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How can heritage institutions interact more with their audience? Once their audiovisual and multimedia material is digitized and available online, what kind of applications archives institutions can develop to increase engagement with their online users? And what can be done before digitisation? Open tagging, user-based collaborative indexing, online contributions, experts’ comments…. What kind of expertise can the audience offer? When does a visitor become a contributor? What are the benefits and the difficulties of participation? This paper offers a view on the different participatory practices an organisation can pursue to enrich its relations with its audiences.

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  1. 1. WORLD CONFERENCE 2013 OCTOBER 25 - 28 2013 DUBAI, UAE Marion Dupeyrat (2013). Participatory archives. PARTICIPATORY ARCHIVES: INTERACTING WITH AUDIENCES Marion DUPEYRAT*a a Ina How can heritage institutions interact more with their audience? Once their audiovisual and multimedia material is digitized and available online, what kind of applications archives institutions can develop to increase engagement with their online users? And what can be done before digitisation? Open tagging, userbased collaborative indexing, online contributions, experts’ comments…. What kind of expertise can the audience offer? When does a visitor become a contributor? What are the benefits and the difficulties of participation? This paper offers a view on the different participatory practices an organisation can pursue to enrich its relations with its audiences. Keywords: Collaborative archives | User contributions | engagement INTRODUCTION Although participatory schemes and voluntary work have always played a role in heritage organisations, the emergence of digital technology has revolutionised these practices. Internet and social networks have forced archives and heritage organisations to rethink their relationship with their audiences. How can these new tools strengthen this relationship? What means do they have at their disposal to facilitate interaction with users? Which audiences are targeted by these participatory mechanisms: experts, enthusiasts, researchers, the general public? What is achieved by heritage organisations engaging in these strategies? This paper is based on a study published in September 2013 by Ina EXPERT. This study provides an operational international benchmark on web-based interactivity practices. The content of more than 200 heritage organisations (mostly GLAM), media organisations and social websites have been monitored between September 2012 and July 2013. Eighteen interviews have been conducted with key players and domain experts and twelve case studies were analysed in greater detail. To provide further data and add prospective, an extended literature monitoring has been produced. Many illustrated examples are available in the benchmark. CONVERGENCE AND PARTICIPATORY STRATEGIES MEDIA VS. HERITAGE ORGANISATIONS’ ONLINE STRATEGIES The massive development of web practices has forced heritage organisation to review their mediation strategies. To better understand the issues heritage organisations are * Ina EXPERT | Ina 4 avenue de l’Europe | 94366 Bry-sur-Marne Cedex | France e-mail: Copyright © of this paper is the property of the author(s). FIAT/IFTA is granted permission to reproduce copies of this work for purposes relevant to the above conference and future communication by FIAT/IFTA without limitation, provided that the author(s), source and copyright notice are included in each copy. For other uses, including extended quotation, please contact the author(s).
