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.


  1. I've also found inconsistencies that I'm itching to correct. For instance, there were two brothers who are listed as 37 and 44, but every single one of their biographical sketches lists them as 3 years apart in age. It bothers me terribly (I can even determine from the articles, which list birthdates, which is wrong), but I don't want to mess with anything that's up on the VOICES site. I feel that those were made while working with the victims' loved ones - is that true?

  2. I'll put in my two cents here. I say for our Omeka pages, we should enter as much information as we have. Some people are not going to have as much information as others. Just like in historical research, you're going to find out more information about some things than others - it's just the nature of the work. Our jobs as archivists here is to collect the information for preservation purposes - and that may include digging deeper for the information.

    The Omeka Person profile pages seem to be directly styled off of the Living Memorial pages, so I say include links all the tributes that are there. Again, the amount that are available is going to vary, but we shouldn't leave things out because of sparse coverage on some subjects.

    As for the photo, I think we're using whatever is up at the Living Memorial page. In those cases, the ones that are up are the ones approved by the families - even if they say no to the Profiles of Grief image.

    And to answer your own comment to your post, I say go with the correct information - continuing with misinformation is just going to perpetuate it. Although this does provide a good question to Nancy - is there some sort of feedback form we can use to alert the VOICES people of inaccurate information on their pages?

    This is all just my own opinion, so we'll have to take a consensus on this I think. Now onto doing some more of my own profile pages.


  3. Thanks, Frank, for your input!

    I think you have some good points & ideas. I'd like to discuss this more thoroughly in class tomorrow. For now, I'm going to just get as many pages up as I can and then go back and make (hopefully minor) changes as we make some class decisions.

    One more question for everyone: What is the distinction between "Job Title" and "Occupation"? I've been using the former for things like "Vice President", and the latter for untitled positions, such as "Accountant." Any thoughts on this approach? Better ideas?


  4. (Can you tell I'm avoiding the two papers I need to write and starting on my cost-finding exercise?)

    Kristie and I talked about this, and again I think it relies on the information that you have available. For example, one of her profiles was an officer with the NYPD, so NYPD Officer was his occupation, but he was also referred to as a "Rescue Specialist", so that would be his job title. Now, on the other hand, one of my profiles is noted as the "E-Z Pass Coordinator" which would be her title, but there is no information regarding her occupation, so I would leave that blank. Finally, another one of the profiles my team has done was for a NY firefighter - which would be his occupation, but there was no listing for job title.

    So, in short, I think you're right, if there is an untitled position, but you know the job, use occupation. If there is a title noted, than add that information.