Collections, Collaborations & Connections (1 of 3)


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, DC.>>Betsy Peterson:
I’m Betsy Peterson. I’m the director of the
American Folklife Center and I want to say welcome. We’re really thrilled
that you all are here. This is Collections,
Collaborations and Connections. I guess every academics sort of gathering must have
a literation somewhere in some title, with a colon. So we’re doing our best. But this is an event looking at
the American Folklife Center at 40. And we’re really thrilled to
be having this opportunity to celebrate all of the good work
of the American Folklife Center over the course of the whole year. This is the third of three
symposiums that we’ve hosted over the last couple of years
examining various issues related to cultural heritage documentation and archival practice
in this new century. And while we wanted to celebrate the
work of the American Folklife Center and celebrate the collections
of the American Folklife Center, we also wanted to do much more
than that over the next two days. And in developing the agenda, the
AFC staff working on the symposium, Nancy Groce, Guha Shankar,
Nikki Saylor and myself, we decided to highlight a handful
of our collections with an emphasis on work developed since
the AFC’s founding in 1976, though that’s by no mean–
no means exclusively. As you can see from the large wax
cylinder collections documenting Native American song from the turn
of the 20th century all the way to our latest efforts to
develop a digital folklore web archiving project. We also selected these collections with an eye towards
inviting discussions about contemporary problems
in archival practice and cultural heritage documentation. And for us, some of
these problems focus on revisiting analog
collections, wax cylinders, making them accessible in a new era. Some involve the thorny issues of
working with born digital material and capturing emergent
vernacular culture. Others involve very thorny issues of collaboration authority inviting
multiple voices into the archives and inviting multiple uses of
our archives as we go forward. All of them require us to
think about scalability and the scope of our work. I imagine these are problems
all of us encounter every day in our work in some fashion. So we’re looking forward to some
very lively challenging discussion. We hope you will think
out loud with us. We do not see this as a
symposium where we tell you about all the great work we do. Although we’ll probably
do a little bit of that. But we want to identify issues. We want to brainstorm with you. We’re looking forward to
learning from all of you. And hoping that maybe, just maybe,
over the next couple of days, we might identify a few ideas
that will shape the work that we do in the next 40 years. So we are looking forward. We want to thank the library
services here at the Library and the acting librarian, David Mao. Our new librarian will be arriving
tomorrow and will be sworn in. So we’re very excited
about having Carla Hayden as the new Librarian of Congress. And then I also wanted to take a
moment to thank all of the staff. I mentioned Nancy, who’s done
fabulous work, Guha, Nikki, Thea Austen, Steve Winick,
Stephanie Hall, Jon Gold, and our fabulous sound man, John
Regan and all of the volunteers and I actually should say, to
embarrass one of our newest, our very new staff member, Kelly
Revak who just joined us a couple of weeks ago as a new
processing technician. So, welcome Kelly. And now I’ll turn this over
to Nancy, who I know wants to make a few remarks
about just issues. Logistics. Logistics.>>Nancy Groce: Yes. This shouldn’t be issues, but
just a couple of logistics. The program it says
I’m Steve Winick. I’m actually not Steve Winick,
but he is running a little late. So, just– we will be in this
room for the next two days. We hope you’ll be able
to join us for both days. We’re right near the usual
restrooms, just outside the door to the left and right
across from the cafeteria, which might be the best choice
for lunch, which we’ll be on a relatively short lunch break. We’re going to try to run the
sense on time as possible. We know these always go a
little bit longer and we expect that it will be a very
interesting and productive day. We– As Betsy said, we
want to encourage dialogue, both while people are up here and also during the breaks
and at the reception. We hope you’ll stay for
the receptions evening. Also if you haven’t had
enough, there are going to be some dinner parties going out to various places
that’s unfortunately, you’ll have to buy your own dinner. But if you’d like to join
one of four discussion groups that will continue on to dinner,
there are signup sheets outside on the table as you come
in and please join me or my colleagues are all going
to different area restaurants to continue discussion and just
to have a less formal chat. I’ll be back, or probably Steve will
be back during the day as masters of ceremonies to update you
on various [inaudible] things. But for right now, I just like
to thank you again for coming, welcome you to the American Folklife
Center and the Library of Congress and to reintroduce Betsy. So, Betsy, if you come up
and I’ll– again, thank you. [ Applause ]>>Betsy Peterson: OK. Hello again. Oh, OK. All right. Hello again. I confess I actually
didn’t fully follow the task that was said before me to prepare
remarks about the challenges of the archives of the future. Or actually, what I started doing
was preparing remarks about the goal of providing the shifting context
or backdrop of our work now and in the past 40 years. And then secondly, to talk a
little bit about the shifts in our archival practice and goals. So, with that, I think you’ll
see, we’re going to look at the trajectory of AFC’s
work in the past 40 years. But I think also challenges and
opportunities will be identified and I think clearly evident. And as an illustration in
preparing these remarks, I went back and looked at some of the great
material that’s been written, particularly about the first
20 years of the center. And I went back and read some essays
that the founding AFC director, Alan Jabbour, had written on the
occasion of the 20th anniversary in 1996 and there are marvelous
essays that are on our website. Steve Winick has also written about
this period as has Nancy Groce. But I also wanted to take a
moment to introduce Alan Jabbour, the founding AFC director,
who’s sitting in our midst. [ Applause ] What– this is– so
this is a paragraph. It was called– it’s from a
piece called Building an Archives for the Future. Folklife Center celebrates
its 20th anniversary. And he also sort of sets
the context for that event. The 1970s was a period of
increased attention to roots. Those aspects of heritage that
lie between the individual and the nation and the
connect individuals to communities while defining
the nation as a whole. This attention led to the passage of the American Folklife
Preservation Act, Public Law 94-201, that passed both houses of Congress
at the end of 1975 and was signed into law by President
Ford on January 2nd, 1976. The definition of folklife in the American Folklife
Preservation Act anchored the center firmly in the expressive culture
of the family, ethnic, religious, occupational and regional
groups that make up America. I tried to think with what that
paragraph would be like in 2016 and it would be very different. And I think the shifts are striking
and I think the shifts will speak to some of these dramatic
changes, and some of the things that shape our work
now going forward. And certainly, I think we see
very dramatic shifts in attitude and a tempered belief in
the national enterprise and democratic experiment
that is the United States. I think there are shifts in
expectations about government and civil society, citizen
rights, and responsibilities. I think there is a stronger
push towards the limit of government and fiscal constraint. And these shifts have
affected and continued to affect how we do our work, how
we conduct our field research, how we develop our collections and
they affect our access to resources. And I think know, Alan began to experience those
constraints towards the end of his 20-year period
here at the Library. There’s also been a shift from
analog to digital and the rise of the internet and social
media of course are critical. And the technology for
documenting our lives and culture is much cheaper. There’s more of it. It’s available and
accessible to all. And we can document most
anything anywhere anytime. And these shifts make
it possible for anyone to do professional
quality documentation and approximate archival standards. And it puts into play
all sorts of questions about professional knowledge,
authoritative expertise, and it also allows us to
begin thinking about access on a scale never before possible. And ironically, as it calls into
question professional expertise, it also requires a whole new set
of skills and expertise to deal with this work in the
backend of things. Closer to our disciplinary
foundations, there are shifts and ideas about community
and individual. And in the 1970s, as you
could see from that statement in the definition of Folklife
and the way it was portrayed, there was more emphasis on
describing cultural or social groups in monolithic or static terms. And in the intervening
years, there is a greater– there’s been a greater
acknowledgment in anthropology, sociology, folklore, most any
place you look in the agency of the individual, and
the evolving processes of forging individual identity. The shift from group to
individuals almost moved from individual towards group. These shifts affect how we
think about folk culture today. They affect how we think
about cultural communities and individual creativity. And it affects the type
of collections we develop. World history collections have
always been a part of the archive, but are increasing in number
and significance as a part of the archive, and the
Veterans History Project, and the Civil Rights
History project, both are congressionally mandated
projects are recent examples. And I can’t believe I’m
talking as much I am. I’ve just gotten my morning. From the AFC’s beginnings,
Alan with Carl Fleischhauer, who was also in our midst and was
the first staff member hired here at the center, I know both of them
saw a direct linkage to the archive of folk song, which was
founded by the Library in 1928. And in fact, the AFC was
placed at the Library in part because the archive of
folk song existed here. The archive eventually merged
with AFC beginning in 1978 and it is still the
heart of AFC, I think. But the archive had a legacy
of initiating field research, sending government workers
out, solo or as part of larger federal projects
such as the WPA. And in the first 10 years of the
center, this was a large part of the work that the center did. And while they were
continuing in a tradition, they were also adding to it. And they were developing team-based
approaches to field research and the material was
much broader in scope, while I think the earlier material
was much more sort of item oriented, focusing on getting those
songs, getting those stories, this field work was much more
focused on documenting a broad range of cultural tradition
in everyday life. And visual documentation became
very central to the process and has only continued
to grow and be at present as much as or audio material. In the late ’80s, federal
budget shrunk, field surveys decreased
in size and number. And programming started becoming
more critical and, I’m almost done. I promise. Alan has remarked that
in that period, there began to be a
shift towards working with the collections that existed. And I think the Federal
Cylinder Project and the work that is continuing to be
done to bring that work into the 21st century
is one great example, and a very successful
example of that. When Peggy Bulger came to the
archive in the Folklife Center in 1998, she shifted– began to
shift some of the collecting, or collections development
for the Folklife Center. And again, I think fiscal constraint
and limited government begins to come into play into
that equation and began to acquire collections either
through donation or through purchase from individuals such as
Alan Lomax, John Cohen, Bruce Jackson, Margaret Mills. And she also began to
develop long-term agreements with nonprofit organizations
such as StoryCorps, the International Storytelling
Center, the National Council for the Traditional
Arts and more recently, the Center for Traditional
Music and Dance. And as Steve Winick has commented
in a blog, this led to an explosion in the quantity of
documentation in the archive without a sacrifice in quality. And since 1976, the
archive has grown from approximately 450,000 items to a current figure
of about six million. And that does not include
the Veterans History Project as part of that. So, where do we find
ourselves today? Yeah, I think you’re
going to hear about some of the work that we’re doing. We see ourselves, very much, as a part of a great lineage
stretching back to 1928 building on the work of Alan
and Carl, Peter Bartis, Mary Hufford and many others. And we also find ourselves in a time of fiscal constraint,
technological change. The nature of the staff is changing. The nature of our work
continues to evolve. We will continue to
grow our collections, primarily through donations
and occasional purchases. But that’s going to allow us to
bring in a whole bunch of voices that have never been heard, a whole
bunch of different perspectives that may not be amidst the staff. And I think will provide a
fuller picture for what we do. I think Veterans History Project, Civil Rights History
Project have allowed us and allowed the federal government
to maintain some sort of presence and I hope validation
in vernacular culture. But going forward, that will be a
larger, I think, kind of picture. And I’m excited about that. I also think the technological
change, while sort of being disruptive as
people like to say in many ways, it is also going to open
up incredible opportunities for us to think about scale. Not only scale in terms of
what we can share online, but scale in collaboration in a way that we’ve never been
able to tackle before. And that’s very exciting
to me and, I think, to the rest of the staff here. And with that, I will stop. But thank you again and
thank you for coming. We’re very excited and I’ll
turn it back over to Nancy. [ Applause ]>>Nicole Saylor: Hey, hi. I’m Nikki Saylor. I’m head of the archive at
the American Folklife Center. Thank you all for making time to
come out to talk with us today. — is happening. And so, we are trying to figure
out how to be responsive to that. What it means to create
a research collection that will be meaningful
for years to come. So, we’ve invited two archivist
librarians and two folklorists, who do research online, to talk
a little bit about what they do and then put them in
discussion about the issues. So I would encourage you to
look at their full bios online. But I would just mention the order. Here, we’ve got Abbie Grotke. She is the head of the web archiving
team at the Library of Congress. She has enabled us to start a
modest and problematic apparently, collection which we’ll hear more about documenting expressive
cultures, which was actually a
partnership Trevor Owens, who’s no longer at the Library. But he took a lead on that
for us so shout out to Trevor. And then next, you’ll be hearing
from Andrea Kitta at East–>>Andrea Kitta: Kitta.>>Nicole Saylor: What?>>Andrea Kitta: Kitta.>>Nicole Saylor: Kitta. Kitta– from East Carolina
University and she’s associate professor there. And she has a PhD in folklore
from Memorial University and she does all kinds of research on medical folklore
and what have you. So then, we will hear from
Bergis Jules and he is at University of California
Riverside. He also happens to be the PI on a
grant called Documenting the Now, which is looking at sort
of technologies and ethics around social media archiving. OK.>>Abbie Grotke: OK.>>Nicole Saylor: And then
we have Montana Miller and she is associate professor
at Bowling Green State. And she has a PhD in folklore
from UCLA and does all manner of research online
and is also involved in IRB issues related
to internet research. So, I’ll hand it over to Abbie.>>Abbie Grotke: OK. I’m waiting for my
slides to come up. Should I stand up there?>>Nicole Saylor: You
can do whatever you want. This is a free-form. You sit if you like. If you–>>Abbie Grotke: No dancing. Sorry.>>Nicole Saylor: Now,
there, you can sit.>>Abbie Grotke: Hi, everybody. Welcome. I’m going to talk
a little– a tiny bit. We don’t have much time
but I’ll talk a little bit about our web archiving
program and how we got– or some of the challenges
we’re facing with our web cultures, web archive. So, the library has been
archiving web content since 2000 and we started, like most national
libraries do, with US elections. We’re still archiving US
elections which, you know, is very draining sometimes. But– So, I’m excited today to talk about something that’s not
government and election content. So, we kicked off archiving
with sort of pilot programs and then quickly became
a production outfit when we started documenting
the events of 9/11. So that’s been on our
minds the last few days. And that’s one of our earliest
web archives where we are trying to document the expressions and
output of citizens and organizations and just the reaction
of the community that was unfolding on
the web at that time. So, our– We have a minimal amount
of our collections available through the Library’s website. We– That’s one of our
challenges that I’ll talk about in getting collections online. We currently have about 25
active ongoing collections that we’re working on. There’s about 90 that we’ve done. We take a thematic and
event-based approach to archiving so we don’t have the legal authority
to archive all of the US web. We can’t even define
what the US web is. So, unlike some of our
national library colleagues who can archive all of the Icelandic
domain or the French domain, we don’t have that luxury. So we do select the content
and my team is responsible for managing the sort
of the overall project and activity on the workflow. The selecting of the
websites and the development of the collections come
to experts like Nikki. And when Trevor was here,
he helped us out as well. So that’s sort of the quick
overview of what we’re doing. Here’s the description
of how the web archive– the web cultures web
archive was proposed to us and we have a little proposal form
that people have to fill out to sort of think about the types of content that they might select
for the archive. How that actually plays out when
they come to select the content, it can depend on a
number of factors. I won’t spend time
reading that but basically, the idea is to capture vernacular
sites that aren’t official channels. So they were some of these– I will
show some examples that will help. So, we began crawling this
content in April of 2014. Forty nine sites or URLs
were nominated for archiving. We have crawled 33 of them. We’re crawling most of it still. There are few that have
gone away since then. Sixteen of those have not been
crawled for permissions reasons. We have to ask explicit
permission of the site owners to archive their content. I could spend the whole
hour to talking about our extensive permissions
policies here but I won’t. But we– 13 of those did not
respond to their permission request. So, if they do not
respond, we cannot archive which is– can be unfortunate. Two sites denied permission
to crawl so we were not able to collect those sites and then
a few others we did not archive for other reasons. So, some of the biggest
challenges, again, are the permissions responses. There are a number that we attempt
to contact site owners three times and if they– If we don’t hear
from them after a year, we give up, unless we find another
contact email to try. But not hearing back means we
don’t preserve that content. So that content is lost and potentially creates skewed
collections or just confusing. You know, “Why wasn’t that site
archived and instead of that site?” Getting access to researchers has
been sort of a painful process for all of our web archives. We have– If you’re familiar
with the Internet Archive and how they collect
and show websites through the Wayback Machine. Is everybody generally
familiar with that? Hopefully. So, websites are crawled over time,
so multiple captures over time and then you have to use a viewer
to click around the website and view the dates of capture. We have that sort of simple access. Other types of access too for
researchers, including cataloging of the records, has not happened
for this particular collection. We don’t have bulk data sets
that are available for download for researchers which is the way
that a lot of people are interacting with web archives these days. Other challenges are
around crawling the sites and I’ll show some examples. But these are– Some of
these are very large sites where content is not
really deleted very often so it just builds up and builds up. Crawling them has been a lot more
complicated than we had anticipated. They’re– We had been used to
crawling relatively small sites that were pretty easy to collect and
these have created other challenges. So– And some of those
challenges have been resolved by some new techniques for crawling. We are doing some deeper, longer
crawls of some of these sites so we can get more of the deep
buried content that’s hard if you’re just going back
once a week or once a month. We’re also crawling RSS
feeds if we can find them. So that’s– We’re doing that twice