  2. 2. Marion Dupeyrat currently facing in this new online environment, we can observe the web strategies implemented by more pioneer organisations in this movement: media companies. Media companies (newspapers, TV operators and media websites) have deployed in the past ten years three key web strategies: making their programmes available on a complete range of platforms to multiply points of contact with audiences; optimising the use of these programmes by creating original content; and developing features that allow them to interact and communicate with their audiences (see below). Figure 1 Three convergence strategies used by media companies Most media companies are now present on the web, social networks and connected platforms, in line with their availability strategies. Most add enhanced features to their programme content (original content, blogs, web documentaries, etc.), and many of them have already set up participatory mechanisms, including online forums and multi-screen strategies. Even if they began their digital transformation later, heritage organisations have similarly rethought their audience mediation strategies based on the same outline. Figure 2 2 The three convergence strategies applied to heritage organisations FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai
  3. 3. Participatory archives: interacting with audiences However, for the moment, most are still considering ways of making their online content available and our benchmark showed that little has been done to enhance online collections and offer interactive features. The issue of rights’ management and the importance given to content online accessibility have often made participatory practices go low on priority lists. PARTICIPATION AT THE CORE OF ANY DIGITAL DEPLOYMENT STRATEGY But participation and interactive practices should not be considered as the last step of any digital strategy. In fact, hybrid versions of these three strategies, which were fairly separate at the start of the digital age, are now beginning to emerge and they all include participation. Although often considered as the final stage of a digital deployment process, interactivity can indeed be a way of disseminating and enhancing online content. By engaging users to own and share a content, dissemination on social platforms represent a participatory practice. And by asking their audiences to help them bring new information on the collections, organisations are enhancing their content in another untraditional way. Participation can then be considered at the very beginning of any online strategy. And by disseminating it in their whole digital strategy, heritage organisations reveal different facets of users’ contributions to memory. We can illustrate these contributions to memory as represented below: Figure 3 The three types of contribution to memory DIFFERENT FORMS OF PARTICIPATION The archivist Kate Theimer (2012) defines “participatory archives” as: “an organization, site or collection in which people other than archives professionals contribute knowledge or resources, resulting in increased understanding about archival materials, using in an online environment”. It is interesting to note that Theimer has recently changed her definition to include the idea of “engagement” with archives, which she previously dissociated from “participation” (in the sense of co-creation). FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai 3
  4. 4. Marion Dupeyrat What kind of projects can be called “participatory”? Each project involving an action from the public other than just visiting archival content online can be seen as “participatory”, but contributions can be of different level. The first kind of action that can be made by internet users is engaging with archive content which means playing with it, voting for it, reusing it or sharing it on social platforms... These types of actions do not require a high level of involvement for the user and are not often comprehended as “participatory” but represent the first step of interactions between them and archival materials. Various examples of this first type of participation from different heritage organisations can be seen in the captures below: Figure 4 Figure 5 4 Sharing content for reusing: “Open images” – Beeld en Geluid (Netherlands) Sharing on social media: NASA on Flick’R The Commons (US) FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai
  5. 5. Participatory archives: interacting with audiences Figure 6 Figure 7 Playing with archival content: “Télé Top Chrono” - Ina (France) Voting for preferred archival content: “80 days that changed our lives” – ABC Archives (Australia) More than engaging with archival content, users can be involved in a deepest way with an organisation by directly contributing knowledge or content. Private footages have always been sought by heritage or media organisations but Internet now allows these calls for materials to reach a larger audience and to promote the received contributions directly on a website. These projects can aim to preserve memories from the eldest generation, build a shared platform where everyone can put its own testimony, or bring a new perspective to the memory of an event, a territory... (See some examples in captures 8 and 9). FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai 5
  6. 6. Marion Dupeyrat Figure 8 Figure 9 The “Singapore Memory Project” – National project involving many partners, led by the National Library Board (Singapore) Project “Europeana 1914-1918” – Europeana (European Union) Users can also be asked to suggest new content to be digitized or promoted on the website. One successful example of this kind of projects was the 2008 Bonanza project led by the Danish organisation DR. To accompany the launching of their new archive website, DR asked their users to vote for their favourite content to be digitised as a priority (cf. figure 10). Figure 10 6 “Project Bonanza” – DR (Denmark) FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai
  7. 7. Participatory archives: interacting with audiences Users’ contribution can also apply to data. Users can be encouraged to help with massive tagging or transcription projects or they can be asked to express their expertise (by adding context to an archival content, by finding a location or identifying a person on a poorly informed archive…). These projects can use external or dedicated platforms (see figure 12), be available on the organisation’s website or take place on social media, as RTE chose to do it (see figure 11). Figure 11 Ask for help identifying unknown persons – RTE Archives (Ireland) on Twitter Figure 12 « Waisda? » collaborative tagging game – Beeld en Geluid (Netherlands) These “crowdsourcing projects” do not only apply to written documents but can concern still or moving images. Actually, images provide an excellent means of connecting with new audiences. Heritage organisations have noted a considerable increase in interest in iconography during recent years, which has far outstripped all other requests. If you add this growing appetite for images and the new habits of internet users to tag, comment and share content, you can easily see the potential of crowdsourcing projects for audiovisual content and stills’ collections. FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai 7
  8. 8. Marion Dupeyrat Three types of archive participation can thus be distinguished:  Engaging with archive content  Contributing private content to expand the collection (content enhancement)  Contributing knowledge to increase understanding of archival content (data enhancement) Each type is associated with different participatory mechanisms as this figure shows: Contributing private content to add to the collection (content enhancement) Contributing knowledge to increase understanding of archival material (data enhancement) Figure 13 Voting Sharing Playing Reusing • Suggesting and proposing (ne w conte nt to find, digitise • Contributing (se nding conte nt, e nhancing colle ctions) • Engaging with archive content • • • • Identifying (a place , a pe rson, e tc. to comple te document • Tagging (adding ke ywords to an image to de scribe or • Contributing expert/personal knowledge (improving • • Transcribing Placing in context, adding information and optimise ) she e ts) cate gorise it) de scriptions) Types of participatory mechanisms Each type of participation also corresponds to a level of user commitment. Figure 14 8 Types of participation according to the degree of user commitment FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai
  9. 9. Participatory archives: interacting with audiences WHY DEVELOP PARTICIPATORY MECHANISMS? Participation, as it occurs in heritage organisations, follows the famous “90-9-1” web rule (90% of web users access the content, 9% edit or modify it, and 1% create content). It is therefore unlikely that these projects will attract a very large number of contributors/creators. Their value, if not commercial or linked to a rise in audience numbers, must however be well understood and appreciated. What benefits can be reached by organisations implementing these participatory projects? What missions do these projects fulfil? What kind of results can be expected? MEDIATION The main objective of crowdsourcing projects is often to add information about collections and to index them in order to make them easier to access by everyone on the internet. They therefore ultimately help to optimise the use and dissemination of archives. Tagging, transcribing and indexing a document require someone to read or to become familiar with the document. Launching a collaboratory project is thus the first step in communicating per se with an audience. The exercise of memory, which is the aim of these organisations, is linked to this communication. By taking part in crowdsourcing projects, users consult the archives, remember, and become aware of the past. Moreover, by improving the data linked to an archival content, these participatory projects help to optimise the use of holdings, collections and archives by the general public and in consequence, the supplier’s digital mediatory role. Greater openness on the web and the dissemination of content on external platforms has also led organisations to interact with new, younger or less expert audiences. Some organisations also consider as part of their mission to present different narrative threads around a story. Collecting private content (including both still and moving images and expert contributions) can help to build up these unrevealed narratives. Bringing together “institutional” and amateur content can shed new light onto an archive document. INCREASING THE VALUE OF ARCHIVES Engaging audiences and working with them also helps adding value to an archive. Three kind of value can be observed. When an archive is no longer confined to an organisation’s site, the first value created is a social value; it is shared and discovered by new audiences. “Heritage that is not used is worthless” claims Denis Cerclet, teacher/researcher at Université de Lyon 2 (France) †. “It is essential to make archives available on exchange and sharing platforms. The