Saturday, November 20, 2010

quick update/response

Because I am in the Dunkin Donuts at the Student Center, and therefore can't use my laptop (don't ask), I am using my phone. Because I am using my phone, I can't seem to comment on blogs. So I am going to do that here, because I just read Kyle's post & I liked her point that it's okay that it's the last class, because we are setting up these great foundations for the next 599 class - I love that!

Also, I forgot that today was picture day...and I've been up since 5:30...eep. Haha.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

coming close to the end

I cannot believe that tomorrow is our last class. It feels like we just got started on this project, and I'm loath to leave it. Which probably means I will be doing my best to continue volunteering with VOICES as I move into my next semester of school.

But, before moving forward, let me back up and reflect on the class which we had last Saturday. I felt it was VERY productive. Not only in the little things - I was happy to have reorganized the Person type entry page so that it seemed to more intuitively relate to the data we were entering - but also the discussions we engaged in were SO satisfying. And this, despite that many of them felt unresolved, to an extent! But just to know that everyone was struggling with the same issues when it came to assigning certain information into tags, for instance. It was good to consolidate the Job Title & Profession fields, even though that wasn't necessarily the optimal option.

I'm also excited to see how the other work is coming along: Kyle's layout, Molly's lightbox, and Frank's wiki work, to name a few things. Everyone has worked so hard on this project. I'm also looking forward to the future when we truly adopt tagging, to see where that will take the entries and the searching capabilities. And most of all, I am anxious to see if & when people ultimately comment on the content, adding yet another layer (and more brains) to the mix, so that even more ways to use and synthesize the content can be explored.

This weekend, I hope that we can finally set up a cohesive exhibit, in order to see everything fall into place. Even if we only get one or two done, just to see where this project is headed will be helpful - and inspirational, I can imagine. Once I see all of the elements of our work coming together, I believe I will become even more eager to get involved in the project for the long-term. I feel so invested already. I can't imagine leaving it all tomorrow, and I don't plan to.

Friday, November 12, 2010

(late in coming) reflections on last class

I got sick almost immediately following our last class (it had nothing to do with the class itself, I swear!), so my apologies that I'm going to try to comment on it now, almost a week later.

What I remember most about it was our very interesting discussion/mini-debate on what ought to go into the tags of any item we are archiving. People made some excellent points for and against certain things. I thought it was a good idea to avoid putting anything in which one could already find in the metadata. What I'd especially like to see in there would be tags we talked about relating to someone's affiliation outside of their work: schools they attended, groups they were involved in, etc. This would help give a more comprehensive picture of each individual and allow for someone to look them up via other routes than the typical ones which are currently recorded by the 9/11 Living Memorial (as comprehensive as it is).

While looking for some other instances where issue this might have been discussed, I stumbled across this very interesting site. Also, does anyone have access to Wiley articles? Because this one looks particularly interesting/appropriate.

I also REALLY enjoyed digging into the database files, more than I thought I would; I'm looking forward to doing a bit more of that. It even made me consider wanting to look for work which might bridge my training between computer & library science: I am thinking perhaps I can find something in consulting which would allow me to use my database knowledge and combine it with the need in libraries and archiving for technical people who have some actual knowledge of libraries. Exciting!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

some frustrations with In Memoriam pages

I am writing this post just before I go to bed, so please excuse me - I'm tired and my brain might be a little addled. Add to that the high emotion in working on this project (I've had tears streaming down my face several times tonight, while reading victims' pages), and I might not be 100% in the right state of mind. But I have some confusions on how to work with Omeka metadata and the VOS11 pages.

  • First, I am uncertain how far to go into the person's life: do I need to read the entirety of the memorial biography? I have been anyway (hence the crying), but I am finding things in there which are not necessarily listed on the front page of the biography. Are we supposed to extrapolate data, or only use what's right there on the main page? For example, I have found further information on where the victim was located at the time of the attack, birthdays, memorial sites, etc., but have not included them for lack of certainty, and for consistency's sake. I would like that we all agree on the same approach so that all pages are as similar as possible, but...what is the best way to go?

  • I also am not certain what is necessary for the "Tributes" tag. Some people have no Tributes listed in their sidebars; others have a dozen or more. They go fairly in-depth, and include photographs, PDFs, and other formats. Are we simply linking to the various Tribute pages, or are we doing something more with them?

  • Another less in-depth question: how do we know if the family has chosen another photograph for the memorial, other than the Portraits of Grief one? Are we to simply use the one which is on the front page of the VOICES In Memoriam page?

I fear I'm asking questions which are answered elsewhere; my apologies if so. I would love to keep track of all of these things consistently somewhere - the wiki? I also should add that this is something which I will need to work on: I am a stickler for consistency, completeness, accuracy, grammar (e.g., I'll check to make sure I spelled my person's name correctly several times). I have to reconcile myself with the fact that nothing in archiving allows for this. It doesn't matter what kind of collection you are preserving; the simple nature of the amount of information being so vast means that there cannot help but be inconsistencies. But, my slightly-OCD nature makes this very hard for me to come to terms with. Additionally, because this project is so important and so close to peoples' hearts, I want to make absolutely certain that I am doing for victims' loved ones all I possible can to make the memorials as correct yet full as possible. These aren't materials which archeologists dug up; they are people who live on in the hearts of many who are still alive today. While both types of work require deep respect, I feel there is a different level to the VOS11 work, a deeper meaningfulness.