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Digital Memories/ Mediated Memories;Influences on the Creation of Archival and Cultural Web Sites (SIG DL)

Jeannette Bastian, Gregory Colati, Elizabeth Yakel, Kelly Drake,

Presented at ASIST 2004 Annual Meeting; "Managing and Enhancing Information: Cultures and Conflicts" (ASIST AM 04), Providence, Rhode Island, November 13 - 18, 2004


Addresses issues of mediation and presentation in the context of digital archives on the web. Three Archivists and one librarian explore these issues from four perspectives: selection of content, technical choices, access, and use:

1. Selection/Appraisal of Content. While historical sites preserve community and cultural memories through documents, photographs, artifacts and archival collections, content selection not only affects both the remembering as well as the forgetting of history by privileging some aspects of history in favor of others but also influences our perspective and view of those items selected. How does the selection of documentation for digitization influence the ways that aspects of history may be perceived and remembered? 2. Technical Choices. Technical decisions about what to digitize depend on many factors such as the condition of the materials, sophistication of equipment, and available resources. These decisions affect what the digital record will be but to what extent do they also influence its intellectual integrity? 3. Access. Design both the information architecture and content presentation influences the ease or difficulty of access and intellectual accessibility to and within sites featuring digital materials. How does the design affect accessibility? How does design effect the interpretation of contents? Are there design principles to bring to bear on the design of digital archives? Results from a series of usability studies will be discussed. 4. User Expectations/User Needs. Digital needs of academic historians are presented through the combination of two surveys, one, targeting four types of the most requested digital information, the other, targeting the requirements of academic historian. These two surveys together with web use statistics present a picture of what type of resources historical users value most. Through a combination of theory and empirical data, each panel member will use one of these issues to address the central theme of mediation.

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