Dr. Neumann reasons that the only workable and complete solution to the computer security crisis is to study the past half century’s research, cherry-pick the best ideas and then build something new from the bottom up…borrowing from another science, Dr. Neumann notes that biological systems have multiple immune systems – not only are there initial barriers, but a second system consisting of sentinels like T cells has the ability to detect and eliminate intruders and then remember them to provide protection in the future. In contrast, today’s computers and network systems were largely designed with security as an afterthought, if at all.
An interesting piece on Dr. Neumann’s ideas and work on rethinking computer security. Check out the idea for tagged architecture.
The Newberry Library was one of the focal stopping points for the 2012 Bosch Archival Seminar. Our group spent an entire day there, meeting with the directors of various programs, archivists, curators, and librarians and conducting some of our own research at the end of the day. Below is a summary of the individuals we met with as well as some of the “inside” information and tips they offered for conducting successful research at the Newberry and for winning one of the library’s coveted research fellowships.
Dr. Greene offered us a comprehensive introduction to the Newberry, which has two primary goals (1) to enable scholarship and (2) to generate scholarship. He also talked in some detail about the application process for short-term research fellowships at the Newberry. Among his most valuable tips for crafting a successful application were (1) explain your research in a way that will reach a multi-disciplinary audience, (2) make a solid case that research at the Newberry is necessary to your topic, (3) demonstrate that you have done your work in finding all the relevant materials in the catalog in advance, (4) don’t get discouraged if you don’t win a fellowship on your first try – reapply! Most people don’t win a fellowship on their first attempt.
Diane Dillon, Director of Scholarly and Undergraduate Programs
Ms. Dillon led us on a tour of the Newberry, outlined the library’s basic research policies, demonstrated best practices for catalog searching (there are two online catalogs), and contributed greatly to our discussions throughout the day. Some photos from our tour are included in a slideshow below.
John Brady, Director of Reader Services and Bibliographer of Americana
Dr. Brady pulled some recently acquired items for our Bosch group to examine based upon our research topics. He offered a great deal of insight into the processes involved in the Newberry’s acquisition of materials. I was surprised to learn that so much marketing is involved – each curator and archivist receives a daily barrage of e-mails and phone calls from dealers specializing in the sale of certain types of historical materials. These materials travel a circuit that includes not just libraries and museums, but also individuals with private collections. Generally the highest bidder wins, which is why historical institutions like the Newberry must constantly work to ensure funding levels remain high enough that they can both care for the items they currently have and acquire new items to build upon existing collections. Acquisitions is a crucial aspect of building strong focus collections and remaining competitive in the world of research.
Kelly Kress and Lisa Janssen, Project Archivists with Modern Manuscript Collections
Ms. Kress and Ms. Janssen also pulled some items for our Bosch group to examine, this time from a collection that is currently being processed: the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad Collection. Although the CB&Q records have been with the Newberry for decades, the library did not have sufficient funding to fully process the collection until recently. The library applied for and won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant that they are now using to clean, repair, arrange, and describe the CB&Q Collection, a process that will make it much more searchable and usable for researchers. I was particularly delighted to learn this, as I spent three separate research trips in 2010-2011 combing through this previously unprocessed collection as part of my research assistantship with the Papers of William F. Cody Project. Future researchers should get far less soot on their hands than I did! They should also soon have a finding aid to give them detailed idea of what’s in the collection. The Newberry even has a blog, Everywhere West, that shares aspects of the collection’s processing and key documents from the collection with the public.
Dr. Akerman utilized over a dozen different artifacts to drive home his point that whatever your research topic, maps can probably aid you in your research and enhance your analysis. When I asked about secondary reading material for the historian lacking experience in cartography Dr. Akerman recommended starting with the following resources: (1) Professor Gerald Danzer’s digital work explaining map analysis to high school teachers. (Dr. Danzer has also written several books on the topic.) (2) From Sea Charts to Satellite Images: Interpreting North American History Through Maps. Although I’m still working through ideas about how an analysis of space and interpretations of the physical environment will fit within my dissertation, Dr. Akerman’s arguments were well-taken and made me excited about the possibilities.
Jennifer Thom, Interim Director of Digital Initiatives and Services
Ms. Thom and Dr. Cantwell led our group in a provocative discussion of “Libraries and Research in a Digital Age.” Their presentation focused on the ways the emergence of the Digital Humanities has impacted Newberry Library. I was surprised to learn how extensively the Newberry is engaging with DH issues. Thom and Cantwell are particularly excited about the potential DH offers for collapsing boundaries between scholars, institutions, and the public. They told us about the library’s introduction of programming seminars and workshops for its staff and showcased a number of projects and exhibits developed by the Newberry. The Newberry Digital Exhibitions, Digital Resources, and blogs illustrate the ways the Newberry is taking advantage of the digital medium to advance its core goals of enabling and generating scholarship. It will be interesting to see how the Newberry’s digital work influences other libraries and archives across the nation as the digital revolution progresses.