a day for some of these sites so we’re able to get
frequent changes to the site that’s being published
out in an RSS feed in addition to the deep quarterly crawls. So that’s helped us improve results. We’ve been a little
bit shortstaffed. We’ve recently hired a few
more people who were hoping to spend some time analyzing
the results of these. So just in examples from the
archive, Emojipedia is one of them. Let’s see. Nikki is our expert in why some
of these sites are selected so I won’t go into the reasons why. But this one decodes the
meanings and definitions of the emoji characters,
providing insight on the vernacular meaning
of the characters. So a lot of these sites,
another challenges that you’d– Interacting with the live
site is very different from the archived site. Some of these have search functions that aren’t replicated
in the archive. So unless there’s– This one
has a nice browse by category that will replicate in the archive. But if you actually wanted to
search the original website, you can’t do that the way that we’re
currently capturing this content. So browsing is very important. Oop, I’m out of time. I didn’t get my two-minute warning? Oh, I missed that. I’m sorry. I’ll just– Can I go
one more minute? OK. So we have LOLCat Bible. I won’t read the descriptions
of these. I’ll just show you some examples. MetaFilter is another example where it’s a very deep heavily
changing site so we’re using that new crawling strategy for that. Mudcat.org, I believe is in music–>>Nicole Saylor: Mudcat Café.>>Abbie Grotke: Mudcat Café. That’s another one where we’ve had
to crawl in multiple different ways and we’re trying to piece
together the results of that to see how successful it is. Fark is very difficult because a
lot of it is related outbound links. So there are– If you’re familiar
with Fark at all, it’s a comment– a lot of comments about
external links. We are not getting those external
links as a part of the archive because of our permissions
policies and other restrictions. You’re the Man Now Dog created
lots of problems in our archive. Every page on this site
is a separate subdomain. So crawling that was terribly
intense and we had to figure out how to crawl it in a slightly
different way. You can also see there’s some
formatting problems with some of the not-in-archive
content with this one. And that’s it. Where’s my emojis? Thanks. OK. Andy, go. I think you’re next.>>Andrea Kitta: Yes. OK. Thanks. OK. Wait for my presentation
to come up. So, I’ll start with
just by saying one of things I really kind
of love this quote. Lynne McNeill, in her TEDx
Talk, actually referred the– to the internet as the
world’s largest unintentional folklore archive. And I think that’s a great quote for that especially
the unintentional part. I don’t think when people
put things on the internet, they necessarily intend for
those things to be kept forever. We think of it as a
very volatile media. For example, right up here
I have my Twitter handle and the hashtag Folklore
and FolkloreThursday. I didn’t actually know if we had
a hashtag for this conference.>>Nicole Saylor: We should.>>Andrea Kitta: We
should have a hashtag. We could make one up
right now if you like.>>Nicole Saylor: I’m
looking at Jessie now. FC40?>>Andrea Kitta: Yeah, that’s– actually I was going
to suggest FC40.>>Nicole Saylor: Yeah,
hashtag FC40.>>Andrea Kitta: So, there you go. So if anybody is live
tweeting, there you go.>>Nicole Saylor: Go with that.>>Andrea Kitta: So, all
of these things are– we don’t necessarily think of them
as being necessarily permanent, but we are starting to
archive these things and maybe that’s not what
people’s original intensions were. I’m one of those people
that studies urban legends. So I look a lot at those kind
of things and what’s happening. And one of the interesting things with urban legends is no
matter what, they always– everything old is new
again with these. So, that didn’t work out so well. So, a lot of these legends are very
old and we’re now seeing these sort of versions of them with
pictures, with the text underneath. That’s easier to share
on Twitter, of course, where you have only 140 characters. So, people are creating
these things online. So, we have on the
left– sorry on my left. Yeah, that’s your left as well. We have a fairly classic
urban legend, especially with the
children’s handprints. And then we also have
the vanishing hitchhiker, but we have an old version of it. We have one from World War II here, which of course is
even older than that. But this one is starting
to make the rounds when I did a quick Google search on
urban legends which is, you know, more common than contemporary
legends for a lot of people, which probably upsets
some folklorists. I saw that right away we have
this version from World War II that I’ve not heard in years,
but there it is on the left, all over the place and it
comes up rather quickly. So, it’s pretty interesting. This is one of the versions where the vanishing
hitchhiker actually tells them when the war will end. And I have not heard that
version in years or my students from an oral tradition anywhere. But here it is on the internet. So, that’s interesting
that that’s one of the ones that has kind of come up. One thing I do hear a lot about
from my students are Creepypasta. So, for those of you
who have– oh, sorry. I also forgot to mention the
technology legends are changing overtime too. So, those we who grew up with the
whole notions that you are going to get cancer from your microwave
or from sitting too close to the TV, it’s now your cellphone. So, we have a mobile radiation
penetrating your brain. I also don’t ever recommend Googling
the terms creepy baby monitor, unless you don’t ever
want to sleep again. So, this is a very common one
that has come up more recently where we have a lot of people
because there was at one point where people were hacking in the baby monitors
and creeping people out. But now, there all these ghost
stories about people seeing things like this terrifying picture
on their baby monitors. So, this is older tech– this
is new legends about technology, the newer technology but they’re
the same as the old legends that we’ve had in the past. They’re just about
something different now. They’re about cellphones
instead of microwaves. So, it’s kind of– everything
is kind of keep changing. Now, these Creepypastas, for
those of you who are not aware, this is a very widely used website, especially among people
who write fan fiction. So we have a whole host of
terrifying characters including one of my favorite slender man
up there on the upper right. I read quite a bit about slender
man and some of you might be aware of him because of the slender man
stabbings that happened in 2014. So, my students are coming
in and they want to know, what are the precedents
for slender man? What are the precedents
for the rake? What are the precedents
for these other characters? Now, of course in the bottom
corner there, we have the clown, which those of you who are not
aware, there is an outbreak, an epidemic dare we say of clowns
in North Carolina right now, of them just showing up and
standing there creepily and a lot of issues are coming up about this. It’s becoming a safety
issue as well. So, this is getting to be pretty
interesting to see how these change. Now, clowns stories have been
around since at least ’81 with people having
creepy clown stories. So, this is not anything
new by any means. In some ways, this has
really made our jobs easier. We can sit at home and look
at the stuff in the internet in your pajamas and you don’t have
to go anywhere or do anything. Of course, there are some problems
with doing it this way and one of the big problems that I
face because I work a lot with medical information, I
work a lot with the vaccination, anti-vaccination and pro-vaccination
movements and how people share that information online, it’s
medical information, right. So the internet has been wonderful
for people with disabilities, especially those who are not
able to easily access places. They can use the internet, they
can share with online communities, especially if they have
a chronic condition. It’s wonderful for those reasons. Wait, I’ll get you– you don’t have
to have that staring at you anymore. I started realizing people
kind of kept shifting over. So, all of this information
that’s out there in the internet is
wonderful to have, but we don’t necessarily
know all the context. So, people will share
things on the internet, but we don’t know why
they’re sharing them. Or what they mean to them if they
don’t put any of that context down. So, when we don’t get
the full context, are we doing proper fieldwork? I’d say we’re not. And this is especially true
with medical information, especially when you start to look at how people are sharing
medical information. So, when they’re sharing this stuff, I don’t think they
always know exactly to what extent they’re doing. So, I thought I’d just
show you very quickly. If I type in Google,
anti-vaccine and Facebook, which is something I frequently do, the first thing I get is the
vactruth.com Facebook page, which I clicked on. This is it. I decided, well, let’s just see,
just for fun, what if I click on to see who liked
the first article. These are all the names of the
people who liked that first article. I’ve blocked them out
so you can’t see them. So then I can just click
on the first person. There’s her name, there’s
a picture of her child, there is a picture of her dog. There is a– her picture,
there is all of her friends. I can send her a message. Her school and career. She’s a nurse by the way. Very interesting from my research
as someone who’s interested in the anti-vaccination movement
and there’s also her husband’s name. Scrolling– That’s on just the
beginning part to that page. Wonderful information, wonderful
context, can I ethically use it? I say no. I’d– even though
it is public information, she has publicly posted all of these
things, I don’t feel it’s ethical for me personally to use this. Scrolling down slightly, I
also know her child’s name, I know her dog’s name. I know everything about that. I could probably figure out her
passwords if I really wanted to based on that information. Since people tend to use
children’s name, dog’s names, those kind of things as passwords. This I don’t think is ethical at
all in a lot of different ways but, you know, how do we
figure these things out. How do we decide what we use in
our research and what we don’t use. That gets very, very
complicated and what we can use and what’s ethical for us to use. Especially in the case of we
are talking about vaccinations. So, this is her child’s
health information. Not hers. And what happens in 20
years when her child goes to school, goes to university, and they
find out they’re unvaccinated because they looked
at his mom’s website. So now, we’re talking
about medical information. So, I just wanted to kind of end
with saying that, you know, privacy and consent is very important
in all these situations. Just because we can’t find it,
maybe we shouldn’t find it. But the internet really provides
us with some great opportunities to find this information online
and gives us access for people who don’t normally have access. But we have to think about how
we do this ethically and morally. What is our role of folklorists? What are– How do we
define that for ourselves? It’s conversations we need to have and I think this is a
great place to have them. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Bergis Jules: I
don’t have any slides.>>Andrea Kitta: OK.>>Bergis Jules: I
don’t have slides but–>>Nicole Saylor: OK.>>Bergis Jules: Alright, so I’ll–
since in the interest of time, I’ll talk briefly about a project, a
specific project I’m involved with. And why we did it and
some concerns we have as we’re getting the work done. So, I’m one of the
principal investigators on a project called
Documenting the Now and we’re building a
social media archiving tool that were calling DocNow. This is a partnership
project with Washington, University of Saint Louis and
also the Maryland Institute for Technology and the Humanities. My other two PIs are at summers,
who is the lead software developer at MITH in Maryland and Chris
Freeland at Washington University. This work started a couple of
years ago with Ed Summers and I. This project was really inspired
by the events following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson
Missouri in August 2014. And, you know, the millions of
images that we saw being shared on Twitter and other social
media spaces, millions of videos, personal stories about that
event and what it led to. So we saw these millions
of expressions of– sort of publicly accessible
expressions of grief, of anger, of criticism, of support and, you
know, Ferguson is what really led to what we now know as– what
gave life to what we know as the Black Lives Matter
movement right now, right, which is a movement that sort
of bring us more attention to mass incarceration,
police violence in poor communities,
among other things. And so, you know, we
were at the Young Society of American Archivist
conference during the week that Michael Brown was killed
and it was basically a bunch of archivists sort of sitting around
watching these events sort of fall in social media and thinking about
ways that we could help, you know, our peers collect this
information, build documentation, builds collections around this type of very rich content
that was being shared. And so, we decided to start
doing several projects around collecting different
hashtags, around killings that were happening that
happened over the past two years, we had Walter Scott, we had
the Charleston shooting, we had Sandra Bland. All of these different types of
events had their own life online and they were really sort of
playing out on social media, which is the first place
that people will go to find out about what was happening. And we had people really
close to the ground, really close to the event,
really close to the people or family members, getting online
and telling their stories in sort of these unmediated ways, right. So, we wanted to think about ways to
get archivists and researchers sort of plugged into that
content and think about ways to do that easily for them. So, DocNow is basically
a project to build tools that archivists could use to easily
and easily is really important here because there are a lot of tools
available right now to do this work that don’t– that require sort of
this high level of technical skill to really get into and really
use sort of capture the data and make any sense of it. So, what we’re doing is we’re
building something that folks, you know, without any technical
skills, could just sort of tap into and start making some sense out of
this sort of vast amount of data, right, millions of
tweets in some cases. So, building tools to capture
that data, to export metadata, to export visual content like
videos and live streams and images. And we’re also building
tools for researchers. Researchers are our second
main audience for this project and we’re interested
in building tools that can help researchers make sense
out of this vast amount of data and also to share that data back
and forth because there are a lot of restrictions from
the platforms themselves about how you can share the
data with other people, right, that they create because sort of data reselling is also a business
model for a lot of these platforms. We do have some concerns as
we’ve been doing this project. We’re a very transparent project. We do a lot of our sort
of development very open. We have a Slack channel
with almost 200 people in it that anyone here can join and
sort of jump in the conversation around social media archiving,
social media research. We have our Twitter account
where we share information and have back and forths. We have a blog. So we really believe in sort of
being transparent about this type of work and I think we’re really
one of the first projects to do that type of development,
software development around this particular issue in this
way and it’s been really beneficial to us because we’re getting all
this feedback from so many people and we actually take this
feedback and put it back into the work that we’re doing. And a lot of the concerns that
are consistently being brought up are around ethics, right. And why or how we should
be doing this type of work. And so, one of the main concerns is
around ownership of content, right. Who actually owns the content that’s
being shared via social media. So, Twitter for example says
that you own your content but because you’re using their
platform, you’re giving them sort of this exclusive right to
reuse your content, right. They say that you own it. They have rules around how
other people can use it. And so, you know, one of the questions we have is
how should archivists sort of operate in this space, right. How do you seek consent for
example or should you seek consent if you’re building an archive of
tweets where you’re using a hashtag or where you’re using a keyword and you’re not necessarily
focused on a particular person. So, how do you navigate those
really murky waters around ownership of content– two minutes, OK. And consent, right? As far as consent goes, you know,
most content creators don’t know that we’re building these archives
of social media data, right. And so, you know, when
you post something online, you may post it in one context. An archive may take it and keep it
in our repository for 15, 20 years and someone else may
reuse that content in a completely different context. So do we owe it to content
creators o really respect sort of the original intent of their
material that they posted online. So this is just some of the issues
that we’re trying to grapple with and thinking about ways to sort of
build functionality within the tool that may be able to address
some of those issues. There’s also the issue
of surveillance, right. So law enforcement at every
level in the US is using tools to monitor social media activity. This happens at the local
police level, the FBI, the CIA. I mean, the CIA has a funding
arm, In-Q-Tel that, you know, one of the things they
invest in is companies that do social media
mining specifically. And so, how do we build
collections that don’t sort of support this kind
of activity, right. So, let’s just say, you
know, companies like In-Q-Tel or funding arms like
In-Q-Tel don’t exist, the companies they fund don’t exist
and, you know, the CIA is like, well, Library of Congress has all
the tweets that were ever collected, let’s tap into that, right? So how do we sort of think
about how to protect people that are represented in those data
sets from this type of activity? And a more general concern I have
is really the lack of diversity in the web archiving
in social media space. I mean, it’s– frankly
it’s a very wide space, the people who build tools around social media
archiving, web archiving. And we have to think about what
that means for the type of content that will be saved for the future. All right.>>Nicole Saylor: Great thank you. [ Applause ]>>Montana Miller: OK. Hi I’m Montana Miller. Can you all hear me OK? So it seems like there’s an
interesting mix here of archivists and researchers and archivists, who work with researchers
and vice versa. I’m a folklorist and a
researcher, but I’ve also– since the beginning of my academic
career, I’ve been very interested in IRB issues, which is human
subject research protections. And since I began working at
Bowling Green State University, I’ve also been serving on
the HSRB or the IRB there. And I’ve also had the opportunity
to be involved in PRIM&R which is the national organization
that teaches all of the members how to review proposals and especially
in the role of kind of bringing them into the internet age and
kind of educating them about the specific dilemmas and
boundaries and issues that come up with internet research. So I wanted to kind of
outline some of those issues and read you a small passage from
my chapter in Trevor Blank’s book. This is “Folk Culture
in the Digital Age”. I wrote the last chapter to this
book, which is about doing fieldwork on Facebook as a folklorist and
the issues that come up with that. This came out in 2012. So it’s not completely outdated yet. That’s the problem with publishing
on anything internet related, of course, it’s immediately
outdated. So I consider a major rule for me,
one of my purposes as folklorist is to kind of bridge that gap
between IRB members and folklorists because there’s a lot of misunderstanding
and fear on both sides. And it’s also complicated because not every folklore
program is bothered by IRBs, like when I went to UCLA that
IRB didn’t want anything to do with the folklore department. We didn’t have to worry about it. However, at many universities
now, folklorists are part of the larger social science
contingent that does have to go through IRB review. So the idea that now we are kind of
mining and harvesting huge amounts of folklore material that’s
available to us on the web, it’s so tempting and yet, it
does present a lot of issues which I think every other panelist
has very sensitively addressed. And so I just want to
go over some of them. The whole concept of
privacy has changed so much and is continuing to change. And I think that maybe some of
you have heard of Dana Boyd. She’s a well-known researcher,
who studies teenagers and their attitudes for privacy
and their social media behaviors. She talks about how
teenagers don’t worry anymore about whether what they’re posting
is private or not because they kind of know that privacy
doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s not really even
