“Writing Race and Education History on the Web: Three Digital Book Projects”


Welcome to our panel
this afternoon. I’m Bryan Croxell. I’m one of the Digital
Humanities librarians here at Brown. We have, as you can
see here, we have a panel this
afternoon Writing Race and Education
History on the Web. And, turns out, this panel
happened already this morning at the History and Education
Society, which is taking place in Providence this weekend. And so, this panel
was put together by our three panelists, and I
was invited to chair the panel. So, we’ve already done this. We had a warm up. [LAUGHTER] This is going to be even better. But we– when the panel
did come together– we decided– I asked if they’d
be willing to come and talk at Brown as well because
the subtitle is colon three digital book projects. Each of our scholars is going
to talk about digital book projects they’re involved in. As many of us in the room know,
Brown University and the Brown Libraries have a grant
from the Mellon Foundation for publishing digital book
projects over the next coming four years. And so our talk today
is sponsored in part by the Mellon Foundation
as part of our future of scholarly publishing
series that’s been going on this year and last year. So, we’re really
glad to have this. And in fact, this
is the first panel of the year on the subject. So what I’m going to do
is I’m going to introduce our panelists quickly. Each of them. And then they will
each give their talk. And I’ve got one or two things
to say by way of summary, and then it will be
questions and answers. So in order of last
night, actually no, we switched Esther
and Ainsley, so we’re going to start with Matt
Delmont, whom many of you might know because he’s
been at Brown twice before. He’s a Professor of History
at Arizona State University. He did his PhD here in
American Civilization at the time, now
American Studies. He’s the author of
three books including, Why Busing Failed: Race,
Media, and National Resistance to School Desegregation. It came out this year
for [? NBC ?] Press. Jack Dougherty is professor
of Educational Studies at Trinity College in
Hartford, Connecticut. He, I teased him
at the last one, I said, he has one real book. He has more real books,
but his first book that came out in
print only was More Than One Struggle, The
Evolution of Black School Reform in Milwaukee. It came out from UNC Press. He’s done four, five, three. There are other books that
appeared in digital form and in print form. He’ll talk about them. And that’s what he’s been doing
for the last decade is thinking about how to put things online. Our last panelist is
Esther Cyna, Cyna. I even asked and I switched. Esther is a French
student from [INAUDIBLE], is currently pursuing a PhD
in History and Education at Teachers College,
Columbia University. She’s a Fulbright scholar
studying issues of inequality in American education. She works with an educating
Parliament project. Esther’s absent colleague
in this presentation is Ainsley Erickson who joined
us at the panel earlier today, who is Assistant
Professor of History and Education at Teachers
College Columbia, and is one of the project
leads on educating Parliament. So I will turn the time
over to our panelists. I thank you all for
coming out this afternoon. I thank Brad for
this opportunity. It is great to be
back at Brown to share a panel with both of you. My presentation today is based
on a book and digital project on the book called
Why Busing Failed. It came out earlier this
year from the University of California Press. But my following books we
created a digital project goes along with it. I’ve used as a
platform called Scalar. It was developed
by the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at
the University of Southern California. It’s open access and it’s
free to create accounts. So you can create an
account for yourself. You can have your students
create accounts, as many as you like, as many
book products you like. What I’m going to do
is walk through today, sort of what the impetus for
me for creating this product was for this book. You can find more about
it at whybusingfailed.com. And if you have any questions,
you can talk to me via email or on Twitter at @mattdelmont. So the Scalar project
for Why Busing Failed is structured certainly
differently than the book. So the book is pretty
traditionally structured, eight chapters,
analytical argument that I carry throughout. The Scalar project
takes about 25% of the material from the
book, puts it online, but I’ve broken it
up in different ways. I structured on the idea of 12
different ways to teach busing. Try to provide sort
of bite sized 500 to 1000 word arguments
for how I think we’re not teaching the history
of busing in the right way. And I’ll talk about
what I mean by that. The goal for me here
with this product though is to try to give scholars
and average Americans more resources to reckon honestly
with the history of race in our country, particularly the
history of school segregation outside of the south. So for me there are
two things I want to emphasize about why I was
drawn to a digital platform to present this
kind of research. One, is strictly technical. So I’m historian of media,
history and civil rights, historian of urban history. As [? I used to write in the ?]
media, one of my primary
sources is television. For this project
I watched hundreds of hours of television
news footage to try to get a sense of
how this issue was covered in national news,
how Americans were exposed to school segregation. It’s very hard to
present that in a book. Right? I can talk about it. I can describe it. I can footnote, tell
you where I found it, but I can’t actually show
you what it looked like. So when the appeals of Scalar
for me is when you go online you can click on
these video clips and actually watch the
evidence I’m talking about. I’ll show you this clip shortly. The second, is a more
theoretical point. Let me talk about this quote
from Foster Charles Mills. His idea of the epistemology
of ignorance and then explain how it
relates to my project. He says, “Imagine
ignorance that resists. Imagine ignorance
that fights back. Imagine ignorance
that is active, dynamic, that refuses
to go quietly, not at all confined to the
illiterate and uneducated, but propagated at the
highest levels of the land, indeed presenting itself
unblushingly as knowledge. So I think it’s important here
that ignorance is not just the lack of knowledge. Right? What I try to understand,
why the issue of busing is presented in the way it is. It’s not just that people
didn’t know the story, it’s that people,
and people in power purposely misunderstood
the evidence. They purposely skewed
it in ways to advantage one interpretation of the
facts rather than another. All right. So, part of the idea of getting
this material online it’s to try to give people resources
to understand what actually happened, and get more of the
primary sources in people’s hands so they can get
a full picture of what the story looked like. Let me start with the
television news clip because the news media is
one of the primary sources of this epistemology
of ignorance, of shaping how Americans did or
did not understand the issue. This from September 1974. It’s really the start of
the Boston busing crisis. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – The Boston School
System is scheduled to begin busing Thursday in
compliance with the Federal Judge’s integration order. Opponents of the busing plan
shouted their bitterness at a rally today and
refused to listen to the man regarded
as the state’s most popular politician. Jackie Castleberry reports. Eight to ten thousand
parents and children attended Boston
Common to protest the court ordered busing. They carried signs,
sang songs, and read angry anti-busing speeches. [BOOING] – One of their targets,
pro-busing Senator Edward Kennedy tried to speak. The parents blocked
his path to microphones and refused to hear him. – That’s a nice speech. Are you going to [INAUDIBLE]? – [INAUDIBLE] came to hear you. – [INAUDIBLE] [CROWD NOISE] – [INAUDIBLE] Buddy. – As Senator Kennedy
retreated towards his office, the crowd began to push
hurling eggs and insults. Just as the Senator
re-sheltered inside, the crowd rushed, pounded and
then shattering glass windows. [GLASS BREAKING] [CROWD YELLING] After more speeches the
crowd ended the days protest singing God Bless America. [SINGING] Jackie Castleberry,
CBS News Boston. [SINGING] [END PLAYBACK] I can show you hours of footage
that looks very much like that. The reason I emphasize
television news is because it really helped
frame how Americans understood and how scholars have
studied this issue. What I mean by that is
it set the periodization. So it encouraged us to
look at Boston 1970s as the starting point for civil
rights struggles in the north. It encouraged us to focus
on a certain set of people. In this case, frustrated
and angry white parents as the locus of the story. And it focused geographically. So it put a lot of
emphasis on Boston. I choose these images purposely. So usually when we teach
the history of civil rights we’ll start with, in terms
of school segregation, we’ll start with Brown
v. Board of Education, 1954, or Little Rock in
1957, and end with Boston. Right? That this is where civil rights
and school segregation runs aground. It’s important that the
image on the right, there are no black students there. Right? So, it becomes a story,
it’s about buses, right? Busing, school segregation,
whether it was in the South or in the North was about
the constitutional rights of black students. When it came to Boston, the
way news media covered it, they made it a story about
the anger and frustration of white parents. So part of that product is to
try to push back against that. And to say that that takes work. So I’m writing a blog piece
right now for the Smithsonian’s O Say Can You See blog. They asked me to do something
about the Boston busing crisis. I said, I’d be
ecstatic, very happy to. The material they sent
me were these items. This is material culture related
to anti-busing protesters in Boston. Now think about
this for a minute. If they asked me to write about
the history of Little Rock and sent me stuff related to
white protests in Little Rock, but nothing about the Little
Rock Nine or Daisy Bates, we would know that was crazy. Right? The story about Little
Rock was a story about black students trying
to claim educational access. The story in Boston is
the same, but the material we have even at our nation’s
most prestigious institution is all focused on white people. Right? There were black civil
