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In Meetings

By Charlie Edwards

May 31: Archiving Catastrophe – Digital Humanities & Times of Disaster

On 25, May 2012 | In Meetings | By Charlie Edwards

Please join us on Thursday, May 31, 2012, when three leading Digital Humanists will take part in a panel discussion that addresses DH-related efforts to archive and preserve materials after catastrophic events.

Thursday, May 31, 2012, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Room 6496, CUNY Graduate Center

Archiving Catastrophe: Digital Humanities & Times of Disaster

Paul Millar (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Tom Scheinfeldt (George Mason University), and Steve Brier (CUNY Graduate Center)

Please RSVP here

In the months since a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand’s Canterbury province in September 2010, the region has experienced over ten thousand aftershocks, 430 above magnitude 4.0. The most devastating aftershock, a 6.2 earthquake under the centre of Christchurch on 22 February 2011, had one of the highest peak ground acceleration rates ever recorded. This event claimed 185 lives, damaged 80% of the central city beyond repair, and forced the abandonment of 6,000 homes. It is the third costliest insurance event in history. Paul Millar, project leader of the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes Digital Archive, will discuss the role of Digital Humanities in developing an international resource to preserve the digital record of the earthquakes’ impacts and the long-term process of recovery.

The Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, based at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason University, uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the stories and digital record of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. The project contributes to the ongoing effort by historians and archivists to preserve the record of these storms by collecting first-hand accounts, on-scene images, blog postings, and podcasts. Tom Scheinfeldt, Managing Director of RRCHNM, will discuss both this project and, with CUNY Grad Center’s Steve Brier, the September 11 Digital Archive.

The September 11 Digital Archive uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and the public responses to them. Funded by a major grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and organized by the American Social History Project at the Graduate Center and at RRCHNM, the work of the Archive is not only to gather digital materials related to the attacks but also to assess how history is being recorded and preserved in the twenty-first century, and to develop free software tools to help historians do a better job of collecting, preserving, and writing history. To these ends the Archive has partnered with the Library of Congress, which in September 2003 accepted the Archive into its permanent collections – an event that both ensured the Archive’s long-term preservation and marked the Library’s first major digital acquisition.

All three projects seek to foster positive legacies of terrible events by allowing the people affected to tell their stories in their own words, which as part of the historical record will remain accessible to a wide audience for generations to come.

About Paul Millar:
Associate Professor Paul Millar is the Head of the Department of English, Cinema and Digital Humanities at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His research interests include New Zealand and Pacific literature, literary biography, digital textual scholarship and Australasian attitudes to China. In 2001 he co-founded the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, and he is currently focused on adding functionality to the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquakes federated digital archive.

About Tom Scheinfeldt:
Tom Scheinfeldt is Managing Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and Research Assistant Professor of History in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. He has lectured and written extensively on the history of popular science, the history of museums, history and new media, and the changing role of history in society, and has worked on traditional exhibitions and digital projects at the Colorado Historical Society, the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, The Louisiana State Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the Library of Congress. In addition to managing general operations at RRCHNM, Scheinfeldt directs several of its online history projects, including Omeka, THATCamp, One Week | One Tool, the September 11 Digital Archive, the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, the Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800, and Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives. He gave a memorable talk here at CUNY DHI in December 2010.

About Steve Brier:
Dr. Stephen Brier founded the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program at The Graduate Center in 2002 and serves as its Coordinator. He is a historian and a member of the doctoral faculty in Urban Education who has published widely in text, video, and various forms of multimedia on issues from U.S. history to the uses of interactive technology to improve teaching and learning. He was the founding director of The Graduate Center’s American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning and was the executive producer of the award-winning “Who Built America?” multimedia curriculum, including textbooks, videos, and CD-ROMs. He has co-produced other award-winning websites, including “History Matters” and the “September 11 Digital Archive”. Brier, who previously served for eleven years as a senior administrator at The Graduate Center, is also the institution’s Senior Academic Technology Officer and the co-director of its New Media Lab.

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