Multimedia: Issues in using Visual Material
Cultural Heritage Organizations
INFOSYS 246, cntrl #42727, UC Berkeley
3 units, Spring 1999
Tues 1:00-4:00, 127 Dwinelle Hall
LIS 488 Seminar in Advanced Issues in Archival
Theoretical, Philosophical, Political and Cultural
Aspects of Visual Materials in Archives
LIS 488 UCLA
4 credit hours, Spring 1999
Tues 1:00-4:00, Room 107B, UNEX Lindbrook Center
(corner of Lindbrook and Gailey [formerly First Interstate Bank]),
taught by Howard
Besser and Anne
Howard's Office Hours Tuesdays 4-5 in 314 South Hall (510)643-7365
& by appt.
Anne's Office Hours Tuesdays 10-noon in 212 GSE&IS (310)206-4687
& by appt.
About the students:
This course will explore important issues around the use of
visual materials (such as moving image film, photographs, drawings, maps,
etc.) in cultural heritage institutions such as museums, archives, and
libraries. The course will deal with special issues posed by visual
materials in terms of representation, selection, evaluation, organization,
access, file format, repurposing, longevity, intellectual property, etc.
The first part of the Berkeley semester will cover background material
and will be pragmatically oriented. Beginning in April for six weeks,
the course will be co-taught as a distance-learning course with the advanced
seminar in archival science at UCLA taught by Anne Gilliland-Swetland.
At that point the course will focus on in-depth examination and evaluation
of the theory base, social and cultural contexts, and political issues
associated with the conceptualization, evaluation, role, and management
of historical and contemporary visual materials in cultural heritage institutions
such as archives, museums, and libraries. The final 4 weeks of the UCLA
Spring quarter will be spent in preparing and discussing student seminar
papers relating to the topics covered by the course.
Topics to be covered include:
What are the issues involved in making visual materials persist over time?
How do we decide which materials should persist over time?
How do intellectual property issues affect preservation, access, and use
of visual materials ? (e.g., the implications of the millenium copyright
As the digital world moves toward multiple uses and viewing works from
different angles, how does this affect notions of context and its preservation?
What challenges do visual materials pose for representation (e.g., cataloging,
description) in terms of facets described, collection vs. item-level, provenance
vs. subject-based access, and controlled vs. uncontrolled vocabularies?
How do digital objects challenge traditional archival notions of evidence?
Can ways be found to authenticate digital works, and track provenance and
How do reformatting and multiple formats of the same work change how we
look at a work? (e.g., are videos the same as films? Are digital photographs
the same as analog photos?)
Is there a social context to viewing an object? (is viewing a video at
home the same as viewing a film in a theater? Is viewing a mural on a screen
the same as viewing it in-situ?)
Who attributes value to a work, and under what circumstances? How does
one deal with the different values that different communities may have
towards any particular set of works?
Are there ethical considerations in format conversions (e.g., film colorization,
How do politics affect cultural heritage institutions as they strive to
serve new audiences? (the Enola Gay incident?)
Joint course materials
More Recent Topics
Events to check out
4/6--Preservation issues for traditional visual formats. Conscious
and unconscious preservation management. How community values, societal
pressures, and market imperatives affect preservation. How evidence
comes to remain and how much does posterity need?
Summary of what the Berkeley class has covered prior to the joining of
the two classes
Class logistics, getting acquainted, using the distance learning facilities
Talk on digital longevity
Discussion on digital longevity (Powerpoint
slides from Howard's talk)
Assignment due: read Time
& Bits, particularly Defining
the Problem of our Vanished Memory
UCLA students: email a brief personal profile to your respective instructor
explaining why you're taking this course, your background, etc. Also,
if you have a digital image of yourself, send that as well. These
will be mounted on a class Website and used to help the remote students
to put a fact to your voice.
Questions to think about as you read:: Which communities think what
needs to survive?
4/13--Preservation issues for digital visual formats, both native and
reformatted. Issues of digital longevity. New techniques ?
emulation, container architectures (e.g., bundling, bonding) Digital Rosetta
Stones, etc.. Preservation of evidence vs. information. Preservation
of the artifact or the essence? Version control.
Presentation by Anne: The Nature and Preservation of Evidence
in Multimedia Cultural Materials (Powerpoint
NSF Workshop on
Data Archiving and Information Preservation
WGBH Educational Foundation Universal
Hedstrom, Margaret and Sheon Montgomery. Digital
Pre servation Needs and Requirements in RLG Member Institutions, 1998.
