I’m considering the negative effects of freedom that have been made possible through easier modes of forming groups online. I was disheartened by Shirky’s story of the pro-ana group of teenagers on the YM forums and the other groups he mentions, who label themselves as “self-help” but are in truth quite the opposite. Shirky uses their story to illustrate one of the three losses that result from increased group formation — the ability to police groups (the first two losses being “amateurization” and social bargains). There are many groups that can now form which would be considered harmful, if not very dangerous. Shirky also briefly mentions crime networks and local terrorist organizations within this category. I also think of several school shootings, before which the shooter(s) have discussed his/their ideas in online communities.
In response to this third loss, which he believes is the most troubling, Shirky states that “the problem now becomes actively deciding which groups to support and which groups to oppose” (pp. 209-211). This seems to intimate that there will have to be some type of organized body given the specific task to police (or watch) these groups. Is there any plausible solution to that problem? Should the host website that’s providing this platform have the right to censor/shut down these communities? How can they define what is “harmful”? It’s an interesting moral dilemma…
(Ah! Sorry Meredith, just realized we posted similar Qs within a short time of each other…)
In their chapter on Building an Audience, Cohen & Rosenzweig present two principles to ensure that a digital history website is not only useful, but used. They urge webmasters to:
a) think about creating a community, rather than just simple page hits, and
b) recognize the types of visitors you’re getting and adapt to their needs
I’m wondering what capacity we have to incorporate either of these two principles into our own sites. What add-ons might Omeka offer that could help foster a community and track site visitors?
I notice that there are Social Bookmarking (http://omeka.org/add-ons/plugins/#socialbookmarking) and Contributions (http://omeka.org/add-ons/plugins/#contribution) add-ons… would these be appropriate/useful to include on the sites for this class, or do you think they’d be better for a more substantial project?
My digital archive is intended to eventually serve as an online resource for the New York University Archives, based on one of its most frequently researched topics — student activism of the 1960s. It will supplement a current University Archives online exhibit on 60s activism, which is relatively outdated and very broad in scope. The project will document what is arguably the most substantial student demonstration in NYU’s history: the National Student Strike of May 1970. This protest included the forceful occupation of three university buildings, one in which a $3.5M military computer was held hostage to threat of explosion (and nearly did meet destruction before being saved by the NYPD). I plan to digitize a variety of archival materials, ranging from correspondence to memoranda, and photographs to flyers, leaflets, and other forms of ephemera.
I am also considering the possibility of adding tagging capabilities to my digital archive — both self-created and user-created. What issues might arise from this? Is this possible to do with Omeka? I wonder how much upkeep this would require on the part of the creator (as in deleting inaccurate or offensive tags).
Additionally — more of an ethical question with the materials I’ll be digitizing. My archive will focus on NYU student activism during the late 1960s, so you can imagine I have run into examples of profanity and obscene images. The most common examples of obscenity are the messages that students left on the walls and windows of the buildings they occupied. How do we feel about offensive phrases or words appearing in a public digital archive? As a student of history, I would not think to exclude these images, for they help to capture the heightened emotion of the events. But as for being useful to teachers and students, some caution might be appreciated. Since it will be open to the public, should I include a disclaimer? Where should it appear — on the main page, or as a message before one views each potentially offensive image? Have you seen examples of this in other digital archives that deal with sensitive subject matter?
Like Tracie, I’m also thinking about the level of quality we’ll need for our digitized images and the formats we should be saving them in. Although they are considered the “standard” for humanists, I don’t think TIFF images should be used for a digital archive, especially if you intend for that website to be accessible to many visitors on varying types of systems. A high-quality JPEG is what I plan to use for the site. But in terms of having a “digital master,” TIFF would the optimal format.
So what’s a good plan of action when we sit down to scan our own documents and photographs? Should we save one JPEG copy and one TIFF copy? I suppose it’s a conversation to have with the archives staff you’re working with. I’m sure that some archives would appreciate having a “digital master” on their hard drives, especially if the topic is popular with researchers. Others might not have the capacity for it. My topic (60s student activism) draws a lot of research interest at the University Archives, so I imagine that we might want to keep some TIFF versions on the hard drive.
One of my main technical concerns is the amount of control we will have over the layout of the site. In Don’t Make Me Think, we read so much on minimizing the amount of clicks users will make, omitting needless words, leaving breadcrumbs (home buttons and indexes), creating tags, having straightforward & easy search functions, a site hierarchy, etc. I had some difficulty applying Krug’s Laws of Usability to my site, since I am unsure how much of the template will be inflexible and determined by Omeka. We’ll certainly have the freedom with keeping our text clear and concise, but how much of the navigation and user interface will we have control over?
