We can’t do this without help. Well, yes we could, but building our virtual museum would take too long and there is an urgency to our work. Thankfully, more collaborators are arriving, finding bits of the work that benefit them and us, and they take on the task. One impressive project was just completed by Professor Anthony Cocciolo’s (@acocciolo) students at Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Science (@prattsils). They used a selection from our historic digital media collection and turned it into an accessible and useful exhibit.
Born digital does not mean lives eternal. Electronic media continue to be a maturing technology. Even in 2015, solid state USB drives and SD cards have limited lives. Go back to materials from 1985, and realize how much more fragile they were and are. Floppies (big and small) and video tapes (Betamax, etc.) were created with magnetic-sensitive materials applied to other materials that held them in place; and then were read by running them at high speed past read sensors. There are plenty of opportunities for errors and failures. Old magnetic media and the data on them are perishable. Hence, one of the aspects of our urgency.
Prof. Cocciolo assigned his students with the careful task of taking artifacts from HCLE’s collection, gingerly handling them, properly cataloging them, and recording the information on more modern media online. It wasn’t as simple as ‘hit play and record’ because some of the artifacts showed their age. Their careful persistence is appreciated. – And then they went further. They took the initiative to create an online exhibit that gave credit HCLE and its parent organization, LO*OP Center, rather than themselves. A very altruistic action.
They deserve more credit, which is one reason for this post. If you’ve been a student or a professor you know ways to commend (and recommend them) for what they’ve done. I recommend that you visit the exhibit they created. There’s good reason to believe that eventually some of these students will be looking for jobs. They’ve already proved they can go beyond textbooks and homework.
For HCLE, they have produced a basic model of what we will produce for HCLE’s virtual museum. Our collection is far larger, which means there is more opportunity for others to help; and, undoubtedly there are artifacts that benefit other scholars, too. If you are interested in collaborating, great! Contact us. If you know someone who might want to help, please make that introduction. If you want to thank Anthony, his students, and Pratt, please do so. They may have just preserved a critical bit of history that enables your or other’s research.
We have a big project. We can’t do it alone. It is more fun to do it with other people and organizations. And then we get the other task, the stewarding of the various contributions to create a consistent and reliable resource for scholars and the curious. We learned a new way to learn, and now students are showing us a new way to teach others about that history. Thank you.