memory function of an archive document does not exist per se, you need to activate it”. Organisations would therefore be well advised to allow users to take ownership of archives and to reinterpret them in their own way. To bring their heritage to life, they need to adopt new ways of using digital content on the web, with a focus on images and videos. Content distribution mechanisms (availability on social networks and sharing on participatory platforms) can also create significant rises in audience numbers. The Beeld en Geluid, for instance, by opening a collection of 1 600 media files on their website “open archives”, accessible on Wikimedia commons, have encouraged the re-use of their media files on 1 600 wikipedia articles, reaching a new audience of 40,000,000 page views (Open images’ blog, 2013)‡. † ‡ Interview of Denis Cerclet by Ina EXPERT, july 2012 FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai 9
  10. 10. Marion Dupeyrat As said earlier, interactive mechanisms also add functional value to content when contributors add information or confirm existing information about a document (on a much greater scale than when added by on-site volunteers). Content are more easily searchable and then accessible to any person visiting the collections. Lastly, when contributors take “ownership” of an archive document to reinterpret it or simply develop a new understanding of it, the document gains a new emotional value. This is how a contributor to the collaborative Civil War Diaries and Letters Transcription Project run by the University of Iowa (United States) put it: “The people in the diaries have become almost an extended part of my family. [I felt] caught up in their lives, and even [mourned] their deaths”§ . These mechanisms not only make the collections visible, they bring them to life, or rather make them “active”. PROMOTING YOUR BRAND AND ORGANISATION Participatory mechanisms also provide organisations with the means to promote their social utility. By inviting users to exchange views on content and by highlighting the efforts made to optimise its use, organisations highlight their engagement and social role to users, who have a clearer vision and an enhanced image of the organisation’s actions and missions. These mechanisms provide organisations wishing to communicate on their brand with important springboards: launching an interactive project and attracting contributors represent different ways of communicating on their activities. A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH USERS The digital uses of contributions have radically changed the work of archivists and information officers, as well as the relationship between them and users. On the one hand, interaction in consultation centres has now partly been transferred to the internet; on the other hand, this interaction, in some cases, has been replaced by highly advanced research tools. Participatory projects therefore represent a very real opportunity for archivists to form a direct and enhanced relationship with their public. Asking for the help of the audience and promoting their users’ expertise is also a logical step for an organisation to take to adjust their relationship with their audience with those occurring online, where everyone can have its say. These new relationships have nevertheless profoundly changed the professional skills required by information officers and archivists. New skills have emerged, such as the technical knowledge of digital file formats, web infrastructures, but also, mainly in the case of participatory projects (crowdsourcing or otherwise), project management and community management skills. This new environment has also required traditional professionals to enhance their occupational skills. Knowledge of rights management, of information sourcing, or of research tools for example, are essential source skills in this new online environment. § Interview with Saylor, Nicole, post by OWENS, Trevor, Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage: The Objectives Are Upside Down, Retrieved 10 March, 2012, from 10 FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai
  11. 11. Participatory archives: interacting with audiences Table 1 Why organisations develop participatory tools Successfully performing your role as a mediator Enhancing the value of your archives Enhancing appreciation of your institution or organisation Strengthening ties with your users • Enhancing content visibility • Social value • Brand value • • Functional value • • Promoting the ownership of archives Demonstrating social utility Strengthening ties with your audiences by promoting dialogue • Emotional value • Optimising the use of amateur expertise • Embracing potential new uses of the internet • For some organisations, offering different narrative threads TARGET AUDIENCES Each participatory project must be seen in the context of its target audience. Heritage organisations should therefore keep in mind four different types of audience: Researchers and historians Experts Figure 15 Collectors and enthusiasts General public The four profiles of participatory audience The “researchers”, “enthusiasts” and “expert” categories are very similar but do not necessarily have the same motivation to take part in a contributory project. The general public is the category with the least in common with professionals. Professionals Experts Figure 16 General public Researchers Enthusiasts The four profiles of participatory audience, ranked by expertise FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai 11
