"As soon as they encounter archival content, they become researchers"


I came across this in one of my notebooks while I was preparing for the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki last week. It’s from a presentation by Peder Andrén at the European Cultural Commons workshop in Warsaw last October (2011). 

Peder is with the Swedish National Archives, and was talking about his focus on end-user experience with the APENet project (Archives Portal Europe).

Who are the users of archival content? Well, our users are not just browsing through, looking for media consumption. As soon as they encounter archival content, they become researchers. Even if they only want to know the name of their great grandmother, or the previous owner of their house, they are entering the process of creating a story. A history.

[40:50 in this video: http://youtu.be/5ibxKP5JPYo?t=40m45s ]

I was blown away by the beauty and simplicity - - the truth - - of that statement.