A workshop at the University of Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 July 2017
10:00 to 16:15, Room 3.15, 18 Buccleuch Place
Organisers: Niamh Moore (Edinburgh) and Rachel Thomson (Digital Humanities Laboratory, Sussex)
Booking via: email@example.com
A crucial challenge in the rapidly changing landscape of ‘data management’ is exciting the involvement of a wider range of researchers, and research data, than is currently the case. In particular, the focus on ‘big data’ and the computational possibilities of large datasets, has contributed to a sense for many qualitative researchers, or those working with smaller scale data sets, that these discussions are irrelevant for their own practice. Key concerns are that that the labour required to prepare data for deposit in a repository for possible future use by other researchers is ethically challenging, laborious, costly, unrewarding and of no real and meaningful benefit to the current researcher. This is exacerbated in a context where there is much enthusiasm for ‘data management’, but a lack of resource for supporting such work and a lack of recognition for those who take the time to engage in data archiving.
This workshop aims to articulate a necessary cultural shift towards practices of ‘animating archives’ (including realising the potential of emerging digital technologies), and away from narrowly construed notions of ‘data management’ and ‘data repositories’, which have arguably served to obfuscate the creative possibilities of working with data. Questions raised in the various debates around data management, data archiving, data curation, data repositories, cannot be solved by one discipline alone, and need the concerted involvement of researchers across the field of the social sciences and humanities as well as those involved in libraries, archives and various repositories. As the possibility and desirability of expanded archival practice becomes an issue of international relevance we see value in consolidating and extending learning in a UK context where the RCUK requirement to archive (since 1996) has stimulated activity. In particular we see the need to shift from a focus on the necessary challenges of doing this work to sharing examples of researchers collaborating to explore the creative possibilities of ‘animating archives’.
Participants from Sussex, Digital Humanities Lab:
Rachel Thomson, Co-Director, with Liam Berriman, Lucy Robinson, Sharon Webb.
Rachel Thomson is a Professor of Childhood and Youth and sociologist with interests in social change, gender, sexuality and the everyday. She is one of the directors of the Sussex Humanities Lab leading the digital lives and memory strand. Her own work has involved creating, digitising and archiving major qualitative data sets including the 15 year Inventing Adulthoods study the digitisation and archiving of which was a ‘demonstrator’ project for Qualidata, and most recently the Curating Childhood collection within the Mass Observation Archive. She was one of the directors of ESCR Timescapes initiative and played a role in shaping ESRC funding around investment in qualitative longitudinal research. Her current interests include ‘archival proximities’ and archiving as part of everyday practice, strategies for archiving social research and personal archives, and exploring decentralised notions of ‘scaling up’ and ‘assembling’ collections.
Sharon Webb is a lecturer in Digital Humanities with specific interest and expertise in the development of long-term digital preservation repositories, and the policy and best practice standards associated with this. Sharon is involved with a number of projects which seek to provide support and guidance to community driven archives. In particular she is interested in how we can maintain and sustain community archives that are not linked to larger intuitional repositories or structures.
Liam Beriman: Since 2013, I’ve been involved in the longitudinal ‘Everyday Childhoods’ project (2013-present), which has involved setting up a new digital archive on children’s lives based in the Mass Observation collection. I’ve also recently developed a research bid that aimed to bring together different archive collections on children’s everyday lives together for a cross-generational studies of children’s digital from the 1980s to the present. I’m particularly interested in ‘following’ and mapping ideas/questions across archives, as well as the everyday practices of curation and archiving undertaken outside of traditional archive settings.
Lucy Robinson is a Contemporary British Cultural Historian. She jointly co-ordinates the Network for Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change and was academic lead on their JISC funded project ‘Observing the 80s’. Her work covers politics, popular culture and identity since 1960 with a particular interest in DIY histories, gender and sexuality. She has recently published a number of pieces on subcultural archiving and digital history and on punk pedagogy.
This workshop is funded by a Dean’s Award from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh