NFSA Digital Directions 2019 – The future of digital culture

NFSA Digital Directions - The future of digital culture

On November 14 – 15, 2019 I attended the 5th annual Digital Directions symposium ‘The future of digital culture’ 2-day symposium hosted by the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) Canberra. International and Australian specialists working with cultural collections, digital technologies and interactive experiences contributed knowledge and spoke about some extraordinary projects.

A pre-symposium Digital Preservation Brunch on 14 November organised by AARNET was an opportunity for specialists to meet and discuss their work and formulate issues/questions for the panel of GLAM CEOs at the symposiums afternoon session.

Specialists at the Digital Preservation Brunch were Jon-Paul Dyson from New York (Director of the International Centre for the History of Electronic Games), Rebecca Matthews, Head of Content Management at the ABC, Gayle Lake, Chief Curator at the NFSA, Seb Chan, CXO at ACMI and Melanie Swalwell, Professor of Digital Media Heritage at Swinburne University.

“digital preservation is not digitisation”

Somaya Langley (UoS) talked about how she has looked at many preservation models, their systems and processes and these vary depending on the particular discipline they are from –  there are many gaps and inconsistencies. Workflow is very important, and preservation needs to be more holistic in the way projects are managed, they are also very diverse and high level.

Prof. Melanie Swalwell (Professor of Digital Media and heritage) from Swinburne University of Technology is looking at archival formats that are born digital. She was involved in “Play it again” – Preservation of Australian Games from 1990s.

Themes were along the lines of:

  • In a resource scarce environment, what is the minimum an organisation should do to secure the legacy of its digital collections?
  • How are organisations working together on shared, collaborative, commons approaches to the continuing preservation and access of increasingly complex digital material?
  • What could be national infrastructure to support national collections?



– Jon-Paul Dyson, The Strong National Museum of Play (US)

– Alain Dufaux, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Switzerland)

– Panel: Leadership in the age of transformation


– Rebecca Matthews, ABC Australia

– John Bradley and Fred Leone, Monash University, Wungunga Awara

– Ana Tiquia and Claire Evans, Grumpy Sailor

– Bill Peck, Twist Bioscience (US) – Synthetic DNA storage

– Elisa Lee, Unstacked

Lightning talks #1, Rachel Fensham & Jenny Fewster, Anita Beck, Simon Drake & Craig Dingwall
Lightning talks #2, Jonathan Barrett, Matt Ravier, Teressa Ward
Lightning talks #3, Cheney Brew, Mark Denbow & Cameron Burns, Que Minh Lee


Digital Directions Sessions

Overall the symposium highlighted some very innovative AV archival projects and how digital sources can be used in an array of creative ways – making it more accessible to the global communities in a myriad of ways.

Lastly, the DEADLINE 2025 was discussed and the race to digitise as much AV material as possible before this deadline. It would seem that many institutions are pressed for time and resourcing to effectively meet this target.

Ann Hardy
Co-ordinator GLAMx Lab
University Library

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