possible to have privacy. Anything that you post
could be seen by anyone. So instead of worrying about the
content and keeping that private, she has found that instead they
have developed coded systems of communicating. So that, yeah, anyone might
be able to see what I posted, but they won’t know what it means. So an example of that that she
writes about is subtweeting. Has anybody heard of subtweeting? A couple of people. OK. So I’ll just go to the Urban
Dictionary definition of a subtweet.>>Nicole Saylor: We’re
archiving that too.>>Montana Miller:
The top definition of a subtweet is a tweet– you
all know what a tweet is, right? A message posted on Twitter,
that mentions a Twitter member without using their actual
username, usually employed for negative or insulting tweets. The person you are mentioning
won’t see the subtweet in their Twitter timeline as
it doesn’t contain the @ symbol that every Twitter username has. But even more than that, maybe
you’ve heard the term vaguebooking. It’s when somebody post a
status update like, “Oh, I just can’t believe
that asshole did that.” And that’s all they write. And, you know, you want to know desperately what they’re
talking about, but if you are not in the inside of circle,
you’re not going to know. And how much use would
that kind of material be to a folklorist who’s gathering
material, there’s no context as you we’re talking about. So in a way, the protection for
the new generation that knows that privacy no longer exist is
to use subtweets and vaguebooking and to make the context
so indecipherable that it’s really useless information
to anyone that they don’t want to understand what
they’re communicating. OK. So coded communication we could
call that, including subtweets. Of course, what is public space
and what is private space is so much a matter of
perception these days. And one thing that I really cover
in my chapter in “Folk Culture in the Digital Age” is that
before you even do your fieldwork and especially before you present
your proposal to the IRB and try to get them to pass it, you have
to really know your population and know what their perceptions
of private and public are. Often, the IRB is concerned that
you might be invading these people’s privacy but in fact, you know
that they completely are aware that people could be
looking at their stuff. And they’re OK with it. So you need to be able to show
that and to know it yourself. So I always advocate to all of
my students and other researchers in folklore that before
you just dive into our project, spend
some time there. Get to know the patterns and
get to recognize the clues that people certainly give
out as to whether they realize that their stuff is being watched. For example, I observed a
chat room for several years and which was regularly mentioned
that there were probably journalists and researchers observing
the whole thing. Well, if that’s regularly
mentioned in that community, you can’t really be a member
of that community for very long without getting the message that,
you know, journalists go there to get ideas for stories and
researchers are probably writing, you know, on newspapers on this. And everybody who was
sort of an integral member of the site seem to know that. Passivity and consent, you mentioned
this Abbie, if you didn’t hear back with permission to crawl then
you weren’t able to crawl. I wasn’t familiar with the
term crawl but that’s great. It’s got that same imagery as
like harvesting and we just need to be really careful about that. So the perception of private and
public, generally we’ve relied on, you know, what does a
reasonable person expect? Does a reasonable person reasonably
expect to be able to behave without being recorded and regarded? These distinctions are
definitely changing, especially in when we consider
these big data environments. And I encourage you to look ay
Michael Zimmer who writes lot about these issues, especially when
it comes to big data like OKCupid and study they come out
with Twitter, Facebook. I’ve worked with him at PRIM&R
and served on many panels with him and he’s not a folklorist,
but he is very savvy about these computer issues. So that is Michael Zimmer, knowing
your field before the harvest, I’ve mentioned that before,
getting to know your population and what their perceptions are. This interesting dilemma of
whether something is oral expression or textual archive
because IRB is considered as something that’s
already published. You have to write to use it. However, something that is emerging
constantly like Twitter or Facebook, where people are actually
spouting it out as though it’s
an oral phenomenon and then instantly becomes
archived published material, what do we consider that? IRBs are extremely
confused about that issue. And if I may just read
this passage will get to, this idea about shoulder
to shoulder. So, “When researchers first
began flocking to the internet to observe chat room
discussions, blogs, and the like, it was somewhat easier to
distinguish between public and private spaces online. Debates sprang up about communities
where public access seemed ambiguous such as LISTSERV and topics
that were especially sensitive such as vulnerable or
stigmatized groups. But it was easier to determine what
a subject’s reasonable expectation of privacy would be and then weigh
the risks of using that data, the risks to the individual
and the risks to the community being studied. Folklorists must now
consider the risks and ethically navigate the new
internet terrain for our fieldwork because there are so much important
cultural behavior occurring in the space. Jumping through the
bureaucratic groups of Institutional Review Boards is
certainly infuriating as it seems like there are folklorists all over
Facebook and other social networks, and discussion boards
throwing questions out there and reaping abundant harvests. At this writing, increasing numbers
of us are Facebook users ourselves, sharing our research and our
lives as academics and humans. More than ever before,
both online and offline with the boundaries dissolving
all around us, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the
folk whose traditions and meanings we explore
and interpret.” So that phrase “shoulder to shoulder
with the folk” it’s something that I heard folklorist
John McDowell say in his 2008 Archer
Taylor Memorial lecture at the Western States
Folklorist Society Meeting. And I’ve always thought that was a
great encapsulation of our ethics as folklorists, is that we don’t
hold ourselves above our subjects. But we are right in there
with them advocating for them authentically representing
them and we need to find a way to apply that to the
internet world as well. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Nicole Saylor: Right. There is a lot there. Thank you all so much. We can open the floor
to some questions. Surely there are some. I don’t know who has the–
you can get the mic, OK.>>Test, OK. Hi. I really appreciate the
different mentions of ethics and fieldwork by the panelists. And I wondered if anyone
want to talk a little more about the aspects of– for
example we do web archiving here at the Library of Congress, the aspect of embedding
your own personal or the institutional
orientation towards those issues into the data that
has been collected. Because one thing I’ve noticed with
the way we do web archives here is that all those decisions are made
outside of the web archive and not– excuse me, directly included, not meaning to criticize the
library overly, but in general, I think one of the great
benefits that folklore brings to scholarship is its
attention to these details.>>Andrea Kitta: Who
wants to take that?>>Bergis Jules: Well, I
mean, I have something to say. I don’t know if it’ll
answer your question. Couple of weeks ago, so we have
a pretty stellar advisory board for our Documenting the Now project. We have scholars, archivists,
librarians, journalists, I think about 22 people
on the advisory board. And so we had our first meeting in
Saint Louis, which was live streamed and actually, the recording should
be up either today or tomorrow. But we had six different
panels on the day. But, you know, to me, the most
impactful panel was a panel of activists from Ferguson,
right, who were– who joined us to sort of tell us
about their experience, you know, being in those early protests,
you know, minutes after– hours after Michael
Brown was killed. And I think one of the most
important things, you know, they said was they each– the
chair of the panel asked each of them what they were doing
right before, you know, they sort of became activated,
right, before they became activists. And their stories were
so totally different. I mean, a couple of them were
working at fast food places. One young activist talked about,
you know, how she had planned to commit suicide either
that day or just, you know, in the hours right before she– you know, someone texted her to say
that, you know, sent her a picture or she saw it on Twitter,
the picture of Michael Brown in the street and, you
know, to this day, she says, Michael Brown saved her life. But, you know, they told us some
really powerful stories and I think, you know, as people thinking about
documenting this type of content, collecting this type of
content, I think interaction with content creators and
content owners, right, these are the people sort of, you
know, putting these things out there that we want to take
really to tell stories in the future I think
interaction with those folks, I think respecting their
views about how they want to be remembered is
really important. And, you know, we’ve done this– we
sort of built protocols around this for other types of materials
that we’ve collected and we’ve– we have these rules and these
policies for a lot of sort of the physical materials
that we collect. But we’ve seem to sort of– you
know, we’re throwing all these out the window in a lot ways
when it comes to web archives or social media archives
because I think the vast net– vastness of it all sort of really
pushes a lot of people away to say– a way to say well, you know,
there’s so much stuff here for us to get too personal. And I think that’s wrong. There are ways that we could sort
of dig in and get to know some of the people building the content,
creating the content around, some of the subjects
you want to capture. So, I think that’s really important.>>Andrea Kitta: I think–
sorry, if you don’t mind.>>Nicole Saylor: Go ahead.>>Andrea Kitta: I think one of
the ways, at least on Twitter and other media we were
allowed to hashtag things, as much as we make fun of
hashtags, they’re a great way for the people involved to not only
kind of give consent in some way to saying that I want this to
be a part of the discussion. But there are also a way to find
that information because those kind of do become or more
organic from the people who decide what the hashtag. I mean, we just sat here
and decided our own hashtag. And that’s what happens
when people start talking about these things online,
they make the hashtag. And then when they choose to
use that, that kind of gives us, you know, I don’t want
to say permission, but they know that they’re part
of a conversation then at least.>>Nicole Saylor: Right.>>Andrea Kitta: So, yeah.>>Nicole Saylor: Great. OK.>>You’ve partly addressed
my question there. But what I’m curious
about is for the people who are doing research online
and among groups that are aware that researchers are–
maybe they are– do you see any formal request
from researchers for permission or announcements that
I’m doing research. Or does this all have to– what is the mechanism
for securing permission? Is it going to individuals
whose words and image as you’d like to– eventually like to use? Or do you approach the group? It sort of like the collective. Where is the agency of
the collective located?>>Abbie Grotke: Well, yeah. In our web archives, it’s the
person– it’s the site owner. So, we– there’s no way we could
possibly notify all the people that are contributing
to those sites. So, they have to act on behalf
of their community basically.>>Montana Miller: And you can
post an informed consent documents somewhere on the site. But there’s no way to guarantee
everyone is going to see it. So–>>Bergis Jules: Yeah. Yeah, I mean it’s really difficult. So, we’re thinking about the
sort of technical ways to deal with this with the DocNow project. And also more sort of socially
responsible ways, right. So, one of the technical things
we’re talking about is, OK so, let’s say you’re collecting
a hashtag. Generally when people are using
a hashtag to communicate online, they’re generally sort of
watching it happen as well, right. They’re watching the
conversations so they can respond. What if as part of the tool,
you could automatically send out information that actually
uses the hashtag twice or three times per hour, right. Saying this hashtag
is being archived. Here is a link about the project. It’s being archived
by this university. So, the idea is you’re sort of
putting information out there. And, you know, as part of
that, you know, that message, it could also be an
opt out message, right. This hashtag is being archived. Click on this if you
don’t want to be included in the collection, right. Now, how this will all work? I’ll leave that to Ed and people like Dan should now
have to figure out. But that’s one of the
things we’re talking about. The other thing we’re talking
about is really, you know, thinking about how do we
communicate our values, right. So, we’re thinking about this idea of social media data
labels for example. So, after you build a
collection of social media data, can we come up with some labels
that sort of specify a few actions that you should take while
you’re using this data or how you should treat this data? So, for example, you can have a
data label that says, you know, that this collection will only be
around for one month from this day to that day and it will
be destroyed after that or this collection has a
lot of images of minors so you can only use it on
site and it can’t be shared. So, how do we sort of communicate
our values about what we want to the tool to be used for? How we want the tool to be used? And how we want the data to be used? Sort of in the absence of all
the sort of technical ways that we could address that, can we– the least we could do is kind of
sort of communicate our values to people about how we think
the data should be used. So, there are lots of
ways to think about it. But it’s really complicated.>>Montana Miller:
If the key concepts of human subject protections
involve confidentiality, consent, and protecting from harm, we can’t
always inform consent everybody, we can’t always keep
everything confidential. However, there are often things
that we can do to mitigate the harm by taking out some of
the identifiable data. By once you have collected the
stuff just protecting those who have posted it from having it be
specifically identifiable to them.>>Nicole Saylor: Other questions? Joe?>>Joe: Maybe for all of you but
Bergis perhaps especially for you, of course, archiving social
media is still pretty new and moving forward in a new way. I’m wondering though if there are
any instances yet of behaviors that have been influenced by the
knowledge of archiving activities. In other words, you know,
do people who participate on Twitter suddenly develop a
filter in any way once they’re aware of the fact that, you know, there
may be research activity involved with what they’re doing
that’s going to be kept in perpetuity in some way? Do you have any examples
of anything like that where it’s affected the spontaneity,
the quality of what’s happening?>>Bergis Jules: Yeah. So, a couple of years ago when we
started this project, I was thinking about just doing something
really local at UCR. And I asked one of our
professors, Nalo Hopkinson, who is a science fiction– really
well-known science fiction writer. You know, if– you know, we
had a meeting about this. And we chat and I was like,
OK, so, I want to build, I want to collect all your
tweets and I want to put it in our archive and all this. And the first thing
she said was, “Well, if I knew you were collecting them,
I would tweet in a different way.” And so, yeah, I think, you
know, knowing that, you know, your stuff will be sort of preserved
for a very long time in a space and other people may be able
to use it to do their work, I think that definitely, you know,
will change people’s actions as far as how they interact
with the platform. And that’s– I think, that’s where
we also have to be careful too as people building these
tools because, you know, I don’t think Twitter of
Facebook or Instagram or any of these places want, you know, whether it’s social media archiving
tools or whatever to be built. They don’t want any of
these sort outside things to influence how their users
use the platform, right. So, we have to also be really
careful about, for example, if we’re going to send out these
sort of messages using the hashtag that Twitter will latch on to
that and say, “Hey, you know, these people are really
messing with our thing here.” And so, I think that’s
a big concern. It’s about how people will
change their interactions. But we see now that people are– you know, as these platforms
become really well-established, Twitter has been around for
10 years, people are thinking about how they use
the platform anyway. So, we’re seeing a lot of
tweets being deleted, right. I mean, so you can collect a hashtag
today and then a week later sort of run a test on it to see how many
of the tweets have been deleted and you see that number goes up the
longer the data set has been around. So, people are already changing
their actions on the platforms even without knowing that
they’re being monitored.>>Abbie Grotke: Yeah, we have–
it wasn’t from this archive, but years ago we had–
we sent out an email and sometimes the site owners
publish that email to their website. And say, “Oh, the Library of Congress is collecting,
isn’t that great?” And we did have one– I think it was
a blog where we had a ton of posts where people were saying
hello to their grandchildren. And, you know, waving to
the future kind of thing. But we haven’t seen,
you know, major changes. I think they forgot about it.>>Andrea Kitta: Yeah. We– I saw that a lot of
times with online communities, you’ll see an entire online
community fell apart as soon as they realize that
there’s a lurker. Or there’s somebody that
maybe isn’t really a part of that community that
starts commenting. This happens a lot on
anti-vaccination websites. If they find a debunker
comes in and starts posting, there’s a very violent
reaction to that person. But sometimes reaction is that the
whole community just falls apart and they go some place else or
they just– they disband entirely. So, it really makes– you know,
things can really change as soon as somebody finds out that
somebody else is listening in.>>Montana Miller:
I’ve also observed that sometimes they
change just temporarily and then they go right
back to normal.>>Andrea Kitta: Yeah. Some of them do.>>Montana Miller: Did anybody see
that news story about the woman– the model that posted a picture
of a naked old lady at LA fitness?>>Bergis Jules: Yeah. That was terrible.>>Montana Miller: What I think
it’s so interesting about most of the coverage of that is that
it’s been excoriating this model for body shaming, the woman
with very little discussion about the complete
breach of privacy, the really illegal
breach of privacy. But it’s all about the body shaming. So, I just think it goes to
show how thoughtless people are about privacy right now. Instead it’s about other issues. People kind of given up on privacy. I also wanted to suggest a more
sexy hashtag for this conference.>>Nicole Saylor: OK.>>Montana Miller: Since we’re at
the Library of Congress and because, you know, Hamilton is really
big in– all over the place. How about something like not
your founding fathers internet? [ Laughter ]>>Nicole Saylor: That’s good.>>One thing I’ve often had
to deal with over many years of doing researches
embargoed material, is there a way to embargo
information?>>Abbie Grotke: We
embargo one year. We’ve actually embargoed a lot
longer because of other reasons just to take us a long time
to get things online. But we’re collecting about 15
to 20 terabytes a month now. So– in all of our collection. So it’s just a lot
of data to deal with. But yeah, the lawyers have suggested
a one-year embargo, which we follow. So, we only have– you
can actually get to some of these sites through our way back. Talk to me after if you want. I’ll give you tips
on how to do that. But you can only get
through about a year ago. So, we’re collecting currently
but that’s not available.>>Nicole Saylor: OK.>>Hi. Good morning. There’s very– a lot of really
interesting perspectives. I guess I’d like to ask since
there’s an interesting combination of people on the stage, kind
of from folklore and archives, which speak but not always together. And I’m wondering, two
of you are participating in IRB activities at
your institutions. That’s another relationship that I think has often been a
little bit fraught with folklorists in particular, and speaking
as an ethnomusicologist, I know that it’s also
been a relationship that people aren’t
always comfortable with because practices are
developed somewhat outside of our disciplinary practices. So, I’m wondering sort of what
perspectives you’re bringing to the IRB and of what your
experiences there have been? And I guess, some of the things
that I’m hearing the archivists say, I’m sorry, this is sort of
a two-part question here. But so I’m kind of wondering
what folklore brings to IRB. And for the archivists, I guess I’m
