ARCOMEM: memory institutions in the e-Social age
ARCOMEM is a new €8 million EU R&D project about memory institutions like archives, museums and libraries in the age of the social web.
The GATE team provides both the administrative coordination function for the project and also a core research component relating to the social web, opinion and sentiment mining, and semantic annotation.
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.
- there are now more social network hits than Google searches
- the average Facebook user has 160 on-line 'friends'
- Twitter grew 1400% last year to 35 million posts per day
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 may weaken the power and relevance 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 web 2.0 and the wisdom of crowds to make web archiving a more selective and meaning-based process
To do this we will provide tools for archivists, curators and librarians 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
The results of this acvitity 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:
- reduce the risk of losing irreplaceable ephemeral web information
- facilitate cost-efficient and effective archive creation
- 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.