Digital scholarship blog

15 December 2020

AURA Research Network Second Workshop

If anything 2020 has taught us, it is that we can achieve much more by communicating, connecting and collaborating. I've learned greatly this year from attending a number of online conferences, symposiums, talks and workshops, virtually meeting some wonderful new contacts at these events. Looking ahead to 2021, here at the British Library we are excited to be co-hosting the AURA Research Network's second online workshop with The National Archives in the UK.

The AURA network is funded by a joint programme between the Irish Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the UK. Its aim is to bring together digital humanists, computer scientists, archivists and various other stakeholders to explore issues, ethical, legal and technical, relating to current and future use of and access to born digital archives, including web archives and personal digital archive collections. At present, applying Artificial Intelligence to archives remains at the exploratory stage, but to make sense of born digital collections, new methodologies are urgently needed, combining traditional humanistic methods with data-rich approaches. 

Wordcloud or words associated with born digital archives

The first AURA workshop on Open Data versus Privacy took place last month and was organised by Annalina Caputo from Dublin City University. Rachel MacGregor provides a great write-up of this event here.

Looking ahead, the second virtual workshop will be about AI and Archives: Current Challenges and Prospects of Digital and Born-digital archives will be held online on 28th and 29th January 2021. Each day will include four short presentations, two interactive sessions and a round-table discussion. Our hope is that the workshop will generate dialogue around key challenges that professionals across all sectors are grappling with, with a view to beginning to implement solutions. 

The first day aims to discuss issues of access both from infrastructural and user’s perspectives. It will explore the ethical implications of the use of AI and advanced computational approaches to archival practices and archival research. On the second day the workshop will discuss the challenges of access to email archives and collaborative initiatives to overcome these challenges. In the afternoon there will be discussions about infrastructural and cultural issues relating to web archives and emerging format collections, including web-based interactive narratives.

As this is a participatory event, spaces are limited. If you are interested in joining the workshop please email an expression of interest including (i) your name (ii) affiliation (if there is one), (iii) role, expertise or area of research and (iv) days of participation: only on 28/01, only on 29/01 or both days to The National Archives’ Research Mailbox by the 31st of December 2020. Early-career researchers and students are strongly encouraged to apply.

Provisional Programme for AI and Archives: Current Challenges and Prospects of Digital and Born-digital archives

Day 1

28 January, The National Archives UK:

11:00 – 11:10 Welcome to Day 1: Eirini Goudarouli, Head of Digital Research Programmes, The National Archives UK; Lise Jaillant, Senior Lecturer in English and Digital Humanities, Loughborough University; and Annalina Caputo, Assistant Professor, Dublin City University (10 min)

11:10 – 11:40 Chair: Patrick McInerney, Lecturer in Computer Science, Waterford Institute of Technology

  • Catherine Elliott, Head of Digital Services, The National Archives – Transforming how our users engage with the archive online (10 min + 5 min Q&A)
  • Bernard Ogden, Research Software Engineer, The National Archives, and Lora Angelova , Head of Conservation: Research & Audience Development, The National Archives – Towards Computer Vision Search and Discovery of our National Collection: Challenges and Prospects in Accessing Image Collections (10 min + 5 min Q&A)

5 minutes “break” – split the group in 4 break-out rooms

11:45 – 12:15 interactive session 1

Afternoon Break (1h and 15 min)

13:30 – 14:00 Chair: Larry Stapleton, Senior academic and international consultant, Waterford Institute of Technology

  • Lorna Hughes, Professor in Digital Humanities, Glasgow University – Lucky town, or lost in the flood?: the ethics of linking and searching community generated content (10 min + 5 min Q&A)
  • Nora McGregor, Digital Curator: European and Americas Collections, British Library – The evolution of the British Library Digital Scholarship Staff Training Programme: From HTML to Ethics in AI (10 min + 5 min Q&A)

5 minutes “break” – split the group in 4 break-out rooms

14:05 – 14:35 interactive session 2

Comfort Break (10 min)

14:45 – 15:15 Chair: Pip Willcox, Head of Research, The National Archives

Wrap-up: roundtable discussion

Day 2

29 January, British Library:

11:00 – 11:10 Welcome to Day 2: Rachel Foss, Curator of Modern Literary Manuscripts, British Library; Larry Stapleton, Senior academic and international consultant, Waterford Institute of Technology; Mathieu d’ Aquin, Professor of Informatics, National University of Ireland Galway (10 min)

11:10 – 11:40 Chair: TBC

Email Archives: challenges of access and collaborative initiatives

  • Callum McKean, Curator for Contemporary Literary and Creative Archives, British Library – on email collections, processes and challenges (10 min + 5 min Q&A)
  • Two other speakers TBC

5 minutes break – split the group in 4 break-out rooms

11:45 – 12:15 Interactive Session 1

Afternoon Break (1h and 15 min)

13:30 – 14:00 Chair: TBC

  • Lynda Clark, Post-doctoral research fellow in Narrative and Play at InGAME: Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise, University of Dundee, and Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications, British Library – Collecting Emerging Formats: Capturing Interactive Narratives in the UK Web Archive (10 min + 5 min Q&A)
  • Coral Manton, Lecturer in Creative Computing, Bath Spa University, and Birgitte Aga, Senior Advisor for User Experience at Riksantikvaren, The Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway – Women Reclaiming AI: a collectively designed AI Voice Assistant (10 min + 5 min Q&A)

5 minutes break – split the group in 4 break-out rooms

14:05 – 14:35 interactive session 2

Comfort Break (10 min)

14:45 – 15:15 Chair: TBC

Wrap-up: Roundtable discussion


Please do join the AURA mailing list and follow the network's discussions on twitter via #AURA_network.

You may also be interested in the current call for papers for a Special Issue on “Born Digital” – Shedding Light into the Darkness of Digital Culture to be published by the AI & Society Journal of Culture, Knowledge and Communication, the abstract submission deadline is 11th January 2021.

This post is by Digital Curator Stella Wisdom (@miss_wisdom)

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