Some Ideas I’m Taking with Me to Chicago

I’m not quite sure what I am going to encounter in Chicago, but if I were to dream up a digital infrastructure *right now* I think I would build my dreams on the following:

* A more fully realized version of the [Louisiana Survey][ls] not only in terms of its current contents and scope but expanding that scope to a national level. What the Louisiana Survey does, in its current form, is harness the wiki methodology to allow individuals to contribute to the project’s attempt to document Louisiana’s contemporary folk cultures. I think the kind of indexing and cross-indexing that we’re doing is a somewhat unusual harnessing of the wiki engine/methodology. See: [http://code.google.com/p/louisianasurvey][ls].

* A step toward realizing the full potential of the Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore in terms of delivering its contents — text, audio, images, and video — on-line and at the same time, like the Louisiana Survey, making it possible to contribute to the Archives.

I see both these projects as a chance to engage an audience which would otherwise not have access to or interest in an university campus and which would, I hope, widen our own disciplinary conventions, perspectives, and assumptions. A very distinct use of interdisciplinary work that would also call upon a fair amount of computing power would be:

* An architectural survey that, a la the Historic American building Survey (HABS), would document extant structures but would expand the range of the “historical” to be *all* of history. Currently, HABS’ notion of “historical” means “homes of the wealthy,” which means the HABS survey of the south focuses on the plantation landscape. That has changed in the last decade or so, but there is still so much we don’t know about most architectural forms. Louisiana has some particularly interesting forms because of the shotgun house. The shotgun’s transformation into the Louisiana bungalow has been given some attention, but nothing has been done on the Louisiana ranch that followed — it’s something I have only sketched out in my own notes — and the forms that followed in the rest of the twentieth century. What I would like to do, one day, is harness the power of architectural students to take accurate measurements and then make accurate 3D CAD renderings with the documentary capabilities of humanities students to not only produce amazing 3D virtual models — potentially walkable a la LITE — but models that are not empty structures but filled with objects and individuals and their descriptions and narratives.

[ls]: http://code.google.com/p/louisianasurvey