S. Andrew Crawford joined us for an internship over the fall of 2012, and served as both our first MLIS intern and first virtual intern. Andrew did a fantastic job outlining various metadata standards across libraries, archives, and museums to our team, and researched potential tools and insights for metadata crosswalks.
How did you find out about Historypin?
I actually heard about Historypin through my faculty mentor/advisor Dr. Margaret E. I. Kipp. In order to finish up my masters I had to do a few credits worth of fieldwork, and when I approached Margaret about opportunities, Historypin was the first thing she showed me. After looking over the site I knew that it was just the sort of organization that I’d been hoping to work with. From there I got in touch with Jon and the rest is history.
What’s your primary interest of study, and what kinds of innovations do you think are on the horizon in your field?
My primary areas of study are UX design, metadata, and linked data / the Semantic Web. As someone who has spent a lot of time looking into the ways people interact with information technology, I’m a bit biased towards the notion that the next big wave of innovation is going to come out of a desire to develop technologies around the basic cognitive processes that define the way people understand the world around them. As I see it, the Semantic Web is the ultimate expression of that intention. By restructuring Web content in a way that allows machines to approximate our ability to make inferences we’re laying the foundation to make the process of using the Web much more intuitive. I’m a big fan of Marshall McLuhan, and when you view the Semantic Web through the lens of his theories on media it becomes clear just how much of an extension of our own cognitive faculties it is. I genuinely feel that the innovations that are going to matter in the coming years are going to be those that are rooted in an understanding of the narrowing gap between human thought and digital processing. And not just because Ray Kurzweil’s working for Google.
Since you’ve been working on a lot of back-end and database issues, have you had much of a chance to poke around the content? Have you found any favorites?
Honestly most of my poking around has had more to do with academic articles and resources, but during the times I’ve got to play around with the map I’ve found that the content that interested me most is that which came from my hometown, Lexington, Kentucky. My personal favorite is this picture taken inside the Kentucky Theater, an historic movie theater where I worked for a year when I was an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky. I actually spent many Saturday afternoons taking matinee tickets near the exact spot the band in the picture are standing.
What kind of challenges and opportunities do you see for LAMs in collaborative projects like Historypin?
Collaborative information environments offer an incredible platform for LAMs to share their digital content to the widest possible audience, and in an incredibly efficient fashion. The chance to further develop and refine information resources like Historypin and Europeana is an incredible opportunity for these institutions and one that I’m sure will become increasingly exploited as time goes on. The major challenge that I foresee for the development of collaborative knowledge domains is a lack of interoperability between different systems and their content.
You’ve really been our first “virtual” intern. How has that experience been for you? Are there things you liked about it or things you would suggest for other people doing virtual internships?
It’s been a great experience that’s really given me the chance to hone my skills and apply many of the lessons I’ve learned as a grad student. What really made it worthwhile was that it allowed me the opportunity to explore a topic I’m passionate about in a way that really worked for me. I’d say that’s ultimately the key to a successful virtual internship, feeling sufficiently invested in the work your doing that you won’t need anyone else to motivate you to do it.
What’s next for you?
Well, now that I’ve “mastered” information science the next logical step is to begin what I hope will be a long and prosperous career as a UX designer and/or a linked data specialist. If anyone out there’s hiring you can find my information at sandrewcrawford.com.