Europeana Research workshop for Audio and Vision

Author: Willemien Sanders

Detail from “Several sinister events in a London street. Coloured etching” Photo source: Wellcome Library.

When was the first pop music chart show on Danish radio? Go ahead, Google it and you will probably find this on Wikipedia: April 1965, the Danish International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) chart. Wrong! If you read Danish, you will find another page that tells you that the first radio chart was aired in 1962. But these dates are also wrong! It was as early as 1951. Henrik Smith Sivertsen from the Royal Library in Copenhagen found out, thanks to Digital Humanities projects about music and sound, such as LARM and CoSound. He presented his find during a day-long workshop for some twenty researchers involved in various such projects, to underline the relevance of such projects. The researchers gathered in Copenhagen on 18 September to discuss the many challenges they face in the use of digital collections for research and education. Henrik, for instance, admitted he had not found a better tool to organize his research than Excel.

The workshop, organised by Jacob Kreutzfeldt and Marianne Ping Huang for Europeana Research, was intended to feed Europeana with ideas and suggestions on improving services for researches. The workshop involved scholars from digital humanities sound, radio, and television projects as well as content holders. It took place in the magnificent Royal Library in Copenhagen, a.k.a., the Black Diamond.


Europeana Research workshop attendees at the Black Diamond in Copenhagen. Foto: Golo Föllmer. All rights reserved.

On the first day, the attendees in turn presented their projects or collections and the issues and challenges involved, in four sessions, each with a specific focus: Archives and Workspaces, Tools and Requirements for Research, Teaching and Education, and Production, Communities and Creative Industries. Gradually it became clear that the projects shared numerous pitfalls, limitations and challenges, such as issues of the sustainability of tools, the interoperability of tools, proper workspaces, access, and, of course, metadata. But the presentations also highlighted the variety of projects and initiatives and the enthusiasm of those involved (see below for a list of projects represented in the workshop).

At 13.00 sharp, the deliberations were interrupted by some magical music filling the building: a short interlude, programmed every day at 1PM, that demanded sitting back and listening. Unfortunately, the pace of the meeting hardly allowed for this.

After the presentations, the group split up to further discuss a number of issues and come up with concrete recommendations for Europeana. I participated in the group on Teaching and Community Engagement and our discussion resulted in a substantial list of recommendations. Europeana could assist and support our projects by:

– safeguarding access to all collections for educational purposes;
– helping to curate collections on request to suit specifically the use of content in education;
– defining collections to different levels of teaching: elementary, medium, and advanced;
– listing easy-to-use datasets (e.g., free of copyrights);
– making research and teaching infrastructures facilitated on a European level sustainable;
– facilitating transnational research and teaching collaborations (as a supplement to building a collective pan-European framework);
– creating a governance model for audio-visual data and data collections on an European level;
– providing a central hub linking initiatives, projects, and tools;
– providing clear definitions of levels of interoperability between repositories and tools;
– defining and discussing audio-visual cultural heritage.

The results of this workshop will be taken to Europeana Research. But of course we take them home as well.

The second day a meeting to strengthen the network was held. There were fewer participants but they fruitfully exchanged a number of ideas and initiatives to further collaboration as well as attention for Digital Humanities sound and music projects.
These included a plan for a project application for Infraia-02-2017. Integrating activities for starting communities (Horizon 2020); a pre-conference at DH16 in Krakow on research with audio-visual material in the digital humanities; a special issue of Interactions: Studies in Communication & Culture; a lists of sound and music tools on the DARIAH-EU Visual Media resources website; and a Summer School on digital tools and their use. So, lots of ideas and initiatives to put sound, music and the visual more prominently on agendas and to support the fruitful life of related digital humanities projects.

Projects and archives represented at the workshop included The Royal Library, State Library Denmark, United Kingdom Radio Archives Advisory Committee (UKRAAC), Sound & Vision, Danish e-Infrastructure Cooperation (DeiC), EUscreenXL, Transnational Radio Encounters, SoundsEurope, LARM, CoSound, Radio and Music in Denmark (RAMUND), Dariah Teach, Festival for Lyddramatik (FLYD), Cultural Capital Heritage Design, Fast Forward.

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