Response 3/26

The episode of RadioLab we listened to was intense, but it raised some interesting questions, and ones that I’m not sure I have completely fleshed out thoughts on. I support the ultimate decision of Time and everyone to let the father see the pictures, and I support his decision to say no, they cannot be published. To be completely honest those pictures seem too intense to be published in that particular magazine to begin with, but that’s probably a different subject. Journalistic-ally, they lost something, but they kept their integrity, the photographer says, and this I agree with. But what, exactly, did they lose journalistic-ally? Is seeing those gruesome, personal photographs the only way to convey the realities of war? I’m a writer, so obviously I do not think so. Tim O’Brien’s weird sort of nonfiction/fiction blend in The Things They Carried comes to mind. It portrays the horror, honors the real men who died, and exploits no one’s family, as the line between real and imagined (or, more probably, real and molded together from bits of reality) remains fuzzy. Readers who knew O’Brien in the war can see themselves in it or not, and he plays with this too, though he has the privilege of time passed. Maybe that’s another layer to the photographs. If the sisters of the deceased can see the pictures after enough time as passed, after they are old enough, then would it be more appropriate to release these photographs later? Would they still be important in twenty years or have the same effect? If the answer is yes, then what is wrong with potentially waiting? If the answer is no, then why are they so necessary now? I’m not saying the photographs do not sound meaningful and important, but I do think there are some things we should not have to see to believe. There are multiple ways to tell a good, powerful story.

I feel like this is only tangentially related to the idea of scholarship being free, but I see the connection. The idea behind both is who are the gatekeepers? Should there be gatekeepers? Part of this is the question of how to scholars make money off of their work. Part of this is the question of can the public be trusted with open access to scholarly work? Or even with the photographs? They would have been printed in a spread that told a story, that was mediated by professionals to create a specific effect. We have witnessed what the internet can do to photographs today, how people cannot be trusted with them. The photo going around of Emma Gonzalez supposedly ripping up the constitution is a prime example of that. Someone took an image, photoshopped it, and spread it around as if it were fact. This would not have been possible in the same way without the internet, or if there was someway to prevent people from downloading photographs, etc., off of the internet (aka having free full access to someone’s actual work). If we cannot have an educated public that is willing and able to think critically about the scholarship presented to them, then maybe we need limits to access. I’m too cynical to think that democratizing access is the key to gaining such an educated public.

Here is an article on gatekeeping and the media: https://medium.com/@gabrielletutheridge/what-is-the-role-of-gatekeeping-journalists-in-today-s-media-environment-2034a30ba850. (Sorry this is so late. I’ve been most unwell).

Content Accessibility and Ownership

One issue that affects how content is curated is the issue of ownership and accessibility; how much access should individuals have when it comes to sensitive information. In Ray Rosenzwieg’s article, he talks about how the NIH was urged to make their papers public. This raised issues about how some groups, such as students and academics, have long had access to these papers, but the outside public did not. The rise of the internet has also furthered these discussions, as restrictions on websites highlight the inequality in information access. Just because an individual makes content, does not mean they have the final say in if it’s released, and to whom.

One example of this is discussed an in episode of Radiolab, where a photographer took photos of a soldier’s final moments. One moment was highlighted, where one military personnel told the photographer to stop taking pictures, but others defended her. However, photos that identified the soldier in any way were forbidden from being used without the soldier’s permission.  As a result, the photojournalist talked to the soldier’s family, who gave permission to see the pictures before they were published, but it conflicted with the rules of Time Magazine, who needed to publish the pictures before the family could see it. Time allowed the soldier’s family to view the pictures, after which the family withdrew permission to use certain pictures. Although there were some who felt that Time had the right to publish pictures, the photojournalist felt that the right call was made.

In Brown and Kaiser’s article, this issue is further explored in the form of the medical history of impoverished African-American families visiting a health clinic in the Mississippi Delta. Because many of the patients are still alive, a condition was set so that the records would not be accessible to the public until 2038. This makes research on recent history difficult, but not impossible. As the article highlights, in the past, information on the U.S. South was largely restricted, as many records were restricted to private collections or private historical societies. It wasn’t until recently that the SHC was established, giving more access into information on the southern identity and past. Returning to the idea of restricted access, identifying potentially sensitive material in an archive is an important but sometimes counterproductive process in the race to get a collection processed. Still, making some information restricted, such as to protect medical records or respect the wishes of a grieving family, is vital to ensure that content curation and preservation is done ethically.

Access Denied

During the course of compiling evidence, gathering information, and sifting through vast archives of material ripe with research value historians can often find themselves frustrated with denied access. This can include documents of the most diverse forms. One would assume that some of the hardest information to obtain would be top secret military documents but in many cases medical records, family histories, and pictures of certain events can be just as difficult. The reading from this week featured several examples of this problem. In the podcast Sight Unseen the website Radiolab interviewed a photographer that knew the release of pictures she took while in Afghanistan would likely prove to be somewhat controversial. One set of pictures she took featured a Marine that had been evacuated out of combat with fatal injuries. Her shots were focused on the doctors, nurses, and medics attempting to revive him. What became apparent during the operation was the medical team’s desire to document the event, and as a result the photographer was able to fully capture the feeling of the trauma room at the time of the Marine’s death. However, access to the documentation of the event became problematic because of the nature of the situation. In Brown and Kaiser’s analysis of recent history in Opening the Archives of the Recent American Past the difficulties of researching late 20th century become apparent when access to a medical school study seems to hang in the balance of federal law acting on medical records, student records, and personal information. Also in Drakes’ Who Owns Your Archive? Historians and the Challenges of Copyright Law the problem of copyright shows to be a major access obstacle for historians and the members of the public alike. Access seems to have been privatized since the 1970s and any attempt to access the information warrants a heavy monetary price. Ownership views the rights to many pictures, documents, and other sources of history as potential profit. Interestingly the ownership is usually not the original creator of the material. However, as the owner the company that owns the rights the company can levy fines for using material without paying for it. Most archives located in universities or libraries are free and provide as much open access as possible but increasingly historical data is being stored by corporations that have little to no interest in providing it to the public. Drake says that access is extremely difficult to obtain without rights to the material.

Finally Rosenzweig identifies the problem of access inside historian’s own backyard in Should Historical Scholarship Be Free? He explains that academic journals are continuing to restrict access to the public even years after the internet promised to showcase a never ending flow of quality information. He says that this is especially a problem in the humanities because many journals in the humanities are produced by academic societies rather than the commercial institutions. Because that are very dependent on subscription money they have a difficult time encouraging the release of history literature for free. Unfortunately many historians write articles that are published by these journals with no compensation, and the public is unable to view their work.

Access to historical data and research appears to be a major problem for the foreseeable future with very few solutions in sight. Two of the biggest barriers seem to be the passing of copyright laws and restricted academic journals. Until these issues are worked out historians will continue to deal with access problems and a public that is unable to view their most important work in the field.

An interesting article on copyright https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/20/crooner-rights-spat

Josh

3/26

From “Opening Archives on the Recent American Past”, this article highlights the importance of having archives. From this article you can see the amount of information that can be derived from archives. Some of the issues that can come from the information being accessed now, is that many of the people apart of this survey are still living and it is a issue of HIPPA, of exposing their health student information and it could be compromised. So in order for their information and records to remain confidential and to lessen the chances for information not to be compromised the SHG (southern historical collection) has decided to seal medical case histories and student evaluations for seventy years from the date that it was created. While this is a compromise in order to not give personal information, it also hurts medical research due to not being able to access information which could help further medical research. In the second article it discusses who is actually the “owner” of the archives. There are a number of different entities one archive could be tied to. The original creator, the publisher, the editor, the archivist, etc. In this article the author touches on how they want to create a presentation and are not sure who or how to go about contacting the correct person about the object/image/document at hand. This author was at a crossroads due to the fact that in order to effectively get their point across the image/video needed to be shown. So by possibly violating U.S. copyright laws and possibly violating many of user terms, they downloaded a video to their presentation. This essay not only highlights the struggle that comes from piracy issues and who is actually the owner of images, document or history overall is an ongoing battle. The battle of who is the correct owner is not something that is just an issue in the archival world. Any historian, curator, people in the art community can tell that history (particularly that or Africans, African Americans, and other minorities) is not seen as something that belongs to those people. Although their history and culture was stolen from them, many think that it no longer belongs to them because it was in the possession of someone else. This has been an ongoing problem as people who are African American generally can only go so far back in their history and lineage before it becomes muddled or just ends all of a sudden, with no way to provide documentation and being unable to keep personal belongings.

