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Schedule – Critical Digital Archives
In this interdisciplinary graduate seminar we will explore theoretical and practical issues related to the creation, access, and discovery of archives and special collections, including acquisition, description and technical specifications, community building, and post-custodial models. With emphasis on critical archival theory and state-of-the-art digital humanities approaches, this course draws from literary & cultural studies, information studies, critical indigenous studies, history, art history, and anthropology as we build a rigorous theoretical framework and engage in hands-on practice. This course will pair humanistic approaches to the (de)colonial archive with practice and theory from information science and the digital humanities.

The first unit focuses on colonial archives and special collections, using the Benson Latin American Collection as a case study. This unit surveys the field of critical archival studies from literary studies, history, and information studies. The final assignment asks students to consider the ethical obligations of special collections with colonial holdings by proposing a response to the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, recently endorsed by the Society of American Archivists.

The second unit focuses on human rights and social justice archives, using the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional of Guatemala as a case study. This unit explores the ethical complications of working with sensitive collections, as well as the practical application of these theories to digital archvies with a human rights component. As a final assignment, students are asked to propose a humanities media project that will create supplemental materials to the AHPN website that address some of the ethical concerns addressed in the unit.

The third unit focuses on indigenous and community archives. This unit explores archival structures and activities that exist outside of or beyond academic or state institutions. The final assignment, which will be designed collectively by students, asks students to propose and enact a community-centered action responding to needs, problems, or opportunities posed by a collection or archive of their choice.
archives  indigenous  preservation  syllabus 
yesterday by shannon_mattern
G is for Geography | continent.
Soon after the international outrage generated by the looting of the National Museum of Iraq, the British Museum and the Penn Museum mobilised to update and match their records in order to catalogue the existing cultural heritage, as some of the inventories located in Iraq were also damaged, destroyed or lost. In 1922, both museums had funded archaeologist Charles Leonard Woolley to conduct excavations in the city of Ur in Iraq. The agreement regulating the destiny of the collected objects stated that “half of the artefacts recovered would go to the future Iraq National Museum, and the other half would be divided between London and Philadelphia.”[5]  The resulting online catalogue is available at

The Getty Cultural Institute was also involved in the recovery efforts by developing  a geographic information system (GIS) intended for the management of archaeological sites.[6] Other projects include the less corporate (and less successful) Virtual Museum of Iraq, a “multimedia exhibition” created by the National Research Council of Italy with the once hip Flash technology.

On November 24th, 2009, Google CEO Eric Schmidt visited the National Museum of Iraq. He announced: ‘There is not better use for our time and resources than make the images and ideas of your civilisation [...] available to a billion people worldwide’.  ...

Today, as the Google Cultural Institute expands at inscrutable speed, there is simply no partnership with the National Museum of Iraq listed in their Google Arts & Culture aggregator, nor thousands of images related to their collection available to a billion people worldwide. The only reproductions included are related to Woolley’s excavations and they are presented as assets of The British Museum collection....

The political effect created by the imaginary of digital preservation of cultural heritage following the looting from the National Museum of Iraq proved to be powerful regardless of the different degrees of success. In the same way that today the efforts for the protection of Palmyra and the cultural heritage endangered by the war in Syria are focused on 3D printing and drones, it should not be surprising that the focus was placed on digitisation and web access to collections and catalogs in the case of Iraq. It was simply where the new economic horizon, which included the cultural sector, was being traced. ...

Where does Google end and the Google Cultural Institute begin? As a Google project manager affirms, the material they collect stays “ring-fenced” in their site: “as a non-profit, we have to keep it quite separate from the rest of Google. We are also applying some of the things we’re working on with machine learning to this rich new set of content. But it has to stay within the safe space of Google Arts & Culture.” [22]

However, as their VR business takes off (recently Google was referred to as the Adobe of VR[23]), the offering to museums relies more and more on 360° experiences using their Google Cardboard. While their machine learning and artificial intelligence divisions are also expanding, promotion is given to the experiments conducted in “The Lab”, where computational power and programmers’ skills (their “creative coders”) are used to generate visualisations and find different ways of classifying massive amounts of images and metadata....

