August 17, 2006
It isn’t all that easy to cover the very quick showcases done at lunchtime and breakfast. You may have noticed that there isn’t anything on those given on the first day, including ours (i.e from the Australian War Memorial).
There were two on the final day that I really must mention.
Firstly, Nick Thieberger from the University of Melbourne talked about the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Resources in Endangered Cultures PARADISEC. They’ve achieved some pretty substantial sound and other format digitisation with important ethnographic field recordings from the 1950s and beyond. It is research material, but also cultural and historical by nature, and as he said, they’ve done it because they could. They’ve not been constrained by the same strictures we operate within in our institutions.
The real gem in the showcase presentations for me and many other delegates was the one done by Seb Chan the manager of web development from the Powerhouse Museum and Dr Fiona Cameron from the University of Western Sydney. They took us through the recently launched Powerhouse OPAC 2.0 that truly engages visitors with the features we really should all be using from Web 2.0 if we are serious about interactivity: folksonomies, cloud tags; RSS; user recommendations (like Amazon); and the users are able to use and suggest their own key words to search and discover items. IT IS ALL FULLY OPEN TO GOOGLE! They’ve already experienced fantastic and meaningful use from this openness and acceptance of user input.
They also took us through Design Hub – an ARC project that involved the Powerhouse, and the UTS and UWS. It is like an online magazine that connects museum collections with news, interviews, opinions and ideas across the breadth of design.
My comment: Digitisation is only the start of the process. The Powerhouse have now inspired all of us with these exciting presentation and use concepts that use the unique and full features of the web. A new ‘benchmark’ is born (for those of you interested in that awful process). You could actually hear and feel the amazement and excitement in the room.
August 17, 2006
Workshop discussion of the major components of an Australian Framework for Digital Heritage Collections
Facilitator: Dr Michael Henry, The Strategy Shop
Our table’s theme (just one of the nine we could select from):
Audiences, users, consumers, engagement, interactivity
1. What should be the common goal(s) in this area?
. Seamless access
. Innovation (exceeding needs), anticipate future needs
. Exposure to users
. Knowing understanding user needs (co-creation)
. Free, open, flexible (in relation to commercial access/use) access to our national cultural heritage
. Equity of access (broadband issue)
. Preparing content for use, not just collection management
. Increasing use of the collection items
. Audience as advocates (prioritising digitisation projects)
. Enabling user interpretation
2. What are the strategies to achieve that goal (how tos)?
. Use folksonomies (i.e. user input) instead of relying only on our own taxonomies/thesaurus
. User education
. Cross domain market research and evaluation of content already there
. Staying aware of the digital environment
. Collaboration on solutions
. Look for or develop a more creative licensing solution
. Become less risk averse re ownership/rights/permissions
. Provide appropriate safeguards for culturally sensitive information
. Audience research to understand future needs
. Clarification of message via peak bodies task force
. Tools and platforms that allow user creation/submission of content
3. What should be the roles of the various players?
Peak bodies: leadership, establishing guidelines, advocacy, establish a peak portal across entire sector, research into audiences & priorities for digitisation; support for initiatives/strategies
Collecting organisations: cultural mindshift to cope with interactivity; commit to involvement; will to collaborate; act as enablers
CCA: lobbying/advocacy; maintain a common innovations website with RSS; portal site for information; build our business case for ongoing funding (representing all domains and large/small institutions); form a digital alliance; coordinate the task force
Federal government: provide funding; liberalising Copyright restrictions (eg. Geoscience Australia website licensing); arrange legal deposit for new media; legislation and policy
Some recurrent themes that came out:
knowledge sharing, collaboration across domains, advisory documents, standardising standards, sustainable as distinct from project funding (via a business case & research), establishing an ARC-like body that funds digitisation, working group under CCA to map data standards, national register of cultural institutions online, national repository for digital data/objects, federated search standard developed, ensure the sustainability of discovery, identify & articulate shared goals for a digital alliance, map current projects for potential collaboration, identify competencies through the sectors.
What, why & when – to report to Ministers?
(Refer to the background already in the Digital Content Industry Action Agenda)
Vision: To connect all Australians to their collections and these are worth $6bn+
CCA to work on coordinated standards and protocols across the four domains
. Regionally, nationally and internationally to improve research
. Facilitates easy engagement with our history and culture
. Sustainable systems
. High visibility
. Many benefits – social, community and economic
CCA to Report of the summit to the Ministers within 14 days
Develop a detailed national digitisation strategy (CCA) that builds on overseas models (within 60 days) – that meets political agendas within the next three months
Comments about the action plan being shaped in the afternoon:
Is the above too much of a national institution agenda?
Are smaller institutions represented adequately on CCA?
Others should be involved.
Creativity needs to be more at the fore.
The key for regionals is easy, authoritative access.
Some thought we may still lack a clear and deep shared and agreed vision for the future.
Also consider forming:
. An Australian Digital Collection Alliance
. A Working Group or Task Force that is representative of all domains & peak bodies (they could clarify our requirements)
. A National Register of Digitisation initiatives
. A National Repository for digital material
Conclusions – Final comments, summing up and ‘next steps’
Summit close: Sue Nattrass, Chair, Collections Council of Australia
We have a wealth of material and some practical timelines to work towards and sharpen our strategies. These should be taken to other sectors as well for support, eg. education for help to sell ideas to government and support our case). All domains sit on the Board of CCA (even small organisations are represented and have champions on the Board).
CCA can probably meet the suggested time frames. As well as the Federal Ministers, CCA probably need to report to the upcoming Cultural Ministers Council meeting. They’ll also want buy-in.
The strategy document needs to be pushed on as well. It may not be finalised, but it is needed.
CCA will report back to us quickly on any outcomes of negotiations.
Sue was moved by the sense of support at the Summit and the feeling of unity. The moment must be grabbed and the timing is right.
Thanks to many involved in the conference: sponsors The State Library, Art Gallery and the National Trust from South Australia; & CCA’s volunteers. Thanks also to David Dawson for his participation in the and all speakers, it was very mind expanding. And thanks to the many delegates for their participation and our strategy facilitator Michael Henry. CCA is a total staff of only three and they’ve worked enormously hard to get this arranged and facilitated – Veronica Bullock, Evalee Smith and Margaret Birtley.
August 17, 2006
Identification of the issues involved in meeting the diverse needs of collecting organisations with respect to their digital collections.
Facilitator: Dr Michael Henry, The Strategy Shop
Michael put together the common issues identified yesterday (see yesterday’s blog entry for my own attempt – apparently it was market research, not marketing).
1. Are they issues identified yesterday correct? The table I was on came up with these:
. Add collaboration
. Benchmarking against international good practice
. Capacity building for advocacy and leadership
. Preservation issue to cover all digital material, not just born digital
Others from the floor: interpretation, story telling roles; federated search & discovery of assets; equity of access to internet facilities; prioritising digitisation; impact measures; creative industries; broadband; content creation; merge standards with interoperability; merge education with training; broader and fundamental research; significance assessment; need for professional and organisation re-assessment or reinvention; facilitating sharing and exchange of knowledge and expertise; making the need for digitisation economically and politically an imperative; and the need for management or governance – a higher order purpose to argue the business case for this.
2. Are there three of the issues identified yesterday that are the highest priority to be addressed now? The top three from our table:
. Funding/resourcing/market research
. Skills & training
Others that we thought were important:
. Access to and re-use of collection
. Innovation and creativity
. Capacity building for advocacy and leadership
3. For these three issues – what specific aspects are particularly in common amongst all domains and what is not common?
. In archival domain the challenge is mainly born digital
. Libraries mainly are creating
. Museums and galleries have more of a mix and are still turning analogue to digital
. Market research seems common
. Funding for small institutions needs peak body support
. The source of funding may determine the priority of digitisation in libraries (targetted sponsorship
. Funding from private sources could skew priorities
. Depreciation funding is available at Federal level and not at state level
. Consistency of funding approaches
. Educating funding people, like finance people and auditors
. Finding and training the new skill set is a new challenge
. Training has to be relevant and deliver national competencies & be workplace related
My comment: Time eventually ran out and this kind of workshop is not the easiest thing in the world to blog about – you really had to be there!
August 17, 2006
There were some interesting showcase presentations over breakfast –
. Julian Bickersteth from Global Collection Services Pty Ltd told us about the Global Artifact Identification (GAId) repository that is Australian designed and developed specifically for the museum and gallery sector using UN Edifact code. Its unique code for objects doesn’t override the identification number from the home CMS, it just adds a number to assist in assets visibility and exposure. It is interoperable and talks to all CMS. An institution decides what is revealed to it via a user profile. The consumer doesn’t pay, but the provider does. It provides links to exhibitors, insurers, customs, freight forwarders and quarantine.
. Michael Carden from NAA ran us through their Xena software for digital preservation. See Xena
. Ann Lyons gave us a quick tour of the Vrroom virtual reading room, the NAA’s award winning education initiative.
