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Aug 19

August 19, 2011 eBlackCU Announcements

Posted on Friday, August 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

Table of Contents:

1) eBlackCU Announcements
2) Other Community Technology Announcements

1) eBlackCU Announcements

a) C-U Digital Memories Video Released

Announcing the release of a collaborative video of local digital
memories recorded at Champaign-Urbana Days.

The C-U Days Digital Memories project is sponsored by eBlackCU with
support from the Champaign Park District, National Council of Negro
Women, Champaign County Historical Archives – Urbana Free Library and
Museum of the Grand Prairie – Champaign County Forest Preserve.

We are pleased to release the C-U Days Digital Memories Compilation at
this address:

http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/2049.

Please see at the bottom of the page the space for commenting – we
encourage everyone to leave additional memories seeing this video may
stir within them.

Also please feel free to share this link with others.

A DVD will be available at local libraries, archives and museums
within the year. those without Internet access.

b) eBlackCU Manual Released

We are working on putting together a nuts-and-bolts manual explaining
how we do what we do. Everyone can play a part in digital community
memory.

Please review the manual and offer your feedback:

http://manual.eblackcu.net/

We need people to start using this manual so that everyone is
participating in the digitization of the community.

c) Summer Yearbook Digitization Project Wraps Up

This Summer three high school interns from Champaign Central,
Champaign Centennial and Urbana High digitized 46 high school
yearbooks from 1957 to 1990. Visit the project website to get access
to the yearbooks:

http://eblackcu.net/portal/cuyearbooks

We also are proud to release a video tutorial outlining the steps we
took to make these yearbooks available via digital technology. Anyone
can do what we did with a small amount of money and standard office
equipment.

Also watch the reception held for the interns at the Champaign Public
Library August 18, 2011:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnN4phlxgpo – Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3r_PqIZjvk – Part 2

—-

2) Other Community Technology Announcements

a)

UC2B Public Showcase

see attachments
All welcome to come learn about what is happening with this stimulus
money in Champaign-Urbana.

uc2b.net

b)

Look for details to appear here soon on the autumn quarterly Broadband
Deployment Council meeting and Central Illinois ARRA Awardees Regional
meeting to be held in October in Champaign-Urbana, I-Hotel:

http://broadbandillinois.org/Events.html

Find out what is happening across the state. Stay informed and make a difference

c)

Public Computing Wiki

Help keep this directory of places and programs where people can get
educated and use new technologies up-to-date.

http://wiki.eblackcu.net/

Take a minute to correct the information we have or email us with
up-to-date information

Please email us with other community technology announcements in
Champaign-Urbana, and spread the word!

Jun 28

Events under way to digitize yearbooks

Posted on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Reproduced from News-Gazette website:

by Jodi Heckel

If you’re looking for photos for a high school reunion, or researching the school days of family members, a new online resource could help.

The eBlack Champaign-Urbana project is digitizing yearbooks from Champaign and Urbana high schools and putting them on its website, at http://www.eblackcu.net.

“We wanted to do something that would touch as many people as possible in Champaign-Urbana,” said Noah Lenstra, director of the eBlackCU project. “We’re just trying to find ways to use new technology to have an impact on the community.”

The goal of eBlackCU is to provide information on local African-American history and culture, invite residents to share their memories or materials about the local black community through digital technology, and make local African-American history more visible and accessible.

Lenstra said the effort to digitize local yearbooks is an extension of a project eBlackCU undertook last summer, in which it digitized the commemorative yearbooks from an annual Cotillion Ball for young African-American women. The eBlackCU website now has digitized versions of the commemorative yearbooks dating to 1972, the year the Cotillion Ball was first held.

This summer, interns are working on digitizing yearbooks from Champaign and Urbana high schools from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. They are working with the Champaign and Urbana public libraries, the libraries at Urbana and Central high schools, and the Champaign County Historical Archives to get copies of the yearbooks.

The interns are scanning high-resolution images of the yearbooks. Then Lenstra is converting them to lower-resolution images that will load faster online. The high-resolution masters will be made available to the Champaign County Historical Archives so they can add the digital images to their database if they want, Lenstra said.

