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Thoughts from the RunCoCo workshop I attended in Leeds yesterday.

RunCoCo is funded by JISC to help those setting up community collections: where people get involved with a project by uploading their own content or by adding information to existing resources.  Aka crowdsourcing.  I think the time has come for these ideas, thanks to the  rapid growth of social media and the end of major funding for mass digitisation.

I was particularly looking for inspiration for the next phase of PaxCat Project.  These archives tell the stories of people who joined CND, who marched from Aldermaston, or camped at Greenham Common.  We can’t possibly house, catalogue or digitise all the material these individuals and their families created, let alone capture their memories.  Can crowdsourcing offer an effective way to bring memories, photographs, objects, ideas together creatively?

The workshop proved exciting and thoughtprovoking, and gave me a much better idea of what we could do.  My notes are full of ideas to follow up, always a sign of a good session.

The thing that struck me: crowdsourcing involves a change of attitude, a letting go, a relaxing of ideas about standards, ownership, metadata.   In a digital world, the role of heritage professionals may be to use our skills and expertise to bring people and collections together.  But we don’t have to own or house those collections in order to do exciting things with them.

I have picked out one thing from each presentation that interested me.  More details about each will be on the RunCoCo website, so I won’t duplicate here.

  1. Can we tap into the high-end digitisation skills being developed by the White Rose universities so we don’t duplicate their effort?  (Beccy Shipman of LIFE-SHARE Project).
  2. Using flickr to build online communities with minimal input.  Easy to do, but only if the communities are already active.  (Kate Lindsay, Great War Archive).
  3. 17 models of funding for digital collections.  Licensing now is not as effective as I would have guessed. (Leigh Garrett, Look Here!)
  4. Simple mnemonic to help communities with archives: 3 copies in 3 media in 3 places.   (Lisa Greenhalgh, Our Stories. ).
  5. Features of sustainable digi projects include empowered leadership, unique value, creative management of costs, diverse £ sources, realistic goals.  PaxCat had four out of five, not bad! (Sarah Fahmy, Strategic Content Alliance).
  6. The New Opportunities Fund project websites (1999-2004) ten years on: sustainable technically, the sites are still there, but look dated and have not been sustained editorially.  (Alastair Dunning, JISC.).

Alas, Chris Wild the Retronaut could not make it.  His work is amazing!

PS 17 November, I didn’t include the mini presentations.   I shared my thoughts on the next steps for PaxCat.  Another project covered was launched today, Addressing History, crowdsourcing to enrich historic maps, starting with Edinburgh.

CAKE RATING: 8. Mini danishes, sweeties on tables, choccy prizes, nice lunch cakes.

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