Blog Action Day: Flickr Commons Images of Acquiring Water

Water in Bengal

Water in Benal (1944)

In honor of this year’s Blog Action Day theme of Water, I wanted to share some stunning images from the Flickr Commons. The images I have selected, contributed by cultural heritage institutions from around the world, show methods of transportation or acquisition of water. I will let the images speak for themselves below, but next time you go to turn on the tap water in your home – think of all of those for whom getting water is a huge challenge each and every day. While most of the images below are from decades ago, easy access to safe, clean water is still a current issue. Please consider supporting an organization like Charity: Water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects.

And now.. the photos!

Egypt: Arab water-carrier girls

Egypt (1900): Arab water-carrier girls

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Posted on 15th October 2010
Under: Blog Action Day, photography | 6 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Breast Cancer: Join the Army of Women & Help Scientists Find the Cause

In honor of the Army of Women Day, my post today takes a quick look at how the American public  has been delivered various messages about cancer via posters and PSAs.

These two 1930s posters from the Library of Congress focus their message on convincing women to seek treatment from their doctor quickly and not fight their cancer alone.

By the 70s we got PSAs from organizations like the American Cancer Society, focusing on not smoking, doing self-exams and seeing your doctor for ‘regular cancer check-ups’. The clip below features Farrah Fawcett in 1981 (25 years before her own cancer diagnosis):

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Posted on 1st October 2010
Under: diversity, historical research, what if | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

SAA2010: SEO and Archives Websites

Just a quick reminder that I will be presenting tomorrow morning at SAA2010 on the topic of search engine optimization and archives websites. I am part of session 502 officially titled Not on Google? It Doesn’t Exist: Findability and Search Engine Optimization for Archives. My specific portion of the presentation is titled ‘Building Archives Websites That Google Will Love’ and will be a general introduction to SEO concepts and why they are important to those involved in the creation of websites for archives and other cultural heritage institutions. It will include some basic tips and techniques.

My two co-presenters, Matt Herbison and Mark Matienzo, will discuss more in depth issues related to website architecture, URLs and increasing links back into your website. We hope you can join us, even though our session is during the less than pleasant 8am Saturday morning time slot. I will be posting my slides after our session and linking to them from my presentations page. I plan to pick up some donuts to sweeten the deal!

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Posted on 13th August 2010
Under: SAA2010, SEO | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

ArchivesZ Needs You!

I got a kind email today asking “Whither ArchivesZ?”. My reply was: “it is sleeping” (projects do need their rest) and “I just started a new job” (I am now a Metadata and Taxonomy Consultant at The World Bank) and “I need to find enthusiastic people to help me”. That final point brings me to this post.

I find myself in the odd position of having finished my Master’s Degree and not wanting to sign on for the long haul of a PhD. So I have a big project that was born in academia, initially as a joint class project and more recently as independent research with a grant-funded programmer, but I am no longer in academia.

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Posted on 7th July 2010
Under: archival community, ArchivesZ, learning technology, open source, software, virtual collaboration, what if | 1 Comment » | Print This Post Print This Post

Gridworks: Super Data Cleanup and Exploration Tool

In my presentation at the Spring 2010 Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), Whirlwind Tour of Visualization-Land,  I showed some screenshots of a tool called Gridworks. At the time, Gridworks was not available to the general public. The good news is that earlier this month Gridworks 1.0 was officially released and you can get Gridworks right now.

For those of you who didn’t see my presentation, Gridworks is tool you run locally on your computer via a web browser. It permits you to load ‘grid-shaped data’ for examination, filtering and data cleanup. That makes is sound so much less exciting than it is. The best way to get a sense of what you can do is to watch the Gridworks Videos.

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Posted on 29th May 2010
Under: electronic records, information visualization, learning technology, MARAC, metadata, software | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

MARAC Spring 2010: Hurray for Archival Metadata (Session S2)

research-statue.jpgThe official title for this session is “Discovery Tools for Archival Collections: Getting the Most Out of Your Metadata” and was divided into two presentations with introduction and question moderation by Jaime L. Margalotti, senior assistant librarian in Special Collections at the University of Delaware.

