An Online Event & Experimental Born Digital Collecting Project: #FolklifeHalloween2014

If you haven’t heard, as the title of the press release explains, the Library of Congress Seeks Halloween Photos For American Folklife Center Collection.  As of writing this morning, there are now 288 photos shared on Flickr with the #folklifehalloween2014 tag. If you browse through the results, you can see a range of ways folks are experiencing, seeing, and documenting Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. Everyone has until November 5th to participate. So send this, or some of the links in this post, along to a few other people to spread the word.

Svayambhunath Buddha O'Lantern, Shared by user birellsalsh on Flickr

Svayambhunath Buddha O’Lantern, Shared by user birellsalsh on Flickr

Because of the nature of this event, you can follow along in real time and see how folks are responding to this in the photostream. See the American Folklife Center’s blog posts on this for a more in depth explanation and some additional context of this project and a set of step-by-step directions about how people can participate. As this is still a live and active event, I wanted to make sure we had a post up about it today for people to share these links with others.

Consider emailing a link to this to any shutterbug friends and colleagues you have. In particular, there is an explicit interest in photos that document the diverse range of communities’ experiences of the holiday. So if you are part of an often underrepresented community it would be great to see that point of view in the photo stream. With that noted, I also wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the things about this event that I think are relevant to the digital collecting and preservation focus of The Signal.

Rapid Response Collecting & a Participatory Online Event

Aside from the fun of this project (I mean, its people’s Halloween photos!) I am interested to see how it plays out as a potential mode of contemporary collecting. I think there is a potential for this kind of public event focused on documenting our contemporary world to fit in with ideas like “rapid response collecting” that the Victoria and Albert Museum has been forwarding as well as notions of shared historical authority and conceptions of public participation in collection development.

We can’t know how this will end up playing out over the next few days of the event. However, I can already see how something like this could serve cultural institutions as a means to work with communities to document, interpret and share our perspectives on themes and issues that cultural heritage organizations document and collect in.

Oh and just a note of thanks to Adriel Luis, who shared a bit of wisdom and lessons learned from his work at the Asian Pacific American Center on the Day in the Life of Asian Pacific American event.

So, consider helping to spread the word and sharing some photos!

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