THATCamp Austin 2009: Now Accepting Applications

THATCamp Austin 2009THATCamp Austin 2009 will be the first regional THATCamp. Slated for Tuesday evening August 11st, 2009 in Austin, Texas it will be held on the campus of the University of Texas, Austin. ‘THAT’ stands for The Humanities and Technology, while the Camp portion refers to the fact that it is an unconference.

What is an ‘unconference’ you ask? It is an attendee organized gathering focused on a common theme – in this case digital humanities. In the days leading up to the camp, attendees will post their ideas for discussion topics – but the final schedule will be sorted out on the ground during the gathering itself.

The original THATCamp event, organized by the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University, was a full two day weekend event. THATCamp Austin 2009 will be held on a single evening during the same week that the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists is being held in Austin (and has the blessing of the CHNM).

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Posted on 25th July 2009
Under: digital humanities, SAA2009, THATCamp Austin 2009 | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

DH2009: Digital Curiosities and Amateur Collections

curio-imageSession Title: Digital Curiosities: Resource Creation Via Amateur Digitisation
Speaker: Melissa Terras

Overview: Review of 100 virtual museum websites and multiple flickr groups plus surveys of amateur website creators, memory institutions and Arts & Humanities academics leads to new perspective on digitization and creation of collections online by dedicated enthusiasts.

Session Highlights

Areas of “Amateur” endeavor  have a long history of launching collections, such as:

  • cabinet of curiosities
  • foundation of astronomical research
  • british flora and amateur botanists
  • weather observations
  • open source software movement

Being an amateur doesn’t necessarily mean being bad at what you do!

Within the realm of self-defined museums some common topics often emerge:

  • ephemera (advertising, packaging, nostalgia)
  • comics
  • technology – especially old tech, there is a surprising trend of being fascinated by technology approximately 10 years older than the collector
  • personal and “embarrassing” collections
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Posted on 29th June 2009
Under: access, at risk records, DH2009, digital humanities, digitization, learning technology, metadata, outreach, virtual collaboration, web 2.0 | 3 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

DH2009: Digital Lives and Personal Digital Archives

Session Title: Digital Lives: How people create, manipulate and store their personal digital archives
Speaker: Peter Williams, UCL

Digital lives is a joint project of UCL, British Library and University of Bristol

What? We need a better understanding of how people manage digital collections on their laptops, pdas and home computers. This is important due to the transition from paper-based personal collections to digital collections. The hope is to help people manage their digital archives before the content gets to the archives.

How? Talk to people with in-depth narrative interview. Ask people of their very first memories of information technology. When did they first use the computer? Do they have anything from that computer? How did they move the content from that computer? People enjoyed giving this narrative digital history of their lives.

Who? 25 interviewees – both established and emerging people whose works would or might be of interest to repositories of the future.

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Posted on 25th June 2009
Under: at risk records, born digital records, DH2009, digital humanities, e-mail, electronic records, future-proofing, photography, preservation | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Yahoo & Google’s Search for Reusable Images and the Flickr Commons

When I read about Yahoo Image Search’s recent addition of a filter to return only creative commons Flickr images, I got all excited about what this might mean for images in the Flickr Commons. So I raced off to the Yahoo Image Search page to see how it works. The short answer is that the new special rights setting of  no known copyright restrictions that they created for members of the Flickr Commons apparently doesn’t count.

For my test I searched for an exact match on “Ticket with portrait of George Washington”. This returns one result – the one image in Flickr with the same name, from The Field Museum in Flickr Commons. If you click on the ‘More Filters’ link, you will see other ways to filter your Creator permits reuse - Yahoo image searchresults – including the option to restrict your results to only include images whose creators permit reuse.

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Posted on 13th June 2009
Under: access, copyright, photography, search | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Archivists and New Technology: When Do The Records Matter?

