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Category: virtual collaboration

Seeking Diverse Voices: Reflections on Recruiting Chapter Authors

My original book proposal for Partners for Preservation was anonymized and shared by the commissioning editor to a peer in the digital preservation community. One of the main comments I received was that I should make sure that I recruited authors from outside the United States. Given that the book’s publisher, Facet, is a UK-based publisher – it made sense that I should work to avoid only recruiting US chapter authors. ... 

Chapter 10: Open Source, Version Control and Software Sustainability by Ildikó Vancsa

Chapter 10 of Partners for Preservation is ‘Open Source, Version Control and Software Sustainability’ by Ildikó Vancsa. The third chapter of Part III:  Data and Programming, and the final of the book, this chapter shifts the lens on programming to talk about the elements of communication and coordination that are required to sustain open source software projects.

When the Pacific Telegraph Route (shown above) was finished in 1861, it connected the new state of California to the East Coast. It put the Pony Express out of business. The first week it was in operation, it cost a dollar a word. Almost 110 years later, in 1969, saw the first digital transmission over ARPANET (the precursor to the Internet). ... 

Chapter 7: Historical Building Information Model (BIM)+: Sharing, Preserving and Reusing Architectural Design Data by Dr. JuHyun Lee and Dr. Ning Gu

Chapter 7 of Partners for Preservation is ‘Historical Building Information Model (BIM)+: Sharing, Preserving and Reusing Architectural Design Data’ by Dr. JuHyun Lee and Dr. Ning Gu. The final chapter in Part II: The physical world: objects, art, and architecture, this chapter addresses the challenges of digital records created to represent physical structures. I picked the image above because I love the contrast between the type of house plans you could order from a catalog a century ago and the way design plans exist today. ... 

Chapter 4: Link Rot, Reference Rot and the Thorny Problems of Legal Citation by Ellie Margolis

The fourth chapter in Partners for Preservation is ‘Link Rot, Reference Rot and the Thorny Problems of Legal Citation’ by Ellie Margolis. Links that no longer work and pages that have been updated since they were referenced are an issue that everyone online has struggled with. In this chapter, Margolis gives us insight into why these challenges are particularly pernicious for those working in the legal sphere. ... 

Overview of Partners for Preservation

This friendly llama (spotted in the Flickr Commons) is here to give you a quick high-level tour of Partners for Preservation.

The book’s ten chapters have been organized into three sections:

Part 1: Memory, Privacy, and Transparency

Part 2: The Physical World: Objects, Art, and Architecture

 Part 3: Data and Programming

As I recruited authors to write a chapter, the vision for each individual chapter evolved. Each author contributed their own spin on the topic I originally proposed. There were two things I had hoped for and was particularly pleased to have come to pass. First was that I learned new things about each of the fields addressed in the book. The second was discovering threads that wove through multiple chapters. While the chapters are each freestanding and you may read the book’s chapters in any order you like, the section groupings were designed to help highlight common threads of interest to archivists focused on digital preservation. ... 

Countdown to Partners for Preservation

Yes. I know. My last blog post was way back in May of 2014. I suspect some of you have assumed this blog was defunct.

When I first launched Spellbound Blog as a graduate student in July of 2006, I needed an outlet and a way to connect to like-minded people pondering the intersection of archives and technology. Since July 2011, I have been doing archival work full time. I work with amazing archivists. I think about archival puzzles all day long. Unsurprisingly, this reduced my drive to also research and write about archival topics in the evenings and on weekends. ... 

Harnessing The Power of We: Transcription, Acquisition and Tagging

In honor of the Blog Action Day for 2012 and their theme of ‘The Power of We’, I would like to highlight a number of successful crowdsourced projects focused on transcribing, acquisition and tagging of archival materials. Nothing I can think of embodies ‘the power of we’ more clearly than the work being done by many hands from across the Internet.


  • Old Weather Records: “Old Weather volunteers explore, mark, and transcribe historic ship’s logs from the 19th and early 20th centuries. We need your help because this task is impossible for computers, due to diverse and idiosyncratic handwriting that only human beings can read and understand effectively. By participating in Old Weather you’ll be helping advance research in multiple fields. Data about past weather and sea-ice conditions are vital for climate scientists, while historians value knowing about the course of a voyage and the events that transpired. Since many of these logs haven’t been examined since they were originally filled in by a mariner long ago you might even discover something surprising.”
  • From The Page: “FromThePage is free software that allows volunteers to transcribe handwritten documents on-line.” A number of different projects are using this software including: The San Diego Museum of Natural History’s project to transcribe the field notes of herpetologist Laurence M. Klaube and Southwestern University’s project to transcribe the Mexican War Diary of Zenas Matthews.
  • National Archives Transcription: as part of the National Archives Citizen Archivist program, individuals have the opportunity to transcribe a variety of records. As described on the transcription home page: “letters to a civil war spy, presidential records, suffrage petitions, and fugitive slave case files”.


Archive Team: The ArchiveTeam describes itself as “a rogue archivist collective dedicated to saving copies of rapidly dying or deleted websites for the sake of history and digital heritage.” Here is an example of the information gathered, shared and collaborated on by the ArchiveTeam focused on saving content from Friendster. The rescued data is (whenever possible) uploaded in the Internet Archive and can be found here:

Springing into action, Archive Team began mirroring Friendster accounts, downloading all relevant data and archiving it, focusing on the first 2-3 years of Friendster’s existence (for historical purposes and study) as well as samples scattered throughout the site’s history – in all, roughly 20 million of the 112 million accounts of Friendster were mirrored before the site rebooted. ... 

Heading to Austin for SXSW Interactive

Anyone out there going to be at SXSWi? I would love to find like-minded DH (digital humanities) and GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) folks in Austin. If you can’t go, what do you wish I would attend and blog about after the fact?

No promises on thoroughness of my blogging of course. I never have mastered the ‘live blogging’ approach, but I do enjoy taking notes and if the past is any guide to the future I usually manage at least 2 really detailed posts on sessions from any one conference. The rest end up being notes to myself that I always mean to somehow go back to and post later. Maybe I need to spend a month just cleaning up and posting old session summaries (or at least those that still seem interesting and relevant!). ... 

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. ...