Up and Running with Omeka.net

omeka logoYesterday I had fun teaching a beginning Omeka workshop at THATCamp Feminisms West, a really great event at Scripps College. (It deserves a post of its own, but that will have to wait until I have a little more energy. Alex Juhasz has a nice post about it.)

Omeka’s documentation is actually very good, but experience has taught me that students really appreciate handouts. So here’s a digital version of my handout for a beginning Omeka workshop.

I know a lot of people teach these workshops, so feel free to use or modify this material (PDF version, Word version) if it’s useful for you. And here’s a handout that offers a quick Omeka vocabulary lesson and some guidance on whether Omeka’s the right tool for your project.

I also have a post and handout on the next step with Omeka, creating an exhibit.

As an aside, I make these tutorials with Blue Mango’s ScreenSteps software, which I highly recommend.

[Edit: Thanks to Jon Ippolito, who tipped me off to this interactive screencast about building an Omeka exhibition.]

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How to accommodate a breastpumping mom at your event

Breast pump encased in black tote bag
A decent daily-use electric breastpump like the Medela Pump in Style will run you $269.99 on Amazon.

Breastfeeding has been a pretty damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t experience for me. I’m in an extremely privileged position, breastfeeding-wise — with relatively generous (for the U.S.) maternity leave and a private office with a door — but it’s still been a challenge. New mothers hear a great deal these days about the expense and health toll (though frankly some of that science is questionable) of formula-feeding (or, as Kaiser’s lactation consultant insisted on calling it, “artificial food”). But breastfeeding also has well-documented and significant financial penalties for women who work outside the home. And people who wouldn’t ordinarily pronounce on a woman’s personal decisions feel no compunction, for some reason, about passing judgment on a mother’s decision about how to feed her baby.1

At the moment, I’m on my way back from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, my first real trip away from the baby. The conference organizers were really helpful to me when I asked for lactation accommodation, finding me a room in the sold-out conference hotel so that I wouldn’t have to miss too much of the event. (Though this, of course, meant staying in the conference hotel, which I usually avoid in order to save money.) Still, it’s been a bit of a logistical challenge, involving trekking across airports in search of remote nursing rooms, sending a pump through security checkpoints, and absenting myself from events every few hours.

In a perfect world, we’d all understand the mechanics of lactation so that we can accommodate women who are breastfeeding. But I’d be pretty wildly hypocritical if I condemned others for their ignorance, having until recently been in the same position myself. A few months ago, I was embarrassed to realize I had no idea where to send a woman who needed to use a breastpump at an event I’d helped organize. I didn’t even really know what she’d need, having never dealt with it myself. Which is to say that I understand why this stuff is confusing. So I thought I’d do my tiny part by explaining why we need what we need for the benefit of anyone who might host a breastfeeding mother.

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Digital humanities and media studies: staging an encounter

Mosaic of close-ups from Vertov's The Eleventh Year
Visualization of all close-ups of faces from Vertov’s The Eleventh Year by Lev Manovich, in “Visualizing Vertov.”

This is the introduction I gave to a workshop on media studies and digital humanities at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference in Chicago on March 8, 2013. Fellow participants: Eric Faden, Hannah Goodwin, Jason Mittell, Jason Rhody, and Jasmijn Van Gorp. Many thanks to the SCMS livestreaming team. You can view the taped event here.

In 2000, the media scholar and digital humanities practitioner Johanna Drucker sat on a panel at SUNY Albany with Jacques Derrida. They were there to discuss digital media, but something totally unexpected happened: failure. Derrida was “unable,” writes Drucker, “to get a purchase on digital media.”1

The problem was not Derrida, but theory itself. Derrida made his observations at a remove, pronouncing at a distance on the changes wrought by digital technology. “This will not do,” Drucker declares, not even for one of the greatest theorists of our time. We must theorize digital technology through critical engagement with the medium itself, through making and breaking and building and reflecting. Pressing the humanistic against the digital, acknowledges Drucker, we fail and fail and fail, and “what is revealed in the processes is not what the machine does not know — but what we have not, until this exercise, been ourselves able to see.”2

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