torstai 10. toukokuuta 2012

Thoughts on the course in Digital Culture in Humanities

Hello again! This one's the final - sorry if I lied the last time, telling you it would've been the last update ever...but then again, this won't be a long summary of topics debated on during lectures or such, but rather general, final thoughts about this particular course. I'll try to remain polite and on topic.

In short, this course has been quite confusing, in good and bad. I had no idea what to expect when I first picked it, so in that manner I did not have much expectations beforehand. I have to say I've been quite stunned by the masses of work - writing a blog entry of each and every lecture publicly online has been stressful for someone like me, who hasn't ever had a blog or even considered starting to write one. Writing about topics I often have understood nothing about have unfortunately been quite uninspiring, if not compelling. It has been an interesting experience, nonetheless, although I might safely state that I'm probably going to delete this blog at some point - but not before saving some of the links very useful for further studies within humanities. Some of them I've decided to check further upon, maybe in summer, when I have more time to laze around and explore interesting web pages.

One thing that has been useful, has been the introduction of several web pages, specialised search engines and services and programs especially directed towards scholars, researchers and students within humanities. Considering that I'm probably stuck here studying for at least four years ahead, I'm very happy to have been let in on small bits of the treasury the internet can be for interested and enthusiastic students. I'm very certain I'll be using some of the web pages, services and software presented on this course. As the course has not maybe been vastly informative upon the topic of Digital Culture on the whole, it has given clear guidelines and practical, concrete tip-offs and hint, pointing one towards the right direction in working online. Some of the information introduced on the lectures has passed me without further notice or comprehension, but I find it comforting that at least what seems to be the most essential things, those with concrete samples, have stuck onto my mind.

The course has managed to answer some of my questions but also raised quite a few new ones, which I now have guidelines and ideas how to follow in order to find answers and complete them thus. Maybe a bit more structuring and focusing on things interesting for historians instead of difficult computer and internet terminology, and the course might find more interested participants.

Nonetheless, thank you, Jessica for your patience and tutelage this Spring. Have a nice summer, everyone!

 And because it's my last entry, I'll reward you all with a picture depicting my expression while walking away into summer after a tough, but eventful semester, towards a nice, rewarding trip to Japan! So long, suckers!

xoxo, Gyaru Supreme a.k.a. Myrre :)

Final class update...ever...on this blog

Hello boys and girls! This will hopefully be the final "actual" update I'll make for this particular blog (not that I have any other blog under consideration...) and for the course in Digital culture.

I was astonished to discover that we were only five people present for class,  as I had gone through tremendous efforts to appear for said, last class of the course. Nonetheless, it was a quite interesting last peak into the world of digital culture. The topic that popped up this time was googling and many interesting aspects connected to it. A part of it evolved around the internet image of oneself, how to act online and how to be perceived - this especially considering the material that might pop up if someone googles your name. I wanted to argue that not all things appearing while googling a person is written by one's own account. Crawling was another topic we discussed; how long it takes for a results to appear when you type in something in search. In the beginning it was slow and it could take weeks before the newest updates to appear - something that only takes a few seconds nowadays.

We also learned about all the academically prestigious and practical sites, at which you could create your own CV, publish your papers and works and follow other scholars and researchers. Sites such as this were, which seemed very useful indeed. Another, more academic and "professional" version of facebook known as Linkedin  - offering opportunities to exchange information, ideas and such for over 150 million professionals. At the moment it did not feel too relevant for me, in my current life situation, but I'm sure this will come quite handy later on in my studies. Pages such as Tuhat -service offered people active at Helsinki university a space for publishing bigger projects and works, in order to reach a bigger sphere of interest. The most important part in working on your own webpage or one designed for a certain purpose or theme (say e.g. a Museum), is the skill and talent to summarise the most important parts of the topic. Seriously, no one's going to want to read a lot of (especially if its boring) text page after page before coming to the actual point and purpose of the text, so better start practising now!

The lecturer did, however, also emphasise on the importance of Twitter as a source for useful, academic and internationally important informations, as the press with several actively tweeting journalists have taken over a big part of Twitter. I've never been exceptionally interested in following someone's Twitter or creating myself an account, but it was nice to know it's not all about useless, trivial daily updates of flimsy reason. A strong emphasis was also put on the access of information, and how much quicker new information reaches readers through Twitter than newspapers or other social media. Facebook, you have a challenger... Older and potentially important tweets could also apparently be archived onto Storify, which is useful for later references or just good jokes and useful and interesting pieces of information.

Despite being so few present, I think we managed to have a very nice lecture, with a nice and intimate atmosphere and time for more questions and interaction between students and lecturer. Still I'm brave enough to confess I don't feel bad about the course ending. It's been an experience, nonetheless.


Oh, and I apologise for the potentially very crappy English and general disinterest, but I'm onto my second week with this f*cking cold (just go away, will you >___<?!) and I'm under a lot of stress for my upcoming trip to Japan. My bad...

sunnuntai 29. huhtikuuta 2012

Communicating your knowledge

Hello again! The topic for the latest lecture in the Digital culture course evolved around knowledge and how to communicate with it. We talked about which part of the culture is reflected through the books written and how these are later researched for different terms and words important for culture and history study.

In the old times, scientific communication was a lot more archaic and troublesome - the methods were limited and it was difficult to communicate with one and other. Nowadays the internet has eased this prospect immensely, but new problems have simultaneously risen to the surface. One of the problems are scientific articles written in certain  magazines, and whether this should be met as a matter of business or with openness - should these magazines be openly accessible to everyone? With the Open Access movement in 2003the universities started requiring that research done eg. at Helsinki university, among others, should be openly published. The distribution and publishing process it not, however, completely free of charge for the researchers. A big part of publishing in general consists of academic publishing, which also determines the aspects of publishing in general.

A topic that has lately risen to the surface once more, and is quite timeless, is the one considering copyright and to whom the rights belong. According to the official copyright, the creator of the work owns the rights to it and the right to be acknowledged as the creator, not to mention deciding upon how the material could and should be used. There is also always the so called grey publications; ongoing research, unmoderated material - what used to be conference papers back then, is mainly blogs and presentations nowadays. With these the problem of copyright and ownership is a reoccurring problem.

Hello! Here I am again, down with a cold for the 5th fucking time this year. Therefore I must apologise in advance, if the following entry lacks enthusiasm and possible crappy English, because writing while under the influence of a raging fever isn't fun exactly (in any manner, whatsoever -___-). So anyway, we were faced by yet another assignment in the Digital culture course. This time we were supposed to ponder around the subject of computer programs and software as tools and methods of research of history. We were assigned to quite a few web pages and required to observe how the the computer programs these pages resorted to actually worked and if their functions could be used for wider research upon historical topics and agenda.

Digital Research Tools Wiki offered a wide range of useful information around the subject. According to its own words, "this wiki collects information about tools and resources that can help scholars (particularly in the humanities and social sciences) conduct research more efficiently or creatively." A Wikipedia for digital tools and resources, huh? Sounds pretty promising and useful indeed! Digital Research Tools Wiki clearly had a touch with beginners  too, as it offered a direct ink to a glossary on the front page, which seems helpful enough.

Under the headline "Types of Tools" the front page listed various suitable programs for sections of research methods such as eg. "data analysing", "brainstorming", "data collecting" and "networking" among others. Each and every section opened to a new tab with an explanation upon the topic (eg. "Analyze data"; Definition: "A statistical package is a suite of a computer programs that are specialised for statistical analyses. It enables people to obtain the results of standard statistical procedures and statistical significance tests, without requiring low-level numerical programming. Most statistical packages also provide facilities for data management." (Wikipedia)). This helps the scholar/researcher/whoever, to immediately determine, whether the wide array of computer programs and tools offered in the particular section can be to any help in the task they're working on.

The "Analyze data" section offered in other words software such as Analyse-It: "Powerful and accurate statistical analysis and charting add-in software for Microsoft Excel." (Commercial, Windows) and DataDesk: "brings fast, easy-to-use visual analysis to your desktop. It provides interactive graphical tools for exploring and understanding your data - for finding the patterns, relationships and exceptions." (Commercial, multi-platform) among others. Altogether this sections offered up to 17 different computer programs just for analysing data and all the other sections worked in the same manner. The Digital Research Tools Wiki is in other hands not only a normal Wikipedia, that offers information upon digital research tools, but also offers several computer programs necessary for digital researches to download for free.  
The types of tools the web page offered was initially used for planning and writing work, blogs and research papers, taking notes and organising - in other words software meant to ease the manual labour. Although the page is easy to navigate, it basically requires that you know what kind of method and tools you're looking for.

WraggeLabs Emporium on the other hand stated clearly that it supplied hand-crafted digital tools to the discerning historian, whereas Digital Research Tools Wiki had been generally more directed toward scholars in general. WraggeLabs Emporium pointed out, however, that it was mostly directed toward Australian historians, which could be easily seen in its range of programs offered, mostly to aid the Australian historian's research. The web page offered eg. software and tools for using The Australian National Library's Trove system (a system comparable to the database of the Finnish National Archives and National Library), such as Identity Browser. The RecordSearch tools were also quite reminiscent of the databases offered by he Finnish National Archives and National Library and the web page in general quickly proved to be useless, unless the interest and topic of your research limited to Australian history. As with most of the other similar pages, the software offered on WraggeLabs Emporium remained free of charge to download.

Dipity seemed a pretty easily accessible and usable web page, mainly serving to ease creating timelines of different kinds. Although I found this method rather unfamiliar, it did seem refreshing and fun - at least much more interesting than doing a boring timeline by hand onto paper.  According to the front page "Dipity is a free digital timeline website. Our mission is to organises the web's content by date and time. Users can create, share, embed and collaborate on interactive, visually engaging timelines that integrate video, audio, images, text, links, social media, location and timestamps." Sounds pretty impressive, I'd say! The wide range of digital material usable such as video, images, links and such immediately roused my interest, not to mention the prospect of collaborating and sharing timelines. The software seemed easy enough to use and available for people with interest outside scholarly and historical pursuits.

Text_Diff offered text comparison by using a program solely dedicated to such task called simply Text_Diff. The site offered simply the ability to compare two pieces of text easily online - this by simply copy & pasting the strings of text one wants to compare into the forms provided. This tool can be useful in case of a collaborated text a scholar has written with someone needs to be checked for facts and errors. Easy to use, but not of current interest to myself at the moment. 

Wordle is a toy for generating "world clouds" from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and colour schemes, print them, or save them to Wordle gallery or share with your friends."   I'm sorry, but what the hell? Who uses the word "toy" to describe a software tool? This takes away any credibility the page could have. I must cynically state that I see no whatsoever use for this tool regarding research upon historical topics. This page merely seems to offer "fun" and "creative" ways to make utterly useless clouds of words. What a waste of time...

Dataist claims itself to be a blog about data exploration. "This is a blog about finding, exploring and presenting data online. Or simply data journalism."  The blog did not directly offer any software, but offered methods to using different programs and software in the most effortless manner. Most of the topics aroused little of my interest, and I quite honestly did not show the page much interest at all. A "Tutorial: Using Google Refine to clean mortgage data" did not say me anything and most of the topics in this blog concentrated rather on journalistic, general aspects instead of historical data.

Last but not least in this formidable list of different web pages was Many eyes. The web page did not introduce either its reason for existence or functions on the front page, but after a moment of looking around I came to the conclusion that its main function was to provide a collection of data visualizations. "On Many Eyes you can: 1. View and discuss visualizations, 2. View and discuss data sets, 3. Create visualizations from existing data sets." The tool can be used for creating statistics, apparently, something I'm not manually very acquainted with. I can imagine, however, that this kind of tool can be useful in the future, albeit I'd probably lean towards a site that's more comprehensible, informative and less chaotic than Many Eyes.

The other part of the assignment (don't worry, almost done...), was to contemplate the subject digital history study and research is/could be and compare the outcome with eg. data journalism. Digital history, as a part of the much wider topic of history study, is a perspective or field, that is still quite unexplored and many researchers only tentatively approach it. The digital methods can, according to some, be comparable to the  genuine new methods and dimensions the use of  quantitative methods brought historians in the 1960's and 70's. The intentions of  introducing digital history as a research method are not to overthrow all earlier activity, but to further capacitate and further develop something already contemporary with more vigour. Practically, this would probably result to much more of the actual research, planning and organising done with different digital methods through software, eg. withing education, whereas using multimedia instead of traditional lectures and classes. This might also gain more interest among students bored with the traditional methods of teaching. The scarce resources and  access to technical equipment may however slow down the process, which could be considered revolutionary in some circles.    

The most important part of installing digital history as a method of research in general, is that its intention should rather be to complement the old manners and methods of research rather than  replacing them. Technical enthusiasts also tend to easily focus more upon the technical possibilities instead of discussing pedagogical reflections, which eventually are the actual basis for choices of specific technical solutions and methods. One should not, however, completely abandon the idea of technical spheres, despite the attitude towards it wouldn't be exactly welcoming.   

Wow, that was quite a long entry. Thanks for whatever interest this written piece will or won't arouse in you...

keskiviikko 4. huhtikuuta 2012

More stuff on databases ahead!

Hello again! Decided to be super-duper creative and grace you all with another swift update. Apparently a particular computer class room in Porthania has become the new location for the course in Digital culture for the time being, but there we met up again for the days lecture on Monday 26th of March.

The topic for the lecture in question was presentations on different databases and their qualities. Me, Tomas and Sabina teamed up for the assignment of delving deeper into a particular database and studying it in order to be able to introduce it to the others in the group. Our database, Stockholmskällan, was a database dedicate to different phenomena and ephemera around the region of Stockholm. It offered topics around many interesting contemporary subjects, such as prostitution, the Olympic Games in the city 1912, the citizens and such.

Basically the database was created by several different museums and units to preserve and digitise material such as photographs, maps, archive documents, fiction and prose, movies e.g. depicting the history of Stockholm and its citizens. Through our arduous search and impeccable team work we found there to be around 25643 different records at the time (it keeps continuously growing, at the moment the amount it up to 26805!). Active since 2006 this database is ever growing and seemed quite sustainable compared to a few other databases introduced by the other small groups, one of them depicting a girl's Master's Thesis on details around the topic of the American Civil War.

Stockholmskällan also gave insight on how practical databases such as it are, even if this one in particular was limited to Stockholm as a region only. Because it was established, monitored and supervised by institutions connected within the Swedish state, its sustainability could be considered good. It also had directions meant for younger children and we concluded that it offered not only a good source for chilren's school projects, but also great potential for more academic and scientific work and research. This, especially because it focused on digitizing material, but also colleting born digital material as well. The quick search as well as the advanced search monitor offered help for people with various intentions.

The most important point of the lesson was to critically survey similar databases in the future, especially if using web pages or other born digital material as resources and references in academic work, because they might vanish at some point. Referring to a we page that doesn't exist when the the actual work is handed in works scarcely as a good and convincing resource. I still consider databases a good phenomenon, especially if backed up by the state and put more effort into.

Well then, the Easter Holiday is knocking at the door, and I'm off to Prague. Have a happy Easter, and enjoy the much needed break it offers!

Long time, no see & checking out information on the opponent

Hello boys and girls! A rather unpleasant series of colds, stress and pro-seminar related angst has kept me from updating this blog for way too long. Now that I'm free from the gruelling pro-seminar, I can give you a swift update on things.

The topic on the lecture in the Digital culture course a few weeks ago was to look for information considering the upcoming opposition in the pro-seminar course. Sadly, I was ill and absent this particular lecture, but later on took my time to thoroughly investigate in the matter. I was supposed to oppose Auroras work with the rather catchy titel "Det röda fruntimret och den vita pressen - krigspropagande, kvinnohat eller rädsla?". This pro-seminar debated around the subject of the female soldiers of the "red" socialist troops in the Finnish Civil War and how they were depicted in contemporary media. A very interesting piece of work I may say. Aurora had chosen quite a few books around the topic, and as requested by the lecturer, I decided to check out on information and books on the topic in general.

I first proceeded to look online on Helka for information on the topic, also keeping in mind to browse around for more potentially useful material for the composition. I typed in "suomen sisällissota naiset" in the search engine, and up popped one book that especillay caught my interest; Punaiset naiset ja muita tarinoita vallankumouksen Suomesta by Raija Westergård. When I checked Auroras table of contents of the pro-seminar essay, I couldn't find this particular book there, so I decided the book had potential. Sadly enough the book could only be found at The Library of the Labour Movement in Sörnäinen, and I hadn't the briefest idea where this museum was or felt the slightest inspired, so I decided to do some more research and look into other books on the topic found at libraries more familiar to me.

I also briefly checked online on Google if I could find anything relating to the topic and something I could go and check out in person at some of the university or common libraries. The search on "punaiset naiset 1918" gave quite many results, some which pointed towards the books Aurora had been using in her work as references.

I later on paid a visit to a common library in Roihuvuori, where Raija Westergård's book according to Helmet should have been available and decided to check upon the book in person. On Helka I had noticed that most of the books considering the Finnish Civil war 1918 and the red socialist troops were located in the Library of the Labour Movement, which was good to know if one decided upon a project within those frames of interest in the future. I briefly browsed through the book at the library, which seemed quite interesting indeed - apparently the author had been inspired by letters found in her grandmother's drawer from the time of the Civil war and then decided to weave fact and fiction together. Due to the fictional, but yet well-written parts, I'm not sure this book would work as a purely scientific source for a work like the pro-seminar. I still found the book interesting and captivating even after idle flicking of pages, and decided to maybe look it up at some point for my own amusement.

I also checked online what Google had to offer me, and I encountered quite many articles around the topic of the red socialist females and their life and deeds. Many articles revolved around the many red female prisoners, some no older than teenagers being shot at the prison-of-war camps established by the white non-socialists. Most of the articles were discussing the topic generally, and did not offer much more to Aurora's work in my opinion. Anyhow, it was an interesting experience, and I'm happy her work and topic worked out in the end when I opposed her during the presentations of the pro-seminar works.

Well, that's all - see you soon again :)!

sunnuntai 11. maaliskuuta 2012

Origins of the Finnish database

Hello again!
The topic for our lecture last week was databases and how to build them. As the key person to construction of (local) databases, was a certain gentleman by the name Henrik Grönroos pointed out. This man, working as a librarian at the National Library, had always been very interested about book and started early on categorising and listing estate inventories and auction catalogues, the first of which dated back to the 17th Century in Finland. He was interested in discovering the history of the book - who bought books, and what kind of books were they? This ambition eventually led to a very thorough and vast compilation called "Boken i Finland" (1996). Grönroos also published several essays on the special characteristics of books, books collectors and readers.

Grönroos' lifework inspired the establishment of the Henrik database (Henrik-tietokanta). This database allows a possibility of solving the connections between the owners of different books and the books' significance of the Finnish cultural landscape, especially during the Swedish reign. In this manner we can say that Grönroos was a pioneer within the foundation of Finnish databases, and that it is him and his ambitious work we owe thanks to for the vast databases we use nowadays. This also gave rise to ER model (entity-relationship model, more about it on Wikipedia 8D!), which basically means an abstract and conceptual representation of data.

Well, since I suck at coding and I'm not generally interesting in building tiring tables in Excel, I'll leave it to someone more able than me 8D! Now I'm off to write on my Pro-seminar and study for a retake exam in Art History, both due in a few days! See ya!

tiistai 6. maaliskuuta 2012

A bit more detailed presentation of long-term digital... preservation

Hello again! As a little extra assignment to amend my absence from the Digital culture course two weeks ago (I did mention this in my earlier blog post, but oh, well...), I'm supposed to offer you a bit more detailed presentation of long-term digital preservation.

As required for the assignment, I took a little look at The National Digital Library and its PAS project (eng. long-term preservation). I was greeted by a rather epic welcoming text in English:"National Digital Library is a project which aims to ensure that electronic materials of Finnish culture and science are managed with high standard, are easily accessed and will be securely preserved for a long period of time. Participating archives, libraries and museums work together in saving our national heritage in a digital format and in making it available for all.". This means trustworthy storage of digital information for several decades and even centuries. Equipment,software and file formats age and expire, but in spite of this information should remain comprehensible. Customers of the PAS service are organisations, to which the preservation service is offered. These are primarily organisations within the administrative sector of The Ministry of Education and Culture, which answer for the preservation of the spiritual and physical cultural heritage.

During the last few years libraries, archives and museums have digitised their material in noteworthy investments. They acquire as well a lot of originally digital material. The current PAS project (2010-2013) is a continuation of another identical project back from 2008-2010. The basic idea with the project is to preserve material and aid the accessibility and usability of the information reserve of between libraries, archives and museums.

As of 2011, there has been around 687 million objects within digital preservation at the National Digital Library, the majority of this documents, pictures and material from web archives. This is, without doubt, a very prestigious and ambitious project. The project also includes clear directions and guidelines on the different kinds of file format and their eligibility and qualification for storage and transfer. According to the NDL, there is a slight difference between these two categories; files eligible for storage are in good shape and usable for a long time ahead, as material similar for files qualified for transfer have already been stored in the National Digital Library in bigger quantities before. It is strictly forbidden to alter or change the format of the files the least to facilitate the actual transfer of the files, as this can damage the file. Each and every small alternation is a risk to the preservation of the file and only the newest methods should be used in the actual digitising process. According to the newest survey, the most popular file formats among the digitised material is jpg/jpeg, pdf, tiff, doc/docx and mp3 - not very surprising, I'd say.

The PAS project also wants to offer full service and advertises attendance with highest priorities in areas such as trustworthy storage,consultation and support, and planning the storage. The most important kind of material has been carefully mapped into different sections. Among files most in need of storage are listed on their page are e.g. files, which are important for preservation because of their authenticity, which contain dynamics and&or interactiveness and files which cannot, files which cannot be used in their current state and files which are deemed impossible to convert to another format.

Altogether 500 million objects of this kind and more have been reported to exist by different organisations participating in the project. According to the survey, migration (transferring of data to newer system environments) as a method of long-term preservation in the PAS project serves the purpose of storing all kinds of file formats and thus also serves the needs of all different organisations participating in the project. Thus migration will be the first-hand preservation method in planning of the PAS solution of the NDL.

I hope this post could offer a somewhat thorough picture of the services NDL offers through their PAS project and services. One only has to hope it will be more publicly accessible in the future, but as a researcher one surely gains access quite easily, or that's what I expect. Who knows, we'll see in time...

About born digital objects & digital preservation

Hello again! Because of the nasty fever I suffered earlier, I could not grace the Digital culture course with my presence two weeks ago, so here's on update I'll have to write about the topic for the lecture I missed out on. The topic of the lecture on February 20th was born digital objects (sounds quite curious, doesn't it?) and digital preservation in general.

Born digital objects are according to Wikipedia:" materials that originate in a digital form.It is most often used in relation to digital libraries and the issues that go along with said organizations, such as digital preservation and intellectual property. However, as technologies have advanced and spread, the concept of being born-digital has also been discussed in relation to personal consumer-based sectors, with the rise of e-books and evolving digital music. Other terms that might be encountered as synonymous include “natively digital,” “digital-first,” and “digital-exclusive." A lot of text, huh?

Well, basically it seems that born digital objects or born-digital, as they are also called, consist of growing group of materials, range from websites, forums, communities, wikis. In short anything that was or has been created in a digital environment can be considered born digital material. Furthermore, according to Wikipedia:"There exists some inconsistency in defining born-digital materials. Some believe such materials must exist in digital form exclusively; in other words, if it can be transferred into a physical, analog form, it is not truly born-digital. However, others maintain that while these materials will often not have a subsequent physical counterpart, having one does not bar them from being classified as 'born-digital'."

Although most of the digital material online, like those counted above, can easily be digitised, some of the material online do not meet the same lucky fate. Material such as online newspapers, photographs, Internet disseminated TV shows and webcomics all have their origins in a time prior to the use of computers, but due to popularity have the material has been converted to a digital format, resulting in separate born-digital creations. This allows each of these materials to reach a bigger audience of interest and gain interest. The accessibility and easily usable format has made them a popular part of everyday life. E-books are a good sample of well-integrated digitisation, which have also awakened people's interest towards born digital materials and digital preservation. This is especially important to remember as a researcher, when we can all count on finding valuable research sources online in the future rather than in a physical form.

Digital preservation (again, thank you Wikipedia, you are quite impeccable at times!) is the set of processes, activities and management of digital information over time to ensure its long term accessibility. The goal of digital preservation is to preserve materials resulting from digital reformatting, and particularly information that is born-digital with no analog counterpart. Because of the relatively short lifecycle of digital information, preservation is an ongoing process. As we can see, digital preservation is essentially what makes born digital material accessible to us. Preserving Internet and its vast expanse of material is a real challenge for scientists and researchers alike, especially when the desired outcome is long-term storage for decades ahead. Long-term is defined as "long enough to be concerned with the impacts of changing technologies, including support for new media and data formats, or with a changing user community. Long Term may extend indefinitely". It is important that the storage is error-free and allows retrieving of acquired data without risk of corrupting the digital storage and the files it contains. Most of this digital material is encoded and needs to be interpreted into usable presentations such as pictures, text,charts, images or sounds. It is also important to plan the actual process of preservation, so that the material will be as undamaged as possible by the digitisation itself and when transferred to the storage. After all, much of future research will be relying on such digitally preserved material and its unaltered condition.

sunnuntai 26. helmikuuta 2012

Web archives, in good and bad~

A warm greeting followed by a sneeze and nasty cough! Seems like this ongoing weather mind f*ck between +0°C and -5°C, combined with a lot of incessant stress and lack of sleep because of it has taken it's toll and made me ill -___-. Despite not being able to come to the Digital culture lecture on Monday, I bravely defied the fever and visited the National Library in order to complete the earlier given extra task for said course, namely to browse around the Web Archives of the National Library and web archives of the Internet Archives website and compare the experiences.

After slight moment of standing around and looking stupid in the northern reading room at the National Library I decided to ask for help considering the web archive there. A helpful gentleman of the staff showed me to a computer and gave a quick introduction, also offering me aid in the form of a folder with general information on the Web Archive. I found it quite versatile and easily usable – it offered a vast expanse of information and material, allowing one to search for entire web pages or then search for web pages by entering keywords. Since I couldn’t come up with any web page, I tried by entering a keyword ("Victorian gender roles", quite connected to the topic of my pro-seminar :’D). Up popped material in mainly Finnish and English, some pages proven quite interesting.

The time span of digitised web archives reared from January 1st 2006 to (quite peculiarly) January 1st 2013, and also displayed how many times a certain amount of pages had been viewed. I supposed the search would have been more accurate, had I really known what I was looking for, in fact. Often it worked as such, that it looked for material including those to words, which essentially did not have much to do with “victorian gender roles” on the whole. Essentially, it seemed quite much like something akin to Google. In the end I felt I could acquire the same effect with Google, in case I did not know what I was looking for. The web archive works well, however, if you know what you’re looking for and it’s dated back to 2006.

I also took a look at the other services offered by the National Cultural Archives, which the Web archives were part of. These included the National Audiovisual Archive (KAVA) with an archive on Finnish Radio and Television programs. This contains digital material (ohfrom from the year 2009 forwards. This archive in questions seemed slightly confusing to browse around first, but after a while seemed quite helpful, allowing you to view, observe and play digitised material from Finnish television.

