What I want to do
[UPDATE] I started writing something about what happens if I don’t hit the target or what happens if I exceed the target and it just felt all wrong, so I wrote this instead.
I want to create a digital archive for my hometown of Bromsgrove (in Worcestershire) specifically, I'm interested in digitised analogue media from 1975 to 1980.
At that time, lots of people took photographs, shot home cine film and made tape recordings - stuff that now they'd post on online social networks, but which are mostly sitting in cupboards and attics, getting an airing every now and then but to a small private audience. And the people who appear in these photos and films aren't connected - there's no way to link together all the pictures of me and my sister for example.
People have begun to digitise their own stuff and examples of this sort of thing are happening on Facebook groups, Flickr and YouTube, but I want to create something that people can access whether they want to use those platforms or not.
This is partly a digitisation project and partly a social community building one - it's meant to explore and demonstrate how others could create social cohesion through digitising and sharing historical objects like this.
A key goal for this project will be to create something that is replicable for other places at other times without relying wholly on proprietory and closed existing social network sites.
At the moment, I envisage the following activities and outputs:
- Research - finding people who have material and who want to contribute
- Analysis - mapping out the initial content, logging issues and reporting on what I find
- Digitisation and Process Design - working out how best to organise the archive and make the project replicable for others
- Screenings and Exhibitions - Showing off what we have and encouraging new submissions
- Publications - Curated items for sale to fund ongoing development
Why Bromsgrove and the 1970s?
Because it's something I know about. I remember it (well some of it), I was there. I have archive material and so do members of my family. I've been mulling something like this over for a while, but recently I was shown some cine footage of the celebrations for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 and that crystallized my desire to do it on a grander scale.
What I'm asking for
I'm asking for £3,000 to cover my work on this for a couple of months, including visits to the town to run workshops, get some digitisation efforts going, create a website and curate at least one public screening and exhibition. I want to make it as inclusive and people-driven as possible but that takes some dedicated effort to kick it off.
Why I'm doing This
My name's Lloyd Davis and I've been working at point where people meet computers for about 20 years now. If you don't know me already you can find my blog at http://perfectpath.co.uk I'm most interested in social uses of computing, how technology can help us become more human and spend more time talking to each other.
This project pulls together and demonstrates several strands from work I've been doing of late:
- Memory - During my travels I had many opportunities to meet up with people I spent a lot of time with in the past. What struck me was the social construction of memory. No single person in any group can remember everything, but together through conversation and with the help of social objects we remember far more than we thought possible.
- Personal digital archives - I've also been thinking a lot about my own messy, sprawling digital archives and how to organise them better for others to understand. But part of that is a digit*ised* sub-archive, stuff that started out analogue, like my father's transparency collection.
- Open Source Culture and collaboration - I'm concerned that the majority of personal and family digitised media is most often uploaded to closed parts of the web or private storage. I believe that it comes alive best when content is stored openly and anyone can make links between items and add other metadata. I will be as open as I can be in my workings with people and the design decisions I make. I want to organise the project in such a way as to make it open to improvement but also replicable for other towns and other times.
- Social Objects - The power of archive material as social objects which I saw demonstrated in my work with time/image who created the digital archive of the British Council's Film Collection.
- Self-organising - my work on #tuttle and #wewillgather has been about empowering people to do things for themselves and create their own community assets.
- Social Artists in Residence - The idea of social art for a particular community. My working travels in the last year helped me explore what home means, what a hometown means and how our sense of home is usually about the past.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can't contribute directly yourself, please help me get the word out to people who might be interested in funding or contributing archive material themselves. If you're from Bromsgrove pass this page on to other Bromsgrovians wherever you might find them.
No doubt there'll also be clever people who can think of better ways to do this than I can - please join in too.