Thursday, 10 March 2016

Weekly Update #125: The Scanning Pile

Take a look behind the scenes at Aardvark-Vanaheim and see the MASSIVE archive of material that needs to be scanned for the Cerebus Archive that will one day be made available digitally to all Cerebus fans!


Jeff Seiler said...

Anyone else here feel like going out and buying a Sean-level scanner and volunteering...oh, say...three or four years of their time to help git 'er done?

CerebusTV said...

Jeff, sounds like we know what you'll be doing next summer!

The couple of thousand pages of faxes of correspondence concerning CerebusTV
fortunately all arrived as scanned files by email and so are already archived
onto DVD-ROM.

Steve said...

One the one hand it is marvelous that so much still remains of all these materials from Cerebus and all the other aspects of Dave's career.

But ...

Why does this 'have to be scanned'?

Is there an expectation that fans / researchers / historians are gong to need to access the material while producing histories of the art form / Cerebus / Dave / whatever, at some future date?

But if there isn't much interest, broadly, now, is it reasonable to expect that to change?

Comics in all the various forms are such a tiny part of western culture (apart from the active fans, hobbyists, and professionals) that interest in this or any cartoon archive is tiny.

And it's not that I want the interest to be tiny, or Cerebus to be forgotten or ignored. It comes across to me that there's a desire to make more of Cerebus and these archived materials than they warrant.

We fans may not like that but you can't expect to successfully fight the interests of a huge and complex society with such a niche interest.


ps - and no, I don't feel like buying a scanner and donating my time, because as a husband and father my time is far from solely my own. If this was close to home I perhaps would help, and the fan in me would get a serious kick out of seeing the material and helping. But it's still desiring to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Paul Slade said...

"We fans may not like that but you can't expect to successfully fight the interests of a huge and complex society with such a niche interest."

If Dave had taken that attitude, he'd never have started Cerebus in the first place, never have driven it through to completion, never have retained his independence as a self-publisher and never have embarked on the current Restoration project.

He's surprised us before with what he's been able to achieve through sheer determination. discipline and hard work, and may yet do so again.

Anonymous said...

I expect (Dave can correct me if I'm wrong) that the decision to preserve these materials arose from challenges during the research for Form & Void and Going Home: Finding those otherwise overlooked (or infrequently publicized) clues to understanding the personalities involved.

By having everything preserved, the archive does not undergo an editing/culling process (a la Cirin choosing which books to save and which books to burn).

Sometimes, themes are not apparent in research until everything is considered.

--Claude Flowers

Michael said...

Instead of buying a scanner what really needs to be done is finding a business with a professional heavy duty copy machine. These machines typically have scanning capability and have an input tray that can hold 50 to 100 sheets depending on the model.

Margaret said...

With all the still photographs - if you have the negatives scan those instead of the photographs. Some scanners don't have that capability, but there are "cheaper" scanners out there that can (I got a scanner for under $300 that allowed me to scan all the family 35mm slides in along with some negatives I had found from the 40s & 50s that were in B&W and a bit bigger than 35mm film). If you have the picture in slide format and picture format, scan the slide instead. Scanning the picture instead of the negative or slide is scanning a 2nd generation of the negative / slide.

Please do not scan the misc archive stuff in the polybag - that could create distortion when scanned. The person scanning should be able to keep the order (i.e. put an archive item # on the bag while it is in the cabinet, and keep them in order that way), then take them out of the bag - one at a time - scanning the item in, and put it back in the bag which has the number on it so the person putting it back in the cabinet knows what order it goes in.

And thank you for the longer look at the items for scanning - I think I'd get distracted by all that original artwork and just end up looking at that for days.

Jeff Seiler said...

Boy, you said it, sister! What a treasure trove is there.

And, that was my first reaction, without anywhere near the technical knowlege you have: scanning *through* the plastic?!? No way that would work!

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Dave is incorrect; life expectancy for a Canadian male is 79, according to StatsCan. That gives him another seven years over his estimate.

-- Damian

Eddie said...

Hey what do you know? According to the StatsCan website, the number Dave quoted to Gail Simone was correct about approx 80% of women working (at least back in 2007. It continued to increase until the last few years where it's still above 80%). It also shows the number to have been 23% in 1953. Not that I expect this will stop her and the claims of others that he made up the number. Still, it would be nice.

Click on the "Description for Chart 1" to show the changes throughout the years, beginning in 1953

If i recall correctly, Gail used some stats as well,which I'm assuming were from an American website. However, a cursory glance shows that this data uses a defined age range of 25-54, while I'm assuming the stats Gail used probably had a wider age range, which would probably explain for the variance Gail was claiming the percentage as being. I wouldn't expect the number to be too different between Canada and the States, although I would guess it would be lower in the States, since we are, like, Canada, eh?

Eddie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eddie said...

One additional note: The stats are the Labour Force Participation Rate, so it's the "Total labour force expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 and over. The participation rate for a particular group (age, sex, marital status, geographic area, etc.) is the total labour force in that group expressed as a percentage of the population 15 years of age and over in that group."

Tony Dunlop said...

One person (with, lets be honest, a paid assistant) making a single, more-or-less cohesive comic bok story of 6000 pages over 27 years is an achievement unprecedented, and likely to remain unparalleled, at least in comics, if not in literature as a whole - for that reason alone it's worth having and exhaustive, well-preserved archive. Whether scanning and digitization is the way to do this, I have my doubts…the software and coding protocols change so rapidly that who knows if what's stored today will be meaningfully recoverable, using then-current technology, in fifty years, let alone 200.

Travis Pelkie said...

Ummm, why not write on the envelopes of the assorted stuff what's in them? Or put post-its on them? Or write up a list next time you have to go through them and that way you won't have to go through EVERY envelope every time.

But what's the game plan for all of this? Who is going to do the scanning and when?

I did some "back of the envelope math", and if the scanning requires 3 minutes per scan, 6000 pages of the main book, and let's say another 2x as many other pages to scan (which may be a low figure, granted), that gives us 54000 minutes or 900 hours. Say 30 hours a week for someone to devote to only scanning, that's 30 weeks. Be generous and pad some time there (for removal and replacement of stuff, etc), and let's say a year's worth of 40 hour work weeks. Hire someone from a temp agency in Kitchener, or put up an ad on craigslist or in other places. It might take a while to find someone effective and trustworthy, but it would probably be worth it in the long run. Make sure they realize it's a temp job that will be boring and the money might be hit or miss (as in, they may be working for a month and then have to "lay low" for awhile -- maybe university kids on summer break? Pair up with a college and get them credit for school!), but you might find a young person who has some ideas of how to best scan and digitize for searchability. Everything is staying on site, right, so you need someone local, and since I don't see anyone really jumping up to volunteer, I think you need someone paid.

Or is that what Sandeep's project is, to raise the funds to hire someone to scan this stuff?

Barry Deutsch said...


The Canadian stats do show a much higher portion of women in the labor pool, compared to the US - I wonder why?

Nonetheless, Dave was still wrong. He wrote: "The last I heard roughly 80% of the women in our society work outside the home at outside the home jobs...forty years ago only 20% of women worked -- most of them in a period between graduating from high school and getting married and then getting pregnant. Sixty years ago maybe 6% worked."

(Incidentally, I don't recall Simone saying Dave just "made up" the numbers? But her side of the exchange doesn't seem to be online anymore, so I can't check.)

Dave's claim was about women "work[ing]... at outside the home jobs." So the question is how many women have jobs, not how many are in the labor force. (Remember, the LFPR includes unemployed people, not just people with jobs.) According to the Statistics Canada paper which provided the graph you linked, "In 2009, 58.3% of women, representing 8.1 million women, were employed." There's a huge difference between 58% and 80%, right?

But Dave specified working "outside the home." In 2008, 18% of Canadian women with jobs worked from home. 82% of 58.3% is 47.8%. So actually, only 48% of Canadian women had "outside the home jobs" when Dave claimed that the number was 80%.

How about "sixty years ago"? I can't find statistics for 1947, but in 1951 Canadian women's labor force participation rate was 29%; there would have to have been almost 80% unemployment for only 6% of women to have jobs.

And "forty years ago," in 1967, women's LFPR was actually lowest - 31.6% - during ages 14-19. For women age 20-24, prime child-rearing age, it's 56.6%. It then drops to 35.7% for women age 25-44.

Also, you're skipping over Dave's conclusion: "The point about percentages is really my best attempt at the collapsing of what I have to say to white dwarf size. We are definitely plowing forward to 100% of one and 0% of the other … Used to be 6% became 20% is now 80%…where do you THINK we’re going? … I don’t think it’s a good idea and I don’t think we’re well served in not examining it."

There's no possibility of 100% of women ever even being in the labor force - let alone having outside-the-home jobs. If you look at the graph you linked to, Eddie, it shows that the rate of increase slowed to almost nothing by 1990, and has been level for the last decade. The trend Dave was worried about - which he said was "the point" - didn't even exist at the time he wrote that.

In short, Dave was wrong about virtually everything he said in the passage you're defending.

Travis Pelkie said...

Eddie, Barry --

What are you guys talking about?!

Barry Deutsch said...

Travis -

During an online virtual publicity tour, Dave took questions at a feminist comics fan forum called "Sequential Tart." Gail Simone, a writer for DC comics, asked Dave some critical questions (although iirc, she was polite about it).

The forum thread this all took place in is long gone, but Margaret preserved Dave's side of the conversation in this word doc. (Margaret is awesome!)

Anyway, during the thread Dave wrote what I quoted above, and Simone (and also, iirc, me) questioned the accuracy of Dave's claims. So that's the context for Eddie's comments, and my response.

I'm kind of amazed Eddie remembered it after all this time (although maybe he just ran across it while looking for something else). I didn't remember it; I googled after Eddie's comment, and was reminded.

Travis Pelkie said...

Thanks Barry. I assume Eddie was looking at that StatsCan site that Damian mentioned and remembered the stuff. I remember the online "tour" and would have guessed that's when Gail and Dave discussed things.

Eddie said...

Barry: You might be reading me too quick. My intention wasn't to defend the passage or the statement that the rate is going to be 100% eventually (for the record, I don't think it will ever be 100%). it was to show, that, based on the stats on the Stats Canada page, Dave didn't just make up the number of 80% in reference to women in the workplace. I did qualify it by stating that number was for the age range between 24-55 in Canada, and Gail probably used the general number for LFPR in the States, which I can only find as being commonly listed as 15+, with no age limit. It seems reasonable to assume such an age range of 15+ would result in lower LFPR for any demographic, since I would think it reasonable to assume a good chunk of the population is not going to not want to participate in the labour force past a certain age, as well as a good chunk being exclusively in school around the age of 15, and as a result this would drive the number down.

I didn't get into the specifics of the discussion, but while the information on the page doesn't differentiate between working at home or outside the home, (and you're right, Dave did specify outside the home for the 80% number), the page does state that, "in the early 1950s, about one-quarter of women aged 25 to 54 participated in the labour market, that is, they had a job or were looking for one." and that clicking on the "Description for Chart 1" link shows that 82.1% of (Canadian) women between the age of 24-55 were working or looking for work in 2007. So Dave was off about the dates for the approx 20% by over a decade (which again, doesn't differentiate between working in the home vs. outside the home), but it was still much closer to 20% 40 years ago than what it was in 2007 (again, this is using the data on the web site which specifies an age range of women 24-55, which is considered the core working group). To me, it seems very likely that this was the source of the 80% number Dave was using (most likely referenced in a National Post article). It's not unlikely, right? As opposed to claims that he made the number up?.

As an aside, I think the labour force would be a better source than the number of actually employed women, since it would include women who are actively looking for work, as opposed to the 58.3 % number you reference, which seems to be women 15+ that were exclusively employed at that time. If the unemployment rate was high at the time, using the number of actively employed women would give skewed data by not including the number of women trying to participate in the labour force. I think it would make sense to include women looking for work but not currently employed for the purposes of the original discussion.

Barry, the graph I linked to shows 23.5% in 1953, 75% in the 1990, 78.5% in 2000, and a record high of 82.7% in 2013. It states, "the early 1990s marked the beginning of a slowdown in the growth of women's labour market participation. While their participation rate grew by 1.4 percentage points each year on average from 1953 to 1990, it has since grown by 0.3 percentage points each year on average." While the rate has slowed down, the number has still grown, until the last couple of years, where it has remained around 82%. Is this the limit for this core working group demographic of women 25-54? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

To reiterate Barry, I was pointing out that it seems reasonable to assume that this was the source of the number Dave used. He may have been mistaken about what exactly the number reflected, (i.e., referencing the percentage of women between the ages of 24-55 in the labour force as opposed to the percentage of women 15+ working outside the home), but based on the similarities between the information on the website and the number Dave used, I think it reasonable to believe that Dave didn't just make it up, despite what Gail said.

Travis: you're right

Barry Deutsch said...

Eddie, did Simone actually say that Dave had literally made up the numbers? If that's what she said, then I agree with you, she was wrong. (And if she said that, then I imagine you were correct about why she said that - that she was looking at US numbers instead of looking at Canadian numbers.)

Nonetheless, it's also notable that for the specific argument Dave was making, he was wrong; those numbers don't mean what Dave said they mean, especially for the "100%" point he was making. (Which I acknowledge you're not defending.)

"If the unemployment rate was high at the time, using the number of actively employed women would give skewed data by not including the number of women trying to participate in the labour force. I think it would make sense to include women looking for work but not currently employed for the purposes of the original discussion."

Hmmn. Why do you think that? Dave's point seemed to be that we should be concerned that we'd reach 100% and therefore no mothers would be directly caring for their own children, because they'd all be working. However, not only will the LFPR never reach 100%, but even among those women in the labor force, it will never be the case that there is a 0% unemployment rate. So that makes the LFPR a flawed proxy for "women who aren't directly taking care of their kids because they are working," which is how Dave's argument used it.

If unemployment was the only flaw in using LFPR as a proxy, then that wouldn't be a big deal, because Canadian unemployment usually isn't that high. (It seems to mostly veer between 12% and 6%, and has been closer to 6% in recent decades.)

But there are two more flaws with using LFPR as a proxy for mothers not taking direct care of their children: there are working mothers who work from home and take care of their children. And there are working mothers who work part-time so they can take care of their children. (About 26% of Canadian women who work, work part-time. My guess is that if we could look just at Canadian mothers who work, the percentage would be higher than 26%.)

We can't say what percentage of mothers in the labor force are directly taking care of their children; but it's clearly a substantial portion.

Nonetheless, as far as your main point goes - that Dave didn't just make the numbers up - I think you're right.