Arts and Humanities Data Service, Strategic
Framework for Creating and Preserving Digital Collections, July
Rothenberg, Jeff. Avoiding Technological
Quicksand: Finding a Viable Technical Foundation for Digital Preservation,
Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, January
Standards Organization Invitational Meeting on Technical Metadata Elements
for Image Files, April 18-19, 1999, Washington DC (sponsored by the
National Information Standards Organization and the Digital Library Federation)
Howard's Digital Longevity
I Already Have that Image?" Issues in Equivalency of Digital Images,
draft paper on varient forms by Howard Besser and Jon Weise
Questions to think about as you read:
What do the terms "evidence" and "information" mean with reference to cultural
How does evidential value manifest itself in visual and other multimedia
Does this evidential value change when materials are reformatted?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of keeping different versions
What is different between the preservation needs of material that is "born
digital" and that which has been digitized?
Is it possible to preserve digital materials unchanged?
What are the strengths and limitations of the various proposed methods
of digital preservation for different uses of cultural materials?
Assignment due (UCLA students): Submit an abstract of a seminar paper topic
Report on National Standards
Organization Invitational Meeting on Technical Metadata Elements for Image
of meeting results
Questions to think about
Should metadata always be somehow bound to a digital image, or should it
How do migration strategies for digital objects pose problems for guaranteeing
veracity or authticity?
How can we express the differences between the members of an "Image Family"?
How can we distinguish between variant forms of a work, particularly when
different file formats (TIFF, JFIF/JPEG) can be transformed into identical
displays but their metadata cannot? What kinds of implications does
this raise for long-term custodialship?
UCLA students report on seminar paper topics/both classes comment on
4/27--Issues of representation. What are different professional
descriptive paradigms? What works and does not work with visual materials,
and when? Which communities need materials described in which ways?
How does description serve the "physical and moral defence of the materials,"
i.e., support authentication, collectivity, custodial, and preservation
ends as well as access? How might this differ across archival, museum,
and library communities?
on appraising and representing visual materials for archival collections
and selecting them for digitization (Anne)
Ostrow, Stephen E. Digitizing Historical Pictorial Collections for the
Internet (Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources,
Hazen, Dan, Jeffrey Horrell, and Jan Merril-Oldham. Selecting Research
Collections for Digitization(Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and
Information Resources, 1998)
Questions to think about as you read:
How would you pro-actively seek to document an event or process? How would
your perspective on that event or process affect its representation (and
consequently affect what remained for others to view in the future)?
Think about how you might document this class, and how your choices would
affect how the class is represented. Would you save the syllabus? (Which
version? it's constantly changing.) Assignments? Student papers? Audio
recordings of the class discussions? Still images of the class set-up?
Videos of the course? How could you try to create an "adequate" representation,
and how would this depend upon what you thought the class was about (the
UCB class focus, the UCLA class focus, distance learning, etc.).
Can Make Van Gogh 3-D! Should We?, Mathew Mirapaul, NY Times, April
(UCB students): Give an oral summary of all our discussions this term on
the issue of "representation" for the UCLA students.
5/4--UCB student project presentations and class
(UCLA students): Submit a seminar paper outline, including the introductory
section to Anne.
Interesting articles on cinema:
Digital Cinema of the Mind? Could Be, by Walter Murch, NY Times, May
Vs. Toy Sellers: We All Lose, by Janet Maslin, NY Times, May 2, 1999
Matrix': If the Cityscape Is Only a Dream by Herbert Muschamp, NY Times,
May 2, 1999
Hollywood Indeed, Colonized, Dave Kerr, NY Times, May 2, 1999
Films: The Studios Have It All Wrong, Spike Lee, May 2, 1999
5/11 - 6/1 -- UCLA students' seminar paper topic presentations.
Each week 2-3 students will make presentations and lead class discussions
based on their seminar paper topic. At least one week in advance, students
will supply the other students in the class, as well as the instructor,
with 2 readings that are central to their paper topic; as well as a set
of questions the students should be considering as they read. These readings,
together with the questions, will be used to focus discussion around the
presentorÕs paper topic. Students are also expected to provide critical
feedback to the presentor on his/her topic and work to date.
Assignment due (UCLA students): Written critique (in HTML) of Berkeley
UCLA students' seminar paper due to Anne.
main course page is at http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/impact/s99/
extra course page is at http://scow.gslis.ucla.edu/faculty/swetland/HTML/vmsyll.html