*Click* Upload and Discuss

Launched February 10, 2004, Flickr is an online photo management and sharing resource for a wide range of people from amateur photographers to professional institutions.  Over its fifteen years of existence, Flickr has evolved from a photo sharing site into the social media outlet it is today.  There are a lot of tabs to go through so lets get started!

In order to begin you need a Yahoo account.  Do not worry if you do not have one, simply use your personal email (Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc.) and Flickr will translate it into a Yahoo account for your login or you have the option to create your own Yahoo account if you prefer.  Once you fill out all your personal information (name, email, password) and enter the confirmation code sent to your email you are ready to get started sharing your photos.

When you first login your are sent to the Home page, where you can start exploring your photo interests by looking through all Flickr activity, people and groups.

To upload, click the cloud-with-arrow icon (hencforth to be known as the “upload cloud”) in the top right corner of the page.  This will lead you to the upload page where you can either click “choose photos and videos to upload” or drag them from your desktop.  Once you finish dragging your photos onto the site you can rename, tag, change privacy settings, and make other small adjustments before clicking the blue Upload button.  When your photos are uploaded you will be sent to your Photostream page.

At the top left of every page are your main drop-down tabs; You, Explore, Create, and Get Pro.  The You tab brings you to your personal page and functions like a blog Dashboard.  From here you can access your About page and view your Photostream, where you were sent after uploading your photos and basically the library of the photos you have uploaded. 

You can put together Albums, view your Faves or favorite photos you have found while looking through Flickr.  You also have the option to edit and create Galleries, which are different from Albums because they are made of your “Faves” photos instead of your photos.  You can view Groups you are a member of or create Groups and discussions.  The Stats tab is for Pro members and it allows you to track which of your photos are trending.  The Camera Roll tab is where you can edit the privacy settings of your photos.

Back to the top left tabs, the Explore tab leads to Trending and the Best Shot of 2018.  Explore is similar to the Flickr Home page because it also presents you with multiple photos that may or may not interest interest you.

The Create tab at the top leads to Blurb, which is a photobook application partnered with Flickr.  The Get Pro tab is the startup page for Flickr membership plans.  Instead of having a free account you can set up an annual or monthly payment plan that comes with special benefits.  

By using the search bar, located on the right top side of the screen near the upload cloud, you can look for photos, people or groups.  For example, searching “History” will result in multiple images, organizations and groups.  You can decide to Follow People or Join a Group. 

The pages for People are set up the same as yours, but Groups have some differences.  In a Group, discussions can be facilitated.  In the case of Flickr: History Group, discussions involve interactions between members conversing on different subjects, ranging from specific dates in history to time travelling.  This is a great way for members who are not photographically inclined to participate in dialogue on Flickr.

Flickr allows verbal and visual communication between its users.  Whether they are sharing their art or conversing over subjects of common interest.  It is a common ground between amateurs and professionals to share visions.

The Paradox of Customer Service Mediums

            Throughout most of history, the only way to spread ideas and information was through physical materials, such as books and newspapers. However, with the invention and increase of accessibility to the internet, spreading and accessing new information becomes increasingly easy. This difference has also created a dispute between the web and publishing industries, who feel threatened by content that is inexpensive, culturally relevant and has the ability to be tweaked or edited at any point.

            Although traditional mediums, are now exploring new formats to interact with their audiences, the main issue that arises is that once it is published, there is an inability to involve others in the work, unless a follow-up is published. This may be why physical newspaper are losing readers, while audiences transition to online news sites, where they can interact with projects and comment on articles.

            Other sites have gone further with collaboration by uplifting audiences’ knowledge to create content. These sites – including Wikipedia, Youtube, Twitter and Yelp – avoid paying experts by giving anyone the ability to make content and share their ideas.

            At first glance, these interactions seem positive. Such platforms expand the marketplace of ideas by accepting that anyone can be an expert. However, they also pose a serious question: are these sites exploiting their content creators?

            Take Youtube, for example. Any individual who wants to be in front of a camera can post a vlog, tutorial or any other video. This is made easier by the accessibility to cellphones with high quality cameras. In addition, viewers can comment, like and subscribe, thus further engaging in the conversation.

            However, Youtube collects a profit from both their creators and viewers by adding advertisements, which are largely unavoidable. Although creators may see a share of the profit, it is little compared to what the company is making. Creators also see more profit based on the number of subscribers that they obtain. Unfortunately, a large percentage of viewers will watch content, but not subscribe.

