A Digital Education

Meredith Dabek, Maynooth University

Category: libraries

Of Cats, GIFs, and Contests

At the start of the term, the director of the Digital Humanities program, Dr. Scriebman, provided our class with general guidelines and instructions for these course blogs, along with the admonition that these blogs were intended solely for the Digital Humanities program and were therefore not appropriate places to post pictures of our cats.

Cat in a boot

(Not my cat. I promise.)

Fear not, friends. I’m not deliberately flouting those instructions. The above photo is from a late 19th century advertisement for F. W. Lucas & Co., in a collection at the Boston Public Library, and found via the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). It’s just one example of a public domain photo that can be used in a new contest hosted by the DPLA and DigitalNZ.

GIF IT UP is an international competition, running from 13th October to 1st December, asking interested participants to create the best GIFs reusing public domain and openly licensed digital video, images, text and other material available through the search engines on DPLA and DigitalNZ’s websites. You can view examples of submissions on the GIF IT UP Tumblr and the full guidelines for the contest on the DPLA website.

Based on some of the GIFs submitted so far, response to the contest is positive. I think it’s an especially creative way to help the public engage with public domain collections and practice (or perhaps show off) technical computer skills. It’s an entertaining and educational representation of Digital Humanities, using digital skills to highlight humanities collections.

And yes, in this case, GIFs of cats would be acceptable. One of the six categories for the contest is “Animals.”

[The above image has no known copyright restrictions and no known restrictions on use.]

Crowdsourcing in DH, Part 1

Earlier this afternoon, myself and my classmates in the Digital Humanities Theory and Practice course gave brief presentations on various crowdsourced projects, most of which related to Digital Humanities and/or citizens science in some way. I’ll write more later this week on crowdsourcing in DH in general, but for now, a bit of information on my chosen project:

The What’s on the Menu? project at the New York Public Library launched in 2011 and aims to transcribe and geotag the library’s entire collection of restaurant menus (approximately 45,000 menus dating back to the 1840’s, making it the largest menu collection in the world). The NYPL had some great early successes (its initial goal was reached within the first three months of the project’s launch) and while it seems to have stalled a bit since then, the data compiled by the project provides a fascinating look at America’s culinary and nutritional history.

Visit the project website for more information.


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