The Digital Collections of the Web Archive, which were another part of the National Cultural Archives, seemed very interesting, with Newspapers (dating back to the end of 1770’s), Ephemera (dating back to 1855) and journals (dating back to 1890’s). I consider this digitised part of the archive amazing and perfect for research or just idle browsing around and enjoying old newspapers. The digitised versions of the pages were clear and although the style of the older days might be a bit challenging at times (yeah, I sucked a palaeography -___-…), they are very well preserved. Entertaining and informative – I could’ve sat there all day scrolling down page after page of old newspapers. I guess this could offer me an interesting field of research on some topic.

The Internet Archive was in a manner much more accessible, since it didn't require visiting a certain building in order to access the site. On the front page it presented itself as "non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public." Wow, that sounds classy and nice, and most importantly - easy to work with 8D! So I decided to browse around and gather material and knowledge for my comparative study. When I started looking at the page further, it seemed quite chaotic with a lot of material and To remain true to my original random topic, I typed in "Victorian gender roles" again. Up popped 0 results, f*cking great. I tried again with the search word "Victorian era" and this time I had more luck - I encountered around 123 results. Most were digitised books, which could be read online. "The Literature of the Victorian era" which I browsed around in, from 1923, was very-well preserved, bright in colour and good in quality to read.

In the end I came to the conclusion, that both the Web Archive of the National Cultural Archives and the Internet Archive are slightly complex and it takes a while yo learn to manoeuvre the pages - especially if you don't know what you're looking for. Knowing the web exact page, name of a blog, a topic or such really helps you getting somewhere with the search. Unless I need some really specific for a project, analysis or research at the university, I think I'll personally stick to normal Internet and Google instead...

P.S. I just realised, after writing everything above, that in my delirious fever state I must have misunderstood the assignment, namely the part about checking out some Finnish website and whether it's found on both the Web Archives of National Library and on the Internet Archives and compare these experiences. I'm sorry for the mess-up >___< ! Hopefully no one gets their knickers in a twist because of this little bad! Here's, however, a nice picture to make you all feel better about it ^__^'!

sunnuntai 19. helmikuuta 2012

Moving pictures and digitised sound

The topic was this week was the long process of digitising sound and pictures, with the actual first movie from 1826, which we got to see during the lecture. Albeit it was only two seconds long (and someone had made a funny parody of repeating parts from the incredibly short video on youtube), I can just imagine the impact it must have made on the public back then. The first photographs had started showing up around the same time, the earliest surviving picture also from 1826, depicting a scene from nature. This was the work of French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who had produced his first photogravure etching back in 1822. Through collaboration with another Frenchman, Louis Daguerre, he improved the photographic process and created what became known as daguerreotype. This first prototype of photographs soon became very popular throughout the world and several daguerreotypes have been preserved to our time.

Nowadays, few realise how important digitisation of old film and sound material is. We were shown a process on preserving old recording, interviews e.g. As a researching, the best option is to make a perfect copy of the original recording, digitised it, and then work on how to get rid of additional, annoying sounds (such as wheezing sounds, murmuring in the background). It had never struck me as how difficult digitising sound can actually be and my respect for researchers and keepers of records multiplied severally.

But digitisation has also increased among normal citizens, who aren't inclined to the academic world in any manner. Many smaller companies offer services such as converting old vinyl records to mp3 format and old VHS video-cassettes to DVD format, in order to preserve precious memories and personal keepsakes. Sounds very practical, although I can't claim to have any personal experience about the process. Digitisation has become a part of our everyday life, whether we really acknowledge it or not.

I myself, am quite content with the existence of moving pictures and digitised sound and how widespread it is - I really can't imagine life without movies or music (mp3 format, of course). Or the wonderful combination of these two such as this following video. Enjoy!

sunnuntai 12. helmikuuta 2012

Thoughts on the digital archives of the National Library & National Archives

As an extra assignment for this week, we were supposed to have a look at the digital archives of the National Library and the National Archives and and our opinions and thoughts on these. I have to pathetically admit, I've never browsed around on the National Archives home pages. According to the introduction on their pages, there is 103 shelf-kilometres of records dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. The NA also harbours a vast collection of microfilms, essential for historians and their research. The web pages are quite accurate and easily manoeuvrable, and have useful links and short cuts for researches as well as genealogists and the press. It is fascinating to find out, that as of January 31st 2012, the Digital Archive has over 11,700,000 files (that's unimaginably much!) containing material from the National Archives Service. Really blows your mind, doesn't it?

The main reason for digitising archives, according to the NA themselves, is in order to be able to preserve the old and fragile documents and other materials, which can often range several hundreds of years back. In this manner it is easier for several researchers to work with the material without that damaging physical touch. I remember being told, when we visited the National Archives with a group of uni students, that texts written with a pencil lasts much longer than any kind of new, modern kind ink (ball-point pen e.g.). Better keep that in mind while writing notes by hand :'3.

Personally, the National Library is a bit more familiar to me, but rather through its physical books than digital archives. They also have a smaller collection of digitised material, which, according to themselves consist of "Finnish newspapers, historical everyday ephemera and vintage audio recordings are among the materials digitised by the National Library of Finland for freely accessible online use". These collection consists of 'The Historical Newspaper Library 1771-1909, a very valuable resource indeed (have to take a better look at some point, I really like old news papers). Just like the NA, the NL of Finland digitises material and collections it considers culturally and historically valuable, as to facilitate the use of the materials and preserve the original publications. Much good it would do to 200 years old news papers, if every slightly interested student wanted to physically browse them.