So far, the eBlack website has digitized copies of the Champaign High School yearbook from 1960 to 1965. Five yearbooks from Urbana High School are scanned but not yet online. Lenstra is hoping to digitize at least two decades of yearbooks from each high school this summer.

Some of the yearbooks they’ve been working with have had photos cut out of them. With the digital versions of the yearbooks, anyone could get an image he or she wanted without damaging the book, Lenstra said. The text of the digital yearbooks will be searchable as well, so someone could search for the name of a person for whom they wanted a photo or information.

Lenstra said the process the interns are using to digitize the yearbooks is simple and replicable. He wants anyone to be able to continue the work. Along with digitizing the yearbooks, the eBlackCU project is developing training materials on the process.

In addition, the interns working on the yearbook project will also be helping with computer classes this summer. When information about the yearbook was presented at Salem Baptist Church, several people asked for help with digitizing photos, Lenstra said.

“I think it’s really good for people to have access to these things,” said Adrian Rochelle, a Central High School junior and one of the interns who is working on the yearbook project. “It shows how this technology has advanced.”

One of the goals for the summer, Lenstra said, is for the interns “to not only learn about new technology, but to be able to teach new technology as well. We’d like to see everyone be able to use technology to its fullest.”

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/living/2011-06-27/effort-under-way-digitize-yearbooks.html

Apr 26

Community Technology in Champaign-Urbana Flyer and Announcement: May 7, 2011

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Title
Community Technology in Champaign-Urbana Flyer and Announcement
Subject
Community Informatics, eBlackCU Public Meetings
Description
Saturday MAY 7th, 2011
9 a.m- 12:30 p.m.
Champaign Public Library
Robeson Rooms A & B

A public meeting on:
UC2B
The eBlackCU digital library
Jobs and Technology
Youth and Technology
Churches and Technology

Plus Community Technology Workshop:
Learn how to digitize and share online your photographs, fliers,
scrapbooks, and books! Bring your own or digitize files we have.
Take home a free CD of your digitized materials!
*Also: Help getting e-mail/Facebook accounts!

More information at http://eBlackCU.net. Contact:
nlenstr2@illinois.edu or 244-8203.

==

Over 450 people in Champaign-Urbana have attended Public Forums on
Digital Technology, Digital Education, Digital Community and Digital
Jobs. This event continues this momentum. We need all voices and all
backgrounds to mobilize to change our community for the better.

YOU are invited to come and share what you and your community groups
do with technology, what you have thought about doing with technology,
what obstacles you face, and some solutions you have come up with.

Our goals are articulated in the Community Technology Manifesto:
http://eblackcu.net/portal/manifesto, which EVERYONE is invited to
sign.

This event will feature discussion and updates on: the eBlackCU
Digital Library of local African-American History and Culture, Jobs
and Technology, Youth and Technology, Churches and Technology, and
UC2B Big Broadband Network.

This event will be broadcast LIVE around the world at:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/eblack-champaign-urbana

A workshop will be held on-site to help interested individuals with
e-mail, facebook, the eBlackCU digital library, and digitization of
photographs, scrapbooks and personal and community history
collections. Come to digitize your material and go away with A FREE CD
of your digitized material. IF YOU INTEND TO BRING LARGE ITEMS TO THE
WORKSHOP WE RECOMMEND E-MAILING US AHEAD OF TIME at
nlenstr2@illinois.edu so that we ensure we can meet your needs.

Come to this meeting to find out how individuals and groups in our
community have mobilized to get out of UC2B (http://www.uc2b.net/) the
following community benefit resolution. Find out how YOU CAN PLAY A
PART in making sure the community gets everything it can out of this
$30 million dollar high-speed broadband network.

Community Benefit Resolution Passed by UC2B Policy Committee, April 20, 2011:

1. The Policy Committee (of UC2B) will issue an annual public report
on the digital divide in the UC2B service area (the area of the seven
rings including all of Urbana, Champaign, and Savoy).
2. The Policy Committee will convene an annual meeting of anchor
social institutions to discuss the above report and set general goals
for overcoming the digital divide. This meeting will be open to the
public, and be scheduled as a regular meeting of all UC2B committees.
3. At the end of each fiscal year, unless UC2B has operated at a
deficit that year, the Policy Committee will allocate at least 5% of
its annual revenue to a community benefit fund as a line item in the
budget. Money from this fund will be dedicated to overcoming the
digital divide, according to the general goals as above and the
process as below.
4. The Advisory Committee for Digital Equality will develop and carry
out a plan, including competitive grant awards from the community
benefit fund to non‐governmental agencies, to implement the general
goals as above. If there is no available money in any given year, no
grants will be made. The Advisory Committee will forward to the Policy
Committee its recommendations for spendingthe community benefit fund,
and the Policy Committee will make the final decision.

