Check out these amazing WPA-style posters created by the Department of Energy to mark the infrastructure achievements made possible under the 2009 stimulus bill. I hope this time around, the government doesn’t wait 10 years to start selling the infrastructure and climate bills that passed earlier this year.
Two takes on this year’s tech industry crash: The first, from Derek Thompson, is cultural (the crash is big tech’s “midlife crisis”). The second, from Matt Yglesias, is financial (higher interest rates are making speculation in technology relatively less attractive).
Steven Johnson on the importance of the cassette tape and the way it changed both the sound and the business of music—in many of the same ways that another low-fidelity technology, the mp3, did.
Finally, if you have been wondering what Post.news is, how it’s different from other social networks, and especially how it plans to make money, here’s a primer from Neiman Journalism Lab.
It looks like the theme of this week’s Briefly Noted post is Substack. I didn’t intend it, but each of the following is taken from the platform:
Substack is launching a new “letters” feature to support epistolary blogging. Like most things Substack, I love the idea, but I hate the paywall, and I worry about long term preservation and access. Epistolary scholarship has a long tradition in the humanities (St. Paul is a pretty decent example), and like blogging, I’m glad to see it making a comeback, just not on a proprietary platform.
Did you know Gettysburg still invites confederate reinactors to march in its Remembrance Day parade, battle flags and all? Neither did I. Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory writes: “Every year Confederate reenactors are invited to march alongside United States soldiers in Gettyburg’s Remembrance Day Parade, which commemorates Lincoln’s famous address. That’s right. On the same day that the community gathers to reflect on Lincoln’s words, Confederate flags are marched through the streets.”
A couple tech links via Platformer: Anti vaxxers are posing as public health authorities on Twitter with $8 “verified accounts” and the NFTs people bought as “lifetime passes” to Coachella seem to have disappeared with the rest of FTX.
Kareem Abdul-Jabar is the best. Here he is on forgiveness: “I see people constantly saying, ‘I forgive but I don’t forget,’ which they think makes them both moral and tough. Actually, they are neither. The phrase means the exact opposite of forgiving. To forgive is to forget the transgression in order to start fresh.”
As a pretty heavy Twitter user, it may seem strange that I quit Facebook on account of privacy concerns. But two posts—one from ReadWriteWeb and another from the Electronic Frontier Foundation—together do a pretty good job of summing up my concerns. The first describes a Facebook quiz developed by the American Civil Liberties Union designed to show Facebook users exactly what kinds of information about themselves and their friends they’re sharing when they add applications to their profiles. The answer: basically everything. The second describes the latest set of changes Facebook has made it its labyrinthine privacy policies. Facebook implements these changes every couple of months by means of simple click-through agreements, and, as in this case, they’re almost always designed to convince users to allow increased public and commercial access to their personal data and that of their friends.
Everything on Twitter is right out there in the open. But that’s what I signed up for. Facebook, on the other hand, promises its users privacy, but (best case) does very little to protect it and (worst case) even seems ready to subvert it.
This one made the rounds of Twitter earlier today thanks to Jo Guldi. This month Wired Magazine tells a cautionary tale for those following the progress of Google Books. Entitled “Google’s Abandoned Library of 700 Million Titles,” the article reminds readers of Google’s 2001 acquisition of a Usenet archive of more than 700 million articles from more than 35,000 newsgroups. Incorporated today into Google Groups, the Wired article contends the archival Usenet material is poorly indexed and hardly searchable, rendering much of it practically inaccessible. The article concludes, “In the end, then, the rusting shell of Google Groups is a reminder that Google is an advertising company — not a modern-day Library of Alexandria.” Something to remember when considering the Google Books settlement and its implications.
For the past few years, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has undertaken a series of public-private digitization partnerships, especially with a company called Footnote.com. These partnerships provide NARA with free digitization services, and visitors to NARA’s reading rooms with access to the products, but allow Footnote.com and NARA’s other private partners to charge offsite users for online access public documents. I have never been particularly thrilled with this arrangement—charging the American people for access to their own records and all that—but in the past the projects have focused mainly on older document collections of mainly genealogical interest. Now NARA announces that online access to its collection of Holocaust-related material is being made available through Footnote.com, free for the month of October, but presumably for a fee afterwards. Something about this doesn’t sit right with me: should we really be limiting access to a history we desperately don’t want to repeat?
