As manager of the Digital Innovation Lab, Pam Lach is critical to the lab's success as a hub of collaboration and interdisciplinary discovery in the use of digital technologies to advance the work of the humanities.
Digital Innovation Lab co-founders Robert Allen and Richard Marciano show a digital map of "Charlotte 1911," one of many partnerships spawned by the "Main Street, Carolina" project. Tom Hanchett, a historian at the Levine Museum of the New South, developed "Charlotte 1911."
Dr. Tom Hanchett of The Levine Museum of the New South created "Charlotte 1911," which displays information for more than 4,000 persons, businesses and institutions from the 1911 City Directory on stitched and geoferenced Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. This was one of the lab's earliest projects.
Using data and maps from 1911, the "Charlotte 1911" project visualizes the city at the moment of its “sorting out” from a relatively integrated city to become one of the most segregated places in the country by the 1970s.
“Repopulating Hayti” is one of four projects undertaken in a fall 2011 Digital Humanities graduate seminar. Developed in collaboration with Preservation Durham, this project virtually repopulates the Hayti neighborhood of Durham, N.C., on the eve of its destruction by urban renewal in the 1960s.
“Repopulating Hayti” enables users to see the location of property in the neighborhood. The site maps more than 200 homes and businesses, using photos and parcel appraisals from Durham Urban Renewal Records. The project used “crowdsourcing” from UNC's undergraduate “Main Street, Carolina” class.
A closer look at 508 Glenn Street from “Repopulating Hayti.”
Humanities + technology = digital innovation
The emails and text messages never stop, and Pam Lach knows neither can she.
“I am not very good at multitasking,” Pam Lach insists, even as she pulls out her laptop and cell phone to await the next ping.
It is 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 24, and the deadline to submit an application for a major digital humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is at the end of that business day. That’s why team members had been pinging Lach with minor revisions for much of the previous night and into the morning.
As the manager of the Digital Innovation Lab, Lach was called upon to shepherd the grant application. Launched by the College of Arts and Sciences last July, the lab has become a hub of collaboration and interdisciplinary discovery in the use of digital technologies to advance the work of the humanities.
Faculty members and lab co-founders Robert Allen from American Studies and Richard Marciano from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) said Lach is uniquely qualified to run the lab because of her dual interests in the humanities and digital technologies.
Where is the lab? Ask Allen that question, and he points to Lach’s laptop. “Right there,” he said.
But he could just as easily have pointed to her head.
“Her role with the lab is critical as the person who ‘translates’ between scholars and technologists,” Allen said. “The reason she is able to do that so well is because she has inhabited and understands both worlds.”
Published February 10, 2012.