thinking here more of people coming from information science. But, you know, in online
culture people are talking about participatory
surveillance and things like that. Something is changing. All of you have said something
is changing about privacy too. And I wonder if we’re
seeing something different with digital culture here. And so, I guess I’d like to
hear your perspectives on that.>>Montana Miller: IRBs tend
to be populated by older out of touch people that do
not spend a lot of time online. IRBs really need people to join
them and bring them into the future. More folklorists need
to get on IRBs. I have done a lot of work
trying to educate IRB members around the country on
qualitative research. Just getting the means
to things like the idea that you can’t always give the
IRB your exact list of questions because there’s going
to be followup questions that you don’t know what
they’re going to be yet. That interviews in folklore are
never completely structured. They’re always somewhat
semistructured and informal to some extent. The more folklorists get in there
and become a part of that board, the better they can make life for other qualitative
researchers at their institutions. IRBs are so different
at every university. My university has a wonderful IRB
with lots of qualitative people on it and very flexible
open minded people. That’s not the case
at every university. And it’s really not fair because
the folklorist has a great project that would be highly encouraged at Bowling Green State
University might run into a wall at another place just because the
IRB is stuck in a different mindset. So, that’s why it’s so important
for more of us to not be so afraid of the IRB but, you know,
you can’t beat them, so join them and change them. And with the digital
culture, in the same way, bring them into the present because many IRB members have no
interest in learning about it. Let alone, making their right
decisions about researchers who are doing their research there.>>Andrea Kitta: Yeah. I’ve had similar experiences
where I– I’m not going to say anything
bad about our IRB board but things have gotten
caught up for very silly to– at least to a folklorist reasons. Ours tend to be highly
medical and as someone who does medical research,
I get tagged a lot for not knowing exactly how
many participants I’ll have, which is something I can’t know until I start actually
doing the research. But they– I’ve gotten held up
for months at a time, you know, and had issues based on things
that are very minor compared to the major, you know,
ethical issues I’m seeing, they’re more worried about,
you know, number of people, number of questions,
those kinds of things. So, it is very true. A lot of these boards either tend
towards, you know, looking at people who maybe are a little
more out of touch, with what current researches is
kind of happening or they tend to be highly medical
and are looking more at, you know, are you drawing blood. Are you– and I don’t quite
understand, you know– in some cases too, I’ve had people
say, oh we are just asking people for stories that can’t
possibly harm anybody. And I’m like, well, no, it could.>>Montana Miller: It could, yeah.>>Andrea Kitta: Yeah,
absolutely could. So it is– it’s very– very
much depends like especially on the organization,
the institution.>>Montana Miller: But
something encouraging is that if there’s a board
that hardly has anyone on it that gets these issues and
then you’d get somebody from the Folklore Department
or you yourself get on the IRB, like what happens to me is that
our compliance officer directs most of those protocols to me, so I have
a real chance to help, you know, qualitative researchers
and to be the one that actually does
get what they’re doing and to make the path
easier for them.>>Bergis Jules: So, you know, I think the surveillance
thing is going to become real challenge
for archives. People have been doing
traditional archiving pretty soon. So, when Ed Summers and I were
collecting social media on Ferguson, and he posted about his, I think
it was almost 14 million tweets that he had collected on Ferguson. He wrote a blog post about
it and posted it online. You know, one of the first people to
reach out to Ed was a security firm, right, who had also been collecting
on Ferguson, but they had missed that window that we
had the data for. So they wanted Ed to share
that data with them, right. And so, people are out
there watching, right. Law enforcement is watching
and we know that, you know, when these tools, that law
enforcement bill gets put into place, they disproportionately
target poor people and people of color. That’s just what happens. I think no matter what the sort of
reasoning is, what’s about terrorism or whatever, whatever is sort of the
justification is at first to sort of justify the use of the stuff,
it always ends up being sort of marginalized groups or disproportionately affected
by these types of tools. And so, I think, you know,
archivists, you know, we’ve been sort of
operating and, you know, in the sort of closed spaces, right, with paper records
for a very long time. We sort of own that space. We sort of decide what happens
in that space, who gets access. But as we move into this
sort of digital space where really we’re dealing with
data, right, and we call it archives and all this stuff, but we’re
dealing with data and metadata and other people can
tap into that, right? We no longer have control
of these types of archives that we’re building. So I think we really need to think about as we’re building these
collections of data, how we’re going to protect people that represented
in there and we’re not even close to thinking about that yet.>>Nicole Saylor: All right. We have a couple minutes
and then we will break. Does anyone have a
final question or two?>>This has been a great panel. I’m wondering how each of
you can anticipate the future of technological development. We talked a little bit about
Twitter and Facebook but, you know, we don’t know what’s around the
corner in terms of social media. Is that something that you’re
able to tackle or think about in your current work?>>Montana Miller: This reminds
me the– this past weekend, I was doing an interview. I’m working on a book right now
where I’m doing interviews with– that are long in depth in-person
interviews and I don’t record them because I don’t have
time to transcribe. So I just write it all down
as we go because I type fast. So I told my interviewee that I
wasn’t recording and he said, well– he immediately pointed out to
me, in the room we were in, all the different things that might
have recording devices in them and he said, just because you’re
not recording doesn’t mean like somebody– if they’d
wanted to couldn’t be tapping into the microphone on my phone,
on your phone, on that computer, on that computer and
there and there. And I’d– I said well,
why would they want to and he said, “Well, you never know. Maybe not today but, you
know, in a few years, we could have a government that does
one and like watch everything we do and they could be collecting
all of it.” And I just kind of went,
whoa, like I didn’t even want to imagine a world like that. I can’t worry about that. But some people are very highly
attuned to the possibility that we are moving into a
world where we’re completely under surveillance for
nefarious purposes all the time.>>Yeah.>>Bergis Jules: I think
there’s a question.>>I had a question about how
different online spaces like Twitter or like Reddit affect privacy
concern, like, so for example, Twitter feels very much like
a public forum, I think, similar to Reddit that you have
these threads in which you– you’re not immediately identifiable. You have a username and you can
post within that conversation. I’m wondering if within
those spaces, some of the privacy concerns
you have around being able to identify people, or people’s
own posts and their thoughts as to what is private and what
isn’t, how do you sort of negotiate that given the different
online spaces?>>Montana Miller: It depends on
the sensitivity of the material and also how hard people are
trying to conceal their identities because some Twitter
handles you can’t figure it out who it is quite
easily and others you can.>>Andrea Kitta: I think a lot of
people, especially who are more used to social media too either divide
their lives up into sections. So they have an official
Twitter or official whatever. And then they have their
sort of private line where they have name
changes, they have, you know, more privacy protection on it. So I think people are
dividing their lives up into little segments
in different ways. And that’s kind of interesting too. That we’ve had started to know
that we have a public persona even if we’re not a public person. You don’t necessarily need to
be a politician or a professor or anything like that to have a
sort of public persona anymore. Everyone needs one now.>>Montana Miller: There’s a great
new book called “Modern Love” by Aziz Ansari, who worked with
sociologists and psychologist to collect information about
how people date and use texting and the internet in
romantic life now, and one of the methods they used
was they created a sub-Reddit, where they invited people to
give a huge amount of material from their online dating lives, and I thought that because not
only a great informative book but really innovative in its use of
social media platform like Reddit to collect data in a
very voluntary way. And people always are much more
willing to give us information than we fear that they will be. So we don’t always have to worry
about like harvesting and spying on them when there’s so much that
people are willing to give forth.>>Nicole Saylor: OK,
final thoughts. All right, thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Stephen Winick: Welcome back. My name is Steve Winick. I’m the editor here at the
American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And I’m here to welcome you back
to introduce the next panel, which is going to be about the
American Folklife Center field projects, which is something
that we’re really excited about. These are projects that went on
from the 1970s through the 1990s, in which staff from the
American Folklife Center along with other fieldworkers went
out and documented a wide range of communities across the country. And we came back with a huge
archive of documentation, which is now being
digitized and placed online. And that’s what the part
that we’re the most excited about right now is getting this
stuff out there for people to see. So, the first person that I’m going
to introduce and then after her, the rest of the panel
will come up is Ann Hoog. Ann is a member of the
American Folklife Center staff. And I’m very happy to say
that I’m the first person who has the privilege of
introducing her as our coordinator of processing, which is a job to
which she has recently promoted. So we’re all very happy to
have Ann in this position where she’ll be having a
great impact on the way all of our materials are
processed from now on. But she’s also been working very
diligently on these field projects and making sure that
they’re getting up online. And so, Ann is going to come up
and talk about the background of these projects and
what she’s been doing. So please welcome Ann Hoog. [ Applause ]>>Ann Hoog: Good morning. Some of this presentation will be
showing a sampling of the photos from various field projects and a few slides just have some
descriptive material showing an overview of what the field projects
are, and why they’re a topic of the panel at this symposium. With the American Folklife Center
celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year, it is appropriate that we have a panel celebrating
this field project surveys. These projects came
to define the work of the American Folklife
Center in its early days. And now the opportunity to
digitize these materials and put them online makes them
more widely available and promises to continue this work in a new way. This is one picture
being tomato season. I thought appropriate to show the
ripening tomatoes in the windows, so the Lowell Folklife
Project picture. So this is a timeline of the
field projects and the order of when they first started in 1977,
shortly after the center was founded up to about 1999, when the last
of these field projects concluded. These projects moved
around from place to place and each had its own
focus and approach from documenting ethnic arts or
industrial heritage in a single city to exploring the complex
cultural relationships of land and people across regions. There are differences
between these projects. Most of them share
certain characteristics that help define nature
of the field projects. They all used teams of fieldworkers
working together in the community, usually 3 to 10 or so depending
on the scope of the project. They all had an emphasis on
professional documentation, creating high quality sound
recordings and photography along with detailed logs and field notes. Attention was paid to a broad
span of expressive culture, including the full range of everyday
life, not just music and crafts, but celebrations, food ways,
games, vernacular architecture, occupations, environmental
issues and more. Most of the projects included
some level of cooperation with other local, state
or federal agencies such as the National Park Service,
or state and local arts councils. And these projects all resulted
in the creation of a large body of ethnographic archival collections
as a product of the fieldwork. What is in this large body of
ethnographic archival materials? The field projects have materials
arranged into similar categories. Many of them arranged by
administrative documentation and publications and ephemera. The administrative category
includes information about how and why these projects came to be,
who was involved with the planning, contracts with the fieldworkers
and release forms, et cetera. The documentation category for
each project are the materials that were created by the
fieldworkers and photographers. In total, all field
projects added together, the formats included approximately
140,000 black and white negatives, 95,000 color slides and negatives,
3,500 hours of audio recordings, 45,000 pages of photo
and audio logs, 6,000 pages of written reports. These are just estimates,
totalling nearly 300,000 items. The third category, publications and
ephemera, includes primarily maps, brochures and local
publications gathered in the areas where field work was
being conducted. It’s the second category,
the documentation category that includes the items that
had been recently digitized. So use those formats listed again with a total digital
memory needed, 21 terabytes. And if you’re keeping score at
home, that’s 21 million megabytes. Digitization is now complete with
these collections and so now we’re in the process of preparing
items for online presentation. One project has gone up
in its entirety already of the documentation category,
the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project and soon the Montana Folklife
Cultural Survey will be going up, it’s in test right now. We’re hoping to have it by
now, but it’s almost there. We’re getting there. [Inaudible] to start with
the series of pictures to help define visually the
nature of field projects. I mentioned the teams of
fieldworkers with these projects. Often fieldworkers work in
tandem, with fieldworkers, photographers and recorders. This is Carl Fleischhauer with
the cameras taking a photo of Etta Anderson of Ocilla,
Georgia, taken August 20, 1977. And looking at the cameras he had which would have been
somewhat typical of the field project photographer,
likely one camera had 35 mm black and white film, one had
35 mm color slide film and perhaps another had 120 film
either black and white or color. Now usually the fieldworker
and photographer were matched up together while on the community
and often both the fieldworker and photographer had cameras. This picture was taken by the
late folklorist, Beverly Robinson. And here’s the picture
that Carl was taking. And you can see off to the left,
there’s a bag, sort of in the corner of that picture, that’s actually
Beverly Robinson standing there taking that picture of Carl. You can also note in this picture,
there’s a microphone attached to Mrs. Anderson’s collar indicating
there is an accompanying sound recording that goes with
these photos as well. And so one thing that makes
these photos so representative of the field projects is in addition to documenting a community’s
traditions, what is also captured is the
documentation process itself. The documenter becoming
the documentee. So frequently, you have
teams of fieldworkers and photographers documenting
each other. Photos of photos being taken, photos
of sound recording being made, and though inadvertent to
times, sound recordings of the photos being taken as you can
frequently hear the shutter going off in the background. That’s capturing the
moment of documentation. The lens not focus on the
informant, so in field only but also on the fieldworkers and the part
they played in the creation process. One important job that
the photographer had to do was also typing up notes. And this is very hard to see but
I just wanted to put one piece of paper up there, it’s a
sample of the materials that are in the collections
and being digitized. And there is– this is a log of– this is a log that
Beverly Robinson typed up of what she was taking
pictures of in picture 6-6A there, so it’s Carl Fleischhauer
taking picture. Sadly peach season is
almost over in this region. But I love this photo
taken by Lyntha Eiler. It’s representative of
the many wonderful food and food ways photos
in these collections. So I sorted through these thousands
of scans of field project photos, something struck me about them. They don’t just capture
the objects of the food, and of the vernacular architecture, but also the transmission
of knowledge. And what defines these
projects as much as the objects in the transmission of knowledge
among the communities is the relationships, and
transmission of knowledge between the fieldworkers
and the communities. There really isn’t any way to
conduct good fieldwork and to create such rich documentary materials
without a good trusting relationship with those you’re working
with in the communities. And so here’s with these
collections show the commitment to doing it right and how
close these two worlds were to each other during these projects,
to sharing and enjoying a story on the front porch, to
playing fiddle tune together on the front porch. A deep interest in care and how
things are made, and the source of knowledge and tradition
represented in each tool that was used, in this case,
the Planters peanut can. Sometimes you have to climb
high on a government car to capture the cultural landscape. And sometimes you have
to crawl into the weeds to find the more hidden things. And a part of each of
these fieldworker’s notes, here we are taking notes in the
field with a piece of paper you have in the field and then returning at
night to the office of apartment or hotel wherever the fieldworkers
are staying and typing it up. And this is the creation of the
log and fieldwork in action, like you’re creating the
logs and field notes that are in the collection itself. So these are the materials that
make up the field [inaudible], what is in them and a bit
about how they were created. And as the discipline
of folklife is, what we have here is not
just the documentation of the cultural things, but
the process of the creation, plus the process of the
creation of the documentation. Here on this panel are some of
the creators of these materials. So this ends my part of the talk and
I’ll turn it over to Betsy Peterson, who’s going to introduce the panel and begin our discussion
in more detail. And by the way, there’ll
be a slide show going on during the panel that’s
illustrating some of the photos that some of these photographers
and fieldworkers took. [ Applause ]>>Betsy Peterson: Thank you, Ann. I’m actually going to make very
brief remarks because I do want to turn the discussion over
to the people on the panel. I was in graduate schools,
just starting graduate school when these projects were going on. And to me, at that time, I
knew– certainly knew of them, certainly knew of their impact
and always kind of looked at them and the people who
worked on them in awe. Over the years, I think these
field surveys have sort of receded from people’s minds,
memories, et cetera. And I’d realized a new generation
that is coming up is really not that aware of a lot of
these projects and so part of what the digitization is all
about is to really bring these back to the– really resurface them
and begin to look at the work. And also, we hope range
of publications will come out of it over the coming years. It is a gargantuan task as we’re
realizing in and not an easy one, and it’s certainly
going to take more time than we thought it
was going to take. But couple of things that I loved
about these projects that we’ll talk about more in detail in just a
second is the teamwork and the teams that were assembled for
all of these projects. They included photographers, and photography I think becomes
a really significant part of this project and
certainly in terms of what is left behind
for us to work with. It’s really critical. These projects also hired
professional photographers, which wasn’t necessarily
that common at that time. And also the– just the
issue of client or sponsor, a lot of these projects were
the result of collaboration between multiple federal agencies, usually federal agencies
or state government. But I wanted– we want to
