A Whole New World: My Introduction to MedArt


A Whole New World: My Introduction to MedArt

This week marks the end of my second offical week working in the Visual Media Workshop on the Sustaining MedArt project. It's been an interesting transition from the physical forensics I performed as an archaeology major in undergrad to learning about digital forensics as an MLIS student. I've found a similar excitement to finding indiscrepencies in file trees, extracting themes from transcribed interviews, and small successes in using unfamiliar software comparable to finding potsherds on a dig site. I'm anxious to delve into the realm of digital forensics on the MedArt site to see if I can't find any old foundations or skeletons hidden in its data. 

I began my assistantship with the Sustaining MedArt project by familiarizing myself with what work was done over the summer and the requirements imposed by the grant itself. I'm thrilled to participate in the exploration and preservation of a pioneering medieval art & architecture website that is very nearly as old as myself. I also majored in history and minored in medieval studies as an undergrad, and I never came across a site like MedArt. It's been interesting to compare it's functions to the sites and datatabases I've come across in the past, primarily ArtStor. Once I had brought myself up to speed on the goals of Sustaining MedArt I started analyzing the transcriptions of the interviews from Kalamazoo in search of any themes that hadn't yet been found. One thing I found particularly intersting was the contradictions between interviewees. Some complained that one can't use MedArt without knowing exactly what you're looking for because of the lack of a search feature while a similar number of interviewees complaining that one can't use Google without knowing exactly what you're looking for as it provides  too many images per search. This is an intriguing contradiction of viewpoints that I hope to look into more later.

When I first started working here I was also tasked with downloading and familiarizing myself with BitCurator, a digital forensics program. I began by trying to download it as a virtual machine. So I downloading and installed VirtualBox to my PC, downloaded and unpacked BitCurator using 7zip, and was devastated when it failed to run. Keep in mind that because my journey into computer literacy began very recently each of these steps took a couple attempts, multiple explainations garnered from the internet, and the occasional YouTube video. After an unproductive but successful attempt to enable the virtualization abilities of my computer I ran out of ideas. After a failed attempt with Aisling to download BitCurator as a virtual machine on one of the Macs in the VMW following another unsuccessful attempt to download it as an ISO it's been moved to the back burner while we wait for some advice from the Digital Scholarship Lab. After 2 weeks of trying to make BitCurator work I'm starting to take it personally. The saga of Lindsay vs. BitCurator will continue.

In light of the free time I've gained from temporarily ending my battle with BitCurator I've started doing some reading on digital forensics. I'm excited to explore the literatur on the topic further and to begin implementing my new found knowledge on MedArt. I have also been comparing the file trees of the 2014 update of MedArt to the preceding version, and have found some interesting changes. The 2014 version made some important corrections, like eliminating two folders that for some reason repeated indefinitely in the older version. It also added significant contributions to the glossary, bibliography, and citations folders. Within the 2014 versions I've also found 3 different lists containing folders for english and french cities. The first list seems to contain all the folders in the 2nd and 3rd lists, though each of these other lists are missing some of folders from the first list. I will be very interested to find out why some of these changes were made once we start applying digital forensics. 

Next week I intend to do some more reading and start exploring the hard drive where MedArt is stored. Wish me luck!

  • Sustaining MedArt
  • Graduate Work