This is part 3 of 4 of my list of 92 people, groups, and projects that made me grateful and teary in 2019.
47. Ira Rothstein. Dr. Ira Rothstein is a Professor of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University. He has created a free app to teach Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.
(Panko, Ben. “New App Aims to Teach Special Relativity Hands-On.” Carnegie Mellon University News, July 5, 2019.)
48. Lukas Pizzola. Lukas Pizzola has launched an Instagram account to document the folk punk music genre. He also wants to create an archive as well as write a book on the folk punk movement. At this writing he also has a Kickstarter going for a vinyl album release.
(Sendejas Jr, Jesse. “Tracking Folk Punk’s New Wave With Its Archivist.” HoustonPress, July 11, 2019.)
49. Ahmed Eldawy and his team at the University of California, Riverside. Ahmed Eldawy and his team spent three years scouring the Internet for public spatio-temporal datasets, then aggregated them into a free archive of 102 datasets and five million records.
(Ober, Holly. “Free dataset archive helps researchers quickly find a needle in a haystack.” UC Riverside News, July 17, 2019.)
50. Olia Lialina and Everybody Working to Save the Early Web. Digital Impermanence is a thing. Just look at the Million Dollar Homepage; created in 2005, about 40% of the site’s links are dead. There are multiple initiatives for saving Web content from linkrot; while I’m on the subject I should shout Jason Scott, who busts his tail over at the Internet Archive to get content online.
(McDonough, Meghan, and LaCerte, Marcie. “The early internet is breaking—meet the people saving it.” Quartz, July 20, 2019.)
51. Jens Munthe. Jens Munthe is a retired geologist who spends his time looking for sandstone arches in southern Utah. He’s cataloged about 2000 of them into a beautiful Web site.
(Hollenhorst, John. “Utah geologist spends days hunting for arches: 1,941 and still counting.” Deseret News, July 27, 2019.)
52. Hany Rashed. Hany Rashed is an artist. His father, Salah, “mined the streets, shops, and his day-to-day life for things — keys, locks, rosaries, stones — which he kept safe in a closet, declared off limits.” When his father died in 2002, Hany Rashed inherited this closet of belongings and turned it into a Facebook-based online museum.
(Elkamel, Sara. “The end of revolution, the return of nostalgia: Hany Rashed’s Baba Museum.” Mada, July 29. 2019.)
53. Caitlin Doughty. Caitlin Doughty is a mortician in Los Angeles. She runs a YouTube channel called Ask a Mortician to educate the public about death and the culture and rituals surrounding it. She also does other work to advance the “death positive movement.”
(Curtis, Cara. “Meet the YouTube Mortician teaching people not to fear death.” The Next Web, August 6, 2019.)
54. Davis Houck. Davis Houck is Florida State University’s Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Rhetorical Studies in the College of Communication and Information. He and his team have turned five year’s worth of research on Emmett Till into the Emmett Till Memory Project, an app and Web site.
(Heller, Dave. “Inside the story of Emmett Till: FSU professor launches app with digital perspective of civil rights icon.” Florida State University News, August 12, 2019.)
55. Daniel Gackle and Scott Bell. Daniel Gackle and Scott Bell moderate Hacker News with a personal touch. Moderating online platforms is a difficult, thankless job (if you’re really good at it, nobody notices, but if you’re not good at it everybody notices) that they do in a more old-fashioned, organic way than overworked contractors and anonymous teams.
(Wiener, Anna. “The Lonely Work Of Moderating Hacker News.” The New Yorker, August 8, 2019.)
56. Jill Flanders Crosby. Dr. Jill Flanders Crosby has been documenting Afro-Cuban history and culture since 1997. Her fieldwork is being digitized at the University of Miami. “Since 1997, Flanders Crosby has traveled between Perico and Agramonte, Cuba, and the West African communities of Dzodze, Ghana, and Adjodogou, Togo, to preserve each community’s history and traditions via video and audio recordings.”
(Jardin, Matt. “‘This is our patrimony’: Dance professor archives two decades of Afro-Cuban history.” Green & Gold News, August 13, 2019. )
57. The Black Google Engineer. There have been lots of stories this year about worker relations at Google. One employee wrote a heartfelt memo about what he witnessed from fellow employees, how it made him feel, and what he would change. (His name has been redacted from documents and I do not know it.)
(“Here’s the Memo About the ‘Burden of Being Black at Google’.” Motherboard/VICE, August 15, 2019.)
58. David Simpson. David Simpson is a PhD student at Columbia University and a native of Alabama. He’s fighting for Alabama’s Open Records Act, and against the state charging ridiculous fees to provide what should be public records.
(Whitmire, Kyle. “Hey, Alabama, public data are public documents, too.” AL.com, August 18, 2019.)
59. Jalane Schmidt and Andrea Douglas. These women lead free walking tours of Charlottesville Virginia’s Confederate monuments, with the tours always starting at the city’s former slave auction block. Now their tours have been turned into an online experience that anyone can visit.
(Natanson, Hannah. “Two women lead a free tour of Charlottesville’s Confederate monuments each month. A new website lets everyone listen.” Washington Post, August 20, 2019.)
60. Bob Gramling and David Gramling. These brothers — one a palliative care doctor and one a linguistics professor — have built a database to analyze how palliative care providers talk to their dying patients and their families, to make it better.
(Erard, Michael. “How can doctors find better ways to talk – and listen – to patients close to death?” Mosaic, August 27, 2019.)
61. The Teenagers of Fake Broadway. Teenagers are using Instagram to cast each other in imaginary musical theater productions. “To cast a show, they will post on their accounts what Broadway musical is next in their ‘season.’ To audition, followers will DM a video of themselves singing a song from the show. When the deadline comes, the casting director will post the cast list in a new Instagram post.” They don’t produce the shows, but that’s not the point.
(Reinstein, Julia. “Teens Are Using Instagram To Cast Each Other In Fake Broadway Shows.” BuzzFeed News, August 29, 2019.)
62. Whoever Runs History Cool Kids. It’s an Instagram account whose creator has opted to remain anonymous. The account covers history from a smaller, more human-oriented point of view. Here you’ll find pictures of Keanu Reeves and his grandma, or a sweet picture of Carl Sagan and his wife.
(de Casparis, Lena. “History Cool Kids – The New Instagram Account To Make You Weep.” ELLE, August 29, 2019.)
63. Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg. Dr. Lindberg, who died in August of this year, was a former director of the National Library of Medicine. He became director in 1984 and led the way for a longterm effort to make the NLM’s resources available to more people.
(Seelye, Katharine Q. “Dr. Donald Lindberg, 85, Dies; Opened Medical Research to the World.” New York Times, September 2, 2019.)
64. Bahamas Residents and Family. After Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas, residents and family used social media to coordinate searches for missing people, provide information about relief supplies, and distribute news.
(Lipscomb, Jessica. “Bahamians Crowdsource Social Media to Find Relatives After Hurricane Dorian.” Miami New Times, September 3, 2019.)
65. Ellen Buchanan Weiss. Ellen Buchanan Weiss is white, but she’s the mother of a multiracial child. When trying to find information on hives on her son’s body, she could find few images relevant to brown-skinned children. So she started her own Instagram account, Brown Skin Matters, which crowdsources pictures of brown-skinned children with diagnosed skin conditions.
(Solé, Elise. “Mom of mixed-race child creates ‘Brown Skin Matters’ Instagram to help doctors.” Yahoo Lifestyle, September 6, 2019.)
66. The Archivists and Librarians at the University of North Carolina. You may have heard about UNC’s Silent Sam, and UNC’s extremely odd $2.5 million Silent Sam agreement (not to mention the additional $75,000 payout.) Through the entire controversy, UNC’s librarians and archivists have been using materials from UNC’s collections to inform the students and the public about the history of the monument, and the history of the controversy around it.
(Mitchell, Courtney. “How Carolina’s Archivists Preserve and Share the History of UNC’s Confederate Monument.” UNC University Libraries, September 9, 2019.)
67. Roberta Powell. Roberta Powell is a former nurse educator who is building an app to help patients turn information from their doctors into understandable language. “Powell calls her tool Q2Q (Quantitative to Qualitative Health). It has three main functions: 1) it translates numbers in lab reports and other health data, 2) it provides general health information via animated videos and 3) it alerts you to adverse reactions when combining medications.”
(“Medical Data Isn’t the Problem. Understanding It Is.” Rhode Island College, September 9, 2019.)
68. The Activists of Bombshelltoe. This art collective is using virtual reality to show the changes Churchrock, New Mexico, since a uranium mill spill in 1979. “In 1979, a dam on the Navajo Nation near Church Rock broke at a uranium mill’s evaporation pond, releasing 94 million gallons (356 million liters) of radioactive waste into the Puerco River.”
(Associated Press. “Virtual reality used to highlight uranium contamination.” StarTribune, September 15, 2019.)