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Tutor profile: Meggie L.

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Meggie L.
Academic Librarian and Expert Researcher
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Subject: Library and Information Science

TutorMe
Question:

Select a metadata standard and argue for its use at the organization of your choice.

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Meggie L.
Answer:

News outlets have long struggled with the ephemeral nature of continual content. National Public Radio, NPR, is no exception. NPR has another layer of complexity because of the variety of formats their regularly published content can exist as on several different platforms: podcasts in iTunes, live broadcasts on the radio, or filmed mini concerts on their website. The ultimate goal is, naturally, the discoverability and preservation of NPR’s content, but also that its organization is explicit and reflective. This organization puzzle emerged after examining two articles published in 2014. The first is from Fast Company and discusses the decision to make up their own organization system versus buying into another. Jonathan Epstein, the software development director at NPR, explains that different departments at the organization are using different metadata schemas and tools: from tagging blog posts to formal protocols in the library archives. One of the key issues Epstein mentions is how desirable a high level of extensibility is for their system. They are also considering using open source software since it aligns with NPR’s mission. (Hayes, 2014.) The other piece to the NPR puzzle is taxonomy. In a 2014 article, Hannah Sommers, NPR’s Library Programs Manager, explains how NPR is so reliant on taxonomies. Since the 1970’s, these carefully curated controlled vocabularies have helped make content findable and orderly. She also describes NPR’s use of tagging. (Lazorchak & Sommers, 2014.) Paired together, tagging and taxonomies can certainly bolster discoverable and well-preserved content, but in both articles, these NPR information professional mention a desire to tap into the power of descriptive metadata a bit further. Enter the Dublin Core metadata standard. While it is not the most popular kid on the block, see Jeffrey Beal;’s 2014 commentary, it serves a purpose; one that NPR can most certainly benefit from in this organization puzzle. Simply stated, the DC standard has four main characteristics: it is simple to create and maintain, uses easy to understand terms, has a globally reaching scope, and, most importantly, is extensible. (CDP, 2006.) These four characteristics emerge as solutions to many of NPR’s organization issues. With 40+ years or content, simplicity is helpful when implementing a new standard and its upkeep. DC also uses non-specialist terms for its set of elements. This is useful for the diverse set of users who rely on NPR. An NPR blogger may not have a background in information science, but is capable of understanding the fundamentals of DC terms. On the other end are software developers and librarians; DC can operate under their higher level of understanding. Dublin Core, like NPR’s listeners and contributors, reaches around the world. The standard applies to content in different languages and cultures. Finally, a core issue of NPR’s organization problem is extensibility; Dublin Core’s accommodating, flexible nature resolves this concern. In addition to these four main tenets, Dublin Core pairs with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. Using Dublin Core could allow NPR to gain interoperability with other large repositories. Additionally, the initiative matches with the organization’s desire to use open access resources. The Perseus template, colLIB, and arXIV, among others are all examples of models NPR could use. (Open Archives Initiative) Other institutions use Dublin Core and the OAI-PMH. For example, International Development Research Center implements the DC standard for their collections, which also span across a variety of formats. Barbara Cuerden, an indexer at the IDRC, reported back on how well DC comprehensively indexed the collection while making things easier to find online. She also mentions that employing DC made the finding process more efficient for researchers and members of the general public. (Cuerden, 2015.) What is especially relevant to the organization puzzle at NPR is the organization’s own efforts to solve the problem. Prior to the 2014 discussions about information organization, was the release of Artemis, an in-house database that allowed NPR staff to search for broadcast audio and transcripts from the archives and present content. The database was met with rave reviews and successfully changed the workflow across departments at NPR. (Sin & Daugert, 2013.) However, Artemis does not completely solve the puzzle for NPR. Again, it is separate; only pulling from one area of content produced by the news outlet. As mentioned previously, Dublin Core allows for a broader reach, access, and findability, while still maintaining simplicity. This new system for NPR would appear differently to each type of user: NPR staffer, community user, and information professional. I envision the system to appear similarly to the current Artemis interface (see Figure 1 in the Appendix) for NPR staffers, like researchers or reporters. Access would be from staff desktops. For community users, say the people who visit npr.org for their news or hear it on the radio, would see something similar to the current search page options, but perhaps enhanced by featuring some of the DC elements as facets (see Figure 2 for the current npr.org search view). Some of these facets could be format, subject, or even a date range. Information professionals would use their own XML editors and the internal software that NPR has developed. Internally, the metadata will be accessible to NPR staff, librarians, and developers. Externally, NPR website frequenters and avid listeners would only see a more interactive search feature that is enhanced by the data driven by the implementation of DC. As a whole, NPR’s years of content would be more accessible and findable. The Dublin Core standard also creates different access points for each type of user that is best suited to their role or association with NPR.

Subject: Religious Studies

TutorMe
Question:

Offer examples of the argument for intermarriage in canonical and non-canonical sources in the Torah.

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Meggie L.
Answer:

The Torah asserts a strong argument against intermarriage. Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy all offer insight on why a good Jew should not marry outside of country and kin. Genesis books 21-24 provides a solid foundation on which other canon and non-canon books build their arguments. Intermarriage enters the story when Sarah tells Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. God agrees; he tells Abraham to give up his son and send Hagar, the Egyptian, away. (21:11-12) While God plans to make a nation for Ishmael as well, he asserts that Isaac is the chosen one to continue the line of Abraham (21:18,12). The issue arises again when Isaac must marry. Abraham explains explicitly that Isaac should not have a Canaanite wife. He should marry a woman who is from his country and kindred to him. (24:3,4) Luckily, Rebekah passes the test by the well. She is from the house of his father and fits the bill for Isaac’s marital requirements. (24:14) In the end, the author adds a touch of romance. Isaac loves Rebekah (24:67). The author of Genesis calls on Abraham, the ultimate patriarch, to strengthen his argument against intermarriage. Abraham specifically requests endogamy. His opinion certainly holds sway and influence across all audiences even in different historical periods. Abraham and his deep devoutness demonstrate his following the law. Abraham gives a superior authority to the argument. Rebekah and her characterization also aid the author. She is an ideal; pretty, gracious, and kind. Rebekah holds the tenants of a good wife and, more importantly, is kin to Abraham’s family. Genesis also highlights with some specificity who is suited to be the line of Abraham. In book 21 verse 12, Hagar is explicitly called “the Egyptian”. Such a direct reference again points to the importance of endogamy for Abraham’s line. With the authority of Abraham, the ideal Rebekah, and the refusal of Ishmael’s Egyptian heritage, the author solidly states that intermarriage is not accepted. Exodus provides a very similar argument against intermarriage. Moses, another great patriarch, married Zipporah, a Midianite. (2:15-16) Midianites are said to be descendants of Abraham and his second wife, Keturah (note 15b). Yet again, the “well test”, that Rebekah passed in Genesis, is used to connect a couple for marriage (2:15-21). The author of Exodus also appeals to a patriarch for strategical purposes. Moses and his wife offer more support for the pro-endogamy argument in the Torah. When an Israelite marries a fellow tribe member, it means that he or she is emulating Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The author uses law and the patriarchs’ authority to strongly promote endogamy. Deuteronomy undoubtedly continues the anti-intermarriage trend of the Torah. The author is direct, matter-of-fact in his tone and delivery. There are no family centered stories or any sort of narrative to disguise his argument. This lucidity and frankness sets Deuteronomy apart from Genesis and Exodus in strategy, but not in the overall argument. The author simply states no one from any sort of illicit union has admittance to the assembly of Israel up until the tenth generation (23:2). The notes explain that this assembly is a body in charge of political and social governances, but the reader could also include all Israelites in this definition. The author also inserts more specificity about who Israelites cannot marry. Ammonites and Moabites are off limits because they failed to help Israel when it was in need. (23:3) In Exodus, the author employs a different strategy than Deuteronomy and Genesis. Instead of using patriarchs as persuasive figures, the author dangles admittance to Israel in front of readers. This carrot-before-the-mule technique pulls the anti-intermarriage plot forward. Canonical books from the Hebrew Bible also examine the argument about intermarriage in Jewish life. However, there is more disagreement between some of the authors. Ezra vehemently disagrees, while Esther and Ruth put endogamy aside in marital relationships. For the most part, the author of Ezra strictly aligns himself with the examples from the Torah. He gathers the people of Israel, priests, and Levites who failed to separate themselves from foreign women. (9.1) Ezra calls these children from mixed marriages abominations. The author even goes as far to list the nations that Israel must keep away from; they include Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites; and on a case by case basis, Egyptians, and Amorites. (9.1) Such a close examination accentuates the author’s disagreement with “illicit unions”. Ezra continues to explain that these families have “filled the land with their uncleanness” (9:11). The author’s solution follows the Torah’s constant call for separation. Ezra calls for all men married to foreign women and their children to send their families away. (10.3) While Ezra, and the author, are speaking to a people in exile, he still wants the Israelites to be completely separate from the locals and any foreigners (10:11). The book of Ezra calls attention to alternate reasons for the argument for endogamy. Uncleanness is central to Ezra’s reasoning. He is overt about what mixed marriages create: abominations. In addition, the author has an underlying, covert message as well. He quietly insists that foreign women are threats to Israelite traditions and laws. This gendered perspective is very different from previous Torah based examples. Also, the author again relies on the law to further influence readers. The book offers a real life example of the result of a disregard for purity laws; the scattering and separation of families. Essentially, recalling Deuteronomy and the book’s gender bias explain that mixed marriage is a direct break of God’s commandment. The book of Esther offers a less direct argument, but the author implies a vote for intermarriage. Esther herself is in very close contact with the foreign power, the Persians. In the Hebrew version, Esther does not once mention her disdain for being married to a Persian; the author does not supply the audience with her opinion. (9:15-19) Esther lives in Susa, the royal capital of the empire, and still nothing is said. In turn, readers can imply that her mixed marriage is not much of a problem to Esther. She uses her position to fight for her people rather than obsess over her husband. This royal attachment is to her benefit; Esther’s heroism and sacrifice trump her Persian spouse. This bravery and loyalty certainly advance the author’s covert argument.

Subject: AP Art History

TutorMe
Question:

Select a scene from Marcus Aurelius' column and describe it below.

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Meggie L.
Answer:

The Thunderbolt and Rain Miracles are examples of the few historically inspired events depicted on the Column. The military campaigns and references to Trajan’s column give it a feeling of history, but not one based on historical fact. Some of the column’s historicity lies predominantly with the presentation of the army, but their accuracy is also questioned. The Column of Trajan is no help either it mainly acts as a design influence. In fact, some scenes that appear to have more historicity are copied from events on Trajan’s column. The location, position of figures, and overall appearance take cues from the preceding column. The column might not be historically accurate, but the “realistic narrative context” gives it a more veristic appearance. With this appearance, the column can then serve as the monument form of res gestae. The emperor’s deeds and virtues are honored even without complete allegiance to history. The column has a layered approach to displaying its intentions and message. On the first level, the column communicates with Trajan’s. Marcus Aurelius’ column places his achievements on par with Trajan’s legacy. Of course, as discussed earlier, the tone and style of the subject matter exhibits the differences between the two emperor’s reigns. Paul Zanker explains that the column’s intent is “not meant to be seen as messages communication individual facts,” but rather to illustrate a seemingly ongoing list of achievements inscribed for eternity. He also includes how the column promotes the role of Marcus Aurelius: “the column is an instruction manual for the perfect commander.” The column’s visual narrative captures the emperor’s ideal behavior in his role. The violence is also intentional. It demonstrates a new pathos during wartime, a new type of expression. The column of Marcus Aurelius emulates the actions of an intentional ruler burdened by the drama and destruction of war.

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