THATCamp 2008: Day 1 Dork Short Lightening Talks

lightningDuring lunch on the first day of THATCamp people volunteered to give lightning talks they called ‘Dork Shorts’. As we ate our lunch, a steady stream of folks paraded up to the podium and gave an elevator pitch length demo. These are the projects about which I managed to type URLs and some other info into my laptop. If you are looking for examples of inspirational and innovative work at the intersection of technology and the humanities – these are a great place to start!

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Posted on 14th June 2008
Under: information visualization, interface design, open source, software, THATCamp2008 | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

THATCamp 2008: Crowdsourced Transcription and Collaborative Annotation

Free Pencils by zone41 on Flickr

The THATCamp session officially titled ‘Crowdsourcing’ on the schedule was actually aimed at discussing the intersection of crowdsourced transcription and collaborative annotation. The group was small – just six of us and Ben Brumfield got us going by giving us an overview of transcription software and projects:

  • The FamilySearch Indexing Project is an LDS church project put out by the FamilySearch Labs. Their goals: “Volunteers extract family history information from digital images of historical documents to create searchable indexes that assist everyone in finding their ancestors.”
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Posted on 5th June 2008
Under: digitization, interface design, metadata, open source, oral history, software, THATCamp2008, transcription, video, virtual collaboration | 13 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

THATCamp 2008: Text Mining and the Persian Carpet Effect

alarch: Drift of Harrachov mine (Flickr)I attended a THATCamp session on Text Mining. There were between 15 and 20 people in attendance. I have done my best to attribute ideas to their originators wherever possible – but please forgive the fact that I did not catch the names of everyone who was part of this session.

What Is Text Mining?

Text mining is an umbrella phrase that covers many different techniques and types of tools.

The CHNM NEH-funded text mining initiative defined text mining as needing to support these three research functions:

  • Locating or finding: improving on search
  • Extraction: once you find a set of interesting documents, how do you extract information in new (and hopefully faster) ways? How do you pull data from unstructured bulk into structured sets?
  • Analysis: support analyzing the data, discovery of patterns, answering questions
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Posted on 1st June 2008
Under: digitization, historical research, information visualization, learning technology, software, text mining, THATCamp2008 | 6 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Learn About Wikis on Second Life (May 25th, 2008)

In case you always wondered how wikis can help archivists, this Sunday (May 25th, 2008) will see archivists gathering in Second Life to answer this question.

  • When: Sunday May 25th, 9pm-10.30pm GMT (5pm-6:30pm EDT)
  • Where: Open Air Auditorium at Cybrary City, Second Life

This sounds like a great way to kill two birds with one stone. If you have been looking for a reason to explore Second Life or you have been wondering about how wikis are being used to benefit archives and special collections (or both!) – this looks like a great combination.

Learn more about this event via the Second Life Library Project post How on Virtual Earth can Wikis Help Archivists?.

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Posted on 23rd May 2008
Under: archival community, learning technology, software, virtual collaboration | 3 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Clustering Data: Generating Organization from the Ground Up

Flickr: water tag clustersMy trip to the 2008 Information Architecture Summit (IA Summit) down in Miami has me thinking a lot about helping people find information. In this post I am going to examine clustering data.

Flickr Tag Clusters
Tag clusters are not new on Flickr – they were announced way back in August of 2005. The best way to understand tag clusters is to look at a few. Some of my favorites are the water clusters (shown in the image above). From this page you can view the reflection/nature/green cluster, the sky/lake/river cluster, the blue/beach/sun cluster or the sea/sand/waves cluster.

So what is going on here? Basically Flickr is analyzing groupings of tags assigned to Flickr images and identifying common clusters of tags. In our water example above – they found four different sets of tags that occurred together and distinctly apart from other sets of tags. The proof is in the pudding – the groupings make sense. They get at very subtle differences even though the mass of data being analyzed is from many different individuals with many different perspectives.

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Posted on 14th May 2008
Under: access, information visualization, interface design, photography, search, virtual collaboration | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

MayDay 2008: Do you have a disaster plan?

MayDay 2008I couldn’t let MayDay 2008 pass without pointing everyone to the amazing annotated list of MayDay resources that the Society of American Archivists (SAA) has made available.

Does your institution have a disaster plan?
If not, the list of resources include a detailed set of Free Disaster Plan Templates. Today is the perfect day to download one and start planning.

A full disaster plan too overwhelming? SAA also provides a tidy list of easy MayDay activity ideas including:

Create or Update Your Contact Lists
One of the most important elements of disaster response is knowing how to contact critical people – emergency responders, staff, and vendors. Make sure your staff members have an up-to-date list that includes as much contact information as possible: work and home phone numbers (including direct lines at work), mobile phone numbers, work and home email addresses, and any other relevant addresses. Staff at many institutions hit by hurricanes in 2005 discovered that they couldn’t use work email or phone numbers because work systems were completely out of commission; those who had an alternative phone number or email address often could connect.

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Posted on 1st May 2008
Under: archival community, at risk records, preservation | 1 Comment » | Print This Post Print This Post

Of Pirates, Treasure Chests and Keys: Improving Access to Digitized Materials

Key to Anything by Stoker Studios (flickr)Dan Cohen posted yesterday about what he calls The Pirate Problem. Basically the Pirate Problem can be summed up as “there are ways of acting and thinking that we can’t understand or anticipate.” Why is that a ‘Pirate Problem’? Because a pirate pub opened near his home and rather than folding shortly thereafter due to lack of interest from the ‘very serious professionals’ who populate DC suburbs – the pub was a rousing success due to the pirate aficionados who came out of the woodwork to sing sea shanties and drink grog. This surprising turn of events highlighted for him the fact that there are many ways of acting and thinking (some people even know all the words to sea shanties without needing sheet music).

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Posted on 23rd April 2008
Under: access, context, digitization, historical research, interface design, learning technology, original order, search | 1 Comment » | Print This Post Print This Post

Anyone going to IA Summit 2008?

I figured it couldn’t hurt to let folks know I am in Miami for the IA Summit. Anyone else from this corner of the world headed this way? If so, either drop a comment here or ping me over in IA Summit’s CrowdVine.

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Posted on 10th April 2008
Under: controlled vocabularies, interface design | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Copyright Slider: Quick Easy Access to Copyright Laws and Guidelines

ALA OITP Copyright SliderThanks to Digitization 101’s post I learned about the Copyright Slider. A creation of the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) – you can find more official information over on ALA’s Washington Office blog (Let the OITP Copyright Slider Answer Your Questions!) and order one of your own for only a bit more than $5 (less if you order in bulk).

The Copyright Slider lets you answer questions such as (quoting the post linked to above):

  • Is a work in the public domain?
  • Do you need permission to use it?
  • When does copyright expire?

Here is their example of how it might be used:

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Posted on 9th April 2008
Under: copyright, what if | 3 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

SAA2008: PDFs of Conference Presentations

I found another reason recently to be excited about the progress of SAA’s online presence. Buried in the ARCHIVES 2008: Archival R/Evolution & Identities Checklist for Presenters is first tidbits of a plan to provide access to PDF versions of conference presentations on the SAA website.

Send an Electronic Copy of Your Presentation to SAA. The conference organizers would like to offer meeting attendees the opportunity to view presentations after the conference on the SAA 2008 Annual Meeting website ( If you’ll supply a copy of your presentation, we’ll convert it to a PDF and post it. Please note that by sending SAA a copy of your presentation in electronic format, you grant permission for your presentation to be viewed by all SAA 2008 Annual Meeting attendees.

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Posted on 23rd March 2008
Under: access, archival community, learning technology, SAA2008 | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

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