. Gavan McCarthy is the Director of the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and he told us about the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online and its relationship with Picture Australia that delivers portraits of the subjects to ADB.
. Martin Hallett and Eleanor Whitworth outined Victoria’s Cultural Network that links six major cultural institutions in Melbourne – the Australian Centre for Moving Images, Federation Square, the National Gallery of Victoria (both sites), The State Library of Victoria and the Victorian Arts Centre. It provides a framework for cultural collaboration in Victoria, facilitates integrated access to digital content and facilitates the development of digital cultural content in Victoria.
Welcome (by video)
Senator the Hon Rod Kemp
Chair, Cultural Ministers Council & Minister for the Arts and Sport
Spoke of the importance of sharing precious Australian memory online. ‘Keep, protect, preserve.’ It is particularly important for access in remote and regional areas. Consistent approaches for standards, copyright and benchmarks are needed. So, nationally coordinating a framework is going to be very important. Cooperation will be essential. Online access expectations (of us) will only continue to grow.
The Chair for the morning sessions: Dr Barbara Piscitelli, AM (a Director from CCA)
Barbara challenged us to think outside square and to focus on strategies to develop our framework. We were told to look at possibilities within these issues.
What issues are we facing?
Introduction to the Issues Map, Darren Peacock, University of South Australia
Darren talked about the tool developed by CCA during the development of the working papers for the Summit – the Digital Collections Issues Map. Five clusters of issues were arranged around digitisation, preservation, use, acquisition and access. They are defined in the papers. He hopes it will help in using a shared and easily understood language across all the domains.
ACQUISITION: Harvesting the ‘born digital’, Tony Leschen, State Library of South Australia
This is particularly in relation to online publishing. Figures from the .au 2004 domain harvest (NLA) give an idea of the ‘data deluge’ that we face. And some data from Australia does not use the .au domain. It harvested 6.69 terabytes in 185 million files or unique documents on 800,000 hosts. It took six weeks to do (figures from Paul Koerbin at NLA). So the three models available:
1. Pandora – an optimum ‘pull’ model, but it can’t be used to capture everything, just selected sites. Readily accessible via NLA website pandora.nla.gov.au/about.html It is a staff-expensive process, shared by partners (including the Memorial – hello Paul!). Policy is essential.
2. Deposit or the push model – eg.
DSpace, e-Deposit & STORS from Tasmania.
Publishers make the decision. Reduces processing burden, but there are some access issues.
3. Domain harvest model – ‘pull’. Can be outsourced. Access issues. See the Internet Archive A range of technical issues.
Some legal issues still to be addressed including no legal deposit, copyright.
Relationships are needed as are standards.
DIGITISATION: Success on a shoestring, Greg Wallace, Greg Wallace DNC Services
Greg works with smaller organisations, regional and remote and also in metropolitan areas. He gave a passionate presentation from that perspective.
Not all institutions have networks or can perform even basic tasks such as back-ups.
Community collection organisations need to be valued by the communities they relate to.
Technical issues faced by these institutions are different to those faced by the larger institutions.
Greg addressed the issues surrounding the digitisation cluster from the perspective of smaller institutions.
Projects often become programs and this may be the beginning of new virtual collections.
Small institutions now face a ‘digital cliff’. External or shared digital repositories are necessary as well as access to expertise.
PRESERVATION: The issues involved in ensuring the permanence of digital collections, Ross Gibbs, National Archives of Australia
He encouraged us to read the paper on Digital Archiving in the 21st Century (from the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities) that was in our packs.
Ensuring the permanence of records presents a new challenge. Australia leads the world in this space with Xena (above) and VERS alone (& they are now coordinated). See also the Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative Still some issues to deal with including audiovisual material and scanned material. It isn’t the only way forward, but it is an essential part of it.
We need a vehicle to move the issues forward, perhaps an Australian Digital Collections Alliance facilitated by CCA?
ACCESS TO DIGITAL COLLECTIONS: discovering resources, Joy Suliman, Collections Australia Network (CAN – formerly AMOL)
Partners in CAN range from the largest to the smallest in the country. There are 95 online collections, 500,000 object records and 58,400 images.
She focussed on open access online to records. Issues include: privacy; accessibility (W3C standards and differing needs, connections); authentication and encryption; resource discovery; cataloguing; search tools (& linking); and cross collection searching.
CAN are now looking at an open search model and they’ve started with the Powerhouse Museum and NLA are also working towards this, via the CAN portal that links back to the original records from the CAN portal search results. Small and medium partners are very excited about this.
