Last summer, I had the opportunity to create a collection on the Internet Archive for the George Brown College Archives to provide online access to recently digitized college newsletters, student newspapers, annual reports, yearbooks, and images. I had been interested in creating a collection on the Internet Archive for a while, so this was a great learning opportunity for me. The Internet Archive does not have the most straight forward directions on how to upload content and create collections. This presented a challenge for me when starting the collection. I decided to produced a guide to using the Internet Archive to assist future contributors to the George Brown College Archives Collection and to provide a reference for myself when developing the collection. See below for this guide.

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This post is a “Reflexive Journal” entry written to fulfill the requirements for GLIS 649 Digital Curation. It reflects on our Wikipedia lecture and workshop that took place on January 30, 2018. This course was offered as part of Master of Information Studies (MISt) at McGill University.

Before this lecture, It had never occurred to me that Wikipedia was a powerful source of information. My education had conditioned me to dismiss Wikipedia as unreliable, and assume that it had no real effect on public knowledge. However, globally Wikipedia is the fifth-most frequently used site on the internet.[1] It attempts to accumulate “the sum of all human knowledge” by giving its users the power to construct and maintain its content. Much like other information resources, Wikipedia has been disproportionately written through the perspective of Western, white, cisgendered, males.[2][3][4] As a result, the content on Wikipedia has suffered from systemic bias and misinformation. All of which has been consumed by a broad audience.[5]

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What is a Home Movie?

Home movies are amateur films that capture private moments that are not available on commercially produced films. This type of film making usually concerns itself with aspects of family life, such as family reunions, personal vacations, celebrity sightings, and community events. In recent years, amateur film and film making have been celebrated in Home Movie Days. As many people lack the proper equipment and knowledge to view and care for their films, these celebrations have been important means for individuals to re-view and share their family films. Home movie days are also useful resources for individuals to learn how to best care for their films.

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As I have previously mentioned, I am currently researching, analyzing, and annotating documents for ALPHA Education’s Digital Archive Project as a volunteer. For this project, I was asked to discuss the content and broader historical context of each document.  Annotations are also expected to connect documents to APLHA Education’s mission, which is to foster awareness of Asia’s World War II history to further the values of justice, reconciliation, and peace. The following is a copy of my annotation for a declassified Biological Warfare (BW) Report written 28 June 1945 that investigates the Japanese use of BW in Changteh, Hunan Province, China. The attack, which took place on 4 November 1941, occurred when a low flying Japanese bomber plane dropped plague infected grains of rice and particles under the veil of heavy fog.  This document was declassified by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on 14 August 2009.

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Colonialism & Erasure

Walking around the streets of Toronto, it is difficult to see traces of its long Indigenous history. As a direct result of colonialism, Indigenous ways of knowing and naming place were replaced with European knowledge systems. While Indigenous place names convey local knowledge about physical landscapes and their histories as a means for navigation, colonial place names in Canada are instead used to emphasize European monarchs, religions, prominent families, and meaningful locations in Europe.

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I came across a tweet by The Archivist that displays a time lapse GIF made from layered historical photographs of Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver. I found it very  interesting to watch as GIFs are typically used as memes to provide humour. However, as “flip books of the Internet,” GIFs can, and have, functioned beyond memes to illustrate tutorial directions, animate data to provide context, market products and ideas to consumers, or layer images to show movement or change. This GIF in particular constructs and deconstructs layers of cityscape images to engage viewers and encourage interest in the historical development of Vancouver.

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Why Should I Care About Error 404 Pages?

“Error 404” occurs when a visitor tries to access a page that no longer exists. Despite best efforts to redirect and specify links to web pages on your site, your visitors can still encounter the dreaded error message. This means that your 404 page can either enhance or compromise a visitor’s experience on your domain, depending on how it is designed. Taking the time to design a user-friendly error page can make the difference between increasing and decreasing your website traffic.

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“Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever.” That is the popular sentiment. But what happens when web data has been altered or deleted, how do we access the original data? Recently, there was public outcry in response to the removal of several pages from the official White House website by the Trump administration. Pages on LGBTQ, civil rights, and climate changes were removed within moments of President Trump’s inauguration. This erasure was particularly alarming for many people because it indicated the new administration’s sentiment towards minorities and the environment. Many people also believed these pages were perminately deleted and its data could never be accessed again. However, these web pages were in fact migrated to an archived version of Obama’s administration website.  Even though the web data was migrated, its swift removal from the White House website reminded me that valuable information can easily be removed from public access. As users have the ability to alter and delete web data, data itself is rather fragile and transient.

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I recently started volunteering for an educational non-governmental organization (NGO) called ALPHA Education. ALPHA Education works to promote awareness of the events of World War II in Asia to foster reconciliation, dialogue, and cross-cultural understanding. In part, this is achieved through providing educational resources and lesson guides that can be used by teachers and students. To add to these resources, ALPHA Education recently launched their Digital Archive Project to transcribe and digitize a large collection of primary sources related to World War II atrocities in Asia. These sources take the form of documentary images, videos, official correspondences, interrogations, and personal testimonies. As a volunteer for this project, I have been tasked with researching, contextualizing, and annotating primary sources in the collection. This will serve as a general summary for the digital collection, which will provide an educational resource for individuals investigating the experiences of civilians, soldiers, and prisoners of war in World War II in Asia.

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I came across an article that made me rethink Facebook as merely a platform for sharing and searching information. Published by Cornell University, The Many Faces of Facebook: Experiencing Social Media as Performance, Exhibition, and Personal Archive argues that people experience Facebook through performing and reflecting on their life experiences and identity. It was found that users curating their personal collection of data on Facebook correspond to three different “regions” or goals: “performance region for managing recent data and impression management, an exhibition region for longer term presentation of self-image, and a personal region for archiving meaningful facets of life.”

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