A Workflow

January 18th, 20113:28 pm @

A Workflow

Ok, folks: now that we have some semblance of order in our six primary clusters, our next step might be establishing a clear and tangible “workflow” within and across those clusters. During class on Wednesday (the 19th) we’ll begin articulating that workflow. For now, let’s synopsize who is doing what. (Note: since this entry is public, your names are not included.)

Asset Collection and Media Production

This group will select one-minute snippets (and no longer!) of the audio recordings currently in the Crocodile Cafe Collection. Ideally, these snippets will be included in the exhibit and will encourage audiences to visit the physical collection currently archived on the UW’s Seattle campus (in Odegaard Library). Since we are only including audio recordings by bands who have agreed to participate in the exhibit, you are welcome to keep your listening refined to live shows performed at the Croc by those bands. (See me for an updated list of the bands. There are approximately twenty involved.)

The group will also be responsible for editing all media in the exhibit, including any audio, video, and images. While the UW Libraries will be editing all assets in the Crocodile Cafe Collection for us, other media will inevitably be involved. That said, this group will need to not only communicate with library staff (by email and possibly in person), but also work with other clusters (especially the “Communicating with Community Partners” cluster) during the editing process. For editing while in the lab, software such as Pro Tools, Final Cut, Photoshop, and Audacity will be useful. I’m happy to walk you through any of them, if they are new or overwhelming. We could also conduct a media production workshop or two.

Questions for this cluster to consider:

When selecting assets for the exhibit, how do you keep your decisions consistent (and fair) across all of the live recordings? What is your criteria for selection? Why?

How will you clearly convey your selection process to the other clusters? What questions and quibbles might they have?

Since you are working with live recordings, how might sounds other than the band’s music be relevant? How might audience commentary or between-the-songs banter add important historical and cultural contexts?

How are editing and production also acts of interpretation?

Metadata Management and Interpretation

This group will determine what Dublin Core metadata fields will be required for every item in the exhibit, not to mention how that metadata will be presented to audiences. They will also add and manage all of the exhibit’s metadata. Reviewing the Dublin Core standard and understanding its implications will be crucial.

The group will also be responsible for interpreting every item in the exhibit. Here, “interpretation” will need to be defined, or at least a methodology will need to be articulated and sustained across every item. Part of this process will be bridging assets from the “Asset Collection and Media Production” cluster with material gathered by the “Communicating with Community Partners” cluster.

Questions for this cluster to consider:

In the context of an online exhibit, what is “interpretation”? What is the role of the curator in that interpretation?

Given the abundance of information on the web, what might our exhibit tell audiences that they do not already know?

How does something like metadata shape how we find, organize, and interpret information?

How is sorting things out a political act, perhaps quite relevant to questions the “History, Credibility, and Representation” cluster might be asking?

Exhibit Theme, Code, and Interface

This group will select the exhibit’s Omeka theme and modify it according to the investments of the class, the community partners, and the exhibit’s target audience. The group will also need to solicit other clusters to test their design and document bugs in the exhibit.

As they develop their theme, the group might also consider communicating with the creators of Omeka (at George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media), contributing to Omeka forums, and documenting their work in such a way that—in the future—other Omeka users will find informative. Perhaps a new theme entirely? A new Omeka plugin? Your choice.

Questions for this cluster to consider:

How do you translate your work to the balance of the class, especially when that work is often rife with leet and the like? And how do you translate design requests from people who may not understand code or markup?

As designers and coders, how is your labor both technical and theoretical in character?

Can content be separated from form or design? How will your decisions influence how audiences interpret decisions made by other clusters?

How does something like aesthetics play a role in digital scholarship?  How do (or should) those aesthetics relate to other approaches to design on the web, which is often central to commerce, consumption, social networking, and the circulation of news?

Exhibit Usability, Standards, and Networks

This group will not only make sure that the exhibit abides by web standards, but also determine how its interface might be more accessible, appealing, or intuitive.  In so doing, the group will need to determine who is included in the exhibit’s target audience—who, that is, might be interested in an exhibit on DIY music cultures and the Crocodile Cafe Collection.

Also, the group will consider how the exhibit functions within a broader network of information circulation and media production. That said, they might choose to strategically integrate Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter (or the like)  into the exhibit’s development. Ideally, social networks (of whatever form) will be used to solicit feedback and contributions to the exhibit, not simply as one-way, shameless self-promotion vehicles.

Questions for this cluster to consider:

How do you effectively conduct a usability test? How might others (both in the class and out) be involved in that process?

How is the notion of a “target audience” ultimately about cultural assumptions? What are the risks of those assumptions? How do they affect decisions about content and design?

Why is something like a W3C standard important, especially for academic scholarship?

Can Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook be used “critically”? Who are some academics, musicians, and DIY-types who use, say, Twitter persuasively? What might we learn from them for this project?

Communicating with Community Partners

This group will communicate with our community partners (mostly musicians) through email, phone, and face-to-face conversation. In so doing, they will be responsible for documenting those conversations (through text, audio, images, and/or video) and delivering that material to other clusters. They will also need to have all community partners complete release forms and approve (in writing) any material in the exhibit before it is published.

The aim of this cluster is to gather diverse perspectives on DIY music cultures, using assets from the Crocodile Cafe Collection as anchors. These perspectives are key to the exhibit and should add to the collection, giving it context and texture.

Questions for this cluster to consider:

Given the number of bands involved, not to mention their different styles, histories, and investments, how will you keep the exhibit’s content consistent?

How do you keep interview questions short and sweet? How do you solicit a good story?

As an interviewer, how are you actively shaping history and knowledge? How do you respect the opinions, histories, and cultures of your interviewees during that process?

History, Credibility, and Representation

This group will provide the exhibit with some background outside of what’s included in both the Crocodile Cafe Collection and the interview material gathered by the “Communicating with Community Partners” cluster. That background may be on DIY, the “old Croc” (now replaced by the “new” one), Puget Sound music scenes, or the like.

The group will also need to ensure that the entire exhibit is credible—that it fairly represents all involved, including audio engineers, fans, musicians, labels, managers, librarians, and (of course) us.  That said, this group might repeatedly ask how the exhibit is being composed, for whom, by whom, and to what effects. Who is being included? Left out?

Questions for this cluster to consider:

What are the representational politics involved in composing this exhibit? What are some risks? Some benefits?

How (if at all) should the method for composing the exhibit be communicated in the exhibit itself?

Who should participate in the representation of this history of DIY? How do we provide contexts for contribution?

I hope this review helps! Soon, we’ll also post questions for all involved to consider. Those questions will, by necessity, demand inquiry into the sustainability and shelf-life of this exhibit. When the quarter is over, is the exhibit published? Where is it stored? And who should maintain it?

More soon!