NEH Research and Development Grant for MEP!


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Proud to announce we have received an NEH Tier 1 Research and Development Grant from the Office of Preservation and Access to build a Semantic Annotation Tool (SAT).

The two-year grant begins Jan 1, 2016, and is also supported by Dartmouth College in myriad ways.

Special continued thanks to The Department of Film and Media StudiesDeans of Faculty and of Arts and Humanities, The Committee for Scholarly Innovation and Advancement, The Office of the ProvostThe Neukom InstituteThe Leslie Center for the Humanities, The Dartmouth College Library, and Information Technology Services at Dartmouth!


Prof. Mark Williams (Department of Film and Media Studies at Dartmouth) will work with MEP architect Dr. John Bell (Dartmouth ITS), central to the grant proposal, in cooperation with the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction Laboratory (VEMI Lab) at The University of Maine.

mep_neh_grant_badge_bigThe Media Ecology Project’s Semantic Annotation Tool is an end-to-end open source video annotation system with two parts: a drop-in jQuery plugin for marking up videos on the web and a server that aggregates and distributes annotations of online videos. Intended uses include collaborative close reading of video for humanities research, simplified coding of time-based documentation in social science studies, enhanced impaired vision accessibility for media clips on web sites, and many others.

Such a crucial shot in the arm for MEP! Grateful to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office for the congratulatory phone call but especially to our participating archives for their continued support.  #‎NEH, #‎NEHturns50, #‎NEHPresAccess

MEP poster

Scorsese Adds Support to Kodak Film Rescue

Screenshot 2014-08-05 00.07.15“Last week Kodak revealed that it plans to continue to manufacture film following negotiations with the major studios — and urged by film proponents such as J.J. Abrams and Chris Nolan — that are helping the iconic director to create a viable model for film production.

Said Scorsese, who chairs The Film Foundation, in a statement: ‘We have many names for what we do — cinema, movies, motion pictures. And … film. We’re called directors, but more often we’re called filmmakers. Filmmakers.’

He also warned that film remains the only proven archival medium that can last a least a century without the need to migrate to new media. Scorsese said: ‘We have to remember that film is still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital information will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for. … This news is a positive step toward preserving film, the art form we love.'”

See the full story from The Hollywood Reporter.

Orphan Film Symposium 2014

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Orphans 9, Amsterdam
(March 30 – April 2, 2014)

In the next few posts we will be recapping some of the exciting developments for The Media Ecology Project in the year since we held our opening symposium at Dartmouth College. This is the third of five installments focusing on conference presentations about MEP in 2013-2014..

The 9th Orphan Film Symposium, hosted by NYU Cinema Studies, the EYE Institute, and the University of Amsterdam focused on The Future of Obsolescence, which presented a perfect opportunity to present MEP to an international community of archivists, academics, and artists from more than 30 countries.  Orphanistas are committed to the discovery and preservation of what might otherwise be shunned and ignored historical media.

Mark Cooper (University of South Carolina), Karen Cariani (WGBH), and Mark Williams (Dartmouth) presented on a panel entitled “New Research Networks for Obsolete Media,” which was moderated by Scott Curtis (Northwestern University).  The panel had been proposed as one of the initiatives of the MEP Symposium at Dartmouth in May, 2013.

This was the first Orphans Symposium hosted outside the U.S., and featured many memorable events and screenings, including a keynote address entitled “The Poetics of Obsolesence” by Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam).

Thanks as always to Orphans founder and congenial spirit Dan Streible (NYU), part of the MEP Symposium, who deserves a MacArthur Fellowship for his inestimable work to transform a bad object–orphaned media–into a powerful and inspired international movement. We are also extremely grateful to our gracious host: head curator at EYE, Giovanna Fossati, who is Professor of Film Heritage and Digital Film Culture at University of Amsterdam.

FYI, here a post about The Eye Institute’s commitment to leadership in digitisation and restoration of film history.

Thanks to Mac Simonson for his help with this post!

SCMS Recaps 2013 & 2014

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In the next few posts we will be recapping some of the exciting developments for The Media Ecology Project in the year since we held our opening symposium at Dartmouth College. This is the second of five installments focusing on conference presentations about MEP in 2013-2014.