On my opinion of digital archives, I already contemplated the subject in my earlier post, but to add to the topic more specifically; I don't reject or refuse digitisation of old archives - it's practical and efficient for many reasons. I confess I have not really given it any bigger thought than what I presented earlier, because I have yet to use it more frequently. In the end, I'm a romantic person, so maybe that's one of the reasons why I like books - they have that feel of nostalgia that clear, clinical digital publications don't have. In the end, I'm a lazy person, so despite my fidelity to good old books, I still like being able to access books and articles online without having to make a bigger effort. True story, bro!

Digital archives - practical and efficient?

Hello again!
The topic for the lecture in Digital cultures in humanities this week was digitisation of archives and texts. I understand it's a very tiresome and slow process, but very important, nonetheless. Although, I still have my doubts about it - about digitising big archives. Yes, several important works can then be displayed for people online, internationally, but still I guess I like the consistency a solid book represents. I suppose many others my own ages might feel confused and uncertain about the digitising process - after all, we've all grown up browsing through books, some more dusty than the others. With the constant fear of computers systems crashing and erasing all that valuable material of yours, I suppose there's that nagging little feeling in the back of your head suggesting, that this could also be a potential threat for bigger, better organised and secure digital archives as well. When I hold a real, hard cover book in my hands I don't have to dread its disappearance or destruction in the same manner as digital information.

Digitisation has its good points, which for me are mostly associated to online publications, magazines and entire e-books. Nowadays e-books and online publications have become a an important part of studies at the university and here to stay. The digital publications offer access to works, which would otherwise remain unreachable for several reasons (like those bloody books on Gender Studies, which are always hogged by other students and kept by them for an eternity. Or at least long enough for me to not be able to obtain those before the exam, which requires those books in question. Annoying...).

Nelli-portaali is one of these web portals, which offer e-books and publications, which I find really helpful and practical for studies. It also helps staying in touch with research abroad, as you can find a load of internationally published academical dissertations and doctoral thesis. Albeit it requires that you're a student at some of the Finnish universities and have a uni-password to access the page, I still find it very practical and helpful, as it is free of charge. Few people feel tempted to buy an entire e-book, despite the potential low price, just in order to read an article or such. Therefore I consider the Nelli portal a very valuable resource.

There is the growing realisation which we have to deal with; that the digital archives are growing constantly and that they're a huge part of our reality, especially within the academic world, just like normal books. I refuse, however, to believe that e-books and online publications will completely replace the existence of good, old solid books. Sure, it's easier to bring e-books with you (if you own some kind of device suitable for displaying it, laptop e.g.) anywhere you go and you can sit home on your butt instead of dragging yourself to a library somewhere supposedly far away (well, it seems really far away if you're lazy like me 8D!). For me books are not old relics of an archaic life - rather they are just as compatible and practical as digital publications. Yay for books!

sunnuntai 5. helmikuuta 2012

Computers and internet is a daily necessity for quite a majority, nowadays, but few really understand or know about the complicated process through which both were slowly developed. On the most recent lecture, we discussed around the topic of the emergence of the computer, the internet and how the fruit of all those complicated processes have turned into an obvious part of our daily lives.

The most of the information was new and quite complicated, and I guess I realised I'm very much spoiled by this society and its comforts, when I found myself amazed over how the earliest computers - big enough to fill whole rooms, worked so slowly. A process as simply (well, nowadays) as transferring information as a file from one computer to another was gruellingly a slow and complicated process. Quite astonishing for us to imagine. 'What, I can only keep one window open at a time? Bitch, please! I like my 50 tabs open, simultaneously >8D!'. So, yeah, that wouldn't much have been an option back then :'3. Then again, computers were ridiculously expensive and used mostly for research and high-profile projects within science. Awesome.

One thing that I was surprised about, was for how long necessary web sites like Wikipedia, Wordpress, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter and search engines like Google have been around. Which really isn't long. Google suddenly popped up back in 1998 and pages like Youtube, Wikipedia, Facebook and Twitter all appeared sometime during the 2000's. It sure feels like they've been around forever, doesn't it? Apparently human memory is not always as infallible as expected... After all, how could I have written all my essays and do my homework in Secondary School without Wikipedia ;____;? It just would've taken more effort >8)...

It's unfortunately obvious, that when Internet was invented and started gaining popularity, some people lost their social life to it completely and utterly. Or at least many lost a part of themselves to it (yours truly as well :'3) and internet has now become an inseparable part of our way of life, and for some people, it has become their sole purpose of living. Ain't that great 8D?

The future sure looks bright for us...and our children :'D.

sunnuntai 29. tammikuuta 2012

Defining Culture

The topic for our lecture this week in our course "Digital culture in humanities" was culture and its many faces; what it consists of? What it's built upon etc.? A both complex and obvious topic in itself. As a partial assignment we were divided into smaller groups in class and supposed to come up with smart definitions to the questions above. Me and my friends settled on some smaller truths (or what we considered truths, anyway...), like how culture is everything that affects usand how we're all affected by it in some manner. We agreed that culture is often considered as something created by humans; human nature and society, but that it also creates human society. In short, it all evolved into a very lengthy and versatile conversation. Interesting in some aspects...

A big part of the lecture was taken up by the topic of linguistics and how it's a defining and building tool of creating a culture. I do understand that language is very important to the emergence, existence and sustainability of human culture - I've always been interested in languages and have studied and still do study quite a few. Still many aspects of the entire theory and emerge of theories considering linguistics kind of passed me by as very peculiar and impossibly incomprehensible. I understand they are an important part of society and culture, but I still think the topic really opened up to me. Most of the time I just sat with my mouth open, wondering when things were going to start making sense in my mind. So far they haven't, but it's okay. I don't take it personally, or anything.

