more on digital archives, libraries, and social networks

I’ve lost my thatcamp proposal (go figure) but since I’ve been concerned about the same issue for some time, I think I can piece it together again briefly here. I’m very interested in what another camper has posted here as making static archives more social by using something like Omeka. My particular focus is a digital edition of poetry written by a Dadaist poet that I’ve created called In Transition: Selected poems by The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (see it here: user: dcr; password: dcrstaff). The thing about the baroness is that she was super popular during the 1920s New York bohemian art scene. She published poetry in The Little Review but she also performed on the street in outlandish dress and pretty much provoked the world at large by flaunting her sexuality, chiding men like Marcel Duchamp and William Carlos Williams for “selling out” and becoming popular, and otherwise behaving hilariously obnoxious. Point is, what made her poetry the talk of the town at the time was in part due to her social network and the collaborative audience that both responded to and provided fodder for her art.

Now, someone anonymous has created a mySpace page with over 700 friends for the baroness (see The interesting thing is the response her persona attracts. People upload videos and poems and some just comment on their adoration. Very few, however, mention her poetry. So, what happens if we bring her poetry into this scene? How will this popular response change? Would it? What would people find in her poetry that may have been missed in an anthologized, normalized rendition of “A Dozen Cocktails, please?” How might people respond to each other in this space, a space imbued with her poetry?

This brings me to my third and final point. These questions are what has provoked my interest in Omeka, but why Omeka? Why not try and start up an edition in Facebook or MySpace? What would that look like? Well, . . . good question. I have found–in my humble experience–that digital projects are in part restricted by the digital means to which one has access. That is, currently the edition I have created is on a server waiting to be incorporated into the official University of Maryland digital repository which is supported by Fedora. Currently, the library doesn’t have an exhibit application that they use for projects like mine. (The whole library world is trying to figure this stuff out, after all.) I think incorporating Omeka (as opposed to trying to figure something out in FB or mS) would provide for the social network I’m trying to tap into as well as a very real structure that the library community could embrace and incorporate in the existing infrastructure. Thoughts . . . ?

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