Day one – the afternoon session

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
. Preservation
. Sustainability & e-permanence
. Selection
. Resourcing
. Skills, technical expertise and development of them
. Copyright
. Standards
. 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:
1. Objectives
. 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

2. Principles
. 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
. Copyright
. 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
. Infrastructure
. 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

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