Invitation: Seminar on Open Data and Cultural Archiving



Content and data related to cultural archiving is increasingly made available through open formats and licenses. This gives opportunities for growing and evolving engagement from the public. However, the open data landscape is complex, involving cultural, critical, political, and technical aspects, which need further exploration.

The Living Archives project at Malmö University invites you to take part in an all day seminar to explore these topics. We begin with presentations by invited speakers and from our own archives in progress. The afternoon continues with breakout discussions on topics related to open data and cultural archiving. After the event, we will share the documentation and discussions.

Time: March 26, 9:30-15:00 (talks start at 10:00)
Place: Medea, Malmö University (map)
Sign-up: is required and is done through this form.
Last date for registration: March 23

The seminar is free of charge.

This seminar is for you who have either an academic or a professional interest in open data and cultural archiving. For example, you might work at a library, an archive, a museum, within the municipality, or you use data or content of such institutions. The main part of the seminar will be held in English. Breakout sessions with only Swedish speaking participants will be held in Swedish, otherwise in English. This will be the first of three open data seminars over the course of this Vetenskapsrådet supported research project addressing aspects of The Digitized Society.


9.30-10.00 Breakfast
Coffee and sandwiches will be served.

10.00-10.15 Welcome and introduction to the seminar and the Living Archives project

10.15-11.00 Open Culture Data – Sanna Marttila
This presentation gives a short introduction to open culture data and the OpenGLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) movement. It discusses some of the opportunities and challenges that culture and memory institutions may face when opening up their holdings for a wider public. Furthermore, through case studies the presentation will address some of the strategies for accessibility, participation, and re-use, and aims to demonstrate the value of openness for cultural institutions.

Sanna Marttila is a project leader and design researcher in Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture. She is the vice chair of the Open Knowledge Finland board and works actively with the Finnish GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives and museums). Sanna also works with Creative Commons Finland towards an open and collaborative cultural sector.

11.10 Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective: Cultural Heritage and Augmented Reality Experiences – Maria Engberg
This presentation presents a project which aims to use Augmented and Mixed Reality applications to create historically informed, creative and innovative experiences of cultural heritage sites in Holland, Belgium, France and the UK. The project is centered on the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh’s life and art. The Digital Van Gogh project is part of the Van Gogh Europe Consortium, an initiative formed by cultural heritage sites and museums in Europe where van Gogh lived and worked, and where his art is now exhibited. The project uses AR/MR to create new models for research using already digitised cultural resources at the sites where van Gogh worked. It also creates compelling experiences for visitors at the relevant sites, linking the museums’ vast material with the actual sites. The ongoing pilot project is funded by Dasym Investment Strategies and part of the pilot project’s aim is to submit a proposal to a coming Horizon 2020-call that foregrounds methods of re-using and repurposing digital assets for, what they call, inclusive, innovative and reflective societies. Engberg will discuss what those three characteristics might entail in a cultural heritage open data context.

Maria Engberg is assistant professor at Fakulteten för datavetenskaper, Institutionen för teknik och estetik – DITE, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, and Research Affiliate, Augmented Environments Lab Georgia Institute of Technology. From May, she will be Assistant Professor of the Department of Media Technology and Product Development at Malmö University.

11.30 Digital ragpicker – Jacek Smolicki
How can artistic methodology inform archiving practices? While there is an active discussion on how to revitalize existing archives and work with an old archival material with a use of (new) media technologies, there is a need to re-conceptualise the very methods of archiving and collecting data, and making sense of it. Introducing a contextual background and several other cases, Smolicki will talk about some of his on-going cross-media archiving projects which he has been performing systematically over last several years and that to a large degree incorporate artistic methodology.

Jacek Smolicki is PhD candidate in Media and Communication Studies at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. Smolicki has a  background in art and design. In his practical and theoretical work, he focuses on studying the use of new media tools, locative technology, and databases in archival and documentary practices. For the last several years, he has been developing a number of cross-media practices of archiving and documenting “the self” in relation to “the public”.

