1. In thinking about the readings this week and our discussion a few weeks ago about born digital objects we hope are preserved, how do we resolve the collaboration, empowerment, and interactivity promised by new media with its corporate backing? And what do we make of the surveillance made possible by Web 2.0 technologies? As our Facebook profiles are used for market research and our gmail accounts searched to determine ad placements, to what degree are we really empowered through the use of these technologies?
2. While Clay Shirky predicts the end of publishing as an industry and profession, he has nonetheless chosen to publish a book, of which he is the single author to convey his message. I just wanted to point out the lack of collaboration in his own work and its existence as a print artifact. Perhaps Shirky found working with editors through multiple review passes and Penguin’s established distribution network helpful? Perhaps the book publishing industry has something even more valuable to offer in a world of instant publishing, commentary, and gratification?
Bernstein and Caruth’s timeline documenting the Brooklyn Museum’s creation of an online community demonstrates the museum’s genuine investment in improving visitor experience and responding to visitor feedback. Rather than incorporating technology for technology’s sake, the Brooklyn Museum employed Web 2.0 tools, such as cell phones, podcast series, social networking, and interactive features on their website, to successfully “extend the Museum visit” and serve its current audience more fully, while also mananging to reach out to new ones. I found the idea of blurring the distinction between off and online experiences and communities really interesting — the web brings people together, but it doesn’t do so outside of the physical world and it was the museum’s ability to collapse off and online visits that made their use of technology so intriguing. While our projects are much smaller in scale than the exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum, I wonder how they can move offline and foster community or use already established communities to foster discussion online.
I’m heading to the “Animating Archives: Making New Media Matter” conference at Brown University on December 3-5, and thought other students would be interested as well! More details here.
“The paradox of modern media is that it is everywhere and nowhere at once. New media accentuates the “frenzy of the visible” ushered in by film and photography so that we now live in a world saturated with screens, images and objects—from gigantic public screens to cell phones—all demanding that we look at them.
At the same time, however, they also work invisibly, turning every day events into fodder for surveillance, adding an invisible layer of code—and a formerly inconceivable amount of data—onto the world. The uptake of these digital telecommunications technologies is thus generating new questions, methods and approaches, the more pressing of which are focused on the archive and archival practice.
How does the new vernacular archive—the flood of YouTube videos, cell phone novels and Facebook entries, as well as “bottom up” archiving sites such as del.icio.us—challenge the traditional function of “public records,” their place and their authority? How do changing archiving formats change history (both in terms of historical events and narratives)? What new global and globalizing memories and fevers are infecting our archives?”
My project focuses on “Yellow Pearl,” a mimeograph created in 1972 by Basement Workshop, one of New York City’s first Asian American activist and arts organizations. “Yellow Pearl” contains sheet music, artwork, and poetry. In addition to the pages of the mimeograph, I plan to include MP3s of the songs, which were recorded by A Grain of Sand, the band attributed with providing the soundtrack for the Asian American Movement in the 1970s and early 1980s. I’ll also include materials from the recent Basement Workshop reunion.
I am having some trouble uploading multiple files at one time using the Dropbox plug-in. I find that I have to select each file individually in order for images to load successfully. Also, because my files are pretty large, I’ve been doing all of my uploading through Dropbox and I’m wondering if it possible to have multiple files for one item using the plug-in? I haven’t been able to figure out how to do this.
This week’s reading made me consider what sort of the information, beyond metadata, I’d like to present alongside the items in my archive to create a compelling and useful exhibit. While including metadata is essential, I think providing text on historical context, links to other sites that explore similar themes, and excerpts from pertinent articles would make my site much more useful and accessible to visitors, who may or may not have any knowledge of Yellow Pearl. I’m wondering how much text/information other students are planning on including on their sites.
I found David Weinberger’s assertion that “In the miscellaneous order, the only distinction between metadata and data is that metadata is what you already know and data is what you’re trying to find out” really compelling, though I’m not quite sure that I fully understand what he is implying. (104) Does this mean that in the miscellaneous order all data is metadata? Is the “miscellaneous order” inherently digital? Would this make second and third orders of order mutually exclusive? How can professional cataloging systems be used in conjunction with user-generated folksonomies?
On a technical note, I hadn’t been to my project site since Saturday and am now getting an error message when I visit my website. Is anyone else having this problem? I’m now trying to reinstall Omeka again.
Marilyn Deegan and Simon Tanner assert that when deciding how to capture text (via transcribing, using optical character recognition methods, or employing a range of “hybrid” solutions) it’s vital to consider the reason the text is being captured digitally. I wonder about the purpose(s) of our digital archives and how they will determine the ways in which we choose to digitize our primary source materials, whether they be text, image, audio, or video. Is the primary function of our archives to make these materials available online to a wider audience, in which case the quality of the digital versions may not be as important of a factor? Or is the function of our archives to preserve the materials, even though Rosenzweig and Cohen point out that a move from analog to digital generally leads to a loss of information? Or perhaps our archives’ main purpose is create a really interesting exhibit that arranges materials in new and thought-provoking ways? I’m curious to hear how others are conceptualizing their projects.
In Don’t Make Me Think!, Steve Krug discusses the importance of having an effective search tool on your website, especially for search dominant users (as opposed to link dominated users). I am curious to learn more about the types of search functions Omeka provides. Will only the descriptions we create for our archived items be searchable or is it possible to allow users to search within the archived items themselves? I imagine this becomes an issue of how we scan our primary sources? I also wonder about the sorts of organizational and interactive features that Omeka makes available. Can we tag our items? Allow users to tag them as well? Does Omeka provide spaces for visitors to comment/respond/discuss items included on the site?
One issue that struck me while reading “Exploring the History Web” in Cohen and Rosenzweig’s Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web was the trumping of Yahoo by Google as the most popular search engine. According to Cohen and Rosenzweig, Yahoo, which, in its first five years, presented users with categorized search results in a web directory, was replaced by Google, which did not employ a organizational scheme to sort search results other than its algorithm. This seemed counter-intuitive to me — with the glut of information on the web, why don’t users want their search results to be categorized into an organized fashion? Do traditional systems of taxonomy work on the web? Why or why not? And how is this related to the assertion that Cohen makes during his New Directions talk that historians should take advantage of the abundance of information on the web to create completely new sorting and classification systems (i.e. his text mining example to determine where Fox news viewers live in the US)? How do/can such tools contribute to historical research?
1. In thinking about this week’s reading about copyright in relation to last week’s reading about collaboration, how would an increase in information sharing allow us to participate more effectively in collaborative historical scholarship?
2. Databases maintain that the services they provide increase accessibility to scholarship by arranging journal articles and making them searchable. Vaidhyanathan has a very different take — he describes the collecting, arranging, and selling back of information as, “imperialism without borders.” (167) What do you make of his assertion? Are databases a much needed research tool or do they serve as elitist gatekeepers, monopolizing access to content?