Digital Memory seminar 2023 (recording included)

National Library of Estonia
The volume of digital content in memory institutions is growing, and the interest in it is diversifying. It continues to serve as a source for historians, political scientists, and social scientists, but increasingly also for data scientists and creative individuals.

On the international seminar of the Estonian National Library’s Digital Memory held on March 30th, inspiring and reliable solutions were sought on how to make cultural data more accessible, supporting our national culture and maximizing the value of collected material.

The use of cultural data has become an important topic for the future due to technological advancements. The value of cultural data has increased significantly, and its utilization has taken on a new dimension, largely thanks to digitization efforts carried out by memory institutions for several years. Currently, digital collections contain over 12 million newspaper articles, 70,000 books, and metadata for 785,000 objects.

During the seminar, ideas were exchanged and discussions were held on how to create new high-quality layers of information based on the vast amount of accumulated and ”layered” data. How can everyone discover their own pearls, meaning information that helps them create value, from this vast and shimmering mine of data? How can the creation of new technology-driven opportunities be accompanied by security measures at the societal and individual levels?

Making digitized material intuitively accessible for public use enables creative utilization of extensive cultural heritage. Human imagination knows no bounds, and the opportunity to make cultural heritage accessible through technology is like a winning ticket for the preservation of culture. However, we do not exactly know what will happen when artificial intelligences like ChatGPT and its future siblings start applying their “imagination” based on these datasets. Expectations are high and positive, although a slight sense of fear can be seen in the eyes of some people.

The wise utilization of memory institutions’ datasets in the future will undoubtedly open up new possibilities, and efforts are actively underway to enrich digital collections. However, whether or when one of the workshop ideas from the Digital Memory seminar, such as linking and mapping each individual’s quotes, writings, and photos as a biographical addition on a GIS map, will materialize remains uncertain.

Speakers at the Digital Memory seminar included:
Thomas Padilla
(Internet Archive; Collections as Data)
Annika Rockenberger
(University of Oslo Library)
Fredrik Norén
(Umeå University)
Vojtěch Malínek
(Czech Academy of Sciences)
Jessica Wevers
and Rianne Koning (National Library of the Netherlands)
Sophie Hammer
and Martin Krickl (Austrian National Library)

The panel discussion on "The Future of Creative Use of Digital Material - Where Should We Go and What Should We Do?" featured Kadri Vare from the Institute of the Estonian Language, Mikk Meelak from the Estonian Academy of Arts/Platform, Mirjam Rääbis from the National Heritage Board, and Indrek Ibrus from Tallinn University.

The workshop was led by Regina Tagger and Margus Veimann from the Estonian National Library.

The seminar was moderated by Peeter Tinits, Laura Nemvalts, and Krister Kruusmaa, data usage promoters from the Estonian National Library.


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