Digital Surrogates: Representation, Engagement, and Meaning

This course asks participants to learn about the process of creating digital surrogates with attention to issues of representation, engagement, and meaning. Beginning with the question “What does it mean to digitize an object?”, participants will be asked to consider the responsibilities of a digitization project as it is related to paid and unpaid labor, the ethics of working with digital material, and how decisions about technical standards and platforms can facilitate or limit future use of digitized materials. Framed via critical readings on feminist labor and digital humanities work, participants will be asked to consider their learning within their own individual and institutional values and support systems. Participants in the course will tour the University of Pennsylvania’s SCETI digitization lab, and will have opportunities for experimentation with various analog materials including manuscripts, printed materials, archival holdings, and material objects. Additionally, the course will include experts from UPenn working on the digitization pipeline including photographers, cataloguers, infrastructure specialists, and front-end developers. Topics covered during the course will also include the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), Linked Open Data (LOD), and how digitization frameworks must respond to material differences in the original artifacts.

Instructor: Dot Porter, Penn

Dot Porter holds Master’s degrees in Medieval Studies and Library Science and started her career working on image-based digital editions of medieval manuscripts. She has worked on a variety of digital humanities projects over a decade-long career, focusing on materials as diverse as ancient texts and Russian religious folklore, providing both technical support and scholarly expertise. From 2010 until March 2013, she was the Associate Director for Digital Library Content and Services at the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries, where she led in planning and implementing new services to support librarians and faculty in the creation of digital projects. She has also worked for the Digital Humanities Observatory at the Royal Irish Academy, and the Collaboratory for Research in Computing for Humanities at the University of Kentucky. As Curator of Digital Research Services in the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Dot Porter participates in a wide-ranging digital humanities research and development team within the context of a special collections department. Dot’s projects focus on the digitization and visualization of medieval manuscripts.

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