Faculty Work

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    Trevor Owens on Digital Preservation in the Digital Humanities

    For those of you who couldn't attend the talk Trevor Owens gave at the iSchool yesterday, check out his slides and rough notes on trevorowens.org. Naturally, the discussion of digital preservation and its place in the future of the digital humanities raised several important and intriguing questions among students, staff and faculty in attendance. Although there may be no definitive solution to digital preservation, the talk ended on an optimistic note, with Trevor's statement that:

    The future of digital preservation is less about defining a hegemonic set of best practices, than it is about scholars, curators, conservators and archivists working together to define what it is that they value about some kind of digital content and to then go out and collect it and make it available for use to their constituencies. It is about setting definitions that are often at odds with each other but that are coherent toward their own ends.

     

    Categories: 
    • Faculty Work
    • VMW
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    Upcoming Talk: Digital Preservation's Place in the Future of the Digital Humanities

    Ensuring long term access to digital information sounds like a technical problem. It seems like digital preservation should be a computer science problem. Far from it. In this lecture Trevor Owens, a digital archivist at the Library of Congress argues that digital preservation is in fact a core problem and issue at the heart of the future of the digital humanities. Bringing together perspectives from the history of technology, new media studies, public history, and archival theory, he suggests the critical role that humanities scholars and practitioners should play in framing and shaping the collection, organization, description, and modes of access to the historically contingent digital material records of contemporary society.

    Trevor Owens, Digital Archivist, Library of Congress
    Tuesday, March 18
    11:00 a.m.
    Information Sciences Building | Third Floor
    135 N. Bellefield Avenue

    Trevor Owens is a Digital Archivist with the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the Library of Congress. At the Library of Congress, he works on the open source Viewshare cultural heritage collection visualization tool, as a member of the communications team, and as the co-chair for the National Digital Stewardship Alliance’s Infrastructure working group. Before joining the Library of Congress he worked for the Center for History and New Media and before that managed outreach for the Games, Learning, and Society Conference. He has a BA in the History of Science from the University of Wisconsin, an MA in American History from George Mason University and is currently finishing his doctorate in Research Methods in George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development. http://trevorowens.org

    Categories: 
    • Agency
    • Temporalities
    • Visual Knowledge
    • Faculty Work
    • VMW
  • Verplanck Room, Metropolitan Museum

    Verplanck Room, Metropolitan Museum

     

    Agency in and around the period room

    I visited the Met two days ago and found myself in the period rooms of the American Wing.  I was interested in the new interpretive tool, the screen with a menu of options, in place of the old static placard that listed all the objects in a horizontal format.  It puts a whole lot more information at the visitor's fingertips and seems to give us more agency as well because we choose to navigate: we can focus on "people" rather than "objects" and so on.  But the period room itself is still a bizarre disembodied space with fetishized objects absent of users.  In the Verplanck room, a re-creation of the luxurious mid-18th century Wall Street house of one of the old and wealthy Dutch settler families, I was most interested in the issue of the slaves, the house servants who probably handled the objects as much as or more than the owners themselves did.  Not only are they invisible from the disembodied space, but they are absent from the interpretive screen as well.  They don't qualify as "people" or as context in any other way.  And in the end this is hard for me to stomach: why should a chair or a bowl or a table occupy me to the exclusion of the slaves whose job was to keep these objects clean and pristine?  Aren't the social relations embedded in these objects more interesting than whatever motifs or "style" they might show?  Deprived of real human agency, these objects become...what exactly?  And what is the rationale for displaying them in the first place?

    Categories: 
    • Agency
    • Faculty Work

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