rights activists, black students who fought for
educational rights in Boston. The Smithsonian doesn’t
have any of that. So I’m trying to tell a story
about civil rights in Boston through these items that sort
of flips the script on it. I want to highlight three
things that the book is trying to deal with the digital project
by extension is trying to do. One, is to decenter
Boston in the 1970s as the locus of this story. So, resistance,
organized resistance, to busing for school
segregation actually starts in New York in the 1950s,
just after Brown v. Board. These mothers are
marching in Queens in 1959 to protest a plan that was going
to send 400 black and Puerto Rican students from an
overcrowded school in Brooklyn to school in Queens. No white students were
going to be moved. This was a one way
busing program. But they’re already
carrying signs using this language of busing I
found this one on eBay I love. This busing creates fussing. Right? Now, it’s important that
busing is a code word, right? They’re not carrying signs
that say we want whites only schools or we don’t
want black and Puerto Rican students in our schools, but
that’s the subtext, right? No one had– no one was
concerned about busing. No one used that term until
it was proposed as a way to try to integrate or
desegregate schools. The second thing the book
is trying to push against is this idea of de
facto segregation being somehow innocent. So, when you actually look at
Judge Garrity’s order, what led to busing in Boston,
it was intentional. What he said was
this, “The court concludes that the defendants,”
the Boston School committee, “took many actions in
their official capacities with the purpose and intent to
segregate Boston public schools and that such actions
cause current conditions of segregation in the
Boston public schools. Plaintiffs have proved that
defendants intentionally segregated schools
at all levels.” Right? That’s not de facto. That’s the de jure. That’s intentional
school segregation. That’s why buses were
rolling in Boston. That’s the
constitutional crisis. Right? James Baldwin has a quote
about de facto segregation. He said, de facto
segregation means that Negroes are segregated
but nobody did it. Right? That’s the epistemology
of ignorance. The sense that we have no idea
how New York became segregated. We have no idea how
Chicago, Boston, Providence how these schools
were being segregated. We know that. We know the evidence. But it’s trying to get that
evidence in front of people and for people to confront it. The third I think
most important is there was massive civil rights
movements all across the North Midwest and West that get
written out of the story if we just focus on anti-bussing
protesters in Boston in the 1970s. Ruth Batson was one of the most
important national civil rights activists. She was the most
important one in Boston. She fought for
over three decades to secure educational access for
her students, for her children, but also for black
students across Boston. When we focus on
Boston, just the 1970s on anger of white parents we
write her out of the story. Right? And that’s a
significant problem. And this is not just Boston. In New York there’s a massive
school boycott in 1964. Chicago, a similarly
massive boycott in ’63. This was true in Cleveland,
in Boston, other cities well. New York, by numbers, was
the largest civil rights protest of the era, 460,000
students stayed out of school. The March on Washington by
comparison was 230,000 people. Right? I don’t think, I’m not going to
make people raise their hands, but I don’t think most
people know that story. We don’t usually teach that
as part of the civil rights history. And I want to talk
about why that is. So we first show you a couple of
clips from that school boycott. Give you a sense of
what that looked like. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] [CHANTING] [CROWD CHANTING] – Jim Crow must go. [INAUDIBLE]. Jim Crow. – [INAUDIBLE]. – When do we want it? [CHANTING] [INAUDIBLE] [CHANTING] [END PLAYBACK] So the chant there
is Jim Crow must go. Right? Jim Crow is the system
of apartheid segregation that was in the South. When I show it to my students
I ask them to think about what does it mean that we
have teenagers marching through the streets of
New York in the 1960s chanting Jim Crow must go? The system that we usually
associate with the South they recognize as
being something that’s harming them in New York. Right? It looks slightly
different regionally, but the school segregation
context is quite similar. One more clip from
that same rally. A young man talking about
what they’re fighting for. [VIDEO PLAYBACK] – Just on the
subway. [INAUDIBLE]. – Do you expect
violence here today? – No, sir. Not if– no we don’t expect it. But, it can happen. – [INAUDIBLE]. – [INAUDIBLE]. Look at the blue uniform. You asked me do I
have to say violence. None of us have any weapons. Matter of fact,
last week Tuesday when we were over here
nobody started no violence with the officers, cops. Yesterday they sicced,
chased us down with horses, splitting us up,
and then wouldn’t let us go on the subway. – [INAUDIBLE]. – All we want is
equal education. That’s all. Equal education. – Thank you. Get all that? – [INAUDIBLE]. [CHANTING] [END PLAYBACK] So, the goal of my book
and the digital project is try to bring this
history to light, but also try to understand why
don’t we know this history. Why is it so difficult
to talk about this? There’s two answers to that. One is that this was not covered
with a sense of moral urgency at the time. This is a New York
Times editorial that they wrote– that was a
scathing review of the boycott. It said, “Civil
rights leaders who seem hellbent on staging a
Negro and Puerto Rican student boycott have set out
on a reckless course.” A boycott can do no good. It’s the violent
and illegal approach of adult-encouraged truancy. Usually we think about the
relationship between the news media and civil rights we
think that the news media played a really
progressive role in terms of opening the nation’s
eyes to the horrors that was going on in the South. That’s a true story for about
a decade from 1955 to ’65. But only if you
focus on the South. All right, so the New York
Times, television news did play a very brave role in terms
of looking at Little Rock, Selma, Montgomery and
exposing those horrors, bringing them to
national audiences. They were much less
bold when it came to what was going on
in their own backyard in New York, and
Chicago, and Los Angeles. Part of this is that they
fundamentally could not believe that school segregation,
residential segregation would exist in New York. They just couldn’t believe it. This is the epistemology
of ignorance. They refuse to look
at the facts honestly. The other reason it’s very hard
to teach about these things now, or for us to
understand this history is that the clips I just showed
you are not publicly available. Right? Whereas, the Boston
one I showed you is one you could find probably online. You can find all sorts of stuff
about the busing conflicts in the 1970s. The clips from New
York I just showed you, I had to wiggle my way into
the ABC and NBC archives and pay for those
to be digitized. These are not things that have
been available and accessible to historians fingertips. So let me conclude there. The appeal, for me, again
of these digital projects is twofold. One, I can show you the
actual evidence I am using, the visual materials. But also, by making
this open access, now when people Google Ruth
Batson, when they Google school boycott, when they
Google the Civil Rights Act and the loophole
that allowed school segregation to flourish
across the North, there’s more resources
here for educators, but also citizens who
want to understand this history more fully. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Great. Thanks very much, Matt,
for getting us rolling. And let me call that one here. That’s a bus pun. Ah, bus pun. Didn’t realize it. Hold on there. Thank you. And also to help out
here what we also did is we have one link
to all of our projects and all those links as well. So this is– remember we were
at the history of Education Society this morning. So, this one here, bit.ly slash
all caps hes2016 that takes you to our conference proposal. And you can see how
to contact all of us. But there’s the abstract. People have actually written
some questions already from the other session. Just a small little thing, but
I keep telling academics like rather than hiding all this
good stuff in your hard drive, it’s like, it’s– you know, it’s
so easy to take a conference program in, you know, your
session and just share this material. It’s a simple Google document
when you’re at the session itself. So that’s there for any
of these links, materials. The presentation
I’m going to show is actually one of the
links in here as well. And I’m going to take it
right from this link here which is already open over here. And I’m going to talk
about On the Lines, the current book
project I’m working on in the context of
open access books. And I think the thing
to start with here is also you’re
hearing just me, I’m the faculty member
on this project. But, as you know,
especially those of you who do digital
partnerships with everyone, no one does a digital
book project alone. Picture, along with me, over the
course of the past five years I would say close to 100
undergraduates, librarians, software coders, people
who work at my campus Trinity College, partnerships
that we made with the Hartford Public Library, the
University of Connecticut, and everyone who basically
has some skin in the game. And they’re mentioned in
the contributors page. So I’m the one that comes
out and talks about it all, but there’s a big
partnership behind this. I usually have to
explain to people who aren’t savvy to open
access what this concept is. So when I’m pitching this to
academics, who are the history faculty and authors
and so forth, I have to explain to them, hey,
this is what open access means. It’s when you have no price
barriers and no permission barriers for this
type of research. And they usually are
familiar with maybe they’ve heard of
open access journals. I have to carve out more space
for what open access books are. I point them to the directory
of open access books and try to get
them thinking about if you’re doing like an history
book length publications, it’s like you have to think
differently about how can we do it, not just an article,
but an entire book, and the digital evidence
that goes along with it as an open access project. And you have to show them
what some real– what are these scholarly open
access books look like. I’ve had good fortune on
