Interpreting the past has long been the province of historians, but reinterpreting it has recently become a concern of conservators. This most powerful, and most controversial, of preservation strategies can demand techniques not found in the traditional conservation lab, from 3d scanning to DNA computing. Several international conferences from Mexico City to Amsterdam recently spotlighted Still Water’s ongoing research into reinterpretation as a means of prolonging or resuscitating the past.
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In 1994 artist Douglas Davis hit upon a surefire way to write a preposterously long sentence. He and his collaborators created a page on what was then a fledgling World Wide Web through which anyone could add words and phrases onto a growing string of HTML. Two decades later, it fell to digital conservator Ben Fino-Radin to restore this landmark of Internet art. He described the process–along with his work to recover the earliest Macintosh icons and manage digital collections at the Museum of Modern Art–in a teleconference this spring with students of the University of Maine’s Digital Curation program.
In a world where a search box is usually the only way to enter an online archive, John Bell builds wrecking balls that tear down the walls between institutional silos. His latest project, a collaboration with Dartmouth and UMaine’s VEMI lab, has won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to help scholars access and annotate historical film and television from archives across the globe.
As visiting luminary for the UMaine Digital Curation graduate program’s fall 2015 teleconference, Craig Dietrich challenged its students to consider how culturally sensitive archives and linked data can break the monoculture of one-size-fits-all paradigms for access and publication.
You shouldn’t prepare to be a librarian or curator with outdated tools, any more than you should study to be a doctor with a hacksaw and leaches. That’s why the University of Maine’s Digital Curation graduate program integrates cutting-edge software into its program. It’s also why its faculty chose an innovative tool that’s been called an email killer for their new learning environment–one that to our knowledge has never been used as courseware before.
Good news for anyone who needs more skills for managing a collection but doesn’t live near one of the few universities that offer them. The University of Maine has just announced a new discount for distant students in its online Digital Curation program.