Digital Humanities


King's College London, 3rd - 6th July 2010

[Image: KCL Photo Collage]
[Image: London Photo Collage (Somerset House; Globe Theatre; Millennium Bridge; Tate Modern)]

Content, Compliance, Collaboration and Complexity: Creating and Sustaining Information

See Abstract in PDF, XML, or in the Programme

Evans, Joanne
University of Melbourne, Australia

Henningham, Nikki
University of Melbourne, Australia

Morgan, Helen
University of Melbourne, Australia

Since the early nineties, information management researchers at the eScholarship Research Centre (ESRC) and its predecessor units at the University of Melbourne have been involved in exploring and utilising the capabilities of emerging digital and networking technologies in the provision of scholarly information infrastructure. The approach has been to identify the archival, library and scholarly principles embedded in traditional reference tools and then explore how they may be re-engineered and re-imagined with new information and communication technologies. This has led to a number of collaborative research projects with scholars and cultural institutions which involve building new digital information infrastructure respectful of diversity and complexity, and allow the exploration of new roles for various stakeholders in the processes to add richness, improve productivity and enable sustainability.

The latest such project involved working with the Australian Women’s Archives Project on the redevelopment of the Australian Women’s Register as collaborative information infrastructure. Technological development entailed:

  • developing harvesting services by which content from the Register is made part of the National Library of Australia’s exciting new Trove discovery service,1 using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH)2 and the new Encoded Archival Context (EAC)3 metadata standard, and
  • investigating the deployment of Web 2.0 tools into the system to allow for more efficient and effective content creation by community contributors.

This half-day workshop will use the redevelopment of the Australian Women’s Register to explore issues around creating sustainable information infrastructure for the digital humanities. Questions around the themes of content, compliance, collaboration and complexity will be raised, illustrated with examples, and discussed with workshop participants. For example:

  • Content – What new roles may the various stakeholders play creating and sustaining digital and networked information infrastructure? What impact does that have on the existing practices and systems of historical scholars, archivists, librarians and other information management professionals? What place does editorial and authority control have?
  • Compliance – What kind of standards should the community look to influence and/or develop? What are the benefits of standards compliance? What are the costs?
  • Collaboration – What new collaborations are made possible with the new technologies? What new dependencies? How are collaborations sustained? How are collaborative information networks made resilient and robust?
  • Complexity – What information models support diversity and complexity? How can the development of open and interoperable systems be facilitated? What organisational and social factors mitigate their development?

Joanne Evans is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s eScholarship Research Centre and has been responsible for the design, development and deployment of the Centre’s archival information systems in humanities and cultural heritage projects. With qualifications and experience in information management, recordkeeping and archiving, and systems development, her research interests lie in exploring ways in which library and archives principles are applied into scholarly practices in order to meet the challenges of the digital and networked age particularly for the humanities, arts and social sciences. Joanne has also been involved with recordkeeping and resource discovery metadata standards development as part of working groups within Standards Australia’s IT 21/7 Committee and with the Australian Society of Archivist’s Committee on Descriptive Standards.

Nikki Henningham is a Research Fellow in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne and is the Executive Officer for the Australian Women’s Archives Project. She completed her PhD, a study of gender and race in Northern Australia during the colonial period, in the Department of History at the University of Melbourne in 2000. Since then, she has taught in a wide range of undergraduate subjects, including world history, film and history and Australian history, and has conducted research for a variety of projects, including the Australian Women’s Archives Project. She has research interests in the general area of Australian women’s history, with a particular focus on women and sport, women and oral history and the relationship between the keeping of archives and the construction of history. In 2005, she received the National Archives of Australia’s Ian Mclean Award for her work in this area.

Half day workshop: Morning, 6 July.


Trove is the National Library of Australia’s new discovery service, providing a single point of access to resources held in Australia’s memory institutions and incorporating rich contextual metadata from a variety of sources. See Back to context...
OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is a lightweight harvesting protocol for sharing metadata between services developed by the Open Archives Initiative. It defines a mechanism for harvesting metadata records from repositories based on the open standards HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol) and XML (Extensible Markup Language) in support of new patterns for scholarly communication. See Back to context...
Encoded Archival Context – Corporate bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF) is a metadata standard for the description of individuals, families and corporate bodies which create, preserve, use, are responsible for, or are otherwise associated with records. Its purpose is to standardize the encoding of descriptions of agents and their relationships to resources and to one another, to enable the sharing, discovery and display of this information. See Back to context...

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Last Updated: 30-06-2010