Last week we presented lightning pitches on geospatial visualization projects – all very interesting ones I might add – for consideration as the 2013 CHI fieldschool final project. The creativity of the fieldschool collective is impressive, equally amazing is the effort required to advance from brainstorming to production of a vision document. We have progressed from our individual concepts to selection of a project and establishment of themes, workflow, time frame, and milestones for the group. The processes involved in generating ideas, focusing direction, and outlining criteria for the project brought to mind a larger question I oftentimes contemplate regarding heritage collection appraisal and accession.
I don’t subscribe to the notion of memory institutions as neutral repositories. My thinking is more in keeping with former Society of American Archivists president and historian, Randall Jimerson. Jimerson advises cultural memory practitioners to be cognizant of exerting “archontic power” in relation to the intersection between history, memory, social power, justice, and heritage materials.
The notion of being professionally accountable for influencing the construction and preservation of future generation’s memory, informed my pitch. Comparing UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in the U.S. and National Park Service National Heritage Areas; I presented an idea to examine each organization’s heritage listings, noting the absence of over-lap between the agencies and proposed mapping heritage resources that have not been included. As a result of my pitch, I drafted the following concept map:
I intend to use this as a creative problem-solving device to parse the concept of “showing hospitality to the stranger” (Jimerson, 2009) when addressing archival silences – in this case, heritage silences – to identify narratives for inclusion. This could be a means for locating communities with heritage materials for preservation, digitization, and database management activities.
Jimerson, R.C. (2009). Archives power: Memory, accountability, and social justice. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.
Captain Primate (a.k.a. Ethan Watrall), ringleader of the 2013 CHI Fieldschool emphasized on the first day of the fieldschool that as participants we would be enculturated into the CHI domain through modeling and experimentation with standards and practices of the sector. Theoretical knowledge and practical application are important components of any discipline. In transdisciplinary arenas like digital heritage informatics and curation, collaborative processes require soft skills, resources, and networking between institutions and teams of individuals of differing cultures, personalities, styles of communication, and levels of expertise.
Stephen Dale, Collaborative Behavior (2012)1
What does collaboration entail? The U.S. Forest Service2 identified the following elements as important aspects to working jointly on a project:
- Leverage differences in strength, knowledge, and power on behalf of the collective to build the capacity to achieve objectives.
- Support equal participation, even when there are differences in power, authority, and responsibility.
- Focus on finding common ground and a willingness to live with and learn from decisions.
The Hack Library School website recently featured an interesting post by Paul Lai entitled Praxis and the Perennial Conflict Between Theory and Practice in Library Education. In this post, Lai touches on the significance of collaboration as a basis of library information science practice. I believe the same standards apply, by extension, to cultural heritage and memory institutions.
1Dale, S. (2012). Collaborative Behavior. KIN Summer Workshop: Knowledge and Innovation Network. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/stephendale/collaborative-behaviours
2 U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2013). Partnership Resource Center- The Art of Collaboration. Retrieved from http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6BdkOyoCAPkATlA!/?ss=119979&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=null&navid=121100000000000&pnavid=121000000000000&position=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&ttype=main&pname=Partnership%20Resource%20Center-%20The%20Art%20of%20Collaboration
My name is Celeste Â-Re. I am a New Jersey native, raised in Detroit, and an alumna of Michigan State. I currently reside in Washington, D.C. Nine years ago I ventured outside of my comfort zone to pursue an offshoot of my interest in libraries and archives. Trusting I could transfer skills developed over the span of my career as a performance arts manager and educator in New York, I enrolled part-time in graduate school and received a master’s degree in library information science from Long Island University. My aim has subsequently evolved into the current iteration of my development from cultural worker to digital curator.
In 2012, I took a sabbatical from the Library of Congress to begin doctoral studies at the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science. As a first year Cultural Heritage Informatics fellow, my research interests are developing towards critical approaches to:
- Mapping the cultural ecology of transformative learning communities.
- pragmatic approaches to tacit knowledge.
My objectives are informed by my stagecraft and librarianship/archival experiences combined with my interest in community informatics, indigenous episteme, and digital cultural heritage.
I’ve been eager to collaborate with the CHI Initiative since I learned about it in 2010 and look forward to participating in the fieldschool. I hope to expand my understanding of trends and issues in cultural heritage informatics; develop practical skills as a digital curator, and foster a network of colleagues and collaborators.