Oh, the one fun thing

This morning I met with my super duper intern Beth G. to carve out a plan for liberating our e-text collections for a community hack fest (TBA).  The idea came from a brainstorming session with John Walsh (@jawalsh) and Scott Weingart (@scott_bot) about hosting a hack series on campus.  Actually, the idea came from John even earlier when I was trying to figure out ways to get a history professor colleague of mine excited about digital humanities.  I will hopefully make a cameo or two in an Indiana history class he’s teaching this fall in which I hope to develop a class project around the Indiana Magazine of History (IMH), a prestigious scholarly journal which said professor, Eric Sandweiss, edits.


From “A Noble Experiment”: The Marriage Course at Indiana University, 1938-1940 bu Donna J. Drucker, IMH, v. 103, n. 3 (2007): http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/imh/VAA4025-103-3-a01

Eric and I have a long history as digital project collaboraters starting with the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection c. 2002, and in turn he has a long history in contributing to DH scholarship though he may not realize it.  From the Cushman photo collection came his recent, critically-acclaimed book on Charles Cushman, his photography and the world he inhabited:  The Day in Its Color.  Anyway, I digress.  John, a fountain of great ideas, said to me, “You should unleash a 100 years of the IMH, invite the community to play, visualize, analyze the data and share their results with you.”  This would then illustrate to Eric and others like him, teetering on the DH verge, to take the plunge.  Or if nothing else, demonstrate the power of open access data and feel giddy about that.


From the Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection: http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/archives/cushman/P13713


Beth is working on stripping the TEI for the Victorian Women Writers Project, Indiana Authors and Their Books, the Indiana Magazine of History, and the Brevier Legislative Reports.  I plan to pitch an e-text hack session with access to the XML and plan text versions of these collections as part of the THATCamp ACRL this Friday, April 12th in which we explore tools that can work with both the markup (XML files) and the plain texts.  The session will give folks, me included, an opportunity (read: dedicated time) to explore textual analysis and visualization tools while re-purposing content.  I also hope to gather feedback about the best way to make these files available and how to engage the greater community for their contributions later this spring.


(Mirror) Reflections: Day of DH 2012 and Day of DH 2013

Today is my first day back in the office after being out for two weeks.  I am disoriented and overwhelmed by my inbox and to-do list so rather than regale you with musings about the consequences of being “away from work” [1] for two weeks, I thought to look back to my Day of DH 2012 postings to see what’s different today.  Sadly, not much. Or perhaps it can be better stated as: everything has changed; nothing has changed.

I can’t go on.  I will go on.

So what’s tangibly different?  I am no longer nursing my youngest, Jude.


A lover of books, indie music and his mommy

I went a little over 18 months nursing the tiny human, but work travel became an obstacle to nursing.  Thank you, Digital Library Federation 2012 Forum for breaking my bond with my baby.  Actually, I sincerely mean it.  It was time to wean the kid. These days, I have been recalling the feelings of re-entry after maternity leave, pumping, and the challenges of dealing with kids before heading (4 kids in my case) to work thanks to Miriam Posner.  My life-partner, soul mate, and XSLT guru, John Walsh (@jawalsh), inhabits this DH and family space with me so in many ways not much as changed as we continue to navigate our family and professional commitments in this shared space.

Olivia and Patrick, my sweet and smart pre-teens (also competitive like their Michi)


Mia, my three year old, who is quite the conversationalist (she’s even talking in this picture).


Partners in crime: @jawalsh and @mdalmau

The other big change is Dot Porter’s defection to the University of Pennsylvania.  Dot (@leoba) headed up my group and really did lots of good stuff around IU and for the libraries.  I miss her.  In fact, I just finished morphing her former job post into an interim head position for me.  That’s how we roll here at IU.  It’s not official, but assuming no administrative flubs I will be Interim Head for All the Stuff Dot Left Behind.

Now onto the faux changes …

The Indiana University Digital Library Program no longer exists organizationally though I think we still do exist functionally.  In a recent re-organization at the IU Bloomington Libraries, the former Digital Library Content and Services group is now under the Associate Dean for Collection Development and Scholarly Communication, and we are now known as Digital Collections Services, which sounds too much like Debt Collection Services.  This new world order makes a lot of sense for my group, but we are still working on defining ourselves not necessarily by “what we want to do” as digitally minded people, but “how we want to be” so that we can support the IU Libraries’ goal for pervasive digital initiatives.

To this end, I was calling/agitating (whatever) for a flatter organizational model since so many of our core functional areas in the library are tightly interrelated in pursuit of digital projects; no real departmental boundaries exist at the lower levels.  Right now we are operating as if dotted lines exist between departments that were once unified (former DLP), but these dotted lines also more readily exist between departments that were not historically organizationally unified (scholarly communications and DLP).  Certainly the “be” part and the org chart part still needs some work.  If we sincerely want to embark on transforming our role as digital library/digital humanities experts in the academy, it’s time for a sweeping cultural change, not just an organizational change. For now, it’s business as usual (mostly, sort of, sometimes not really) and we are hoping that we can continue this good work that we love regardless of reporting lines [2].

Interestingly, the only meeting I had today was a long one concerning our Image Collections Online service.  This is interesting because I documented this meeting last year.  I didn’t take pictures this time because we didn’t really have any action moments like last year when we engaged in whiteboarding (to sketch coherently at the moment ideas concerning architecture, functionality, workflows, etc. that later become smudged or ironically permanently ingrained on the whiteboard that yield little clarity after a week’s time).  We all just sat around and talked about how the administrative interfaces for empowering collection managers to upload, describe and make accessible all their awesome photos or cultural heritage artifacts suck.  The next phase of web dev is dedicated to people like me who setup these services.  Thankfully the stakeholders are currently happy with what they have.

And now I want to stop writing this blog post because I feel like I am trapped in Groundhog Day.

[1] I am seldom fully “away from work” even when on vacation.

[2] I should say that part of the fuzziness is due to the “new” Scholars’ Commons, which I excitedly boasted about in last year’s post though it was then called something like the Digital Research Center.  The focus is now more broadly on digital scholarships across all disciplines, not just the humanities.