Joy also highlighted the picture trails that encourage exploration, browsing and discovery on Picture Australia – Others examples highlighted included:
the Art Gallery of NSW (note the conditions of entry), and
the State Library of Victoria’s Treasures website
USERS AND USE: Encouraging use by school students, Stuart Tait, The Le@rning Federation
The teacher and systems perspectives.
Education value statements are essential. Many partner institutions including major Australian and NZ institutions.
He ran though an example of studying the novel ‘McKenzie’s Books’ set in WW2. It used authentic digital resources. Teachers want: discoverability; flexibility of use; relevance; authenticity; knowledge; and permission for use. Stuart used a matrix to match the digital assets against both flexibility and relevance.
School education systems are heading to networks, tools, shared content and education portals.
USERS AND USE: Identifying the needs of users, Dr Angelina Russo, ARC Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation, based at Queensland University of Technology
Angelina’s project is New Literacy, New Audiences which brings together an expert group of strategists and technologists from some of Australia’s major museums, libraries and screen centres. The project examines how the evolution in digital content creation and multiplatform distribution can create a new audience of active cultural participants.
She referred to Maxwell Anderson’s advice that users will find their way to folksonomies and other rich experiences online whether we provide it or not.
What type of content should we create? Cost implications, sustainability, access?
In identifying user needs, we need to enable audiences who want to both connect and engage with us.
Co-created media – institutions and community creative partnerships, eg. Amazon (& its unbiased comment and reviews), wikis, Flickr, MySpace, You Tube, podcasts, digital stories, etc. Specific examples cited included:
Red Studio at MoMA
Powerhouse museum collection 2.0 beta (includes ratings and much more – see my notes from their amazing lunchtime showcase later on); & Target (selling co-created media online)
In essence, community engagement in the digital creative process.
RIGHTS MANAGEMENT and digital collections, Dr Andrew Kenyon, Centre for Media and Communications Law, The University of Melbourne
Mentioned the recent research projects – Copyright in Cultural Institutions (advice is now online free at the CMCL website )
A lot is about records management (to keep track of licences), but it is also about relations, risk management and reform. The sector is essentially very risk averse in this field.
Some possibilities are already available under existing administrative purposes and preservation copying exceptions/provisions. In the 21st century, the status of collecting institutions and creators require different reform.
Risk aversion limits public accessibility of material in our sector. In other sectors they just run the risk all the time – music, video, etc.
There is a proposal to introduce new fair use or flexible dealing provisions for non-commercial purposes.
Education to understand the possibilities is necessary as well as a leadership position on the issue.
My comment: It seems to me and to others that I spoke to that there are a lot of valuable individual attempts at solving common problems already happening somewhere. We all seem too busy to stay aware of these valuable and worthy projects and in order to avoid duplication of effort, perhaps a better gateway or portal to them that uses RSS to keep subscribers aware of updates is advisable? Could CCA maintain this? Please?
August 16, 2006
The Policy context (this was after lunch and occasionally I lost my concentration – apologies)
1. Digital Content Industry Action Agenda (DCIAA), Tom Kennedy
The Executive Summary of the report (DCIAA) was passed out to us in our packs.
A Strategic Industry Leadership Group (SILG) was established in 2004 and Tom chairs that group.
The digital industry includes us (cultural institutions) as well as internet, games, tv media, software, etc.
Components of the industry include its core, embedded production and distribution (only 10%).
The industry engages over 300,000 people and is worth $A21 bn (or 3.5% of our GDP). It has an economic multiplier effect that is higher than agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
Growth forecasts are 6.6% globally but only 3.8% nationally. So, beware international competition.
The big need is for investment. Other issues are: international competition; the digital/analogue distinction; ‘general purpose’ technology; filling the skills gap; and something else that I missed in the rush.
2. National Broadband Strategy Implementation Group – Digital Content Working Group, Colin Griffith
On the role of broadband strategies. Work of the group is primarily related to public sector – health, education and cultural.
Broadband enables new opportunities. Their work has been primarily focused on understanding what people want and need. (My Comment: But don’t we have an obligation to go further than that and surprise them or deliver what they don’t even know they can get yet?)
They also identify some issues needing government action.
Peer-to-peer (i.e. Bit Torrent and Limewire-type usage – at this stage I was feeling a tad guilty!) is gradually filling the internet pipe. Where does content come from? (The people.)
How do we understand changes in user behaviour? Web rating companies? They use Nielsen Netratings.
We need to benchmark where we are in terms of growth of size against growth of use. Do we have any brand loyalty?