For one topic to another, lighter one: I suppose most of us cursed to live in this country called Finland, have noticed how it's recently changed into this gloomy, glacier-cold landscape of snow (f*ckloads of snow if you ask me, we don't bloody need any more of it -___-!). I dare say, that many people, just like me, are gripped by frustration and persistent grumpiness and just wish they could do the Moomin and go into hibernation for all winter and wake up in Spring. Some of us retort to more realistic musings, like thinking about summer or those tantalising, over-priced vacation trips to sunny beaches, tasty food with diarrhea-warning and cheap hookers. To cheer you up (or alternatively piss you off >8D!) here's some nice pictures from my trip to Thailand a few years back. Nope, just kidding, these pics are from online. I'm not as low as to force horrible vacation pics onto anyone. Enjoy 8D!

Did you like the cheap fantasy? I'm afraid if you look outside the window, you're still stuck in cold, winter-y Finland. Tough luck. Let's hope global warming gets serious soon...

Gyaru Supreme

lauantai 21. tammikuuta 2012

Why I write this stuff ~ brief introduction and analysis on my habits as a computer user

Hello everyone!
Just to clear any confusion, I'd like to start this blog by explaining the reason as to why I'm writing it. This isn't exactly a life-style blog of some kind...but then again, computers and internet can also be a sort of life-style for some of us. Ok, maybe that part of our lives involving computers and the like are actually more important than we really want to admit. But then again, in this era, it's cool to be a nerd. Or at least that's how I perceive it.

In short, this blog was created as a part of the course work for my course in Digital culture in humanities (if that would be the proper translation of "Digital kultur i humaniora" :'3 some one correct me, if I'm wrong). In other words, I'll be writing about the assignments and keeping a kind of course journal once a week. And maybe, if I feel inspired (slightly unlikely due to the amount of stress I'm currently under), I'll add in something more of my own, yet related to the topic and theme of this blog.

Btw, I choose this random name for the blog because it was one of the only funny ones available. One shouldn't take life too seriously, right?

So as our first topic for the first lecture, we had as assignment to describe ourselves as computer users - what we use the internet mainly for, what kind of users we are?

I guess I could call myself very much addicted to internet, and part of the generation that has been more or less born into it (well, not as much as the following generations, though). I find myself using computers daily, whether for something as simple as checking out tomorrow's weather or to stalk someone's blog or browse around on facebook.

I have to admit, the rising popularity of facebook has affected my life as a computer user strongly - I've even found myself being more active online thanks to facebook. I guess we've come to the point were this spoiled generation of mine finds life unbearable without access to facebook. Some first world problems, right? I guess hanging out on facebook takes up most of my time in front of the computer.

For me, internet is also a huge source of information and news, since I watch TV very seldom, although I have one at home. A huge part of my average day goes to checking out friends updates and new pictures on facebook, checking out my email, different currencies (for my upcoming trip to Japan in May, since the Euro is so weak compared to the yen -___-). Then I might browse some Japanese ladies' fashion pages and drool over clothes I really shouldn't even think about buying.

If I have some extra time, I settle down to read fanfiction - this I've done actively for about 9 years now. This takes actually about maybe 40-60% of the time I use in front of a computer, at least if I find something interesting to read. Those who know me, know the crazy stuff I read 8D! I guess this actually correlates directly to porn, which I also watch online. Feeling shocked? Don't be - well, those knowing me are probably not the least shocked. It's just a part of internet, a big part of internet and its contents. I have some pages I frequent, which I choose NOT to display here. It's somehow so much more convenient than steering my steps to a shop and awkwardly standing in queue with my dirty movie. No thanks. "The internet is for porn!" like one of characters stated ironically in the Avenue Q musical. To some extent, it's true, at least for some people.

I huge part of my time goes to watching movies, tv-series (a wide preference from Korean and Japanese dramas to American fantasy), reading online manga and Japanese fashion magazines and listening to music. For me, it's never been an issue to read even lengthier texts and excerpts from a glowing computer screen, as some people complain. I'm so used to it nowadays, that I barely register whether I've been sitting there reading for 2hrs or 5hrs. I guess that's a bad sign on some level :'D.

Another source of daily entertainment is offered by the Memebase internet page, which offers a person with such a bad sense (or good, depending on how you look at it ;D) of humour as myself some pretty good laughs. The silly memes always manages to make me look at the bright side of life, no matter how gloomy I feel. I can spend up to 3hrs or more on this particular page on a bad day. In a good day it varies quite a bit. I can confess I check out this page at least once a day, for the better or the worse, that's up to you to decide.

I don't play any kind of online games, because I honestly suck at those. I'm the complete opposite of natural talent when it comes to playing video or internet games of any kind. I don't make music either, have no musical talent to boast about. I don't consider myself especially talented when it comes to computers - things beyond browsing around, downloading and burning CD:s and DVD:s are above my forte. That's what my boyfriend's for - he's a software engineer and pro nerd. All kind of programming is in his area of expertise, so I haven't found the enthusiasm to pursue it on my own. Plus, I have a very short temper when it comes to a computer not working. Had it not been for my rationality (which I pride myself in possessing every now and then :'D), I'd probably thrown about 5 computers out of the windows in a flurry of anger. Although I'm still to dependant on computers to drastically rid myself of mine.

In short, for me, internet is for past time and leisure mostly, although it also serves as one of the best sources when looking for information. Informative, yet fun, that's how I experience internet and my relation to it. I don't think there is any kind of going back to a life without internet for me any more. Sad but true.

But that's all, folks! See ya around!

Gyaru Supreme