Introduction to Metadata Standards

Michael Bolam, metadata librarian for digital production, is in charge of all the metadata for all the collections at the Digital Research Library at the University of Pittsburgh. He is not an archivist – but does know where the archives is at Pitt! He has put lots of archival material online through digitization and assignment of metadata.

The best definition he has found of metadata, good for all audiences: “Metadata consists of statements we make about resources to help us find, identify, use, manage, evaluate and preserve them” Marty Kurth – Head of Metadata Services, Cornell University Libraries

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Posted on 7th May 2010
Under: learning technology, MARAC, metadata, virtual collaboration | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Topic Modeling, Auto-Classification and Archival Description

In an example of Twitter serendipity, @silverasm‘s (Aditi Muralidharan) tweet pointed me to @historying‘s blog post about Topic Modeling. In this post Cameron Blevins explains the results of using the topic modeling feature of UMass Amherst‘s MAchine Learning for LanguagE Toolkit (MALLET) on the text of Martha Ballard’s Diary.

I have spent lot of time thinking about how to generate thematic overviews of groups of archival collections. My information visualization project, ArchivesZ, aims to provide ways of understanding aggregated archival description data, both from a single institution or across institutional boundaries. Now I find myself wondering if text mining with a tool like MALLET might generate smart topic groupings more elegantly than fighting with the wide range of non-standardized collection subjects.

Topic Modeling with MALLET

To get a sense of what MALLET generates, see the excerpt below from Blevins’s post:

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Posted on 27th April 2010
Under: access, interface design, metadata, open source, search, software, text mining, what if | 4 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Ada Lovelace Day: Portraits of Women in Technology

What does a brilliant female scientist look like? In honor of the 2010  Ada Lovelace Day, I went on a hunt through the Filckr Commons and other sources of archival images to see how many portraits of women who have contributed to science and technology I could find.

A few years back I read Malcolm Gladwell‘s book Blink. One of the ideas I took away was the profound impact of the images with which we surround ourselves. He discusses his experience taking an Implicit Association Test (IAT) related to racism and his opinion that surrounding oneself with images of accomplished black leaders can change ones ‘implicit racism’. Project Implicit still continues. I found a demo of the ‘Gender-Science IAT’ and took it (you can too!). “This IAT often reveals a relative link between liberal arts and females and between science and males.” My result? “Your data suggest little or no association between Male and Female with Science and Liberal Arts.” My result was received by 18% of those taking the test. 54% apparently show a strong or moderate automatic association between male and science and female and liberal arts.

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Posted on 24th March 2010
Under: diversity, historical research, photography, virtual collaboration, what if | 5 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Encouraging Participation in the Census

1940-census-posterWhile smart folks over at NARA are thinking about the preservation strategy for digitized 2010 census forms, I got inspired to take a look at what we have preserved from past censuses. In specific, I wanted to look at posters, photos and videos that give us a glimpse into how we encouraged and documented the activity of participation in the past.

There is a dedicated Census History area on the Census website, as well as a section of the 2010 website called The Big Count Archive. While I like the wide range of 2010 Census Posters – the 1940 census poster shown here (thank you Library of Congress) is just so striking.

I also loved the videos I found, especially when I realized that they were all available on YouTube – uploaded by a user named JasonGCensus. I am not clear on the relationship between JasonGCensus and the official U.S. Census Bureau’s Channel (which seems focused on 2010 Census content), but there are some real gems posted there.

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Posted on 5th March 2010
Under: future-proofing, historical research, internet archiving, photography, privacy, video | 3 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

National Archives Transitions to Flickr Commons Membership

Ladies in Gas Masks

Even with the recent announcement that the Flickr Commons is not currently accepting new applications, there are clearly still applications being processed. NARA has been on Flickr since February of 2009 and loaded 49 sets of images. As announced in a recent press release, on the first of February 2010 Flickr flipped the switch and all the images in the The U.S. National Archives’ photostream was shifted over into the Commons.

The 49 sets are sorted into 4 collections:

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Posted on 16th February 2010
Under: access, GIS, learning technology, outreach, photography, virtual collaboration, web 2.0 | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

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