Presented by

  • Bonnie Wildie

    Bonnie Wildie

    Bonnie Wildie is a history, archives and library person who is passionate about communicating history and heritage to the broader community. She seeks new and innovative methods that might challenge traditional notions of historical research and information access.


Finding aids are an important part of archival practice, designed and created to facilitate user access to archival collections. As these traditionally paper-based manifestations find expression in electronic formats, institutions envision “new ways of locating, interacting with and sharing information about archival material”. In some cases, institutions are proactively releasing finding aids, such as indexes, as open datasets. In others, electronic index data is being hacked, liberated from behind institutional interfaces and set free as open data. This presentation takes the audience on a series of short data journeys provoked by hacked index data made free. It makes the argument for greater support for and release of open data by cultural heritage institutions. These data-driven stories of discovery and exploration take us into the past, and inspire us to ask new questions of these materials. Is there, for example, a link between occupation and location as evidenced by the visualisation of index data for the unemployed in Sydney, 1866? Was a spike in data extracted from the publican licences index for the 1850s a result of the NSW gold rush? Are Mary and William, married by Samuel Marsden in 1830, a typical convict couple, or an example of systemic reductionism of identity and experience operating within the ‘System’? And finally, what happens when you feed this data to a Twitter bot? Linux Australia: YouTube: