Next Quarter: Crocodile Café Collection

November 15th, 2010

In the winter, during my “Digital Collaboration and Publication” (BISMCS 343) course at the University of Washington, Bothell, students and I will be working with the University of Washington’s Crocodile Café Collection, collaboratively building an Omeka exhibit of do-it-yourself music scenes in the Puget Sound region. I am looking forward to this opportunity, as it will be a chance to not only integrate the histories, experiences, and feedback of community partners into the processes of composition and curation, but also explore the affordances of Omeka for audio-centric exhibits. The course description is below.

BISMCS 343 (Winter 2011), “Digital Collaboration and Publication: DIY Music Scenes in the Puget Sound”

This course is an introduction to collaboratively composing, collecting, and curating digital content using multi-authored, web-based platforms. As a class, we will collectively use the Omeka platform to develop online exhibits of media assets (such as digital video, audio, and images). Rather than writing only individual essays or producing work independently, we will collaboratively develop our own exhibit. This collaboration will require students to determine their own roles and responsibilities as the project develops. Such roles involve web design, content and metadata management, outreach, interpretation, and media production. No previous experience in any of these domains will be assumed, and I will encourage students to develop competencies in areas new to them.

Of course, the project necessitates both a context and some content. To that end, we will be in conversation with our partners in the Puget Sound region, specifically musicians who are (or were) somehow involved in the “do-it-yourself” (DIY) scene. At its core, a term like “DIY” is highly subject to debate. Why does DIY matter today, especially when so many things are composed digitally? What does it mean in the first place? What is “done,” how, and for whom? How is “DIY” motivated? And to what effects on people’s perceptions of local culture? With the UW’s “Crocodile Cafe Collection” as our focus, we’ll unpack these questions with our community partners, who will converse with the class and present their differing perspectives and artifacts. Students will be expected to work with our partners to digitize existing materials (e.g., print texts and analog recordings), conduct interviews, and research the region for assets that could be included (with consent) in the exhibit. In so doing, we will learn more about the politics, aesthetics, and histories of local DIY cultures and do our best to represent the complex and often contentious diversity of that spectrum on the web.

There is no textbook for the course, and most of the course material will be provided by our community partners. I will supplement this material with some example digital exhibits that may serve as influences, as well as texts that will provide us with some case studies and theories related to DIY.