Another concern is Footnote.com’s extensive use of social media. Web 2.0 technologies provide tremendous opportunities for knowledge sharing and creating community around cultural heritage. But when dealing with topics as difficult as genocide, the values of sharing and openness need to be tempered by caution and sensitivity towards victims and their memory. For topics like the Holocaust, public tagging, spontaneous tweets, and YouTube mash-ups may not be the most appropriate or productive vehicles for public discussion and reflection. Indeed, this difficult question of how best to implement social media around topics of conscience is the premise behind CHNM and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s upcoming event, The Conscience Un-Conference, which remains open for applications until October 13, 2009.
Inspired in part by THATCamp, the Conscience Un-Conference: Using Social Media for Good is now open for applications. Co-hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and the Center for History and New Media, the Conscience Un-Conference is a free, one-day “un-conference” that intends to bring together interesting and interested people to talk about the problems, practicalities, and opportunities of using social media to further the missions of “institutions of conscience”—those concerned with violence and atrocities, human rights, and related issues. I feel very fortunate to be among the great group from USHMM planning the event.
The un-conference will be held on Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 8:30am to 5:30pm at USHMM in Washington, DC. To learn more and submit an application, visit http://www.ushmm.org/social/blog/.
The American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) provides cultural heritage professionals with some relevant information on surviving the economic downturn.
JISC provides advice on choosing (or not choosing) a Creative Commons license.
Missed it at the launch? Didn’t see the point? Don’t know where to start? Ars Technica has a nice reintroduction and tutorial for Yahoo Pipes, a visual web content mashup editor. Here’s an example of the kind of thing you can do very easily (20 minutes in this case) with Pipes: an aggregated feed of CHNMers’ tweets displayed on a Dipity timeline.
Scholars may not like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that in the 21st century’s fragmented media environment, marketing and branding are key to disseminating the knowledge and tools we produce. This is especially true in the field of digital humanities, where we are competing for attention not only with other humanists and other cultural institutions, but also with titans of the blogosphere and big-time technology firms. Indeed, CHNM spends quite a bit of energy on branding—logo design, search engine optimization, cool SWAG, blogs like this one—something we view as central to our success and our mission: to get history into as many hands possible. (CHNM’s actual mission statement reads, “Since 1994 under the founding direction of Roy Rosenzweig, CHNM has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history—to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past.”)
In my experience, branding is mostly a game learned by trial and error, which is the only way to really understand what works for your target audience. But business school types also have some worthwhile advice. One good place to start is a two part series on “personal branding” from Mashable, which provides some easy advice for building a brand for your self or your projects. Another very valuable resource, which was just posted yesterday, is the Mozilla Community Marketing Guide. In it the team that managed to carve out a 20% market share from Microsoft for the open source web browser Firefox provides invaluable guidance not only on branding, but also on giving public presentations, using social networking, finding sponsorships, and dealing with the media that is widely transferable to marketing digital humanities and cultural heritage projects.
It may not be pretty, but in an internet of more than one trillion pages, helping your work stand out is no sin.
(Note: I’ll be leading a lunchtime discussion of these and other issues relating to electronic marketing and outreach for cultural heritage projects later today at the IMLS WebWise conference in Washington, D.C. I’ll be using #webwise on Twitter if you’d like to follow my updates from the conference.)
Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum & Library explores our ongoing fascination with Abraham Lincoln with 21st Century Abe. Launching officially on Lincoln’s bicentennial on February 12, 2009, the site will present reflections on Lincoln’s legacy by leading scholars and artists. More interesting is that between now and February, the project’s curators will also be using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, a blog and other digital tools to collect public impressions of Lincoln in text, images, audio, and video. These popular impressions will sit alongside those of the scholars and artists on the website to present a fuller and ultimately more honest picture of what Lincoln really means to Americans two hundred years after his birth.
The Oral History Association has launched a new and improved website, including a social network and an instructional wiki.
Jim Spadaccini has a great post about the special kind of planning involved in building museum and other cultural heritage websites that incorporate social networking features. Jim writes, “While the standard methods of web design—such as wireframes and mockups—are still part of the process, we’ve been concurrently working on plans for social interaction.”
AHA Today points to TimesTraveler, a new blog from the New York Times. The premise is simple: TimesTraveler excavates Times’ headlines from exactly 100 years ago, giving readers a sense of what was happening on this day in 1908. Surprisingly compelling and very well done. For a more entertaining and more creative glimpse at 1908, however, I suggest TweetCapsule—time-twittering life in the last century. (Thanks, Tad.)