I’m a Consumer not a Producer

There’s no pleasant way to describe how my eyes feel right now. In fact in you sat just a few feet away from me ( which you cant on account of my self-imposed quarantine, so you’ll just have to take my words at full value), you would have seen many slow blinks , eye rubs, and hair-down-hair-up fidgeting I did as I attempted to do the grunt work that I oh -so-happily consume but have never helped produced.

This evening I affirmed a few things about myself that I had kinda sorta guessed but not necessarily set out to verify.

For starters, I learned that my need for print-outs may be a major contributing force behind Rutgers’ s 750 printing page limit. Because while Professor Rizzo’s “Metadata” powerpoint and “Chicory Metadata Lab Instructions” were simple to understand and nicely laid out and I still felt the need to write my game plan on the margins because you know, that’s just what’s most natural to me. This would explain while PDFs that allow annotations and Command+F are readily available so I can theoretically get work done, nothing compares to having the print in my hands.

Step by step, old school : paper mets pen ❤ . This is how I digest information best.

There are a lot of things to consider when doing the work up behind data labeling, and one of the principle things to consider is organization. Granted we were lucky that Professor Rizzo labeled each column for us and her how-to PDF detailed what to do step by step, column by column but otherwise had I been on the Omeka site and the how-to PDF unassisted, y’all my workup would have been disastrous because 1. I’ve never thought about the steps print-media takes to get digitized for my consumption so let alone tried it step-by- laborious step and 2. read number one again with a more serious, deadpan tone.

I also learned that I am not too fond of being the one who “tags” or rather determines the poem’s theme. While “Chicory” contributors aren’t necessarily seeking millions of dollars or striving for fame, I had their work’s visibility in my hands. The more tag/themes, the higher the likelihood of their poem coming across someone’s search. So I caught myself coming up with a minimum of two themes per poem, just for the sake of heightening their visibility. But finding themes in one or two stanza poems was difficult- I don’t know if the poet’s use of language didn’t lend itself to my metadata-ing quest or if poetry just isn’t my thing. So can one metadata poetry or was it just me that struggled.

This lab experience made me consider a few points we’ve discussed in class but one in particular that stood out the most was that while the data was there and that the poems were irrefutably there in publication since 1976, I alone had the power to make it available and highly visible so in many ways there is a story and an agenda behind data. Data thats made available to us with tags/themes are either unknowingly or knowingly biased in nature because thees/tags depend on the archivist’s understanding of the work or in Chicory’s case inner-city culture. Black digital humanities is at the intersection and the crossroads of the archivist’s connection or sensitivity to black culture and its relationship to mainstream culture. Furthermore, it made me consider that to give any justice to the #transformDH movement and get it to become a more inclusive community that highlights females and Black humanities, a certain level of cultural awareness would have to be required because otherwise it could continue to get bypassed.

I would like to see our final work and compare our collective workup against an example of previously digitized Chicory issues. Did our time in a Black Humanities class and conversations on visibility , transformation, and intersectionality do anything to aid in the visibility of our Chicory issues?

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1 Response to I’m a Consumer not a Producer

  1. alp748 says:

    I had the same not-so-pleasant eye burn at the end of this assignment. It made me realize how much I took for granted databases I come across and use everyday.
    I like your proposal on comparing our tags to previously tagged Chicory issues. Ideally, our work would hopefully aid in the accessibility of Chicory as a whole, and I would be curious as to what the difference in tags would be after this comparison.


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