Alphabet Inc. projects its ambition into an exhausted European modernity to find a narrative beyond Silicon Valley, a story able to give a specific kind of cultural relevance to their endless data gobbling. Their search for narrative is manifested in their association with the Mundaneum and the legacy of Paul Otlet, credited as the father of the field of information science. ...

All of this occurred at a time when the city of Mons was getting ready for its stint as European City of Culture in 2015, an event that captures the neoliberal instrumentalisation of culture for tourism while offering a showcase for national cultures. ...

Imaging the world as something else than overflows of data digitally re-presenting the world-as-an-exhibition might be something that memory institutions have already given up to imagine. As the Google Cultural Institute shows, their museality and institutionality has been colonised by the culture-as-data sensibility and now is just up for grabs.
museums  preservation  archaeology  Google  digitization  collections  digital_collections  otlet 
5 days ago by shannon_mattern
Levels of Digital Preservation
The “Levels of Digital Preservation” (PDF; Proceedings of the Archiving (IS&T) Conference, April 2013, Washington, DC) are a tiered set of recommendations for how organizations should begin to build or enhance their digital preservation activities.
preservation  dataManagement 
11 days ago by m3gan0
After the Gold Rush | by Deborah Eisenberg | The New York Review of Books
It’s estimated that all copies of about 75 percent of silent films have perished, taking with them heaven knows how much memory of an era. In 1978 a significant portion of that memory was recovered by chance when a Pentecostal minister with a backhoe unearthed the last known remnants of 372 silent films from the 1910s and 1920s, as he was excavating a lot behind Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, a gambling hall in the Yukon’s Dawson City. Just how those films came to turn up there is the question that initiates Bill Morrison’s astounding Dawson City: Frozen Time.

Dawson City: Frozen Time is nominally a documentary—it is a documentary—but describing it as a documentary is something like describing Ulysses as a travel guide to Dublin. The film is transfixing, an utterly singular compound of the bizarre, the richly informative, the thrilling, the horrifying, the goofy, the tragic, and the flat-out gorgeous.

The structure of the film is confoundingly complex; its content spans vast, looping, and twisting territory, and yet watching it one soars along, as if skiing on a Möbius strip. It fits into no category I can think of, and is remarkable for, among other things, its plenitude of objectives and the sheer strangeness of its effect. When it ends, one feels that one has awakened from vivid and transporting dreams, activated, aloft, sharpened—one’s mind enlarged and freer.
urban_history  media_archaeology  archives  archive_art  preservation 
18 days ago by shannon_mattern
Social Feed Manager
Social Feed Manager is open source software that harvests social media data and web resources from Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Sina Weibo. It empowers researchers, faculty, students, and archivists to collect, manage, and export social media data. By running Social Feed Manager on behalf of their communities, cultural heritage and research organizations can provide an innovative service.
open-source  software  preservation  archiving  socialmedia  work  twitter  tumblr  flickr 
18 days ago by mikael
How Tom Tryniski digitized nearly 50 million pages of newspapers in his living room
Tryniski has no formal training in archiving and isn’t particularly interested in working with any of the various other online newspaper directories, especially those with regimented archival requirements. He has, on occasion, been approached by companies looking to partner with him or purchase licenses to his archives. He’s turned them all down, including one offer for half a million dollars. “I knew [my collection] would ultimately be charged for,” Tryniski says nonchalantly, explaining why he declined the offer—for most people, an enormous sum of money. “I really didn’t like the idea of charging a guy to use my site, and then for them to take the biggest profit. You know what I’m saying?” Tryniski, who rarely travels, owns his home in low-cost Fulton, and eats meals at a diner (he doesn’t even own dishes, he says), funds the operation himself. His efforts have been covered in a variety of publications including on Browsings, a blog published by Harper’s Magazine.
scanning  archiving  preservation  digitization  history  usa  articles 
20 days ago by mikael

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