Hello DH World!

It is the evening before the Day of DH. I’ve just finished typing up the minutes from a meeting discussing  the potential shape of a New England Regional Digital Scholarship group. Can’t argue with the acronym.

I’m looking forward to the Day of DH, and am charging the phone camera, wondering how detailed to make my personal statement and thinking about what I’ll be doing tomorrow. I have several meetings scheduled. The rest of the day will be spent on various projects, and I hope I can arrange it so they are representative and fun to write about.

Elli Arrives at Work

As the day of DH starts off, I thought I’d post a few situating shots to share my first few DH experiences of the day.

Andy in his office

Andy's office

Usually, I poke my head into Andy’s office, as it’s previous to mine in our long hallway, to say good morning and see what’s up. This morning he’s working on his SEASR grant. We have a brief conversation about servers and logins.

Elli's office

Then I arrive at my own door. This is the view once I’ve put my stuff down. Note lunch at the lower left. This is my native habitat.

John, Julia and the Poltergeist

Finally, I pop over the John’s office, where I find Julia and John, tracking down  a poltergeist in Filemaker. I recount my own recent encounter with extensive file name changes in a versioned directory…

So, that’s the arrival and the early morning chitchat. Now that I spent  some time on photography and blogging, off to the biweekly CDS staff meeting.

The Morning

The morning was taken up with meetings. Biweekly staff meeting with some great trip reports from Code4Lib and the 3 day workshop at Simmons ”Digital Image Curation: Creating a New Field of Practice.” Note the handwaving. Our meetings take place in the library that houses special collections, and we pass through a room full of display cases with toy soldiers as we go to our meeting room.

Ann talks about image curation

Ann talks about digital image curation

Birkin talks about Code4Lib

CDS staff meeting

CDS staff meeting

Then the managers met with our fearless leader, the university librarian.

Meeting with UL

We meet with Harriette, our University Librarian


My office is not in the library, although I am now part of the library.  I still occupy a (very comfortable and light) office in CIS land, which is where my old group, STG, reported. So my days often include walks to meetings in the library and back. Today, one of the first sunny, warm days in RI, I would happily have walked to several meetings.

Since my new colleagues have offices in the two libraries, I often take the opportunity when I am there to drop in and see what they are doing, talk about projects, problems or simple chit chat. It’s a way to stay in touch and learn to be part of a new group. So, today, after the two morning meetings, I went up to the CDI (Center for Digital Initiatives) where the digital library production process takes place. They have an amazing huge camera for photographing big flat things, and various other photographic and scanning technologies. They also have photographers, project managers, designers and metadata experts.

Robin's office

My colleague, Robin, in her CDI office

Digital Scholarship Class

Julia and the Digital Scholarship class

I sat and worked on my laptop for a while, because I was waiting for Lindsay, a photographer, to start imaging some 3D objects from special collections. While I was there, the Digital Scholarship class began to filter in. Their lab today was being taught by Julia (see more on her Day of DH blog), and it was on object modeling, not of the 3D kind, but of the markup kind.

Many CDS staff have conducted workshops for this class, and it’s been great fun. The students are primarily Am Civ graduate students or MA students in the Public Humanities program. My main contribution so far was to introduce Omeka (with Andy) and to sit in on project consultation. The students are very interested in connecting with their audiences and creating participatory projects. I think that what’s new to them are the archival practices and the idea of  architecting these projects.

After the class started, I went to the office next door where photography had begun. Lindsay had a very impressive set up of hot lights, a digitally controlled, incredibly high res camera that captured directly to her Mac, and a set of very strange objects. She is photographing the “Dr. Bob” collection: various objects that belongs to Bob Smith, one of the two founders of AA. When I walked in, she was carefully arranging his homeopathic kit on a white sheet. She took a picture of the outside, and was then going to take all the vials out and photograph them as well. In waiting were his wallet, Social security card, calling card and prescription pad. After selected Dr. Bob objects, Lindsay was going to immortalize a signed baseball encased in an acrylic cube (famous team, don’t know which), and the pocket knife and sewing kit from the personal effects of Thomas Wilson Dorr (typical cranky RI politician who went to jail for fomenting the Dorr Rebellion of 1842) [Dorr collection at Brown, Dorr on wikipedia].

Lindsay taking photographs

Lindsay photographs Dr. Bob's homeopathy kit

Dr. Bob's prescription book and wallet

Dr. Bob's prescription book and wallet

I was fascinated by the photography, the technology, and the idea that we have this kind of strange personal object in the collections.

Finally, I had to go back to my office and eat lunch while doing some blog and twitter reading.


My afternoon was spent on more typical DH activities.

  • finding out why the students hadn’t been paid for the last pay period
  • correcting spreadsheets that document which students work for us and what we pay them.
  • deleting email
  • Making minor fixes on an older web project that STG had done (The Catskills Institute Website)

This project is exemplary primarily because it represents one of our first integrations with the digital repository. Most of the site is an HTML website that can be maintained by the faculty member and his assistants in DreamWeaver. Any time that it links to archival materials, however, it is linking to the repository. The material is also pretty cool.

When that was all done, I was finally able to get around to reviewing and summarizing the proposals that were submitted for the first Center for Digital Scholarship Scholarly Grant CFP. We seem to be awash in archaeologists this time. This was the fun part of my afternoon, where I get to read about new work, figure out how it fits with what we know, what we want to learn and what our strategic directions are. In addition to archaeologists, we also have some TEI and name authority standards and best practices to think about, as well as a difficult but interesting conceptual art project. There weren’t as many as in other years, (when we had the STG Faculty Grant Program), but given that we are expanding our efforts into new directions and, in the process, trying to free ourselves from the “tyranny of the project” (coined by Andy Ashton), this may be just  the right amount.

Elli's desk

Time to go home


paper maché elephant head

STG/CDS Elephant