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Tutor profile: Clarissa M.

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Clarissa M.
Information Specialist
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Questions

Subject: Library and Information Science

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Question:

Does the existence of metadata for digital objects obviate the need for archival description, enhance it, or make more complete description even more critical?

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Clarissa M.
Answer:

For the most part, the existence of metadata for digital objects enhances archival description. There are instances where certain file formats include other types of metadata beyond the technical, and could be considered self-descriptive to an extent where the need for archival description may not be absolutely necessary. If metadata ever reaches the point of complete, structured, and accurate representation of a digital object then it could possibly remove the need for archival description in terms of digital files. But as of now, I would say that metadata simply enhances the archival description because it provides necessary information regarding the file format, file size, the “aboutness” of the digital object, provenance, etc. that could help the archivist understand it at a deeper level, and could also contribute to more intricate searches. Metadata adds another level of description that the typical archival description doesn’t always include. It further enhances one’s understanding of its availability in terms of access and use. For example, if someone wanted to narrow down their search based on file format or size, they would able to do that with the appropriate metadata extracted and included in the search engine. Descriptive metadata enhances the archival description by providing information regarding the basic elements of the digital file, such as the author and provenance (for digitized files in terms of the physical original, and for born-digital in terms of the creator or origin of the source). Structural metadata encompasses both logical structure and item relationships. One of the challenges is making sure that metadata can provide support for computer processing. The use of logical structure in the form of referencing page numbers in an e-book or digitized book because pages are not structural in literature and font sizes, format, screen size, etc. can all alter the page breaks; therefore, the meaning of that specific “structural” aspect. Technical metadata further enhances the archival description by providing information about the software, file format, file size, etc. used to create or digitize that digital file and this information can be helpful when trying to determine certain preservation techniques, storage capacity, and technology infrastructure needs. Lastly, administrative metadata can include information about the rights, owner identity, etc. of the digital object and this, once again, allows the archival description to go beyond the basic level and into a more complex and intricate form of self-description and historical contexts.

Subject: Literature

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Question:

In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” how is characterization used to accurately convey the main theme of the short story?

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Clarissa M.
Answer:

In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” characterization is used to convey that an egalitarian civilization creates a stagnant society filled with fearful individuals. A society that is deemed completely equal through appearance, intellectuality, aptitude, and endurance creates a slew of mindlessly obedient followers with an irrevocable fear of change. Because everyone is considered equal in society, the concept of competition is eliminated and normalcy redefined. In “Harrison Bergeron,” Vonnegut explores the concept of immutability due to egalitarianism through his use of static characters despite the disorder and conflict presented in the story. George remains the same all throughout the story because he accepts the provisions sentenced upon him by the Handicapper-General and does not wish to compete in the current society. This is apparent when George states that “…we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else” (Vonnegut 219). He perceives the past negatively, a world filled with unhealthy competition and unequal chances. He doesn’t want to live in world where someone is always better than someone else, rather than worse. Betterment exudes inequality and he is not willing to risk acquiring that outrageous concept. He is unable to think long enough in order to form a coherent thought on the idea of a changing society. George is also absent amid the chaos displayed on the television screen, therefore, he doesn’t realize what Harrison is proclaiming to the world. He does not allow the commotion and upheaval caused by Harrison to faze him. In the end, everything is the same. Harrison’s rebellious act demonstrated during the ballet performance indicates that he still acquires the enormous strength, blindingly beautiful appearance, above-average intelligence, and willingness to overthrow the government as he did in the beginning of the story. The handicaps only act as a deterrent and do not actually change anything about his physical or mental abilities. The concept of keeping all the characters static suggests to the reader that when competition is alleviated, society will make little effort, if any to advance when it comes to personal and academic growth. With the absence of competing to be better, motivation for others subsides and fear consumes those who make an effort to compete with their equal, yet debilitated counterparts.

Subject: Art History

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Question:

What is a daguerreotype and how did it contribute to early American photography?

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Clarissa M.
Answer:

The daguerreotype, aptly named after its inventor, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, was publicly recognized in 1839, and continued in popularity until the late 1850's. The daguerreotype was created using a clean silver-coated copper plate that is exposed to iodine taking on a yellow-rose color, then transferred to the camera (exposing it to light), and finally developed in mercury vapors. It typically took about 15 minutes for the image to fully develop. Although, the medium was short-lived, it provided detailed portraits of well-known political figures, artists, writers, etc. in early America. Some of these portraits can be accessed at The Library of Congress website under the digital collection titled "Daguerreotypes".

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