Dealing with Non-industry Born-digital Audio-Visual Works: Lessons from Activist Archivists and Personal Digital Archiving

by Howard Besser (NYU Tisch School of the Arts)

Abstract: Ingesting, handling, selection, and workflows for born-digital works are particularly problematic for works created by political movements, community groups and individuals. Problems include: vast numbers of items, no titles/credits, being unedited or lightly edited, little or no metadata, no file naming conventions, etc. This presentation will examine two separate activities involving archivists interacting with members of the public around issues of archiving and preserving born-digital material created by these groups and individuals. One of these is the work of Activist Archivists, who sought to archive and preserve digital media related to the 2011–12 Occupy Wall Street Movement. The other is the Personal Digital Archiving conference, which has taken place annually since 2010. This presentation will describe each of these activities and synthesize what audio-visual archivists can learn from them.

Howard Besser is Founding Director of NYU’s MIAP Master’s programme, has been involved with digital preservation since the 1990s, has taught classes and dozens of workshops, and has published numerous articles. In 2009 he was named to Library of Congress's select list of Pioneers of Digital Preservation. Besser was a founding member of Activist Archivists, served on the Personal Digital Archive steering committee and was the Convener for the 2015 conference.