            This is why Paul Ford argues that these platforms are not a publishing medium. They don’t create or edit content. They are a customer service medium that moderate users.

Although there are other similar video-sharing sites, such as Vimeo, as the second most popular website in the world (https://merchdope.com/youtube-stats/), Youtube largely dominates the industry, giving creators little incentive to use a different site.

            Furthermore, these websites draw subscriptions from websites and organizations that rely on subscribers to exist. Alison Miner expresses frustration in this fact when she asks, “how can I get paid for my profession if there are people out there who are willing to do the work for free?”

            Say you’re writing an essay on megabats (part of my Wikipedia deep dive this morning – it’s worth the google image search). You google it and find a New York Times article. Unfortunately, when you click on the article, you hit the paywall. You’ve used the three freebees that the Times gives you each month. Instead of subscribing, you go back to Google and access a free Wikipedia page on the subject. While you’re happy because you’ve gotten all the information you need, the Times editors and analytics team sees that the article has not received much readership and decides to layoff their reporter on the subject.

            That’s dark, but it’s essentially the impact that the internet is having on the publishing industry (among other influences). Still, it’s understandable. Why should readers pay for content they need if other sources provide it for free? Maybe it shouldn’t just be because they have a soft heart for experts that need their clicks to put food on the table? Or maybe they should understand that even the free work requires effort that should be paid for? But then it becomes a question of who can afford to access information.  

Out of the Archives and Onto Your Screens: Crowdsourcing at the Library of Congress

On October 24, 2018, the Library of Congress (LC) launched a new crowdsourcing program at Crowd.loc.gov. The unveiling of this new program corresponds with Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden’s 5-year Strategic Plan that “puts users first,” and grants increased access to LC’s holdings. This application builds off of previous Library of Congress crowdsourcing applications such as Beyond Words, Roll the Credits, and the 2008 Flickr initiative, The Commons.

So how does it work?

Users are encouraged to transcribe, review, and tag documents grouped together in thematic “campaigns,” posted to the Crowd website. Presently, there are five listed campaigns where users can choose to interact with a variety of sources—from official correspondence to speeches and diaries.

The website tracks the progress of each campaign using a blue bar. This means that in just three months, over 15,000 images of the “Letters to Lincoln” campaign have been transcribed and marked ready for review.

Crowd does not require participants to create a profile to transcribe files, however an account is necessary to review or tag documents.

Here is an example of the transcription portion, using a letter from the “Mary Church Terrell: Advocate for African Americans and Women” campaign.

The website allows multiple volunteers to work on the same page, save partially finished pages, and edit transcriptions of other participants before submitting for review. Options for full screen viewing and zoom help users focus on cursive letters and miniscule punctuation marks. Two buttons at the bottom of the page provide volunteers with “Quick Tips” for transcribing or redirect to the History Hub forum (moderated by LC staff members) for more complicated questions.

So, maybe you’re done transcribing and you’ve decided to review another user’s work. Here’s a 1908 letter from Terrell’s collection that’s ready for review:

On this page, the transcription box is locked until you press buttons to edit or accept the text. Once you accept the reviewed document, a box prompts you to submit tags for identification and organization. Varying perspectives among users are expected to provide diverse subject terms and expand the current Library index for an increasingly accessible database.

Now what happens once you submit the document for final review?

This speech from “Letters to Lincoln” has been completely reviewed and finalized. It will now appear in the campaign with an orange hyperlinked description. Users are still able to view the document; however, no further changes can be made. Upon selecting a finished page, a table lists the percentage of progress and the number of contributors for that page.

Once the entire campaign is reviewed and finalized by LC staff, users can select a link to view the finished product in the official online collection. Maintaining the finished documents within each section of the campaigns permits volunteers to return to their previous work and personally connect to the official Library of Congress collections.

Although a multitude of documents from the “Letters to Lincoln” campaign have already been transcribed and finalized, there are still four more sections waiting to be accessed. Will you shuffle through the William Oland Bourne’s disabled civil war veteran collection, or perhaps get lost in the papers of Clara Barton?

Introducing Olivia

Hello all!

