Day of Digital Commonwealth

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Just got back to Northeastern after a day spent at The 8th Annual Digital Commonwealth Conference. Members of the Our Marathon team spoke at two panels. Co-Director Alicia Peaker¬†was part of a panel called “Online Exhibits: From Paper to Published,” (and she successfully maneuvered some technical difficulties) in the morning, while Dave DeCamp and I were on an “Audience Engagement and Crowdsourcing” panel in the afternoon. Because I’m kind of beat and I still need to do some work (typing this from my grad student office on campus), here are some bullet point highlights from the day:

-During the Q&A that followed the “Online Exhibits” panel, someone mentioned to Alicia that it was “awesome” that the core Our Marathon team is NOT made up of archivists, librarians, or graduate students in those fields. That was great to hear! Generally speaking, archivists and librarians have been extremely encouraging (and patient with us, at least at our own institution! We love you, Snell Library staff!). And as Alicia pointed out, Our Marathon is so grateful for the knowledge and time of archivists, librarians, and students with relevant expertise who have kindly volunteered their services over the last year.

-That same individual who made the previous comment (I’m sorry I forgot your name!) also mentioned that Dennis Lehane mentioned our project, which was exciting to hear! We’ve also received lots of great feedback from people who’ve heard the “Boston Marathon Reflections” that are currently airing on WBUR. Visit The WBUR Oral History Project page on Our Marathon for additional clips, biographical info, and full interviews.

In related news, Alicia and I still haven’t had time to hear these stories on the air (but we’re glad that others are listening!).

The Digital Commonwealth site looks great! It’s amazing what the team has accomplished in such a short amount of time. Steven Anderson and Eben English from The Boston Public Library walked through the site’s architecture in an afternoon session. When I have more time I’m going to sign up for my account: I really like the idea of creating “public folders” that other researchers / site visitors can explore.

-It was great to be on our “Crowdsourcing” panel with Alyssa Pacy from The Cambridge Public Library! Alyssa discussed the CPL’s Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection, an archive that also invites visitors to help the archive correct and clean up the texts in its holdings. The “Top Text Corrector” right now has edited 65,000 lines of text! Alyssa noted that lots of people interested in genealogy and family records have been helping out with this project. Her talk was great! Alyssa helped us set up a few Our Marathon “Share Your Story” events at the CPL in March, and it was nice to see her again.

-Dave and I received some interesting questions about how we monitor “controversial” submissions (we haven’t encountered any yet, to be honest), whether we’re going to make the code on our modified Contribution plugin publicly available (we are!), and whether we still have time in our schedule for additional “Share Your Story” events (not in the next few weeks, but hopefully beyond that!).

I’ll post the slides from my portion of the talk here at some point, but I still need to clean them up a bit and add hyperlinks.

My next post will most likely be about all the OTHER things I was working on while I was at the Digital Commonwealth Conference, but right now I need to dive back into work for an hour or so! If you want a taste of what my day’s been like, check out the tweets I send out from my academic / professional Twitter account (@JimMc_Grath)!

Hope everyone’s had a productive day! If you are looking for a quick break, take this Buzzfeed quiz (I did before I wrote this post). I’ve seen 65 of the “bad” movies on that list!