Navigating the rapidly changing landscape of new technology is a major challenge for archivists. As quickly as new technologies come to market, people adopt them and use them to generate records. Businesses, non-profits and academic institutions constantly strive to find ways to be more efficient and to cut their budgets. New technology often offers the promise of cost reductions. In this age of constantly evolving software and technological innovation, how do archivists know when a new technology is important or established enough to take note of? When do the records generated by the latest and greatest technology matter enough to save?

Below I have include two diagrams that seek to illustrate the process of adopting new technology. I think they are both useful in aiding our thinking on this topic.

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Posted on 6th June 2009
Under: appraisal, at risk records, born digital records, electronic records, learning technology, software, what if | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

ArchivesZ Data Challenges: University of Texas at San Antonio

University of Texas San Antonio Archives and Special Collections

Mark Shelstad, head of Archives and Special Collections at University of Texas at San Antonio, sent me a link to the TARO (Texas Archival Resources Online) page for UTSA’s Archives and Special Collections finding aids in XML format.

With the current scripts, these are the fun tag stats:

  • 1,684 total tags extracted
  • 75% (1,266 tags) are associated with only one finding aid
  • 3% (51 tags) are associated with 10 or more finding aids

Collection Size

235 out of tne 253 collections ended up with a collection size of 0.

Consider the encoding of the collection size in the Guide to the Women’s Overseas Service League Records, 1910-2007:

<physdesc label="Extent:" encodinganalog="300$a">
    77 linear feet (approximately 44,000 items)

Contrast this with one of the examples where the size of the collection was extracted properly by the current script:

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Posted on 13th May 2009
Under: ArchivesZ, EAD, metadata | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

ArchivesZ Data Challenges: Forest History Society

The Forest History SocietyAmanda Ross, project archivist for the Forest History Society, sent me 57 EAD finding aids to include in the ArchivesZ project. These are the data challenges that the current data extraction script does not address:

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Posted on 6th May 2009
Under: ArchivesZ, EAD, metadata | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Another Thrilling Digital Adventure With Team Digital Preservation

Thanks to for this animated gem from DigitalPreservationEurope. Somehow they manage to include digital preservation, trusted data repositories, metadata and refreshing storage media in their story of Team Digital Preservation vs Team Chaos.

I really want a t-shirt with the Bit-Rot guy on it!

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Posted on 6th May 2009
Under: born digital records, future-proofing, metadata, preservation, video | 5 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

University of Maryland: Benefits of Blogging Workshop (May 6, 2009)

There are still spaces available in a workshop I am giving May 6, 2009 at the University of Maryland’s iSchool. The workshop, titled Benefits of Blogging: Why you should start a blog today!, is free and open to anyone in the University of Maryland community.

This is the workshop description:

Blogging is an easy way to build your professional network, improve your writing and get your ideas out there. Information professionals need to understand how to take advantage of the promise of blogs, both to support their careers as well as a tool for institutions. This workshop will be led by an active blogger who has found great success in becoming part of a broader community via her blog. Learn about free tools, things to keep in mind and why you should start a blog today.

When: 5pm Wednesday May 6, 2009

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Posted on 1st May 2009
Under: learning technology | 1 Comment » | Print This Post Print This Post

ArchivesZ Data Challenges: Utah Government Archives & Records Service

Utah dot Gov LogoGina Strack of the Utah State Archives and Records Service provided me with access to the XML of 1,196 EAD encoded finding aids. These EAD 2.0 XML files are a product of a grant funded project completed last year to migrate from EAD 1.0 finding aids. Their website includes a detailed account of the EAD Project.

These finding aids have helped me identify three types of ArchivesZ data challenges:

  • strange characters
  • broad composite subjects
  • determination of accurate collection size

Strange and mysterious characters!

These finding aids use a special character in the place of the standard Library of Congress double dash which normally appears between subsections of the subject heading.

An example subject from the Utah Government XML looks like this:


Viewing the same subject in a pure text editor (such as vi):


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Posted on 26th April 2009
Under: ArchivesZ, EAD, interface design, metadata | 6 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

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