Saa11 Thursday Morning Session

Session 107: What Happens After “Here Comes Everybody”: An Examination of Participatory Archives”

The first presenter and author of ArchivesNext blog, Kate Theimer, shared with us her thoughts surrounding the creation of a new definition of participatory archives that focuses on the on-line environment as the epicenter of collaboration between community members, archivists and scholars. Specifically, Theimer discussed the importance of creating your own culture, not just passively ingesting a culture that’s already present. By contributing knowledge and resources we increase or augment the understanding of archival materials. The Old Weather transcription project in the UK is one such example. People contribute their time (resource) and add content through transcription.

Beth Yakel addressed the evolving notion of credibility and what it means to be credible in the on-line arena. As she articulated, trust in our Web 2.0 world has come to mean that community members must trust each other when engaging in a participatory archive project, archivists must trust community members and perhaps most important: community members must trust us as archivists and archival institutions. Yakel explains that only through transparency of practice and through community, reputation, consistencies and persuasive intent and professional endorsements will we achieve true participatory archival endeavors.

Alexandra Eveleigh built upon the previous presentations and explored the role archivists can adopt in environments like Flickr, where as practitioners we have less “control” once materials are posted. Should we mediate? should we interfere? Should we correct comments? I would argue that these questions could be asked of any social media forum: twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. To begin anaswering these questions, Eveleigh aserted and I would agree, that first archivists must stop thinking of themselves as gatekeepers or as I sometime say “Keepers of the stuff.” Instead we must be open and transparent and encourage participation from different groups.


  1. Lori Birrell says:

    Thanks for the link! And I enjoyed your session.


  1. […] was primarily concerned with contributors’ motivations to participate.  A couple of people, Lori Satter and Mimi Dionne have already blogged about the session (did I really say that?!), and here are […]

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