Comma

Towards generous interfaces for archival collections

Comma (2012), 2012, (2), 123–132.

Abstract

This paper considers the challenges and opportunities of access to digital archival collections. After the era of digitisation, collecting institutions hold vast digital treasure-troves but the techniques used to access these collections have been fundamentally unchanged for decades. Search remains the dominant access tool. This paper makes the case for the limitations of search, and proposes an alternative approach, outlining the concept of ‘generous interfaces’ for digital collections. Generous interfaces offer rich, browsable views of large collections; provide evocative samples of primary content; and support an understanding of context and relationships within digital collections. Based on experimental work to date, the paper outlines some design principles and patterns for generous archival interfaces, as well as considering challenges to their implementation.

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Author details

Whitelaw, Mitchell