Telephonic Supplychains Management

Project Management

The project will be staffed by a project manager. This will be a full time position that will be responsible for day-to-day operations while taking care of administrative decisions (the hiring of student workers, etc.). It will be necessary for the person serving in this role to have a strong familiarity with the history of technology, and some of the issues and concerns surrounding supply chains and their impact within narratives of globalization. Additional responsibilities will include heading (in consultation with the board of advisors and outside collaborators) the selection process, maintaining relationships with the physical archives the project is involved with, and advising the tagging of meta-information on selected items.

The bulk of the day-to-day labor will be performed by student workers, under the supervision of the project manager and a part-time assistant. These workers will be responsible for the digitization, processing, and transcription of the items. Ideally these students are paid under work-study, and students interested in collaborating with the project for credit facilitate in more open-ended research within the project.

In addition to these positions, the project will hire a technical consultant who will function as a web developer in the initial stages of the project, and remain as a consultant afterwards. Because of the emphasis on geographic visualization of the digitized materials, familiarity with geographic information systems techniques and web mapping systems is a key requirement for this role.

A significant part of the projects success will be in forming partnerships with the physical archives which will populate the virtual collection. To this end, the project manager will explore institutional partnerships from the archives in consideration. While it is unlikely that the corporate archives will be able to devote any significant resources to the project development, the project would still benefit from an institutional relationship with them.

Advisory Board

A key element of the project's success is developing a robust advisory board that the project manager can turn to when difficult questions and unexpected problems arise. Given the dual focus on the project (on the telephone and supply chains) it is important to make sure that some key scholars in these areas are represented on the board. In the day-to-day operations of the project, and with an eye for future development of supply chain archives for other technologies, a larger emphasis would initially be placed on having supply chain and globalization scholars involved in the board.

Workflow

The first step in the workflow is to select the items that will be digitized. Because this project creates a virtual collection from a disparate set of resources, this is a significant undertaking. The project manager, in consultation with the advisory board, will make the initial determinations that outline the collection of a series of stages. Items will be selected according to the selection policy, but it is important to acknowledge the amount of time necessary to successfully complete this step. Once the items have been selected, they will receive a unique identification number. This number will contain some filename based meta-information.

Digitization will procede in a number of stages, which may occur in parallel depending on the availability of student labor. Initial scanning at high resolution will be used to create a preservation copy. After this is checked for accuracy, it is preserved and a lower resolution copy will be produced for web usage. Many of the documents are lengthy pamphlets and trade publications. Rather than save each pamphlet as a series of images, each pamphlet will be saved as a pdf in order to take advantage of the capability to embed OCR text directly over the original image, and displayed using a flash pdf rendering system.

After an item has been digitized, the necessary metadata will need to be keyed for the item. This meta-data includes both general purpose metadata (collection, author, date produced, date digitized, etc.) as well as logistics relevant information for the site. This information includes any material names (and archaic derivations), geographies referenced (and archaic placenames), and the geography of production. Additionally, more specialized process specific information (refining, smelting, extraction) will be coded. While some of this meta-information will be definable by student workers in consultation with prepared reference material, more specialized information will require the project manager's input. After each piece has been tagged with meta-information, the project manager or an appropriate advisor will verify each record.

The next step will be to produce an OCR rendering of the item and embed it in the underlying pdf. While many of the items are typewritten text, and consequently good matches for OCR technology, there is no guarantee that this process will produce 100% accuracy in transcription. However, it will likely be the case that this initial OCR process will significantly decrease the amount of time necessary to review and make corrections in the transcription, particular when employing pair-proofing. Once the item has been digitized, tagged, and transcribed (with each step being proofed) the item will be entered into the site's cms and made available on the web. The site will officially launch when the first round of items has been processed.

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