Sunday, December 07, 2008

Archives*Open is Open

I hope I sparked interest with last week's teaser blog post and the teaser tweets I scheduled and sent out throughout the weekend announcing the launch of Archives*Open, a new community-powered blog that focuses on archives, access, community and the Web. It is my--well, actually, our--contribution to Archives 2.0.

Giving Access to the Masses

Archives*Open, whose tag line is "Giving Access to Masses," is a platform for archivists and other professionals in the field to share and promote their Web 2.0 archival projects that focus on 'giving access to the masses,' and in so doing, inspire others who may be considering embarking on similar projects and raise awareness around the community.

I hesitate to write a 'definitive' definition of what is Web 2.0 since it incorporates so many technologies and so many values and ethics. So let's sum it up this way: Web 2.0 (and by association, Archives 2.0) is about using current and emerging Web technologies in innovative ways that focus on providing the public with a more personal, interactive, and social experience with archival materials.1

If you are working on a similar project, it's real easy to share your success stories (or almost got it right attempts): Visit Archives*Open, leave a comment with your name (personal or corporate), project title, brief project description, and a URL. That's all. I'll collect as many as I can on a weekly basis and post them on a weekly roundup blog post.

Furthermore, Archives*Open is a platform to discuss Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking, social media, etc) and Web 2.0 ethics and values (communication, conversation, participation, relationshipts, transparency, etc) and their impact on the emerging and evolving Archives 2.0 paradigm, which is being talked about constructively and critically in the archival blogosphere.

The Story Behind Archives*Open (for those really, really interested)

The seed for this blog started in late summer of this year (2008) when I was reflecting on my career in the field so far (a kind of reflection kindled by an uncertain future and, ahem, unemployment).

I found myself focusing on--and subconsciously building a new blog around--those areas that I had found most fascinating in the archives and to which I could add a solid voice of experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm.

That area is the area of creating, building, and providing improved, interactive and enhanced access to archival materials using current and emerging Web technologies.

I almost always found personal and professional satisfaction when a project such as an online virtual exhibit, online photo gallery of digitized photographs, or a large-scale portal project was launched and the public was given access to archival materials and responded with keen interest and appreciation for history and our shared stories. I was satisfied, but I knew there were more stories to share and more innovative and engaging ways to tell them.

When self-criticism struck the idea of starting a new blog, I started to doubt. I really did not want to create another soap box blog. But then the many voices in the archival blogosphere began writing more about Archives 2.0 in concrete terms - and the archival community seemed to be embracing some of the technologies and values that were defining Web 2.0. Thanks to them, and now for them, I set aside doubt and proceeded.

While I momentarily thought about converting this blog, The DIGITAL Archive, into something that would suit the needs of what is now Archives*Open, I decided against it because I felt I had established on this blog a satisfactory mix of news, comments, opinions, and observations. And my two readers would have been furious if I had changed formats yet again!

With Archives*Open, I wanted to build a more focused blog that is collaborative and community-driven, meaning that the content would come from both the writer and the community. And by more focused, I wanted a blog with a focus on access to archival materials.


1. ArchivesNext has a list of examples of existing archives/Web 2.0 type projects and websites.

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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.