Another View


I am presenting a paper at this year’s Sporting Traditions XIX Conference in Canberra.

It is titled Produsing Historical Narratives. I aim to explore some of the opportunities available in using digital media to produse historical narratives.  Like Bruns (2008), I believe that we have “a new process for the continuous creation and extension of knowledge and art by collaborative communities: produsage”. I propose to explore the issues around produsage and the possibilities for constructing and sharing narratives. I intend to conclude the paper by considering how the sports history community can develop its use of knowledge capital by engaging with digital media.

ContributeI see CrowdSourcing as a great way to do this. Recently the British Library called on members of the public to help in a digital quest to reveal the hidden context of historic maps. 800 items have been selected for the Georeferencer Project from the British Library’s collection of over 4.5 million maps. The georeferencing interface enables people to plot locations on historic maps by comparing a digitised image with present-day online maps.

By choosing points that correspond between the historic map and the present, the user generates an overlay in Google Earth allowing us to see how areas have changed and developed over time giving a modern day context for maps up to 400 years old.

The last time the British Library undertook such a project 708 maps were completed in less than one week. Volunteers who take part in the georeferencing project will have their name attached to each tag so they will be able to chart their progress and see what they have contributed to the overall project.

This is a post I wrote back in 2009 about Rose Holley’s “Enhancement and Enrichment of Digital Content by user communities: The Australian Newspapers experience” in relation to the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program, at the National Library of Australia.

Another View

A post by David Crotty in the Scholarly Kitchen encouraged me to pause my preparation. David included a link to a YouTube video (2 minutes 58 seconds)

I followed up with the Last Bookshop video (20 minutes 15 seconds)


Watching both videos triggered memories of sitting in the Library at the University of York, Heslington, in 1971 reading Harold Garfinkel‘s Studies in Ethnomethodology. The first photocopiers had arrived at the Library but I was transcribing most of what I read into my notebooks, verbatim. I was trying to understand “that the meaningful, patterned, and orderly character of everyday life is something that people must work to achieve” and that there are methods by which each of us makes sense of everyday life. A decade later I learned about Michael Agar’s Professional Stranger work. (I found it interesting to find his digital presence.) Harold and Michael encouraged me through their texts to explore sense making.


In promoting produsage as an important consideration for sports historians, I am mindful that there are important issues to debate. I am hoping, notwithstanding the cultural dystopia, that digital media can enhance the narratives we can construct. I think this is why I am so fascinated by the insights required to develop narratives such as Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek.

The theme of the Sporting Traditions XIX Conference is A New History for a New Century? I do think that digital narratives are part of this new history but are not the only form it takes. I do think it is the way to engage new generations of sports historians.

I am thinking about problem based approaches to sharing sports history and see enormous potential in using trigger videos. For example:

Cathy Spirit Ad

Telstra’s Send a Hero a message advert

Sports Without Borders

I am hopeful that this post contributes to the consideration of what constitutes a narrative. I see this as a Republic of Letters moment at the Conference.


Cut to the Chase?

I posted earlier today about Bradley Cook, the Curator of Photographs in the Office of University Archives and Records Management at Indiana University. Bradley had shared with me a link to a photograph of Lloyd Messersmith’s measuring device.

For the best part of twenty-years, I thought Lloyd’s measuring wheel was a pastry cutter, taped up to give scaled readings of distance as Lloyd traced the distances traversed by basketball players.

As a result of Bradley’s work and the sharing of this photograph


… it is probable he used a swivel caster from a chair. This is Bradley’s take:

When you take a look at the image you can see how thick the metal frame is that holds the wheel. My guess is that he purchased a swivel caster to make it easier to go back and forth and make turns while following the player’s movement.

This would have made Lloyd’s measurements even more agile than I had anticipated. I am now thinking Lloyd is the Eadweard Muybridge of notational analysis.

Photo Credit

Detail of Lloyd Messersmith’s measuring device (Bradley Cook, Indiana University)

Remembering Lloyd: Celebrating Curation


Today was a serendipity day.

This morning, I read a post by Anita Brooks Kirkland about the role of the teacher-librarian as a curator.  She concludes:

In the early days of the Internet we sometimes had to justify our existence. After all, who needed libraries and librarians when we had the Internet? Fast-forward to 2013 and the very techies who espoused that idea are discovering a compelling need for human intervention in contextualizing information. Taking the lead in this environment offers a huge opportunity for teacher-librarianship.

This afternoon, I received a delightful email alert from Bradley Cook, the Curator of Photographs in the Office of University Archives and Records Management at Indiana University. Bradley shared with me a link to a photograph of Lloyd Messersmith’s measuring device for quantifying distances traversed in basketball. This photograph appears at the top of this post and is reproduced here with the permission of the Office of University Archives and Records Management at Indiana University. The photograph was taken seventy-three years ago.

I think this is a very important artifact and exemplifies perfectly the vital work that curators do on our behalf. Anita Brooks Kirkland observes:

The core element of content curation is the human touch. For librarians who found themselves defending that role in the early days of the Internet, one can’t help reflect on the irony of the rest of the world now realizing that they really do need help in filtering and sharing information effectively!

Lloyd’s device is very significant. To my knowledge his thesis is the first to outline a technological tool to measure distances travelled in a sport (basketball) and as such makes him (along with Hugh Fullerton) a founding father of notational analysis of sport.

I have written about Lloyd’s work and provide some detailed information about him.

You can find out more about the outcome of Bradley’s curation work at this link.

Photo Credit

Apparatus for measuring distance travelled by basketball players

LLM Record