Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Transforming User Knowledge into Archival Knowledge

Transforming User Knowledge into Archival Knowledge. Tarvo Kärberg, Koit Saarevet. D-Lib Magazine. March/April 2016.
     The Open Archival Information System (OAIS) defines long term preservation as the act of maintaining information independently understandable by a designated community. This can be very difficult to achieve in practice for a number of reasons:
  • the information may not have been sufficiently described /structured during pre-ingest or ingest 
  • the producer organization no longer existed at the time of archiving, 
  • the content may not have the desired quality level for submission 
  • resources may not be available
There are three basic terms to distinguish: data, information and knowledge, though these may not be agreed definitions:
  • discrete facts without explicit relations can be considered simple data;
  • information: content, which has relations, an aggregation of data
  • knowledge: if they are interconnected 
A "reason to have a distinction between these terms is that it provides more structure and clarity to understanding the complexity of digital preservation." It provides a better overview of archival collections and better access solutions to the archived knowledge. Metadata is crucial for digital projects but it is time-consuming to create.  As with any metadata, the further away from the actual project it is created, the costlier it becomes to achieve, up to the point where it may be practically impossible to create. Archival institutions simply lack the staff to process all their vast holdings. Another overwhelming challenge is the depth and width of expertise required for enriching the descriptions. One possible solution is to "crowd source" the knowledge, since "the users and archivists together can be more knowledgeable about the archival materials than an archivist alone can be". Crowdsourcing allows the content descriptions to include a detailed level of granularity across a broad range of subjects and collections.

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