My research is in the area of digital stewardship with a particular focus on digital cultural heritage such as film, digital and transmediated games, and time-based media art. My work examines existing preservation systems and how to document historical and contemporary interpretive frameworks for digital objects. I engage with archival practice that seeks to address politics of representation in memory institutions. My current research examines the politics embedded in the design of digital heritage aggregation and the dialogues between individuals, institutions, and communities in the archiving practices of cultural artifacts with colleague Elizabeth Stainforth. I also research the interplay between human-curated web presence and automated Semantic Web technologies in the realm of heritage and cultural production sector branding.
A Hill I’m Not Willing to Die On or why I am looking forward to [not] meeting students this semester
I have been a teacher for more than 15 years. I really enjoy teaching my students, and I like working with them in-person. When I teach in-person classes, we do all sorts of fun things that are not directly analogous to online replacements. We stick things to walls and tie them together with colored string to show literal connections between ideas. I bring Trader Joe's snacks to munch on when I know we're about to hit a particularly long or tricky metadata assignment. I bring comedy movies to teach IP and copious mood-lightening memes when teaching humanists to use the command line. I so look forward to the day we can safely do those things again, but that day is not today. And short of a miracle, it won't be this upcoming semester. So because I care about your students (and you, students), I will not advocate for teaching in-person until the data says it's safe to do so. Right now, the data says it isn’t. I won't endanger my life, my family's lives, or my students and their families just because I really really like in-person learning. Instead, I will deliver a fantastic online course that touches all the same learning objectives, that contains specific mechanisms to support social and emotional growth online, that addresses multiple learning modalities, and that even touches on some different learning preferences. I will also help my students learn to learn online because I know that online learning may be different for some and new for others and scary in theory for many. But the online courses will be fine. Students will learn. They will not only learn my content but they will also get practical skills to help cope with a post-corona world where many things that used to be face-to-face are now going to be online forever. Teaching isn't a forever only online thing and it shouldn't be, but it is online only for now. No misguided preference for a nostalgic imaginary about the 'good ole college experience' should take precedence over the safety and well-being of the students or staff. And I mean staff widely, because it is also important to recognize that those most likely to suffer from premature re-openings are the transport workers, the food service workers, the janitors, the grounds staff, the contingent teaching labor and all those who will have to create the infrastructure for re-opening experiments but who are less likely to have the financial and health safety nets that are open to students and faculty. Know this: a hair cut is not worth someone's life. Neither is a semester of classes. I can't physically reach through your laptop and cut your hair (trust me, you don't want me to anyway), but I can teach you a lot about metadata. And digital preservation. And human-computer interaction. And I can do it well, as I have already done for many years for hundreds of students. And librarians can get you e-copies of books and journals. And career services can help you navigate virtual job fairs. And student services can help connect you to tele-health practitioners. And student activities can teach you the art of networking in giant Zoom calls and making friends online. And technology services can help you troubleshoot this digital world and help connect you to the hardware and software you need. And student accommodation services can help you find note takers or get transcripts of lectures. If you don't think your school can do it, come join me at mine. But join me at a distance. I am so excited to e-meet you this term!