Recap Brunch

It was a tradition with my husband’s friends to get together for brunch the day after a raucous party to recap everything for maximum clarity and impact. This is less salacious but no less frenetic as I try to recap the most important points of the past two weeks.

Great guide: Paige Morgan’s How to Get a Digital Humanities Project Off the Ground was clear, concise, and totally on the level. I made lots of useful notes on everything from making decisions about messy data (it’s not all from my MARC records) and considering problems as sources of potential articles and presentations.

Finally get Omeka working for our collections: I’ve been considering an Omeka site for probably five years, but have gotten nowhere. These two weeks got me off the ground, I have a place to experiment, work out the kinks, and then launch a pilot project of a small set of digitized photographs. I have questions about renaming display field tags, editing multiple items at once (applying global values), and creating static pages to serve as a home page and I feel that these are all easily answerable. Having a little more experience with the platform, I want to go back and spend time with  Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century that my colleagues at the Frick and Brooklyn Museum created. And I need to re-read the associated Guide to undertaking small digitization projects.

Spread the love: I’ll certainly share the fun and easy tools like ThingLink and Animoto with Education and Communications departments who will surely run with them and put them to infinitely clever uses.

Don’t lose my momentum with collection data: I need to pursue my contact at the Smithsonian who also uses our collection management system and ask about importing the AAT to the internal thesaurus. then create a practical plan for assigning some objective subjects such as landscapes, still lifes, portraits, to enable better search and retrieval. I hope I am not wrong in assuming that since it is now available as linked open data that my institution would not have to license the thesaurus as it would have had to in the past.

Lions, and Tigers, and Pythons: I often know enough about technology to think that anything is possible, which is frustrating because it typically is possible, just not with the skills that I have. But that also leads me to hack through things and learn something useful from time to time. Spencer encouraged me to experiment with learning a bit of Python scripting to help me isolate and export provenance data from some catalog Word docs that I have with the intention of formatting it and ingesting it into our CMS. Hey, why not?

I’ve never been good with plot: I will work to formulate my desires for a DH project utilizing some of the data collections I have identified- provenance, hanging files, ledger books, exhibition history. As Sharon and Sheila reminded me, and as we’ve talked about for two weeks without it somehow really sinking in– I need some questions to guide my exploration. I can’t just throw all my available data into spreadsheets, stick it in to some tools, and expect to have arrived somewhere significant. What do I want to learn that I don’t know now or what do I want to demonstrate that I’m unable to now? How can I present these sets of data in combinations that are significant and accessible and responsive to different perspectives? And what opportunities are there for this information to be opened up to communicating with other sympathetic sources of data, possibly from other institutions?

Viewshare fun: I want to experiment more with Viewshare. I did finally get my data successfully uploaded- a spreadsheet of acquisitions from the earliest in 1911 to 1935- only to discover that my data tidying had inadvertently changed all of the acquisition dates to 1935. I am curious how this tool can help me to develop directions of exploration at this early stage.

Putting it all out there: I want to prepare and release an API for our collection data. This is such a simple thing to do and I know I can make a convincing arguments to the deciding parties at my museum. It demonstrates the institution’s commitment to open data and experimentation.

And now for something completely different: Finally, I would like to think that I could use some of the tools we’ve learned in creating a personal project, something related to street art, using maps and photographs to document distribution of murals in Richmond, Virginia. I first need to do an environment scan (new phrase I learned today) to be sure that I am not duplicating someone else’s efforts. Wonder if any of our mapping tools create good mobile products?

A big thank you to our fearless, tireless, endlessly patient, profoundly informed leaders, Sheila and Sharon, and their team of graduate students who I dubbed “the table of wisdom”. And to all of my fellow institute-rs, you were all so generous with your own experiences, knowledge, sympathies, inspiration, and humor. I can’t imagine a better group. Onward and upward!

Source: Recap Brunch