Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


Pararchive: Open Access Community Storytelling and the Digital Archive

The Pararchive Project and the development of the storytelling platform YARN.


The AHRC funded Pararchive (2013-2015) project worked with a diverse range of communities to design and build a digital platform that would allow them to tell stories, present their own histories, research and work collaboratively. We aimed to co-design and build a range of digital resources that could enable communities to develop expertise and resilience.  We wanted them to become expert in the telling of their own stories, in communicating their own histories, and sharing knowledge. Resilient in developing confidence, forging new communities of interest and affinity, and sharing expertise. We also wanted them to be able to draw on a broad range of archival and cultural materials to facilitate this work.  Our groups were comprised of archaeologists and local historians from the Isle of Bute in Scotland, Filmmakers and Arduino programmers from Manchester, and industrial historians, ceramics collectors and ecologists from Stoke- on-Trent. They worked in partnership with academics from Leeds and York University, technology developers from Carbon Imagineering and curators, archivists and technology developers from the Science Museum Group and the BBC to create a new digital resource called YARN.

Our approach to the project was guided by looking at a key series of problems we felt communities and cultural organisations experience in relation to using online heritage resources and in developing collaborative relationships. We felt that issues of access, copyright and the restrictions often placed on usage were compounded by existing problems of web usability and the dispersed nature of existing resources and platforms. Using co-design methods, in conjunction with innovative storytelling workshops and creative technology labs, the project explored the potential of co- creation approaches to addressing problems associated with digital curation, the fostering of democratic encounters with official culture and the development of new approaches to the challenges of the digital archive.

Our resource is open, cost free and relies on hot links to allow for flexibility and avoid frustrating IP issues. It also means that people retain control of their own content and can enrich and give meaning to material, both private and public, that is featured here.

Learn how to start a story here: http://beta.pararchive.com/stories/120

Read more about the project and our community partners here: http://pararchive.com and become part of the YARN community here: http://yarncommunity.com

© Copyright Leeds 2018