Beyond the simple fun of learning these things, I also believe that staying abreast of the of the coding systems that run our online environments allows for more awareness, agency, and control over our digital lives. These skills are essential not just to information science but to digital citizenship in the 21st century.
For an extensive private collection of 78 RPM sound recordings, I designed a relational Access database to enable the owner to track, find, compare, and publish to the web information related to her recordings. It offered simple-to-use forms for data entry as well as a means to attach images, sound clips or other related files. There were a number of challenges in the project—such as finding a simple way to track variant names of musicians and resolving with unanticipated problems with importing the collection information from the owner’s original Excel file. Most were resolved with little ado. I did not have time or know-how, however, for developing a plan or system for her to publish the information to the web—an important and useful step that I intend to investigate further in the future via the Access software documentation.
- See sample screenshots of the Access database.
- Listen to a sample recording from this collection, Open Your Arms My Alabamy, by the Zez Confrey Orchestra, 1922.
Aware of the rich stores of bibliographic and other data held in libraries, archives, and museums and also of the increasingly critical importance of web-based discoverability for this information, I have been excited by the promise for sharing structured data via the Semantic Web and the Resource Description Framework (RDF) data standard.
A class project offered an opportunity to explore how to use RDF to expose important archival data from the Library of Congress Archives on the Web—data currently not searchable outside the Library of Congress catalog. The project involved developing an RDF schema and application profile for a Library of Congress personal archive (the Sigmund Freud archive in this case). It required close analysis of the data structure, assessment potential users of the data on the open web, and consideration of workflow impact for catalogers and metadata specialists who would use the schema.
- View the RDF EAD application profile for the archive.
As the content editor on a small, professional pro bono team undertaking the creation of a new web site for the Parent Trust for Washington Children social service agency, I played an important role in developing a site structure and labeling system to that met the needs of staff and clients.
The site had many purposes—news, education, retail, etc.—and its internal stakeholders were just as diverse. A major challenge of the project was assessing internal needs (achieved through extensive interviews) and the needs of their clients (with whom we had no direct contact) and, more importantly, finding common ground about the purpose of the site and its structure. Our team ultimately spent much time deliberating on the site structure and labels and ultimately produced recommendations that were pleasing to most of the key stakeholders.
- Visit the Parent Trust web site.