If we did wish to change something that is part of the Omeka template… what skills would we need to learn, and do you think it would be worth it? Would trying to change it be rather risky?
As someone who is usually interested in the museum side of things, I was drawn to the section in the JAH Interchange article that discusses museum exhibits and their relation to digital history (pp. 13-17 of the article). While the participants raised many interesting issues, I was most intrigued by the comments of Patrick Gallagher (a leading exhibit design consultant). Gallagher states that visitors comprehend a concept in more depth when the spaces they’re in emulate the reality of the historical situation. Museum professionals use artifacts to give the story a reality. He’s suggesting that encountering the object in person makes it more “real.” Gallagher also talks about how museums today increasingly encourage social interaction and for visitors to engage in dialogue with each other, relating the situation to their own lives (personalizing). He argues that its the social experience that encourages many visitors to attend museums versus sitting at home in a virtual environment. Do you agree with this argument? Can you have the same type of personal experience online?
Gallagher makes another point about age & generations playing a role in how people use virtual and physical environments, revolving around the idea that technology is a given for younger audiences. He opines that “while young people love their virtual worlds, these worlds are more common for them than physical interaction with collections, spaces, and experiences.” Younger generations are looking for something more real — the “real thing.” Do you agree with this notion? Couldn’t it also be argued that younger audiences’ comfortability with the virtual environment would make them more likely to consult it? Do you think that this preference should even be viewed as a generational thing?
Through the course of Copyrights and Copywrongs, there was a central conflict over easy and inexpensive access to materials (for example — cheap foreign-published novels or free MP3s from Napster). When you consider the recent growth of open-source material and the increasing availability of copyrighted materials online, how does this change the way research is conducted? Will students coming of age now be more likely to conduct their research online and focus on the materials they can acquire through that avenue? If so, are materials with more enforced copyright/restricted access destined to become useless or forgotten because they’re not as easily accessible?
Also, I want to note that the readings for this week seemed to veer to the “copy-left.” While I personally identify more with this side, I think we should also consider the current alternate view. Are there any noteworthy recent publications written through the “copy-right” perspective?
Like John and Nicole, I found it interesting how the authors define “collaboration.” They seem to describe the term as an objective that humanists need to work towards, as a way of moving progressively into a better, less contentious future. The articles credit the rise of the digital era in creating imperatives for collaboration amongst humanities scholars.
While Spiro and Davidson focus primarily on collaboration amongst academics, Rosenzweig discusses the need for collaborative efforts between scholars and public history venues. Echoing the previous commenters, I can’t help but point to these two groups’ many collaborative efforts that have been happening for decades.
Museums and libraries rather frequently organize workshops, panel discussions, seminars, and lectures within their facilities that directly involve the participation of academics. They also commonly solicit the input of scholars in the research and creation of their exhibitions’ narratives and educational objectives. Aren’t these forms of “collaboration?” Or are they considered more as “cooperation”? Differentiating between those two terms can get rather sticky.
The collaborative efforts Rosenzweig discusses occur online in the form of digital archives and exhibits that both democratize access to collections and digitally preserve materials. While the advantages of these digital collaborative efforts are clear – are they necessarily better than the face-to-face, hands-on interactions at museums and libraries? Do you foresee the digital forms of collaboration taking precedence over the traditional collaborative efforts? What are the advantages & disadvantages of each?
I’m thinking of returning to the research topic I invested in during the spring semester, as a component of Cathy Hajo’s ‘History & New Media’ course. For that course, we had to plan a digital history exhibit and compose a grant proposal for its funding — though we never actually built the website. I felt somewhat unfulfilled doing all of this hypothetical work and never actually seeing the project to creation. I’d be interested in doing that this semester.
The topic I researched last semester was the eight-day strike at Columbia University from April 23-30, 1968. It is commonly considered a student protest against the Vietnam War, but I came to discover that it was much more than that. It involved the participation of not only Columbia students, but students from throughout NYC, community members, and social activists from throughout the region. It was also a civil rights protest, concerned equally with ending the war as it was with improving Columbia’s relations with its Harlem neighbors. The events at Columbia throughout the late 60s proved very influential on campus activity across America, and this protest was the most significant that Columbia ever experienced. It also caused a time of crisis for the university, and even for the nation, as evidenced by the intense national media coverage it received.
I worked with the Columbia Archives staff last semester in digitizing archival materials, and had a rewarding time going through their 75-box Protest & Activism Collection. Due to the size of the collection, however, I feel as though I only scratched the surface. There is a lot more potential for exploration!
As suggested by Amanda, I’m considering adding an NYU component and looking at NYU’s activities in this period (perhaps even just Spring 1968). I know that NYU and Columbia students convened for several events, and I’d also love to compare/contrast their separate activities.