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Web 2.0 and Access to Digital Archives

October 28th, 2005 · No Comments · Terms & Definitions, Web 2.0

Web 2.0 has quickly become a popular marketing buzzword that will likely become meaningless very shortly after I write this. Nevertheless, it does refer to a very real and noticeable shift towards de-centralized management of online information, explicit trust in the end-user, and systems that get better as more people use them. (1)

‘Web 2.0’ is typically used to refer to the next-generation (i.e. post-dot.com) web trends and technologies that are characterized by open system architectures (e.g. web services, RSS, GoogleMaps API), rich web-clients (e.g. Ajax, Flash), a wide selection of open source tools for publishing and sharing information (e.g. content-management systems, wikis, forums, blogs, photo gallery software), community-based control (e.g. Wikipedia), folksonomy tagging (e.g. Flickr, del.icio.us), personalization (e.g. StumbleUpon, Amazon user profiles), and location-based services (e.g. MobileMuse).

In my research I will explore how the owners and managers of digital archives might take advantage of Web 2.0 technologies and practices to improve the quality and usability of online archives access systems beyond traditional, one-way, search and browse functionality.

Can traditional archival institutions harness the knowledge and expectations of online users to nurture and grow the Designated Communities of digital archives into vibrant and dynamic online communities? Will they be willing or able to trust their clientelle to introduce practices such as collaborative cataloging, user-driven online exhibits, and deep integration of archival collections with those held by other institutions or in personal digital collections?

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1) see O’Reilly, Timothy. “What is Web 2.0?”. (Sept. 30, 2005).