Our online project, the Jewish Digital Narratives is about collection dissemination through an alignment of narrative theory, curatorial practice, and technology.
Last week, I participated in an exciting design charrette (a fancy way used by the faculty of University of California at Santa Barbara’s Center for Information Technology & Society to say that they squeeze people’s brains like lemons) on digital advocacy. The meeting, which had been sponsored by a friend of the Magnes, Dave Toole, included some of the brightest and most engaged people around the country, focused on political and social advocacy, and was widely followed on twitter. Even though our work at the Magnes is somewhat different from that of most participant institutions – it is about marketing knowledge about actual objects: books, manuscripts, art, archival documents – the challenges are equally shared across the board. Is disseminated content lost once it hits the digital sphere? Are comments and folksonomics part of the original content, or an entirely new entity that may not reflect, or even contradict, the original message? Do we all disappear in the noise that too much information creates?
There are no definitive answers to these questions. But, perhaps, there are practices. We are working on establishing ours, and on making it global.
While Jewish Digital Narratives project has been in the works for almost two years, and publicly accessible since our very first posting of curated archival documents on flickr in September of 2007, a thorough explanation of what it means to narrate the Jewish experience in the digital arena is still in the works. And it will be for at least another few weeks.
Perhaps this is because, as it often happens, practice comes first (see Shemot/Exodus 24:7). But it may also be that thinking visually is the key to this endeavor. So, while a more articulate elucidation of our project is still in the works, enjoy a little word-play on how we are currently describing it (created, quite appropriately, with Wordle). Enjoy!