Archives Hub has started an initial exploratory project with the eventual aim of including name records in the Archives Hub. Anyone with an interest in entity-relationships, PIDs, putting archives into a broader context, creating connections to resources, etc. might be interested in following their periodic blog posts and following them on Twitter:
In their latest post they talk about ethics and identity.
Jane Stevenson writes: “As archivists, we deal with ethical issues a good deal. But the ability to link disparate and diverse data sources opens up new challenges in this area, and I wanted to explore this a bit.” If you do a general search for ethics and data, top of the list comes health. This exploration leads to a wider question, is fully explicit and specific informed consent actually achievable within the joined-up online world? A world where data travels across connections, is blended, re-mixed, re-purposed. A world where APIs allow data to be accessed and utilised for all sorts of purposes, and ‘open data’ has become a rallying cry. Is there a need to engage the public more fully in order to gain public confidence in what open data really means, and in order to debate what ‘informed consent’ is, and where it is really required?
Stevenson concludes “This may seem a long way away from our small project to create name records. Bringing descriptions together from across the UK together maybe helps us to play a small role in aiming to move towards documenting the full breadth of human experience. The archives that we cover may retain the biases and gaps for some time to come (probably for ever, given that documentary evidence tends to represent the powerful and the elite much more strongly), but by aggregating and creating connections with other sources, we help to paint a bigger picture. By creating name records we help to contextualise people, making it much easier to bring other lives and events into the picture. It is a move towards recognising the limitation of what is actually in the archive, and reaching out to take advantage of what is on the Web. In doing this through explicitly identifying people we do leave ourselves more open to the dangers of not respecting privacy or anonymity. When we plug fully into the Web, we become a part of its infinite possibilities, which is always going to be a revealing, exciting, uncontrollable and risky business. By allowing others to use this data in different ways, we open it up to diverse perspectives and uses.”