Howard Besser

-address and travel schedule 
-relatively recent Talks  | 2020 dental issues 
-COVID-19 socio-political links 
-PI on $450,000 and $250,000 grants to promote electronic privacy protection through public libraries -- Library Freedom Institute (LFI):  2nd grant PROct 2017 Library Journal articleLFI syllabus  | LFI guest lectures | funded 1st LFI grant application
-Internet Activist Aaron Swartz driven to suicide by Federal Prosecutors 
 Vita | partial list of publications | online papers and articles
-archiving media related to the Occupy Movement | selected Occupy photos--Occupy Everything, Demand Nothing

Syllabi of Classes Taught:
-Surveillance Studies: Contemporary Digital Videos and the State: Spring 2021 
-Free Culture & Open Access: Fall 2020 | Fall 2019
-Advanced Topics in Moving Image Archiving & Preservation: Fall 2019 | Fall 2017 | Fall 2016Fall 2015 | Fall 2014 
-Culture and History of Libraries, Museums, & Archives:  Spring 2020 | Spring 2018 | Spring 2017 | Spring 2016 | Spring 2010 | Spring 2004 | Fall 2003
-Introduction to Moving Image Archiving & Preservation: Fall 2020 | Fall 2017 | Fall 2016 | Fall 2015 | Fall 2014 | Fall 2013 | Fall 2010 | Fall 2009 | Fall 2008 | Fall 2007 | Fall 2003 
-Digital Preservation: Fall 2010 | Spring 2006  
-Spring 2014 Free Culture & Open Access
-Spring 2013 Handling Complex Media 
-Spring 2008 Class on New Media, Installation Art, and the Future of Cinema 

Sections on this page
  • Writings on Social Effects of Information Technologies 
  • Teaching with technology and Distance-Independent Learning activities 
  • Digital Libraries, Standards, & Longevity Activities 
  • Work on Multimedia DBs 
  • Howard Besser is Professor of Cinema Studies and Founding Director of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation masters degree program (MIAP) as well as Senior Scientist for Digital Library Initiatives for NYU's Library.  In addition to teaching one to three MIAP courses per year, he teaches a regular Cinema Studies course in Free Culture and Open Access, and has taught New Media, Installation Art, and the Future of Cinema. And he plans to teach a new course on Digital Video and The State.  In 2020 he is finishing up a $450,000 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to train librarians as Privacy Advocates teaching endangered communities about digital privacy issues, and in 2021 he will be starting a new $250,000 IMLS grant to further extend the reach of the highly diverse 100 Privacy Advocates already trained. 

    He is currently working on the tension between preservation and privacy and between preservation and access within collections of social media that tend to be the most revealing of contemporary times (like tweets and Facebook postings as part of social movements). His ongoing interest in film distribution for the use of higher education has led to his testimony before the US Copyright Office on what eventually became the TEACH Act, 2 MIAP student theses, and his own current work on issues involving faculty teaching with films during the distance learning of a pandemic. Besser has always been interested in historically neglected types of works and historically neglected populaces. His prior research projects have involved preserving the records of social movements, digital public television, preserving and providing digital access to dance performance, preserving difficult electronic works, issues around copyright and fair use, Do-It-Yourself media, and the changing nature of media with the advent of digital delivery systems.

    In 2003, he took early retirement from his position as Professor at UCLA's School of Education and Information Studies, where he taught and did research on multimedia and image databases (particularly in cultural institutions), digital library issues (particularly around  standards, longevity, intellectual property, and metadata), the development of new ways to teach with technology (including web-based instruction and distance learning), information literacy, web design, and the social and cultural impact of new information technologies. He is particularly interested in design issues and the use of critical theory perspectives. Besser is an international expert on new technologies in libraries, museums, and archives, and has been active in national and international efforts to develop metadata and standards for the cultural heritage community.

    Dr Besser has been on the faculty of UC Berkeley's School of Information Management & Systems, had a long-term affiliation with the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center, and was on the Advisory Board for the UCB Art Technology, & Culture lecture series. From 1994-96 he was on the faculty of the University of Michigan's School of Information where he headed a committee developing a curriculum in multimedia and digital publishing. He has also been an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Howard is also actively involved with museums and the art community. He was one of the founders and served on the Management Committee of the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project, and directed a Mellon-sponsored study of image distribution from museums to universities. For several years he was in charge of long-range information planning for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, and for many years he headed information technology for Berkeley's University Art Museum. His work in this area around the turn of the millennium involved examining issues of organization, access, and longevity for new media art in collaboration with the Electronic Café International and a group of museums with electronic art collections.

    He travels a lot, speaks frequently at professional conferences, gives workshops on Image Databases or on Metadata about half a dozen times a year, and consults for libraries, museums, and other institutions. For several years he served as co-chair of the American Library Association's Technology & the Arts Interest Group (co-sponsored by the Association of College & Research Libraries and the Library Information Technology Association).

    Social Effects of New Information Technology

    Versions of some of his papers and talks on the social effects of new information resources:

    Cultural Heritage Institutions

  • The Changing Role of Photographic Collections With the Advent of Digitization, draft of chapter that appeared in Katherine Jones-Garmil (ed.), The Wired Museum: Emerging Technology and Changing Paradigms, Washington: American Association of Museums, 1996
  • The Transformation of the Museum and the Way it's Perceived, draft of chapter that appeared in Katherine Jones-Garmil (ed.), The Wired Museum: Emerging Technology and Changing Paradigms, Washington: American Association of Museums, 1996
  • The Changing Role of Photographic Collections With the Advent of Digitization Discussion Paper for Working Group for Digital Image in Curatorial Practice, George Eastman House, June 4, 1994; (get complete conference proceedings)
  • The Information Highway must be a Two-Way Street: The Arts and Humanities Communities Cannot be merely Consumers Presentation to the Convergence Conference: Arts and Humanities and the NII, Oct, 1994
  • The Shape of the 21st Century Library in Milton Wolf et. al. (eds.), Information Imagineering: Meeting at the Interface, Chicago: American Library Association, pages 133-146
  • Policy

  • maintains websites on Intellectual Property in the Digital Age, Information Commons, and on Public Domain and Public Spaces -- including links to articles he has written, important papers, guidelines, and recent news articles
  • his paper on Commodification of Culture Harms Creators, prepared Oct 2001 for American Library Association Wye River retreat on Information Commons, and published in The Information Commons, Technology, and the Future of Libraries, Issue #1, June 2002
  • The Next Digital Divides in Teaching to Change LA 1:2, Spring 2001
  • Was on the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Intellectual Property Rights and the Emerging Information Infrastructure that authored The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age (National Academy of Sciences Press, 2000)

  • Consumers & Public

    Older Activities

    Teaching with Technology

    Since the 1990s Howard has been actively involved in developing and testing new methods for using technology to teach.  Some of those efforts have focused on Distance-Independent Learning. Howard edited a Perspectives issue on distance education for the Journal of the American Society for Information Science which appeared in Nov of 1996. In Winter 1995 he taught a course on the Impact of Multimedia and Networks in which students in both Ann Arbor and Berkeley used a wide variety of technologies to interact with one another both in class as well as to collaborate on projects.  In 1999 he co-taught a class with half the students in Berkeley and the other half at UCLA.  And in 2001 he recorded a continuing education lecture on Distance Learning for an American Society for Information Science & Technology continuing education experiment.

    Since Spring 1994 Howard has been using the Internet as the key delivery system for instructional support, placing curricular materials on the WorldWide Web, having students engage in online discussion groups, and making students read the online work of previous students and incorporate this work into their own Web pages and online discussions.  From 1997-99 he taught a course in Good Web Design and directed a grant project that hired students from his department to develop well-designed online web-based delivery systems for course materials for large undergraduate classes on the UC Berkeley campus.

    Howard helped found the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project (MESL) as a way to provide digital images for instruction. Recently he has been examining the new instructional strategies being developed to teach with these images. At Michigan Dr. Besser also worked both to develop new curriculum that relied extensively on technology, and he worked on design of instructional technology labs to support extensive teaching with technology. Under a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to the University of Michigan to revamp curriculum, Howard chaired a subcommittee that examined the creation and design of digital documents, and another committee that was designing a new Information Studies Media Lab.

    Examples of Howard's innovative teaching include exercises incorporating repurposed images to teach important properties being raised by the WorldWide Web.  He also regularly uses online papers and projects from previous student work as starting material for subsequent classes.  In 1995 he was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year by the American Society for Information Science.

    21st Century Literacies

    Howard's Distance Learning papers, journal articles, Talks, etc.

    Curricular Support Material on the Web


    Digital Libraries, Standards, Metadata, & Longevity Activities

    Howard is involved in a variety of activities around Digital Libraries, Standards, and Longevity.  He was a member of the group that created the Dublin Core metadata standard (1995), and was the lead convenor for the 3rd major Dublin Core meeting (1996).  He was part of a small team that designed the first set of standards for Structural and Administrative metadata (originally called Making of America 2, now called the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard).  Howard was part of a small committee that initiated the National Information Standards Organization's efforts to create a standard for Technical Metadata for Image files (Howard's opening presentation | Howard's meeting summary).  He was a US representatives to the Metadata Working Group of the National Science Foundation/European Community sponsored Digital Library Collaboratory (an 18-month effort to harmonize  divergent Digital Library research and practice from country to country, as well as to create an internationally accepted future research agenda) (1998-99).  And he was a member of the Actors and Roles Working Group of the US National Science Foundation and the European Community's DELOS, creating a "Reference Models for Digital Libraries: Actors and Roles" (2001-2003).

    Since 1998 Howard has been a member of the California Digital Library's Technical Architecture and Standards Committee, which has written extensive digital library standards.  He supplements his standards development work with extensive instructional and advocacy activities, including scores of talks, workshops, and mini-courses for academic and professional societies both in the US and abroad.

    Produced a variety of online and print documents that serve as both conceptual and pragmatic guidelines for groups involved in creating interoperable digital collections.

    Multimedia Databases

    Here are some of his multimedia database activities:
    -Ready-Maid (1972)
    -Jan/Feb 2012 Susan Poff murder/memorial
    -2006 Grassroots Media Conf | demonstrations against RNCagainst Iraq War | comments on Sept 11 terrorism
    -1999-2005 trips: 05 London | 05 Taiwan | 04 Home Movie Day SF | S04 SAA Boston | 04 Toronto JTS
                04 Hanoi FIAFFeb 03 Lisbon | summer 01 Brazil | 3/01 Cuba | 9/99 Vietnam 
    -Anne Lipow Memorial  |  2003 sleepscan  | Howard's Fall 2000 Disasters | Howard's LA image | Howard's first week in LA (Aug 1999) | 2002-2002-2002 art piece   (backgrnd) 
    Irv Besser dies 5/7/97
    Howard's T-Shirt image database
    1996 Ann Arbor T-Shirt Exhibtion
    Rants on current events (including the Unabom)
    Anarchist links