Sunday, June 07, 2009

Society of Ohio Archivists Annual Conference

Society of Ohio Archivists, afternoon sessionOn May 21, I spoke at the annual conference for the Society of Ohio Archivists. Thanks to the event organizers and especially Ron, Glenn and Eric for their help in getting me there and back, and ensuring that all went well for my presentation.

The event was held at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus, OH, which has nice space for events of this size. The event included sessions on digitization and other topics of interest to archivists. Participants came from across Ohio and even from as far away as Chicago!

I gave the plenary session entitled “What We Are Learning From Google & Flickr About Digitization and Partnership”. An excerpt of my slides is below. What I wanted to do was to get people to step back and think about what Google and Flickr are, and to think about how we are (or could) interact with them. Reactions to my presentation indicated that I truly did open people's eyes to the breadth of what Google is doing and introduce people to a side of Flickr that some were unaware of. In fact, even though it seems like Flickr is heavily used in the library and archives community, there were people in the audience who did not know about the service.

As I reflect on the questions that were asked and the conversations that occurred later in the day, these thoughts come to mind:
  • Collaboration is the way to go when thinking about digitization.
  • Hooking up with a for-profit organization has its benefits, but we need to keep in mind that they are focused on profit, while we're focused on service.
  • We all need to be aware of those for-profit organizations (e.g., Google and Flickr) that are working with non-for-profit organizations and what they are doing. This stuff does get reported in the news, on various web sites and in a number of blogs. We need to be seeing/skimming/reading the announcements.
  • We need to be mindful of all that Google is doing. We blind ourselves to the company's power when we think of them as only a search engine.
  • While Google in not the only search engine in the world, Flickr is also not the only photo-sharing service. Each service has its pros and cons.
  • Google is challenging how we think about digitization (e.g., access vs. preservation, quantity vs. quality). It is important to know what is being sacrificed and what benefits are being received.
Again thanks to the SOA for allowing me to speak to them on this topic. I'm glad that I was able to present compelling information and provide a different perspective. (An excerpt of my slides is below.) I also appreciated and learned from the sessions I was able to attend, and truly enjoyed touring the digitization facility at Ohio Historical Center.

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