Hey, the internet worked!

In theory, internet-based collaboration can improve the quality of scholars’ work. Though I didn’t have any reason to doubt this, I hadn’t actually experienced this for myself until recently.

About a year ago I uploaded one of the films I’ve been investigating, Thomas Edison’s 1914 The Temple of Moloch, to the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive is cool because you can not only view videos there; you can also download them.

Someone took the bait! YouTube user markdcatlin, an industrial hygienist in Akron, Ohio, re-uploaded The Temple of Moloch to YouTube as part of his workplace and environmental health and safety film collection. Mark included a great narrative along with the video, explaining that it depicts silicosis, or “potter’s rot,” a disease that had often been misdiagnosed as tuberculosis.

I hadn’t realized this, and in fact I’d wondered why, if TB is transmitted by a bacillus, you’d get it from working in a pottery, as the film seems to claim. I’ve actually presented my research on these films at conferences, but never — obviously — at a conference of industrial hygienists.

So there you go! The internet works! Good job, internet!

(Although I should also mention that, true to YouTube form, Mark’s upload of The Temple of Moloch is followed by a commenter’s xenophobic rant about immigration. The perils of free speech.)

A conference on exhibition at Yale

I guess it must be conference season. We grad students in Film Studies are getting ready for our graduate conference on exhibition on January 28 and 29. Here‘s the website I designed. It has to be static, since on the Yale main server, but I think it does the trick.

I think the conference is going to be really good. The papers are absolutely top-notch, and the keynote speaker is none other than Rick Altman, whom even new Film Studies students will know as the Big Deal of genre theory (and the author of Silent Film Sound).