explore those issues as well, what those partnerships were
like and how they came together. So with that said, I’ll
just bring up our panelists and we are having Carl Fleischhauer,
who as I mentioned earlier, was the first employee
hired by Alan Jabbour at the American Folklife Center. And he was very instrumental
with Alan in shaping what these
field surveys became. We have Terry Eiler and Lyntha
Eiler, two of the photographers that worked on a handful
of these field surveys and developed close
relationships with some of the folklorists
and I think have– [ Inaudible Remark ] OK. Yeah. Please come up. Mary Hufford, a former staff member
with the American Folklife Center and now in Virginia,
at Virginia Tech, yes. And David Taylor, also former
American Folklife Center staff, but current library employee working
in library services administration. And we will just get started now. What I wanted to do is ask
Carl, since Carl was the there at the beginning, to
just talk a little bit about what the thinking was, how did these come about,
why did they come about. And then we’ll move on from there.>>Carl Fleischhauer: OK. Thank you, Betsy. And I start by a big gesture on
Alan Jabbour’s direction in a wave, and to some degree, I’ll be
channeling I think what he taught me and his thoughts at
this early moment. And so, a tip of the hat,
and if I get it wrong, you can pipe up in a little bit. When the center was
launched in 1976, Alan more than anyone
was really aware of the past presidents
here at the library. They’ve been mentioned already a
little bit, many years for example on which John and Alan Lomax
did field, collecting themselves and that was marked
among other things by a sort of a surveyness to it. They went all around the country
and sent people around the country and they were really keen
on using modern equipment, which in that day was a
instantaneous disc recorder. Alan himself, when he was the head
of the archive, which happened in the 1960s and run into the
early 1970s, did a certain amount of fieldwork himself
and that was a period in which the two of
us got acquainted. We found ourselves visiting a family
named Hammonds in West Virginia and worked on a documentary
project over there. And I think to some degree, the way in which we
collaborated suggested things about team fieldwork. I was an employee of
West Virginia University in Morgantown at the time. We had a little micro
team, you might say. We did a little bit of
everything, each of us, but Alan tilted towards
musicology to be sure and I tilted towards
photography and family history. When the center got started and here
I really am channeling what I think I learned from Alan, is there
were several important roles that the field projects
played at the folklife center. For the library, it was a signal that we were still building
collections that like Lomax, this was about doing things that
would bring collections back and you’ve just heard the statistics
about how significant that was. In the field of folklore
and folklife studies, we were exploring methodology. I think as Lomax had
with the disc recorders. We dragged those bulky [inaudible]
around and you got a glimpse of one in the picture of Beverly
Robinson in Georgia. And the one real failure which Mary
Hufford and I have wrung our hands about was, it was a day before GPS. We drove ourselves crazy trying
to map phenomena in New Jersey, but that technology
wasn’t ready yet. Today, that would be an
easy thing to map phenomena. And it’s worth saying that this
methodological development still continues at the Folklife
Center in its current work. I really admire what John Bishop,
who’s here and Guha Shankar doing with this oral history project,
which is using the very latest kinds of approaches for video recording
and also builds the collections. For students in university
programs at that time, and I guess that was Betsy, these field projects offered
some paying gigs for a few months and also let folklore
graduates students or recent graduates have
exposure to what we were up to and help us develop
some of the methods and approaches that we were using. And for the center, one of
the roles was to establish and nurture relationships
with agencies. Ann mentioned a little
bit the park service. We had several connections
to the park service, but there were also connections
to the Smithsonian and directly and indirectly to the arts endowment through the state folk arts
coordinators and other programs. So all of that sort of
was the rationale I think in the history there. As has been remarked, the
team dynamics are important. And we have plenty up here to help
testify to that in a little bit. The one element was there
were academic specialists who were part of the team. They tended to have
certain specialties that were tailored to the project. Chicago was about ethnic groups, the
Blue Ridge included, for example, someone who is really good
with quilts and fabrics. There were occupational topics
that David oversaw and Paterson and Lowell where you get into
both ethnicity and occupational. And in Nevada, we found ourselves
as we did in many places deeply into vernacular architecture. Rusty Marshall was the director
for a couple of those projects and he’s a real specialist in that. We also have the Smithsonian
specialists in saddles. The second element which
Tery and Lyntha represent where the media specialists,
specially still photography. There were team members like
Tom Rankin, who’s also here and Blanton Owen, who alas has
passed away, who were very good at wearing both hats, academic
specialist as well as photographer. But the photographers to some degree
help broaden the coverage I think by being more than the folklorist
sometimes focused on everyday life. And in addition to which, they
would contribute by taking scenes that showed people doing X
whereas in a separate interview, the folklorist would talk to
the person about how they did X and you sort of have the
documentation of doing as well as the discussion of
doing that comes in. There’s also the general visual
context I guess I would say, you know, the cultural landscape
perhaps for lack of a better word, the photographers tended to have
a natural gravitation towards and so on. And so, it builds a context
in the documentation of place, and a sense of place, and you saw
that, and you’re seeing it now with some of these scenes. The team dynamic involved kind of cross training I guess is what I
would say where each of these folks with their own specialties tended to
teach the others in back and forth. The folklorists often
took photographs as well. You saw the picture of
Beverly Robinson took of me. So, you know, sort of work back and
forth that way where it’s possible that I help Beverly with
the photography more likely that she helped me understand
African-American culture in that context. And there was also things like the
judgment of relative importance. In Chicago, what was sort of
interesting, Elena Bradunas, who is Lithuanian American
really helped us focus on these little wooden
shrines that were being made by people in that community. And so, that directed the
photographer, also Lithuanian, to move in that direction. It’s worth saying as you’ve seen
that there was extensive use of still photography
and fairly limited video on motion picture film. That didn’t even turn
up in Ann’s tally. But in fact, there were some video
and some motion picture film. And I think our feeling at the time
was that it made a lot more sense in a survey project to cover
things with still photographs, which then could be
selectively used. I have come to wonder today
in a YouTube environment where little short
clips have a place. Little short clips then
didn’t have a place exactly. And so, today we might do more, but then it was still photographs
I think that made that work. And Ann has already touched on
the aspect of building the archive and the field with the picture
of Dave Stanley or whoever it was at the typewriter and
when we started, there were not portable computers. So typewriters were what we
had by the time Mary and I got to trying to work in New Jersey. We drag out cape rose for the first
time and used five inch floppy disc. That was the first. We’re saying that the contract
with all of the workers required that their output be
dedicated to the public. The idea was to thrust this material into the public domain just the way
the farm security administration photos is government work for hire
got thrust into the public domain. That goes against a little bit what
is taught in photo schools and Terry and Lyntha are both, you know,
prominent in the photo school at Ohio University, where
protection of your right is sort of an important feature
for most photographers. And we deviated from
that and I hope, it’s worked out well
to people satisfaction. Finally, there was
a social dimension. We had shared living
quarters for the most part, even though some people came
and went serially and it meant that you have like
a college dormitory. A lot of exchange over breakfast,
you’re sitting in the lounge or coffee at the mid
afternoon or whatever. And that was a rich form
of social communication, a social dimension there. So I guess I’ll shut up and
turn to Terry, Lyntha, and Mary and the team dynamic and
how those things went.>>Terry Eiler: Well, it was an
interesting sleeping arrangement, definitely. [ Laughter ] The team dynamics is very
important I thought to us from the first project, Blue
Ridge Project that we worked on and that we found ourselves
visual narrative specials. Lyntha and I, yeah, and we knew how
to tell a story about the people and the situations,
the object, the event, but we had not gained
the kind of acute focus and the specialists were
suddenly bringing to us saying, you’ve got to pay attention to this. And it really helped us to broaden
our coverage, but understand where the narrative would develop
so that there was a dynamic. I want to talk about the
contract though, that’s fun.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler:
Well, I think the first for the Blue Ridge was interesting because we had a four-month-old
child when we started the project. And so, the contract address that,
that we would have child care. And so, we went to Galax,
Virginia and found child care. Unbeknownst to us that
the woman that ended up doing the child
care had a grandson who was a big time
professional regional wrestler. So our son went to a
lot of wrestling events. It was before a little tiny heads, so it may have damaged
his hearing somehow. But it was interesting. It was a wonderful group. They were all, you know– we
had child care during the day. On the weekends, we had
a four-month-old baby. And this was a two-month project. But the baby was wonderful. We would go to a church
service and come in with this four-month-old
baby who doesn’t discriminate, who is holding them and the
child would be passed around and we got a lot of goodwill and
cooperation following that baby–>>Terry Eiler: Well, access. It was like having an
access card in diapers. It’s just fantastic. But it also meant that the ocean,
Andrew ended up on Children of the Heavenly King recording
right in the middle of it, letting lose some sort of a cry.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: Yeah. [ Inaudible Remark ] [ Laughter ]>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: Yes.>>Terry Eiler: Mary, how did you
find working with photographers?>>Mary Hufford: I was just saying about how I found working
with toddlers. I mean, it is because doing the
New River Project, we had toddlers and so we were out there and it
gave us that– I mean, we ended up– we knew every single
playground really well by the time we left there. But it also provided a
certain kind of access. I mean, we ended up interviewing
and documenting kids jumping rope and doing, you know, in African
American community on New River, where there aren’t very
many of those and– no, but the child’s
ticket is pretty good. The diapers aren’t
but, you know, anyway. OK, the teamwork, I
found it really– I mean, it was– it’s formative.>>Terry Eiler: Well,
you can be honest.>>Mary Hufford: No,
it was formative. I– we– what can I say. To work with photographers,
first of all, to have– if you’re doing documentation and
you’re trying to do the photography and the recording and manage the
social interaction of the interview, it’s pretty– it’s
very, very difficult and to have photographers working
with you, they’re not as, you know, an extension of you but as in
dialogue with you about the material and about everything that you’re
doing and in constant conversation. I mean, to be in the car, mulling over what we’ve
seen and thought about. All of the insights
that go in there. And as a folklorist, I came at
this probably much more with an ear for language and an ear for
stories and things like that. And I learned a lot about
visualization and framing pictures and things like that
from Terry and Lyntha. And I would ask Lyntha, “Lyntha,
could you please take a picture of the [inaudible] horizons,
just to show us how deep the tops and the A horizon is
here and everything.” And she’d like, “Well, it’s not
going to make a very good picture.” So we’d have to negotiate those
kinds of things sometimes. But we did get the
[inaudible] horizon pictures and they were very, very– yeah.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: I
did use [inaudible], I did.>>Mary Hufford: Yeah,
I know you did.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: But I’ll
break in and say, one time, we were interviewing a coal miner
union boss and we’re in his home and the evening and it was when I
really realize that, you know, we– Mary was really thinking about
what questions you’re going to ask, what order, how she
was going to frame this and I’m scanning the room
looking, where am I going to set up my lights, oh my gosh, there’s
a gun sitting on the couch. So, I didn’t say– well, you
know, we can’t say anything. We go outside after the event. And I’ll say, “Mary, what
did you think about the gun?” And Mary is going, “What gun? I don’t have any gun.” But it was just– you know, I’m
looking at visuals, you know, and she was really
focused on this interview and because we could
divide and conquer, I– you know, I’m sure she would
have seen the gun if she had been out looking for photographs but
it was like, “Oh my gosh, OK.”>>Mary Hufford: Well, the other
thing that was really amazing about this, if you have people with
you who are dedicated documenters, you know, photographers then they’re
going to worry about, you know, like when we went into that
barber shop at Soak Creek, yeah. And Lyntha just when I came
in with this big umbrella and she just set the whole thing
up and totally took it over. The barber shop was half
the size of this stage. And she managed to do this
and it was barber shop– music being made in the barber
shop and it– that was incredible. But–>>Terry Eiler: But the barber
shop was lit by fluorescent, which we all know is
a tool of the devil. In real film, you had no option for
clear filtration of fluorescence. So, you had to overpower it
in order to bring around. Today, yeah, you throw it over
to automatic white balance and the problem goes away.>>Mary Hufford: But the thing
is that in graduate school as folklorists, we learned to become
very deferential to the informant and you don’t take– you tread–
it’s like you take off your shoes to approach this burning bush
and here are these photographers who just come right in and
I remember Carl was with me in a New Jersey Pinelands
Project and I introduced him to Robley Champion and he said– he says, “Glad to meet
you, Mr. Champion. We’re going to get every bit
of this on tape and film.” I mean, it was just like
that and people liked it. They were like, yeah,
you’re not wasting my time. This is going into the
Library of Congress. And that was really interesting.>>Terry Eiler: Two
things I need to point out. One, we’re getting to see some of
these images for the first time since we photographed them,
which is just really a treat.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler:
Well, [inaudible].>>Terry Eiler: But secondly, yeah. Secondly, when we worked for
National Geographic, we did not work in the field with a partner and I
think many people feel that you do. The writer at least in the early
days would be in the field second, sometimes they come first, but usually they were coming
into the field second. So there wasn’t a collaboration
of the sorts that we saw in the Blue Ridge or down in the
Coal River or the Blue River. So, there was this wonderful
idea of sharing the narrative as outsiders trying to
become knowledgeable of the narrative we were building.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler:
And one of the events Mary and I were spending
the night at Cybil’s–>>Mary Hufford: Cybil’s bed and
barn, that’s where we stayed.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: The middle
of the night, Mary is going, “We’ve got to get up,” because
the miners that were also staying at Cybil’s were out in the
common area playing card games and watching Christmas TV shows, movies and this was
about, what time?>>Mary Hufford: They were– that was probably about
two in the morning and they were laughing laboriously and they were playing a poker
game called pass the trash. And so, we’re like, “OK,
we have to document this.” We got up and we can
document it and record, audio recorded and
that it was pretty.>>Betsy Peterson: I’m curious
Terry, Lyntha and Mary have worked over a period of years together
on two or three, four projects but primarily in West Virginia and
I’m curious how your relationship or the interactions between you
and with the subjects changed or matured or evolved over time?>>Terry Eiler: To get on an
iChat or a phone conversation, it’s like listening to two sisters. I just kind of sit back. But that was one way to change. They were sharing tales and stories.>>Mary Hufford: Hi, brother-in-law.>>Terry Eiler: Right. But I think the big
change was that in terms of the people we were
working with in West Virginia, suddenly we had the shared
contacts who would touch base with one or the other of us. We’d end up sharing that connection
and when a graduate student wanted to do a piece on mountain
top removal, I could send that graduate
student to Mary. Mary and I could– and Lyntha
could send them down to someone in [inaudible] or wherever
we were working and they had a built-in shared
base from where we had started.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: But I also
think, it’s Terry and I do a lot of projects together and
we’ll stand the same spot and photograph different things. And I pretty much know
what he’s photographing and he pretty much
knows what I’m missing. You know, and so then,
we’ll try to, “Oh, he’s not doing that, oh my gosh. Well, I’ve got to do it.” But the same thing with Mary,
after working over years.>>Mary Hufford: Yeah.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: I pretty
much have an idea what she’s– what she really will need. And, you know, so it was
a nice give and take. I’m sure she would say, “Oh,
Lyntha is going to need this. I need to maybe set up over here.” Or I would say, “No, no, no. I’ve got to put strobes over there. You need to, you know,
do your interview here.”>>Mary Hufford: And we went
on to do some work following– after I left the library,
we collaborated on a project in Southwest– Southeastern Ohio. It was a body-burden
monitoring project but we’ve– it was the same kind of thing. We really documented a lot of
cultural landscape connected with as a way of showing
what was under. Was that risk for the community when its water supply had
been contaminated by DuPont, a full range of cultural sorts
of amenities and everything. Yeah.>>Carl Fleischhauer: Let me
interrupt here, just enough to turn in David Taylor’s direction
and ask, I mean in a funny way, we’ve been hearing rural and I think
of you was urban with the project in Paterson, New Jersey and Lowell,
Massachusetts and perhaps elsewhere. Did it seem the same that
is it– as these stories?>>David Taylor: In
terms of field work?>>Carl Fleischhauer:
Well, or team, yeah.>>David Taylor: Well, one of
the great privileges of working on this type of project for me was
the team dimension, the opportunity to get to know colleagues,
to work with them intensively over long periods of time and
to learn their perspectives. Particularly from team members who
were trained in other disciplines. Our work, for example, with
the John Alexander Williams, a fine historian, regional
specialist of occupational studies
of the United States. We’re still close friends and
it’s been 30 years I guess we’ve been acquainted. But to learn his way
of looking at things and he was delighted
too to learn from us. Well, how does a folklorist
look at these things, which is his own turf
in a certain way. And he was so enthralled
with our perspective on documentary photography that
he insisted that I teach him to be an ethnographic photographer,
to look at things through the camera in a way that I would
look at things. And then he would come and
show me his pictures and say, “What do you think of that, David?” And he did a nice job. But that’s the type of
enthusiasm that we shared. And when you are in a, let’s
say second rate motel sharing it with four, five other
people for a month or so, you get to know these people
because you’re interacting at all the moments of the
work and the leisure time. And you’re talking
about what’s going on? What are the standards? This isn’t what I expected
at all or this is. This is great, the stuff that I saw
today, which I didn’t personally see because I was running
around in another part of the landscape doing
