Louisiana Folklore Miscellany Now Online

All of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to [Maida Owens][mo] and the [Louisiana Folklife Program][lfp]. She has single-handedly persevered in getting almost all the contents, at least the tables of such if not the content itself, of the entire run of the [_Louisiana Folklore Miscellany_ online][lfm]. Later issues, like the two issues I edited on *Cultural Catholicism* and *In the Wake of the Storms* also have the articles available. (The contents are in chronological order with the oldest first, so those issues are toward the bottom of the page.)

[mo]: http://www.louisianafolklife.org/main_contact_link.html
[lfp]: http://www.louisianafolklife.org/main_program_intro.html
[lfm]: http://www.louisianafolklife.org/LT/Articles_Essays/LFMIndex.html

A New Notebook

As most people know, I have used and depended upon the large Moleskine notebooks for the past five years. I take them to work — into committee meetings, into the classroom, into my office — and I take them home. I have taken them out into the field, and I have taken them on both business trips and pleasure trips. Everything goes into them. And when you depend upon such a one thing, like a good pen, you don’t lose it.

Laudun-2010-0759

A collection of Moleskine notebooks on a shelf in my study.

What's In My Gear Bag 3

A photograph taken for my recent post on field gearthat emphasizes the place of a notebook in the category of “necessary gear.”

At this point in collection of habits and practices, I have just about stopped thinking about what notebook I use. It’s going to be a Moleskine with graph paper. (I am not so good at drawing that I work that well without the aid of lines, and lots of them.)

Still, a lot of lines can crowd the page, and so when I came across someone crowing the benefits of using a new line of notebooks from Sweden called Whitelines, I was suspicious that it was yet another [Lifehacker][lh] or [43folders][43f] fan spending more time fussing with the tools of the trade than in the actual practice of trading — whatever that trade may be.[^1]

Whitelines Notebook Comparison

Whitelines Comparison

Color me surprised — excuse the pun. Not only are the pages more readable but the notebooks themselves are *cheaper* than Moleskines *and* they come in the standard European sizes[^2] *and* the company is committed to having a zero carbon footprint.

The full line of notebooks is available on [Amazon][]. I use the [A5 sized hardbound notebook][A5].

[^1]: Okay, true confession, I will almost always take the time it requires to waste to try using any kind of paper with [Seyès Ruling](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruled_paper).
[^2]: May I just take a moment to ask why hasn’t North America moved to such international standards as, say, the metric system and the sensible paper standards like A3, A4, A5 *et cetera*?

[lh]: http://lifehacker.com/
[43f]: http://43folders.com/
[Amazon]: http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2F&tag=johnlaudun-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=390957
[A5]: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/9186177257?ie=UTF8&tag=johnlaudun-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=9186177257

A Cyborg Composer?

While I am writing about new forms of creativity, I would also like to point out this terrific [profile of UC Santa Cruz emeritus professor David Cope][profile]. Cope was the inventor of Emmy, Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI, or “Emmy”), which was well received by some but made others uncomfortable with the questions it raised about human creativity — the short answer for me is that all the formulas Cope entered into Emmy were clearly based on work done by humans, but I don’t know entirely how Emmy works. Cope is about to release a successor to Emmy, known as Emily Howell. Two compositions by Emily are included in the article. They make for an interesting listen.

[Emily Howell Sample Composition](http://blog.miller-mccune.com.s72010.gridserver.com/wp-content/uploads/podcast/emily_howell_1.mp3)

[profile]: http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/triumph-of-the-cyborg-composer-8507/

Layer Tennis

While I was still reeling from the idea of *content farms*, I was heartened to come across another neologism that I didn’t know about but, in fact, was heartened to learn: *layer tennis*. Layer tennis occurs when two graphic artists square off in Photoshop battle to see who can trump the other in a series of transformations of a design initiated by one of them but finished by the other designer. Luckily, for me, my introduction to layer tennis came in the form of a delightful narration of a recent match between Nicholas Felton and Khoi Vinh. Vinh recaptures the [heat of the moment][heat] well.

[heat]: http://www.subtraction.com/2010/02/24/layer-by-layer

Choosing a CMS (and how the web works)

In the past few weeks I have had a number of direct conversations or made indirect observations about a number of websites run either by individuals or by organizations that are still using some form of static HTML generator when they probably should be using some form of content management system (hereafter CMS), almost all of which produce HTML dynamically.

What’s the difference between *static* and *dynamic* you ask? Static HTML pages sit on a server, typically in a folder/directory titled `public_html`.

Now let me make this clear for all my friends who have asked me, or were about to ask me, that static HTML generation is great for the internet.

### Comparing Code

A pretty fundamental, and arguably not very interesting to most users, way to compare the various CMSes is to look at their code base. [Dries Buytaert](http://buytaert.net/cms-code-base-comparison) has done so. His graphs reveal the size of the code bases over time.

It turns out that the Drupallers are themselves prone to reflecting on what they do in relationship to WordPress. There have been a number of threads over the years. [This one in particular](http://drupal.org/node/29364) reflects on ease of use issues. And here’s [another discussion](http://groups.drupal.org/node/15689).

Web developers regularly ask this [question among themselves](http://ask.metafilter.com/131535/Drupal-vs-Joomla-vs-Wordpress-vs) precisely because they want to be able to deliver to their clients a stable, robust platform that is very user friendly. If any of those three dimensions fail, they know that the client will fault them, not the platform. But what do we mean by stable, robust, and friendly?

> WordPress is really slick for quick, turnkey web sites that don’t really need much functionality beyond a blog and an ‘about’ page.

> Drupal definitely has a learning curve, but it’s your platform if you anticipate needing to integrate a lot of custom functionality; its biggest strengths are its APIs.

Thinking about Digital Libraries

After starting the fall semester thinking a lot about digital libraries, I had to put a lot of that thinking in a box while I turned to teaching, the small role I play in the digital humanities lab, and getting the AFS website development done. (It’s been slower than we planned.)

I am having to get that mental box down from a shelf, however, because I have failed to do one thing, and that is include our university library staff in the discussions about Project Bamboo, which is something I promised the Bamboo participants at the very first workshop. The result of my failure is that the library is being courted by organizations like BePress, which offer a ready-made institutional repository setup. That’s great, but all the major research universities are not going that direction. They are, instead, investing time (personnel) in open source solutions like DSpace, Fedora, and to a much lesser degree Omeka.

The use of Omeka and DSpace is not an either/or proposition, but a both/and.

Solar Powered USB Charger

Ah, the dreams of going off-grid! More importantly, the ability to re-charge in the field when you’ve forgotten to charge fully before leaving home. AA batteries power my small camera and my field recorder, but my cell phone has a built-in battery.

There are a number of solar-powered chargers out there, and some are reasonably priced. There is, however, something incalculably alluring about finding one of those cheap lawn lighting kits, for say $10, and making your own solar charger. More importantly, it would be nice to begin to do such things with my daughter, so that she has a since of *making* things for herself.

Here’s the simplest DIY version I have been able to find: [[Metacafe video]](http://www.metacafe.com/watch/800000/solar_powered_usb_charger_cheap_and_easy_to_make/).

The Lauduns, Part 1

In my first few years here I recorded a number of conversations with my great aunt Ann Laudun Mayfield. Aunt Ann had an amazing memory and she seemed to have had in her youth a keen sense for her elders who had similar memories. Now and then I want to add to the general knowledge about the Laudun family — and other families that compose my own current one — and so I thought I would begin with a description of the first Laudun in the historical record, the mysterious M. De Vallette Laudun, whose journal is remarkable for being [one of nineteen travel journals][wiki] from the eighteenth century to have survived. The Historic New Orleans collections describes it as follows:

> *Journal d’un voyage fait a la Louisiane en 1720* is a rare account of a French scientific expedition to Louisiana, the French West Indies, and the Gulf of Mexico. M. de Vallette Laudun, com- mander of the Toulouse, which sailed from Toulon in March 1720 and reached Dauphin Island by early July, composed this series of 132 letters written to an unnamed French lady. Vallette Laudun led the first detailed survey made of Louisiana by the French government, three years after the founding of New Orleans and at the height of public enthusiasm for John Law’s Company of the Indies. In his letters, Vallette Laudun recently acquired by The Collection appeared in 1768 as a response to the Treaty of Paris (which gave Spain con- trol of Louisiana), a reminder to its readers of the possessions the French were conceding. (2009.0053) [*HNOC Quarterly*][hnoc]

The [full text of the original][text], in its native French, is available from Google Books.

[wiki]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_eighteenth-century_journals
[hnoc]: http://www.hnoc.org/publications/pdf/HNOC_Q2_09.pdf
[text]: http://books.google.com/books?id=OdkaAAAAMAAJ

Lenten Observations

**What I’m giving up**: sweets. This includes cookies, candies, cakes, and pies. The only sugar I’m allowing myself is the sugar in my coffee — and any sugar that might be in a cough drop, should I need one.

**What I’m adding**: an hour a week for non-scholastic professional development — this is time to be focused on working through tutorials on various kinds of media production — and one hour a week for reviews (*a la* GTD).[^1]

[^1]: I recognize that additions are not part of the Lenten tradition, at least as I grew up, but since I see Lent as partly about reflecting on one’s own habits (of mind, of practice, of views), I thought it might be a good time also to develop a few desirable habits.

The Rise of the Garage

As I noted previously in observing Chris Anderson’s recent cover article for Wired magazine, the garage as shop is on the rise:

> We wanted to keep that garage-atmosphere of creativity that we cherished as students. School is one of only places where one can freely experiment, discover and even fail with little consequence. When you’re out in the real world, you have to make a living and it becomes that much harder to work on projects that are truly meaningful to you. In an academic environment full of creative freedom, students are often able to experiment to their hearts’ content. Because of that, you see games that are being crafted from the heart and for a desire to push boundaries as opposed to what a marketing venn-diagram dictates. It offers a chance to play with other things besides Robots and Ninjas. Publishers are jumping at this opportunity for new IP. I think this is a trend that will only continue. (Paul Bellezza, cofounder of developer The Odd Gentleman, talking to Andrew Webster of _Ars Technica_. [Link](http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/02/the-misadventures-of-pb-winterbottom.ars)).