Yearly Archives: 2015

Busy month in the life of a LGBT Digital Historian!

Rainbow Flag City Hall August 2014My website http://corklgbthistory.com/ was this week voted Runner Up for Best Blog Post / Series of Posts in the DH Awards.   The awards are nominated and voted for entirely by the public. These awards are intended to help put interesting DH resources in the spotlight and engage DH users (and general public) in the work of the community.

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The DH Awards have provided a useful platform for visibility of the corklgbthistory site and an opportunity to have Queer work more visible within the Digital Humanities world.  I developed the corklgbthistory site to begin to display a chronology of the development of the Cork LGBT community, to showcase some of the materials which will form part of the LGBT Digital Archive I am developing, and to stimulate interest and engagement in the project.  Hopefully the DH Award will help to further these aims.

It has been a busy month for this LGBT Digital Historian (I guess that’s what I am now!).

lights-camera-web (1)In mid February I attended the LGBT History Festival in Manchester.  I was delighted to introduce and screen the Cork film, Out and About, produced by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Cork LGBT community.  The film is a historical LGBT walking tour of Cork, presented by myself and John Dunlea.  I was particularly delighted and excited to have this film screened alongside the BAFTA award winning film Pride.  This was particularly appropriate as the Cork LGBT community has always been conscious of the importance of forging links and working in solidarity with other social change movements, similar in many ways to the solidarity shown in the Pride film between the lesbian and gay community and the striking miners.

The LGBT History Festival in Manchester had a wealth of interesting presentations and events.  It was a wonderful opportunity to meet and network with other LGBT Historians and Archivists.  It was particularly interesting to meet the team from Bergen University in Norway who are developing a LGBT Archive, SKEIVT ARKIV, with the support and resources of the university.  It was exciting to meet people doing similar work, but I found myself more than a little jealous of the resources and support they obtained from their university!

Tonie Walsh and Orla Egan

Tonie Walsh and Orla Egan

The following week found me in OutHouse LGBT Community Centre in Dublin discussing the Cork LGBT Archive alongside Tonie Walsh of the Irish Queer Archive.  The event was organised as part of LGBT History Month.  Tonie is one of the few Irish based people who shares my passion and obsession with LGBT history and the importance of preserving and sharing our history.  We fed off each other’s enthusiasm and stories and this led to an interesting and engaged discussion with the participants.

 

Ma Graduation

MA DAH 2015

Then at the end of February I graduated with an MA in Digital Arts and Humanities.  While we can be MA DAH 2015 cynical about the pomp and ceremony of such events, I think that it is important sometimes to take time to stop and acknowledge achievements and milestones in one’s life.  I know that for me doing the MA in DAH was challenging on many levels.  I put myself completely out of my comfort zone, studying an area that was new to me.  It was also challenging on a personal level as I juggled the responsibilities of parenting (primarily solo) with a crazy study schedule and other personal commitments.  The graduation ceremony provided an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of the year and to express my gratitude to those who supported me during the year and to those who dragged me, kicking and screaming and protesting, into the exciting new world of Digital Humanities!

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Omeka vs WordPress

There is no doubt that the enormous technological developments of recent decades have fundamentally changed how we ‘do history’. In particular they have created a plethora of new possibilities for the preservation and presentation of historical and archival materials.   While this is primarily positive, enabling the preservation and display of historical documentation that may otherwise be lost forever, it is not without challenges. Foremost amongst these for historians is assessing what digital tool or tools to use for capturing, analysing, presenting and sharing this material.

Cohen and RosenzweigIn Digital History Cohen and Rosenzweig explore how “new media and new technologies have challenged historians to rethink the ways that they research, write, present and teach about the past.” The book is designed essentially to be a practical handbook on how to create digital history. In the introduction they stress that “we need to critically and soberly assess where computers, networks, and digital media are and aren’t useful for historians…..in what ways can digital media and digital networks allow us to do our work as historians better?”

If one agrees that, on balance, it is worth doing history digitally, then how does one go about it? How do we choose from the plethora of tools available? For my work I am particularly interested in the development of digital archives and in digital tools that enable the storage, display and sharing of digitised materials.   However, there seems to be some confusion and disagreement about what a digital archive is  not to mention what are the best digital tools to use to create one.   There are many tools, both open source and commercial, to choose from. As Carolyn Li-Madeo states: “Digital Archives are easier to create than ever before, utilizing content management systems such as Omeka, Drupal, Collective Access or even WordPress, libraries and institutions can share and organize their collections through the web.” Continue reading

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