something else. And it was just so
fulfilling to work with others. And Tom is here, we worked together
on the Lowell project, for example. Are we forgetting other
people in the audience that worked on the field project?>>Mary Hufford: Rita Moonsammy.>>David Taylor: Oh Rita,
of course yeah, here. Anyone else? Yeah. [ Inaudible Remark ]>>Carl Fleischhauer: Yeah. That’s Frank Roshan
[assumed spelling], who has helped us out
from time to time. Actually, and there’s another– I’ll ask David again because he
shepherded a project called Italian Americans in the West, which had
people in California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Washington. That must have been less
of a team sort of a thing. It is, I mean that was like–>>David Taylor: It was one main
team that I directed in several of these locations,
but there are a couple of other ancillary teams
we might say who were under my remote direction working in
places where I didn’t personally go. There were, I counted them
this morning, 20 field workers in addition to the AFC staff who
worked on that project over a, let’s see, three-year period. So that may be the longest one or
certainly one of the longest ones that we’ve undertaken with lots of people involved
including graduate students of [inaudible] out in the West. And people from other
disciplines as well as as folklore.>>Betsy Peterson: I’m curious,
I mean a question for all of you. When you were working
on a particular project, were you able to look at contact
sheets or to go, be hearing stuff as you’re moving along, so you could
review and either correct course or how– were you having
regular team meetings to talk about the direction or
how did all of that work?>>David Tayloy: Well, part of
this was for all of us to work out what our roles were as team
leaders or project leaders. And I learned tremendously
from Carl and Mary and Alan, who would been evolved in
these projects before me. But I think all of us individually
developed our own particular styles of doing this. I took it as my responsibility as
the project leader to make life as easy as possible for my
fieldworkers to make sure that the logistics were
taken care of, that the hotel or motel arrangement was
done by me through them, that they had a rental car,
their flights were paid for. They wouldn’t be out
of pocket for anything. They had first class equipment. They had a manual for how we
wanted to identify the things that we are creating, the
numbering for the field tapes and photographs and all of that. Plus, I would be there and
sometimes with an archivist as well to answer their questions. And in some cases, we would
have a preliminary training for the people on the team. One thing that I learned somewhat
to my surprise that all folklores and anthropologists are not
created equal when it comes to fieldwork experience
and training. So there became a greater need
than I expected to train people in the standards that had
been developed for the Library of Congress, the American Folklife
Center, which led over time to the initiation of the Field
School for Cultural Documentation that AFC has been sponsoring
now for some years.>>Carl Fleischhauer: Betsy,
I would chime in echoing some of what David said and remind
everybody including myself perhaps that the client relationship
varied tremendously. And in some cases in fact, you
really could figure out what kinds of documentation was needed in
order to meet the requirements in the sense of the
client relationship. So in Chicago, for ethnic arts,
it’s fairly easy, you know. There were 12 or 15 different
ethnic communities and you wanted to be sure you got
something from all of them that represented the arts. What was happening in some of
the parks service project was that the resource that
was developed was intended to inform the interpretive programs, a park interpretation
of regional culture. In the Blue Ridge, it had one
character but, you know, in Paterson and Lowell, there were some of that that had a rather different
character. But I guess I would ask Mary where we had another
park service relationship in the Pinelands Project, what
is it that they wanted to learn and how did we muster
the forces to answer it? And it gets back to your
team meeting question because the more you’ve got a goals
orientation, the more you could say, well, at the beginning let’s meet
and list all of the things we want to be sure to cover, then let’s
meet once or twice in the middle and check them off and see how well
we’ve done and what we’re missing. So in the final period, we can be
sure to, you know, pitchfork people to get out and get the
missing ingredients. But what is it that they wanted
to know in the Pinelands? And–>>Mary Hufford: Well,
this is very interesting. OK, did you want to ask more?>>Carl Fleischhauer: No, no. Go on.>>Mary Hufford: I’m
ready with what you, OK. Well, I think that– sorry. OK, I think that the real watershed
event demarcating the difference between the earliest field projects and the later ones was the
cultural conservation report. I mean, that was an– in retrospect,
that was an amazing thing to come in over [inaudible] some, you know, the Congress to ask the American
Folklife Center for a report on the government’s
history in approaching and stewarding intangible
resources– intangible cultural resources. So that the Pinelands Project
itself became a kind of a laboratory in which we could test
the principles of the cultural conservation report. Now the cultural conservation
report came out in 1983. Four years ahead of the Brundtland
report, which was commissioned by the United Nations and
was published in 1987. And in which the acclaimed
triple bottom line approach to stewardship was
established for sustainability. You need social, ecological,
and economic. That’s the three-legged
stool but I actually think– and these people now are proposing that there should be a fourth
leg called the culture. But I think culture is actually
the seat holding the three legs together, but I digress. But anyway, so with
the Pinelands Project, what was very interesting is
that this was still in an arrow when everything was
so siloed, culture, environment, you know, social stuff. It was all very siloed and we
were beginning to see the kind of crumbling of the silos but,
you know, they’re still not– they’re still haven’t
been dismantled, but we’re still working on it. So, the Pinelands commission
anticipated in its report or in its plan, management
plan working with the American Folklife Center. That was actually written in there. But culture was the caboose. It came along at the every end of
everything and we were expected to kind of like overlay our– the–
tell the Pinelands commission what to do with cultural resources
in relation to a plan that had already created. So that was part of
what was going on.>>Terry Eiler: I want to go back
to your question, which team meeting and make sure everybody realizes that if you were taking photographs
using kodachrome or archival film.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler:
Black and white.>>Terry Eiler: Or black and
white, getting it processed, you couldn’t get together
and look at today’s tape. It was seven days, 10 days later
before the chrome came back, the black and white if we
got it up to [inaudible] and then proved we might get
it back in five to six days. So, those team meetings tended
to be discussions over the notes that the photographers had taken,
captured notes and information. And you weren’t dealing with look at what I gathered in
terms of photographs. You were really used
to working shoot and ship blind and keep on moving. You had to trust the tools that
you were using in the field, know that you had the bracketing
capability, the lighting capability and could walk away
and keep on moving.>>Betsy Peterson: Well
I’m curious though. For a couple of these projects,
I know say with Chicago and maybe with the Pinelands, you were
supposed to come up with a series of recommendations of how to do
programs or why you need the– or the justification for creating
a state folklore’s position or whatever. I mean, there’s this very
instrumental concrete goal that you were supposed to inform. Was that the case with
all of these projects?>>David Taylor: Well, it
seems to me not so much.>>Carl Fleischhauer: You
know, to continue Mary’s story. Perhaps the point there was that
it was a broad understanding of the cultural aspect of
the Pinelands as an area, you know, that needed description. And we always think of one’s space
many place is really a terrific model for that. In the Blue Ridge, the
interpretive programs in a way were providing
raw materials for scripts that the park rangers or
interpreters would use, you know, as well as perhaps identifying
things that ought to be followed up on or, you know, made more of. So again, those were
sort of agenda driven. In other cases like the work we
did in Nevada, in that small town in Nevada, it was more I
guess seed of the pants, you know, in terms of it. I mean, you worked on park
service in with Lowell, how clear was the agenda?>>David Taylor: Well, Lowell, the
Maine Acadian Project from 1991 and the Paterson Project
were all cosponsored by the National Park Service
various regional offices. And it was built into the–
our agreement with them, cooperative agreements
that recommendations from the American Folklife
Center would be forthcoming, particularly recommendations
to the National Park Service about programmatic
initiatives that we recommend that they would undertake
to better interpret to the public the cultural
resources of the region of the National Park– in.>>Betsy Peterson: And were they–
were those recommendations taken?>>David Taylor: In some cases, yes. Some cases no. It’s became out of our hands
and we moved on to other things. But I think we discharged
our responsibility–>>Carl Fleischhauer:
The advisory function. I mean, I think you’re doing
your best as an adviser. I’ve– They seem useful. You know, before we go too far,
let’s look in Alan’s direction. You’ve been the recipient
of all of this verbiage. Do you want to actually
pipe up and say something? [ Inaudible Remark ]>>Alan: Thank you. I don’t want to talk too loud. Is that all right?>>Mary Hufford: Yeah.>>Carl Fleischhauer: Good.>>Alan: OK. It struck me at an early
point maybe even as early as the Blue Ridge Project
that an important thing that teams did is deal
with community events that are large multihuman
events, you know, like a church service
or a community festival. And teams are really– there’s
almost no other way to do it except with the team because
these events are such elaborate complex
human activities that one person is just inevitably
can get just one person’s perspective but a team can
really catch a lot of stuff and at least represent
the whole of that thing. And so I think one important thing
that we discovered along the way about having teams
documenting local culture is that the teams could actually
document cultural events that were larger human events than
one person could do, just a thought.>>Carl Fleischhauer: That’s right.>>Betsy Peterson: Well, what
about before we turn it open for questions, how– what
are we encountering now and I know Ann can
probably jump in here with– so here we have all this stuff and
how are you we getting it up online? What are the issues and
problems we’re running into? And how do we want to see
this material out there? I mean, the materials so varied and
it’s an incredible kind of snapshot of the 1970s and ’80s in America.>>Mary Hufford: I
wanted to just say– could I say one more
thing about the client?>>Betsy Peterson: Yeah.>>Mary Hufford: This is– the
Coal River Folklife Project as far as I know was the only project in which the partner was not
another government agency. It was the Lucy Brown Association
for the Mixed Mesophytic Forest, a real civil society organization. And it was funded by the
Fund for Folk Culture. And I think– yes. And– But the thing is that that
we really got into the kinds of conversations that
emerged from that, that really affected the
project, that it was not– this was not a project conducted
in order to make recommendations to another federal agency. So, this was a project that over the
years as I’ve thought back on it, I’ve often thought of that question
or that statement often made about the American
Folklife Preservation Act and the American Folklife
Center when it was in the– when Archie Green was
lobbying for it, that it would amplify voices
in a democratic polity. And often asking, how
does that actually work? Where does that happen? Where does the rubber
meet the road there? And with the Coal River
Folklife Project, I thought back on how this– the images that Terry
and Lyntha were creating were used to engage in conversation
across the silos with ecologists who are working on
forest decline issues and we were documenting the
community values of the forest. We presented the slides of
people using forest resources in the Southern West
Virginia coal fields. At the end of that, the
state forester approached me and he said, “Hi I’m William Maxey. You know, that was
really interesting.” And then he paused and he said, “You made those people
look so dignified.” And these were lived
in Terry’s images. And of course, you know, I was
talking about customary uses of the land in a place where those
are not highly regarded and valued and given much credence in
public policy and so forth. I’m not going to say
more than that right now. However, so several years
later, William Maxey who up until that point had stoutly
denied that anything was wrong with the forest, resigned his
position as state forester. And what he wrote when he
resigned was very telling because this meeting was in 1996. And he said, “I resigned as a matter
of principle, for I did not want to share in the blame nor
the guilt for the loss of West Virginia’s heritage through
the loss of our forested mountains.” And he– somewhere else in
his explanation he explained that it was 1996 when he began
to realize what was going on. And he started to put together the
heritage of forest was the same as the heritage of culture. And to me, that’s where
this amplifying of voices in a democratic polity
that one small moment when that kind of thing can happen.>>Betsy Peterson: Did those– I
mean, just actually that brings up being a government agency
and working only with– well, or primarily with
other government agencies in doing the field research. How does that affect
what you’re getting? How you’re shaping the material? I mean, did you have a greater
freedom to do certain things, or no?>>Mary Hufford: I
don’t know that I–>>Betsy Peterson: Certainly.>>Mary Hufford: — that I will
describe it in terms of freedom. And it had to do with the kind of conversation you would
have with the client.>>Carl Fleischhauer
Yeah, I get– I mean –>>Mary Hufford: That
was it, you know.>>Carl Fleischhauer: — to
chime in, I think what was nice about the field project and when
they had client relationships was the level of independence, you know. The Folklife Center may
have an advisory group, but it wasn’t just a hired hand.>>Mary Hufford: No.>>Carl Fleischhauer: And the other
thing you can say is that in a way, it’s the glory of the
archive, you know, that then you have these raw
materials which are valuable and can be reused by others in
other ways, now 40 years later. And I’m reminded with all respect about the Farm Security
Administration photos in Roy Stryker, you know, if
anybody thought that those were about the work of a particular part
of the Department of Agriculture that had a job of helping
farmers in a certain circumstance, and that the pictures
were limited to that, you know, you’d be badly mistaken. You know, once you open the archive, all of pictures suddenly you’ve
got this kind of panoply of things, it’s much broader than that. And we now have that vividly
before us as the things go online and I would say, as you know, for
those who don’t, I retired in April, and quickly came back
to the Folklife Center as a volunteer a couple
of days a week. And one of the things I
discovered was the consequence of mass digitization is a
massive material that’s somewhat undifferentiated or
inadequately differentiated. And so I’m devoting a
portion of my volunteer time to improving the metadata
as best I can, you know, to make it more digestible. I think at the moment it’s
semi-digestible and we’re trying to get to higher level
of digestibility. But the other thing you
run into and this goes back to the FSA was before the photos
went online here, there was 20 or 30 years worth of books published
about it and highlights from it. So you had an interpretive
stream that coexisted with the archival resource. And we’ve had some of that here. Mary Hufford is again
a model for us. But David and I both have also
worked on websites that are to some degree interpretive that
now coexist or will soon coexist with these massive
raw material sets. And I think the usability
or digestibility of these big archival collections
certainly strengthen or improved by the coexistence with
interpretive materials. And we got more of
it for some of them and less of it for others, Terry.>>Terry Eiler: Well, apart from
the fact you failed retirement like I did, we’re going to
see color much like we did with the Farm Security
Administration 30 years after the fact. We discover color, which was
always part of the project from the beginning but certainly
not something easily shared. So it’s a very exciting twist.>>Carl Fleischhauer:
Yeah, well it’s nice, yeah. And we did and this is–
you know, you were joking about how you can shoot
digital photos under fluorescent lights
and not worry about it. You don’t need to use both
color in black and white film.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: That’s right.>>Carl Fleischhauer: Well today, in the digital environment,
it’s all color. Yyou can take the color out,
make black and white if you want. But we– the reason I
look like a hardware store with all those cameras on me is because I was juggling
black and white and color.>>Terry Eiler: Absolutely.>>Carl Fleischhauer: But I do think
the great treasure will be getting this resource online,
but it will be as I say, not as digestible as we would wish. So there will be some years now
of trying to improve that both through metadata remediation
and also through adding a few
interpretive layers here and there, which might be a book.>>Betsy Peterson: Yeah.>>Carl Fleischhauer: You know.>>Terry Eiler: But
with good metadata because I’m always surprised
when I find my pictures with bad information on them
online, bad resource connection, interpretation and
I tend to send notes to people saying, not nice things.>>Mary Hufford: Do
you foresee the– maybe shifting into that what now.>>Betsy Peterson: OK.>>Mary Hufford: But do
you foresee the use of– the creation by independent
agencies or whatever of toolkits and interfaces with all these data.>>Carl Fleischhauer: Well,
the education resource people who are part of the Library of
Congress actually do a bang up job with all kinds of materials the
Library has online making teacher kits and stuff. So there’ll be some of
that right here at LC.>>Mary Hufford: But
I’m thinking beyond us.>>Carl Fleischhauer:
Well, I hope so.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: Yeah.>>Betsy Peterson: Yeah. I think that would be the hope. I mean I would– we would like
to get this material up and out. We certainly have ideas of wanting
to create different products or whether that’s books
or manuals or whatever. But we also do want to
encourage other people to use it. And I mean, now 40, 50 years later, I would love to see how people
would engage with the material, what they would think of it, how
they would shape it and put it out. But with that said, I do want to
open it up to the audience now. I know we’ve got I think
about 15 minutes left or so before we break for lunch. But I didn’t know if
there are any questions for our esteemed panelists. Oh, OK. Yes Rita.>>Rita Potter: This isn’t so
much a question and it doesn’t–>>Carl Fleischhauer: You
should introduce yourself as a veteran of our project.>>Mary Hufford: Absolutely.>>Rita Potter: Veteran, yeah. I was the field coordinator
for the New River Project and also was working for
the State Arts Council in New Jersey during
the Pinelands Project. And in both of those roles
then I was participating in and observing the kinds of
collaborations that were necessary to execute these projects
beyond the federal government. And the consequences of them on
both the product and the response to are the use of what was
requested of the center. And I will say particularly, in New
River, we were asked supposedly, the point was to develop
recommendations for a cultural heritage center. And we did produce a report like
that, but the dynamics of the local and the state partners
that we had resulted in something completely different. In New Jersey, we had a set of
state partners using the materials including the photographs
for something that the Folklife Center hadn’t
planned, but which then went on to be very useful and impactful
for a state and local audiences. At the bottom of this, that was
my strong impression of the way that those partnerships are in the
local state level could be fraught. And I just wanted to know if Mary
wanted to describe some of the kinds of fences that we had to jump
over or couldn’t get around.>>Mary Hufford: In New Jersey
or you mean on New River.>>Rita Potter: New
River or New Jersey.>>Mary Hufford: Well, the New
River is very interesting because–>>Rita Potter: New River was
much more complicated that way.>>Mary Hufford: It’s
very complicated and Alan said it was an
example of Oedipus complex. Now the problem is it that