Light refreshments will be served.

Share this invite with your friends.

Link: http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/1195

Mar 11

UPDATED eBlackCU Volunteer Opportunities

Posted on Friday, March 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

The website is: http://eblackcu.net/portal/

Here is a one-sentence summary of the project: eBlackCU is a
collaborative portal on African-American history and culture in
Champaign-Urbana which ALL are welcome to use and add to.

And here some volunteeer/service-learning opportunities we have created:

1) Digitization
a) We have identified a lot of material to digitize and get online. If
you could dedicate some time to learning, with us, how to digitize,
how to manage digital files, and how to get them online with proper
metadata, this is for you! No prior skills necessary! Estimated time
commitment: 3 hours minimum, up to 15 hours (or more)
b) We will also be holding “mass digitization” events in which people
can digitize together! E-mail us if you want to be informed when these
events will take place. Food and drinks after the event will be
provided. Estimated time commitment: 3 hours.

2) Web Development
a) Metadata – we need to improve our metadata for the eBlackCU digital
library. Spend some time learning what is in the library and help us
improve access by adding better descriptions to enhance searching!
Estimated time commitment: 2-10 hours (or more)
b) Design – Help us improve the eBlackCU design! Spend some time
looking through the site to find ways to improve it and then implement
the changes if you have the tech skills (or send us your comments if
you don’t). Estimated time: 1-10 hours (or more)
REQUIRED SKILLS: Some background in web design/php/and database-driven
web development
c) Installins apps – We would like to install a number of apps and
programs on the eBlackCU site that will allow us to geocode data,
place interactive time-lines into the site, and more! If you are
interested in web development and have some experience this would be
perfect for you! Estimated time: 5-15 hours
REQUIRED SKILLS: Knowledge of web development, attention to detail

3) Outreach/Marketing
a) Facebook – We are trying to develop a version of eBlackCU in
Facebook! Help us spread the word through the social networks and help
us build this collaborative Facebook page. Estimated time commitment:
2-3 hours.
b) Community Memory workshops – We want to help community
organizations and older generations access this material. Lend a hand
and help us organize and carry-out meory workshops to support capacity
building in community organizations. Estimated Time Commitment: 3-20
hours.

4) Research:
a) Visit area archives in Champaign-Urbana and inventory material that
documents African-American history and culture in our community. A
list of sources has been prepared and volunteers would be asked to
spend a few hours looking at an archives record group to see what is
of interest in terms of local African-American history. A great way to
learn about archives and to do some original research! No prior
experience is necessary. Go alone or with a friend! Estimated time
commitment: Between 2 hours to 10 hours depending on the size of the
archives chosen.
b) Check newspaper microfilm rolls and city directories for data about
African-American history in Champaign-Urbana around specific themes.
Can be done at the Champaign County Historical Archives, History
Library or online, in the case of the Digitized Urbana Courier –
(http://www.library.illinois.edu/dnc/Default/Skins/UIUC/Client.asp?Skin=UIUC&AW=1273084920855&AppName=2).
Estimated time commitment: 1-5 hours depending on research needed.
REQUIRED SKILLS: familiarity with online databases
c) Have an interest in digital exhibits? Take the initiative to
research and produce a digital exhibit using the Omeka Content
Management System! We can get you started with the tech and orient you
in the research and then let you take the initiative and develop an
exhibit around your interests. Estimated time commitment: 10-20 hours
minimum.
REQUIRED SKILLS: experience with writing and graphic design

Jan 29

SAVE-THE-DATE: Community Technology Event in Champaign-Urbana: March 19, 2011

Posted on Saturday, January 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

This e-mail is to announce the next Community Technology Event in
Champaign-Urbana.

Over 300 people have come to the last two meetings on this topic, held
November 5 and 6, 2010, and January 8, 2011.