the past couple of years to be involved as co-editing
two open access edited volumes, Writing History in the Digital
Age, a number of historians trying to write about how
our authorship changes in the digital world when
anyone can author history about the past on the web. And also, a more pedagogically
ordered volume, lots of faculty were describing how we’re trying
to use the tools of web writing to sort of like think
differently with our students about how we do work together
in classrooms, and so forth. Both of these were with the
University of Michigan Press, and I keep
emphasizing to people, hey a lot of these innovative
open access publishers are really embedded
within a library. It’s the University
of Michigan libraries that has really paved the
way for rethinking funding, for rethinking infrastructure
about what it means to be a press,
and, I don’t know, these crazy people
have this idea that you should have places
that promote knowledge that should be freely shared. I think they called
these libraries. Are you familiar
with the concept? Good. So, I’m a big believer in this
and what I tell people for the get go is, listen,
as an author, these are available for
free online and print for sale at a reasonable cost. And we’ve even
pushed the envelope. You can do open access
book publishing. It’s traditional peer review. Or, you can do what we did,
open peer review model. That’s where the press
designated and commissioned four experts. And at the same time
we let the public look at the drafts of these chapters. In each case, we got
about 1,000 rich comments before we even finalized
the book project. So as people know this is a
different way of doing things. Let’s bring it back to
this particular one. I’m on this panel here
today about writing about race and educational
history on the web and it’s because the
current project my students and I are working on this,
On the Line, this is the one, it’s not done yet. I’m embarrassed to
say that this one is, it’s taken about four years
longer than it should have. I think what happened along the
way was, well, to be honest, we discovered so much
about just the process that we end up writing three
other books while trying to finish this one. So this is the one we’re
trying to piece together now. But, On the Line is very
much an historical monograph. It’s based in the metropolitan
Hartford, Connecticut area. I’m trying to explain how
schooling and housing came together to shape the
city suburban region and how civil rights activists
have tried continually over the years with
different types of strategies to challenge those
boundary lines. We argue that we’re really into
making visible the hidden race and class boundaries
that divide the region. We’re trying to
tell the stories, retell the stories of people
who tried to cross over, redraw, or erase these lines. I’m obsessed with boundary
lines by doing this project, and I am sharing the book
On the Line online for free. I basically have been
discovering how we can actually cross some boundaries with
the technology of today and with the open
access philosophy that can reach people with stories
that wouldn’t have reached them otherwise. This book in progress is under
contract, Amherst College Press like the University
of Michigan Press, it’s another library
funded economic press. And they are open to
these arrangements where even though
we’re not done we’re allowed to share our
work in progress online because the entire product will
be online for free as well. So, we can go to
the link right now. I’ll show you one or two
images of what it looks like and I’ll tell you more about
why I think it matters this way. One the Line, right now,
anyone can go to the website and read chapters as web
essays online, or they can go and download
the PDF version, or if you’re a Kindle reader
the Mobi version, or if you’re in an Epub reader, the
Epub version all for free. This is the way it’s a
Press books platform. We’ll talk about
that in a minute. But that’s how that’s set up. And if I think about what I’m
really trying to do here with, my students and
I, is we’re trying to tell these types of stories. Here’s an example about
federal lending and redlining. I have to sort of connect
the story of housing with the story of
schooling, often stories that are told
in two separate silos even within historians. We tend have urban
historians who tend to focus on matters
of say cities and suburbs looking at housing or
interstate highway development. And then we have
education historians who tend to be in other
silos, other boxes who talk about schooling
and social change in different ways. And I was trying to bring
the stories together. I need to be able
to not just insert images of– see that these
are the notorious redlining maps back in the 1930s,
the federal government worked with private lender
during the Depression to try to jump start the
economy and basically mapped out different areas. This is Hartford, Connecticut. This is the suburb of
West Hartford nearby. And the federal government
was, with local people on the ground, rating different
neighborhoods about what mortgage risk they were
at, about whether or not it was a good loan to make to
try to jump start the economy. Green was the best possible,
and red was– hence, the word redlining. These people who were
the– deemed as the worst possible loans. But when you take people further
inside that story in this way being able to sort of
reconstruct that image map into a more interactive
map and embedded in the book so that people can zoom in
on different neighborhoods, find where they live, and see
what the actual details were, what with the appraisal reports
for certain neighborhoods. If I zoom in on this one
here, this is a sample report. If the federal government
had just looked at just the physical
terrain of neighborhoods or just the dollar value
of the housing stock, or was it brick or wood,
and made ratings that way that would have been one thing. But instead, the government
went further here and actually rated the social
composition of the residence. What was the occupation
of people there and how did this fit
into their rating? What’s their estimated income? What are foreign born
families in the area? Oh, this is an
Italian neighborhood. How many percentage of
Negroes are moving in here? Is it an infiltration or not? Are there relief families? 1930’S language for families
receiving federal assistance. In making these
comparisons all the way through there this
clear evidence of racism that I need to bring to
the attention of people about how our structures, our
government-run structures we’re actually shaping the
neighborhoods we live in today. In fact, at the bottom of this
you can see the federal agents and the local
lenders were saying this particular
neighborhood was, it was right on the
edge of the city going into the
suburb of Bloomfield and this was labeled here
as largely given over to the Hebrew race, although the
better class Italians are now moving there as well. You can sort of
see this evidence that really stands out
especially for local audiences about I had no idea. I mean that many people
look at this and they say, I thought people just decided
where they wanted to buy homes. I didn’t see the
structures that were drawing lines and
encouraging investment in some neighborhoods
rather than others. So that’s the story
that I need to tell. And telling it
with maps embedded in the book itself has been
the most effective way I’ve found to do this, especially
because, if you can’t tell, I talk a lot with my hands. If I didn’t have
the maps there I’d be trying to tell stories about
space and place with my hands. But, fortunately, you’re
able to look at the screen rather than just me
gesticulating in the air, I mean, having the evidence
right in the book itself in an interactive manner
allows you to delve deeper in and examine it on your own
terms, on your own evidence. You can look at some of
documents, as well as maps, and so forth to figure
out how this story is connected together. As well, we can do a better
job of telling the story about the activists
who along the way found different ways to
challenge the system. Here’s a quick one here we can
embed oral history interviews right in the text itself. This is technologically,
this is easy to do, but just thinking
about how do we tell the story of
Elizabeth Horton Chef, she’s the lead plaintiff in
the school integration lawsuit that was launched in 1989. How can we tell her
story or snippets of it right inside the
text itself, and help bring people’s stories alive
that you may not otherwise see or may see them
in disjointed ways? That’s very much the text test
of what I’m putting together with all of this here. So, remember, I was pitching
this to historians a while ago. These are the arguments I make
to other historians about why they should consider publishing
open access books this way. And I know the room here
is mostly librarians, if you’re trying to make
partnerships with other faculty feel free to use or modify
any of these arguments. It’s all open access here. You can look at the sites. First, I tell people, listen
to get the best of both worlds argument, and you heard Matt
say this as well, it’s like, I’ve got print books and
they’re on the web as well. A different model
than Matt, but I’ve got an argument here where I
can do both things at once. I can have the
stability of print as people want to read that way. I can also have
the discoverability of open access digital work. And, at the end of the
day, it’s still a book. Notice I’m not saying
the word blog anywhere through this presentation. I’m doing scholarly books. I just happen to be using
WordPress and other derivatives of blogging software to do it. And echoing another
argument as well, I believe that this
kind of web writing here can really blend
the textual narrative with the digital
evidence in ways that it could not do
with either one alone. I do think that people
understand the stories of lines and boundary lines better if
they can sort of see the maps, or they understand what the
activists were explaining if they can sort
of see the videos and read about it
at the same time. I furthermore believe that
if you are writing about race and education history
you’re probably writing about
someone’s civil rights history, and that
civil rights history, it needs to be accessible
to the local communities who lived the history. We authors now are
in a position where you can work day
and night, and years and years on a dissertation,
bring it to about a book form, you can go to a
well-respected publisher, and it’s very likely
nowadays that many of my colleagues,
junior colleagues are finding out that the
publishers are willing to bring their books to fruition,
traditional books, but with a hardcover only
edition, sticker price starting at $45. I’ve seen $75. I’ve seen $99 per book. Even if the Public
Library in that community can afford a copy, which
is questionable in many of our times of
scarcity, it’s not clearly whether or
not the histories that we are gathering
from communities are actually being returned to
the communities who made this. So we need to think
differently about doing this. Furthermore, I
argue and you should as well, academic knowledge,
it becomes more valuable when it’s accessible knowledge. If it’s behind a paywall
fewer people can access it. I believe that scholars
work in a reputation economy more so than dollar economy. You can probably tell
this by the way I dress. [LAUGHTER] I’m not really in
a dollar economy. My professional status is tied
to my name attached to ideas. Whether or not they’re
insightful quality ideas that’s up for the audiences to judge. And, oh, by the way,
that your audiences can’t really judge if they’re
quality out unless they can actually get a hold of
them and see what they think about these particular ideas. So, I picked this
up along the way. It’s like if you’re
in an academic world and you believe that you’re
going to make money off of this, you’re in
the wrong profession, unless you’re in the
textbook industry. You might make some
decent money there. But that certainly isn’t
the primary focus about why, we academics, are
doing what we’re doing. We’re in a reputation economy. Our tools for publishing
should be in our interests as being ways to leverage,
increase our reputations. Furthermore, as I said earlier,
when doing open access work you can share drafts of books
that still aren’t quite done yet, like the one my
students and I are still trying to finish,
that On the Line book. But we can get drafts and
comments out to people and get feedback from people
before we finished it. And that’s been fabulous for us. The final product
is so much better than the current
product, not even final, the current product
is so much better now because of the rich
input we’ve had from people who discovered
it along the way and posted on comments
or shared ideas about it. Furthermore, with
traditional books your publisher can tell
you how many of these sold. And if you’re smart you can look
at the WorldCat and find out which libraries bought
and which ones didn’t. But, that’s about as
far as you can go. With open access digital books,
as you know, we have metrics and you can actually find out
which chapters are interesting and how did people
discover them, what links led them to different
parts of our open access publications. All of those arguments in
more detail with more credits to people who helped
me develop them, you can see in the introductions
to those two publications there. So a couple of
technical slides which I’ll just briefly brush over
and mentioned that they’re here. I’ve been using
this Pressbooks type software for the On the Line
project and also the web writing project. If you’re curious about the open
source version of this which is created by the
Canadian organization that is a private company, but
they have open source software. We basically host
all of our editions at Trinity College on
some local WordPress type servers with our
Trincol.edu edu address. It’s our server admins saying
that’s what we’re going to do. If– you know,
talking them into this but making it clear that
we developed these books at Trinity and if they’re
published elsewhere the publisher gets
the entire content, but we actually keep
our link alive as well. We always refer back to
the published version but that’s how it gets
people on the same page. If you haven’t seen this type
of product called Pressbooks before, it looks like WordPress. That’s why authors like
me can deal with it. The extra nice thing in it
is that you can actually, all through one
workflow, say, oh I want to export–
have the web version but export it in
different formats. And for those who care
about the technical details, this is what gets people
excited because it’s one workflow for doing all
these different formats, even the more exotic formats
that librarians might want to hold onto for long
term preservation purposes or other types of things. And there’s alternatives
to this as well. I’ve been using a GitBook,
a different type of platform for a more– this is basically
an open access textbook about data visualization. It’s one of those
side projects that I shouldn’t be working
on but I am to tell you how to make all those maps. And Scalar’s the one that
Matthew’s been using. I’ve been learning
a lot from him and I’m seeing other models
of people using this. I think Matthew is actually
one of the, among historians, that he’s using it more
wisely and more effectively than most anyone else I’ve seen. But I also I would warn people
who are about to leap into this we should be thinking carefully
before publishing open access. I remind people that,
yeah there’s dangers. A very nice book project could
turn into an unclimbed mountain that could take you forever. You’re supposed to laugh. [LAUGHTER] Thank you. My own chuckle’s fine. A lot of academics,
especially historians, they’re more accustomed to just going
to the archives by themselves, just writing by themselves. They’re very
socialized, I’d say. Socialized. Do very individualized
work and it’s very much collaborative
work is really what pulls together an open
access, or digital book, or digital project. No one really does
these things alone. A lot of academics who
were trained to work alone find themselves out
of their comfort zone in a collaborative project. They need to rethink. Many of us who have done this
have found ourselves– we had to learn entirely new
skills that no one ever dreamed of when we were
in graduate school. And I tell people if you don’t
like learning new things maybe you shouldn’t be doing this. But I’m trying to sort of
play to their, you know, so they’re excited,
they’re was like, yes, why did they get into
this academic life, because we do like
learning new things. Maybe we need some
more partnerships and help to make some of
these things come together. But I tell people
over and over again, the technology is
not the hard part. The rethinking the organization
of who’s responsible for what, and how we tell a story that
has digital pieces in text, that is the hard part. And, that, we can
do collaboratively with the skills we have,
especially historians, we’re good at storytelling. You may have to go out
and get competitive grant funding for an ambitious
project to launch something. In the last session we talked
also about sustainability of how can you build something
so that it can survive beyond the big startup
of grant, or the mini sized startup grant, and that
takes some thinking as well. And you also need to have
partnerships in mind. If you’re looking for
open access publishers you’ve got to think about how
their thinking about the world. And that may be
different than what the traditional
publishers of high status we’ve looked for in the past. I also tell people don’t
try any of this alone. I put a plug-in for my best
friends, the librarians, especially in the library,
who thinks that there’s a way to do something digital. I tell academics they need
to look and figure out how to make these partnerships
work with people who they may not have drawn upon all of
the skills on their campuses or nearby campuses in
the same way before. So that’s my two cents about
On the Line and open access presentation books. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Hello, everyone. So Bryan earlier you
mentioned that the subtitle was three digital book project. I think that’s interesting
because actually the project I’m presenting right now
Educating Harlem did not start as a digital book. It had two separate
components to it. One was digital collection. And I’ll talk more about it. And one was an edited volume. And then they converge right
now with a digital book project. So I’m presenting
this afternoon, but this morning it
was Ansley Erikson who started this project, and
I’m her graduate assistant at Teacher’s College. So this is the website. If you want to look at it. It started in 2013
as a partnership with the Institute
for Urban and Minority Education at TC, Teacher’s
College, and then the Columbia libraries. So, like Jack said, you need to
imagine a whole crowd of people that are working on it. A lot of students because
Professor Erickson has two classes in the fall
and spring at Teacher’s College that create content
for our website. And then graduate
assistant like myself, and there were others before me. So like I said it’s
an interesting moment in the project because it’s two
main components are converging, and right now the questions
that we have is how to work out the relationships, the
relationship between the two and what the digital
book will look like. Because our edited volume is
under contract at the Columbia University Press and they
agreed to have it all online. So, content-wise
the Educating Harlem project is about rediscovering
the history of education in Harlem because
Professor Erickson found, with her colleagues,
found that a lot of people have misrepresentation about
that history which is what you were talking about with busing. And with a neighborhood
as famous of Harlem people have this idea of
a rise of the neighborhood during the Renaissance
and all the images that come with that, and then
a fall with a decline and traditional representation
of what urban education looks like today. So, there are four
elements to this project. One is the scholarly volume
under contract right now. The second one is
digital collection. It looks like that
for the sources. So it promotes
primary sources that are found in different
institutions. So for example, if you
look at the second row, this is a collection at the
Columbia University archives. And the first one, the one The
Wadleigh Junior High School yearbooks are yearbooks
that are actually from a school in
Harlem and they’re held both at the
Schomberg Library NYPL and also the school itself. We also have oral
histories most often conducted by students
in the classes. There’s also part of
the website with student generated exhibits. So the three that you
see there were generated by graduate students and they
explore different aspects of educational
history in Harlem. So you have the first one that
is about power professionals in Harlem. The second one is based on an
oral exhibit of an educator in the late 60s and 70s. And the third one is
about youth narratives at a particular school. These exhibits are actually
opened for review for 30 days after their first publication. And we’re interested
in that process, and we’re still reflecting
on how we can refine it. The project also has youth
participatory research project with students at a school
in Harlem and actually that’s the Wadleigh School
where we found the yearbooks. And so students are generating
historical knowledge about their own school. And finally, as I
already mentioned Professor Erickson has
classes where students can learn about the history
of education in Harlem, but also learn new
skills using that, or make a platform that
we use for the website. So this is where
we are right now. And so we’re still
thinking about the process of having a book on web
because that’s actually the newest element
to the project because we had the
book in print that was at the start of the project
and the digital collection. And so now the book online
is a great opportunity for us to have, for example,
interactive maps like Jack showed you, or we
can still think about a lot of
opportunities maybe playing the oral history
is also a good idea. This is an example
of one exhibit showing the
paraprofessionals in Harlem. And actually the
student who created that exhibit wrote a
reflection piece as part of it and mentioned that
having this digital work informed his historical
analysis of this topic that he was working on
for his dissertation. So he was writing the
chapter for the dissertation and was thinking about
having this piece online, but he found later that
creating this piece online actually changed
the way in which he was thinking about his topic. And he plays, he also
showcases his primary sources. Here you have an
oral history clip that plays as part of
the interactive content. So one of the goals
as I mentioned is to showcase the
primary sources. And so, here is what it
looks like on our platform for the yearbooks. There was this, and you
can flip through the pages. So, the yearbooks were
put on the website after an effort
to digitize them. So some of the grant
money for the project was used to ask the New York
Public Library to digitize the content. So the impetus for this is
very akin to what you already heard on this panel is
to make primary sources available to the
communities that were they’re actually from. And the librarian
at this school was talking about how she
was always making copies of these yearbooks because
people wanted to look back, and so having it online makes it
more accessible for the people who want to look
back on this history. So one very important
part of this project is the idea of having a wide
array of knowledge producers so not just academics, but also
students, graduate students, high school students. And here you have a
graduate student Lauren Lefty who created an exhibit
about Puerto Rican immigration in Harlem and the activism
of this particular community advocate Evelina
Lopez Antonetti who worked with the Bronx parents. And it’s actually right now
going through the review process that I mentioned. For 30 days it’s open online
and we create Google Forms where people can post their reviews. It looks like this. This was for the
previous exhibit. And we found this to be very
interesting because it helps us create a community
of not only scholars, but people interested
in that topic. We actually had more reviews
than what we invited people to post, which is
always a good surprise. And it really
informed the author who then spent more time
refining the exhibit. And so, once again,
an example of new ways of exploring stories
that just regular text doesn’t necessarily allow. So, looking back
since the project started, the new
things today that weren’t necessarily
envisioned when it started, and the main one
maybe is opportunities for graduate pedagogy. And I can’t speak about
that a little bit more. So not only does
this provide sources for students who
are doing research because they’re more
accessible than in, for example, a high school
library in Harlem, especially if you’re not in New York. But it also provides opportunity
for publishing because it’s easier to publish your exhibit
than to find a journal, apply and going through
that whole process. It’s also easier to reach out
to reviewers through the process that we set up. And myself, as a
graduate assistant, I see that there are
a lot of opportunities for a diversity of tasks that
are not necessarily involved in traditional
graduate assistantship. And I also now know new
parts of the university, for example, the libraries,
through all the meetings with the Center for Digital
research and scholarship. And, as I was talking about
with Professor Erickson earlier, there’s still one
trade off, I would say, in doing this type
of assistantship is that people don’t necessarily
know what you’re doing. And when I say I’m an assistant
on this great digital project, people think maybe I’m
coding for this website or that I’m reading
all the comments. And it’s not necessarily
clear what tasks are involved. So coming back to
the main question that we have here
for the audience is the type of
relationship that we can envision between those
three parts of the project. The newest one being
the book on web. And this is an example of a
relationship, for example. So, the exhibit I was
showing earlier [INAUDIBLE] classroom about
paraprofessionals in Harlem is actually– was
actually created by Nick Jervitz, who’s also
an author in the edited volume for the project. And so, as he was talking
about how this informed his understanding, he
reflected more specifically on this primary source of
page in the TC Week Journal. And he said that,
creating his exhibit brought his attention
to this picture that he was just
including in passing in his writing of his chapter. And this reminded
him in featuring this as part of the exhibit that
the history that he was talking about, the history of struggles
of paraprofessionals in Harlem, was also a history actually
of a lot of energy and joy as you can see in this picture. And the woman that you
see on the left side is the person that
he interviewed for an oral history. So, the project is now
facing a few challenges with this new
publication triangle. One of them is coherence. So, for example, we
have Nick Jervitz who created an
exhibit and a chapter, so we’re still
figuring out if these are in competition
with one another, if they’re complimenting
one another. So that’s one type of challenge. There’s also coherence challenge
content wise but also visually and that comes with any
digital project I think. And the challenge
that Jack mentioned, which is when is this ever done. And that’s one that
we’re struggling with and we’re maybe thinking of
moving it to a minimal style website once we think it’s
done if that ever happens. So, thank you for listening,
and we particularly appreciate questions or
suggestions regarding that triangle that you saw. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE] Okay. So, just by way
of sort of setting terms of the discussion. One of the– I
officially had to act as a discussant at
the last session so I have one or two
thoughts in for Sharon before we turn over to question. But, again, what– we
have a Mellon grant here for publishing digital books
or digital scholarship that are sort of monograph-like. And so that was
one of the reasons why we thought this
this panel made sense to have here at the
library as well as what’s happening at the
History of Education Society Conference. Something that we might
touch on or we might not is that the other
part of our grant is working– you
know the library here is taking care of this
sort of publishing the digital projects. A number of us in the
room are busy with that. That the dean of the
faculty is working on the other side of things,
which is getting tenure, and promotion,
documentation put into place about how do these works count. So that’s certainly
something that I think our panelists
could speak to if that’s of interest to anybody. I found myself also
reflecting that– maybe this is because I’m not a
historian, but a lot of the work that these three are
engaged in is about recovery. Recovery of parts
of stories that have sort of gone missing
and then making that, those recovered materials public. And, I don’t know
if it’s something about the internet
in general, but this seems very of a
piece of what has happened in other fields
of digital scholarship. In the 90s, digital
humanities in the 90s was things like the
Women’s Writers Project of recovering things
that had been ignored. And then here we have an
easy way of publishing. It’s very low cost and we
can make new or, not new, but we can give to new
audiences very old things and help change the story that
we’re telling about things. The third thing
is we’re saying is it’s just underscoring how we’ve
got three very different models for publication here
where Matt’s publishing with a very traditional press. However, they are– they
do interesting things. And you could see his
website as supplemental, as sort of all of the stuff that
you can’t fit into the print form of the book. But as he indicated, it
takes a different approach. It, he’s thinking about
it as an educational site. And so, so that’s his model. Jack’s book, when it’s done,
will look pretty much the same in both form as it
does on the web. It will have the same
content that, you know, the maps won’t work. They won’t be interactive
in the print form, but it’s going to be more
or less the same thing. And then Esther and
Ainsley Erickson’s work, Educating Harlem, they’re
still figuring out how they– how the different
parts relate to each other. When they started they
didn’t think they would– it’s going to be an
edited collection, and then there’s was going to
be all this digital collection, and they weren’t
going to intersect as much as they are now. [INAUDIBLE] so we have–
we have different models of how we do this. The last thought that
I’ll share relates to the difficulties we have
in a library when people make these digital objects. Matt’s book when we
bought it, it comes in, it’s received in acquisitions,
and it gets put on a shelf. And because I bought it
through YBP, we get metadata and it goes nicely into our
catalogs so we can look at it and find it. His online project, however,
which is out there and is free, it’s not very easy to
get that into a catalog. We’ve can ask a
cataloger to put it in, so that it does come
up when somebody does a search in the
catalog, but that’s, as opposed to an automated
process, that’s a high touch process in order– it
depends on somebody saying there is this thing out there. It should be cataloged. It should be made visible. I’ve had a conversation
with Matt recently, and Sam, and a
couple other people about the debates in
digital humanities series the University
of Minnesota puts out. We have the book copies. There is a free online version. And then there’s an e-book copy. I can buy the e-book
copy and pay $180, and then that would
get listed in. But there is a free e-book–
if the book’s checked out off the shelf, there is a
free one that anyone can use, but it’s just challenging how
do we get it into the catalog so our patrons, our users, our
scholars know that it’s there. And can find it. That’s it. So, that I think
is a very– that’s a challenge we face in
libraries as scholars do more and more
of this work, how do we help them get
their stuff visible and help our scholars
here at Brown know that this
scholarship is out there. So those are my sort of
brief summary of thoughts. And so I’ll turn
the time over to you as the audience to ask any
questions of our panelists. [INAUDIBLE] We might have. Yes, we will. We’ll put them [? in ?] the
big back drop back there. [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] Oh, okay. Yes? Sarah? Well, it’s to pick
up on what you are saying [INAUDIBLE] this
is I guess a question for Matt first. But, I’m the Education
Librarian, and so this question of how do we get the– how do
we make sure that people are able to find the web either as
a component of the publication or as the publication itself? So we have the book and
it’s in the catalog. It seems like it’s an
obligation for the publishers to communicate all
of that in the forms that we get our information. So I guess the question of
communication is important. But also communicating with
the publishers themselves. So, I don’t know about– I
mean, the three of you in terms of your experience working
with the publishers to look at different
forms of publication and how we would then
make the scholarship available through our tools? It’s a great question. Told Bryan, I mentioned
it this morning. I never thought about that,
sort of how does this stuff get into the library. So with my second two
books because they knew I was creating digital
products while I was creating them, and the table of
contents there is a little bit after the– this
is in the book– [? after ?] [INAUDIBLE]
it says, for more information on the book,
resources, video clips, visit this URL. And that sort of this
one has [INAUDIBLE]. So it’s in the book. And if you have the
publisher’s website there’s also a link there. But I would have to
email them because I don’t know if they–
if the material they send to people who sell the
books to you includes that. It never– I’m looking at your table of
contents that’s in our catalog and it ends– it doesn’t
include that as a [INAUDIBLE]. Okay, so the hard copy
does, but the digital– Yeah. The– The information– Okay. The information– so it’s just a
matter of the publisher putting that into the record and
it’s interesting it isn’t– Yeah. –Currently. I mean, just as an example. Yeah, that’s great. I had never known or
thought about that before. The only other
insight I have on this is while we were working on
the first two open access books with Michigan, we had
a contract with Michigan, but they weren’t
giving final approval to the whole thing was done. We wanted to make a
web writing and writing history in the digital
age discoverable while they were in
public draft form. So we went to our
librarians and at Trinity, it’s Trinitycon college and
Wesleyan, it’s a consortium. And I went to our librarians
and I said, what can you do? And they said, we’re going
to create a mark record and it’s going to be
the title of the book and it’s going to be called
the Trinity College in-progress edition and here’s the web link. And they made
those mark records. I don’t know for
sure, but I believe that now that there’s
the Michigan published version and the Trinity
College draft version I think they show
up as basically as different editions
of the same title depending on how you do
your WorldCat search. So it’s another strategy of
like, you’re, right publishers should be doing a lot of this. I’m stunned by how
many conversations I’ve had to have with publishers and
editorial people along the way about have you thought
about this yet, because even they don’t often see
the whole processes or it’s already
compartmentalized in such a way that they don’t feel that
the editorial people who may be more forward
leaning don’t feel that the some of
the production people are keeping up. So I think there’s alternative
ways to get into the system rather than just the
publisher doing everything. And I think it’s worth
saying that it’s not also just publishers, but
there’s the opportunity for libraries with
repositories, of course, to host some of these materials. And that I know because I was at
meetings at the MLA last week. The MLA bibliography
is a place where sometimes digital projects
get listed not very often. The MLA has its own
repository and something that they have on the– it’s
on this sort of five year plan is that objects that
anyone in the field can submit to that repository. Those are going to be
ported into the MLA’s international bibliography. And you can put file,
video, or data into there. And so eventually some
of this– that stuff will make its way into the
international bibliography and then it will come
into our databases. It’s discoverable in that way. But, so I think there is
motion in a lot of places on how this will happen, but at
the moment it’s still a really, it’s a sticky wicket. One more thought
on this If I can. Just may be helpful for
Esther and Ansley’s project. A lot of the interactive
maps that you saw, those are– the
home server for that is University of
Connecticut’s Map and Geographic
Information Center. So, their geography center
in the library system. And they’ve been very good
about making those discoverable within the catalog, but are also
very careful whenever we put up a piece of digital
evidence we’re always writing in see more, go
to the On the Line site because we know this, people
discover the digital evidence and say, oh I’ve never
seen this before. And we want to lead them to
the more interpretive work that helps glue together those pieces
because that’s what they really want to see as well. Like, does this
fit into history? So we’re always
being careful about don’t assume people will
find your book first. They may find the evidence. And you need to lead them,
you leave enough breadcrumbs to get them back to the book. [INAUDIBLE]? So my question is
probably like three parts. So, first of all, if digital
books, or digital products are so good, what
do you think is the advantage of having printed
books besides visibility? And also do you think that
printed books will eventually disappear in the future? And if so, what would
the definition of book be when all of print
books disappear? As you guys mentioned to Jack,
just before I got started, when I was about to give my
job talk at Arizona State University where
I’m at right now, a week before I pulled up one of
my digital sites and everything is gone. All– [LAUGHTER] –of the images and
materials were gone. So, for me, the book is I know
exactly where it’s going to be, right? [LAUGHTER] Years from now,
10 years from now. Right? I don’t know what else
is going to be on, but the book is
going to be there. I think there’s a
stability there. Also I think for
long form argument I don’t like to read
100,000 words just online. Right? So, I think there’s
a value to having that material
online, open access, I think if I want to
actually sit down and read a scholarly monograph
I’m probably still always, my generation,
might always want to do that in a book form. I think the big sort of question
or feel is less about the book than about the is
it is valuable? Is it doing good work? That’s usually sort of
through peer review. Right? So, I think that’s where
I’m interested in sort of seeing how this develops. I don’t care what sort of
media it gets presented in. If people in our field
can say, that’s good. Like, this is good stuff. Right? And that’s what I’m
interested in advancing. And less sort of dogmatic
what that looks like. I think, I don’t
think the book is likely to leave us
anytime in our lifetime hopefully, because I think
it does– it has something permanent that the
digital is unlikely to be able to provide soon. I’ll just add in, you
heard me make this pitch for, I’m looking for
the best of both worlds. I don’t want to get rid
of the physical book, I want to make sure
that readers can read the content that my
colleagues and I are producing in their preferred formats. But notice that’s plural. It’s like, I’ve
got people who do want to read just a
piece of something. Maybe they’re only going to
read 5,000 words on the web and they want to interact
with the materials. I’ve got other people
who want to be able just to flip through pages
of book and find portions of the narrative that
really draw their attention in. And I want to make all
of those groups happy. Here’s a good test. A year ago, I went and
talked for a semester at a nearby Wesleyan University
and as part of the course I designed for them,
I said, OK, I’ll do one week on this
book in progress. And I said to the
students, about 20 of them, all, you know,
under the age of 21. I said, you get to choose
which format you want. You can read the
online version or I’ll give you three
photocopies of all those who want print version. I was trying to make it
like no cost for them. Half and half. Half chose the P– you
had PDFs at that time. PDF pages. The other half preferred to
interacting with it online. And it was very different
types of reasons. And at that time, there was a
couple of articles coming out where some cognitive
psychologists were saying that sometimes people actually
remember things better if they can write on
pages because they can in their minds they
meant, oh and remember that upper left corner of
somewhere around page 30 or 40 I did that marker or
something like that. And I respect that. So, I never tell people I’m
trying to get rid of the book. I have no idea what books
will look like in the future. But I do know we need
to start thinking about books in plural forms. I agree. I think there’s a
widespread paranoia that the book will disappear. But people learn in
very different ways. And actually
sometimes having that, well, like you said having
the digital project actually enhances the interest
in the print book, so I’m not worried that all
those digital projects actually harm the book itself So I’m not worried so that
the book’s going away as I am about leaders going away. You– all of you have
addressed the issue of digital storytelling
and how it differs somewhat from the book. Can you talk a little bit
about what makes, in your mind, that digital product somehow
more readable or more understandable than
the print version. [INAUDIBLE] So I chose today to sort
of like to bring you into one chapter of the book. And I specifically
chose a chapter where there is a story about
federal government policy that those words often put
my 19-year-olds to sleep and then I have this eye
catching red money man and that usually
wakes up an audience. I mean, we are sort of
entranced by shiny objects. I think that the
best case I can make for merging those types
of elements together, narrative text and
digital evidence, is that I persuade more
people by having both together on the page that, yeah, these
racist structures were real and look at the
influence they had. Because I don’t just
show a picture of it, but in the text itself I
have to make an argument, and explain, and try to
be persuasive about what they did and did not shape
of the cities and suburbs we see today. And I’ll say anecdotally, I’m
hearing from people saying, wow I understood it better. I noticed it more when
I saw that that chapter and saw both forms of it I
also have people who say, yeah and then I
clicked on this park and I went to this other site
and I learned about this, and then I went on this other
part of this other site. And in a very much what’s
the best part about the web? It does have a rich
way of telling stories with rich forms of evidence. What’s the bad
part about the web? It’s the web. You can go off and learn
lots of other things as well. And other people, I
assume, read other sites and stumble into mine. I’m not so sure
what’s bad about all that because I do
believe that we all should be learning new things. But if my goal was keep
people riveted on my book and not let them
go anywhere else, I mean if that was the goal
then I wouldn’t put links into other places. Which would kind of be crazy. So I’m stuck a little
bit here about, yeah I think I’m getting more
readers they definitely aren’t reading the book
from cover to cover they’re dipping into parts
that are interesting to them. And, I’m OK with that. [INAUDIBLE] I’m going to say
the same thing that sources are really what we
bring into the book that catches an audience I think. The oral histories or
the yearbooks, people can be driven to the sources
for a variety of reasons. And they know that they
can find them there if we did good job at
communicating that. So we reach into audiences
that maybe would not be reached otherwise. But we maybe lose,
like you said, lose some attention
with people going from one exhibit to this
other site to something else. But I would say that people
do that with books anyway. Like you look, you
read the introduction, the author is summarizing
the chapter and you say, okay, I’m only going
to read chapter seven. Definitely. So that’s not such
a big trade off. Yeah, I would just echo the same
sort of approach in two ways. One, being comfortable with
the fact that people approach nonfiction in bite size chunks. Right? So, most people don’t
read nonfiction from start to finish– and I
think the web is sort of a good place for
that– that I don’t expect any of my digital
products that people are going to start
from the beginning, click through all the links. And that, they can get something
whether they spend five minutes or an hour with it. That’s the goal. And the other thing
is once they’re online you can share them
and sort of push them out. So, I do a lot through
Twitter this way. And so, I think it’s useful
because if your work is already online then when it
comes up the news, and this has been
important for me, that the issues I’m writing
about in New York in the 50s and 60s are going on right now,
right in the Upper West Side about these debates. I can have them
straight online so I can link to say you saw
this in the New York Times. Here’s this. You saw this. Here’s this. And not to like
namedrop but a couple of people who ordered my
book Nicole Hannah-Jones from the New York Times. John Cobb who’s at Columbia
and writes for The New Yorker. I make contact with
them via Twitter. Right? So there are people who
have platforms on Twitter. I had the material they had
discussed something peripheral to it. I said, hey I like
what you said, here’s more from information
if you want to learn about it. Right? So it’s a way for us to get
in these conversations that is really valuable. It’s better than just
here saying, hey, I wrote about this. It’s behind a paywall or go
check out from the library, go buy it from
Amazon, but here’s 500 words that articulate with
more historical depth what you’re saying. Right? And that’s a good way to
make professional connections and sort of get our
work circulating. And let’s underscore what you
just mentioned, when the people you just mentioned they are
not full time academics who assume that everybody
else in the world has access to all of Jstor. You know they are journalists
or other public people who are very aware that you can’t
easily tap into the what’s beyond a paywall. I’m stunned by how
many of my faculty colleagues think that
everyone can look at the PDFs that they’re sending out on
email or Facebook or something like that. It’s like, so we need to
go do a lot of education inside about the walls that are
around us that we may not even realize. Right? A lot of our kids don’t
really realize the walls that we’ve locked
ourselves into. You mentioned the
open draft part of it as being a method for feedback. Going kind of on a tangent
of what you’ve said just now. The open draft could
also be early access, you know, bite size access,
to the bits and pieces of it, instead of waiting till at
the very end and like here’s everything. Just– you work on this
chapter, and there it goes, and you can link to
it, and tweet it out, and they don’t have to
consume the whole thing, but they might be willing to
come back after they’ve looked at that first thing as well. And a lot of what I
learned with this, that sort of hybrid
open peer review model I was following what
Katherine Fitzpatrick and her– who was her colleague? Kathleen Fitzpatrick Kathleen Fitzpatrick
and and Katherine? Katherine Rowe who
was at Smith College. She was at Brimar and she– Brimar– –and she’s now at Smith. Now she’s the dean of faculty
at Smith or provost at Smith maybe? Provost, I think. Yeah, so anyways. I learned a lot from them. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, it was
her Planned Obsolescence book. What she did in
that arrangement, and this was an arrangement
she worked out with NYU Press, I believe, was she put
the draft of the book online for open peer review,
and the final product was only for sale through NYU. So she worked out an arrangement
where it’s a different model. And I certainly understand. It’s like different
publishers would like different ways of doing this. We should have
thousands of models and see which ones
flourish over time. But at some– we’re
so stuck in the ways we’ve always done
things about peer review that doesn’t make sense. It’s Kathleen
Fitzpatrick, she argues that all of that academic
labor of peer review is hidden labor that none
of us get credit for. And nobody even really sees
it except two or three people. So the experiment is if you
allow people to do open peer review and you record everyone
to have their name there on the open peer
review– we did it where people who wrote
1000 comments, everyone had to be named, you
couldn’t do anonymous. The real question was is
were people all nicey nice and just say, oh, you
did a great job, Matthew. Nicey nice. It’s like, no. We went through and
got to 1,000 easily. No one was nasty,
but it was there were substantive comments. We easily found
easily 2/3 of that 1,000 were substantive
comments that were improving the final draft. [INAUDIBLE] Thank you for such a
great panel discussion. I’m going to go back
something Bryan, I think I understood you to say
and help me if I misunderstood was something to the effect
that the book has enabled us to be more reflective, to
go back in history and so on. But, I would say that in general
terms the work that each of you is doing or has completed
under any other traditional scholarship or
digital scholarship would in fact be
reflective in nature and rely on historical sources. One of the things that
I sometimes wonder is is how much different
is the research that humanists or
social scientists do today versus what
they’ve done in the past. I mean, the real essence
of that research. And I want to compare
that and maybe Andy you would say something with a
research of scientists which is actually quite
different because the tools that they use for research and
the products that they make are themselves digital rather
than a recreation or a scatter [INAUDIBLE]. So I wonder if you could
reflect on that maybe your own experience, or
your thoughts about how your research, if your
research has actually fundamentally changed. Very good question. I’m thinking that my
research is actually more similar now
to the way I did research pre-digital, pre-web. It’s my scholarly communication
that’s substantially different. And I would push back as well. I’m thinking about–
I work with biologists on my campus,
environmental scientists. They aren’t creating
digital products. In their minds
their research is, unless I’m misunderstanding
your question, their research– environmental
biologists their research methods are very similar. They’re using digital tools. And they can make more
types of calculations or communicate their
findings with others, but there’s many
STEM faculty and STEM researchers who aren’t
creating digital products. In fact, they look
at me as like oh, he makes those digital maps
that are re-showing the past through different eyes. We can take a scan
of a map, but we’re trying to show more in it. We’re trying to do more–
and now sometimes there’s more mathematical
analysis of what was the factors that were
driving different neighborhoods in different directions. So I’m still puzzling
over the question. I’m going to hinder
it off my colleagues as I puzzle over the
question some more. But I’m not sure if I agree
with the categories the way you presented them respectfully. [INAUDIBLE] Respectfully. Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] I think for the
Educating Harlem project the research in terms
of historical analysis is similar to what you
probably have in mind people were doing before. I think this project
was also an opportunity to have other
people do research, historical research, that
weren’t traditionally doing it. So we engage, for
example, high school students in historical research
with the after school program. And, through the
classes, we have students at Teachers
College that are not in the history program
doing historical research. So maybe that’s a way in
which researchers has changed. And you’re thinking also
with the high schoolers they have more access to some
of the digitized archival materials than in the past. That were– That would have been very
hard to get high schoolers into the archives that have only
nine to four hours or something like that. Yeah. It’s a really good question. I’ll try to answer
in a couple ways. I think overall it might be that
the maybe the bar is higher now for what were the
number of sources we’re expected to engage with. Right? Just because, I don’t think
this is [? parallel ?] to it, but a lot more
stuff is digitized. That’s relative to
50 or 100 years ago. It’s easier to travel
nationally across the world to find different
archives and find stuff that isn’t digitized. And it’s still just hard to
find the stuff that you don’t know that you’re looking for. So the first thing that
came out of your question was, my engagement with
them American newspapers. So for my dissertation
when I was here, and then for to
screen my first book. I went to Temple
University Urban Archives and sat there with the
microfilm reader looking through the Philadelphia
Tribune for 15 years to find all the stories related
to school segregation American Bandstand. Right? By the time I was working
on my second project, which was just a couple years
later, that had all been digitized by ProQuest. So for that one, myself and
a dozen research systems downloaded 10,000 articles from
these nine American newspapers searching for keywords
around busing and school desegregation. Now it’s conceivable I could
have had access to those nine newspapers if I went to the
Library of Congress, looked at them on microfilm. But that sort of
digital moment, I think, made it a lot easier
to get that work done in a matter of six months
than it would have originally. Going through 10,000
newspaper articles in PDF form on your computer is a
little soul crushing. Right? [LAUGHTER] So, it’s very efficient. Right? But, it’s not– I missed
the kind of exploration of that first project. So, the project that I’m
working on this year, the digital product, the
Black Quotidian site, was partly meant to try to
get that sense of exploration back in. Because when you’re just
looking for keywords, I have no idea what
else is on the page. Right? I find a bunch
about busing, but I don’t know that there’s
something about the Rotary Club or about Women Society pages. Right? So, going back in
this– look– say I’m looking through
digital stuff, but just picking a random
date and flipping through, and looking for something
that catches my interest. Right? Or looking for something
that is off the beaten path. I think that’s what I’m
interested in as a scholar now is trying to find
the stuff I don’t know that I’m looking for. Right. So. We have time for
one more question. Kristin? I have two questions. [INAUDIBLE] Go for it. One, is did you have any
issues with copyright? You were talking about
the downloadable content. Sometimes things are available
in print but not digital. Did you have any issues
with the reverse? [INAUDIBLE] For copyright for
mine I reached– so for I guess it was
maybe, three answers, for things that are
held by places or people I want to work with again I’ll
reach out and request copyright and then make sure I use it. For things like if I want to
use the cover of Time magazine I’ll use it. And if they ask me take it
down I would take it down. For video content I upload
it to Critical Commons which is a fair use advocacy site. Can you explain that
one because, remember, I told you earlier I learned
about Critical Commons through how you used
it very creatively and I think people may not be
aware of how this one works. Yes. So, there’s a website called
Critical Commons for comments that you can find online. You create an account. And then you can
upload materials. So the upload feature
is similar to YouTube, but the thing that
distinguishes it is that if you publish– if you
include some textual commentary on it, some textual analysis
and then click Save, then it makes it public and
then you’ve made it a fair use claim to it. So, we, as scholars
have the ability to use clips from Sopranos. Jason Mittell is a
TV scholar who has a great book called Complex TV. It’s a Scalar project,
a textual book. But he’s using
stuff from Mad Men, from Sopranos,
from Breaking Bad. Four and five minute
clips, but he’s able to use them because
he’s analyzing them. We as scholars
have that ability. We don’t have it
unless we use it. So you can make that fair use
[INAUDIBLE] visual material. And that, again, is
Critical Commons. But for other stuff
it’s I– and I think people take different
approaches on this, I’m honestly, a little
more loosey goosey with it, for stuff from Temple University
or from archives, archives that I want to make sure
I have a good relationship with I will requests
permission and use it that way. For ones that are large
commercial ventures, I’m more likely to
just use it, and then if they ask me to take
it down, take it down. That’s idiosyncratic and not
necessarily best practice for everyone. Just because mine is
a local case study I’m usually talking with local
historical societies, libraries and so forth that may or may
not have digitized material but I found it. I think it’s important
to tell the story. And I’ve seen interesting
shifts over the years. Early on, it was very difficult
for me to persuade the Hartford History Center Director at
the Hartford Public Library to digitize some
of the materials and let me show their
materials on the web as part of the story I was telling. They’re very resistant. And because it was sort of like
they thought that their revenue stream depended upon people
using the photocopier. I mean, when your
revenue stream depends on people putting
$0.25 in a time you know you’re in trouble. They also were relying
on people on academics being able to plunk
down $100 or more to get permission to use a
photograph at high quality resolution for the cover of a
book or something like that. And there were many more
images than I had money for. But the more we talked about
it, the more I realized, I try to think about from
their point of view what was important to these libraries
or historical societies, the most common theme
I found was they really needed to make a case for
why they were relevant. They looked at me as somebody
who could help possibly explain why there’s good
stuff in those archives that other people
should continue to fund the existence of. So that got us all
on the same page. When I can show
them, look, I’m going to here’s the [INAUDIBLE]. I say, here’s the web page. I’d like to give
this image here. Credit your library here. Show the link clearly. And I’ll recommend all this. And make it clear. Whenever anybody
sees it they’re going to see the link to your facility
right there and it’s a link and it’s going to take them
all through your collection. And I can maybe help put an
undergraduate intern in there to help digitize a collection
or something like that. Then they start to see
things as a two way street. And all of a sudden,
we, as historians, were playing value-added role. It’s like we’re helping small
archives and libraries see that– we’re helping the world
see all the value they have that people didn’t
see at first glance. Yeah. And we also have very local
projects so we– I mean, you’re asking about
permission basically, and we cultivate
our relationships and we are very careful
to ask for permission. And Ansley Erickson was
mentioning this this morning, Columbia University has a
very complicated relationship with the Harlem
neighborhood so we’re very careful in making sure
that people actually really want this stuff online and
for all the yearbooks that we have we are
sure that they do. So, we’re very
careful in cultivating those relationships. Second question? It’s about the
open access review, is that only– you can only
[INAUDIBLE] from scholars or is that also from people
in the community? [INAUDIBLE] I have done the hybrid
model of open peer review. I’ve done it so far
with the two finished products you saw briefly. Both of those were– one’s
called writing history in the digital age. The other one’s
called web writing. They’re edited volumes. They’re very much,
you know, mostly academics talking to
academics, but the rules were anyone could
comment on these. They didn’t have to prove
that they had an affiliation or something like this. but they had to list their name. As we looked through the
typical 1,000 comments or so, I think in both cases,
it was about 80 or so people, so it was not 1,000 people
making 1,000 comments, it was about 80 people, and they
varied in numbers of comments across them. And we looked at
those and we did determine from like everyone
had to put an email address just to sort of like to
get a commenting account. Most of them did end in
.edu’s, not every single one. This On the Line book, that
is very much a local history story, still, people
who write comments tend to be academics
or people who are, maybe they’re
journalists or people who are comfortable
in the world of words. But, community activists, people
run the local cable access channel, other people
have used content, or asked me to come
and talk with them, or do some event about
something like this. And that’s exciting to
me because I understand that even just the
world of words, people whose job it is to move
words around, that’s a line. And, but history
belongs to people on both sides of that line. And I’m thrilled that this open
format and the open peer review allows people to sort of engage
in that in different ways. But, most of the
time, people who want to write comments
on it, at least on academic kind of
stuff, they tend to people are academics already. If they want to go, if it’s
a troll on the internet who wants to go bash
people, they’re going to go to something that’s
got much higher visibility than these little
academic sites. We have never had troll problems
because we aren’t big enough to attract trolls. We’re not worth their
time as far as I can tell. Well, will you all join me
in [INAUDIBLE] our panelists. [APPLAUSE]

1 thought on ““Writing Race and Education History on the Web: Three Digital Book Projects””

  1. Liberals make me sick. You want Mexicans to run this country? Yea they are doing such a good job down there in Central America huh?

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