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The EUscreen content selection policy and the future user

EUscreen will provide access to a critical mass of audiovisual content (>30,000 items) and it’s metadata, covering the history of European television. With such a large amount of data, a content selection policy is essential to provide meaningful access. The EUscreen content selection policy has been developed in the first six months of the project and the final policy has been presented to the content providers during the Mykonos workshop in June. This policy will not only influence the work of the content providers, but also the user experience.  We’ve invited Sian Barber, Postdoctoral Researcher  from Royal Holloway University of London (workpackage leader for WP3, content selection policies) to outline the content selection policy in more detail and to explain the benefits of such a policy for future users of the EUscreen portal.

The EUscreen project content selection policy is comprised of three strands: the 14 historical topics, content provider virtual exhibitions and comparative virtual exhibitions. The aim of this ambitious, multi-strand approach is to offer something sophisticated and multi-layered to draw upon the strengths of the various content providers. The approach will allow archives to showcase material from within their own collections which fall outside the parameters of the historical topics. Yet what are the implications of this policy for users, and what benefits does it offer to them?

Site users will be able to see the outcomes of the content selection policy within the 14 historical topics which will account for 70% of content in EUscreen and a great deal of which will be mapped from Video Active. However, the innovation with EUscreen is that each content provider will also contribute material to their own virtual online exhibition which will allow them to fully utilise material and content from their own archives. These individual exhibitions will account for 20% of EUscreen content and will allow each archive to play to its strengths and present the best of their material which has not been included within the 14 historical topics. Such an approach will enable content providers to support their own content with a range of still images, documentation and text. For the users, the individual exhibitions will highlight the diversity and breadth of material within the project and enable them to explore and examine the material and collections presented by individual archives and discover new information about the collections and their accompanying metadata.

Example of the content selection policy in Video Active

Perhaps the most innovative part of the content selection policy, both for users and for the project as a whole, is the decision to offer the final 10% of the content in the form of two comparative exhibitions. The topics for these exhibitions will be decided upon by a working group which comprises representatives from content providers, technology partners and academic partners. The topics selected could be a detailed consideration of TV history offering perspectives from different countries, or an in-depth focus on a single concept, such as minorities, or outsiders. Each content provider will contribute 5% of their total content to each comparative exhibition and the content itself will be shaped and developed by an editorial and curatorial team in order to pose questions and raise key issues. For example, a comparative exhibition on the topic of the European Union might compare material from Poland, Ireland and the Netherlands and examine reactions to joining the European Union. The exhibition could also utilise audio visual and textual material to examine what being part of the European Union means for different countries and what this in turn suggests about patriotism, nationalism and European identity. Such an exhibition will offer to the user a range of information, but will also link the content to broader discursive issues, topics and themes.

Through this innovative content selection policy and multi-strand approach, EUscreen will cater to a variety of end users, offering accessible audio visual content to teachers, lecturers, researchers and students but also drawing out comparisons between different collections, items, content providers and countries. These comparative elements, along with the opportunity offered for individual archives to showcase their material, moves EUscreen beyond a site simply for accessing information and indicates a new way for audio visual material to be curated online. Users will not simply be able to access and view the material but to respond, engage and contribute to the material and to the wider issues and questions raised by the diverse site content.