Next week, I’ll wrap up my commentary on the Bosch with some highlights from our visits to the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the National Museum of American History.
If writing is thinking as hard as you’ll ever think, perhaps talking is a dry run for writing. Granted, we don’t always talk about the things we write about but when it comes to major projects maybe we should. Talking, like writing, forces us to slow down our thoughts and examine them in greater detail, and communicating our ideas to others can be an enormously beneficial act. It forces us to step outside our own head and translate our thoughts into meaningful ideas and concepts for our audience, thereby making our ideas more exact, more well-rounded, and more considerate of a variety of audience types and perspectives. Historians would do well to consider the ways talking can benefit not just their writing, but also their ability to engage with the broader public.
Two aspects of the Bosch Archival Seminar refined my ideas for the direction of my dissertation: (1) the seminar’s thesis workshop and (2) the interdisciplinary, peripatetic nature of the seminar. Both aspects placed a heavy emphasis on talking about one’s dissertation with others. At the thesis workshop, we spent an entire day at the University of Chicago’s History Department presenting our seminar partner’s research ideas, offering feedback, constructive criticism, and suggestions, and then answering questions about and defending our own research. It was thoroughly exhausting. But it was also enormously beneficial.
Each of us moved forward in the seminar with a better understanding of one another’s work as well as a clearer idea of some of the issues we needed to suss out in our own dissertations. And the diversity of historical institutions we visited and individuals we encountered throughout the remainder of our nearly two week-long trip only intensified our efforts to define, explain, and justify our research to others. I found myself not just refining my ideas for my dissertation, but tailoring the way I introduced my dissertation topic depending on the individuals we were meeting with and the setting in which our meetings took place. In short, the Bosch helped me develop and hone my ability to communicate with a wider audience and become a more well-rounded academic.
The Bosch also provided a great deal of insight into the goals, structure, and day-to-day concerns of a variety of historical institutions. In my next post on Wednesday I’ll share some of the highlights of our visit to the Newberry Library, including tips for applying for the library’s research fellowships and ways the library works to engage the public.
The above is a good food for thought piece on how social media may alter our behavior and some of the implications of our changing relationship with data:
Being too enthusiastic about Facebook is just not done in polite, techno-literate society…Right in the heart of Facebook’s user base, though, the concern about the service is far more complex, revealing, and interesting. The low-level hum of discontent, revealed in the recent hysteria over messages is due to our evolving relationship with data. It is a relationship most of us don’t really understand, but it gives us a general sense of foreboding.
Traveling for weeks at a time can be pretty disorienting. It takes you out of your normal routine, places you in unfamiliar situations, demands a lot of physical and emotional energy, generally means your free time is out the window, and can lead to a big game of catch up when you return home. All of this was true for my experience at the 2012 edition of the Bosch Archival Seminar for Young Historians, which I attended from September 2nd to the 16th, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The Bosch was an immensely valuable experience that I will carry with me throughout my academic career, and I’d like to use my next few posts to share some of the details, insight, and information I gained. To begin: what the seminar was about and a tour of the Manseuto Library at the University of Chicago.
The seminar is a yearly cooperative venture between the German Historical Institute (GHI), the University of Chicago’s Department of History, the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, and the Robert Bosch Foundation. The 2012 iteration of the seminar brought together doctoral students from a wide variety of backgrounds with the aim of (1) encouraging transnational collaboration and (2) providing participants with an “inside” look at how an array of historical institutions function and are organized. The seminar was led by Dr. Misha Honeck, a Research Fellow at the GHI, whose hard work and enthusiasm kept us all afloat as we made our way through libraries, archives, and museums in Chicago, Madison, Boston, and Washington, D.C. One of our first official stops after becoming acquainted with one another and allowing the international scholars to shake off some of their jetlag was the Mansueto Library.
One of the highlights of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library (aside from its swank architecture) is its automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS).
Not only is this system very impressive from a technological standpoint; it’s also a prominent experiment in ways libraries and archives can confront the problems of preservation and storage while still providing scholars ready access to research materials. The ASRS allows the Mansueto Library’s patrons to access materials much more quickly than they would be able to at a library or archive that has been forced, for spatial or financial reasons, to store some of its collections offsite. While a request for materials can take days at an institution with offsite storage, it usually takes about 15 minutes or less at the Mansueto. As impressive as the ASRS is though, both it and offsite storage pose browsability problems for patrons. Whenever direct access to the materials is cut off, serendipitous discoveries and connections made via “wandering the stacks” become endangered. A “nearby on the shelf” button in the catalog search results makes up for part of this experience, but not all of it. Still, it was exciting to see the Mansueto’s work to confront a significant problem facing many historical institutions today.
In my next post, I’ll discuss our Bosch group’s thesis workshop and our day with the archivists and curators of the Newberry Library.