A short description by Joost van Beek
As first component of the research, the Center is investigating and evaluating examples of collaborative online archives and interfaces, which either present community media-produced and -curated content or provide useful models relevant to community media. Through desk research and case studies, the researchers want to explore both past and current models, reviewing the scope of content and features offered as well as issues of structure, design, navigation and interactivity.
A particular point of interest is the experience and prospects of international projects and archives. This review will help identify best practices – as well as examples of practices that have not functioned as well.
A significant part of the research, however, will focus on processes and practices as well as products. How have successful models of functioning archives been realized? The Center is conducting interviews with people who have been directly involved with planning or building online archives, and with community media volunteers who work with them on a day-to-day basis as producers, editors or administrators. How do they organize the archive? Who plays what role in the archiving work flow? What training, guidance, moderation or archiving policies are needed? This way, we want to identify and evaluate different models of planning, action and collaboration. Specific attention will be paid to the question of how to develop archiving platforms and formats in sustainable ways, avoiding the pitfalls of project- and funding-dependent temporary initiatives, and taking into account the volunteer-based nature of community media.
In order to evaluate the success of community media archiving models and the needs they need to meet, the Center will conduct survey research to recruit feedback from community media viewers and listeners as well as those actively involved themselves. What are their expectations from community media streams, downloads and archives? How do they use and interact with the sites, and how do they experience the ease of design and navigation of the site or sites they visit? What are their frustrations, and what would they still like to see?
All research will be practice-oriented, tailored to the needs of community media practitioners and activists, and will be driven by the information needs that emerge during the workshops that are at the heart of the project. The research should be able to identify the specific priorities in access, process and presentation that apply to community media. It aims to arrive at recommendations that can inform the work of community media organizations which are planning to launch an online archive, or expand or review the archives they already run, as well as individual community media producers.