Small Moving Parts (2017)
I co-keynoted the Winter Digital Methods School with Geof Bowker in Amsterdam. I talked about index cards, filing systems, and the long-20th-century material history of data management. Here are my slides.
Today in my Archives, Libraries + Databases grad seminar we’re starting our database unit. I’ve got lots of great material to share, and it’s proving somewhat difficult to keep track of all the videos, images, etc., in my lesson plan — so I figured I’d just dump everything into a blog post. It’ll keep me more organized and it’ll allow others to have access to this material, too.
“DataCase,” CLOG 3 (June 2012)
on physical “encasements” of data
I’m teaching my Archives, Libraries & Databases class again this coming fall (here’s last year’s course website). And once again, I’m a bit concerned that students might think it’s a research skills class. As I pointed out last year,
I’m not going to teach people how to use a library or build a database. Instead, we’re going to talk about the politics and aesthetics and ethics of organizing information…or media…or data…or knowledge — these four terms are not interchangeable, and we’re going to talk about that, too — through these different intellectual architectures. And given my interests, we’ll of course talk about some physical architectures as well.
The course title‘s a bit different this year. Last spring it was Libraries, Archives + Databases — but only because the timing of our various field trips dictated that we start with the libraries section and put archives in the middle. This year, I’m not going to allow field trips to dictate our schedule; I think it’s important for the conceptual integrity of the class to start with archives, then move along historically (although not teleologically!) as we go through the semester.
Anyway, here’s the course description:
“There has been more information produced in the last 30 years than during the previous 5000.” We’ve all heard some variation on this maxim. As U.S. publishers add 250,000 printed books and close to 300,000 print-on-demand books to our libraries each year; as we find ourselves wading through over 200 million websites; as we continue to add new media – from Tweets to Apps to geo-tagged maps – to our everyday media repertoires, we continually search for new ways to navigate this ever more treacherous sea of information. Throughout human history we have relied on various institutions and politico-intellectual architectures to organize, index, preserve, make sense of, and facilitate or control access to our stores of knowledge, our assemblages of media, our collections of information. This seminar looks at the past, present, and future of the library, the archive, and the database, and considers what logics, priorities, politics, audiences, contents, aesthetics, physical forms, etc., ally and differentiate these institutions. We will examine what roles the library, archive, and the database play in democracy, in education, in everyday life, and in art. Throughout the semester we’ll examine myriad analog and digital artworks that make use of library/archival material, or take the library, archive, or database as their subject. Some classes will involve field trips and guest speakers. Students will have the option of completing at least one theoretically-informed creative/production project for the class.”
As we did last spring, we’ll probably go on field trips to the Reanimation Library, the Morgan Library, and the Municipal Archives. I’ll try to find a couple other sites, too. And I’ll bring in some interesting guest speakers.
Here’s a rough outline of what we’ll do throughout the semester: