More Than Passion: Kpop and the Everyday Work of Digital Humanities

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S

University of South Carolina Lancaster

When you click the “KPK Members” link on our site, our bios’ upbeat language states we have certain skill sets that match well with the work of KPK, and you know that we are Kpop fans. I think our identification as Kpop fans is one of the unique characteristics of our collaboration.

While KPK members approach the work of KPK as people who truly enjoy and participate in Kpop culture and some associated activities, our passion for Kpop is a minimum requirement for the work we do. Our work also requires the courage to forge a path in a niche research area within a discipline that is still developing, a willingness to perform due diligence, and not unlike the most successful Kpop idols, the will to perform seemingly repetitive actions in pursuit of a professional and cohesive body of work for an audience who’d like to consume a quality product.

This past January, KPK marked its second anniversary, and in that time we have improved our artist profiles and expanded our research projects. In the same amount of time, the DH discipline still struggles with its very identity – literally. In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, William Pannapacker (with KPK’s apologies) pleads:

Stop calling it “digital humanities.” Or worse, “DH,” with a knowing air. The backlash against the field has already arrived. The DH’ers have always known that their work is interdisciplinary (or metadisciplinary), but many academics who are not humanists think they’re excluded from it….it seems more inclusive to call it digital liberal arts (DLA) with the assumption that we’ll lose the “digital” within a few years, once practices that seem innovative today become the ordinary methods of scholarship.

DH (or DLA) labels aside, KPK is performing the unique work of organizing Kpop artist information and Kpop fan activities during a time when DH standards are wide-ranging and many actions that were once considered within the discipline have been challenged as the field evolves. When KPK considers adding new projects or updating current ones, we revisit the evolving rules of DH and work to reconcile them with the KPK educational mission. Because of this evolution, our passion for Kpop (“let’s gather every single photo we can find of Eric because Shinhwa is awesome!”) has always been tempered by the scholastic/research activity of due diligence (“which photos of Shinhwa reflect a certain aspect of the group’s position in/influence on Hallyu’s development”). Burdick et al. assert that one of the characteristics of DH is “an emphasis upon curation as a defining feature of scholarly practice” (2012, 122). KPK’s projects reflect this characteristic because of our ongoing commitment to adhere to the latest standards where we can, and to question any standards that seem exclusionary to scholars who are doing good works in unconventional DH environments.

Hand-in-hand with due diligence is the time it takes to seek, evaluate, master,  train others, and implement new technologies and curate our information so KPK’s work can be made public and is easily disseminated. When we started KPK two years ago, we used two tools for content creation: WordPress and Google Docs. As our work evolved towards curation, we discovered more tools and applied them to our work.  More recently, KPK members have been trained on or exposed to a variety of digital curation platforms, including Omeka, Timeline JS, and Mindomo.

While these technologies make information gathering and presentation easier, it still takes quite a while to get work done. For instance, it takes about 4 hours to gather and curate all the items for the average KPK artist profile, and another 2 hours to input the items into KPOPIANA. That doesn’t take into account how long it takes to set up the artist’s exhibit. Since a lot of Kpop information is strewn all over the Internet (and in some cases, is contradictory or not available at all), this work can be tedious and repetitive – especially if you’re working on an artist that you don’t know well (or know, but who is not your favorite). Add this time to the hours we spend tagging and adding news to our information archive, annotating interesting articles, locating scholarly work, talking to fans, and preparing data for presentations, it becomes quickly apparent that my while my enjoyment of Kpop helps me get the job done,  it isn’t the actual work of KPK.

The interesting thing is this: when I’m looking for information about an artist who I don’t know that much about; watching a music video of a group that makes me wonder how they ever made even one comeback; or analyzing a concept photo that leaves me questioning the entire cordi-noona empire –that is when my passion for Kpop kicks in, melds with my love of scholarship, and stokes my determination to get our work done right for the long-term fulfillment of the KPK mission.

Sources

Burdick, Anne, et al. Digital Humanities. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. Web.

Pannapacker, William. “Stop Calling it ‘Digital Humanities’.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 18 Feb. 2013. Web. 5 Mar 2013.

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“Do Not Re-Upload” and Other Meaningless Phrases Used in Kpop Fan Content Production

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

“Do Not Re-Upload! If we found [sic] out that the — clip is re-uploaded, we won’t share a — clip again!” – Seen on YouTube (video uploaded on December 18, 2011).

“Credits and shot by b——y. For foreign fans: Please DO NOT modify the film and DO NOT take out without permission. – Please take out with full credits and don’t add yours [sic] credit  in photo. – Do not modify the film & don’t cut the logo.” – Seen on YouTube (video uploaded on February 9, 2012).

“[Korea Data Blackout] is a movement of support for administrators of Korean fansites as well as fans all around the world who work very hard …to provide pictures and videos of Korean artists.  It is also a movement to make international fans realize just how much these people provide to their fandom experience…and to help them understand how important it is to follow their rules.” – Korean Data Blackout website, September 2012.

Screen capture: Korean Data Blackout logo from KPK’s Digital Documentation of the website. Credit: Kaetrena Davis Kendrick.

Earlier this year KPK published an essay about American law-makers’ attempt to pass a bill that would hinder the free flow of information on the Internet. Described as a piece of legislation that would protect copyright on the World Wide Web – with particular regard to how those protections manifest outside the United States – the bill was deemed too far reaching in its scope, targeting websites who so much as linked to questionable information with severe penalties.

Continue reading ““Do Not Re-Upload” and Other Meaningless Phrases Used in Kpop Fan Content Production”

For Your Reading Pleasure: Introducing A Hallyu Bibliography

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

Last month I shared why my background in Library and Information Science matches so well with the mission and work of KPK: Kpop Kollective.  One of the roles I play is information provider (billed “Research and Information Clearinghouse” on that fine chart from last month’s blog). More and more frequently, visitors to our site are government employees, graduate students, and university faculty members from all over the world who have a strong academic interest in Hallyu. Since July 2011, I have been collecting and organizing citations of conference presentations, scholarly articles, book chapters and books covering all aspects of Hallyu, including popular music, television, fans, and more.  In an upcoming series of posts, I’ll be sharing with you unannotated citations of items that I’ve discovered as I’ve mined information.

Venn diagrams of BOOLEAN Operator results. Created by Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S. for KPK: Kpop Kollective.

Continue reading “For Your Reading Pleasure: Introducing A Hallyu Bibliography”

Digital Humanities is 21st Century Librarianship

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

This past May I presented at a Library and Information Science (LIS) conference to talk with my colleagues about how I am using my professional skills at KPK (and why they should do similar work). If you browse the KPK site, you will quickly come across the essays and Shout Outs pieces I’ve published, and my main projects –Digital Documentation, News Archiving, and KPK Intern training — rely heavily on the data mining, information organization, and emerging technology skills and tools I’ve honed and come across in my work as an academic librarian.

Continue reading “Digital Humanities is 21st Century Librarianship”

Oppa – Don’t Approve SOPA!

Kaetrena Davis Kendrick, M.S.L.S.

University of South Carolina Lancaster

By the time this post is published, Wikipedia (the English site) will not be accessible. That’s right, the place where you go to gather preliminary information on everything from the history of the letter “A” to breaking down the MBLAQ acronym will be blacked out on January 18, 2012. When you go to the community-driven Internet-based encyclopedia, all you will see is a black screen. That means for 24 hours, you won’t be able to access quick biographical information about Shakespeare or Martin Luther King, hear what a kayagum sounds like, or see the latest geographical or cultural statistics of Taiwan.Why? Because the site, along with other companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are actively protesting the proposal of pieces of legislation called SOPA and PIPA.

Wikipedia implementing a 24-hour Black Out to protest proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation  (January 18, 2012).

Continue reading “Oppa – Don’t Approve SOPA!”