Digital Data Archives as Knowledge Infrastructures: Mediating Data Sharing and Reuse.
Digital data archives play essential roles in knowledge infrastructures bymediating access to data within and between communities. This three-yearqualitative study of DANS, a digital data archive containing more than 50 yearsof heterogeneous data types, provides new insights to the uses, users, androles of these systems and services. Consumers are highly diverse, includingresearchers, students, practitioners in museums and companies, and hobbyists.Contributors are not necessarily consumers of data from the archive, and fewusers cite data in DANS, even their own data. Academic contributors prefer tomaintain control over data after deposit so that they can have personalexchanges with those seeking their data. Staff archivists provide essentialmediating roles in identifying, acquiring, curating, and disseminating data.Archivists take the perspective of potential consumers in curating data to befindable and usable. Staff balance competing goals, and competing stakeholders,in time spent acquiring and curating data, in maintaining current data andlong-term stewardship, and in providing direct access and interfaces to searchengines and harvesters. Data archives are fragile in the long run, due to thecompeting stakeholders, multiple funding sources, and array of interactingtechnologies and infrastructures on which they depend.
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