My name is Olivia Herschel and I am a first year MA student in the Public History program. I was born and raised in High Point, North Carolina and went to East Carolina University (Go Pirates!). I received a BA in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology, and a minor in history. I have worked at three major archaeological sites:  1. A colonial site on the Cape Fear River, just south of Wilmington, NC- Brunswicktown 2. A Civil War cannon emplacement- Fort Anderson 3. And a slave kitchen just outside of Greenville, NC. After going on multiple archaeological digs, I quickly realized my love for material culture and history in general. Hence, I am now interested in pursuing conservation/preservation but am also keeping an open mind and seeing where my interests lead me. My interests also lie in African American History as well as the history of the sixties in America. While obtaining my undergraduate degree, I worked as a research assistant to East Carolina’s University Historian. I assisted him in researching the first African American physician, Dr. Andrew A. Best, to work in Greenville, North Carolina. After spending a little under a year analyzing newspaper articles, conducting interviews, and transcribing hundreds of documents and recordings I realized my excitement for uncovering and documenting important aspects of history. This project truly kick-started my love for history and led me to apply to graduate school. After researching prospective programs, I discovered public history was a perfect road to translate my broad and growing interests into a future career. Although I am still getting used to the “city life”, I have come to quickly fall in love with DC and the immense amount of history and opportunities it has to offer.

To be honest, this Digital History Methods course terrifies me. I have had little interest in technology/ media, and I exude subpar technological skills (shocking for a millennial, I know). However, I know that this knowledge is imperative, even mandatory, to my future career. Therefore, I am dedicated to learning the in’s and outs of digital media. I am most excited about learning the key issues with “collecting, preserving and interpreting digital and digitized primary sources from the perspective of a historian”. By learning the issues with digital history, I am hoping to acquire a more thorough knowledge on its importance, difficulty, and range of usage.

Outside of my education, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, running, trying new foods (today, I tried Indian cuisine- delicious!) and exploring my new home here in DC. Additionally, I have come to discover that I have a great interest in politics and the history of politics since moving to our Nation’s Capital. I still have A LOT to learn but for now I enjoy acting like a tourist by walking the Mall and visiting all the museums DC has to offer (which A LOT, compared to North Carolina).

Sierra Solomon- Baltimorean, Historian and Yogi

Hello, my fellow historians and digital media enthusiasts.  My name is Sierra Solomon, a proud Baltimorean who now resides in the trenches of Reston, Virginia.  Two things that are helpful to know about me are: I’m a huge dog-lover and yogi. I have an amazing 6-month old fur-son (puppy) named Roshi.  Roshi is named after two great characters from two great animes, Naruto Shippuden and Dragon Ball Z. Aside from puppy training and anime binging, the remainder of my free time, aside from studying, is dedicated to yoga.  I practice Bikram yoga faithfully. Bikram is a style of yoga composed of twenty-six postures in a room set at 105 degrees. It may sound torturous, but it is a great way to relieve stress, meditate and energize you to tackle the hard work that comes with graduate school.  

Prior to enrolling in American University’s Public History program, I received a Bachelors in Political Science and Pan African Studies at Kent State University (Go Flashes!).  Before college, there was always a burning curiosity for understanding why and how race mattered in my quality of life and the way American society was structured based on institutionalized racism. Post my undergraduate studies, my experience in the workforce heightened my desire to understand, transcribe and share the Black experience to mass audiences in hopes of breaking down boundaries that impede social progress and high quality of life for all people. My journey to study Black experience narratives, specifically Black women, Black images and race history, is what brought me to American University. The question of how to utilize digital media to share these histories with the world is what brought me to register for this digital history course.  

There is no doubt that digital media has revolutionalized information production and delivery at a rapid pace. Digital media makes content more accessible and interactive with physical proximity to a physical insititute no longer a barrier for exchanging information.  Information can reach a wider, more diverse audience in real time, in comparison to traditional museums and historic sites. This placeless space for information sharing is an ideal tool for historians seeking to create shared authority and engage in contemporary history.  

The optimism of digital history is not why I enrolled in this course.  A grasping skepticism of whether digital media presents more harm than good as a base for information sharing.  How can scholars regulate and preserve historic content on a virtual platform? On a platform where anyone can drive a narrative and publish content for millions of people to see simultaneously, how can historicans publishing evidence-based research compete?  The public is bombarded with mass information night and day, what can historians do to present their work in a way that does not get drowned by the competing stories? I trust these questions will be resolved by the end of this course along with learning other tricks of the trade to improve my understanding of digital history.