the Denver Service Center came to the Folklife Center and asked if we could help them do
the documentation required to establish the foundation or the
rationale rise on death for the– a cultural heritage
center at Grandview. But there was a lot of ambivalence
about actually building something from the Denver Service
Center point of view. There’s also the state
and local– well, the– it was more a state federal
kind of a problem too. Because the state also wanted to build what eventually
became Tamarack, which did what Superintendent
Joe Kennedy at the time said he
wanted to do for the park. He wanted to bring men off
the interstate and shear them like a damn sheep is what
he said in the meeting. And the states swooped
in and did it. So– But the thing is that what
we were recommending wouldn’t have required anything more
than a trailer. And that’s not what
they had in mind. We had an interpretive
program that we– that was really fueled by insights
from lots and lots of conversations with communities along New River. We wanted to work with communities
to establish their own kinds of buffer zones really, areas
where they could meet the public so they can have their own
exhibits and we would do that. That’s what we really– we– and plus using lots of things
that were already in place, the local radio station,
the local TV station, the churches, the firehalls,
you know.>>Rita Potter: And it would have
really served the various cultural entities and practices
of the people there, where what was eventually
reconstructed was serving the turnpike, the purpose of–>>Mary Hufford: Well,
Tamarack, Tamarack the local name for it is the “Crown of Thorns.” It’s got this– it’s got all
these spikes coming out the side that are supposed to be in an architectural
interpretation of a quilt. But they call it the “Crown of
Thorns”, which has its own ironies.>>Betsy Peterson: Are
there any other questions? Yeah, Chris.>>Chris: Hi, how are you. My name is Chris. I work at the Brooklyn Arts Council. So I’m a folklorist in Brooklyn. And I’m lucky enough to
work in New York State where there are several
folklorists throughout the state. And when we do get the opportunity,
which is very rare to work together, we do– it’s a wonderful opportunity
to learn from each other. And so building on that, something
you had mentioned about teams and how it’s an opportunity to
see the different training styles, the different approaches
or different– could you talk a bit more
about some things that maybe that when you worked on
teams that you learned from each other and exchanged ideas.>>Terry Eiler: Couple
of things come to mind. One, as you’ve heard I
work at Ohio University and I have taught documentary
photography there for several decades. And the end result has been that
an awful lot of my students go on to get PhDs in visual
sociology, anthropology, and folklore understanding that
they have a media obligation, but they don’t want to
be part of journalism, they want to be in another area. So what I think we learned was
the idea that an ethnographic look at something is very different then
a journalistic look at something. And that there needs to be a shared
value teaching Mary journalism was as much fun as her teaching us
about physical architecture, Rusty Marshall was fantastic
at getting us to look at the physicality of what
we were photographing.>>Betsy Peterson: What would have
been the journalistic approach. I mean, you–>>Terry Eiler: I’m trying
to get people to turn up the currency, the news–>>Betsy Peterson: OK.>>Terry Eiler: What
journalists would call news value, but what is in the current
vernacular that’s important. It’s ginseng season, yes,
we’re going to go out and photograph ginseng, but
let’s go talk about the economics of it, let’s talk about the–>>Betsy Peterson: Oh OK.>>Mary Hufford: Do
you see a distinction between ethnographic
and journalistic–>>Terry Eiler: Not
the way I used to.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: But it’s–
this summer, we teach a workshop in Scotland and we had students and
trying to push some on a project and make it more culturally based. So, you know, they go in and they do
this picture of somebody like this, you know, and I’m going, “No, no. I want to see what’s behind them.”>>Terry Eiler: Put
them in an environment.>>Lyntha Scott Eiler: I want
to see their stuff, you know, and how they place it in the room. And you could still make an
environmental part of them where they’re big but that you
would still see this whole event behind them.>>Terry Eisler: And relationships.>>Carl Fleischhauer:
I guess, I would– I’m sort of reflecting
on my own experience. I’ve learned a lot from the
folklorist with whom I have worked. So part of your answer is, you know, maybe it’s just specific
to me like Terry. My familiarity with vernacular
architecture was fairly low and thanks to working with Rusty
and Blanton and others over time, I think I’ve sharpened my sense of,
you know, at least rural buildings, perhaps more that urban
buildings one way or another. In Chicago, the revelation
was interesting in a different way having worked
with Alan in West Virginia and sort of being involved in documenting the
Hammonds family, which was the sort of Cecil Sharp would
have felt right at home, you know, coming into their house. We got the Chicago and you have
this much, much higher level of self-consciousness on the
part of ethnic communities. And how they costume
and present themselves. And it was quite interesting
and in a funny way having come from the Hammonds as it seemed
false to me in this odd sense. And by the end of the project
partly because of getting an earful from Elena Bradunas as
we went along, you know, the idea of people’s self-expression
as their self-expression, you know? Your job is to document
it, not to quibble with it or something, you know? So that was quite a
helpful revelation. In the– [ Laughter ] In Nevada, here again it’s sort
of like the Rusty Marshall angle. It was quite interesting
working with Dick Ahlborn from the Smithsonian to get
into some of the nuances of saddlery I didn’t
know about the degrees to which you have a
California-derived Spanish tradition for a certain kind of saddle that
has a single cinch and the marker of it is how– well first of all, it’s whether you call it
a [inaudible] or Riata. Obviously, they’re coming
from the same Spanish word. But in Nevada, it’s a riata. And you don’t tie it hard
and fast to the saddle horn, you wrap it around or dally as they
say on the saddle, which goes back to having a single cinch. It’s either two cinches and so on. So, this whole business about
methodology for cattle handling as it relates to the tools, well,
from a photographic point of view, that suddenly gives you an
ingredients list, you know, stuff to be sure to cover. But the other dimension in
Nevada, which I don’t know, I’m not sure when it hit me. But there was also way back to the
self-consciousness of presentation, the main rancher we documented was– I think it carefully thought through
what he felt being a buckaroo meant and what it came to when he would
actually stage these events. When we first arrived, he threw
what he called a buckaroo breakfast where they had this antique chuck
wagon and an open fire and so on. And what you began to sense slowly
but surely was that his view of the work and the life had
somehow been amplified, if you will, or reinforced by looking at Charlie
Russell paintings which he had done, probably Hollywood movies,
you know, John Ford. I mean, you know, all of those
things begin to reinforce themselves and you get this echo in there. But I’ll credit myself with that
small inside rather than learning it from somebody else with
the saddlery I got.>>David Taylor: Your
question reminds me of the critical importance
of the composition of the field team at
the earliest stage. How do you decide who you need? In one case of the Paterson, New
Jersey Project, I was very fortunate in being able to hire a very
highly qualified folklorist who is a native of
Paterson, Tom Carell. And the benefit to me
was he could take me deep into the community based
on his own experience there and give me that kind of background. So, it was a tremendous,
rare, and valuable, deep dive into the cultural
heritage of that place. Because we were smart enough
to hire someone like that. The case of the Maine Acadian
Project on the northernmost border of the state of Maine, responding
to the National Park Service request to document Acadian cultures that
existed in that region, we decided– I think it was Alan and I decided
that a great person to bring into that project as the on the
ground team leader was a person not with great familiarity
with Maine culture, but who was in fact a
Acadian from Louisiana, who had that natural interest in
this whole other branch of Acadians in the far northeastern
corner of the United States, Ray Brasser [assumed
spelling], who was perfect and a French speaker as well. But you need to think
hard about that. Everyone can contribute. What are the contributions
do you need?>>Betsy Peterson: Frank
and then Alan– oh, sorry.>>Frank: I just wanted to
ask about the absence of video and particularly from the
standpoint of the Library folks, is that something that you regret
to your grave or is that something that you thank God, you don’t have
to deal with the legacy formats?>>Terry Eiler: Black
and white color in video, we tried video in the Blue Ridge. It was an interesting– experiment
is the best we can call it. With today’s tools, it will be
a piece of cake in comparison.>>Carl Fleischhauer: Yes. I agree. It’s a little
like the GPS stuff. It would be doable in a way it
was, and then the video equipment that we had, which
Terry is referring to is a single-tube video
recorder that had a lot of sneering in the picture afterwards. So the quality of the
documentation is not so hot. But again, I would say these were
largely survey project, not entirely and I think there is something
that makes a good synergy between still photography, which
are these many isolated instances and the survey of things. What you don’t get, you know, and of course your own experience
is terrific with this is, you know, visual documentation of music
and dance or some of those forms of expressive culture and in
the Blue Ridge, we were trying to get some dance and so on. We did shoot some movie film in
Nevada, but I don’t regret it. I think, again, having
140,000 photos or whatever that total number is online is going
to be a really valuable resource for people in a way
that the video wouldn’t. So I have no regrets myself.>>David Taylor: But part of the
documentation too particularly for the latter of the field
projects was to accept the donation of homemade VHS videotapes of family
reunions and other kinds of things that happened at the
community level. And people often ask us, “Well,
I’ve got this, don’t you want it? How come you don’t
have video cameras?” Well, and I would said
something like what Carl said. [ Laughter ]>>Betsy Petereson: Talk to him. [ Inaudible Remarks ]>>Alan: But Carl use the great
advantage less stewards home videos in Paradise Valley
in Nevada, you know, which added I think
immeasurably to that project.>>Carl Fleischhauer: Right,
right and with [inaudible] help, we’re redigitizing them
at higher resolution.>>Alan: Really. [ Inaudible Discussion ]>>Alan: I just have
one trivial point. You introduced Carl
as the first employee of the American Folklife Center. Maybe my memory serves me wrong. I’m getting old, I grant you. But I think actually the first
employee was Paula Johnson and Paula is now a curator at the
Smithsonian, but also Carl’s wife.>>Carl Fleischhauer:
Well, she is indeed. We also should remember
Carol Armbruster, who pitched in at the
beginning as well. So, I was the first one you
reached way outside and dragged in, maybe that’s a better way to say it.>>Terry Eiler: Smart
hiring practice, though.>>Mary Hufford: We got videotape,
just to return to that thread. We were videotaped on Coal River
by people who were videotaping or interviewing and
documenting, you know. They were just people from
the community who did that. They have the video
cameras and we didn’t.>>Carl Fleischhauer:
Who has got a point?>>So I wanted to ask– direct
this question towards David. I mean, the panel has been
fantastic in terms of talking about the cultural legacy of the
field surveys, but that stopped at a certain point
in the 20th century, 1997 I think was the last one. How did the center then take
those methodological practices in particular, which I’m really
interested in forward in terms of informing the field, a wider
audience perhaps about the wonders of doing ethnographic in
a team-based fieldwork? Can you talk a little
bit about that? I’m speaking particularly about the
field schools I guess I would say.>>David Taylor: Well,
there are multiple ways. The Field School for Cultural
Documentations is one way that our practices in the
field projects was codified through the teaching that we did. And the amalgamation of the
ethnographic perspective or the archival perspective was made
part of that as well in a package for instruction of two to three
weeks program that we sponsored in collaboration with colleges,
various colleges and universities around the United States. A good deal of that I believe
is represented on the website or certainly sharable to
anyone who’s interested. Things having to do with archival
numbering systems which is something that I began to learn from Carl. How do we share that information
and I think I still have a photocopy of the methodology
that you’ve developed, and then the evolution
of the technologies. I remember working with Doug
Donatelli [assumed spelling] who has great head for
archival practice in combination with new forms of media,
the computer, for example. And he modified Carl’s
document to take that into account,
I remember as well. So how much that is made available
outside of the field school, you can tell me better
than I can tell you.>>Betsy Peterson: Yeah. [ Inaudible Remarks ]>>Alan: Yes, I did. I would start the history of diffusing our experiences
beyond our own circle with the equipment loan program–>>David Taylor: Right.>>Alan: — which started
very early, we had all these [inaudible]
and, you know, and professionals in our field didn’t have them
and so they wanted to borrow them and we just made them
available and Carl was the locus of the– made them available. But Carl in a way was part of
the bargain because you got him as a kind of instructor and guide
helping you not only with how to work the machine but, you
know, how to do good fieldwork or at least other ideas, our ideas about how one might go
about doing fieldwork. And then Carl moved on from that
to kind of a moving workshop on fieldwork– field documentation
and the equipment and how to use them, and so– and then
it moved on to the later things that David is talking about. But I’m through.>>Betsy Peterson: OK. I’m sorry. There’s a woman in the back
there who has a question. You, or in the middle.>>Oh, thank you. Yeah, I’m not a card-carrying
folklorist like all of you, although I am a consumer
of what you do. And I’ve been sitting here all
morning thinking there is this strong [inaudible] quality to
everything I’m hearing you said. Oh sorry, and so my question
is, is this project over? Is it completely done? I mean, this is kind of
following up on the last question.>>Betsy Peterson: Well, I mean,
I– when we talk about the project or the projects, these were a series
of discrete projects that were done over a period of years and on
some level I would imagine some of them were a little opportunistic
in the sense that, you know, Alan or whomever saw
potential for a project. There was a sponsor, someone who
wanted to work in collaboration with the Folklife Center
to do something. I think most of the projects
developed or merged in those ways. So, maybe a little bit
serendipitously I know the Nevada project is a little
bit different and some of the Coal River Project might
have been a little bit different in that regard, in the sense that
AFC pursued those more intentionally and it emerged out of other work. But are they over? I don’t know. I mean, field survey
projects may be done again. It would depend on
resources, partnerships. It would definitely require– you
need local, state, regional partners to make these things, you
know, work, as well as money. But– [ Inaudible Remarks ]>>– actually continue
to request your help?>>Betsy Peterson: Well,
that’s an interesting–>>Alan: Is Park Service
still on board?>>Betsy Peterson:
Well, yes and no– I mean, yes, the Park Service
has generally been on– the American Folklife Center
has a board of trustees. And we have one trustee here. But the appointments to the board
are made through various channels. The president is– appoints an– or appoints for individuals from
federal agencies with like minded or relevant interest and the Park
Service is usually I think appointed through that– I mean, we’ve
always had an appointment from the Park Service. Sometimes it’s the head
of the Park Service. Sometimes it’s senior
official in the Park Service who is appointed by the director. At the moment, we do not have
anyone from the Park Service. Yeah.>>I guess maybe I can
jump in here and say that–>>Betsy Peterson: It’s a longer,
I think, conversation but–>>The days when we were
collaborating with the Park Service and Alan and others can
certainly correct me if I’m wrong, my memory doesn’t go back
as far as theirs does. We were there as sort
of experts brought in to do this kind of
methodological piece. If you look at the Park Service now,
they have their own ethnographic and cultural documentation
teams that are on board. They actually have a
division of the Park Service. So whatever Park Service sort of
initiatives are being undertaken or done under their own hospices and not necessarily
external agencies like ours. And that might be interesting
to think about what happens in the field surveys of
the state by state level. Lots of states do their
own in the field surveys. Now they don’t necessarily rely
upon us although we are all in the family, kissing cousins,
however we want to phrase it. So, I think that was sort of– to the heart of my question to David
was how does our methodological practice go beyond just the
projects that we undertook and how do they inform the
rest of the field in some ways and I think Roby Cogswell
and other people up in Tennessee might be a prime
examples of people who came up and viewed with the methodologies
that we taught and apply them at their own sort of context without necessarily a direct
linkage to the Folklife Center.>>And I’d say one more thing
is that there are other models of doing ethnographic projects
and of receiving the documentation that comes out on those projects
that we’ve explored more since then and we have– there are certain
things that the government thinks that federal agencies
are particularly good at or particularly appropriate
for and for that reason, we have the Veterans
History Project now. We have the Civil Rights
History Project, which are two different models for doing ethnographic
interviews of various kinds. And we also have things like the
Occupational Folklife Project where we help fund projects of
folklorists out in the world who want to do these
kinds of projects. And so we’re continuing to be
involved in the process of, you know, advising and designing
these kinds of projects. They just don’t look exactly
like the ones that we did from the 1970s to the 1990s. But these kinds of projects where
we’re still getting large scale at ethnographic documentation
are still going on.>>Betsy Peterson: Excellent. Yeah. Alan gets the last word.>>Alan: Well, this is a nice moment
to celebrate the sort of person that the administrative level in
the Park Service in this case, who is totally unsung otherwise and that was my chance
to sing his praises. I think a huge factor in
the Park Service thread that we spun was not just that we
have the Park Service on the board, but there was a representative
at a high level from the Park Service
named Ross Holland. And Ross Holland was
very sympathetic, very engaged and friendly. One of his specialty, you know,
I think life houses were– was his specialty, you
know, but he was a good guy and a friendly administrator who
supported all these things who knew who to talk to in the Park Service
to dislodge or get something going. And so, now I’ve had a
chance to sing his praises.>>Betsy Peterson: Good. Thank you. Thank you, and thanks to everyone
else and I misspoke earlier. We actually do have a short
session coming up here, right now, talking shop dialogue with
Doug Boyd and Nikki Saylor. So thank you.>>Nicole Saylor: So
at the Folklife Center, we embarked on a three-year planning
project for the archives and we’re on the third year of that. And we declared sort of six
strategic directions that we wanted to focus on, and one of them was
providing access at digital scale. And so what you see with the Folk or with the field projects is
an example of us trying to scale up our access to materials. We’re doing that metadata. We’re bulk uploading, you know,
tens of thousands of records for the [inaudible] collection. And so anyway this– Thinking
about how to make oral histories and various spoken word
materials accessible online is of a piece, right. So this is really something we’re
thinking a lot about right now. What we do is a bit old school. We will put up a PDF or a text piece that goes along with
the AV material. Of course, we want to get into
the world of time stamping and synchronizing our metadata. And so to talk about
that, thought immediately of our friend, Doug Boyd. Doug Boy directs the Louie B.
Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky. He’s also the coordinator of
a wonderful tool called OHMS. And he’ll talk about that. But he’ll also talk about his
experimentation with voice to text and other methods of trying
scale up this kind of work, and sort of the ethical
implications that come with sort of blowing it all out there. And how to sort of strike a
balance between giving the access that people in the 21st century
want against out responsibility as stewards of this material. So, I’ll go ahead and
turn it over to Doug.>>Doug Boyd: In the
interest of being quick, efficient for lunch,
I opted for no slides. So that I could also then vaguebook,
or subtweet my entire presentation, hashtag oral history wants
to be heard and watched, hashtag archives should
enhance access for impact, but remember hashtag sustainability,
hashtag ethics, @taylorswift13. The Nunn Center started in
1973 collecting oral history. When I took over in 2008, we had
a collection of 6,000 interviews, mostly were– mostly analog, mostly
untranscribed, almost no metadata. We had no public interface. I was the single staff member, even
though they called me a director. And despite this, we still brag that we had 500 researchers using
our oral history collections every year. So, one of my great
obsessions I think over the past many years has been that there’s these great
oral history collections all over the world. But especially here in the
US, especially in Kentucky, I think we have 43
different repositories that have oral history
interviews within them. But the majority of those
oral histories are continuing to be sitting there on
the shelves and unused. Even if they’ve been digitized,
they’re very, relatively speaking, unused and still rather obscure. And that’s not why we
went into this business. We went into this business
to document not for obscurity but for impact, right. To put these individual stories
to document these cultures. So that said, AV archives, all
of AV archives has the problem of discovery and usability, right. It’s time-based media. It takes time to use. We have a complete reliance
on texts in this model. Text enables discovery really. There was a point in
oral history’s history where it was actually
seen as the only outcome. You know, Columbia University
actually erased their tapes after it was transcribed
which, you know, they greatly– they reject that now and regret it. But the model, even if you
didn’t erase your tape, the expectation was we’re going to
transcribe this, and these are going to go on a shelf and people
are going to use them. And then they got digitized and
people are going to search them. The majority of reference
request that would come in to my shop would
be for transcripts. Just send me the transcript. We don’t have a transcript for that. Oh, and there’s this
awkward silence. So, we’ve got this powerful
dependency on transcript, very few of us can actually
afford transcription at the scale of even a small archive
without a grant. And so, without grant, if we factor
out grants, if we were a startup, you know, this would be a situation that potential investors would
actually call a really bad business model. We’re collecting on a
scale like never before. Our discovery interfaces are
really designed for photographs. And so, the usability factor falls
pretty short when you use systems like CONTENTdm or, you know,
other popular systems not to call out just them, to use audio
visual type of materials. So, in 2008, 2009, I started
drawing on napkins and working with programmers and
created a system called OHMS. So Oral History Metadata
Synchronizer. It was built for in-house only. It was really built to– originally
to connect users to the moments in the audio or the video. So, you search on the word
bourbon, it takes you to the moment when the [inaudible] talks
about making bourbon. Originally, it was designed
just for transcription, connect you to just the moment. Very simple. And we actually had the financial
crisis in 2009 and as the person who was paying the bills realize
they couldn’t afford transcription. And therefore couldn’t
afford to use my own system. So, we put a little investment
into creating an indexing feature, where it was a lot like
the old school tape logs that you’ve been seeing on the
screen, where could we create a way where we could take
indexing, abstracting, logging and make it interact
with the players. And so, we did just that. We launched the indexing
feature in 2009– or 2011. And since then have really
been primarily indexing our oral histories. We can index just to
describe what that means. From my perspective, you
basically listen to an interview, you hear something
important often correlating with the question prompt. And you tag that moment and
with each index section, you can have a title,
a partial transcript. A description of what’s
being talked about. You could use keywords and subjects. You can upload to [inaudible] to actually drive the
keywords and subjects. You can put in GPS coordinate so that the user can then
actually hear someone talking about some place and see that place
on a Google map simultaneously. You can also hyperlink
out to photographs. So, that’s actually the part that really people have really
started to get excited about. Or the– just the little
GPS and the hyperlink thing. We kind of just tossed in there. But the idea was to create a system that wasn’t a new content
management system. I sit on a lot of these grant
panels that drives me crazy when people propose a brand
new content management system. Let’s just make the ones we have
better and rally around together. And so, OHMS actually
was designed to work with any content management system. So whether you’re a
WordPress or MECA or CONTENTdm or the Digital Library of Georgia
It works the exact same way. So, I’m not going to get too far in
the weeds in terms of how it acts or how it is implemented. But the values that I think drove
the entire conversation here where we want to model, I want to
model that’s effective, affordable, flexible, interoperable,
empowering, and sustainable. So, you know, the grant
business, you know, is fantastic. With a grant– with a great– even
a small grant and a programmer, you can actually achieve
magical innovation. But what happens is inevitably, the
grant will run out at some point. At which point, magical innovation
tends to fall away and we fall back into unsustainable
archival workflows. And so, we’re trying
to actually come up with a model that
reverses the trend. And can we actually create
a baseline expectation of Archival processing for oral
history collections or access models for oral history collections that
have magical innovation built in but don’t require a grant
in order to implement. And we’ve done that. So, in addition to the Nunn
Center, I think there’s over 250 OHMS accounts now in 18
different countries which is cool. All because it’s effective,
affordable, flexible, interoperable, empowering and ultimately
a sustainable solution. We have continued to innovate
after the grant ran out. I’m pretty excited. Last month or two months ago, we launched the capability
to do bilingual. So you can actually index in
two languages and the user gets to search or toggle
between the two languages. You can actually upload a
transcript and a translation and it does the same
thing, which is pretty cool, all without a grant which is cool. So the Nunn Center has really
rallied around this model. For us, it works amazingly well. We have a discovery
system that’s pretty basic. But because of the
use of this system, what’s happening is
pretty transformative. Again, remind you, we used to brag about 500 people using
our collections in a year. And now, it’s averaging 10 to
12,000 a month all over the world. I think it was January. There was like 17,000, which
is not perfectly meaningful but is pretty incredible
in comparison to where– from where we’ve come. So cool models are starting
to happen where, you know, my center is indexing
on a large scale. That means I’ve got five graduate
students indexing all the time. But we’re also having more
professors from around campus start to get excited about this. I started to experiment
myself using OHMS indexing as a classroom activity
for my classes because I was developing the tool. But now, professors are starting
to actually latch on to this and realize that indexing is really
a deep engagement for students with this oral history material. It extends beyond the sort of
consumer model of student go listen to this oral history and learn. They are actually participating
in a creation or creative act. And the archive gets free labor. So we have student– classes at
institutions around the country now that are actually indexing
our collections for us and it’s pretty fantastic. So there’s a pedagogical aspect. But, you know– And really
I think the Nunn Center is about 2500 interviews out there
right now in the OHMS system. We’re about to hit
10,000 total interviews. So, that’s about a third of our collection is now
accessible via this interface, which is pretty exciting. Let’s see. We do think a lot about some of
these other systems out there. So OHMS really is something that
we built selfishly for ourselves. We got the grant to make it open
source and free through IMLS. But really, you know, I’m
most worried about, you know, what system represents the
archive that I’m running. And so, we’ve scaled up in a big
way and learned some lessons. Not everything– I knew this but I’ve just been really
reminded almost monthly, not everything needs
to be online right now. And so, fighting this impulse,
aggressively fighting the impulse of archival obscurity, you know,
to the other extreme of suddenly, we’ve got all of the stuff online, you wouldn’t believe the takedown
requests that we’re getting now. It’s really astonishing. I’m so jazzed about discovery. I’m so excited that more and more
people are using our materials. But it is interesting. I love the calls, “Hey, I can– I found my grandfather,
great grandfather. I’ve never heard his voice. This is great.” But also getting calls
like, “What the hell? You know, I had no idea my life
story was going to be, you know, bullet pointed to the
great degree of detail and be the number two search hit if
you Google, when you search my name. I’m applying for jobs. What’s going on?” I had a call just a couple of
months ago from a woman, totally, totally innocuous interview. I mean, it’s a great interview. There’s nothing in there that anybody would really possibly
think would be problematic. And the reality– I called her. I– We– I said, “Do you mind if I ask you some questions
why you want this taken down?” Because all that she
gave me was this vague, “I’m reevaluating my
privacy, my online privacy.” And so I called her
and talked to her. She’s dating. And she said two men
actually quote back to her from her oral history
interview in first dates. And she said that’s not supposed
to happen in a first date. And I said, “I agree. I’ll take it down.” And I think that’s a great example. I have all kinds of examples
of so many, you know, from one our projects
who is HIV positive. And now, he’s on the job market, he
doesn’t want people to know that. And at the time he
did this interview, he really wanted to talk about it. But now, he doesn’t
want it out there and have it be the number two search
hit when you’re searching Google. So we’ve had to really step
back I think pretty profoundly and think not just
about informed consent because we really need
to a better job of this. Because no matter what we’re
saying to our people right now, it’s not enough that
people that we’re recording. And I know, we can’t truly capture
the breadth of all that can happen to your interview, but we need
to do a better job and strive to do a better job
with informed consent. We need to do a better job
with informed accessioning too. Our archives need to know
what we have in these things. And so, one of the reasons we’ve
really put a lot of emphasis on indexing is we’re able
to identify those things because indexing requires
deep engagement in thinking about the content, not just
mechanically transcribing something or even automatically
transcribing something. I’m the same as everybody. I would love to have automatic
speech recognition be the greatest thing. Right now, it is challenging
for oral history for a variety of reasons, which we can talk about. But it also disconnects the
human element from the process and there’s nothing more personal than this oral history
thing, I think. It’s not historic photographs
from the ’30s. This is somebody’s life story and when you take a good
oral history interview that says, where were you born? Let’s talk about your parents. Where did you go to school? You get their email address. You just reset their bank password. We need to think about this
thing that we’re collecting and the implications
of it down the road. I think we’ve solved a lot of
the problems here on the backend. Now, we need to think about the
implications of our solutions.>>Nicole Saylor: Great.>>Doug Boyd: That was just good.>>Nicole Saylor: Yeah. Come on over.>>Doug Boyd: I’ll just sit here.>>Nicole Saylor: Sure.>>Doug Boyd: All right. Do we sit this close and talk?>>Nicole Saylor: Sure.>>Doug Boyd: OK.>>Nicole Saylor: I can
move over if it’s weird. OK. So the American Folklife Center
sent out some spoken word materials to participate in a project that
the New York Public Library is doing with the Pop Up Archive
and Moth, right? So they are sending a lot of spoken
word materials to Pop Up Archive, which then turns it in to text
and brings it back to you. So we participated in an
experiment with our materials and it actually turned out decent. I mean, it’s not bad. But– so for people who are managing
large oral history collections, what kind of advice do you have for
looking at that, looking at OHMS and sort of carving a path?>>Doug Boyd: Well, I think
there’s a lot of systems out there that do a lot of different things. And, you know, one of the
things I like about OHMS is that I don’t have a
dog in the fight. I don’t really care
actually if anybody uses it. I mean, other institutions,
you know. It’s something that we gave away,
but we love using it in-house. And I’m excited to see it
empowering other archives. But what it’s done for us
is pretty transformative. I think just from the
perspective of indexing, we indexed last year
900 hours of interview in a single year for
my student budget. No grant, no special initiative. My student budget was about $16,000. Now, we don’t pay very well
in Kentucky of our students. But for $16,000, we accomplished
what would’ve cost us probably $180,000 in a transcript model. That’s pretty revolutionary for us. And so, we are now putting
most of our emphasis on that. And I think a lot of people
are doing it sort of thinking about this is an index now, maybe
transcribe later or maybe we clean up the automatic speech
recognition that really still even when it’s pretty good requires
a lot of attention and care and feeding I think in order to
bring it up to standards with regard to having it be a verbatim
transcripts. But I really start to
rethink my views on that.>>Nicole Saylor: Yeah.>>Doug Boyd: I’m staring to think
about transcripts less and less as the thing and more and more
as just the descriptive metadata. And when we make that paradigm
shift, it removes the burden of perfection completely. So we’re going to start
experimenting with the idea of taking some of the ugly,
automatically generated speech to text material and kind of make
it searchable but not readable. Make it part of the search things because some of it
can be really bad.>>Nicole Saylor: But hide
it, right, on the interface.>>Doug Boyd: But hide it. Make it searchable, hidden,
but make it something that then can maybe connect to
a corresponding index point. So we’re thinking a great deal about
that and starting to experiment more and more with speech recognition. I love the idea of it. The idea of automating the
whole system, you know, is something that I think
makes me somewhat uncomfortable from a usability or from
an ethical standpoint of not knowing what we’re putting
out on the internet when we do it.>>Nicole Saylor: Right. I mean, I think, you’ve
touched on it briefly, but yeah, how do you navigate than
tension between scaling access to these materials and also
being responsible stewards and it would seem like indexing
does give you a certain amount of check, right?>>Doug Boyd: We’ve
created a system, you know, I called it informed accessioning
and it’s basically six questions that I have– used to have
all my interviewers ask that basically all boil down to,
is there anything I need to know about this in here and
if this were your story, would you mind it going
online next week? And–>>Nicole Saylor: So you asked
that during the interview, right?>>Doug Boyd: The interviewers
are asking themselves–>>Nicole Saylor: Oh I see.>>Doug Boyd: — this question
when they write out our forms.>>Nicole Saylor: When they’re
working on an interview, got it.>>Doug Boyd: Yeah. And there’s turning in paperwork
for our interview and kind of telling us, hey, you
need to look at this. But I started having the indexers
do it because we started realizing that we have all this legacy content
that’s not being collected yesterday or tomorrow, that we have
very little amount of data for and again repeatedly finding really
profound examples of people talking about very personal things that just
have no, no business being online or actually having– you
know, being quite problematic if they were to go online. So building in the workflows
where all the indexers, you know, are closely considering these
questions I think has really done a good job. We’re teetering of the brink
of potentially being, you know, overwhelmed of suddenly we
had an influx of new projects and we brought in 600
some interviews last year, which is about five or
600 is now our average. And much more than that
would push us to the point where I would need far more
staffing to be able to have that closely curated hands on,
really conscientious approach, which I think is worth
retaining for sure.>>Nicole Saylor: Well so that
leads me to a question about your, the future plans for
OHMS and how you’re going to keep it sustainable
and make is sustainable?>>Doug Boyd: Well, I mean,
that’s really popular, so I’m really excited about that,
but, you know, but that’s the key, it needs to be more about–
not about us, and so, we’re creating kind of a Jedi
council, I don’t know what to call it yet, so I’m calling
it that, of institutions who have bought into it big, Yale,
University of Georgia has really into it big time, Brooklyn
Historical is into it. But really basically
creating a group of, a consortial group that’s going
to decide and drive development. You know, we went ahead
and made it bilingual. I think there’s a– I’m
taking ideas right now, because I’m reaching the
point where it’s time to apply for another grant. And I think– and I’m doing– I’m kicking around the idea
of actually having it– having, you know, and I think this
comes from my visit with Kevin and talking about– Kevin Bradley, you’re going to talk
here from this afternoon. We’re really having a desktop
presence, you know, that’s local, that’s not– doesn’t
require media to be streaming so that people can index restricted
material and feel safe about it. But also have the interviewers,
and this is me always thinking about workflow and efficiency. If I can have interviewers who are indexing material offline
before it even comes to the archive and I’m accessioning material. It has this level of structured
metadata, that’s a dream.>>Nicole Saylor: Yeah.>>Doug Boyd: So, that’s kind
of where I’m leaning right now.>>Nicole Saylor: Cool. All right. We have time for just
a couple of questions. [ Inaudible Remarks ]>>Alan: No, I can talk softly. Could you just talk through exactly like if I give you a
tape, what would you do? What you– Is there a–
Do you use Dragon Speak or something to recognize the words?>>Doug Boyd: Right. So we’re not actively formally
using speech recognition. First, we digitize the tape, in
accordance with best practices and we’d accession that tape. But at that point, let’s say you
just had a name written on that tape and we didn’t know
anything about it. Maybe we knew it was part of a
civil rights project, that’s it. That’s all we know. So, at that point, we’d– you know,
if it fell into the queue of things that we were going to put
online, it would go there and we would index that interview. So somebody would listen
to that interview, and while they’re listening to that
interview, they would be typing and they would be tagging
those moments. This is a major subject
transition tag and start typing, and then rather than transcribe,
because we really don’t know what’s in there and I can’t afford to
transcribe everything we bring in. And so at that point, we get a good
sense for what’s in that interview, then we’d make the– then we’d
actually write the description of the interview because
now we know what it’s about. And then we’d actually make that
decision, do we press the button and make it go live to the
internet or not at that point. It’s a good question.>>Let me ask about
a parallel activity and have you talk a little bit about what synergies
there may or may not be. In broadcasting as you may
know, there is now partly due to the Federal Communications
Commission rule making, a push towards what’s
called time text.>>Doug Boyd: Yeah.>>And as people put
their broadcast online. Time text is essentially text with
markup language and that, you know, tells you what the timing is. It’s a standard that came from the
W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium and then it was further
standardized by [inaudible] in the United States
and EBU in Europe. So, it’s a way that will now come in to the way broadcasts
are synchronized. Is there anything about that that
is helpful to you or vice versa or–>>Doug Boyd: Absolutely. I mean, one of my–>>Talk about that a little bit. That would be great.>>Doug Boyd: First I want to
say you’re only just a slightly– you’re only slightly
less intimidating now that you’re retired. So, so so.>>[inaudible] but he’s
still intimidating.>>Doug Boyd: Right. I think when we first started on the
OHMS journey, it really bugged me that there wasn’t a good
reference point for that. And now that we’re
pretty far into it, one of my obsessions is how can we
connect it to a greater standard with regard to time and text. And so that’s definitely
something over the first year, that’s one of the first mandates
really of the Jedi council, you know, the people
who we’ve put together. I shouldn’t keep– I shouldn’t
have said that publicly, sorry. But basically, the group, that’s
one of the top priorities, is how can we take this now and
fit it better into standards that are starting to
emerge and that’s the one that everybody is talking
about really.>>Thank you.>>Doug Boyd: At least in my circle
that we’re all talking about.>>Well [inaudible]
is great because each of those would reinforce
each other and so on and you’d get a broader
adoption and so on. I mean, it’s what we dream
of when we talk of standards. Too often, it doesn’t work. But sometimes it does.>>Doug Boyd: Right. Hashtag motion jpeg 2000. We’ve got to get that one too. But I think if we can really– and I really am not a fan
of reinventing the wheel. You know, and that’s
one of my frustrations with digital humanities is this
impulse to create something nifty and cool but again, not sustainable, not something that has
necessarily broad appeal. And so, we really have to I
think work together and rather than reinvent the wheel,
really start to connect. So, that’s right in line with
where we’re going with that.>>I wanted to ask you. This may be a little tangential, but a lot of cultural heritage
archives are using crowd sourcing in order to do transcriptions, and
I see that with natural history, I see that with cultural materials,
see that with sociological stuff but what is your experience or
do you think there’s a future for crowd sourcing in audio recorded
interviews or oral histories?>>Doug Boyd: I think
particular early history is where I have an opinion. And that– a strong opinion, and
that’s really a lot of our material, if it’s going to be transcribed,
we don’t know what’s in it. And I have an– a real discomfort
necessarily turning what I don’t know is in there out to a crowd. Also, I have a discomfort opening
up the way my collection is going to be described to people
who actually are commenting on news stories about the
presidential election this year. You know, I mean anybody, just
opening it up and saying, you know, another certain ways we can
actually vet that automatically, but there are certain ways we can’t. And so, I’m a little nervous about
just opening the doors to that. And so, I’d rather have sort
of a curated form of that. Also, you need the crowd and
transcription is not a fun act. No matter how you video game the
experience, I think, you either need to make it so partial that
it’s not a big deal and so it’s like the CAPTCHAs with
the home addresses. You know, or you need a
crowd that’s just so massive. And so, I don’t have that crowd. I can get– I can walk into a room and get people excited
about indexing. Because it’s actually fun. It’s actually engaging and that’s
why we’re getting all these students doing it in classrooms,
we’re starting to experiment with volunteer groups
who are stakeholders in a particular project, who are
going to actually play a role on how this project gets
represented publicly. But to just sort of
open the doors wide, it’s not really what I’m leaning
towards right now because the nature of our oral and history
collection and because it’s sort of the trust arrangement
we have with the people who were interviewed originally. Or a trust relationship
that the interviewer had but then gave the collection
to an archive that doesn’t have that
trust relationship. So we’re trying to be good
stewards of this process on my end. Someone’s going to
take OHMS and do that. They’re just going to open up
the doors and turn it again into a true sort of crowd
sourcing platform and I think that will work pretty cool. But, you know, I like
what NYPL has done with their transcription
tool for sure. I think if you haven’t messed
with it, it’s super cool. And we’re over time–>>Nicole Saylor; We are.>>Doug Boyd: — for Early lunch.>>Nicole Saylor: We are. So we’ll leave it there. Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *