Tag Archives: Wisconsin Pride

Social Media Madness

If you had to pick the very best children’s book of all-time, your first choice might not be, The Scholastic Book of World Records, 2009.* As far as I know, the book has not made it to the top of any critic’s lists. But in at least one Wisconsin elementary school, this book reigns supreme. Last week, the students crowned this book as champion in their school library’s March Madness Book Bracket.

The school’s awesome and talented librarian organized the contest. Disclaimer: the librarian is my mother. But family connections aside, this campaign is a great example of social media at its best. March Madness style brackets are a popular way to organize social media campaigns. In this case, my mom had students vote on their sixteen favorite books through four head-to-head rounds. The students used Google+ and Destiny Quest to vote on each round and to share their own personal picks with their peers.

Book Madness Bracket

The elementary school’s most popular 16 books face off in a March Madness Book Bracket

The original field of contenders was determined by the audience; the Sweet Sixteen was composed of the most-frequently-checked-out books, seeded by popularity. Some of the results were surprising to my mom. She knew that Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a popular series, but would not have guessed that Rodrick Rules would turn out to be the #1 most-checked out book in the school. And I am guessing that Sardine in Outer Space might not make it into her personal top 5 list.

As Dana Allen-Greil and Matthew MacArthur note, social media can heighten a cultural institution’s impact through “true dialogue and mutual understanding with those whom they claim to serve.” This requires knowing your audience and actually trusting them with the power to create content. In this case, it required allowing students to be the experts on what makes a good book.

The March Madness Book Bracket was fun for all, but it was also a good way to learn. Students used computer skills, created pie charts to analyze the voting results, and got really excited about reading their favorite books.

March Madness Paper Bracket

A good social media campaign can incorporate “in real life” or IRL elements such as this paper bracket posted in the library.

The important lesson here? Social media is not just about spreading the word. Nor is it just about encouraging participation. Utilizing social media to its fullest potential requires collaborating with your audiences to fulfill your mission, whatever it may be, whether you are a teacher, curator, publisher, or historian.



*I am left with one pressing question: What makes The Scholastic Book of World Records, 2009 better than The Scholastic Book of World Records, 2010 or 2011 or 2012? I know who to ask!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Transformative TIME

The TIME Magazine Corpus of America  (TMCOA) is a tool hosted by Brigham Young University that, “allows you to quickly and easily search more than 100 million words of text of American English from 1923 to the present, as found in TIME magazine.”

To test the tool (and to show my state pride), I decided to search for news articles containing the word “dairy.” The search yielded 1,182 results. 210 from the year 1950 alone. I quickly clicked through to the article, The Revolt that Failed, and found the qualifying phrase.

“In the heat of debate, Wisconsin’s butter-loving Alexander Wiley pleaded with his colleagues to remember that  ‘the dairy cow is the foster mother of the race’.”

The full article from January 30, 1950 is hosted on the  TIME Magazine website but is restricted to paid subscribers. A small excerpt of the article appears, but not the sentence that I found using the TMCOA tool.

The TIME article is certainly copyrighted. The exclusive rights of copyright include: distributing the copies of the work, displaying the work publicly, and creating derivative works. It could be argued that the TMCOA infringes upon these rights. However, I believe that

The authors of Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyrightargue that the typical four-factor Fair Use test can be distilled into three factors:

    1. Was the copyrighted material used for a different purpose?
    2. Was the amount of material taken appropriate?
    3. Is it a reasonable use within its field or discipline?

The first factor is really asking if the use it transformative. In Perfect 10 v. Google, the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals noted the following about search engines:

 “A search engine transforms the image into a pointer directing a user to a source of information. Just as a “parody has an obvious claim to transformative value” because “it can provide social benefit, by shedding light on an earlier work, and, in the process, creating a new one,” a search engine provides social benefit by incorporating an original work into a new work, namely, an electronic reference tool.

By adding a search function to the magazine articles, TMCOA is clearly making a transformative use of copyrighted material. So far, so good.

The second factor asks about the amount of content. TMCOA will display only an excerpt from TIME Magazine article, including the relevant phrase. Still good.

The third standard is really asking about the best practices for an industry. Consulting the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, it seems clear that TMCOA meets its best practices and is furthering its mission  “to enable teaching, learning, and research” among the “general public.” Score!

To conclude, TMCOA is free to make fair use of TIME Magazine’s content.

And I am free to note that “Wisconsin” is the 33rd most common word to appear in an article with the word “dairy”. And the #1 most common state.

Take that, Vermont and California.


Tagged , , , , , , ,

A Working Group Combining Public History & Public Radio

Let them hear it

NCPH 2017 Working Group Exploring Public Radio + Public History


One grad student's thoughts on digital history, new media, and the public

Back to the Future!

Musings on history in the 21st century.

No Commercial Potential

A journal of history, art, and music.

Alex Goes Digital

Online Musings of a Public Historian

The Past and other mind puzzles...

history & new media intersections

Zach's History Blog

One public historian's musings

Becoming a Public Historian

Sydney Rhodes, Public Historian

Public History in the Digital Realm

By Lisa Fthenakis, a public history grad student


An Experiment in Digital History

Reflections on New Media

The Digitization of My Spring Semester