  12. 12. Marion Dupeyrat Unlike other, more proactive and demanding audience categories, the general public is a receiver of information. When implementing a collaboratory project, therefore, an organisation needs to bear in mind the expertise of the category, its motivations, habits and preferred spaces. The contributory and interactive mechanisms also need to be adapted to the targeted category. Although each type of participation can be adapted to each audience, we have noticed, based on this benchmark, certain tendencies which have enabled us to classify, by type of participatory mechanism, their appeal for each audience category. But it is important to keep in mind that every contributor can easily move from a category to another. General public, for instance, can shift to expert in a blink of an eye (for example, when, as said earlier, someone might recognise a previously unidentified church if the latter is in their hometown). Figure 17 Measuring readiness to join a participatory mechanism by category FROM USER TO CONTRIBUTOR NEW COLLABORATORY MODELS Digital technology has radically changed relationships with users, as well as customers, consumers and viewers and has given the eager organisations an opportunity for participatory projects. The relationship with users is no longer top-down, but also bottom-up. The user is now a hybrid, a produser - between a user and a producer - (Bruns, 2009), who acts as a cocreator of content with producers. The “economy of contribution”, to use a term coined by the philosopher Bernard Stiegler, is prevalent in our society. The hierarchical models 12 FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai
  13. 13. Participatory archives: interacting with audiences which once shaped the relationship between organisations producing or holding content and users are breaking down and being replaced by collaboratory models. This new contribution society is strengthening the position of amateurs, not in the sense of people who lack the skills or qualifications of professionals, but people who engage in an activity for pleasure. As Bernard Stiegler (cited in an interview in Rue89, 2013**) explains: “[The amateur] is someone who does something for pleasure rather than for financial benefit” and who, to this extent, has an expertise greater than some less interested professionals. The internet has given rise to new channels of knowledge and new platforms capable of giving a voice to these enthusiasts. These channels are now accessible to organisations and archivists who are no longer forced to communicate via intermediaries, but are able to communicate directly with these communities of experts. This has radically changed the relationship between professionals and amateurs. Archive professionals can no longer exclusively claim to be the experts. This position is now shared with interested individuals and sometimes members of the public who possess specific knowledge (someone might, for example, recognise a previously unidentified church if the latter is in their hometown). WHY WOULD USERS PARTICIPATE? The desire of users to contribute cannot be explained solely in terms of new uses or the new “contribution society”. So what else specifically motivates users in crowdsourcing projects regarding heritage content? The first motivating factor coming in mind and evoked by crowdsourcing projects’ managers is the passion or enthusiasm felt by the user for a subject. As Clay Shirky explains: “Amateurs are sometimes separated from professionals by skill, but always by motivation; the term amateur itself derives from the Latin amare- “to love”. The essence of amateurism is intrinsic motivation: to be amateur is to do something for the love of it.”††. The most successful crowdsourcing projects often focus on sectors where the amateur is king, such as astronomy with the Galaxy Zoo project‡‡ or botany with Tela Botanica§§. The second motivating factor is a desire to contribute to something with meaning, to play a role in something important, or even to take part in an historic action, as some contributors have described it. Nicole Saylor, head of Digital Library Services at the University of Iowa (United States) quotes one of the contributors helping to transcribe a set of civil war diaries: “You are, literally, making history”***. This idea is confirmed by a user of Galaxy Zoo (a galaxy classification platform): “[I contribute] simply because it gives people who are not lucky enough to be a part of the scientific community a chance to take part in something that furthers the understanding of not only Galaxy's, but our future as well”†††. Most people participating in collecting projects also feel the need to share their memories for a greater purpose, for building a collective memory to be passed down to future generations. Connected to these first two factors is the desire to belong to a community with a precise aim. This takes its roots in new dialogue tools which are readily available on the web (forums, exchange platforms, social networks, etc.). Users have changed their habits and ** Interview with Stiegler, B., Rue89, Retrieved 2 February, 2013, from †† Shirky, C. (2010) Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age. New York: Penguin Press. ‡‡ §§ *** Interview with Saylor, Nicole, post by OWENS, Trevor, Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage: The Objectives Are Upside Down, Retrieved 10 March, 2012, from ††† FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai 13
