learning by editing

02.9.16 § Leave a comment

Cross-posted from Hack Library School

For a spring field study, I’m working with the Historic Maryland Newspapers Project (HMNP), the UMD Libraries’ arm of the National Digital Newspaper Program. NDNP is a NEH / Library of Congress initiative to digitize and aggregate metadata for newspapers dated between 1836 and 1922. (The timeframe expanded from the original 1900-1910 and may expand again.) HMNP has been contributing digitized material and metadata to Chronicling America, the access interface for NDNP, since 2012. My field study is about expanding access to this material by using it to improve articles and citations on Wikipedia.

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the invisible substrate speaks up

01.30.16 § Leave a comment

The University of Maryland is putting together a new strategic plan for 2020 and recently opened up a draft to the university community for comment. The email from the Provost sat in my inbox (and sat, and sat…) flagged as important but too much of a hassle. So, big ups to my co-worker Josh Westgard, who reserved part of his personal yearly quota of all-staff emails to encourage us all to read the thing and leave a comment. The draft plan and feedback form are posted here (I think it’s public to everyone) and my feedback, just submitted, is below.

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media analysis in documentation strategy?

05.28.15 § Leave a comment

HASTAC Thursday ended with a bangin’ session on digital archives. I was especially interested in Owen Fenton’s news analysis of Northern Irish identity and Michael Pierse’s project archiving Belfast community festival Féile an Phobail. Together, the projects suggest a prime opportunity for documentation strategy focusing on Northern Irish identity, with the festival as one vector — and their home institution, Queen’s University Belfast, as one of several [hypothetical] collaborating institutions.

Fenton’s news analysis, which looked at editorials, columns, and articles from three politically divergent papers, found that Northern Irish identity as expressed or discussed through these sources is a) not cross-community and b) changing. This apparently contradicts received wisdom on how the Northern Irish see themselves. Happily, archives are suited, situated, and prepared to reflect the heterogeneity of communities in their appraisal, collection, and documentation decisions. It sounds as though documentation in this particular area is hard to come by — so much more the need for active collection.

Here’s a question I meant to ask but didn’t, both because the session ran out of time and also because it might sound like a bit of a tangent from the session itself: What are some good examples of documentation strategy in which news/media analysis plays / played a major role? (Or any other kind of appraisal and collection strategy, really.)

Fenton will be joining Pierse on the Féile an Phobail project but it wasn’t clear from the presentation whether the findings from his identity project will be part of that collaboration. Also unclear whether they’re actively looking to make documenting the festival part of a larger-scale initiative, or if the idea is to make a small start and see what happens.

But, so, examples?

appraisal, up goer five style

05.28.15 § Leave a comment

After Jarrett tweeted this:

And Maureen replied with this:

…I took a shot at defining appraisal.

Per Rebecca’s I-hope-you-were-serious suggestion, I used the Up-Goer Five Text Editor, which challenges one to use no more than the 1,000 most commonly used English words to explain a difficult concept. See this XKCD comic for the ur-example.

ATTEMPT THE FIRST (excluded words in bold italic)
The process of deciding what material is worth collecting, describing, and preserving for access over the long term.

The steps used to decide what information (such as documents, images, files, and stories) we should collect, describe, preserve, and give access to in the future.

The steps we use to decide what we should keep for others to use now and years from now.

Provisional success! This definition leaves out basically all the nuance necessary to understand and apply appraisal; nuances that aren’t, I would argue, jargon or niche knowledge. The problem isn’t that the concepts are necessarily out of reach for the general public, but rather that the standard ways of explaining them tend to be exclusive. And… full circle.

Hoping to come back to this in the near future while appraisal class is still fresh in my mind.

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rave on

04.13.15 § Leave a comment

Paper Knowledge and LIS research

02.27.15 § Leave a comment

[ I’ve been a contributing writer at Hack Library School since October and have written three book reviews to date. Going forward, I’m going to put everything up here, too. The post below is from February. See all of my HLS posts here. ]

Many of us know of Marcia Bates for “berrypicking,” a theory of information behavior. In addition to extensive writing and research on information organization and information behavior, Bates theorized what she called the “meta-role” of information science relative to other professions.

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