Firstly, I attended the TEDx Albertopolis at the Royal Albert Hall. This was an afternoon of firsts - my first TED and my first trip to the Albert Hall. Neither disappointed.
|Royal Albert Hall|
- Julia Lohmann, the head of the department of seaweed at the V&A, commented that every day we make nature into artifice and that we must ensure that the artifice is worthy of the nature from which it came. An interesting point when you consider that she makes art out of kale
- David Braben, a computer science and Raspberry Pi man, pointed out that there are rules in every piece of art, even in the structure of the Albert Hall. It is these rules that make the world beautiful. This got me thinking about the rules that archivists have when they catalogue a collection and, in a way, by cataloguing it and lending it some coherence and structure, we give it a sort of beauty
- Hannah Redler, the head of media space at the Science Museum, talked about the focus of the museum on creativity in the interpretation of science. They don't want to preach at visitors but facilitate their understanding. I went to the Science Museum lates last night in fact and there was so much creativity that you almost forgot where you were. I particularly enjoyed Punk Science, a comedy duo dedicated to making you think in new ways about science
I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, especially because the talks were short and to the point and on a variety of subjects to suit everyone. I was rather drained afterwards but I certainly had a lot to think about and I'd recommend future TEDxs to people.
Paul Conway from the School of Information at the University of Michigan gave the annual Jenkinson Lecture at UCL on Wednesday. The title of the lecture was 'Traces and Transformations: A Case for the Archival Nature of Digital Surrogates'.
Paul focussed on Google Books, since this is related to his research at King's in London. 97% of the books in the HathiTrust Digital Library (the 12th largest research library in the States) are from Google Books and, from that statistic alone, we can gauge the importance of his research. He is looking into the errors in the scanning of these books and how these are corrected. The main thing that stood out for me was the high number of pages, which show errors but are re-scanned and submitted to the HathiTrust without the HathiTrust knowing what changes have been made to the ebook version. It becomes impossible to know which version scan you are looking at and you may not be able to return to a scan that you had looked at.
Paul argued that new archival thinking is required. Surrogates should be considered as a separate entity with new and transformative value over and above the original. The integrity of these must, therefore, be protected. I have never thought about this idea before but completely see where he is coming from. I imagine, though, that it all comes down to money and whether institutions can afford the funds and man power required to keep all versions of digitised works.
CreativeWorks London: Working with Archives
This conference was held at the National Archives in Kew and this was my first trip to the TNA!
|The National Archives|
CreativeWorks London are a knowledge exchange hub funded by the AHRC and they focus on the connectivity and collaboration between research bases and business. This was a useful conference to find out what various archives are up to but also to see how they are engaging with practitioners to create new work.
I'll discuss a couple that really stood out to me. Kate Wheeler of the National Archives told us an interesting idea that was passed to her from an archivist at the BBC - that archives are about eavesdropping on history and providing an insight into something that you might not have been meant to know. When she worked in media, she used archival material from the BBC about Enid Blyton to advertise a new Blyton programme. The main star could not promote the programme so they turned to creative use of the archive to show the public the letters between the BBC and Blyton, telling her that her stories were not suitable for television(!). This otherwise unknown snippet left the public with a taste for the hidden and the programme got the highest number of views for any drama on BBC4. This shows that archives should capitalise on their less mainstream contents.
Kissley Leonor, the Creative Industries Marketing Manager from the British Library told us about how the library attracts creatives to their collections and encourages them to use these materials, which are now out of copyright, as inspiration to make new work. They then advocate the Business and IP Centre, which can offer valuable help when setting up a business and marketing yourself. The BL is offering the full package here.
Again the Singing Hypnotist came up, I feel like I'm stalking him. I spoke about him here and have seen him several times since, in shows, in audiences, at work etc. He will be returning to the NT Studio in october to continue work on a new piece so I will pin him down and have a chat about his creative use of archives!
All in all I feel like I have learned a lot this week and am full of ideas for how the NT Archive can grow and engage creative users...I just need to get the catalogue working first!