Challenging Models of Digitization and Access

Challenging Models of Digitization and Access
March 20th, 2017, 10am-12pm (PDT)
IDRE Visualization Portal, 5628 Math Sciences Building [directions]
This event will be streamed live. Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

This seminar challenges traditional notions and models of how we digitize and make materials accessible. The argument is that there is a strong focus on digitizing cultural heritage in standardized, generic ways and on making this material available through ‘access’. Typically, digitization processes are very costly and much less attention and resources are invested into tools, interaction and agile processes. There is uneasiness here on multiple levels – in the materials, systems and processes, and in access as a model.

Questions raised in the seminar include: How do we create models that treat data as inherently inflected and biased, accommodate and encourage different perspectives and modes of interpretation, inquiry, expression and experimentation that are not best (or only) expressed in terms of ‘access’, manage materials that are not normally part of traditional archives (such as ephemeral materials), and support community-based archives and memory making?

The invited participants have done work on matters such as the “future of the painful past”  in relation to human rights archives, building a library through “threading resonant consistencies across the subjects” and not using standard taxonomic systems, performing the lost, untold stories of Los Angeles through decisions to save or delete, challenging both libraries and scholars for a lack of depth in modeling archive-scholarship partnerships, and investigating and helping the uneasy moments of being a person through a series of tech-based performances and art-software projects.

Invited Participants:

Michelle Caswell [web], Assistant Professor of Archival Studies, UCLA

Lauren McCarthy [web], Assistant Professor, Design Media Arts, UCLA, artist and programmer

Jasmine Nyende, New media artist, Los Angeles

Megan Prelinger [web], Cultural Historian and Archivist, the Prelinger Library

Pelle Snickars [web], Professor of Media and Communication Studies with a specialization in Digital Humanities, Umeå University


Caswell, Michelle. 2016. “‘The Archive’ is Not An Archives: Acknowledging the Intellectual Contributions of Archival Studies”, Reconstruction Vol. 16, No. 1.

Eler, Alicia. 2017. “A Leimert Park Performance Artist Weaves Together Social Media and South L.A. History,” LA Weekly

McCarthy, Lauren. “Social turkers: Crowdsourced dating”.Art project, digital system.

Prelinger, Megan Shaw 2005. “To Build a Library” Bad Subjects 73 (April 2005).

Prelinger, Megan Shaw. “On the Organization of the Prelinger Library”.

Robertson, Tara. 2016. “digitization: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.

Robertson, Tara. 2016. “update on On Our Backs and Reveal Digital”.

Snickars, Pelle.2015. ”Remarks on a failed film archival project”, Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2015.

Sollis, Marie. 2014. “Brooklyn Coder Lauren McCarthy Wants To Cure Your Crippling Social Awkwardness”. The New York Observer, July 25, 2014.

Will be updated.


The seminar series is supported by the Division of Humanities and the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA.

Contact person: Patrik Svensson, Visiting Professor of Digital Humanities, UCLA and Professor of Humanities and Information Technology, Umeå University.