Adam Nix and Stephanie Decker recently took part in a fascinating workshop on digital archives at the Cabinet Office in London, organized by the fantastic LUSTRE network. The overall aim of the LUSTRE project is to connect policymakers with Computer Scientists, Digital Humanists and professionals in the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). The project is co-delivered with professionals from the Cabinet Office’s Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO). The recordings from the day are available here.
We talked about our recent paper in AI & Society: Finding light in dark archives: Using AI to connect context and content in email. The practice of digital archival discovery is still emerging, and the approaches future research will take when using digital sources remain unclear. Archival practice has been shaped by paper-based, pre-digital sources and guides assumptions around how researchers will access and make use of such collections. Paradoxically, dealing with the increasing relevance of born-digital records is not helped by the fact that many born-digital collections remain dark, in part while questions of how they should be effectively made available are answered. Our research takes a user perspective on discovery within born-digital archives and seeks to promote more meaningful access to born-digital archives for researchers. In doing so, our work deals with the implications that unfamiliar archival technologies (including artificial intelligence) have on disciplinary traditions in the humanities and social science, with a specific focus on historical and qualitative approaches.
Our work in this area currently focuses on the issue of context within organisational email, and the challenges of searching and interpreting large bodies of email data. We are particularly interested in how effective machine-assisted search and multiple pathways for discovery can be used to open contextually opaque collections. Such access is likely to leverage a collection’s structural and content characteristics, as well as targeted archival selection and categorisation. We ultimately suggest that by combining relatively open user-led interfaces with pre-selective material, digital archives can provide environments suited to both the translation of existing research practices and the integration of more novel opportunities for discovery. Our presentation will summarise our progress in this area and reflect on the technical and methodological questions our work here has raised.
Preliminary program for September 30, 2022. Venue: Zoom (Link provided with Registration). All times in Eastern Time (EST). Download PDF of the program here. To see the extended program and post questions to convenors in advance please check out the working document here.
Interpreting Visual Sources Rick Halpern (University of Toronto) and Carol Quirke (State University of New York, Old Westbury) Chair: Beatriz Rodriguez-Satizabal (Universidad del Pacífico)
Interpreting the Senses Ai Hisano (University of Tokyo) and Sven Kube (Florida International University) Chair: Sven Kube (Florida International University)
Material Culture Jen Black (Misericordia University) and Marina Moskowitz (University of Wisconsin) Chair: Paula de la Cruz-Fernández (BHC)
Topic Modeling Marta Villamor (University of Maryland) and Fabian Prieto-Nañez (Virginia Tech) Chair: Ghassan Moazzin (University of Hong Kong)
Databases, Network Analysis and QCA Erica Salvaj (Universidad del Desarrollo), Alberto Rinaldi (Unimore) and Susie Pak (St. John’s University) Chair: Valeria Giacomin (Bocconi University)
Built and Natural Environment Jeremy Zallen (Lafayette College) and Bartow Elmore (Ohio State University) Chair: Christoph Viebig (Copenhagen Business School)
Attendees are welcomed to stay connected during the 15 minutes break
Account Books Rachel Van (Cal Poly, Pomona), Caitlin Rosenthal (University of California, Berkeley), William Deringer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Chair: Ellen Nye (Harvard University)
Email archives Stephanie Decker (Birmingham Business School), David Kirsch (University of Maryland), and Adam Nix (University of Birmingham) Chair: Christoph Viebig (Copenhagen Business School)
Online Archives Philip Scranton (Rutgers University), Edward Balleisen (Duke University), Andrea Lluch (CONICET) and Geoffrey Jones (Harvard Business School) Chair: Ghassan Moazzin (University of Hong Kong)
Advertisements Susmita Das (University of Illinois) and Cynthia Meyers (College of Mount Saint Vincent) Chair: Paula de la Cruz-Fernández
Forms and Reports Sean Vanatta (University of Glasgow) and Gabriela Recio Chair: Beatriz Rodriguez-Satizabal (Universidad del Pacífico)
Legal sources Ashton Merck (North Carolina State University), Anna Hrom (William & Connolly LLP), Nate Holdren (Drake University), and Justene Hill Edwards (University of Virginia) Chair: Ashton Merck (North Carolina State University)
Attendees are welcomed to stay connected during the 15 minutes break
Visualizing the past David Staley (Ohio State University) Chair: Ellen Nye (Harvard University)
History-as-Dialogue: Podcasting Bernardo Batiz-Lazo (Northumbria University) and Gregory Hargreaves (Hagley Museum & Library) Chair: Beatriz Rodriguez-Satizabal (Universidad del Pacífico)
Business History and Business/Policy in Practice John Wilson (Newcastle University Business School) and Anna Tilba (Durham University) Chair: TBA
Microhistory Andrew Popp (Copenhagen Business School) and Susan Lewis (State University of New York at New Paltz) Chair: Sven Kube (Florida International University)
Curation Marina Moskowitz (University of Wisconsin) Chair: Paula de la Cruz-Fernández
Are you interested in learning about how to use email in your research? If so, please come to a special Professional Development Workshop (PDW) at the 2022 Academy of Management (AOM) Annual Meeting to learn how other scholars are using email and to participate in a study about knowledge discovery in large-scale, organizational email corpora.
