Nov 15: Whitney Trettien and Brad Hemminger

This was the second meeting of the group.

Whitney Trettein started off by presenting her born-digital Masters’ Thesis from her time at M.I.T. Comparative Media Studies.  She mentioned that she had to submit it on paper for inclusion in the M.I.T. Library there (which surprised us all since the school’s such a leader in digital access).  She ended up printing out all 400-odd pages of her website’s code on nice, acid free paper, and you’re all welcome to browse through her work next time you’re in Cambridge.  …talk about open source….

A selection of Whitney’s born-digital work:

Some themes from her talk & the ensuing discussion:

  • Whitney is a big proponent of individual, artistic, creative scholarship.  She talked about the tensions and benefits of blurring the lines between art and scholarship
  • Even though her work is being published in peer-reviewed forums, there’s the possibility that if scholarly norms don’t shift before she’s in ‘promotion-and-tenure’ land, her work may not be recognized as impactful.
  • She mentioned Ted Nelson as an inspiration, who I’d never heard of but jotted down a note about.  He was a pioneer of hypertext, the concept underlying the Web (hypertext + internet = Web).  Check his:

Brad Hemminger gave a modified version of a Powerpoint he first presented back in 2002 on the Future of Scholarship.  Some themes that emerged from his talk were

  • How little has changed since 2002- in some ways at least.  We still are dealing with questions of access, publishing, impact, and ownership.
  • Children’s books and, to a lesser extent, textbooks, are leasing the way in terms of born-digital publishing
    • Someone mentioned pop-up books as a medium pioneered in children’s lit but later exploited by artists.
    • Check out
  • The concept of One Big Library to which everyone would publish and from which content could be aggregated, tagged, rated, and otherwise filtered by experts and peers.  In this model, the scholarly annotations, comments, revisions, etc would all be preserved centrally, available for study, and content aggregators such as journals or blogs or <insert distribution method here> would be the way that most people sorted through the deluge.
  • One of the things I love about SILS is that we don’t just identify the big ideas, we also look into how they might be possible.  Brad talked about candidates for hosting this One Big Library, where things like the Carolina Digital Repository might fit in, and posed questions about the role of Government, Universities, and Libraries in this whole mess.
  • Just as the group, collectively, was about to solve this problem, 6:00 came around and we had to segue into Announcements.  Sorry Brad, you’ll just have to come back next time


In two weeks, Nov 29, we’ll have our First-Ever LitTorrent during our Last [for the semester] Meeting.

Please contact me with comments on our topic, tentatively designated as ‘What is Scholarship For?’

The meeting day next semester will likely be a little later on in the week, so we have the option of transitioning right into a Happy Hour….’Thinkin and Drinkin’ as Mark Olsen said.

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