• Sharing the shoeboxes under the bed

    SESSION FORMAT: Facilitated talkfest

    This is a tentative exploration of ideas, so if anyone specialises in this, please jump in.

    Official government information, historical records and newspaper articles tell part of the story of a community. The digital humanities community is working well to collect and expose this data.

    Many communities have “shoeboxes under the bed” containing personal information like family photographs, recipes, memorabilia and artworks. People can be filmed or recorded telling their personal stories. Amateur historians, hobby genealogists, community arts projects, library local history collections, ABC Open are all involved in trying to capture these stories.

    “Build it and they will come” models for harvesting this type of data have not proved effective. The internet is littered with beautiful looking sites with great architecture that have no data beyond the initial seeding data that was collected before grant money ran out.

    Kete Horowhenua is an example of a successful site collecting many different digital formats and community metadata, harvesting the shoeboxes under the bed. http://horowhenua.kete.net.nz/


    What is the best way to create a project to harvest these stories that has community ownership ?

    Is there value in creating a model or guidelines to create an easy-to-implement platform for communities that want to harvest their shoeboxes? What features need to be included beside:

    • rights management
    • remix
    • best metadata schema
    • conversion to standardised file formats
    • exposure to search engines
    How would one co-locate these records with official datasets so that together they tell a complete story?
    Is there a role for public libraries as physical places to collect these stories and virtual places to create platforms for these stories?





  1. Basil Dewhurst says:

    An interesting example I was part of developing back in 2001-2002: The National Quilt Register (http://www.collectionsaustralia.net/nqr/).

    “Old quilts of all types have always been about memories and women’s hidden, often unspoken, language. They carry stories about our history and about needlework and provide a rich insight into women’s lives. In the National Quilt Register women tell their own stories, some for the first time, about love, despair, managing, surviving, adversity, friendship, endurance. The quilts stay where they are and the stories are shared.” (http://www.collectionsaustralia.net/nqr/about.php)

  2. k.greenhill says:

    Another issue arising out of yesterday’s Digital Public Sphere is whether there is merit in replicating / continuing something like CAN, that tried to provide an aggregated search across disparate collections of shoeboxes… Like the way that New Zealand has 34 Kete regionally that feed data up to DNZ…

  3. perkinsy1 says:

    I’ve posted the session notes on Google docs. Feel free to comment and amend!

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