how they will keep the communication lines open with communities:

We will provide avenues by which people can place general feedback (via links to the message boards) or contact us directly. If whānau want to discuss with us suppressing images of their tupuna then we are prepared to do so (with the inclusion of a statement as a placeholder within the text stating why the image is no longer displayed). Alternatively, if they had information that they would like placed with their tupuna’s name, then we are open to adding it.”


3. Use Appropriate Technology

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 8.55.40 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-09 at 8.55.53 PM

The Murkutu project has been leading the way in building an open source platform to allow appropriate access to culturally sensitive materials, specifically indigenous stories, knowledge, and cultural materials. The Murkutu platform is built and configurable to reflect how specific communities access and share knowledge. Both items and people have permissions associated with them, which can facilitate granular and appropriate access. The software also supports traditional knowledge labels, which were developed “to support Native, First Nations, Aboriginal, and Indigenous communities in the management of their intellectual property and cultural heritage specifically within the digital environment.”25


Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 9.03.37 PM

DocNow is a software project that started after the Ferguson riots. They are building appropriate software tools for the ethical collection of social media content. They are building into their free open-source tools the key concept of consent. DocNow project also seeks to build a critical community of practice: While we’re not yet sure what this community will end up looking like or how formal or informal it will be, we want to build on this momentum and continue to encourage conversations around what it means to build archives of social media data for the long term, not replicating oppressive models of digital data collection and dissemination, and respecting content owners privacy and humanity, while at the same time upholding our responsibility to be vigilant in countering the erasure of people of color from the historical record.26 I admire how they are explicit and clear in identifying their values—like Black Lives Matter—and how those values influence the software tools that they are developing. Ed Summers states that “I think what we are hoping to do is build a tool that doesn’t just do things because it’s possible, but has some values built into it.”


4. Work with communities to determine what is appropriate

Libraries and other cultural institutions need to build relationships and work with communities more, and community consultation should include discussions Not All Information Wants to be Free 237 about appropriate use of the content. In both the case of OOB and Spare Rib, the digitizing agency pushed a more permissive license than some contributors were comfortable with. Perhaps if the consultation process included a conversation on copyright and the different types of Creative Commons’ licenses, there might have been more willingness to consider a CC-BY license and informed consent to pick the best license for individuals and the community, not the institution and funding agencies. Academic libraries can learn from public libraries’ community development initiatives.

As librarians, it’s uncomfortable but necessary for us to give up some of our power and work with community members on equal ground. Having an advisory board that includes community members should be a minimum requirement for digitization projects. Both the Spare Rib and DocNow have robust Advisory Boards.

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 9.07.24 PM.png
Finally we’ll be talking about some interesting opportunities that may be possible for artists + designers to use new distributed computing tech. We’ll talk about the DAT project, about the concepts of distribution and federation, and test out some off-of-the-internet information exchange in class.
Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 8.44.34 PM.png
This is a nice post to get you thinking:
Thinking about the decentralized internet:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s