Community Digital Archiving

Self-Sufficient Culture, Heritage and Free Software

Key issue – Archiving and Presentation

  • February 24, 2013 9:38 am

Web sites sometimes appear to be archives.  Some web sites can behave a lot like archives.  But anyone who has run a web site for any length of time will be aware of a perceived need to “freshen up” the look of the site, or to adopt new technologies as they develop.  Not so an archive, whose main purpose is the long term preservation of the information it contains.    So an aspect of running a community digital archive is also to make room for web projects which interpret and present selected objects from the archive.

This is a similar process to a physical museum or other physical archive.  there will be many more objects in warehouses than are displayed and interpreted in the public facing areas of the museum.  Curators will change the displays every now and again, to incorporate changes to the interpretation or simply to encourage revisits.

From the point of view of community digital archiving, though, bear in mind that, while the archive may be accessed via a web page, it is not necessarily a web project in its own right.  Web site presentation is a short term proposal that fulfills a different need to safe long term storage.

There is another aspect to this.  Presentational web sites can absorb quite a lot of time or financial resource and are suitable for a clearly defined project.  There is plenty of scope for creativity and “bling,” all aspects of generating interest for the topic.  But that display will inevitably have a shorter life than that envisaged for an archive.  Yes it is possible to create a web site that allows for storage as well as presentation, but we believe the better option is to separate those functions completely, allowing a dedicated, specialised archival system to do what it does best, while allowing full scope for any and all creativity associated with developing an interesting presentational web display.