Digital Norman

Go check out the fruits of what I was working on a couple years ago.

Here is the APS’s first fully digitized collection: The Anathan-Jacobs Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Collection. I worked on the processing and did a bit of the digitization, and the letters and photos have now all been added to the repository.

I never got around to putting up a link to the online exhibit, which is silly since Norman Jacobs ate a chunk of my life. He’s the object of my first archival crush. And three people working part time on processing, research, writing, and exhibit design meant things got a little bit drawn out. But it was a fantastic experience and I’m pleased with the result. From my perspective, it was the collaborative aspects of public history at their best, working primarily with Bayard and Tracey to process and write, but also getting the fun of things like conservators geeking out about the variety of paper Norman scrounged for his letters. So please do check out “”Quite a Little Way from Civilization”: The Anathan-Jacobs Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Collection.”

Sadly, I also didn’t think to take pictures of the physical exhibit we did for the the lobby, though the “Shaping North America: Politics & Exploration” page functions as an archive. (In the sense of this representation of Case IV being a consciously-selected sampling: in addition to our text, the lobby exhibit incorporated a map, two photobooks, five letters, and a dozen photographs, versus the three images and the letter excerpts we used online.)

Delightful things

As indicated on the staff page, I’ve been working on the Britton Chance Papers the past few months. I’ve done a lot of description and preservation and digitization in the past, but this is the first time I’ve had a license to weed.

I am coming across delightful things, but do not want to say anything about them because the collection is not yet available. Just felt the need to declare that ethics are a Thing, one which I spend time Considering. There is, of course, a big difference between me writing a blog post about how so-and-so wrote x-and-such, and me writing a paper for publication citing sources which are not available to other researchers. I still opted to be conservative. (Especially since many of the individuals represented in the collection are very much alive.) I have also considered writing posts for later release, but do not find the prospect sufficiently entertaining.

February miscellania

Another snow day. I am hopeful that the power will not go out again (I don’t count this morning’s two minute outage; we get those all the time, and they barely register–unlike the ice storm related outage last week, which had us huddling under wool blankets and retreating to the warmth and connectivity of the Y). And perhaps The Daughter will burn off some energy racing around the yard with the dogs, otherwise I will soon be covered with all the My Little Pony stickers.

The weather, with assists from health and jury duty, have wreaked havoc with my ability to finish digitizing things at the APS. On the one hand, if it’s gone undigitized since the 1950s, another couple weeks doesn’t matter. On the other hand, I would very much like to finish digitizing this manuscript.

Earlier this month, I went to my first hackathon. I’m very glad I went, because this is the sort of thing that I want to start doing on a semi-regular basis, and I hope that next time I’m able to contribute more. This time was personally useful for getting a sense of something I should learn more about. I was flirting with the idea of talking about the project at greater length (tweets don’t really count, though #glamhackphilly has some fun links) but Alex Brey, who drove the initial question posed to the British Museum’s open linked data, has already done a very nice job of writing up the weekend.

Architecture and the senses

Interesting discussion of design decisions intended to help a new Gallaudet dorm meet the needs of deaf residents. I’d like to see student responses, too. But the continuing references to visibility were illuminating. Sightlines are obviously a priority if you’re using ASL, but I am also used to thinking of a general cultural emphasis on vision, with it trumping (though not excluding) the importance of other senses in many scenarios. The ways in which common design decisions interrupt vision speaks not only to ableism but a less absolute hierarchy of sensual interaction with the environment.

(Via @JMarkOckerbloom)

Stuff in Boston

There’s a post up at History@Work about the Boston Marathon bombing memorial. It’s written by Matthew Barlow, who’s very interested in space, which IMHO is a good perspective from which to approach such a subject. Memorial Mania came to mind, not simply because this memorial is exactly the sort of thing Doss would’ve included, but because observations about the intensely digital and personalized mediation of events arise in the case of this memorial.* The impact of, say, TV broadcasts has been hashed over for a few decades now; everybody recording, texting, and tweeting is a comparatively fresh phenomenon, and there is a real difference (albeit not a sea change) between 2010 and 2013.

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