DML Blog

Falling Into The Semester

posted on 12 Sep 2012 16:03 by BGC DML


No matter how well I feel I have prepared for the semester I always feel like I stumble through the first week of classes. Hence our theme for this blog post "falling" into the semester. Falling doesn't always have to be bad however. You can fall down stairs (see left) or off a cliff (see Wily Coyote) but you can also fall into a ball pool. And who doesn't love that. For that reason, the beginning of this semester, although stumbly, is a really exciting time because there a lot of new projects, but all of them are immensely exciting and hold great promise for the work we do in the DML and at the BGC in general.

Interactive notebook prototype by Emily McGoldrick, Hadley Jensen and Sarah Pickman

The first is our foray into much more complicated museum interactives in the Confluences focus gallery. After some amazing work by students in the tutorial last spring designing prototypes for interactives that would go into the gallery, we decided to for the first time work with an outside developer to realize much more detailed and highly functional interactives than we could manage in-house. We began work with the developer Mediacombo this past Friday and we are looking forward to not only developing high quality gallery experiences, but also finding a way to bring the developers' knowledge into the classroom.

Our second big project is the development of an archive of digital student work. As work in the DML has increased we have had more and more projects coming through that we would like to archive and catalog as a record of the lab's role in the BGC's institutional life. In addition we want to give professors the opportunity and platform to show how their pedagogical practice has evolved and the student work that has resulted from those courses. We are looking to start the archive with work from Prof. Whelan's ongoing oral history project of designers and craftspeople, and with video and web projects from Prof. Jaffee's courses on the material culture of 19th and 20th century New York City. At this point we are looking at Omeka as the platform of choice and myself, and the DML workstudies and interns will be working with faculty, our art director Laura Grey and our digital content developer Vanessa Rossi to develop the archive and web sites.


One final project of note is the BGC's involvement in the development of a new digital edition of Franz Boas's 1897 monograph The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians. This project, which is funded in its first year by a NEH Digital Start-up Grant, is an ambitious project to bring together thousands of texts, media, and objects to reassemble this important work in a way that was not possible when it was originally published. The project includes collaborators from institutions across North America and Europe and the DML will play an important role in hosting platforms for early stage collaboration and collection of materials through tools such as Wikidot wikis and Omeka, and may include an expansion into new tools such as ContentDM. This type of long-term project will be a challenge considering the scale of the work in relation to our previous endeavors, but is exactly the type of challenge that will help the DML to better serve the growing digital needs of the BGC community.

That's not even all that's going on. We will be preparing for a 2013 repeat of Prof. Jaffee's NEH-funded summer institute on material culture, which will have an increasingly developed digital practice aspect. In Prof. Gaskell's course Tangible Things we will be experimenting with telepresence and the study of distant objects in the classroom through video technology. Students in my own course, Media and Materiality, will be building a collection and timeline of media objects, using the Met's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History as a model. There will also be beginning work done on focus gallery projects by Dean Peter Miller, AMNH post-doc Nicola Sharratt, associate curator Ann Tartsinis, and my own project on Interface Design.

Comments: 0

The Many Sides of Prezi

posted on 08 May 2012 19:59 by Sara Spink

Prezi is a really versatile tool that I’ve come to appreciate not just for the opportunities it offers for presentations but also for brainstorming and organization. One of the aspects I like best is the ability to evolve my presentation alongside my research. I’ve also found Prezi to enhance the preparatory stages of my work, even when my the project itself concerns a different medium. For example, I used it to map out and keep track of the images I gathered in the course of creating a documentary video essay for The Material Culture of Twentieth-Century New York. With its infinite canvas in expanse and depth, and a responsiveness that makes it augmentative rather than disruptive to my thought process, I find that Prezi acts like a giant digital whiteboard. It allows me to think spatially and visually, and I can lay out ideas and images—ease of integrating other media like youtube videos and PowerPoints is another huge asset—to make connections and comparisons that would be difficult to ascertain without the ability to see “the big picture” in this way. For this reason, it was particularly suited to a specific project in our Scenic Design course, a “visual expression” exercise in which we assembled material that would serve as our inspiration if we were to design sets and costumes for a play of our choosing.

In terms of sharing, it also truly facilitates discussion. The possibilities of non-linear navigation permit easy access to any element of a presentation and, particularly with the ability to zoom into high-resolution images, allow for detailed side-by-side comparisons not possible with other software. The Scenic Design course offers another paradigmatic example in the Visual Syllabus our instructor initiated. We could all edit it—even simultaneously—adding our own supplementary material and grouping images and/or video before or during class meetings to substantiate the points we wanted to make.

Intuitive, easy to learn, and adaptable to a wide variety of purposes, Prezi gives users extraordinary flexibility and creative freedom in devising their final products. Presentations are portable and accessible, even offline, and easily embedded into websites. Advantageous as both a mode of presentation and an integral part of the working process, it’s also fun to use! For those who are interested, we have an extensive how-to section detailing its format and tools. Please feel free to reach out to the DML for links to examples of students’ Prezis, or to contact me regarding the work I’ve done.

Comments: 0
Tags: dml materialresearch presentation prezi research spink tools visualresearch

Dagny Stuedahl to give Brown Bag lunch at BGC #mobile #museums

posted on 16 Apr 2012 14:50 by BGC DML

Dagny Stuedahl will be speaking as part of the Brown Bag Lunch Series on Thursday, April 19, 2012, from 12 to 1:30 pm. Her talk is entitled “Mobile Interactives: Enhancing Museum Collection in Exhibitions and in the City.”

Dagny Stuedahl is Senior Researcher at InterMedia, an interdisciplinary research center on design, communication, and learning in the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Oslo. She received her PhD in participatory design of educational technologies from the University of Oslo. Stuedahl has conducted extensive research on the digital communication of cultural historical research, youth digital participation in museum exhibition, and social media as a tool for new forms of museum communication. She is especially interested in the role of digital media for the documentation and sustainability of traditional craftsmanship. Stuedahl is co-chair of Nordic Digital Excellence in Museums (NODEM) and has organized several conferences on digital communication in museums and heritage sites.

Several Nordic and European museums are currently exploring the possibilities and limitations of mobile interactives for the enhancement of museum collections and exhibitions. Another emerging trend in the museum world is the use of mobile technology to provide access to museum information outside the museum, for example, in the streets and at heritage sites. In her presentation, Stuedahl will briefly introduce several examples of ongoing location-based and augmented mobile museum communication in Europe and the use of apps to enhance museum collections in exhibitions, for example, a location-based mobile guide on the industrial heritage of the Akerselva River, which crosses the city center of Oslo. Additionally, as part of her talk, Stuedahl will discuss a digital collaboration between The Norwegian Museum of Science, Technology and Medicine; The Oslo City Museum; and The Oslo City Archive.

Please join us in the 1st Floor Seminar Room at 12 pm on April 19th.

Comments: 0
Tags: design interactive mobile musuems participatory

BGC Receives NEH Grant for Digital Humanities Project #dighum

posted on 02 Apr 2012 17:35 by BGC DML

We are proud to announce that the BGC has just received a $50,000 NEH Digital Start-Up grant. The aim of the project is to create a digital edition of Franz Boas and George Hunt's The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians that integrates the wide variety of media gathered during research in a way that was not possible in 1890.

The Digital Media Lab will be playing a role in the project, helping assistant professor Aaron Glass and a diverse group of scholars bring the project to fruition. We will be posting more about the project and its development as it proceeds. For more information visit:

Comments: 0

BGC Digital Events and Upcoming Rob Stein(@rjstein) Talk at BGC

posted on 17 Feb 2012 20:55 by BGC DML

Among the many resources that students and faculty have at their disposal here BGC, perhaps the most invaluable is the wide range of speakers that present their research on a seemingly nightly basis at the BGC. Whether they are part of our seminar series that covers a wide range of topics related to material culture or symposia related to specific projects or collaborations in which the BGC takes part, there always seems to be something going on in our lecture hall.

In the past, we have had a number of events that have been particularly relevant to the DML including:

  • The Artifact in the Age of New Media symposium with guests Dan Cohen (@dancohen), Josh Greenberg (@epistemographer), Carrie Rebora Barratt, Amelia Peck, Steve Brier (@stevebrier), and Josh Brown (@joshbrownnyc)
  • Robert Darnton's talk Blogging, Now and Then (in the 18th Century)
  • Mapping New Media symposium with Matthew Knutzen(@mattknutzen @nyplmaps) of the NYPL Maps Division, Janice Reiff of UCLA and Hypercities, and Wendy Bellion of the University of Delaware.
  • Digital Publishing: 2011 and Beyond: a conversation about the future of publishing in the digital age with invited guests Phil Pocoda, Abby Smith Rumsey, Josh Greenberg (@epistemographer), Cheryl Ball(@s2ceball) and Douglas Eyman of Kairos (@KairosRTP), Kathleen Fitzpatrick(@kfitz) of Media Commons and MLA, and Kathy Sparks from Dumbarton Oaks.
  • A brown bag lunch presentation on the future of scholarly publication by Kathleen Fitzpatrick (@kfitz)

Our next event brings us Rob Stein (@rjstein) from the Indianapolis Museum of Art to speak on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. His talk is entitled “Conversation and Collaboration: Strategies to Cultivate Meaningful Engagement with Cultural Audiences.” Here is some back ground about Rob and information about attending the event:

Robert Stein is currently Deputy Director for Research, Technology, and Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he has worked since 2006 to develop new technologies for research, conservation, and digital media within the museum. He received his B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois and has received grants from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (2011), the Getty Foundation (2011), and the Ball Brothers Foundation (2010). His publications include articles on “Crowd-Sourcing Art History: Research and Applications of Social Tagging for Museums” in Research Infrastructures in the Digital Humanities (2011); “Mobile Content Strategies for Content Sharing and Long-Term Sustainability” in Mobile Apps for Museums: the AAM Guide to Planning and Strategy (2011); and “Computational Linguistics in Museums: Applications for Cultural Datasets Read More: Computational Linguistics in Museums: Applications for Cultural Datasets” in Museums and the Web 2011.

As museums and cultural organizations seek to enhance their relevance within a rapidly changing society, issues of participatory culture and engagement are becoming more and more critical. The debate about how best to build deep connections for visitors with cultural content is an important one, but concrete evidence and replicable findings about the value and methods for doing so are often hard to come by. Are the views and opinions of the general public an important part of the mission for cultural organizations, or just a societal fad that will pass? What is the responsibility of public institutions to serve and preserve the impressions of their local audiences? Does public opinion hold its value in relationship to the factual and contextual content provided by more traditional content authorities? For those institutions that are eager to embrace a participatory culture, how can they know whether or not they are being successful? What does that success look like, and why is it important?

This session will focus on the underpinning logic and assumptions implicit in a decision by the Indianapolis Museum of Art that such participation and engagement with audiences is an important part of the museum’s mission. Results from several research studies and collaborations with other leading cultural institutions will be discussed. Current work to establish a formalized program of visitor study for the purpose of deepening visitor engagement will be explained and the session will offer an opportunity for informal discussion of the challenges and opportunities involved in such a strategy.

Please RSVP at and join us in the Lecture Hall at 38 West 86th Street, between Columbus Ave and Central Park West, at 5:45pm for a reception before the talk.

Comments: 0
Tags: events seminarseries stein symposium

page 1 of 212next »
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License