The full record of these events is online for all to see:

http://eblackcu.net/portal/symposium

We need to continue this momentum and everyone’s voice and knowledge
MUST be shared and included

Join us March 19, 2011 at the Champaign Public Library for a public
event on Community Technology in Champaign-Urbana.

This event is from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and ALL are welcome.

There will be informational panels/discussions on
1) UC2B (http://www.uc2b.net);
2) a demonstration of the eBlackCU digital library
(http://www.eBlackCU.net), featuring over 30000 pages and 4 days of
audio/video on the local African-American experience;
3) jobs and technology
4) youth and technology
5) churches and technology

Followed by a discussion of the next steps in our community so that
everyone can make effective use of technology for community change.
EVERYONE needs to be part of the next steps!

Sign a manifesto to indicate your willingness to work together in
getting everyone in our community connected:

http://eblackcu.net/portal/manifesto

We will have computer stations set up for you to get an e-mail account
if you don’t have one; learn how to digitize information, bring in
your own material (scrapbooks, flyers, photographs) or digitize some
of the material we will have on site.

Nov 18

Summary: eBlackChampaign-Urbana Campus-Community Symposium

Posted on Thursday, November 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Over 200 people came for part or all of a two-day campus-community Symposium on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6 at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) on the University of Illinois campus and the Douglass Annex in Douglass Park in North Champaign. The unifying themes of this event were: a) campus engagements in the historical African-American communities of Champaign-Urbana and b) digital technology transforming all aspects of community life (including campus engagements). The event began with Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement Steve Sonka speaking on how engagement at the University of Illinois needs to complete what he called the “knowledge cycle” or observation to documentation to analysis to implementation and back to observation. Speaking from his personal background in agriculture, Sonka explained how this cycle, and the University’s involvement in it, completely changed the course of American agriculture, and the world. Sonka was invited to give the opening remarks for this two-day event because one of the goals of the conference organizers (Professor Abdul Alkalimat of African-American Studies/GSLIS and Noah Lenstra, C.A.S. student, GSLIS), is to re-orient the land-grant tradition of the University of Illinois to systematically and sustainably address issues in African-American and low-income communities not only in Champaign-Urbana but across the state of Illinois, in the information age. Sonka’s address was followed by two community respondents, district 1 council member Will Kyles and Salem Baptist Church Rev. Zernial Bogan, and one University respondent, Kate Williams, who re-articulated some of Sonka’s remarks in terms of some of the issues faced by residents of North Champaign-Urbana. The full audio-video-pictorial-textual record of these remarks, and the entire symposium, is available for free online at http://eblackcu.net/portal/schedule.

The rest of the day Friday was devoted primarily to conversations among dedicated “service” units of the University, such as the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Illinois Public Media, and students from multiple departments involved in research projects focused on local African-Americans, who, in dialogue with the audience, both shared what they were doing and also explored the significance of their individual projects in terms of larger campus-community concerns. After the first morning roundtable on community engagement a member of local group Women of Prestige expressed her surprise at finding out so many different projects work with local youth and said the information was a little overwhelming.

One way in which the eBlackChampaign-Urbana project has tried to address this issue is through information. Specifically, we released a book entitled Community Engagement @ Illinois: Connecting Research and Service (also available at http://eblackcu.net/portal/schedule) that features documentation of over 45 different research and service projects emanating out of the University of Illinois, or with heavy involvement of University individuals, that have as a primary audience or subject local African-Americans or the historical African-American community. A copy of this book was given to each of the 103 Difference Makers, community and campus individuals who have gone out of their way to try to make a difference in the lives of local African-Americans, as part of a luncheon and awards ceremony Friday afternoon. The Difference Makers also received a commemorative booklet with biographies and photographs. The project team sometimes is asked why a project dedicated to digital technology would chose to release two books as part of its symposium. We believe in what we call the actual-virtual-actual cycle, in other words actual communities and individuals using the power of digital technology to make actual change in their lives and in the lives of others. As part of this cycle, our digitization work of actual primary source material and our use of open source tools such as Open Office and GIMP allowed us to release two relatively large print publications on a short deadline that we hope will make actual change in campus-community engagement.

