Digital Works and Their Migrant Offspring: Infoset’s 2015 ADE STS Poster Session

It was our pleasure to be have our poster session proposal accepted for this year’s joint conference for the Association of Documentary Editing (ADE) and the Society for Textual Scholarship (STS). You can download a copy of our poster by clicking on the image below and the text of the presentation follows.

Digital Works and Their Migrant Offspring Poster Session

The Idea

The inspiration for this poster came at the prompting of an email for the BORN DIGITAL: REFORMATTING HUMANITIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY University of Miami MLL Graduate Conference 2015. The overview of the conference used the phrases “born digital”, “digital natives”, and “digital immigrants”. Having supported the migration of a whole lot of data sets—whether analog or digital at birth—I was flooded with thoughts by these. Most of all, I thought they served as great starters for conversations about some of the barriers and borders encountered during that work and solutions implemented to overcome or remove them.

I couldn't make that conference, but I recorded the abstract that moment, and ADE/STS gave the opportunity to share the thoughts, and here we are. Thank you for taking them in and I'm eager to hear your own thoughts and questions.

To be a bit more precise about this topic I chose to use “migrants” rather than “immigrants” though both apply here. Immigrants move to non-native environs, generally to settle. Migrants move from one region to another by chance, instinct, or plan. The latter seems more appropriate, though a case could be made for the former with systems (asset management) migrations.

Now We Are Blessed

The evolution of tools, standards, practices, and the results of the collaborative efforts they support, driven by a massive amount of digitization, structuring, cataloging, and annotating of humanities data has left us blessed with riches that make journeys for our digital works almost limitless in conception, if only slightly less so in feasibility to execute them. With all that is possible, how might we contribute to closing that gap?

Reflecting On Experience

To answer that last question I reflected on the course of a large body of real world migrations and creation of derivative works and thought about:

  • What could be done by information developers and managers to overcome issues and better support our data's journeys?
  • How could to communicate the benefits of doing so?

I did this presentation so:

  • In the short term: We might advance projects already facing or handling migrations, the need to create derivatives, or want to collaborate with others.
  • In the long term: We could encourage projects at any point in the spectrum, from working in isolation (it's the dark, distant planet on the right, see?!) to early or advanced stages of open access publication and/or collaborative efforts, to consider some practices that support these aims well.


The critical takeaways I want to leave you with are:

  • The benefits of an open policy towards sharing and collaboration.
  • The benefits of open standards and best practices in information structuring and development.
  • The benefits of open source tools. (And yes, they have their pains too.)
  • That your information sets may have uses you have not considered.
  • How to better support access, discovery, repurposement, interchange, and collaboration. Open up the info paths!

From the Field

There are just a few case studies you can review on the poster covering different types of migration.

  • enrichment of existing information sets by migrating them to new formats and supporting tools or platforms
  • creation of derivative works by extracting subsets, combining data sets, or using programmatic enrichment

There are other cases we can add to the list, such as:

  • to migrate from one asset management or publication platform to another
  • to share linked open data as an aid to discovery

Each case enumerates the issues we faced and how the solutions we implemented opened up horizons–i.e. removed or overcame borders to possibilities–for our digital migrants .

Things That Remove Barriers and Open Borders:

Open Minds

  • Let go of gatekeeper mentality and adopt a caretaker's perspective
  • See the benefits of collaboration
  • See new possibilities and embrace opportunities
  • Recognize contributions can come from outside channels and people; and, that their work can make contributions beyond the scope of its mothership
  • Participate in communities of scholars and technology users

Open Standards

  • Are the heart of open access
  • Support flows of information across topical domains
  • Enhance portability and support interchange
  • Lower the cost of technology
  • Combine with Open Source software to support communities
  • Make for sustainable and flexible information sets
  • Support development of best practices

Open Source Ecosystems

  • Allow flexibility in meeting both community and localized requirements
  • Encourage creativity and experimentation, leading to improvements that respond to new challenges
  • No vendor or technology ownership locks. The source belongs to the user community
  • Lower the cost of technology

Open Access

  • Exposes digital scholarship to a broader audience
  • Encourages participation and invites new contributions
  • Can help with funding efforts


Documented knowledge about the knowledge. . . .

  • Supports maintenance and preservation
  • Provides a baseline for future enrichment
  • Increases transportability
  • Facilitates collaboration
  • Is institutional knowledge

Other Digital Pathways Supporters

  • Collaborative Capability
  • Good Quality Control
  • Good Documentation
  • Achievable Goals

Ready to remove barriers, open borders, and expand your digital horizons? Contact Infoset.