In the article Data, Desert Islands, and Digital Dark Ages: Richard Marciano on Records and Data Management, author Erin O'Rourke shares highlights of a November 1, 2019 talk by Dr. Richard Marciano on the possibilities that computational archival science is creating in records and data management. Dr. Marciano is a professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool) and director of the renowned Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC).
"A recurring theme in Dr. Marciano’s work is the datafication of people, or, conversely, the 'peoplefication' of data," says O'Rourke. She shares that Marciano is using cutting-edge computational thinking methodology to create systems for recreating humans from pieces of historic data. "While many... individuals’ stories have been lost, reconstructing them from data provides an alternative to complete erasure. From these records, one can create 'portraits' of the people included in the data."
Dr. Marciano is also focusing on how to combine records and data from multiple sources or collections to gather new insights across collections. "When gathering data from many unique sources, the sources often use different methods of curation, and some even lack metadata. Dr. Marciano’s work involves using technologies like optical character recognition and digital mapping to generate this metadata so researchers can begin classifying records," shares O'Rourke.
The budding field of computational archival science, with pioneers such as Dr. Marciano, is enabling researchers to derive more meaning from data and to better use data to tell stories about our past and present.