Saturday the symposium shifted gears – moving from campus to the Douglass Annex for conversations on how existing community agencies and institutions are using digital technology, with the hope being that connections could be made that would benefit all. Representatives of social service agencies such as Community Elements and Neighborhood Services (City of Champaign); educational initiatives such as Parkland’s WorkNet Center and Urbana High School; churches such as Jericho Missionary Baptist and Church of the Living God and community groups such as C-U Citizens for Peace and Justice and the National Council of Negro Women talked throughout the day on some of the issues and opportunities they have faced in using digital technology as part of their work.

One theme that emerged was the need to find ways to work together to integrate digital technology into community day-to-day life. Kevin Jackson described some of the e-government tools developed or being developed at the City of Champaign while David Adcock of Urbana Adult Education described the need to provide the most basic, rudimentary computing education to many members of the local community. Later in the day, during the religious institutions roundtable a contentious discussion began about finding ways to create non-denominational means for churches to help each other cross the digital divide. Some thought the first step was bringing the pastors together and getting them all on board; others felt that those in the different churches already invested in digital technology should find ways to work together. In any case, the eBlackChampaign-Urbana project team believes that these issues need to be discussed more so that everyone can make effective uses of digital technology. One way in which an attempt was made to bring everyone on the same page was by asking everyone to sign a manifesto declaring themselves “Difference Makers” and dedicating themselves to work together to bring everyone online and to ensure everyone can make effective use of existing and developing tools for social change. Over 120 people have signed this manifesto – which can be signed electronically at eBlackCU.net.

A follow-up meeting to the Symposium will be held Saturday, January 8, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Champaign Public Library, Robeson Pavilion Room A & B. However, we encourage community and campus organizations to continue these conversations in their “home-bases.” The project team recognizes that sustainability requires moving these dialogues and actions off the University and into the organizations and groups that keep our community going. One way in which the project team hopes to make this transition is to ask groups to take a copy of the manifesto to whatever groups they are affiliated, discuss it, and bring remarks on these discussions to the follow-up meeting January 8.

Although we were told “symposia” and “conferences” were too academic in nature – the project team stood by the knowledge that community groups have conferences all the time (Canaan Baptist Church held two in the past year; Glory Center International held one) – and that what was needed was a new strategy, not an abandonment of the idea of symposia. We would encourage other individuals from the University of Illinois to find ways not to abandon the traditional apparatuses of scholarly production and exchange, but rather to find new, experimental ways to make these apparatuses relevant and meaningful both to the scholarly community and to real, historical communities with which activist academics work.

A final note on the organization of this event: as an all-volunteer symposium with modest funding from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access to pay for food, equipment, marketing and space, the eBlackChampaign-Urbana Campus-Community Symposium owes its success to both the campus and community individuals and groups who volunteered to make it a success, including: 1) the Community Informatics Club; 2) the Illinois Informatics Club; 3) Women of Prestige Champaign County; 4) National Council of Negro Women, Champaign County; 5) Champaign Park District; 6) Salem Baptist Church; 7) Graduate School of Library and Information Science; 8) and individuals from Parkland College WorkNet Center and Canaan Baptist Church.

Oct 18

eBlackChampaign-Urbana Campus-Community Symposium….

Posted on Monday, October 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Is fast approaching!

Check out our first newsletter for more information:

http://www.eblackcu.net/eBlackCUNewsletter1.pdf

And our website:

http://eblackcu.net/portal/symposium

Question?

http://eblackcu.net/portal/contact

Sep 16

Volunteer for the eBlackChampaign-Urbana Campus-Community Symposium!

Posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

As we gear up for the eBlackCU symposium we want to make sure that all voices are heard and everyone knows that this event is for them! Help us make this event a success that will lead to positive outcomes in Champaign-Urbana!

Volunteer Projects for eBlackChampaign-Urbana Symposium

*To volunteer e-mail Noah Lenstra at nlenstr2@illinois.edu or call (815) 275-0268

Volunteers will get a copy of the Opening the University book

Before the Symposium

1) Flyering/Mailings – We are happy to print flyers for people willing to help us get the word out, and can even provide you with a list of locations we want to make sure get flyers (10-20 people)

2) Organizing Panels – If you’d like to help organize and/or chair a panel for Friday or Saturday let us know! We would be glad to help you do this, even if you don’t know or have never participated in a panel. (5 people)

During the Symposium

1) Welcome Committee / Sign-In Table (Five individuals each day)

2) Singers / Musical Groups (2-3 on Saturday) – We need organizing the logistics of these as well!

