Yi-Ting Lin

Yi-Ting Lin

Last updated on 9 August 2022

Yi-Ting Lin is a PhD student in Information Studies at the University of Glasgow. She recently attended DCDC 2022 with the support of the DPC Career Development Fund, which is funded by DPC Supporters.

Thanks to DPC's support, I attended the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities (DCDC) conference for the first time last week (#DCDC22) and learnt loads of new development and strategies. In this blog post, I contextualise the content of what I learned with themes and highlight some keywords to track future research and development of practice.

As introduced on the DCDC 2022 official website, the five-day virtual conference (11th to 15th July 2022) provided a forum for cultural sectors and academia to exchange experience and knowledge. This allows cultural sectors to construct a common value and share vision for future practice to explore solutions for digital innovations. From the inspiring presentation and animated discussion in Q&A sessions, this year’s cultural sectors addressed a degree of concern over ethical issues, trainings for professionals and participants, digital innovation in archive management, and the challenge and outcome of participatory projects.


Ethical Issues

My PhD research relates to how designing participatory archives will inevitably involve solving diversity and inclusion issues. Ethical issues mentioned in the conference include gender, inclusive design, inclusive environment in cultural sectors, and digital exclusion. The presentations illustrated the depth and complexity of these issues. For example, digital exclusion research might aim to fix the representation of minority and marginalised people in archives (Boardman and University of York, 2022) or the exclusion caused by the technology (Aguiar, Gillespie and PRONI, 2022). Additionally, building an inclusive virtual environment has become a common goal among cultural sectors, and this can be achieved from the beginning of the interface design of the digital platform by following inclusive design principles (Swan et al., 2022; Watson, 2022).


Trainings for Professionals and Participants

Digital skills and literacy were another focus in DCDC22, with digital skills composed of competency, capability, and literacy (considered the most important). Cultural sectors have been developing various training programmes. For example, The National Archives run the Bridging the Digital Gap programme to recruit people with IT skills and technology experience. In her talk, Jones (2022) emphasised the ability to write Python and indicated its importance in future archival work and research. In the Keynote session on 12th July, speakers further explore the development of digital skills in GLAM with their experience in the University of East London, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Culture24. Alec Ward (2022), the digital skills manager from Culture24, introduced the concept of Digital Maturity and suggested a range of questions for organisations to develop their strategies to improve practice. Ward concluded with three recommendations to guide organisations undergo a digital transformation:

  1. Develop a shared language and approach

  2. Adopt an open-minded culture to improve learning and collaboration

  3. Applying digital technologies with purpose and value

Watch the recording of Ward’s speech here: https://youtu.be/K1PwU7Tg0NE

Although digital skills are not the focus of my research, these discussions remind me of the depth of this subject and identify the barrier to my research.


Digital Innovation in Archive Management

Cultural sectors have seen archival practice engaged with VR, AI, and machine learning. Yet, it is fundamental to reflect the purpose and sustainability of the digitisation work. In her keynote, Chao Tayiana Maina (2022) shared a vision for future archives and emphasised four aspects to improve in the future:

  1. Revaluating metadata and cataloguing system

  2. Licensing and copyright

  3. Archiving and storage practice

  4. Curatorial and dissemination plan

In Chao’s vision, it is essential to:

  1. Prioritise the cultural record and the audience before the technology

  2. Document or digitise objects with a greater scope of their historical context.

  3. Design for participatory and community-oriented projects

  4. Legitimise indigenous knowledge systems

  5. Gain a holistic view of the impact of our archival works

Watch the recording of Chao’s speech here: https://youtu.be/qz-zp2VW-Ec

These indicated that my thesis is on the right track, solving a common yet difficult problem. I hope my research can contribute to worldwide cultural institutions with Taiwanese case studies next year.


The Challenge and Outcome of Participatory Projects

Among the challenge and outcomes of participatory projects discussed in DCDC22, many speakers focused on the ethical challenges and the fruity outcome in terms of product and the number of participants. For example, Laura Aguiar and Lynsey Gillespie (Aguiar, Gillespie and PRONI, 2022) introduced the diversity of participants and products of PRONI (the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland). I am especially impressed by the publication of comic books, recipes, and short films.

Parallelly, the difficulty of licensing content and working with copyright was also awarded. For instance, Eagleton and Waters' research project highlighted the difficulty of the capability of the license and the restriction of copyright. Chao Tayiana Maina also considered licensing and copyright a future challenge for archival practice.

It is clear that community-oriented and participatory digital archives will become a trend in the future. The DCDC conference provided us with a great opportunity to learn from real-time practice. Chao’s speech indicates that my PhD research has great potential to contribute to society, but it also reminds me about the challenge. My research might not be able to keep up with the changing laws and technologies, but I am excited about the development and keen to explore more social factors that can contribute to the success of a participatory digital archive.



Reference List

Aguiar, L., Gillespie, L. and PRONI (2022) “Using Digital Technology & Creativity to Democratise PRONI’s Archives,” in DCDC22: Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, 11 July - 15 July 2022. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsWe8WML0hU

Boardman, C. and University of York (2022) “Digital Exclusion: Lived Experience of Minority and Marginalised People in York, UK,” in DCDC22: Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, 11 July - 15 July 2022. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qjxFVx6-yU

Jones, C. and The National Archives (2022) “Bridging the Digital Gap Traineeships: Diversity and Digital Skills Development,” in DCDC22: Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, 11 July - 15 July 2022. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsWe8WML0hU

Maina, C.T. (2022) “Beyond digital infrastructure, a community centred model for digital innovation within cultural heritage,” in DCDC22: Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, 11 July - 15 July 2022. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz-zp2VW-Ec

National Archives (2022) Bridging the Digital Gap: technical traineeships in archives - Archives sector, the Website of National Archives. Available at: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/projects-and-programmes/bridging-digital-gap-technical-traineeships-archives/

Swan, H. et al. (2022) Inclusive Design Principles. Available at: https://inclusivedesignprinciples.org/#introduction

Ward, A. (2022) “Digital skills and digital maturity in people and organisations,” in DCDC22: Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, 11 July - 15 July 2022. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1PwU7Tg0NE

Watson, L. (2022) “Using the Inclusive Design Principles,” in DCDC22: Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities, 11 July - 15 July 2022. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byjAoL4Dxak


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