Remembering authors in their own words

On this day in 1809, physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was born in Cambridge MA. Famous for being a Fireside Poet and the author of “Old Ironsides” (and, later, the father of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.), he was a huge influence on the 19th century literary world. Today, we commemorate three other influential authors by revisiting conversations with them about their work from the archives.

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Using objects to catalyze memory and narrative

Professor Francesco Spagnolo studies cultural heritage, a topic area that might seem situated squarely in the distant past — but that’s not how he sees it. “While there is a lot of concern among people about our cultural artifacts going digital; I’m interested in how in how cultural heritage includes both the digital and the tangible: these two dimensions exist in a loop, they are not separate from one.” As the curator for the The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California Berkeley, and a professor at the University, he is uniquely positioned to explore this relationship.

In Fall 2016, Professor Spagnolo taught a course called “Mapping Diasporas” that focused on the role of digital humanities in documenting and mapping culture in motion. As part of the class, he collaborated with Citizen Film. Together, they invited five refugees to meet with the students, and each were asked to bring with them one or more “memory objects” – tangible objects that spoke to them about home, culture, identity, or location. Several of the refugees had recently relocated to the Bay Area from Afghanistan, Syria, and Uganda, and presented their stories to the class. As part of an “un-final” project for the class, students conducted audio interviews with the refugees. Those interviews, and photos of those memory objects, are now being turned into a digital mapping project — and Pop Up Archive is helping.

Audio from the interviews is being transcribed using Pop Up Archive. Students go through the transcripts and use the interactive editor to correct any imperfections and assign and identify speakers. The machine-generated transcripts are critical to the overall efficiency of the project, which, based on student interest, is continuing past the end of the Semester at UC Berkeley. Professor Spagnolo and his students plan to finalize the interview transcripts, make all the files public, and then digitally document the memory objects, eventually combining all of these elements into an online map that the public can interact with in order to follow the journeys of the refugees.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Pop Up Archive since the beginning, and I continue to be a fan. It’s very collaborative and intuitive, and a completely natural platform to use to work with students and to collaborate on an oral history project like this one.” Images, texts, and audio will be interwoven in a map that will hopefully convey the immediacy of the refugee experience, and the importance of cultural heritage in maintaining one’s identity in displacement. “This is of extreme relevance today, when one seventh of the world’s population is estimated to be displaced.”Citizen Film, a documentary group, is also working on a short pilot documentary based on one of the narratives. Together, they presented a program about their work at the East Bay JCC on June 22.

Image: Ward Shelly’s Mapping the Jewish Diaspora

A Pop Up Archive Guide for KCRW’s 2017 #RadioRace contestants!

On the weekend of August 19-20, our pals at KCRW’s Independent Producer Project are hosting their fourth annual Radio Race—a chance for pro and hobbyist sound collectors to test their chops against the clock and produce a nonfiction radio story within 24 hours. 

To help radio racers get their stories in the can, Pop Up Archive is offering free audio transcriptions for participants. Pop Up Archives’ transcriptions save participants valuable production time so they can quickly zero on their best content and, with the help of our new Adobe Audition plug-in, easily edit and stitch clips together. Continue reading

A history of nuclear energy in the United States

In August 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt with some observations and recommendations about atomic weapons, including this chilling line: “A single bomb of this type carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory.” Today, we share three pieces looking at the dangers, applications, and security questions surrounding this invention.

Image: Lennart Tange (Flickr)

The dangers of nuclear power Studs Terkel Radio Archive

Myron M. Cherry is a lawyer who argued against the licensing of several nuclear power plants. He successfully slowed their development in the 1970s by “waging a war of attrition on the nuclear industry,” turning the construction of a new reactor into a public and political liability. In 1975, he was interviewed by Studs Terkel. Listen.

President Harry S. Truman signs the Atomic Energy Act into law on August 1, 1946. Image: Wikimedia

Open secrets: National security and the first amendement
— Pacific Radio Archives

In 1983, as part of the  bill of rights education project producer John Reiger undertook an examination of the legal, historical, and practical contexts of technology for nationalistic purposes — including the Atomic Energy Act. Listen.

SS Kentuckian in the Panama Canal. Image: Wikimedia

The Nuclear Canal — KQED Science

“Geographical engineering” with atomic explosives almost became a reality more than half a century ago, when scientists and engineers at the Lawrence Livermore Lab wanted to expand the Panama Canal to allow larger ships through. “Project Ploughshare,” as this effort was known, never happened (and thank goodness). Listen.

See you in the archives,

The Pop Up Archive Team