Bring Out Your Dead: How emerging technology can (or can’t) transform memorials and biography

Festschriften, memorials, biographical projects — all precede the web, all continue in blended form.  How can we use emerging tech to memorialize, investigate, remember the subjects of our research and our collections?  Can we partner across institutions and geographical boundaries to create fuller, broader, more complicated memorials?  What can we learn from family history research?  Is anyone even interested in biography any longer?

Come share your research or ideas on comparative biography, personal archives, capturing legacies.


Session notes here, thanks to Erin McLeary.

What would a SLAC DH Consortium Look Like?

teamwork kids

Link to public google doc notes for session here.

I’d like to propose a workshop for brainstorming what a small liberal arts Digital Humanities Consortium would look like. Tri-Co Digital Humanities, hosted at Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore and Haverford, is a great example. I want to extend this model to include small non-elite private colleges and places that focus generally on undergraduate education. Issues we could talk about include:


  • What levels of interest in the digital humanities are there in our institutions?
  • How is DH in our institutions different from DH as practiced at R1s, and what challenges do we face? How can we overcome these challenges together?
  • How could we share resources and support?
  • What would be the best way to start a collaborative framework?
  • Are there opportunities for teaching across institutions? Would people be interested in contributing to multi-institutional projects?
  • What are some best practices for working across different SLACs?
  • How do we identify possible collaborators across institutions?

Image Credit

Unconference Session of Sound?

If convened, the Unconference Session of Sound will be an opportunity to consider the role of sound in the Digital Humanities.

All participants appearing at this session are characters. Any resemblance to the Year of Sound: Theme Year 2013-2014 is purely coincidental. Any grants awarded at the Unconference Session of Sound are fictitious.








here are the session notes:

1. Sound for video (lavalier alternatives) – Supercardioid for indoor, headset mic, boundary mic on table. Still important to get as close to speaker(s) as possible. Also, monitor audio during shoot, lower noise floor in room when possible. Post option: audio expander.
Boundary mics:

2. DH sound projects (perceived lack of) – some examples:
Penn Sound
West Philly Music

3. “Sounds of the modern world” (soundscape, phonography, field recording) – some examples:
Sounds of Europe
Sound Transit
Sound Places
Sounds of London
Steven Feld
Pierre Schaeffer

4. Bells
The Liberty Bell
Sound of Bells
Bell acoustics

5. Exhibitions – performance vs. installed audio
Parabolic speaker

6. Recreation/imagining of historical sounds/music, pre-recording
Emma Dillon

7. Organisation/metadata/archiving (at least 44.1k/16bit WAV)
LoC-physical objects

8. Editing

5 fictitious grants were awarded – thanks to all applicants.

Session Proposal-

Would anyone be interested in discussing Listservs during the unconference sessions?  I am particularly interested in management/moderation of listservs and discussion of overall usefulness in terms of networking and spreading news/information.  Also, if anyone has any experience starting one, I would love to hear some information about that!  Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow.



Digital Humanities projects/tools for on-site patrons

Recently, my colleagues and I have been thinking a lot about the digital content we produce and how to integrate this content into the on-site patron experience.  By their very nature, digital humanities projects and tools can seem segregated from the on-site patron experience, designed to reach a remote, far-flung audience that may never visit your institution.  But, as we invest more time and resources into digital content, is it possible to integrate digital resources into the on-site experience? I propose a session to explore this question, brainstorm strategies for bridging the digital divide, and share war stories from the trenches.  Topics of discussion could include identifying patron needs related to digital content, tools and resources required for on-site use, and educating non-digital staff on the use of digital materials, as well as friendly debate on the prudence and feasibility of such endeavors.

GIS and Geospatial Information for Digital Humanities

There are tons of applications of geospatial technology within DH.  A colleague of mine described GIS as one of the “low hanging fruits” within DH, I think because location is such a natural paradigm for organizing data which may have few common/known attributes.

Potential Topics

-finding, georeferencing/orthorectifying, and sharing geospatial images, such as historical maps (e.g., maptiler, gdal)

-storing, editing, and sharing points, areas, and linear features of interest (e.g., omeka neatline or google maps “my places”/fusion tables)

-combining location with time through intuitive interfaces (e.g, omeka neatline)

-geospatially enabling location based data (e.g., address geocoding, tabular and spatial joins)


Make it easier to find and reuse Philly GLAM / DH data

Data are absolutely crucial to many (all?) DH projects, so making it easy to discover and use data is important to creating a fertile DH environment. Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, and even existing DH projects can help DH thrive by making their data freely available for others to use/ reuse for different purposes.

I’d like to discuss the value in, and roadblocks to, adding GLAM /DH datasets or APIs to existing registries like Open Data Philly where both DH and a wider audience can find them.  Or, as an addendum to John Theibault’s session idea creating a site where Philly area DH projects are listed and datasets / API’s are listed as well. Or if existing national / global registries exist, adding data sets there.


Collaborative Approaches to Born-Digital Collections

I would like to propose a session on the potential for collaborative approaches to managing born-digital materials in archives and special collections.

As archives and special collections acquire an increasing number of large digital collections they must develop processes for accessioning, processing, and preserving these materials.  Developing these processes is time and labor intensive, and requires collaboration between archival/special collections staff and systems staff.  Additionally, they often require significant investment in expensive repository and digital preservation software in addition to custom development.  Many small to mid-sized institutions lack the necessary resources to support such programs on their own, and content of enduring value is therefore at risk of loss.

Is there a way that a variety of institutions could collaborate to support a cross-institutional infrastructure for born-digital collections?  What might that look like?  What academic partnership and/or consortia models would be applicable to such a project?  What would the significant challenges of such a collaborative approach be?

Unconference topic proposal: Web Archiving

Hello Everyone,


At my university we are exploring options for website archiving for long-term preservation of institutional websites as well as other potential uses. We would like to dialog with participants to find out which institutions are actively archiving websites, which tools are being used for archiving, and what technical issues have been experienced.
Some other questions we would like to explore are:


  • Ensuring the quality control of website harvests can be challenging due to technical issues with web crawlers. How does your institution handle QA for captured sites?
  • What are some copyright and intellectual property issues surrounding archiving websites?
  • Are any institutions using web harvesting as a means to provide long-term access to static copies of “boutique” or one-time faculty/student DH or project sites?
  • What is the potential for web archives to be used in data or text mining in DH? (The British Library is offering data visualizations of some of their captures.)

Looking forward to discussing this topic, and many others, at PhillyDH @PENN on Tuesday!

Doreva Belfiore
Digital Projects Librarian
Digital Library Initiatives
Temple University Libraries