Preserving Fandom as a Cultural Heritage

I’m pretty sure my idea will be the roughest out of everyone’s. The first week “off” we had from assignments in order to work on the proposal, I kept spinning my wheels and hitting walls. I had a hard time coming up with something that hadn’t been done before, or done in a way that I could improve upon or repurpose. I was feeling decidedly unimaginative and un-smart in terms of Digital Humanities.

As I was working with Mukurtu for the CMS evaluation, I got inspired by thoughts of culture and heritage. As one of my research interests is fandom studies, it occurred to me that fandom is a culture (which contains many subcultures, depending on the specific fandom or ways people choose to participate), and fans thus have a heritage. Fandom has changed quite a bit since the Internet, and as many older fans are passing away, many of the older stories are lost, as are some of the artifacts. For the purposes of this project, the fandom community I will focus on are members of MediaWest*Con (, a fan-run convention whose history dates back to 1978.

Ultimately, the final product I imagine is a website on which a CMS (Mukurtu repruposed, or something like it) for use by scholars and the fandom community alike in order to archive fandom artifacts (digitized photos, fanzines, correspondence, fan art, news articles, etc.), which would be available and searchable for scholarly research. Members of the fandom community could contribute artifacts themselves, but one of the best features of Mukurtu is the ability for community members to add metadata in the form of a “cultural narrative.” For example, imagine that a collection of photos from a particular convention costume contest was archived. If a community member knows something about the photos – information about how a costume was made, a story about a situation that was occurring during the contest, etc. – the user can add that as a cultural narrative through a text editor, thus giving researchers (and other fans) more rich detail about the artifact, which would ordinarily be lost when all one has is the artifact.

To begin, I will have to assemble a team of coders and scholars to adapt Mukurtu to the purpose. I am uncertain if I will need software developers or not – I’m assuming not, if I am going with repurposing Mukurtu, but I could be wrong about this. I would also likely need to recruit some fan community members for the development and beta testing phases – likely someone among the convention organizers or committee members who would have access to artifacts to be added to the site and/or be knowledgable enough to add to what is already there.

I would also need to determine if I am to assume that my institution will provide me with server space and a database to populate, as well as IT support, or if my fictional team and I are completely on our own in that regard. (I guess that’s a question for Dr. Schocket.)

This is about as far as I’ve gotten, seeing as this particular idea was just born Sunday night. I welcome any and all suggestions and feedback, and QUESTIONS!!! Anything would be greatly appreciated.

In the meantime, I plan to hit this pretty hard tomorrow and develop it some more.

The Anti-Canon

I will be honest: at this point, my digital start-up project is rough around the edges. Ideas came to me easily, but deciding how these ideas could be truly innovative, or innovative at all, was a whole different story. Over the past few weeks, this has caused me a great deal of brain-ache. Basically, I have found myself gripping my lunch tray in the academic cafeteria, staring longingly at the DHers table. When it comes to even pretending to be in the Digital Humanities, I don’t fit in. I am still trying, though, and I will share with you what I am working on.

My plan for my project is to create an Anti-Canon. It will be a continually updated database of alternative texts to those that comprise what we traditionally call the literary canon. The goal of this database will be to not only provide alternative texts to students and teachers of literature, but also to question the very idea of a solid, permanent canon. Read more about my plans…

CMS evaluation assignment

Hi, everyone.

I have to say, the CMS evaluation has been one of my favorite assignments so far. The platform I chose was Mukurtu, which is geared toward archival and cultural preservation work. I found it very interesting and I encourage you all to take a look at it if you have a chance.

The best part: while I was exploring Mukurtu for the assignment, I got inspiration and ideas for my digital start-up proposal. I’d been struggling to come up with a worthwhile idea for that project, and in the process of doing this evaluation, it made me consider things like how “culture” and “heritage” may be defined, and the different communities we all belong to. I now have fresh ideas and renewed energy, and am excited to dig back in to the proposal.

Scalar is no longer available

Hi everyone I wanted to alert you to a problem with one of our Content Management Systems.  Scalar is no longer working and redirects to a dead website. If you haven’t started the assignment yet or were like me and wrote half the paper earlier in the week you might be out of luck.  If anyone finds a way to access the website or if it goes back up let me know.

Some Musings on the Database

Our readings this week focus on the database and how it conflicts with narrative, its “natural enemy” (Manovich). Both of the readings fascinated me, so I’m not exactly sure where to start. Perhaps the readings inspired me to embrace the seemingly disjointed nature of the database in the writing of this post. Continue reading “Some Musings on the Database”

Dh is the means not the end

In the readings this week, I had a strong occurrence of deja vu. I’m sure it is due to the fact that each part we read deals with the debate of digital humanities. It also has something to do with the interconnectivity of this theme to everything I am doing. Each book I read, each lecture I participate in my other classes, each serious conversation I have at work or with friends, returns in some way to this on going debate of what is digital humanities and how does it fit in the world. I can take that a step further and wonder how it works its mystical magic in my world.

Continue reading “Dh is the means not the end”

Future of DH Musings

This week’s readings were particularly interesting to me as we begin to wrap up this course. I’ve been thinking lately about how much I will reflect on Digital Humanities as I continue my degree program, in my current role as a teacher, and in my intended future role as a writer. As we’ve discussed ad nauseum this semester, the reach of DH and its uses are vast. As such, it is often difficult to tell exactly what DH is and how it impacts our lives as students, professionals, and consumers of information. As the final section of Debates in Digital Humanities focused on the future of Digital Humanities, I wonder what all of you see the role of DH in your lives being once this course is over. I’d love to hear your reflections!


The rest of my ideas on this week’s readings are various and sundry and many seem to lack any connectivity one to another, still, I find them worth posing to the group, so bear with me as I work through my thoughts, and I hope at least some of my musings spark conversation!

Continue reading “Future of DH Musings”