ARCOMEM is about memory institutions like archives, museums, and libraries in the age of the Social Web. Memory institutions are more important now than ever: as we face greater economic and environmental challenges we need our understanding of the past to help us navigate to a sustainable future. This is a core function of democracies, but this function faces stiff new challenges in face of the Social Web, and of the radical changes in information creation, communication and citizen involvement that currently characterise our information society (e.g., there are now more social network hits than Google searches). Social media are becoming more and more pervasive in all areas of life. In the UK, for example, it is now not unknown for a government minister to answer a parliamentary question using Twitter, and this material is both ephemeral and highly contextualised, making it increasingly difficult for a political archivist to decide what to preserve.
This new world challenges the relevance and power of our memory institutions. To answer these challenges, ARCOMEM’s aim is to:
- help transform archives into collective memories that are more tightly integrated with their community of users
- exploit Social Web and the wisdom of crowds to make Web archiving a more selective and meaning-based process
To do this we will provide innovative tools for archivists to help exploit the new media and make our organisational memories richer and more relevant. We will do this in three ways:
- first we will show how social media can help archivists select material for inclusion, providing content appraisal via the social web
- second we will show how social media mining can enrich archives, moving towards structured preservation around semantic categories
- third we will look at social, community and user-based archive creation methods
As results of this activity the outcomes of the ARCOMEM project will include:
- innovative models and tools for Social Web driven content appraisal and selection, and intelligent content acquisition
- novel methods for Social Web analysis, Web crawling and mining, event and topic detection and consolidation, and multimedia content mining
- reusable components for archive enrichment and contextualization
- two complementary example applications, the first for media-related Web archives and the second for political archives
- a standards-oriented ARCOMEM demonstration system
The impact of these outcomes will be to a) reduce the risk of losing irreplaceable ephemeral web information, b) facilitate cost-efficient and effective archive creation, and c) support the creation of more valuable archives. In this way we hope to strengthen our democracies’ understanding of the past, in order to better direct our present towards viable and sustainable modes of living, and thus to make a contribution to the future of Europe and beyond.
The ARCOMEM consortium – under the lead of the University of Sheffield – is well-positioned for achieving its objectives by combining research excellence in Social Web analysis, information extraction for text and images, information processing and information preservation with practical and leading edge competence in Web crawling and archiving as well as expertise from two important Web archival application domains, media and politics.