11.50 Participation and Openness in 100 Years of Immigrant Women’s Life and Work in Malmö – Erling Björgvinsson
100 Years of Immigrant Women’s Life and Work, initiated by the feminists activist and journalist Parvin Ardalan, engages in the making of people’s history from the point of view of immigrant women in Malmö. Through seminars, workshops, and an exhibition at Malmö Museer and temporary exhibitions and events across the city – taking place in small venues as well as at key cultural institutions – vernacular stories of immigrant women experiences of work and life are told. Through the project, the partners Feminist Dialog, various women organisations, Malmö Museer, ABF, and Malmö University wish to make visible how women make history by going back in history, but also by engaging in a collective vernacular storytelling and active engagement in women issues today. Central questions that the project deals with in relation to open data is how a dynamic relationship between collecting and creating ‘living stories’ can be achieved, and how public archiving, temporary showcasing, and memory sharing can complement traditional museum exhibitions and archiving. Open data is, we argue, thus not only concerned with how the making and tagging of content and data can be made more democratic through increased access and collective tagging, but through exploring how stories are made, collected, and shared.

Erling Björgvinsson is associate professor at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. His research area is in design methodology and specifically on collabora­tive and participatory design-lead research where academics, professionals, and citizens co-produce. He currently researches on how archives can be made more open, democratic, and aesthetically engaging through The Living Archives project.​

Lunch will be served at Medea.

13.15 Introduction to breakout sessions I-III
Participants select session depending on interest.

Session I: Augmented Reality (hosted by Daniel Spikol and Maria Engberg)
The practices and challenges of mobilizing the archive by moving it onto mobile platforms, planting archives in urban contexts, and exploring how open and live data via mobile devices might become instant archives and tools for investigation and participation is a key theme in Living Archives. The project explores how open data can become meaningful to specific communities of practice; to foster a performative approach emphasizing the embodied and personal qualities of archiving as a living practice; to create design activities, dedicated to exploring, prototyping, and testing relevant possibilities for future digital archives.

At this session we will provide a short demonstration of augmented reality from different projects. The aim is discuss the opportunities and challenges of integrating (or, mashing up) open data, digital cultural archives, and personal archives in meaningful practices to engage people. All participants are most welcome to contribute to the discussion and share their ideas and insights.

Session II: Life Logging (hosted by Jacek Smolicki and Alberto Frigo)
Facilitated by the ever-growing number of storing technologies, mobile recording devices, and locative media, millions of people inevitably turn into collectors of their everyday life. Uploading multimedia content and storing it in a cloud or database is a new archival condition challenging the conventional perception of the archive, which is seen as a static and heavily bureaucratized repository of the past. Increasing entropy caused by the big data – a result of the digital archive fever – calls for a critical and reflective evaluation.

There is a number of approaches to make sense of the vast amounts of data, just as there is a growing number of communities, such as quantified self, trying to find formulas and models for extracting sense from regularly performed self-documenting activities. While the majority of discussions around self-documenting practices revolves around the pragmatic appliance of standardized models – deriving from big data analysis into the areas of healthcare, business, economy, or commerce in general – there has not been much done when it comes to understanding the cultural significance of self-documentation or life-logging practices.

One of the aims of this session will be to look at practices of self-documentation as a critical, reflective, and aesthetic action. Several examples of self-constrained and regularly performed practices of systematic recording of the life-time, sous-veillance and wearable computing will be brought up as a food for thought and inspiration for speculative deliberation on the new condition of archiving.

Session III: Urban Gardening/Farming (hosted by Veronica Wiman and Elisabet M. Nilsson)
Urban gardening/farming in relation to open data and cultural archiving is one of the themes that we are exploring within the Living Archives project. We have just started mapping the area by identifying open archives with cultural heritage material related to urban gardening actions and activities. In what way has local food production in Malmö previously been organised, in what areas, and by whom? What can we learn from previous initiatives, and could this knowledge support contemporary urban gardening initiatives and actions that currently are happening all over the world?

At this session we will provide a short presentation of the project and our findings so far. We will discuss potentials, possible connections, and ideas to start prototyping and experimenting with. All participants are most welcome to contribute to the discussion and share their ideas and insights. Through participants’ contributions, we will accumulate knowledge and develop the research further.

13.30 Break out session starts
Coffee served “on the go”

14.30 Back to plenum
Each group sum up their discussions (5 min/group)
Closing remarks

15.00 Seminar ends

For questions, contact Marie Gustafsson Friberger.

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