Linda Villarosa always knew she would be a writer, but when she was a little girl in Colorado, she probably couldn’t imagine that something she wrote would have a direct impact on New York State taking measures to address a critical life-and-death issue. She writes effective and affecting stories (read some of them here), directs the journalism program at City College and is a proud alumna of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. You’ll be inspired by her embrace of new challenges and complete lack of writing angst.
In this guest-free episode, Steve and Kathleen take a break from highlighting CUNY scholars and aim the mic at themselves, indulging in some hostful repartee. It begins and ends with cereal (or serial), and in between, listeners are treated to perhaps more information than is necessary about their hosts. Revelations include ambiguous criminal activity, secret ethnic lineage, and obsessions with NYC MTA material culture, handedness and the aforementioned cereal. Steve also lifts the curtain on his status.
Following the admirable model of actor Dax Shepard on his Armchair Expert podcast, we offer a post-recording fact check/errata/clarification. If you’re reading this before you listen, you’ll get an idea of the curiosities in store:
Kathleen’s vest was not addressed to her, as she knows better than to open mail not addressed to her. But the packing slip clearly indicated that the company had sent her the item in error. It turns out that she did nothing illegal. The moral question remains.
Steve was referring to the new ABC sitcom “Alex, Inc.” that is based on the origins of Gimlet Media, not a small replica of Jim nor a mini gym, as Kathleen was envisioning.
Richard Lieberman is the head of the La Guardia and Wagner Archives, which just happens to be housed at LaGuardia Community College, my home campus. In this interview, we touch on a lot of great topics, ranging from the importance of faculty-led projects, to Wikipedia, to Ed Koch’s mayorship. If these seem like disparate strands, then you’ve never met Richard, who masterfully ties together the strands of history.
Richard’s many loves come through in this interview. He loves history. He loves teaching. He loves New York City. To sit with him is to become energized and inspired.
A quick bit of housekeeping. In the interview, Richard references Ann and Ximena. That would be my colleagues (and future interview subjects…I hope) Ann Matsuuchi and Ximena Gallardo, who work with Richard on the incredible Koch Scholars project.
‘Everything on Paper Will Be Used Against Me:’ Quantifying Kissinger
Nondescript: A Web Tool to Aid Subversion of Authorship Attribution
It was just a coincidence that I interviewed these two women right before NYC Digital Humanities Week (Feb. 5-9, 2018). In episode 8, I chat with my colleague, Robin Davis, grilling her about the thesis that she completed for the CUNY Graduate Center’s MA in Computational Linguistics. It’s titled “Nondescript: A Web Tool to Aid Subversion of Authorship Attribution.” After listening to her, I guarantee you’ll be intrigued and want to keep thinking about the topic. Fortunately, Robin offered some suggestions:
The second interview, Episode 9, is with Micki Kaufman, also a GC student, who’s working on her dissertation for a PhD in History. Her project is called “Everything on Paper Will Be Used Against Me:’ Quantifying Kissinger.” She uses computational text analysis and visualization techniques to work with material from the Digital National Security Archive’s Kissinger collections. As serious and important as this project is, Micki prioritizes fun. Just listen; she’ll explain.
Digital Humanities is a large, encompassing, often ill-defined field. If you keeping hearing about it but aren’t sure what it is, these two interviews will help shed some light. Robin’s project is not strictly DH, since computational linguistics is actually a science, but the fields are definitely cousins, as Robin says, and I find that similar parts of my brain are used in trying to gain an understanding. Robin and Micki are both good at describing complex concepts in a way that’s clear and enjoyable to take in. Bottom line: These two projects are both very cool and socially relevant.
Boone Gorges is the lead developer for the CUNY Academic Commons and a one-time CUNY grad student, making him uniquely qualified to navigate between the technical world and the academic one. As someone who truly believes free and open source software is the pillar of an informed society, I loved speaking with Boone, who can articulately argue that a broad technical understanding of our various systems–from operating systems to algorithms–is an important new literacy. He even makes a compelling case that understanding these systems, and understanding how best to focus our attention, is a form of information literacy, something that speaks to me as a librarian.
I discovered Claire Stewart’s book during a random Google jaunt and was thrilled to see she was a CUNY faculty member. I quickly acquired and devoured her book, which is a mashup of history, anthropology, sociology and popular culture – my favorite kind of stew. I visited her at City Tech where we recorded in the conference room of the Hospitality Management department, and afterwards she gave me a tour of the impressive kitchens and dining room (those enviable, enormous standing mixers!) where the teaching and learning and cooking and dining happens. I got the chance to meet other faculty in the program, and as a student in a chef’s toque came into the faculty offices with a plate of gorgeously plated food of some kind, I privately noted how extremely different their workday is from mine. I also got to sample some delicious, freshly-baked-by-students Danish. Claire and I discovered that we share an interest not only in the intersection of food and culture, but we geeked out about our love of digging deep for information and are both mystified that everyone doesn’t think research is the most fun activity in the world (Nancy Drew did figure in this conversation). We’re also both grateful that we were able to finally find the ideal place to satisfy our intellectual and employment needs. Thanks, CUNY! You can learn more about Claire’s professional experience and writing here.
In this installment, Steve and Kathleen chat with each other about what they’re reading and who they’re wearing. They also reflect on the three interviews they’ve done so far, finding a set of serendipitous commonalities that also correspond to the idea behind Indoor Voices. They did so at the LaGuardia Community College recording studio where they foresee having future wraparounds, so we all have something to look forward to.
Be sure to enjoy the soothing buzzing of Steve’s phone vibrating during the interview, perhaps pushing out the jackhammers in Barbara Katz Rothman’s interview as the most distracting sound in an episode…
As a librarian, there are certain issues, like open access, that I feel I have a pretty firm grip on. When I read Jessie Daniels and Polly Thistlethwaite’s Being a Scholar in the Digital Era: Transforming Scholarly Practice for the Public Good, I knew it would be good, but I didn’t expect many surprises. But the book blew me away in terms of the fantastically interesting takes on what matters to academics—not necessarily to academia—in the 21st century.
This interview, which took place in LaGuardia Community College’s lovely podcast studio, touches on a lot of those issues, but also the fixes for some of the challenges of digital scholarship, such as the tension between wanting to reach a broader audience with your work while also being intimidated by the repercussions of the work being misunderstood.
I had the pleasure of a relaxed yet stimulating conversation with Barbara Katz Rothman about her book, A Bun in the Oven: How the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization. In the spirit of resistance, rather than recording in the confines of an institution, we met in Barbara’s NYC apartment, replete with the ambient sounds of traffic and jackhammering in the distance. Earbuds or headphones are recommended for the full effect.
There are several ways to summarize the complexities that Barbara delves into in her book, but I especially like this quote from deep within chapter 9 which gets to a part of the heart of it: “That tension between larger social systems and individual choices is the grand philosophical question of all time, the issue of free will. And it is the focus of the sociological imagination – how much of what is experienced as so deeply personal is actually structural.”