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Category: Digital humanities

Catalog History: The New York Crystal Palace

Catalog History: The New York Crystal Palace

A four part series on Medium, “Cataloging History,” on the history and practice of museum catalogs, focusing on the publications of the 1853 New York Crystal Palace fair: Part 1: A brief history of American museum catalogs to 1860 Part 2: The New York Crystal Palace Catalogs Part 3: Catalog as Book, File, and Database And coming soon! Part 4, on what we can learn from analyzing the catalog as database.   Why Medium for these? I’m experimenting with heavily illustrated essays, and…

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The dark ride (on search)

The dark ride (on search)

  For a search engine to work well, it needs to know where to look. The streetlight effect offers a common metaphor. The drunk man searches under the streetlight because that’s where it’s easiest to find things. In a search of a museum collection database, we can search most easily, or only, in the categories that are well described, that we have good vocabulary for, that curators care about. I’d like to suggest another metaphor: the amusement park dark ride….

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History of museum exhibitions; a Pinterest experiment

History of museum exhibitions; a Pinterest experiment

When I taught a course on the history of museums, I found it useful to have a ready source of historical images of exhibitions from the past 500 years of so. As an experiment, I added Pinterest to my workflow. It’s extremely easy to add an image to a Pinterest board; click a button, correct the caption, and you’re set. And Pinterest makes suggestions, too: other boards with similar images, which makes it easy to explore and find images others…

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Public and Digital Humanities

Public and Digital Humanities

I enjoyed speaking with Melissa Rayner as part of Gale/Cengage’s GaleGeeks webcasts. You can enjoy a recording here. (For those of you who listened closely and noted that I couldn’t remember the name of my favorite tool for visualizing collections: it’s viewshare, at http://viewshare.org/.)

Museumbots: An Appreciation

Museumbots: An Appreciation

Meet the museumbot. Museumbots tweet random objects from museum collections, four or five objects a day. I know of three museumbots, and I’m sure there are more. @museumbot tweets Metropolitan Museum of Art collections, @cooperhewittbot, and @bklynmuseumbot their eponymous museums’ collections. Here’s the last few objects from @museumbot, as good a sample as any: It’s their randomness that makes museumbots so interesting. The two objects to the left are unlikely representatives of the Metropolitan Museum. A belt fragment? A dessert dish?…

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Beautiful Data

Beautiful Data

I spent the last two weeks of June at Beautiful Data, a workshop funded by the Getty Foundation and run by Harvard’s MetaLab. I’m not sure why the name, “Beautiful Data”: but it seems fair, given that the workshop address both data about beautiful things and data made beautiful by its utility. The question for the workshop was what we might do with the newly available data about the collections in art museums. The workshop was pretty intense. Twenty two…

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Applied? Translational? Open? Digital? Public? New models for the humanities

Applied? Translational? Open? Digital? Public? New models for the humanities

How do the humanities change when we take engaged public scholarship seriously? Considering five adjectives that are being put in front of the word “humanities”—applied, translational, open, digital, and public humanities—helps us consider the possibilities of humanities beyond the academy. This essay considers the way these adjectives modify the humanities. It considers their history, the different emphases they bring to bear. How much are they about new kinds of outreach for traditional work, how much about changing the nature of…

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Arts and humanities analytics

Arts and humanities analytics

Here’s the talk presented at Bryant University’s Applied Analytics in Humanities and Social Sciences conference today. Paul Margrave, Nate Storring and I presented work done by the three of us, Allison Roberts, Mark Motte of Rhode Island College, and students in his GEOG339 class. Two parts to the presentation. The first is a very general overview of some of the types of work that might be called humanities analytics: a lot of it is digital humanities, but it also includes other…

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