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Open and Dynamic Archives in Flanders

The next session at COST298 begins with a paper by Eva van Passel, whose focus is on open and dynamic archives. Digitisation and digital preservation are increasingly seen as important strategies to safeguard audiovisual heritage - but the digital versions of such audiovisual materials are often almost as fragile as the original materials, due to changing standards. In Belgium, the BOM-Vlaanderen project drives some of the thinking on these issues - and it is especially interested also in incorporating user wants and needs into its process.

A key aim here is the development of open and dynamic archives. Both concepts are closely linked, and involve contributions from users (in terms of content interpretation, tagging, and linking, as well as new content in its own right). This requires user-generated folksonomic mechanisms as well as open and user-changeable metadata models (and accessibility is also very important here, therefore). However, different users and user groups may have conflicting needs, and openness is also limited by existing economic, legal, technological, and societal constraints (e.g. copyright, a limited number of partipators making contributions, etc.).

Experts in the field are generally supportive of such initiatives, but also sceptical of its likely success. At the same time, there are a number of innovative initiatives around the world which can be identified as being successful; perceived constraints should be seen as challenges rather than drawbacks, therefore, and workable solutions (e.g. Creative Commons licences for content) can be identified.

This is only the start of a longer process, of course; there is a need to allow user-generated content, but also to distinguish it from expert-created content, for example, and a need to utilise realistic solutions that take into account the likely number of users (i.e., don't try what will only work if you attract a very large community); there is a need to engage with external platforms (e.g. Flickr, YouTube), and an opportunity to explore 'freemium' models.

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