Money and Imagination: E-commerce, Getting Paid for Creative Work Online

A business problem in newsletter publishing led me to a totally new design for e-commerce and more: financial and other online accounts that can reproduce (replicate), creating “children” and grandchildren accounts. The resulting “trees” of ancestor and descendent accounts may include many different human owners.

The key advantage: each new accounts can instantly inherit hundreds of different settings from its parent, at “birth.” These settings will control various services and applications inside the account itself, and allow payments without the hassle of typing in a bank card number, etc). The owner of the newly born account can then change (most of) its settings, as desired.

It would be too tedious to enter hundreds of settings manually whenever a new account is created. But with reproduction, a parent account can immediately create not only a new account with any amount of internal complexity, but also any number of equally complex throwaway accounts that can be given out, and will self-destruct when their work is done, cleaning up details first and leaving no mess. The result is easy management of far more complex and capable infrastructures than possible with conventional online accounts.

An important use of this design will be better ways to pay and get paid for creative digital work online. For example, if you are moved by a song, investigative article, or other work, you can “buy” hundreds of copies at a small per-unit price — making them free to hundreds of users who never need to register or have any money; you can target which groups of users get your access, and optionally provide a short sponsor’s message to anyone who streams or downloads a copy you paid for. So if the artist sets a bulk unit price of say 25 cents, you could buy 100 prepaid accesses for $25, almost all of which will go to the artist

I’m looking for people interested in building this kind of e-commerce capability — in the FOSS or academic worlds instead of the usual corporate systems.

For more information see


Taking the archiving out of the archives

How can we harness the current digital technologies to produce a relatively cheap, mobile digitizing kit that would allow for offsite accessioning and digitalization?

The revolution in digital collections and libraries has greatly increased access to archival and primary source material across the country. Now, if she desires, the average Jane on the street can examine and study millions of documents and images that had normally been restricted – not explicitly, but in practice – to professors, professional researchers, and individuals living in close proximity to the repository. Can we use some of the same technologies used to open access to the documents, in scaled down format, and increase access from the other end – from the collections end. Can we turn the letters, pictures, email, files, oral history, etc. of average Jane into a collection by having the archiving equipment and archivist come to her? I am inspired, I must admit, by the Story Corp project.

This necessitates the question of whether we would want her collection? As a social historian, I say yes – no matter who Jane is. But I know there are legitimate objections to this.  I’d love to have a discussion about the feasibility and desirability of this idea.

Digital exhibits and digital curation

I would like to host a discussion of digital exhibits and curation. I curate both physical and digital exhibits at Villanova’s Falvey Library. Possible topics include: What makes a good digital exhibit? How is a digital exhibit different from a physical one? What levels and types of interactivity can be incorporated? What are your favorite digital exhibits? What are your favorite physical exhibits (& can you think of ways to translate them to a digital environment)? Other matters of curating in the digital world?

This discussion is open to all perspectives, whether you create exhibits or visit exhibits!

Session Proposal: Selection and Memory

Common practice for organizations who want to increase access to collections is to digitize the popular items within a collection. Does your budget really keep you from digitizing more? Are you trying to conserve money while working through the project, which might keep the remainder of the collection off the Internet? Since many people access the digital collection from far away via the Internet, and might not ever come see the rest of the collection, don’t we run the risk of changing the public’s memory of an event or person by emphasizing the importance of one representation of a particular memory by regulating the others in the collection to the unseen background? I am interested in talking with others about whether we are forming a new historical memory through our digitization efforts, and if there should be a policy for best practice that includes as much of the collection as possible.

What Can “Traditional” Scholarly Journals Learn from DH?

The session I’m thinking about would allow participants to talk about the implications of digital humanities, its ethos, theoretical frameworks, and practices, for traditional scholarly journals.  Possible topics might include:  integrating digital with traditional journals; migrating traditional print journals into the digital space and what that might mean logistically, conceptually, etc.; open access/open peer review; editorial practices; multimedia; implications for tenure, etc etc.

Full disclosure:  I ran an online-only scholarly peer-reviewed journal that I would consider not-DH for about seven years; I’m on the editorial board for an online-only scholarly peer-reviewed journal that considers itself “DH” now; I’m also an associate editor for a print-only traditional scholarly journal; and I might be about to take the helm at a print-only traditional scholarly journal that is looking to do digital.  SO:  I have some experience, but am also about to embark on something that might require me to answer some of these questions — so I can share some ideas, but am also looking to learn.

Also:  not saying “traditional” and “DH” are all mutually exclusive terms — simply hoping to have a conversation about how shifts and developments in digital humanities are affecting various forms of scholarly/academic dissemination/publishing — and hoping to talk about this in a nuts-and-bolts kind of way.

Brainstorming session for KidsTHATCamp Philly next year

Some of the other ThatCamps have instituted a kids session, generally targetting middle and upper school age kids.  There are a number of organizations locally that work with kids and tech.  I’d like to do some brainstorming around the question of what a “Kid’s track” might look like for next year’s ThatCamp. — Mary Mark Ockerbloom

Session Proposal: Podcasting In The Classroom

After running a session on working with students who have low technology skills in 2011 and being on a panel about digital literacy in 2012, I would like to shift a bit and propose a session on podcasting in the classroom. At the end of this semester in a few of my literature courses, students are going to record brief excerpts of themselves orally reciting pieces of plays, short stories, and poems with a brief interview included with me. What I would like to do is edit those together into a class podcast.

  • What I would like is a good session about best practices. What is the best open source software for podcasting in the classroom?
  • What accessibility issues are there with podcasting and how they can be overcome (preferably in an open source and affordable manner)?
  • Also, I would love to see a discussion of audio feedback on student writing. I experimented with this a few summers ago in a very small class, but have not implemented it in a larger class. What can be done with audio feedback that cannot be done with typed or written comments?

I look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.

Wikipedia and your access to information

According to Alexa Internet one of the world’s most popular websites is Wikipedia. What are the implications of having a grassroots community media platform be comparable in popularity and influence to any given mass media outlet including news broadcasts or newspapers, any television report or documentary, books, journals, or anything else?

Without defining the talk too much in advance, I propose to host a discussion on the social impact of Wikipedia. I happen to be interested in health information on Wikipedia, but will be prepared to present a little on any of a range of topics as the audience requests. The general format I would propose for an hour presentation is 10-15 minutes of introducing Wikipedia to beginners and then taking questions for the rest of the time.

My name is Lane Rasberry, user:bluerasberry on Wikipedia, and I work as staff Wikipedian for the US-based non-profit organization Consumer Reports. It would be my goal for the presentation to give attendees enough information to be able to talk about the nature of Wikipedia with their friends. I also like raising the issue of the extent to which people ought to use Wikipedia as a source of health information, because I feel that this issue affects lots of people.