The Society for Cinema and Media Studies conferences have been invaluable to The Media Ecology Project as opportunities for collegial and intellectual exchange. In March of 2013 we provided an overview of MEP and its intended architecture for a workshop entitled “Designing for Open Access.”  Little did we expect that a raging Chicago snowstorm would delimit participation during this opening conference session, but Mark Williams was able to Skype in workshop chair Eric Hoyt (University of Wisconsin, Media History Digital Library) as he awaited the morning bus from Madison.  James Steffen (Emory) helped to lead a spirited discussion of open access goals and the work it takes to sustain them.  Hoyt also participated in the May 2013 symposium at Dartmouth, and is a most valued colleague and participant in MEP.

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At the 2014 conference in Seattle, MEP was featured in a workshop entitled “The Televisual Archive: New Directions of Research and Access” which allowed us to introduce and promote two of our pilot projects that specifically demonstrate the usefulness of television archives for studying  the history of the 20th century.


Excellent colleagues Mark Cooper (University of South Carolina) and Amelie Hastie (Amherst) discussed insights drawn from their experience in utilizing archives for original primary research.  Especially notable was the participation of two essential resources from the U.S. television archive world: Karen Cariani from the WGBH Archive in Boston and Mark Quigley from the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Cooper had just finished serving as the Acting Director of the Moving Image Research Collection at The University of South Carolina.  The MIRC, WGBH and UCLA Archives are central participating partners in MEP, especially regarding the News pilot project and the pilot devoted to augmenting study of the historic television series In the Life, which assays gay and lesbian life in the U.S.

AMIA 2013 MEP Panel

AMIA website image

AMIA website image



In the next few posts we will be recapping some of the exciting developments for The Media Ecology Project in the year since we held our opening symposium at Dartmouth College. This is the first of five installments focusing on conference presentations about MEP in 2013-2014.




In November of 2013 we were honored and pleased to present a panel about The Media Ecology Project at the annual conference of The Association of Moving Image Archivists in Richmond, Virginia.

Dartmouth’s own Mark Williams chaired the proceedings, introducing the project to the assembled specialists in a panel discussion that focused on the goals of our project and the resources we have already assembled. Our esteemed panel members were MEP architect John Bell (University of Maine), Mike Mashon (Head of Moving Images for The Library of Congress), Jan-Christopher Horak (Director, UCLA Film and Television Archive), Karen Cariani (Director, WGBH Archive and Libraries in Boston), and Dan Streible (NYU, Orphans Film Symposium).

We presented MEP as a way of extending discoverability within each participating archive but also expanding discoverability and reach across archives (two different kinds of value-add).  Work on MEP contributes to and advocates for renewed interest in the dedicated historical and cultural work that the archives pursue.

We were delighted to meet with various AMIA members who have been and will be crucial to the success of the project.  The Media Ecology Project would not exist, after all, without the support of the archival community and AMIA’s vision of leadership to promote both preservation and access to marvelous and historic moving image collections.

Thanks to Mac Simonson for help with this post!

Year in Review: Looking Forward

Welcome back to our posts to this space!

We have been busy realizing the initiatives that arose in our symposium at Dartmouth College last May.  We have contributed to several major developments in the busy world of media archives, developments which will be highlighted in upcoming posts on this site.

Here is a brief update about the core focus of our recent activities:

The notion of ecology is central to the project in several ways. Those of us who work on media history recognize that the materiality of historical media is fated. These historic media texts simply will not endure, but for the efforts to preserve and archive them.

In a fundamental sense this is a sustainability project: we are working to protect and ensure cultural memory in the form of historical media collections.

We have set out to connect media scholars with the historical archives they use in their academic work. We intend that the scholarship realized via MEP will support the essential work of media archives.

The specific platforms we have engaged and are working to bridge are 1) Mediathread, a classroom platform developed at Columbia University, that we are working to augment as a research platform; 2) Scalar, a digital publishing platform developed at The University of Southern California; and 3), a new online tool developed for MEP that will facilitate the creation of glossaries  and controlled vocabularies that can be assigned to online media files.

The Media Ecology Project sits in between and in relation to these platforms and the participating archives, navigating the import, export, and production of metadata across archival content that has been engaged by a scholar or team of scholars. In this way we will expand the capacities for search and discovery within specific archives and in relation to other archives, in order to realize new forms of research, scholarship, and publication.

Media Ecology Project Fights to Save Cultural History

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Dartmouth’s Media Ecology Project is about “the sustainability of cultural memory,” says Professor Mark Williams (photo by Corinne Arndt Girouard)

From “Dartmouth NOW“:

Media records of our cultural history are threatened because their value is not understood, their provenance is unknown or their formats are obsolete, says Mark Williams, head of Dartmouth’s Media Ecology Project, which is racing to identify and save these threatened resources.

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