  14. 14. Marion Dupeyrat show a growing appetite for participation and exchange. Some organisations tap into this motivation by setting up dialogue features on their own contributory platforms. Lastly, we should also mention more general motivating and recreational factors, such as the desire to have fun, to cultivate oneself, to learn something, to complete an exercise or the excitement of discovering something never revealed and becoming a “treasure hunter”. Contributors can also be motivated by the challenge involved in certain largescale projects, which cannot be achieved without the mass support of its contributors. These latter factors allow organisations to reach out to a wider public which, if the project is sufficiently appealing, does not require a particular expertise in the subject. KEY IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANISATIONS None of these projects can succeed without the genuine commitment of the initiating organisation. Rewarding, useful, innovative and sometimes necessary, these projects can also be destabilising for an organisation. They represent a commitment to a new relationship with users that requires them to loosen up control, to trust and open their doors and content to non-professionals. Users are increasingly used to living in an open online environment in which the rules of hierarchy have changed. The notions of “expert” and “professional” no longer have the same meanings. Any organisation willing to take this new step of interaction needs to clear internally its position on that matter. What kind of role the organisation can play in this new environment? Does it need to maintain a distance with users? Should it position itself as a peer with expert internet users? Should it invent a new role for itself as a conductor or coordinator? These kinds of projects also need to be well thought before being implemented. Questions need to be anticipated and answered: what is the aim of the project? Improving the quality of information and enhancing the value of your archives? Encouraging the public to get more involved? Enriching your collections? Has the issue of right management been well anticipated? The legal context and proper right management are important issues in this domain which need to be studied and adapted for every situation. What kind of participation is looked for? What is the desired level of participation? What use will be made of these contributions? Many actors have underlined the importance of not settling for “surface” participation or “cosmetic collaboration”. This is why it is essential to carefully explain the organisation’s motivation to users, to highlight their contributions and to think about their use and development in advance. Implementing participatory projects such as collecting home footages or inviting users to collaborate in the indexing of content can represent quite a revolution for heritage organisation. It is thus necessary to take the time to inform people internally and explain the project and its expected results. Pauline Moirez, digital documentation technology and online services expert at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)‡‡‡, explains the BnF strategy on this matter: “At the BnF, we are integrating crowdsourcing projects into a broader analysis of how researchers are using collections in new ways, and the role and added value of library professionals’ skills in this context. The metadata produced by professionals, “social” metadata (supplied by users) and those generated automatically or semi-automatically (data mining) form part of the various missions of cultural ‡‡‡ 14 Interview of Pauline Moirez by Ina EXPERT for the study Participatory archives : interacting with audiences, june 2013 FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai
  15. 15. Participatory archives: interacting with audiences establishments and help meet the different needs and expectations of users. This enables us to distinguish between these types of information which complement rather than compete with each other”. All these implications usually lead organisations to start with a small test-project or a very limited community before launching a large-scale project. These small-scale “exploratory” projects enable organisations to start to find some answers to unsolved questions raised by these new original projects such as: how to anticipate the appeal of a project to audiences? How do you measure participation, its benefits and its costs? What are the internal impacts of these projects in terms of functions and processes? Do they involve a radical change in the archival content management system? And what do they mean for the organisation’s missions and strategy? The digital world changes very quickly and the role of users is in evolution. Memory institutions have the possibility to invent new perspectives for users and to give value to their contents and missions in such a way that it may lead to a mutual benefit that will improve the knowledge of our own cultures. FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai 15
  16. 16. Marion Dupeyrat REFERENCIES: Ina EXPERT (2013, September), Participatory archives: interacting with audiences. Brysur-Marne, France, from Theimer, K. Participatory Archives: something Old, Something New, Retreived at the MAC Keynote, 19 April, 2012, from Shirky, C. (2010) Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age. New York: Penguin Press. Interview with Stiegler, B., Rue89, Retrieved 2 February, 2013, from Interview with Saylor, N., post by OWENS, T., Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage: The Objectives Are Upside Down, Retrieved 10 March, 2012, from 16 FIAT/IFTA World Conference 2013 in Dubai