Content Accessibility in Academia

By Steven R. Garcia

After listening to Radiolab’s Sight Unseen, I wondered as to how the episode would tie in with the rest of the readings. A journalist’s ethical dilemma on using the ‘perfect shot’ coupled with the suspenseful tale of a grieving family being given the choice of whether or not to allow the publication of that shot in a widely circulated print magazine? How could any of that be related to scholarship and the academy at large? In conjunction with the rest of our readings for this week, Sight Unseen and its connection to the academy results in two lines of thinking that I’ll loosely explore here: the differences between scholarship and journalism on the ownership of ideas and the paradox of academic publishing. In short, I feel that the premise of publishing rights and, more importantly, subscription-based scholarship is contradictory to the ideals of contemporary education; in addition, I suggest that print scholarship and print journalism meet two different goals and, thus, models of publication should be inherently unique to each as well.

First, let’s start with the differences between scholarship and journalism. Since starting my graduate degree, courses have consistently tackled this odd relationship between journalism and academic history. Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine comes to mind as an example, as I remember my classes’ discussions of the book being laced with the phrase ‘although she’s a journalist and not a historian.’ Klein wrote a strong critique of neo-liberalism and shock capitalism, but it seems that the merits of her research are not sufficient to allow her ideas to be justified as credible. But, I argue that if a Latin American historian had written the same book in a similar style, it may not have received as much criticism in that regard. Sight Unseen, when coupled with our other readings, reminds me of this tenuous relationship between the academy and journalism. In the case of the episode, not only does the story presented offer valuable insight into the ethics of using a source, but the differing presentations of an idea and their perceived educational value. In short, how would a historian have handled the question of using a source? At its core, Radiolab’s episode was the study of a debate; it was the balance a fine line between mass appeal through a compelling narrative and upholding the standards of one’s profession.

The academy too, like journalism, balances a fine line between striving for mass appeal while upholding the standards of the profession.

Roy Rosenzweig’s “Should Historical Scholarship Free?” discusses this idea in part, along with that other point on the paradoxical nature of academic publishing. In order to maintain good standards (i.e. ethics, grammar, rigorous academic research, etc.), academic publishers must pick and choose what articles get put in their journals and what the ‘entry fee’ for viewership of those journals will be. Our class has been discussing at length the necessity for some kind of editing and vetting process, lest academic research take a nose-dive in quality. But, much like Rosenzweig suggest, isn’t the point of that research to educate? And in a contemporary democracy that supports public education, shouldn’t that content be readily available for the public good — in other words, free? Here’s where I asked myself what the difference between journalism and the academy was. Journalism is a business and the academy isn’t. Then I realized how wrong I was — how idealistic that definition is. Higher learning is a business, and academic publishing is but one part of that. But why would publishers then charge readers for content? Herein lies the paradox: academics research to create original scholarship to further educate society, but that educational value is locked behind a monetary ‘pay-wall.’ How then does the academy reconcile this?

I believe it comes down to a question of ownership. Academic publishers, for the most part, clearly think that academic research is co-owned by both the author and the press. That content can be then sold for the betterment of those willing to pay for it. That’s just business. But, this isn’t the business of journalism — it isn’t about ratings, book sales, or the next big scoop. It should be about the process of educating itself, and the core belief of education in this country is (arguably) that education is a public endeavor. What’s more, online media has made it vastly easier for the everyday individual to learn and research that subscription-based publishing seems less and less viable. I think that, much like Rosenzweig, alternatives for publishing should be pursued. Academic standards shouldn’t be outright abandoned as a result, but this isn’t a chase for ratings. Publishers can still turn a profit without comprising the basic duty of academics as producers of educational content in service to society at large, not just personal research interests or the interests of the private press. Education is shared ownership.

Also, here’s a link to an article on oral history and ethics. I found it pertinent considering Radiolab’s episode on ethics in journalism: http://www.history.ac.uk/makinghistory/resources/articles/oral_history_2.html

The Apollo Soyuz Project

For my project, I will be creating an exhibit focusing on the Apollo-Soyuz Program, which was a space project launched in 1975 by the United States and the Soviet Union. The goal of the exhibit is to highlight an important time in U.S. foreign and scientific policy, as well as highlight a positive project during the Cold War Era. This project will manifest in the form of an online exhibit through Omeka, with a WordPress component providing bibliographical links and additional information on media used.

The Puerto Rican Diaspora, One Bomb at a Time

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The aftermath of the Fraunces Tavern bombing in NYC, 1975.

Throughout my career as a student of history, I’ve been fascinated by my ‘homeland’s’ past: Puerto Rican history, that is. Going through many books and articles on contemporary Latin American history, I always felt that Puerto Rico was left out of the equation. It was, at times, too American for its own good. It didn’t have an inherently ‘Latin American’ story to tell. It had an uprising in 1950, but it was nowhere near as explosive (or at all successful) as the revolutions in countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua, or Cuba. It had nationalist movements, predominantly leftist Marxist, but nowhere near as popular as the Sandinistas or M-26-7. But, there was one facet of Puerto Rican history that always seemed to pique the academy’s interest: the diaspora. Countless Puerto Ricans migrating in droves from the island, whether it was financial crises or natural disasters, to the United States mainland. What if, I thought to myself, those exoduses brought with them nationalist intellectuals, activists, and extremists? It was a question similar to that of the chicken and the egg: was Puerto Rican activism home-grown on American soil or was it brought to the US? My project proposal below goes into further detail.

Overall, I think the most challenging parts of this project will be two-fold: ArcMap and census data. I’ve found a good deal of documents regarding the bomb sites and communiques written afterwards by the FALN. However, it’s the other side of that data-mining portion that worries me. For example, Social Explorer only has data on Puerto Rican populations from the 1980s onward. It would be up to me to find and then geo-reference that data into ArcMap (which, if the databases are out there, shouldn’t be too difficult). As for ArcMap itself, our presentation on the program wasn’t kidding. There’s a good reason as to why this program suite offers a class and a B.A. and M.A. in it. It’s difficult and I wonder if I’ll be proficient enough in time to use it effectively. As with all things, it’s matter of staying flexible!


Project Proposal

After Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 2017, islanders left for the United States mainland in droves. Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois were the top five states to receive the highest influx of Puerto Ricans. But, even before 2017, large waves of Puerto Rican migration to the mainland had occurred before. Since the 1950s, this phenomenon of the Puerto Rican ‘diaspora’ has defined Puerto Ricans as a people and formations of Puerto Rican nationalism. Questions as to whether a migrant is still a Puerto Rican while living in the US frequently arise in primary and secondary literature. However, this identity conundrum didn’t stop groups like the Young Lords, the FALN (Armed Forces of Puerto Rican National Liberation), or the EPB (Boricua Popular Army) from taking to the streets, protesting for an end to Puerto Rico’s colonial regime, and, in the most extreme of cases, actively fighting against US rule through armed revolutionary action and terrorism. Groups like the FALN, for example, favored the use of bombs, targeting sites as centers of capitalist greed or imperialist oppression.[1] Specifically, from the 1970s to the 1980s, the FALN “claimed responsibility for more than 120 bombings of military and government buildings, financial institutions, and corporate headquarters” throughout much of the north-eastern United States.[2]

Interestingly, the places of operation for groups like the FALN seem to match up with the states that have historically had the largest Puerto Rican migrant populations on the mainland. This may seem initially unsurprising, but this suggests that first and second-generation Puerto Ricans on the mainland may have brought with them ideas of revolutionary action and extremism. This begs the question: did revolutionary activism migrate with the Puerto Rican exoduses from the island or was it cultivated on the US mainland? What generation contributed the most to these sorts of extremist, terrorist actions? Did these actions take part in mostly Puerto Rican neighborhoods, or were bombings conducted ‘beyond the periphery’ of migrant communities? These three questions form my argument for this digital history project; by tracking Puerto Rican migrations to the mainland along with bombing incidents in the US perpetrated by Puerto Rican revolutionary groups, I hypothesize that anti-American sentiment came with nationalist intellectuals and activists leaving the island around the 1950s and 1960s.[3] Of great interest will be whether or not second-generation Puerto Ricans carried on this style of resistance on the mainland or if this generational divide is the root cause for the shift to non-violence observed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

For my sources, I will use both primary and secondary material. My previous research projects on the period have provided me with a wealth of primary sources from the period, ranging from political communiques to government documents cataloging bombing sites. For secondary material, I will use literature on the formation of Puerto Rican national identities, the concept of the Puerto Rican diaspora, the modus operandi of Puerto Rican nationalist groups, and census data tracking the migration of Puerto Ricans to the mainland. Regarding my platforms for this project, I will be using three programs primarily: Omeka, Social Explorer, and ArcGIS. Through Social Explorer, I will track and visualize the ‘migratory hotspots’ in the United States – limited only by what available census data I can find. In ArcGIS, I will export my findings from Social Explorer into ArcMap to then geo-reference bombing sites on the mainland. Finally, I will export my maps and plug them into Omeka, along with primary source material to create an exhibit and digital archive on the story of the Puerto Rican diaspora occurring in the backdrop of Puerto Rican revolutionary nationalism and terrorism in the United States.


[1] In example, the FALN explained their bombing of the Fraunces Tavern on January 24, 1975 as an attack on the “reactionary corporate executives” located inside at the time. The attack was also meant as a warning to the “North American Government” that “to terrorize and kill our people would mean retaliation by us.” Latin American Studies, “Communique No. 3 on January 24, 1975,” Communiques, Puerto Rican Separatists: Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN).

[2] “Entries: Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional,” Entries, Encyclopedia of Chicago, accessed March 17, 2018, http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/489.html.

[3] Critically in the wake of the failed October uprising in 1950 on Puerto Rico.

Owl Eyes

For my project, I will be creating a website called “Owl Eyes” that contains an online travel blog of historic literary sites across the United States, an Instagram that allows people to submit photos from their own visits to literary sites with brief reflections (to be moderated), a Twitter feed that promotes literary events in and around Atlanta, and a calendar organizing those events. The name of the site comes from the character from The Great Gatsby, who is the drunk man Nick encounters in Gatsby’s library. The idea is that sometimes us lit nerds need to get out of the library and into the world, and this website will help us do that. Also, owls have good eyesight, right? They can see all the good events and places to visit? Something like that. There will be a slogan that explains the name, but it is still being worked out. The travel section will be called On the Road (so nice and cheesy) and each area of the site will have some sort of literary name, keeping it all within theme. As of now, I plan to do all of this on WordPress, pulling in Twitter feeds, etc., all to one site.
The blog part of the site will be organized like an exhibition of of writers’ houses, but a creative one. I will start by creating entries for most (if not all – I’ve been to so many, all might take a while) of the historic literary sites I have visited, from the Mark Twain House to the Zora Neal Hurston tour in Florida and beyond. They will be posted once a week. The idea would be that people would eventually start writing pieces of their own and submitting them to be posted whenever they visit a place, either for tiny reflections on the Instagram or full-blown blog posts. The Instagram story would be similar to Creative Nonfiction’s tiny essay series that they used to publish on Instagram. Each entry will give a brief history of the house and practical information about visiting, at the end, and link to their website. There would be search categories for region, state, city, author, type of site, and more.
The trickiest part of this project will be the calendar, and I am not yet familiar with a software that will help me do this easily, and as of now may have to hand-add every event. The need for this calendar is clear to me, and I want it mostly to be a free publicity tool for the Atlanta literary scene, a sort of one-stop shop for events that people can go to to learn about them. We have an incredibly vibrant literary scene here, but if you’re not following a billion different literary sites on Facebook or Twitter or through email, you’re missing a lot of stuff. Places that host events include all of the universities, Atlanta History Center, Georgia Center for the Book, and so much more. I’d want people to be able to search by type of event (“free” or “includes book with ticket” or “kid friendly”).
Another aspect of this site would be a resources page (catchy literary name to come) that links to all literary resources I can find in Atlanta/Georgia (library sites, there are at least 2 literary podcasts I know about, Creative Loafing, the Georgia Center for the Book, etc.). The overall goal, again, is to be a first step for people going on a literary, historical, quest in Atlanta.

Final Project

My final project will attempt to document and preserve the history of hospitals (specifically hosptial builings) in the area in which I live. Some hospitals are major trauma centers for their area and others may be as small as rural clinics. Because this project will have a preservation focus I will only include hospitals that are over 50 years old. For major healthcare organizations these hospitals have seen major building expansions over the years but many still contain an origianl core building that was built much earlier. I will attempt to document the nature of the building and a little history of the hospital itself. In the future I hope to expand this inventory of hosptials over several counties. This project will also take into account the fact that many rural hospitals no longer function under their original name as most of them have been merged with large healthcare corporations. However, because some still utilize the same original building these hosptials will be of interest to the project.

Josh

Project

For my project I will be creating a word press site, that will be discussing the development and re-development of East Atlanta. As a Historic Preservation major, I plan on discussing the preservation, reconstruction and restoration that has taken place in East Atlanta. I will also include the National Register Nomination which was done by a previous capstone class out of Richard’s class here at GSU. The end goal of the project (not what I would be able to complete in class), is to highlight metro Atlanta cities and highlight white flight and gentrification in the are and how it has affected/changed the are over time. In East Atlanta, there has been a recent influx in interest in the area and the level of demolition, new construction, restoration and influx in residents has increased ten-fold over the past few decades. My hope is to provide a cohesive history of East Atlanta, how the area was settled and how it was settled and how the area was developed. Due to the setting of word press I will have to edit each post date in order for the posts to read correctly. I will include tagging of the sites and images, if there is a specific topic that anyone is looking for they will be able to find it.