They found that there was: growing use of international institutions; particularly with younger people; low school use; strong demand for audiovisual content (eg. archive.org/movies); and search optimisation has a large impact on the level of use (eg. recent improvements at the Powerhouse). Much useage is growth going overseas to international institutions!
There are a range of networking opportunities – broadband, local libraries, shared systems & services, connecting institutions to content repositories, etc. he referred to the rise of Wikis and their use. Decentralised production.
Supporting demand and public engagement – facilitating better discovery & community developed content (to fill the ‘virtual circle’). This message came out several times and is consistent with the rise of Web 2.0.
Summary: Benefits of collaboration, broadband as an enabler, what isn’t being done, how to understand behaviour of users, benchmarking of use relative to other sites and public engagement.
Now we start to collaborate here at the summit using our collective expertise to begin developing that framework . . .
Proposing an ‘Australian Framework for Digital Heritage Collections’, Margaret Birtley (CEO, CCA)
CCA has distributed a set of working papers, and Part A (the pre-reading) was largely put together by Darren Peacock from the available literature. It provides a basic skeleton for the framework.
Workshop 1: Principles for the Framework
Workshop discussion of the Principles that might underpin an Australian Framework for Digital Heritage Collections
We want to get as far as we can towards a national digitisation strategy today and tomorrow. It will be a progressively built document though, not a final today.
The facilitator was Dr Michael Henry, The Strategy Shop
Dagmar Schmidmaier, AM (President of ALIA) noted that some issues are more operational than strategic and CCA should put a strategic rather than operational position for us.
Key questions to be addressed: 1. Objectives for the framework? 2. What are the principles underpinning/guiding it? 3. What are the common issues across all four domains?
From the table I was on (# 20), people from all domains were interested in all three questions. In the time allocated, however, we only dealt with questions 1 & 3:
1. Objectives for the framework?
. Many offered are pretty low level & could be grouped (motherhood statements)
. Facilitate exchange of knowledge and expertise across collecting domains
. Advocacy for the centrality of collections (outside the sector)
. Sustainability of our collections
. Establishing common standards and processes (My Comment: Or even going beyond that, as it may be a harness to the previous age? Perhaps the real challenge here is to think well beyond those standards and come up with a totally new concept for the future, following the Google, Amazon and Creative Commons models? Maybe we could even throw in a bit of wikipedia.org into the mix, because if we are really going to embrace the future of the web, who is to say that we are the only people who know about the items we are describing?)
3. What are the common issues across the four domains?
. Providing access
. Facilitating better search and discovery
. Sustainability & e-permanence
. Skills, technical expertise and development of them
. Capacity to drive the agenda (policy, politics, community) and INNOVATE!
. Meeting educational needs
. Meeting and understanding user needs
. Choosing what not to do in order to take up this challenge (a major cultural change)
. Dealing with community involvement & ‘loss of control’
And then the consolidated response from all tables:
. robust, sustainable, flexible
. a mechanism to manage
. address resourcing issue, born digital & contextualisation
. ’emulate the Euro strategy and adapt to local conditions’
. strategy or framework? – ensure & increase access to content current/future generations
. identify recurrent funds for born dig, digitisation research, and description
. advocate interests of sector and lead on this issue proactively (this seemed popular)
. (most tables seem to draft their own)
. people did not like the use of the word ‘heritage’
. prove the need through researching demands
. a central role in education including life-long learning & research
. ticked principles 1, 2, 3 and 4? (but did not get to the rest)
. Common standards
. Cost-benefit analysis to demonstrate analysis across whole sector
. Increased cooperation and collaboration
. (Scope being ‘heritage’ and ‘cultural’ may be too narrow?)
. Appraising what to do
. Avoiding duplication
. (the language needs ‘ramping up’ or be more aspirational)
. Focus on users and not driven by technology
. Our role as custodians
. Ethical management
. Addresses benefits to the nation, public good, public enrichment
. Observe tension between education and commercial use
. Recognise the human element – skills
. Interactivity also to be incorporated in some way
. Many participants thought the old (1995) NLA principles that were suggested and circulated here were good for their day, but did not really address the born digital issues we now face (& perhaps they were too wedded to the old ways?)
3. Common Issues
. Many institutions are not represented by a peak body (eg. University archives)
. Project-based digital initiatives (not strategic or sustainable)
. (unrealistic) Expectations of additional funds
. Capabilities vary
. Meeting audience needs
. Protocols – who does what in which sector?
