Affiliation: Fordham University
Sector: Archive, Humanities, Consortia and Networks, Other NGO or Non-Profit, Academic, Research, Yaddo
Country: United States
I'm a cultural sociologist and occasional exhibition curator with a background in media arts. In 2007 I began working on the materials in the Yaddo Records, held at the New York Public Library. Yaddo is one of our oldest and most storied artists' communities. This research resulted in an exhibition and book entitled Yaddo: Making American Culture (Columbia UP/NYPL, 2008). It also launched me on the search for a tool and protocol for mapping the relationships among the persons affiliated with Yaddo, which I call Y-Map, or Yaddo Map. In addition to my work on this project, I teach sociology at Fordham University and am the author of Self-Help, Inc: Makeover Culture in American Life (Oxford UP, 2005), I have developed and implemented numerous public humanities programs, including The Body in Question for the YMCA of the USA and the American Library Association (NEH funded); and Girls Dig It: A Online Archaeology Program for Girls, developed for Girls Incorporated (NEH and NSF funded.) In 2009 I was a fellow at the NEH Summer Institute on "Broadening the Digital Humanities" hosted by Vectors and the USC's Institute for Multimedia Learning and in 2010 I participated in the NEH Summer Institute on "Networks and Network Mapping for the Humanities" hosted by UCLA's Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics.
As mentioned above, in 2007 while working on an exhibition for the NYPL about Yaddo, I was looking for a tool to map the relationships between the artists and writers whose letters and applications I was reading, the organizations they were connected with, and the works they produced. During the research for this project. we captured about 30,000 lines of data regarding person2person, person2entity, and person2workproduced in simple spreadsheet tables, which have now been converted to a MySQL database. As we were moving forward on mapping this data, we learned that there were other scholars working on similar person-centric historical mapping projects and we imagined that if our data were structured similarly, we could ultimately combine our data sets and extend our network maps. Out of this conversation, we sought and received support from the NEH for project called The Compatible Databases Initiative: Fostering Interoperable Data for Network Mapping and Visualization. As part of the CompDB project, we'll be doing a working meeting on these issues in September 2011. I'm deeply interested in seeing some sort of data collection models, protocols, and or tools developed for individual scholars or scholarly teams working in archival collections who would like to be able to share their findings in an open data environment, either as they work, or when their particular scholarly product has been realized and they are no longer sequestering their findings.