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Are You Being Served?Are You Being Served?
How knowing digital users can help you improve access to
your alderman and notary archives and loads of other stuff
Südwestdeutscher Archivtag | Konstanz, Germany | May 24, 2014
Meet ChristianMeet Christian
 Works at BHIC, Netherlands
 Coördinates reference
services & digital innovation
 Founder of Archief 2.0
 Blogger/speaker/writer
www.digitalearchivaris.nl
@cvanderven
A great idea!A great idea!
“Let’s scan our alderman* archives and let
volunteers make them accessible in the best
way possible”
*) Stadträte until 1811
Best index
ever!
ResultsResults
 Best index ever?
 No, in about 10 years of hard work a group of
volunteers completed about 1% of the index…
 …and the project was halted
The following 12 slides
contain screenshots that
even archivists may find
too old, outdated & boring
(Also all of them are in Dutch)
IndexesInformation desk
Knowledge base Education
Depository
Meet WillieMeet Willie
 Regular visitor at BHIC
 Sweet person who likes to
help other researchers
 Made local notary archives
accessible
Over 33.000
transcriptions
Basic source
information and
a summary of
the deed put
into plain text
Summary
Source info
Search
Well
deserved! How
lovely!
The old daysThe old days
 Meeting users in our study halls
 Knowing users over many years of visits
 Basis for providing services
 Basis for successful collaboration
And then the Internet came
and it changed everything…
Meet digital usersMeet digital users
 IP addresses
 Visits and pageviews
 Click paths, session duration,
exit pages, browser type etc.
 Difficult collaborating with
users who are difficult to meet
and difficult to know
 (Difficult giving them flowers!)
Visits to study hall and website BHIC in 2001 and 2010
So…So…
 How to meet these users?
 How to get to know these users?
In order of successful collaborating with them
About me, and my
motivation to participate
Meet TheoMeet Theo
"I only participate in the
Amsterdam population
registry project, and yes,
as someone from
Amsterdam you hope to
meet some of your
ancestors this way"
Meet MaartenMeet Maarten
"Each time when I have
finished a scan and push
the ‘send’ button,
I experience a moment of
happiness"
Meet DitekeMeet Diteke
"Reading the old
handwritings offers
challenging puzzles which
improve my paleography
skills"
Could she check on other
people’s transcripts?
Contact her!
Meet another TheoMeet another Theo
"Personally I enjoy the
many discussions on the
forum, because you might
be doing the data entry on
your own, but you're not
alone"
Meet DorethéMeet Dorethé
"I find it to be a bit of a
sport to try and find info on
the internet or, when it
concerns digital archives,
from databases"
Meet DorethéMeet Dorethé
 Got to know her via forum
 Posted 1.147 messages
 Many people even believe
she’s staff of the BHIC
 She got flowers for helping
us doing ‘our’ reference work
Meet PaulineMeet Pauline
 Enthusiastic historian
 Lives in Nuenen, Brabant
 Has an interest in
archeology, monuments,
Vincent van Gogh,
recreation, tourism, village
marketing and poetry
Quick win for
interaction
on Twitter!
“Welcome, and obviously
we are very proud of this
letter by Vincent van Gogh”
“Very special! And
inspiring. Also nice to
be followed back. This
is the home of Van
Gogh’s father”
Profiles for us(e)Profiles for us(e)
Our digital users provide us with an amazing
amount of quality information about
themselves, their interests, motivation etc.
But how do you use this information?
And do you?
Meet BenMeet Ben
 Independent software
developer
 Blogs about crowdsourced
transcription projects
 Developed FromThePage
A free collaborative
transcription platform
Meet Ben’s volunteerMeet Ben’s volunteer
“You're going to laugh, but…
I have been transcribing just
a few pages at a time lately
because I didn't want to
finish before the next diary is
posted! I didn't want to run
out of diary, in other words.”
Statistics for us(e)Statistics for us(e)
 Statistics
 Websites, applications, social media etc.
