The AEOLIAN (Artificial Intelligence for Cultural Organisations) network brings together Humanities scholars, Computer Scientists, archivists and other stakeholders to investigate the role that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play to make born-digital and digitised cultural records more accessible to users. The project is focused on bringing born-digital and digitised collections that are currently closed to researchers and other users due to privacy concerns, copyright and other issues, to light.
AEOLIAN has three specific objectives:
1. To make digitised and born-digital collections more accessible.
2. To analyse these collections using innovative research methods.
3. To identify synergies and collaborative avenues between US and UK cultural organisations.
Archives are meant to be used, not locked away. In order to unlock cultural assets, we need to work across disciplines and harness the latest technology. AI and machine learning create opportunities, but also challenges, for libraries, archives and museums. Analysing vast amounts of data cannot be done manually: automation is no longer a choice, it is a necessity. Artificial Intelligence can be used to improve access to non-confidential materials through sensitivity review, for example by distinguishing between personal and business emails. AEOLIAN aims to unlock born-digital and digitised collections and open them up to a large number of users.
Access to digital archives is essential, but we also need to anticipate the moment when born-digital records will be more accessible. To make sense of this mass of data, new methodologies are urgently needed, combining traditional methods in the humanities with data-rich approaches. Collaborations between humanities scholars, computer scientists, archivists and other stakeholders are therefore essential to make archives more accessible, but also to design new methodologies to analyse huge amounts of data. The AEOLIAN project will generate ground-breaking research to improve the discoverability, accessibility and use of born-digital and digitised cultural archives.