Posts Tagged ‘social sciences’

Archiving Social Media Conversations of Significant Events

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve already proposed one session, but recent events in Iran and the various discussions of the role of social media tools in those events prompted this post.

I propose that we have a session where THATCampers discuss the issues related to preserving (and/or analyzing) the blogs, tweets, images, Facebook postings, SMS(?) of the events in Iran with an eye toward a process for how future such events might be archived and analyzed as well.  How will future historians/political scientists/geographers/humanists write the history of these events without some kind of system of preservation of these digital materials?  What should be kept?  How realistic is it to collect and preserve such items from so many different sources? Who should preserve these digital artifacts (Twitter/Google/Flickr/Facebook; LOC; Internet Archive; professional disciplinary organizations like the AHA)?

On the analysis side, how might we depict the events (or at least the social media response to them) through a variety of timelines/charts/graphs/word-clouds/maps?  What value might we get from following/charting the spread of particular pieces of information? Of false information?  How might we determine reliable/unreliable sources in the massive scope of contributions?

[I know there are many potential issues here, including language differences, privacy of individual communications, protection of individual identities, various technical limitations, and many others.]

Maybe I’m overestimating (or underthinking) here, but I’d hope that a particularly productive session might even come up with the foundations of: a plan, a grant proposal, a set of archival standards, a wish-list of tools, even an appeal to larger companies/organizations/governmental bodies to preserve the materials for this particular set of events and a process for archiving future ones.

What do people think?  Is this idea worth a session this weekend?

UPDATE:   Ok, if I’d read the most recent THATCamp proposals, I’d have seen that Nicholas already proposed a similar session and I could have just added my comment to his…..  So, we have two people interested in the topic.  Who else?

Disciplinary Heresies and the Digital Humanities

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Cross-posted at Clio Machine:

(This post is a continuation of some of the questions I raised in my original THATCamp proposal.)

Are the humanities inherently valuable, both in terms of the skills they impart to students and because the value of humanistic scholarship cannot be validated by external (often quantitative) measures?  Or are the humanities experiencing a crisis of funding and enrollments because they have not adequately or persuasively justified their worth?  These debates have recently resurfaced in the popular press and in academic arenas.  Some commentators would point to the recession as the primary reason for why these questions are being asked.  We should also consider the possibility that the mainstreaming of the digital humanities over last couple of years is another (but overlooked) reason for why questions about the value and worth of the traditional humanities are being taken more seriously.


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