 Who are they?
 What do they search for?
 What collections do they use?
 What way do they participate?
 Etc.
Meet MarissaMeet Marissa
 CEO at Yahoo!
 Previously vice president
of user experice at Google
 Oversaw layout of
Google’s search page
 “Focus on the user”
The one blue is more
greenish than the other
blue (really!)
A/B testing pointed out
that in fact the blue-blue
was more clicked on
than the green-blue
(really!)
Let data decideLet data decide
 What you can’t learn from the info of one user,
but can learn from the statistics of a crowd
 “Let the data decide”
--Marissa Mayer
Most
popular
items are
about new
resources…
and women!
Niceeffect
Start of putting stuff in
the news letter that had
proven to be clicked on
Bettereffect
Second chance?Second chance?
So let’s try this at home…
(Well, at the archives that is,
with our alderman archives project)
Second chance?Second chance?
 What do users need, what do they tell us?
 What do data tell us users really use?
 Where can we meet these users?
 Can we collaborate with them?
Users search
for names of
people and
places
Users make deeds
accessible by making
short summaries of
them, including names
of people and places
Users willing to
scan and index
archives meet
each other on
our forum,
where we can
also meet them
We may import these indexes in our system, linked to our
inventories and scans, if scans are already available
We even link to photographed resources on other
websites, not worrying too much about quality and such
ResultsResults
 Users helped us to make 225.000 deeds
accessible through our website within 2 years
 User community provides us with a steady stream
of fresh records
 This database quickly became our most popular
one for non specific genealogical research
What’s next?What’s next?
 Acquire photos of the archives from users and
import them into the database
 Let software extract names of people and places
from the summary text into separate fields
 Make archives accessible on a basic level, and let
indexes be enriched through crowdsourcing
Call for actionCall for action
 Meet your digital users & know them better
 Use various channels & sources of information
 Improve your services in collaboration with users
 (And less is often more!)
Thank you!Thank you!
 Any questions?
 Thank you for staying with me!
 Please meet me after my talk, and online

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Are you being served?

  • 1. Are You Being Served?Are You Being Served? How knowing digital users can help you improve access to your alderman and notary archives and loads of other stuff Südwestdeutscher Archivtag | Konstanz, Germany | May 24, 2014
  • 2. Meet ChristianMeet Christian  Works at BHIC, Netherlands  Coördinates reference services & digital innovation  Founder of Archief 2.0  Blogger/speaker/writer www.digitalearchivaris.nl @cvanderven
  • 3. A great idea!A great idea! “Let’s scan our alderman* archives and let volunteers make them accessible in the best way possible” *) Stadträte until 1811
  • 4.
  • 6. ResultsResults  Best index ever?  No, in about 10 years of hard work a group of volunteers completed about 1% of the index…  …and the project was halted
  • 7. The following 12 slides contain screenshots that even archivists may find too old, outdated & boring (Also all of them are in Dutch)
  • 8.
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  • 20. Meet WillieMeet Willie  Regular visitor at BHIC  Sweet person who likes to help other researchers  Made local notary archives accessible
  • 22. Basic source information and a summary of the deed put into plain text
  • 25. The old daysThe old days  Meeting users in our study halls  Knowing users over many years of visits  Basis for providing services  Basis for successful collaboration And then the Internet came and it changed everything…
  • 26. Meet digital usersMeet digital users  IP addresses  Visits and pageviews  Click paths, session duration, exit pages, browser type etc.  Difficult collaborating with users who are difficult to meet and difficult to know  (Difficult giving them flowers!)
  • 27. Visits to study hall and website BHIC in 2001 and 2010
  • 28. So…So…  How to meet these users?  How to get to know these users? In order of successful collaborating with them
  • 29.
