Introduction to digital curation: weeks 1 and 2

Another day, another MOOC. Introduction to digital curation is being run by UCL on their own platform, UCLeXtend. It runs for eight weeks from 5 May to 30 June, with a workload of three hours per week. Twitter: #uclxidc, but not really happening (65 in last 30 days), and a Twitter list (156 mems). Chats scheduled for 5 and 30 June, 8pm BST. Not many I ‘know’, but could be fun to analyse those bios : P

Digital curation can be defined as the ongoing management for use of digital material, but it can also be defined as an emerging trans-disciplinary field with no firm boundaries or established best practice. This course is designed to help you start to get to grips with digital curation in both these aspects.

Having completed it, you should be able to:

  • describe how a concern for digital curation has emerged over the recent past
  • explain the main models, ideas and strategies currently used to give shape to digital curation
  • use the vocabulary of digital curation
  • identify the competencies and skills currently deemed necessary for those working in digital curation
  • draw on a number of online resources in order to keep your knowledge up to date
  • participate in the wider digital curation community and the development of practice in this area

The first hurdle was creating a valid password. This requires upper and lower case, punctuation and a number…no chance of remembering it then. After several attempts at creating a password I’ve ended up sticking with one of the autogenerated ones saved in my mailbox, as you are logged out regularly and the system doesn’t remember your credentials. No doubt very secure. But not exactly user friendly.

OK now I’m in, what’s occurring? At first glance it appears it’s just a forum, but the pale blue bar is actually a link (the darker one isn’t):


Week 1: welcome

Consists of a course handbook (way too wordy) and timetable, meet the team (archivist Jenny Bunn of Info Studs at UCL) and an introduce yourself thread. I’m not a big fan of intro threads. This one has 3 pages and, it seems, around 218 participants. Searchable, divvied up at all? Nope. No read counts. The only post with replies is the one for the Twitter list…pass. Why would I click on a post with “hello” and a name? Now I’m wondering how to get to that forum page…there’s a sharing link at the foot of the menu, but still, some attention to IA needed, folks.

Graham Attwell (@GrahamAttwell) from Pontydysgu is enrolled, and I found an interesting blogger, Ed Bremner (@ed_bremner), who’s doing ocTEL as well. And that was week 1!

Week 2: a wider context

Digital curation is a relatively new area of interest, but then so is the development of the technologies that allow us to create, store, share and use things digitally. Indeed the emergence of a concern with digital curation cannot be understood without reference to the wider context of the development of such technologies.

In this section we will:

  • start to work out what digital curation is by investigating where it has come from
  • examine how digital curation has emerged in the context of the wider digital environment
  • apply our reflections on that wider digital environment to
  • identify the ways in which the digital environment has impacted on our own activities and concern or interest with digital curation

My MOOCs are a good way of tidying up old posts, drafts, etc. In this case I’ve so much stuff I can’t see it happening, so my goals instead are to look at curation afresh, in terms of how I can tie it in with my writing, who is a ‘curator’ (“everyone is a publisher”; can the crowd curate?) and can you curate for yourself, etc, rather than to revisit info studs, but we shall see.

Three resources on offer, including two timelines with lots of related library library reading, one on the wider digital preservation context. WLTC curation being defined within the digital context rather than the stress on the digitalisation per se.

What is digital curation? offers some definitions, ranging from the Digital Curation Centre’s “maintaining, preserving and adding value to digital research data throughout its lifecycle” to Rahim Hijri’s “the sourcing of media and information for relevance audience” and Naomi Bates: “more than just collecting”. Go Naomi!

The activity is to post up to 500 words on this historical context, culminating in where your concern with or interest in digital curation stems from. As we can see above this one has attracted around 67 posts. I may try this out as part of my writing exercises this pm, but for now that was week 2.

Update: looking at all my stuff on (and in need of) curation it would be a bottomless pit to go near it. Already surfaced two early links:

In January a former colleague, engaged in the#BYOD4L MOOC, posed these questions re curation:

  1. What does curating mean to you? More than archiving or cataloguing; an organised body of content (a database) is data if you will; definitely more than an aggregation aka list of links; the act of finding and selecting material is not curation, however can be a helpful learning tool
  2. What mobile device(s)/tool(s) and apps do you use for curating? With Storify, the clue is in the name – it can help piece together the narrative of an event, for example, but watch endless streams. See Curation is the new search above – text analysis could be a way forward.
  3. Why do you curate: motivations and purpose? Sensemaking, primarily, a form of research. Re events, as a form of archive. For me there’s a tension between curating and creating – so I’m looking to find ways to exploit it as a form of writing.
  4. How do get others to engage with your curated content? As a personal activity it’s often a means to an end – how often do you go back to your hoard? As a professional and ‘social’ activity, it’s formidling – aimed at an audience, whether real or imagined. Coming back to the point of a narrative – simply helping people find things is not the role of a curator.

See the organiser’s round-up of responses, and also Alistair Creelman: “We’re not creating anything new, simply creating echoes of someone else’s content…everyone is busy curating, compiling, tweeting, retweeting, sharing and tagging but is anyone listening or is all this a gigantic digital echo-chamber?” Reduce background noise!

Oliver Burkeman (my bolding):

The chief oddity about our enthusiasm for storing memories is that it seems so disproportionate to the time spent revisiting them…collecting memories is less about the memories than the collecting…there is no need to act like a curator and keep every object from your past in a box as proof of your existence.

Enough already…


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