3) Posters / Hand-outs – (ALL) – if you have a poster or hand-outs you’d like to distribute bring them SATURDAY – please RSVP to let us know so we have space for you

4) Tech Crew – Recording the Symposium using camcorders, voice recorders and cameras (3-4 people)

After the Symposium

1) Transcription – Help transcribing sessions for the eBlackChampaign-Urbana Symposium Proceedings (3-4 people)

Aug 23

Thoughts on Keeping Track of the University of Illinois’ foot-print

Posted on Monday, August 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

In the course of developing eBlackChampaign-Urbana one of our most important finds (and also perhaps the most pressing issue we can address) is the helter-skelter way in which research (especially local research) is carried out at the University of Illinois in relation to local issues of poverty and inequality, which historically have often centered on African-Americans. A recently digitized source in the eBlackChampaign-Urbana database is a work entitled “Descriptive Inventory of Resources for the Ecology of Mental Health and Work With the Disadvantaged.” Despite the long-winded title, the work essentially consists of a listing of University of Illinois research and engagement projects aimed at working with and benefiting the disadvantaged (broadly defined), under the rubric of the then buzz-term in the academy “Ecology of Mental Health,” which bridged social work and anthropology in the last years of the turbulent 1960s.

Interestingly, this project, which began as a research project of a University of Illinois faculty member, ultimately fell into the lap of the first University of Illinois archivist, Maynard Brichford, who immediately recognized the necessity of keeping tabs on a whirl-wind campus to ensure accountability and accurate documentation. Brichford initially had hoped that the publication would be a recurring publication, but unfortunately in the late 1960s the University went through a period of accelerated decentralization resulting in the further fragmentation of campus around disciplinary and departmental boundaries, making any holistic project such as this out of reach and ultimately impossible to carry out with the already meager resources of the nascent University Archives (and the abandonment of the project by the University faculty who ultimately began it).

Interestingly, six years after this project the Institute of Government and Public Affairs released a report entitled Responsibilities in the Black Community which although a different project than the earlier volume came to many of the same conclusions – namely it is excruciatingly difficult to keep tabs on different programs and initiatives coming out of different units of the University of Illinois and Parkland College that are all aimed at working with the same community, namely African-Americans in Champaign-Urbana.

Flash-forward to today and what do we see? The latest iteration of this project of listing is the Public Engagement Portal (PEP) (http://engage.illinois.edu/), a multi-year project of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement to comprehensively list and make accessible information on upcoming and past programs of the University of Illinois that have a public engagement aspect (broadly defined). While I applaud this initiative, my main concern is the seeming disconnect in this portal between research and engagement (which is nearly as nebulous a term as the 1960′s ‘Ecology of Mental Health’). Furthermore, the Portal is good for aggregating upcoming public events, but would less useful for aggregating data on projects that because of IRB would be unable to broadcast its existence until after the fact and/or other projects that perhaps never get beyond the incubation stage, yet nonetheless need to be documented as part of the University’s foot-print in the local community. Finally, the PEP Portal seems to have very little historical consciousness, meaning that in my attendance of PEP meetings and workshops there seems to be very little recognition by the largely technologist creators of the historical situation and legacy within which this initiative is brewing and developing.

What are some of the lessons of this historical legacy?
1) In the often cut-throat politics of the University of Illinois in order for a documentation project to have any legs it needs to show results immediately, and in a language that has research value. In other words, one could argue that the failure of the two earlier projects was their inability to go beyond documentation to mining the data they produced to come up with new knowledge which could in turn be re-invested and then checked against future listings.
2) Audience is key! In the first project the audience was apparently anyone. Interested in expanding the historical record, Maynard Brichford, as an archivist, believed (as I do) that there is inherent value in ensuring a broadly accurate and accessible historical record. However, such a project was not attuned to the politics and political economy of the University of Illinois as an ever-pushing forward research one institution. In the second project the audience was apparently policy makers, with the goal of increasing more efficiency in local projects by increasing access to these programs for the targeted populations (namely local African-Americans). In the third project the audience is also broadly defined, but seems especially developed as a marketing mechanism for the University of Illinois to toot its own horn and use the power of technology to market its programs across campus more effectively.

