The proliferation of digital technologies has changed the way we perceive of and use audiovisual archives and their holdings. As Rick Prelinger, founder of the online collection archive.org recently pointed out, YouTube has become the standard of what people expect audiovisual archives to be: unlimited online access and active user participation have become crucial for an archive’s visibility and public existence. Although the institutions still function as the principal gatekeepers (if only because of copyright restrictions) the emergence of virtual archives and online portals is changing the relation between the keepers and users of audiovisual heritage, challenging the role of the archivist as principal expert on the knowledge the collection represents. In this lecture I discuss various recent experiments with crowdsourcing to investigate how the involvement of general users in the core archival processes of collection, description, conservation and exhibition is changing the role and status of the (audiovisual) archive as a gatekeeper of knowledge.
Julia Noordegraaf is Professor of Heritage and Digital Culture at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam and director of the Amsterdam Center for Cultural Heritage and Identity, where she currently develops a Digital Heritage Lab. Her research interests include the preservation and exhibition of audiovisual and digital heritage, the impact of digitization on knowledge, and museum history and theory. She recently published the edited volume Preserving and Exhibiting Media Art: Challenges and Perspectives (Amsterdam University Press, 2013) and is currently completing her next monograph Performing the Archive: Tracing Audiovisual Heritage in the Digital Age.