Saturday, November 23, 2013

Justification for Remediation Project

The project I plan to remediate is an informational speech I was required to give for my public speaking class in the Fall of 2011 over Stephen King. Generally, the purpose of informational speeches is to either educate, persuade, entertain, or simply inform the audience about the subject of the speech.  In my case, my goal was a little bit of all of these things.  The main purpose was to inform my audience about King's biography and to educate them about the philanthropic, social, and educational impacts the author has had on the state of Maine, but I also wanted to entertain them and to persuade them to respect and admire the author in the same way I do.

I imagine my project will draw more on hypermediacy than transparency, as the angle I imagine taking with this project is an audio-visual approach.  I would like to create a website which would have a soundbite of  my voice giving the speech while still and moving images, along with hyperlinks to outside resources, would reinforce and remediate my words.  However, this project could have traces of transparency, as well, as the audience would be able to feel as though they were experiencing my speech in person through the soundbite.  It would be, as a take on what B&G so fondly reference from Strange Days, "not my speech, only better," because along with my speech would be resources available to help illustrate my points.

The action of illustration brings me to my next point - Unsworth's primitives. I see illustration and referring as close relatives, especially for my project.  Illustration would appear through the use of moving and still images, while referring would appear through hyperlinking.  I would like to include clips from King's films and still images of the covers of some of his books.  In this case, those visuals would serve as illustrations while the hyperlinks would be "referring."  Sampling will also occur, as there is no way my speech could cover all of King's life or all of his works, including works authored and works within the community.  Annotating will also likely make an appearance, as my illustrations and references will need some explanation.

Remediated Spaces

Bolter and Grusin's chapter Remediated Spaces looks at physical and non-physical public spaces within the world which refashion or which have been refashioned by media.  Much of the chapter is dedicated to a discussion on the hypermediation and transparency of theme and amusement parks, with much of the focus on Disneyland and Disney World. It then progresses into a look into remediation as it appears in city centers of Europe and the shopping mall of America. Bolter and Grusin cite the work of Augé heavily, who coined the idea of a nonplace.  The authors consider cyberspace itself a nonplace, and conclude the chapter with a study of the theology of cyberspace.

The chapter deals heavily with theory and therefore connects closely with the chapters on the theory of Mediation and Remediation and Networks of Remediation.  Let's start with the fun stuff: Disneyland/Disney World.  Here is a place where hypermediation and transparency are juxtaposed - they are able to exist as one. B& G state that hypermediacy is apparent not only in the "electric light and sound but with specific references and remediations of particular Disney films, songs, and animated characters" (p. 170). At the same time, transparency exists by giving visitors the chance to step into the films they have seen by riding rides which reenact a certain part of the movie of meeting the famous characters they see on film.  B&G are careful to point out that while these experiences may not be "transparent" for most adults, they surely are for children who think the experiences and characters are authentic.

B&G refer back to the the concept of "economic repurposing" in their discussion of Disney, as well.  Just like a company like Marvel might make a comic book into a movie, Disney made films and television shows into a mediated space, the amusement park.  This is not in rivalry of the predecessor, but in mutual relation.  As B&G assert in Networks of Remediations, "A medium in our culture can never operate in isolation, because it must enter into relationships of respect and rivalry with other media" (p. 65).  In the case of economic repurposing, there is no rivalry - only respect.  If the films do well, so will the amusement park.  And so on.

B&G's reference to Augé's idea of nonplaces is intriguing.  They mention shopping malls, city centers, airports, train stations, and Cyberspace all as nonplaces in that all of these places have a "quality of detachment." In other words, if you were to be plopped down in one of them, you would have little indication of where you were in the world.  They are, in fact, detached from the world around them.  B&G note that these places are ripe with hypermediacy and also only function as public places during their hours of operation.

This is where the theology of Cyberspace comes into play.  I believe Cyberspace does not meet the criteria of a nonplace in that it acts as a public place at all hours of the day - it is never turned off or shut down.  However, thinking of Cyberspace as a mediated space in its own - a space which a person can actually feel as if they may enter into and interact with - revolutionizes the human conception of space.  This sort of theology is something which requires further examination to fully (ok, even somewhat) comprehend.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reactions to Immediacy, Hypermediacy, and Remediation

It's funny to read a lot of this chapter because so much of it seems prehistoric. Of course, just like we mentioned in class, any book trying to deal with anything remotely digital quickly becomes at best outdated and at worst, obsolete.  The actual idea of this book talking about immediacy, hypermediacy, and remediation in print form is a bit ironic.  Perhaps someone has already remediated it.

On the other hand, it's interesting to look at what the book is saying and know that what its predicted has now happened, and has gone beyond what the authors could have predicted.  For example, Bolter and Grusin's discussion about immediacy being achieved with the manipulation of touching and dragging with a mouse or pen-based interface now seems taken for granted with our era of touch-screen phones, computers, TV's, and all else electronic, but the idea behind what they are saying remains the same: the more something feels real and as if the person is actually within that system, the more exciting it becomes.  It seems people are becoming less and less concerned with using technology for a tool and more concerned with actually becoming one with it.  I have girl friends who might actually consider their phones their best friends, for goodness sake.

I can back my point up with the idea of erasing the human agent which Bolter and Grusin discuss with automacy, where transparency is achieved and the human feels as if they are not merely watching a TV show or playing a video game, but are actually within that show or game, and moreover are part of it.  Being part of this imaginary world thrills, allowing people to go on adventures they never could in "real" life.  But who cares if it's real if it feels real anyways? It almost seems like the advent of becoming one with technology through transparency and immediacy is replacing something archaic... something nearly forgotten....what did they call those things? Oh yes, that's right -  Books.And the Imagination.

I will not deny that the immediate world we live it, which is ripe with remediation and hypermediacy and all that jazz, can be thrilling, awe-inspiring, and mystical.  But I am an English major.  And I think there is something to be said for the plain old piece of written literature - and for certain communication, imagination, and isolation problems that have come with the deterioration of this lost medium.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our Omeka as it Engages the Elements of Thematic Research Collections

Carole Palmer (2004) uses Unsworth's characteristics of the genre of thematic research collections to describe what they are in her chapter, Thematic Research Collections and lists that these collections are the following: "electronic, heterogeneous datatypes, extensive but thematically coherent, structured but open-ended, designed to support research, authored or multi-authored, interdisciplinary, and collections of digital primary resources" (p. 349). Of course, we also see her famous table entitled Features of thematic research collections (Table 24.1) on page 350 which outlines the points in her chapter discussing what constitutes a thematic research collection.  It looks a little something like this:

Content                                    Function
Basic elements
   Digital                                Research support
Variable characteristics
   Coherent                           Scholarly contribution
   Heterogeneous                  Contextual mass
   Structured                         Interdisciplinary platform
   Open-ended                      Activity support

So let's take a little mosey through the Saco River Estuary Omeka page and see if we have met this criteria.  Is it really a thematic research collection? (It better be, after all that work!)

Let's look at the basic elements: is it digital? Yes. Is it thematic? Yes - the theme is the Saco River Estuary.

Next up: Variable characteristics. Is the collection coherent? I'd say so.  Although we are bringing lots of information in from many different areas through various forms of scholarly contribution, the items all are coherent in that they deal in some way with the Saco River Estuary.  As far as scholarly contribution goes, there is certainly a rich collection on our Omeka site.  We have University researchers and professors and the help of Renee DesRoberts at the McArthur Public Library, just to name a few.  And our class, of course! Is the collection heterogeneous? Yes.  I already touched upon this. The Saco River Estuary Omeka site a large variety of mediums, including maps, videos, still images, and text - there is certainly contextual mass there. Is the collection structured? Our site is structured in many different ways which makes it easy to use as an interdisciplinary platform.  First, it is set up by collection.  There are fish and bird collections, which may appeal to the ecologist or biologist, map and photo collections, which may appeal to the historian or artist, and a business collection, which may appeal to the Business and Communications field.  Next, our items are tagged. That way, they can be searched in an advance search to narrow results into categories.  Each entry is also structured by the Dublin Core.  We also have exhibits, structuring our items into heterogeneous groups which are interrelated in a specified way.  Lastly, is our collection open-ended? Yes.  Our collection can, and will, be added to.  It is not finished with the end of this course.  Instead, there is opportunity for it to grow and continue growing with contributions by other scholars.

The verdict? We have a winner! Looks like the Saco River Estuary Project can officially be considered a Thematic Research Collection, according to Carole Palmer's criteria.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reflections on working with the McArthur Library

I am really enjoying the work I have been doing with the Robert H. Gay Photo Collection for the Saco River Estuary project on Omeka.  I feel like this collection, the Moody Photo Collection, and the maps differ somewhat from the rest of the data that we are working with in that these topics are nearly entirely historical rather than scientific. Surely the two disciplines intersect and I expect that they will as we think more about create conscious exhibits which display the significance of both forms of data, but for the most part the process of being in a library and scanning glass plate negatives fits the bill for stereotypical "archive work" perhaps better than scanning EOL for bird descriptions.

And here is where my nerdy side appears - I think there is something almost romantic, or maybe magical, about digging through dusty, barely touched maps and glass plate negatives to unearth something which time has forgotten.  I relish burying myself in the library.  So while as I not-so-subtly stated on the first day of class that "digital stuff" isn't really my jam, the hanging out in the library and conducting research and delving into history of the Saco River is.

I am pleased that we have had the opportunity to work with Renee DesRoberts.  She has been a wonderful resource - so very helpful and generous with her time.  I plan to go back to McArthur tomorrow during class time to spend the hour and a half scanning the negatives for photos to be uploaded to the archive, and she has been open to letting me use her space to do that.  I also know that she will be there to help along the way.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Reflections on Working with Omeka

This is our second week working with Omeka, and so far I find it pretty user-friendly.  I have been working with Meghan on the bird data to upload pictures, common names, and scientific names of birds who are endangered, threatened, and species of concern.  EOL has been a fantastic resource.  Finding quality pictures of the birds along with their descriptions is a cinch, and the fact that all of their pictures are creative commons save the headache of scouring the Internet for something we won't get sued for using.

The actual act of adding information as "items" onto Omeka is also extremely easy.  The Dublin Core is extensive, but at least it leaves no room for questioning about what we should include for information about our source (though I expect some of this information will be left out, as the list is so darn long). After filling this information out - which is so handily listed on EOL - it is a breeze to upload a picture of the item to the site.  Hit save and voile! The item has been added and it looks like you're a pro at this digital archive stuff.

I am looking forward to exploring more with Omeka's collections and working on creating some multi-media exhibitions (i.e. images, maps, videos, text, etc.).  The site is starting to look great and I cannot wait to see how it will look when we're finished with it.  I am ready to start working with the Gay photo collection to add another dimension to the archive.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts on the Presidential Visits to Charlotte Showcase Collection (Omeka)

I spent my time on Omeka with the Presidential Visits to Charlotte Showcase Collection.  Here's the link: . The focus of this collection is pretty self-explanatory - it looks at Presidents of the United States who, across history, have visited Charlotte, North Carolina.  It was done as a research project by a graduate assistant at the University of North Carolina in 2010. Its disclaimer is that the exhibit does not touch upon all Presidential visits to the city, but exists to highlight some important pieces of the city's history. 

The collection is broken down into four sub-collections: Presidential Visual Aids, which include photos, letters, diaries, and newspaper clippings, the President Taft Collection, the President F. D. Roosevelt Collection, and the President Eisenhower Collection.  These last three collections all contain resources which circled around their visits to the city, including program covers, welcome letters, and photographs.  All of these collections are collected by the same, one woman, and are not incredibly comprehensive.  Although they capture the excitement of the city in response to the presidential visits, I feel like there are so many materials, and annotations, that are lacking.  There are also four exhibits featured.  They seem to include the same material as the collections, but just present them in different ways.  I like this presentation better because it walks the viewer through the event, from the arrival of the President to his speech and the celebrations that entailed.

Materials on the site can be browsed by tag.  There is also a search bar which allows for an advanced search.  The collection is so focused, however, that I think it would be possible to search the entire site by viewing every page and material in under an hour.  Although it is an interesting site, I think it could be expanded upon immensely, and appeal to history, art, and literature scholars.  As of now, there is not much scholarly collaboration happening in this showcase collection.  It has potential to grow, but needs huge amounts of annotation to offer background knowledge and more materials to enable comparison and evaluation before it could be used to create a research project.