. Preservation digitisation needs
. Small archives and museums issues/needs
. Sustainability in the broader context
. Re-use of collections (other than what we envisaged)
. Redundant formats
. Role of training authorities
. Further research & marketing
. Standards and definitions – at a high level because each domain has its own sets (it will be very hard, if not impossible to get agreement)
. Willingness to cooperate and collaborate
. Investment in industry
. Marketing to users
. Interoperability, language protocols
. Knowing/understanding users and audience
. Legacy digital formats needing re-digitisation or migration and access to them
. Distributed national collection networking?
. Growing access to broadband?
. Re-allocation of existing resources (to address these new business needs)!
. Leading the technology (and users?), not just following or reacting – INNOVATION is important!
. Importance of skills development and learning for people (investment in the skills base)
. More international benchmarking
. Relate to existing users and expose our content to our non-users
. We must be passionate in our beliefs!
. Capacity to drive the agenda
August 16, 2006
Where are we now?
Speakers from each of the four major collecting domains reported on Australian achievements and the ‘state of play’ in that domain. The session was chaired by Alan Dodge from Art Gallery of Western Australia. He stressed the importance of sustainability for our digitisation programs and mentioned the difficult funding choices involved, particularly for art museums – purchasing art or digitisation programs. (I’m not so sure it is still a ‘choice’ for some of us, it is now more of an obligation to be involved in digitisation and the ‘choice’ or maybe ‘challenge’ is now to decide what activities we should drop.)
. Archives domain
Tony Caravella, Chair, Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities
He had five key messages. There are many and growing (new) sources for text, sound and images based records or documents – they consititute our future history. Users now expect online access and may ignore content not already online. We must respond to and facilitate this trend!
Tony reminded us of basic archives functions – preservation, assesseing for collection development, providing access, and advising on capture. So what is the state of play (largely in the public archives domain)?
Much has been done in: advocating the early capture and creation of digital records; encouraging record keeping standards; advisng on records keeping management systems; developing standards for national and international best practice; skills ID and training;metadata development; online access of significant digital collections (eg. NAA); providing seminars, presentations and guidance; and digital preservation (since 1990), particularly in major archives.
So, the messages:
1.Culture and content is at risk – users expect it t be cared for and the loss of born digital material is a major risk.
2.There is a solution for born digital collections and archives provide leadership and expertise – solutions.
3.We are not confident of the capacity to implement solutions (i.e. for 2) in a sustainable and scaleable way. Is there the political resolve?
4.Most content is still not available online – it needs digitisation, supporting metadata and money!
5.There is an urgent need for coordinated advocacy and action across all cultural sectors.
He proposed an Australian Digital Archives Alliance – with broad membership, for advocacy and awareness raising.
He also proposed a National Digital Heritage Fund, eg. The UK Lottery Model.
He referred to world leading achievements of both the NAA and PRO-V.
Maybe, from the archives perspective, we fall short in services to children and our services are not yet intuitive enough.
Archivists can manage records from the past, but we won’t go backwards and need to think of future needs.
. Galleries domain
The Chair said digitising was a boon to exposing little known collections in art museums.
1. José Robertson, from the National Gallery of Australia
How to enhance understanding and enjoyment of visual arts? NGA moving from web -> digitising art -> contextualising articles (more recently), but not yet thinking of the internet as integral to business. They are now using something like Zoomify to explore detail in online images.
He spoke of adding new content to images – sound as well as text, documentaries, interviews, etc. Podcasts are now being used by the NGA and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery to enhance the interpretive experience of online art. Onsite digital access is also increasingly being used, eg. big screens, projections, touch screens.
We need to resource these efforts seriously – what about NPG (UK)’s print on demand image sales? What about what the SMH or Age (Australian newspapers) do with their digital print-on-demand content?
2. Jonathan Cooper, Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW)
Users creating their own exhibitions? . . . ‘Meta-exhibitions’. This probably isn’t quite there yet, but AGNSW has its own ‘My Virtual Gallery’. Users, create their own exhibitions using AGNSW art images. They can: comment about the works in text panels; resize artworks; and search for other exhibitions. Some staff initially regarded the concept of untrained exhibition curators and critics as counter to our role, but it was launched. Users therefore can create new content out of existing content, but ‘be prepared for staff resistance!’.
3. Cherie Prosser, University of South Australia
Born Digital? No longer is the object the primary source of ‘art’. With sophisticated digital techniques we can conserve or migrate ephemeral works and the Tate (UK) have recently been criticised for doing just this! She used the example of Damien Hirst’s comments about his 1991 work ‘The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living’. Was it actually meant to survive beyond the thought it initially simulated? Will the preserved work be compromised by digital (or even physical) preservation?