What similar listings exist in other schools? I have not investigated this question – but would be extremely interested in finding out how other campuses have found ways to track their foot-print in diverse communities.

A final note. One of my advisers in the Community Informatics Research Laboratory, Kate Williams, is involved in a multi-year project to build a dataset documenting community informatics projects across the United States. According to the project’s abstract:

“This paper connects the concepts of memory, archives, and community informatics by describing and analyzing the experience of constructing an archive of community informatics material. It thus reports the research work of creating a dataset which can be used by many scholars in our field and beyond. The primary purpose of the paper is to stimulate some new thinking about a shared community informatics research agenda, in the context of policy shifts.”

In the field of data curation the trend has been towards the construction of discipline specific data-sets, yet I think the key-word in the above abstract is “which can be used by many scholars in our field and beyond.” I think the pressing question is data re-usability or finding ways, using technology or otherwise, to make data fit into different boxes for different purposes to get maximum bang for the buck and thereby get increased buy-in for these documentation projects. What other units, for what other purposes, would have interest in this data? How could one predict such use? Archivists have traditionally thrown up their hands at such a visionary question and just settled, especially in a time of voluminous documentation, of providing bare-bones description that benefits few but the most intrepid researchers. But there must be another way…

Professor Williams has also spear-headed a project to document the University of Illinois’ Public Computing impact in a project entitled Public Computing at 50, which has as one of its goals coming to grips with the University of Illinois’ various public computing projects and using this knowledge to construct the future. As the University informaticizes one could imagine that a project to continually document the University of Illinois’ public computing foot-print run into the same problems that plagued Brichford’s 1967 effort, namely lack of interest in contributing by diverse stake-holders pursuing their separate research projects. One of the dilemmas found by the project is the Green Street divide, or the problem of connecting the hard sciences and engineering with the social sciences and humanities. Now that three rounds of Community Informatics Seed Funding have been released it seems like there should be a data-set emerging that could be used, but why, and what incentives exist to continue this project?

Links for documents mentioned in this post:
http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/618
http://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/188

http://engage.illinois.edu/
http://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/5139
http://50years.lis.illinois.edu/
http://cii.illinois.edu/funding.php

Aug 3

Final Reception for eBlackChampaign-Urbana Interns!

Posted on Tuesday, August 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

Since June 7, 2010, six African-American high school and community college aged youth have worked as interns on the eBlackChampaign-Urbana Project, a collaborative project to use digital technology to enhance access to, to aggregate and to find uses for dispersed informational sources on local African-American history. Our goals with this project are to: a) celebrate local African-American heritage; b) ensure that the memories, stories and struggles of local African-American history are preserved and accessible in our digital society; c) excite local residents about the possibilities of using digital technology to revolutionize community life and community memory. Help us celebrate the accomplishments of these six interns! Join us at the Champaign Public Library, Robeson Pavilion Room C, 200 West Green Street, Champaign, Illinois, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday, August 13. Drop in when you can if you can’t make the entire reception. We will have: a) presentations by the interns about the work they did and the the things they learned this summer; b) an overview of the eBlackChampaign-Urbana project – its accomplishments, its goals; c) an overview of eBlackCU into the Fall and beyond, and how you and your community organization(s) can become part of this project. Digital Memory is for everyone, not just African-Americans. ALL can use the technology that excites to digitize and broadcast their stories of community history in Champaign-Urbana. We would like to see this project grow – and everyone can contribute! Examples of how you could contribute: a) Digitizing ALL local school yearbooks, past and present; b) Making documentaries on your local and family history; c) Digitizing family, church and community organization scrapbooks, photographs and newspaper clippings. All of these projects could be done with technology you either own or could have access to, with our assistance. So join in and participate! Pizza and pop will served for individuals who RSVP by contacting Noah Lenstra, eBlackCU project director, at nlenstr2@illinois.edu or 815-275-0268 by Thursday, August 12, at 5 p.m. We hope to see you there! Noah Lenstra