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Digital Competencies for Conservation Professionals

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Project managed by Matt Morgan, FAIC Digital Strategy Advocate, with guidance by the Digital Competencies Task Force

Background/Process

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The American Institute of Conservation (AIC) and its related Foundation, collectively known as (F)AIC, have recently undertaken significant work related to how the revolution in digital technologies has impacted the field of conservation. Some of this work is reflected in “Charting the Digital Landscape of the Conservation Profession,” which enumerates and sequences several recommendations, among them the convening of a “Digital Competencies Task Force” and the development of a list of Digital Competencies for the profession.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The task force, made up of established practitioners in many fields of conservation, in a discussion that began in summer 2016, proposed many different “competencies” organized into several different categories. This document represents a formalization of and conclusion to that workstream.

What Is a “Digital Competency”?

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Recognizing that open-ended definitions can be valuable in a transition period–which, clearly, the field of Conservation is in–when we say “Competency,” we can be clear that it means a practice or subject matter in which conservators need expertise, in order to protect and preserve our shared cultural heritage, or to promote the practice/field in support of those primary goals. When we say “Digital Competency,”  we may narrow that scope only to those competencies that are related to modern digital technology–but in “Charting the Digital Landscape,” and in the work of the task force, it quickly became clear that digital technology has created significant need for development of traditional organizational and communications skills among conservators, as well. So this document extends past the purely digital to those areas as well.

The Competencies

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Just as digital technology has a way of breaking barriers between disciplines and upsetting established norms, there is a high degree of overlap between these categories and the competencies listed within them. Nonetheless, we’ve attempted to categorize them, and within each category, tiered them according to their level of investment. Tier 1 (Introductory) competencies represent those that can be taught and learned without prerequisites. Tier 2 (Intermediate) competencies require some prior preparation. Tier 3 (Advanced) competencies usually require some kind of specialization and may overlap with specialties from outside fields, such as Digital Humanities, Software Development, Engineering, and Digital Strategy.

Data/Documentation

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Management of data and documentation have been an ongoing struggle in conservation, with historically poor Conservation support in collections management systems. Currently, no particular systems for storing, maintaining, and sharing conservation documentation are widely adopted, or even widely available. This is one of the most challenging areas for growth, but one where broad and consistent support from the community is most valuable.

Tier 1 Competencies:

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  • Documentation standards — Understanding the value and purpose of shared standards
  • Open access — Understanding the value and purpose of Open Access

Tier 2 Competencies

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  • Open access — Understanding methods and policies (licensing) of Open Access
  • Archiving — What to keep, how to keep it
  • Digitization of records — Scanning, OCR, others

Tier 3 Competencies

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  • Data structure — Database normalization and database systems; how to organize information for digital publication (for example)
  • System development — creating or supporting the creation of a Conservation Documentation product
  • Data sharing/interchange — Resource Description Format, JSON-LD, APIs, and other mechanisms for data sharing

Technical Tools and Concepts

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 This category represents what we typically think of as “technology”–fairly new developments in software, hardware, and related practices.

Tier 1 Competencies

Tier 2 Competencies

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  • Understanding of file storage — How and why storage of large quantities of large files, or of important materials, differs from typical desktop storage
  • Understanding and using photographic technologies — The use of modern imaging technology has grown rapidly in the Conservation field
  • Pace of Change — Developments in other areas are often beneficial to Conservation, though not always intended to be so; Conservators must keep abreast of wide technological development in allied professional, commercial, and academic fields
  • Tools Standardization — Benefits and difficulties inherent in standardization of tools within and across institutions

Tier 3 Competencies

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  • Photographic technologies (mastery) — The development of new conservation techniques from knowledge of and experience with new and existing imaging technologies
  • Data science — applying mechanisms of “big data” and meta-analysis

Digital Publication (Peer-Reviewed)

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Academic and professional publication has changed drastically, and continues to change. It has democratized publication (to some degree) while threatening traditional publication processes.

Tier 1 Competencies

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  • Access — What publications are best in the field; where are they; how to pay for access (when necessary) and access them; and how to value them

Tier 2 Competencies

Tier 3 Competencies

Online Resources

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 The other side of publication: anyone can be a publisher now, but Conservation’s traditional approach has often been to keep work processes close to the vest. Conservation will become more open and online resources will be a major part of that.

Tier 1 Competencies

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  • Access — Understanding the landscape of online resources, how to find them, and how and when to use them
  • Aggregation — Understanding tools and methods for collating, subscribing, and otherwise automating access to multiple online sources of Conservation information

Tier 2 Competencies

Tier 3 Competencies

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  • Centralization and management — Running larger scale online resources (supporting multiple topics and/or projects); creating and developing online communities

Digital Preservation

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 A field unto itself despite its young age, Digital Preservation is emblematic of the changes technology has brought to Conservation. Competencies from some other categories like Data/Documentation, and Technical Tools and Concepts, also serve as introductory skills for Digital Preservation.

Tier 1 Competencies

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  • Policies — Understanding
  • Procedures — Understanding
  • Knowledge of allied Digital Preservation professionals who can be sought for advice

Tier 2 Competencies

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  • Policies — Drafting, maintaining (the field is changing fast)
  • Procedures — Developing, optimizing, maintaining
  • Understanding basic functional requirements for digital asset storage and preservation
  • Understanding archival formats for documents, images, audio, video
  • Awareness and use of planning tools such as the NDSA Levels of Digital Preservation

Tier 3 Competencies

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  • Digital Preservation standards such as the OAIS Reference Model, and ISO 16363
  • Data management planning — long-term planning is an ongoing and continually changing aspect of Digital Preservation

Communications

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 1 Conservation has often been front and center in times of crisis, but traditionally stays behind the scenes during normal operations. As public access, transparency, openness, and community participation become the norm in other areas of cultural institutions, this approach threatens to diminish the perceived value of the Conservation field in our institutions and with the public. Conservators need to grow and change significantly in this category.

Tier 1 Competencies

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  • Public outreach — writing for a general audience, basic skills in writing for the Web, drafting blog posts, working with editors, improving public understanding of Conservation practices and methods,
  • Fluency with relevant social media platforms

Tier 2 Competencies

Tier 3 Competencies

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  • Analytics and targeted messaging — understanding and leveraging user data for more effective communications
  • Information sharing — standardized terminology and linked data; also institutional attitudes, policies, and philosophies

Organization Management

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Along with the new competencies Digital encourages or requires us to pursue, technological change places new demands on managers and other more senior professionals. These start at Tier 2, recognizing that they are more relevant to practitioners with some experience.

Tier 2 Competencies

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  • Managing staff competencies (professional development) — new staff will come in variably prepared; existing staff may need to develop new skills
  • Emergency response/disaster planning — For the institution; for the community

Tier 3 Competencies

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  • Data policies/requirements — in a field where data management has been poorly supported technologically, strong participation by conservation professionals in developing these policies is essential to business continuity and art/artifact preservation
  • Negotiating institutional resistance/priorities — Conservation is commonly treated as secondary in our institutions; how do we establish our value?
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Source: http://resources.conservation-us.org/comment/digital-competencies-for-conservation-professionals/?replytopara=24