Are we/should we be shifting acquisition more to ‘collect now’ than retrospective acquisition and what are the implications if we do this? Eg. What ACMI does. More artists are diversifying into digital media. What about temporary loans of digital works?
How important is collecting now?
. Libraries domain
1. Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, Chair, Council of Australian State Libraries
Technology has the capacity to animate our roles beyond what we can even perceive (now).
There are some stark challenges, however. Responsibilities, expectations, use and needs.
Libraries have prided themselves on collaboration and Anne-Marie made a plea for this at this forum – to transform our own thinking and expectations and to argue convincingly with Government. But we must make our case very clear and at the right time.
Is the Australia History Summit in Canberra on 17 August an opportunity to allow us to shine? And possibly the National Reform Agenda (involving all Australian governments) to address future social and economic challenges. We must have a long term perspective. It will focus on human capital, competition and regulatory reform. We relate to the first of these in our activities. A national vision is imperative and we must excite government in order to encourage them to pledge their support.
2. Warwick Cathro, National Library of Australia
Warwick quickly covered both achievements and future needs and offered a follow-up paper after the summit. There are already some plans from NSLA & CAUL and the recent Archiving the Web Conference.
Overseas models were given in our working papers. Perhaps CCA should be an advocate for all of our domains.
He then looked at some of the major challenges:
. Building digital collections. For born digital, via: harvesting – PANDORA and the .au web domain harvest, but it still needs legal deposit and direction as defined by the web archiving conference; deposit, eg. the higher education repositories funded by DEST and what about community deposit?; licenced access, eg. CAUL/NSLA, and the need for national licensing arrangement like the NZ model? And for digitisation initiatives, a funding program is needed for all cultural institutions as recommended by Senate Inquiry but how do we do this on a large scale for collections like newspapers?
. Accessing collections – eg. Libraries Australia, exposure to Google, portals, Picture Australia (including the Flickr trial), open search trial (developed by Amazon), AskNow, and the ALCC debate on copyright.
. Reducing complexity – facilitating open search, using persistent URLs, annotating discovery and community participation, copyright legislation improvements.
. Management & preservation – international collaboration (IIPC, PREMIS); PADI website; work of APSR & preservation metadata guidelines.
. Future needs – government support; sustainability; risk assessment; deployment of preservation metadata; cost models; preserving complex websites.
. Skills – there has been some skills transfer, but we really need serious development and attention devoted to this area.
. Museums domain
Tim Hart, Museum Victoria
Museums encompass many different types of collections. Museums have been experiencing fundamental changes in CMS and database design and evolution. He traced a record from an early registry entry in a log book, to a card, and finally to its brief online catalogue entry. Is it better?
Museum collections have differing needs.
Collaborative digitisation ventures are possible for the distributed national collection but probably only for the top several hundred museums.
Most museum digitisation has historically/primarily been for collection management, not access.
There is much diversity amongst museums in achievement in this sector (and this is briefly surveyed in his paper, handed out in our working papers).
Who do we digitise for? Organisational management, the education sector, the public? Each have differing needs. Have we asked them what they want? Which visitors are most valuable to us?
He stressed the importance of information, context, etc. of our collections.
He ran though regional and university museum achievements briefly.
Library collections in museums – only three online in Australia?
He acknowlwdged the development of multi-media content for our own use.
CAN (developed from AMOL) – includes small and regional museums. There are now more than 1,500 partner organisations.
He demonstrated a Flash-based tool to view and drill down into collections and exhibitions online including Zoomify, sound files and book page-turning.
Natural science collections usually work closely with research institutes. They’ve developed their own standards and taxonomies. Australia now has a fauna website and there is also a plant version.
Material culture collections have many standards. Dublin Core is now widely accepted.
Indigenous collections – have many sensitive issues and may be under-represented on the web.
Google has changed the way people come to us. Information and content is still king in the museum sector.
In summary – resources, collaboration, and many other issues seem common and recurring themes so far.
Lunchtime showcases were not recorded – I was eating and delivering one of them.
August 16, 2006
Sue Nattrass, Chair, Collections Council of Australia Ltd
(Sue Chaired a working group that delivered the cultural program for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.) She acknowledged the traditional owners of this land and introduced the Directors and Staff of the CCA.
Sue spoke of the importance of the development, protection and accessibility of our collections. Delegates were welcomed and thanked for attending.
