Digital Exhibition and Digital Audio (Readings 3-7)

Digital Exhibition and Digital Audio has been the focus for this week and for this post. In this post, we will look at readings 3-7 and give some information about the readings that make them unique in the ways they correlate with ideas of Digital Exhibition and Digital Audio.

Beginning with reading number 3 titled Collecting the present: digital code and collections authors Sebastian Chan and Aaron Cope initiate their article by resenting the reader with an abstract that contains a deconstruction of how they were able to acquire the code and ‘living software’ for the permanent collection of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Chan and Cope have been using an iPad app called Planetary to facilitate working on updating the museums collection to include born-digital examples of design. Sebastian Chan is Chief Experience Officer & Director of collections at the Australian Center for the Moving Image in Melbourne. He is responsible for holistic experience design and overseas teams responsible for experience & digital, ICT, as well as the museum’s collections, digitization & digital preservation programs. Prior, Chan led the digital renewal and transformation of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York (2011-2015). He also led experiments in the acquisition of digital design including the first app to enter the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. He drove the powerhouse Museum’s pioneering work in open access, mass collaboration and digital experience during the 2000’s. According to his profile description, he has also worked as a museum consultant with institutions across North America, Europe, and Asia and won awards for his work. Aaron Cope is currently Head of Internet Typing at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Museum. Previously, he was Editor at Large at creator of the Who’s On First project at Mapzen. Between 2012 and 2015 he was Head of Engineering at the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. Before that, he was Senior Engineer at Flickr focusing on all things Geo-machine-tag-related between 2004 and 2009. From 2009 to 2011, he was Design Technologist and Director of Inappropriate Project Names at Stamen Design, where he created the pretty maps project. As I read through the source, I am intrigued by the paragraph that talks about discussing MOMA’s acquisition of the ‘@’ symbol. It is interesting how the acquisition of ‘@’ takes one more step. According to the article “It relies on the assumption that physical possession of an object as a requirement for an acquisition is no longer necessary, and therefore setting curators free to tag the world and acknowledge things that “cannot be bad”. Moving on, the reading focuses on Planetary. Planetary was the first product of company called Bloom. Between 2011 and 2012 the company worked on building a series of bite size applications that bring the richness of game interactions and the design values of motion graphics, social network tools, and streaming media services. Throughout the reading, the authors go over exactly what planetary is, what the process of using Planetary is like, and some of the archival approaches using Planetary to create context and create a curatorial file for The Australian National Film & Sound Archive for example.

Moving on to reading number 4 for this week, the title of the reading is Oral History and the Digital Revolution: Toward a Post Documentary Sensibility. The first section of this reading begins by communicating to the reader that putting the oral back in oral history is something important to be considering. In the reading, author Michael Frisch assumes that we all know that in most uses of oral history the shift from voice to text is extensive and controlling. He makes an interesting point that could not be simpler. Michael Frisch’s point is that there are worlds of meaning beyond words, and that nobody pretends that the transcript is in any real sense a better representation of reality than the voice itself. When referring to the transcript, Frisch is talking about the expensive and cumbersome transcription into text that oral history source materials have been approached, used, and represented through. He writes about the core assumption that oral and film or video documents are almost impossible to work with especially when they involve extensive collections and groups of imagined users who might be interested in the material. He explores the topic of digitization and the digital revolution. He argues that in digital form, there is no difference between text, photographs, drawings, models, music, speech, and visual information. Michael Frisch moves into approaches to mapping or indexing audio- visual documents. He continues the essay by speaking broadly about the challenges in searching and exploring audio-visual digital materials that are less technical than they are intellectual or even philosophical which I thought was a substantial point in the essay. He goes on through the middle section of the reading and we learn information on oral history and more or less sophisticated ways one can approach oral history and he talks about some of the limitations. He finally narrows it down to one final dimension that is useful to appreciate when considering how to approach working with video and audio documentation and the evolution of working with such technology. For the two final parts of the reading, Frisch looks at Beyond Raw and Cooked: Documentary and Oral History in the Digital Age. He dives into talking about his knowledge on the central assumption in a documentary and things like editorial intervention that takes into account things like meditating oral history through text. The final part of the essay is about a post documentary sensibility and he explores the question of what a contrasting approach to a documentary could be like. I think approaching sensibility was a good way to end the reading because it allowed for questions to be explored near the end of the reading that I thought added value to his stance on video and oral history documentation.

Reading 5 is also about oral history but it is distinct from reading 4 and provides the reader with more profound questions that anyone considering creating an oral history project can think about to produce better results through preparation. Doug Boyd presents to the reader some initial questions that anyone designing an oral history project could benefit from. I found this reading to be refreshingly easy to understand and well written. Some examples of questions Doug Boyd poses for the reader include questions like what is your level of technical expertise? Do you have enough digital storage? What are the legal and ethical questions you should be considering? What recording equipment will you use? And what is your desired outcome for this project? These are not all of the questions but these are some of the ones I found to be introspective in creating a better oral history project. For each question that he talks about in the reading, he provides links to essays that expand on the subject matter and go more in depth into the question. I like the way Doug Boyd planned the reading and found it to be an informative source for learning about creativity surrounding initiating a project having to do with oral history.

Finally, this paragraph will belong to reading 6 and 7 which I think are distinct in their own way. Beginning with reading 6 by Jonathan Stern we get an in depth reading about the meaning of a format and basically learn how MP3 became a distribution phenomenon in audio digital history. MP3 is the most common form in which recorded sound is available today. Ideas in this book have been work shopped in dozens of talks, and author Jonathan Stern is grateful to his hosts and interlocutors and friends he made in the process of writing the book as well as some cherished old friends, teachers and colleagues that he spent time with during his travels. I think the point Jonathan Stern is making is a valid one when considering the success of the MP3. Jonathan Stern shows us that there should be a place for digital technologies in our broader universe while weighing the sacrifices it would take to propel digital technological advancements to the next level. I like the way he goes way back into talking about the 1920’s and technological developments that were going on in that time including television evolution and telephonic transmission. There is so much to cover in this reading that it really makes the abundance in information about format theory an interesting topic to cover. Reading 7 by Wendy F. HSU explores the question of how digital technologies deepen ethnographic practices. This is interesting and a unique reading from the rest in the sense that this one brings in the question of culture into how digital technologies and ethnographic practices play a role in everyday rituals, transactions, events, and other daily commodities of daily life. Notably, the reading includes a detailed and descriptive view of the meaning of scalability, inter modality, and multi modality defining them as tasks requiring computational means that allow us to rethink how we sample culture, shift between a number of information contexts, and detect the juxtaposition of two or more modes of scrutiny that could enable the relational exploration across previously unrelated datasets. Then, the reading splits up into three long different parts in which I am not going into much detail but Ill say what they were. Part 1 of the reading is about the software methods used for data gathering in ethnography. Part 2 covers mapping as a mode of data discovery, and finally part 3 covers the magnification of physical materialist culture.

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