Emails are materially different from the correspondence of the pre-digital age, but their significance as traces of the past is substantial, especially for organizations, where email is not only used as a form of correspondence but also as an informal mode of record keeping. We believe that the preservation of a meaningful, relatively complete email archive is one plausible pathway to supporting scholarly research on organizations.
The forthcoming PDW — “Introducing the ‘Digitally Curious’ to Email Archives for Organizational Research and History (session 183)” — is sponsored by the Management History (MH) division of AOM and will introduce the “digitally curious” scholar to email archives for organizational research. It will be moderated by Prof David Kirsch (University of Maryland, US), Dr Adam Nix (University of Birmingham, UK), Shubhangkar Girish Jain (University of Maryland, US) in person, and online by Prof Stephanie Decker (University of Birmingham, UK, and University of Gothenburg, Sweden) and Dr Santhilata Kuppili Venkata (independent scholars).
The PDW will take place on Friday, August 5, from 2:00-4:00pm PDT in a hybrid format with both in-person and virtual participation supported. To allow participants to access the email tools and collections, pre-registration is requested. If you would like to register or to learn more about the workshop and the project, please email Shubhangkar Girish Jain (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Attendees at the PDW are invited to contribute to research on the use of email and will be encouraged to complete a post-workshop survey that will constitute an input to our ongoing research in this area. Completion of the survey is not required to attend and participate in the workshop.
Following the publication of our Dotcom-Archive website [link to Monday’s post] we’re delighted to announce that we’ve been awarded follow-on funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation [https://mellon.org] via the Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community (EA:BCC) programme at the University of Illinois [https://emailarchivesgrant.library.illinois.edu].
“Discovery environments for using email archives: Evaluating user needs with prototype version of EMailCOntextualisationDIScovery Tool” (or just “EMailCOntextualisationDIScovery”) is a new project that will build on Contextualizing Email Archives and the ECOMDIST discovery prototype we developed.
The award (approximately $57,000) will fund tool development, testing and user experience analysis in 2022 and 2023.
Emails are materially different from correspondence of the pre-digital age, but their significance as traces of the past is substantial, especially for organizations, where email is not only used as a form of correspondence but also as an informal mode of record keeping. We believe that the preservation of a meaningful, relatively complete email archive is one plausible pathway to supporting scholarly research on organizations.
Our work focuses on how researchers will engage with such resources, having previously developed an AI-based discovery tool (ECOMDIST), which we used to explore a dotcom-era email archive [https://dotcomarchive.bristol.ac.uk/]. Our new project will bring this technology to researchers in management and organization history, one of the key scholarly use cases for large-scale email corpora, and see how it can best be developed to support a context-sensitive discovery process.
Going to AoM?
One of our first activities on the project will be a Professional Development Workshop (PDW) at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in Seattle [https://aom.org/events/annual-meeting]. Sponsored by the Management History (MH) division, Introducing the “digitally curious” to email archives for organizational history will:
introduce “digitally curious” management scholars to the use of email collections as contexts for research;
orient scholars to new tools for interacting with sample email collections, including EMCODIST; and
provide a forum for scholars to share and learn from each other about emerging best practices in the use of email as a context for research.
The PDW will take place on Friday, August 5, from 2:00-4:00p PDT in a hybrid format with in-person and virtual participation supported. To allow participants to access the email tools and collections, pre-registration is required. If you would like to register or to learn more about the workshop and the project, please email Shubhangkar Girish Jain (email@example.com).