What is “Digital Curation”? What Does the Phrase Mean to You?


This comic strip came out almost two years ago, in October 2011. I have wanted to post on this topic, but since I wrote one of my literature reviews for my dissertation on this very subject, I decided against blogging on it. I was a bit weary of the subject for a while, but it has since become fun again. So, here we go….

Dr. Cal Lee and Dr. Helen Tibbo define “digital curation” as:

Digital curation involves selection and appraisal by creators and archivists; evolving provision of intellectual access; redundant storage; data transformations; and, for some materials, a commitment to long-term preservation. Digital curation is stewardship that provides for the reproducibility and re-use of authentic digital data and other digital assets. Development of trustworthy and durable digital repositories; principles of sound metadata creation and capture; use of open standards for file formats and data encoding; and the promotion of information management literacy are all essential to the longevity of digital resources and the success of curation efforts.

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What Does a Librarian Do?

Have you ever wanted to be a librarian? Have you ever wondered what a librarian does?

This Vocational Guidance Film from 1947 describes what a librarian does, and what the requirements are to be a librarian. LIbrarianship is about managing, accessing, storing, and retrieving information. That information may be stored in a book, database or other kind of virtual or physical object.

I disagree with the statement that you must love books. If you apply to library school and state that you “love books” in your application, the library school faculty are likely to tell you to go work in a book store! You have to love managing information.

In your view, how well does the description of librarianship from 1947 apply to the work of a librarian in 2011? In my opinion, the general gist of the occupation is still relevant, such as reference and cataloging, even taking into account the digital component of librarianship in 2011.

MLK Holiday: Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

How would you visually represent a landmark speech in US history?

I have posted a video of Dr. Martin Luther King’sI Have a Dream” speech below, in order to mark the holiday that honors him. The speech was given on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. You may read the full text of the speech via MLKonline.net.

Six Minutes created this Wordle below of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech to aid students in analyzing the speech’s content. The size of the word in the image correlates with its frequency.


How would you visually represent Dr. King’s landmark speech?

[The thumbnail image in the top left corner of this post is courtesy MLKonline.net.]

Hierarchy of Digital Distractions

How do you manage all of the distractions from the data and information thrown at you from social media, email, the Web, chat and [insert name of app here]? Well? Not-so-well? Do you focus on one task at a time, or do you multi-task?

David McCandless of Information is Beautiful created this Hierarchy of Digital Distractions in August 2009.

Does any of it still look familiar?

To view a larger image of the infographic, please click on it and click on it again on the new page.

Hierarchy of Digital Distractions

All I can say is, “ouch!”

Little Red Riding Hood, the Animated Infographic Version

If you were the Big Bad Wolf and you were on a diet, would you want to know how many calories Grandma contains? What about the cost of the bread and wine you, the parent, are sending to your mother or mother-in-law via your daughter? Tomas Nilsson took on the story of Little Red Riding Hood for a school assignment and added a modern twist — infographics that include a VW van, modern housing, wildlife density, modern human dwellings, human vs. canine body make ups, the price of hunting gear, and, yes, grandma’s nutritional information (as a chart).

I saw this animation of Little Red Riding Hood two years ago when Nilsson first put it online, and I enjoyed re-watching it for this post. I thought his twist on such a familiar story was and is very creative with the right touch of humor. The display of information relies on the user’s familiarity with the tale, but adds additional information to the story via the use of data as context.

What part or parts, if any, of the animated infographic stood out to you?

[Most recently, via designer-daily.]

The Business of Death

How do you take data related to the worldwide funeral industry and make it interesting to review? If you are GOOD Magazine, you create a fun infographic that lobs various bits of data at you, along with terms like, “embalming fluid” and “formaldehyde“. Welcome to the Business of Death animated infographic. As the creators of the animation write:

Throughout the developed world the business surrounding death has often been an uneasy topic of discussion. Originating in the mid-19th Century, the modern funeral has evolved into an economic and cultural monster, with a vast network of supporting industries and myriad options for your earthly remains.

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The Essence of the Credit Crisis, Visualized

How do you distill the essence of a complex and complicated set of data without watering it down so much the information become worthless? Jonathan Jarvis faced that question two years ago when he created the Crisis of Credit Visualized, “the Short and Simple Story of the Credit Crisis”.

I admit that I read the news reports endlessly when the housing market began to tank in 2007. I had lived in Los Angeles c. 2004-2006, and had thought the entire housing market was “off”. (No, that isn’t just hindsight. I used to get into arguments with my colleagues who believed housing prices would go up indefinitely!) Once the housing market began to go down and the poor financial practices were revealed, I was horrified at what I read — at the bankers for engaging in poor business practices, at consumers who took on loans they could not afford, and at government regulators for not paying attention. It was and is a mess that we, the taxpayers, will be sorting out for years to come. (“Understatement.”)
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The Project Management Tree Swing Cartoon, Past and Present

The project management tree swing cartoon below is famous amongst those of us who have engaged in any kind of software project management. I first came across it in the late 1990s, when I managed small projects at a regional data communications company. I remember printing it out and hanging it in my cubicle, as a reminder of what not to do. I would read it as a reminder to keep my sense of humor in the midst of a frustrating project implementation.

A few months ago, I thought of it and searched online for it. Project management may not be as sexy as data science, but if you don’t properly manage the implementation of your data and systems, you won’t be “sexying” anything, much less taming your data! As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO).
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The Digital Dilemma

The Digital Dilemma - AMPASIn the fall of 2007, the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) released a report entitled, “The Digital Dilemma“. In a nutshell, the Council tackled the topic of archiving digital movies. They examined how this could be done, what the costs would be, and how these methods and costs compared to CMYK.

Over time, this report has proven to be one of my favorites. The authors miraculously kept it at 70 pages, but managed to cover a lot of information within those few pages. I also tip my hat to them for battling the politics between and within L.A. movie studios, so that they could output a usable document with a set of recommendations that can be adopted across and outside of the movie industry.
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