Friday, April 20, 2012

NCPH Day 2: A Lightning Post on Lightning Talks

I just left the Lightning Talks session at the NCPH. According to Wikipedia, are "lightning talks last only a few minutes and several will usually be delivered in a single period by different speakers. At the lightning talks session at the NCPH, presenters signed up the day of the presentation and each got three minutes to show off their digital project. At the end of three minutes speakers were cut off, even in mid sentence. (An innovation that should be widely adopted at history conferences.) Here is a quick rundown of the presentations:
Photo by Flickr
user veggiefrog.
  • The indefatigable Cathy Stanton showed off History@Work, a "public history commons sponsored by the National Council on Public History." Launched just a few months ago, this is a group blog from the members of the NCPH. Every professional organization should be doing this!
  • We enjoyed a demonstration of the Digital Innovation Lab at UNC-Chapel Hill. Particularly interesting was a tool they had developed that overlayed information from city directories onto a Sanborn map.
  • Flat World Knowledge is a publisher of free, open-source textbooks. Professors can create an account and customize the textbooks with their own content. Students may access the materials fro free online of pay $35 for a physical copy of the book. Here is the book for the second half of of the US survey.
  • From the Library of Congress, the Viewshare project, is a "free and open tool for creating interfaces for digital cultural heritage collections." For an example of how this exciting project can work, check out this LOC blog post about using Viewshare to explore Texas funeral records. 
  • Laura Rosenthal showed us the excellent, the "national history education clearing house." Particularly interesting is their Digital Classroom. “If you want to get your teaching materials into the hands of teachers, contact us," she said. 
  • The History List is new site that aspires to be a universal calendar for history-related events. What a great idea! It is in beta but you can sign up now at this link.
  • Museum Without Walls "is a new kind of interpretive program for Philadelphia’s public art. Each audio program is told by a variety of people from all walks of life who are connected to the sculpture by knowledge, experience or affiliation. Nearly 100 “voices” at 35 stops explore 51 sculptures along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Kelly Drive."
  • I presented Spokane Historical, the new mobile phone app for touring Spokane History. 
  • Mark Tebeau presented Cleveland Historical and the underlying platform Curatescape, the platform that powers Spokane Historical and other mobile tours.
  • The Ojibwe People's Dictionary is a multimedia dictionary and cultural resource. Funded with over $800,000 in grants, the dictionary includes 60,000 spoken items by native speakers of Ojibwe.
  • is the online companion to a museum exhibit. It has a neat cell phone version to provide added content to visitors to the exhibit. Check out the 1968 Timeline.
It was a tremendous and energetic session, packed with information and ideas. A good lightning talk is like a punk rock song--you get out there, deliver a few power chords and a hook, and get the hell off the stage while the audience is still wanting more. 

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