Community Digital Archiving

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More contribution to Assynt’s Archive promised.

  • July 28, 2013 11:07 am

There is a fascinating archaeological underwater project under way at the moment, run by Wessex Archaeology, the SAMPHIRE project.  Details can be obtained here –  Having met the team at a communication event in Drumbeg a while ago, it was delightful to get an email from John McCarthy to say that the project would donate a copy of the report on a local dive, following information received from local divers, for inclusion in the Assynt Community Digital Archive.

Several aspects of this are significant:  One is that someone outwith Assynt recognises the importance of the Archive and is willing to make this contribution.  Another is that this is contemporary information (though it may deal with an historical event – we’ll have to wait to see) and such contemporary information is just as important as historical collections when one imagines community archives.  And finally, the presence of the Archive provides a natural repository for information that risks simply ending up in a box file on a shelf, perhaps not quite so bad in this case, but the point remains.

It’s a generous offer from John and will be well received.

Content Creation with Assynt Older Folk

  • July 16, 2013 9:10 am

The Assynt Learning Centre has very pro-actively been running a series of courses for older folk to get the most out of their computers, and to promote understanding of digital technologies.  Part of this has been to create digital content, with the course participants keen to allow their views and comments to be held in the community digital archive.  As promised in an earlier post, permission has been obtained to post an example of the resulting video snippets here.  The archive holds both a copy of the photograph being discussed and the video discussion.  This is such a wonderful way to add meaning to photos, it is hoped to do more of this in future.

Video snippets

  • June 11, 2013 8:06 am

As a follow up to an earlier report about taking short (less than one minute) video snippets of older folk describing and talking about photographs in their possession, a session was held yesterday at the Assynt Centre to see how these could be made in future.  I should get permission to upload one of the videos as an example, but one person had some photos and a photocopy of a newspaper page with her.  She explained that a couple in formal pose wearing Victorian clothing were the parents of some of the children at the school in Achmelvich (now the youth hostel) while a later picture, taken in the 1930s of a group of men, perhaps in Sabbath clothing, again quite formal-looking and self-aware, were two of the group, now grown up.  The newspaper page featured a picture of a man who was the head of an American shipping company, the son of one of the children in the school picture, and the grandchild of the Victorian couple.

Even describing these connections in words is interesting, but hearing a family member lay out this history and this heritage is powerful stuff.

Similarly, one person described a relatively recent picture associated with the Assynt Crofter’s Trust, when they heard that they had been successful in their significant buy-out in the early 1990s.

We tried an Android tablet to do the recording, and this is a cost-effective and useful way of doing it.  However, most point-and-shoot cameras these days have a video capability, and the little Nikon we used had the advantage of image stabilisation, which created a much better outcome.  However, what became clear was that the actual technicalities of creating the record was of secondary significance to the content.

It is hoped to hold some sessions, perhaps an hour or so in length, where more of these video snippets can be gathered.

New Archive collection and archivist coming soon

  • May 3, 2013 1:53 pm

Excellent news just in regarding the Assynt Community Digital Archive.  One of the trainees on the recent archivist training course run under the auspices of Assynt Learning has sought and obtained permission to digitise and archive the documents and photographs relating to the conversion of a local building into a village hall.  There’s a lot of history associated with our village halls, and plenty of documentation, for example, on how they have dealt with existential threats etc. which will be of use to others in future.  Great stuff, and we look forward to the new collection.

Ideas for and from older folk

  • April 26, 2013 4:50 pm

An interesting couple of session were spent at the Assynt Centre recently chatting with a group of older folk who meet regularly to improve their computer skills.  The intention was to let the group know that their skills can be of use for the community by archiving some of their information, or information they generate using their computer skills.

We came up with some ideas, including short sessions in which people bring in interesting old photographs, and chat through the memories the pictures generate.  The discussion can then either be recorded or filmed and the results put into the Archive.  We tried this to see if it would work in practice, using a tablet computer to do the filming.  The results were stunning, the discussion and additional background being absolutely riveting. We thought it would work best if there was a time limit on each discussion, to ensure good information.  In this way, a broader group of people can contribute towards a contemporary and lively discussion, allowing a wider group of folk to take an active role in the Archive.
We will see what results from this.  It was encouraging, though, to note that age is no barrier – in fact it’s a positive advantage – to contributing to a community archive.