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  • 34. About me, and my motivation to participate
  • 35. Meet TheoMeet Theo "I only participate in the Amsterdam population registry project, and yes, as someone from Amsterdam you hope to meet some of your ancestors this way"
  • 36. Meet MaartenMeet Maarten "Each time when I have finished a scan and push the ‘send’ button, I experience a moment of happiness"
  • 37. Meet DitekeMeet Diteke "Reading the old handwritings offers challenging puzzles which improve my paleography skills" Could she check on other people’s transcripts? Contact her!
  • 38. Meet another TheoMeet another Theo "Personally I enjoy the many discussions on the forum, because you might be doing the data entry on your own, but you're not alone"
  • 39.
  • 40. Meet DorethéMeet Dorethé "I find it to be a bit of a sport to try and find info on the internet or, when it concerns digital archives, from databases"
  • 41. Meet DorethéMeet Dorethé  Got to know her via forum  Posted 1.147 messages  Many people even believe she’s staff of the BHIC  She got flowers for helping us doing ‘our’ reference work
  • 42. Meet PaulineMeet Pauline  Enthusiastic historian  Lives in Nuenen, Brabant  Has an interest in archeology, monuments, Vincent van Gogh, recreation, tourism, village marketing and poetry
  • 44. “Welcome, and obviously we are very proud of this letter by Vincent van Gogh”
  • 45. “Very special! And inspiring. Also nice to be followed back. This is the home of Van Gogh’s father”
  • 46. Profiles for us(e)Profiles for us(e) Our digital users provide us with an amazing amount of quality information about themselves, their interests, motivation etc. But how do you use this information? And do you?
  • 47. Meet BenMeet Ben  Independent software developer  Blogs about crowdsourced transcription projects  Developed FromThePage A free collaborative transcription platform
  • 48.
  • 49. Meet Ben’s volunteerMeet Ben’s volunteer “You're going to laugh, but… I have been transcribing just a few pages at a time lately because I didn't want to finish before the next diary is posted! I didn't want to run out of diary, in other words.”
  • 50. Statistics for us(e)Statistics for us(e)  Statistics  Websites, applications, social media etc.  Who are they?  What do they search for?  What collections do they use?  What way do they participate?  Etc.
  • 51. Meet MarissaMeet Marissa  CEO at Yahoo!  Previously vice president of user experice at Google  Oversaw layout of Google’s search page  “Focus on the user”
  • 52. The one blue is more greenish than the other blue (really!)
  • 53. A/B testing pointed out that in fact the blue-blue was more clicked on than the green-blue (really!)
  • 54. Let data decideLet data decide  What you can’t learn from the info of one user, but can learn from the statistics of a crowd  “Let the data decide” --Marissa Mayer
  • 55.
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  • 58. Niceeffect Start of putting stuff in the news letter that had proven to be clicked on Bettereffect
  • 59.
  • 60. Second chance?Second chance? So let’s try this at home… (Well, at the archives that is, with our alderman archives project)
  • 61. Second chance?Second chance?  What do users need, what do they tell us?  What do data tell us users really use?  Where can we meet these users?  Can we collaborate with them?
  • 62. Users search for names of people and places
  • 63. Users make deeds accessible by making short summaries of them, including names of people and places
  • 64. Users willing to scan and index archives meet each other on our forum, where we can also meet them
  • 65. We may import these indexes in our system, linked to our inventories and scans, if scans are already available
  • 66. We even link to photographed resources on other websites, not worrying too much about quality and such
  • 67. ResultsResults  Users helped us to make 225.000 deeds accessible through our website within 2 years  User community provides us with a steady stream of fresh records  This database quickly became our most popular one for non specific genealogical research
  • 68. What’s next?What’s next?  Acquire photos of the archives from users and import them into the database  Let software extract names of people and places from the summary text into separate fields  Make archives accessible on a basic level, and let indexes be enriched through crowdsourcing
  • 69. Call for actionCall for action  Meet your digital users & know them better  Use various channels & sources of information  Improve your services in collaboration with users  (And less is often more!)
  • 70. Thank you!Thank you!  Any questions?  Thank you for staying with me!  Please meet me after my talk, and online