Published October 6, 2022 | Version v1
Report Open

First Report - Our Heritage, Our Stories: Linking and searching community-generated digital content to develop the people's national collection

  • 1. University of Glasgow
  • 2. University of Manchester
  • 3. The National Archives


Community-generated digital content (CGDC) is one of the UK's prime cultural assets. However, CGDC is currently 'critically endangered' due to technological and organisational barriers and has proven resistant to traditional methods of linking and integration. The challenge of integrating CGDC into larger archives has effectively silenced diverse community voices within our national collection. Our Heritage, Our Stories (OHOS), responds to these urgent challenges by bringing together cutting-edge approaches from cultural heritage, humanities, and computer science. Existing solutions to CGDC integration, involving bespoke interventionist activities, are expensive, time-consuming, and unsustainable at scale, while unsophisticated computational integration erases the meaning and purpose of both CGDC and its creators. Our approach is fundamentally different: our project is using innovative multidisciplinary methods, AI tools, and a co-design processes to make previously unfindable and unlinkable CGDC discoverable in our virtual national collection. Our project is developing approaches to dissolve barriers to create meaningful new links across CGDC collections. We are also developing new methods of engagement, and making this content accessible to new and diverse audiences through a major new public-facing Observatory at TNA where people can access, reuse, and remix this newly integrated content. This will facilitate a wealth of fresh research, while also embedding new strategies for future management of CGDC into heritage practice and training and fostering newly enriching, robust connections between communities and archival institutions. By enabling CGDC to be re-used and reimagined, we will help it survive and be nourished, for the future and for our shared national collection.



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Towards a National Collection Programme Directorate AH/V000802/1
UK Research and Innovation