Welcome (by video)
Senator the Hon Helen Coonan
(Federal) Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts & Deputy Leader of the Government in the Australian Senate
She spoke of the rapid changes in information technology and their effect and relationship to the cultural sector and the services we offer. Digital content producers are now working in many sectors. Traditional media also now challenged by new media and sources of entertainment. Our sector will continue to be approached for material and we will only be limited by our imagination, but we must work together. She stressed the importance of our relationship with those digital content producers. They are well placed to take advantage of rapidly changing technology.
The Government is commited to developing a digital content strategy and she referred to the digital content action agenda and its aims.
For our sector, the relationship to improving broadband access will enable us to take advantage of many new opportunities using cutting edge technologies to deliver innovative content to remote communities.
Keynote: The future for digital collections
David Dawson – Head of Digital Futures, Museums Libraries and Archives Council (aka ‘MLA’ – UK)
(A former archaeologist and museum curator.)
He said there were many familiar themes in the UK with their digital cultural sector.
See Inspiring Learning For All as a tool for planners.
They have a 50 million pounds for (digital) content creation program.
MLA funded by the UK equiavent of DCITA. A key issue is the need to support constant learning. He spoke of ubiquitous computing – mobiles, PDAs and wireless ‘liquid broadband’, & the PlayStation generation – they’ve new expectations! He then gave examples: of teachers using games to teach history and culture; an art gallery using gaming to create an online environment of their gallery; the top technorati tags in blogs – books, culture, events, writing, architecture, museums, art, etc.
People want personalised content to support their learning.
Issues to be addressed include copyright, tools and improved access.
UK are trialling online assessment for their 2008 GCSE. ‘E-portfolios’ are envisaged of what they do to be created while learning. They’d be retrieved later for further development.
All learners need to be authenticated on an education network and they’ll have content access via their learning platforms.
Museums, libraries and archives must be involved in this network.
Coordination of national digitisation policies in Europe started in 2000 and they got an action plan going in 2002 – this in turn led to the MINERVA project.
Technical guidelines were produced as standards were seen as very important. The guidelines document had 30,000 downloads, demonstrating the need for this type of guidance. Now part of funding mandatory requirements. Based around digital life cycle.
Then new Dynamic Action Plan. To provide leadership, coordination, overcome fragmentation, etc.
European Digital Library was initiated by France, but this supposedly ‘had no relationship to the Google initiative’. It was to deliver multi-lingual content to get around the web dominance of English and in response to the US initiatives.
All Euro member states’ Cultural Ministers discussed this issue in December 2005.
Then came the UK’s National Knowledge Bank – to bring all strands and initiatives together. Relates again to the personal learning space and content that can be used for non-commercial purposes. Important that it is not just about supply, but also the contribution of digital content (i.e. from the community). Eg. Poetry Archive – it gives a chance to hear the voice of the poet themselves. But how do children contribute? MLA put that side-by-side with the poets’ content. See also the Creative Archive Licence Group . The British Film Institute – has a standard licence like Creative Commons (not for commercial use). It aims to share and credit content and operates in the UK only. MLA also have a ‘quality mark’ that could be used as a stamp of meeting standards.
He gave an example of the use of a huge newsreel online archive for literature teachers. They needed to be guided as to how to best use it and then became very enthusiastic about it.
He also spoke of the benefits for content producers – celebrated, reduced duplication of effort, etc.
Themes emerged in his talk of the use, re-use and re-purposing of digital content. Learning is at the heart of digital content creation and use.
Someone from The Learning Federation asked about the management of intellectual property rights and cultural institutions as guardians (as opposed to providers?) of content? David said this type of use and drive to use digital content has facilitated more open debate with the rights holders. His view was that the model should be much closer to ‘public lending rights’ – i.e. payment to authors for the number of issues of library books. This happens at point of use as opposed to access.
How mature is the ‘e-portfolio’concept? Not yet up and running – but it has commitment and will soon move to a pilot stage. If assessment moves online, this will be essential. It has to happen.
A representative of the National Library of New Zealand asked about how all of this relates to the concept of life-long learner – what about those who are independent and not associated with institutions? He related this to libraries, archives and museums being part of the network of learning resources (but I wonder why we would want to take open public access away from the open/public web?). I think he meant that this was more important for commercially valuable material. To me this seemed less appropriate in the Australian and NZ setting of broader public access.
More to come, lots more! And we eventually started to address the objectives, principles and issues surrounding a national framework in the afternoon, so keep checking back for what reps from all four cultural domains (galleries, archives, libraries and museums) put together on those questions later on tonight, unless you’ve something better to do!