What I’m reading this week

Digital Content I am reading

Comic books are not in heavy rotation on my bookshelf, but I have been known to dabble in the graphic arts. Recently, this literary art form has invaded my thinking. If I considered myself a disciple, I would have attempted to graphically represent this post complete with villains,  unbelievable narrative arcs, and of course, a killer origin story.

First, I read this article in the New York Times. It details the unveiling of digital copies of 700 No. 1 comic book issues, which is a pretty big deal. The publishing company also revealed faster availability of issues, streaming video series, a reality television show (possibly!), and the audio score for comics called Project Gamma. This would provide a full reading experience with tactfully placed musical interludes and suspense-stirring percussive beats! That last part was my own flair.

Then I saw this sign posted in the Library. Next week, there’s a panel discussion hosted by the Library of Congress focused on the international literary significance of the medium. I may check it out, but mostly to see if anyone comes dressed as their favorite comic hero.

Speaking of lectures at the Library. Earlier this week, I attended a demonstration of a new-ish tool from a group called BitCurator. Afterwards, I followed up with some reading on the group. Here’s how the joint effort found its place,

There are already many cases of self-contained Linux-based packages that bundle many of the tools in order to support digital forensics activities. However, they are not very approachable to library/archives professionals in terms of interface and documentation.

There are two fundamental needs for collecting institutions that are not addressed by software designed for the digital forensics industry: incorporation into the workflow of archives/library ingest and collection management environments, and provision of public access to the data.

Porter Olsen, a research assistant at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, discussed the mission of BitCurator, which…and I am paraphrasing here…is first, to demystify digital forensics tools developed outside of the library and information science field; and second, to customize and apply those tools to the workflows at collecting institutions. When thinking about digital curation workflows, don’t neglect the bits!

Sounds simple! It’s not.

What I found most interesting from Porter’s well-executed and detailed talk is how the work being accomplished is collaborative and iterative. There are constantly new versions of the software and new uses for it. There’s a team of professionals that constantly take new tools for a test-run in their facilities using real data, addressing real issues. The feedback helps to build better working models for collecting institutions. Olsen’s discussion felt like a really smart show and tell that will look different the next time he presents at the Library.

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