What is it like to restore audio on classic films? For this bite-sized Bytegeist we sat down with Gabe Liberti to talk about his time as an audio restoration engineer at the Criterion Collection. These days Gabe uses his sound engineering skills to design interactive installations as part of the design duo, Dave and Gabe: www.daveandgabe.care/
For more about the degradation and obsolescence of magnetic media, check out episode 4, where we talk to Rachel Mattson about the XFR Collective: Librarybytegeist – Rachelmattson
Shawn Averkamp is Manager of Metadata Services at The New York Public Library where she directs strategy, production, ontology design, and quality control for digital resource and discovery metadata. Previously she worked as Data Services Librarian and Interim Head at the University of Iowa Libraries Digital Research and Publishing department, contributing to the Libraries’ digital collections, institutional repository, and crowdsourcing platform, DIYHistory, and as Metadata Librarian at the University of Alabama Libraries. She earned her MLIS from the University of Iowa and holds a BA in Music from Luther College.
One of my favorite presentations at Code4Lib 2017 was delivered by Kevin Beswick and Nushrat Khan, two librarians with the Digital Library Initiatives (DLI) department at North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries. Their talk, Fostering a Departmental Culture of Peer Mentorship in Software Development, covered programs created in response to the growing number of new professionals, student workers and full-time staff entering the library with a desire to advance their software development skills. This certainly isn’t unique to NCSU and in addition to my own experience, I was reminded of a report released last year which reflected on feedback from past National Digital Stewardship Residents. Many of the participants expressed an expectation that tech education would be a larger part of their residency through a mentor or other on-site resource. Dev skills are increasingly necessary in our field but the breadth of library science as a discipline doesn’t leave much room for a comprehensive computer science curriculum, which leads to a lot of independent learning.
Libraries have always been places for free and unfettered intellectual exploration. But how is this threatened by the inherent leakiness and insecurity of the networks we use to access information these days? In this episode we talk to Alison Macrina, Bill Marden, Melissa Morrone, Chuck McAndrew, and Phoebe Stein about privacy policies, CryptoParties, Tor relays, and other adventures.
Saving love letters in the digital age can be tricky. Iris Lee, a metadata analyst at the American Museum of Natural History, came up with a clever solution for saving the text messages between her and her partner off her old cell phone. Dr. Michelle Janning, professor of sociology, and Davy Rothbart, founder and editor of FOUND Magazine, weigh in with their thoughts about how and why people save love messages.
Dr. Michelle Janning’s upcoming book, The Stuff of Family Life: How Our Homes Reflect Our Lives published by Rowman & Littlefield: https://exit.sc/?url=https%3A%2F%2Frowman.com%2FISBN%2F9781442254794%2FThe-Stuff-of-Family-Life-How-Our-Homes-Reflect-Our-Lives
OpenRefine is a well-loved tool among information professionals for cleaning “messy” data, mostly tabular data (Excel, CSV, TSV), but also record data in serializations like XML. Do you have values in an Excel spreadsheet with unwanted whitespace? Or multiple spellings for the same term? Then OpenRefine might be just the tool for you. OpenRefine is flexible enough to handle script-writing or the writing of regular expressions to batch alter values any way you choose. And scripting can be used for other purposes, too, including calling outside APIs to align new data with what you have.
Liza Harrell-Edge is currently Manager of Digital Initiatives at the New School Archives and Special Collections. She previously worked at NYU’s Fales Library on collections including the Kathleen Hanna Papers, the Erich Remarque Papers and the Sylvester Manor Archive.
This past week I traveled to University of North Carolina for nlp4arc, an intimate symposium marking the start of Bitcurator NLP (this Andrew W. Mellon funded project is aimed at developing a suite of natural language processing tools for archives). The meeting opened with 11 presentations by educators and archivists who shared their experiences building and applying NLP to analyze digital collections. Our second half was scheduled to be more of an ‘unconference,’ with group-selected topics of interest to be discussed in smaller circles. Unfortunately, midway through, the university announced Chapel Hill’s water supply was being shut off immediately due to a county-wide water emergency—forcing us to evacuate while discussing things like the frozen NYPL in The Day After Tomorrow, and “preppers.”
Despite this interruption, we had enough time to review active and closed projects, and walk away with ideas that should be considered or incorporated into future software. Here were my personal takeaways:
Your name is a small part of your identity Daniel Pitti chose a more theoretical approach to his talk, focusing on the challenge of identity and in the context of NLP tools, the limitations of a ‘name’ entity. He described the makeup of an individual as being part physical person (what we see when we people-watch) and many parts social person (work-self, hobbies-self, friend-self, etc.). None of which are represented by a name.
“To form a “reliable” identity we must triangulate across multiple sources providing mutually corroborating facts and contexts assembling fragments into a constellation that “identifies” that person.”
Are we looking for questions or answers? This point was expressed by attendee Stephanie Haas, a UNC professor with over 20 years of NLP research and experience. When conversation circled around the responsibility of an archivist versus that of a researcher, she responded by questioning our expectations of natural language processing. Effective platforms may expose new lines of inquiry through dynamic arrangement, but we may not ever find an application use that will allow us to touch a document just once.
Communities sustain projects
—(this practical advice is a point I continue to revisit) Our final presentation was delivered by Carl Wilson, tech lead of OpenPreservation.org. He mentioned a number of projects that he described as fascinating and complex but ultimately, unsuccessful. Many projects mentioned over the course of the morning contained a common thread of frustration with being unable to sustain the work, citing issues like tech challenges, lack of funding and low use. Yet, Wilson makes the point that when communities care, anything is sustainable. If a user community is too exclusive, it resists the kind of expansion and care that arises through community-formed documentation, bug reports, feature requests, etc.
On that note, I was left considering how Bitcurator NLP is currently at a stage which holds the most potential: the beginning. At the next symposium maybe the conversation will be interdisciplinary, inviting non-archivist/academic voices to discuss their experiences (more diverse as well, ten of eleven nlp4arc speakers were male). This is an opportunity to develop a platform that will be accessible to a community of users, not just select experts.
Calling all in need of some Monday inspiration! Last week I attended the INST-INT in New Orleans from January 22 – 24. About 300 artists, designers, activists, and engineers (plus a couple librarians, woot woot!) gathered in an intimate jazz market for two days of talks and demonstrations about the Art of Interactivity, interspersed with evening musical programs and design demos at venues around New Orleans. The scale, complexity, and creativity of the work on display was truly mind-blowing, ranging from musical swings in city centers to self-sustaining waterpods to folded paper structures that turn into a planetarium with the help of your smartphone’s flashlight. Some of the projects were serious, others playful, some massive, others tiny, some machine-based, others decidedly non-digital.
One of the major conference takeaways for me was how the essence of interaction is collaborative, and therefore it often takes large teams to pull off any one of these installations. As Rafael Lozano-Hemmer emphasized in his presentation, too often interactive media art is categorized as visual arts, whereas in truth it is closer to film: it is both time-based and event-based. Therefore each project should include a list of credits, like a film does, attributing credit to all of the people whose effort it took to create it.
Since these projects are better shown than told, I’ve included a list of videos about some of my favorites in this blog post for you to explore:
Melissa Mongiat and Mouna Andraos presented on the work they did with their Daily Tous Les Jours studio to built a collective musical instrument using swings in multiple cities:
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer gave an inspiring talk about the broader meanings of interactive media art and showed us many of the installations that his prolific studio has worked on over the past two years, including this one, “Call on Water,” which writes words from the poems of Mexican writer Octavio Paz in mid-air with plumes of air from a water basin: