A Migrant’s Story: Designing Against Unconscious Bias in Digitised Historical Archives
From Lisa Otty
Adam Crymble (UCL) presents 'A Migrant’s Story: Designing Against Unconscious Bias in Digitised Historical Archives.'
Who do we digitize for? Who did we forget? The age of mass digitisation of cultural heritage is behind us. From the 1990s to about 2010, billions of images, bits of paper, and even physical objects were transformed into a digital form and served up – often freely – on the web. The work was done by archivists, librarians, museum and gallery staff, historians, humanities scholars, and sometimes even enthusiasts. But these digitisers and the funders who supported them were not from a representative cross-section of humanity. They made well-intentioned choices during the selection and digitisation process, but the stories that are easiest to tell with those resources may not serve all communities equally well. To demonstrate this point, this paper considers how the digitisation of London criminal records by the Old Bailey Online could be re-envisioned to challenge rather than reinforce stereotypes of Black male criminality by changing the design of the digital archive to foreground different stories within it.
Adam Crymble is a historian of migration and digital humanities scholar. His work considers the migrant experience and the ways that digital methods, archives, and twenty-first century culture shape the ways we can and do understand the lives of historical people on the move.
First broadcast on 12 January, 2022
Chaired by Melissa Terras, Director of CDCS