The Discordant Harmony of Distributed Knowledge. The Yale Community Voices Archive.

Carol Chiodo, Michael Lotstein, Monica Ong, Douglas Duhaime (Yale University)

How do you build consensus around establishing an institutional archive which seeks to record voices of discord? How might multiple stakeholders strongly disagree, and still work together to record that disagreement?  This presentation outlines the blueprint of a distributed knowledge model used to create the prototype for the Yale Community Voices Archive (YCVA). The model prioritizes creating a core team of stakeholders, identifying their concerns, and then iterating to generate consensus.

The archive, now up and running, gathers, organizes and preserves a wide array of born digital materials representing community perspectives on activism for racial justice on campus. Community sourced accessioning facilitates the collection of crucial contextual materials that will help future students and scholars interpret and understand current campus discussions of race, ethnicity, and social justice. The project responds both to the students’ use of social media for chronicling and debating these events as well as the Yale University Archives’ seeking a user-friendly means of collecting and preserving digital content.

Through this distributed knowledge model, the YCVA doesn’t simply create a space in the archive for underrepresented communities. It asks them to frame their own historical records, to tell their own stories, and to participate in the crucial processes of digital archival design and accession.

Carol Chiodo is a post-doctoral research associate in the Digital Humanities Lab at Yale University. Her research investigates how the material and structural changes in the reproduction, storage and transmission of texts impact the ways we read, write, learn, and remember.


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