Getting Out There: 2015 in Review

Showing off a red velvet cupcake with the POTUS seal on it at the White House.
Showing off a red velvet cupcake with the POTUS seal on it at the White House.

Another year. Another chance to do a quick look back and make sense of what I’ve been doing and where I think it’s taking me. As I did in 2012,  2013, and 2014, I am taking a few minutes to try to sift and categorize. So if you are interested in a recap of things I’ve done this year this post is for you, if not, I imagine you have already decided to stop reading.

Looking back, I feel like the move from the Library of Congress to IMLS has been a huge chance to better connect with and learn from the field. While NDIIPP was always outward facing, it was still inside an institution that acts as such a center of gravity that it was challenging to really be out there. In contrast, as the core role of IMLS is to serve and support libraries and museums across the nation it has been exhilarating and rewarding to be out in these communities much more.

Dropping the “IIP”: From NDIIPP to NDP

Presenting a framework for the National Digital Platform at the IMLS Focus convening at DCPL's MLK library.
Presenting a framework for the National Digital Platform at the IMLS Focus convening at DCPL’s MLK library.

I started the New Year with a new job. I left NDIIPP to “head National Digital Platform  responsibilities across programs” at the Institute of Museum and Library Services. As NDIIPP stood for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, I smile a bit thinking that even though I was changing jobs I was keeping the first two words of the program and dropping two “i’s” and a p.

My last day on the job at the Library of Congress was New Year’s eve 2014. In the four and a half years I spent at the Library of Congress I had amazing opportunities to work and learn, and made a lot of friends and colleagues I know I will have for the rest of my life. With that said, it was just impossible for me to pass up the chance to be a part of the emerging National Digital Platform work at IMLS.

IMLS and I go back. When I started working at the Center for History and New Media in 2006 my job was, in part, funded by a IMLS national leadership grant. You can see a bit of what we were up to in this interview I did for the IMLS blog in 2007. Over the years I’ve given talks at the IMLS WebWise conferences and had the opportunity to review for the agency. In all those interactions, I was consistently impressed by all that the IMLS team could accomplish.

Cover of the National Digital Platform convening report. Read the report online (PDF).
Cover of the National Digital Platform convening report (PDF).

In my first year at IMLS, I’ve had the chance to co-develop and publish a vision for the priority, shape a convening and the resulting report on the National Digital Platform priority, and support IMLS investing nearly ten million dollars in more than a dozen grants and cooperative agreements. As a push for transparency, I’m also thrilled that we were able to publish both the first and second round of funded projects proposals online.

Through all of this, I have been so lucky for guidance and leadership from my boss Maura Marx and the insights of my colleague and constant collaborator Emily Reynolds. Along with that, I’m thrilled to find myself surrounded by the dedicated and exceptional staff of the Office of Library Services and the rest of the agency.  The experience has confirmed what I’d always imagined, that I really like helping people think through and refine ideas for their projects and work and thinking about how different areas of research and practice connect and add up to more then the sum of their parts. I can’t imagine any place where I could get to do exactly that kind of work and help support all kinds of libraries across the country keep advancing in the 21st century.

Teaching Digital History & Digital Curation

Outside the office, I was thrilled to be able to continue teaching. I was able to teach a digital history graduate seminar in the Public History program at American University and as a special topics course for the University of Maryland’s iSchool’s digital curation program.  I was totally impressed by what my students were able to do on their projects over the course of a semester. I also started developing a digital art curation and conservation course, which I will be teaching at UMD in the Spring.

Digital History & Preservation: Research, Writing & Speaking

A stack of the author copies I received after my book, Designing Online Communities, was published.
A stack of the author copies I received after my book, Designing Online Communities, was published at the begining of the year.

My book, Designing Online Communities, dropped! and some super smart people claim I said some smart things in it. Along with that, I wrote about the history of transparent gif’s in web archives, and about the implications of distant reading for developing digital infrastructures to support computational humanities scholarship.

My essay Zombies on Flickr, Lego, Handcraft, and Costumed Zombies: What Zombies do on Flickr, was published in New Directions in Folklore. An article I contributed to exploring learning in makerspaces was published in the Harvard Educational Review. I reviewed Preserving Complex Objects for the Journal of Academic Librarianship. I drafted an essay titled Digital Sources & Digital Archives: The Evidentiary Basis of Digital History for a forthcoming Companion to Digital History.

The big talk this year was People, communities and platforms: Digital cultural heritage and the web at the National Digital Forum in New Zealand. Aside from that, I planned and ran a daylong workshop on Roles & Responsibilities for Sustaining Open Source Platforms & Tools at the International Digital Preservation conference.

Love is... ...accepting he's a zombie, featured in my Flickr Zombies article.  by _Matn.
Love is… …accepting he’s a zombie, featured in my Flickr Zombies article. by _Matn.

I gave a lot of shorter talks about the National Digital Platform priority at a range of conferences including Linked Data for Libraries, Museum Computer Network. Along with that, I wrote up some of my take aways from five conferences I participated in as posts for the IMLS Blog.

These included,

All told, it has been a really great year.

One Reply to “Getting Out There: 2015 in Review”

  1. As always you continue to amaze me. I am so proud of you many accomplishments. Keep up the great work and hope to see you soon.
    Aunt Kathi

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