In James’ P. Walsh’s essay, Organizational Memory he asks, “…of what consequence is it to organizations that they are able to preserve knowledge of past events and bring it to bear on present decisions?” I think of this question when I meditate on the state of digital assets relating to institutional memory at The New School. Since 2012, the office of public programs resides within the department of communications and external affairs that oversees branding, public relations, website development, video production, photography, and marketing. I have worked within the communications office overseeing the management and organization of digital video content. The project option I have opted for in the Digital Archives Studio class is to facilitate the cataloging of videos following metadata best-practices that cover public programming and special events at The New School in order to make them more accessible. Public programming video content dates back many years at The New School, and there is a significant historical and cultural relevance contained for research and other pedagogical purposes.
The cataloging software I will be using to organize these videos is a proprietary software called Extensis Portfolio that is licensed and operated by the communications office. Currently, the videos reside on a server managed by TNS information technology department, and most have been uploaded to the university’s YouTube channel dating back 5 years. For example, over 150 videos pertain to the School of Media Studies. Other videos are found going back 10-12 years when special events were on campus were called “webcasts”, and currently suffering from link rot at a now defunct New School website.
The form that the project will take is to generate a living database that can organize and catalog digital video content relating to public programming and special events to help determine what platform would best serve the content, and to aid the Archives and Special Collections in determining what has historical relevance for their goals. The project’s themes focus on preserving knowledge of past events through metadata, and digital video assets covering a range of topics that connect to any and all degree plans offered at The New School. I have chosen to highlight digital video content because The New School does not have a central repository that organizes this content in a holistic way, and there is currently no means of determining the next course of action for the institutional health of this media, or a means to determine the relevance it holds for faculty, students, and researchers throughout the world.
With feedback from the class, I will focus on specific content to help prioritize particular videos. By calling attention to this video content I hope to provide clarity and organization in service to the long-term goal of integrating public programming videos within the purview of the office of Archives and Special Collections to aid in their determination of the historical relevance this “born-digital” video content holds for archival purposes. I am planning on incorporating the PB Core metadata standard for cataloging and maintaining the information in the database. I do not intend to incorporate outside archival material into the project at this time, but I am open if other members of the class intend to. The database will be made accessible to the class with specific instructions. The project will continue into the summer with a goal of having all content cataloged by end of calendar year 2014. Note: this database is only accessible within The New School firewall.
The platform for execution will be determined collaboratively with the class. Depending on the style of the project, I will advocate that the class choose a platform that has the strongest amount of services, protection, and scalability. Thus, we must think about what happens to this site once the class ends? Who owns it? What are the long-term goals of the site? Recently, The New School invested in a service called EduBlogs located at that provides free, full-service, customer care for students and faculty to build websites using the WordPress CMS. There is a space here where the professor can generate a Class page. Since this project is about augmenting or strengthening the archival contexts at The New School, it makes sense to nest the online platform within that same boundary. I think it would be counterproductive to make a website that falls outside the domain of responsibility to The New School.
Jefferson Bailey, “Disrespect des Fonds: Rethinking Arrangement and Description in Born-Digital Archives” Archive Journal 3 (Summer 2013).
Scott R. Anderson & Robert B. Allen, “Envisioning the Archival Commons” The American Archivist 72:2 (Fall/Winter 2009)
Alexandra Eveleigh, “Welcoming the World: An Exploration of Participatory Archives” International Council on Archives, Brisbane, Australia, August 2012.
James. P. Walsh & Geraldo Rivera Ungson, “Organizational Memory” The Academy of Management Review 16:1 (1991):
Robert J. Glushko, “Foundations for Organizing Systems” In The Discipline of Organizing (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 2013)