July 9, 2018 Library of Congress Appoints Innovator-in-Residence Jer Thorp to Second Term
Press Contact: Benny Seda-Galarza (202) 707-8732
Public Contact: Jaime Mears (202) 707-3979
Website: Innovator-in-Residence Jer Thorp
The Library of Congress has selected Jer Thorp to serve a second term as the Innovator-in-Residence. Thorp will continue his exploration of increasing spontaneous digital discovery in libraries with a tool and conceptual framework he is calling the “Serendipity Engine.”
Thorp is best known for designing the algorithm to place the nearly 3,000 names on the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan. As a leading voice for the ethical use of big data, Thorp was the New York Times’ first data artist in residence and is a National Geographic explorer.
Thorp’s data-inspired artwork has been shown around the world, including most recently in New York’s Times Square, at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, at the Ars Electronica Center in Austria and at the National Seoul Museum in Korea. His work has also appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Scientific American, The New Yorker, Popular Science, Fast Company, Business Week, Popular Science, Discover, WIRED and The Harvard Business Review.
“LC Labs is thrilled that Jer Thorp has agreed to continue his appointment with the Library,” said Kate Zwaard, the Library’s director of digital strategy. “Jer’s work connecting the curious and explorers with the digital treasures of the Library gives us more ways to invite users into the collections.”
During his first term, Thorp, an artist, writer and teacher living in New York City, created the podcast series “Artist in the Archive” to explore objects in the Library’s collection and to engage with the librarians, archivists and technologists. Thorp also used Library records to discover its holdings through time, color and names.
“Spending the last eight months at the Library has been mind-expanding in the best possible way. I have met so many brilliant people and followed countless strange paths through the institution’s collections and data sets,” Thorp said.
“Now, I am focusing on coming up with some ways for anyone – not just technically adept researchers but members of the general public – to dive into the deep end of the Library’s data and explore in unique and engaging ways.”
The Innovator-in-Residence is a pilot program that seeks services of artists, journalists, researchers, teachers and others willing to imagine and prototype examples of creative, innovative and novel uses of Library of Congress digital collections and metadata in an artwork, visualization, application or other publicly available tool, service or exhibit.
It is anticipated that to produce these examples a variety of specialized and advanced skills will be required. Some of these skills include data visualization, computer programming, data management and others that are gained only after achieving a high degree of expertise and training. These skills must also be combined with demonstrated ability and experience working and communicating in a professional setting for multiple stakeholders.
The residency should result in one-of-a-kind projects, artworks and other unique and innovative design features that are not obtainable from existing or other professional or technical services at the Library.
In the fall of 2018, the Library will announce a call for applications to be the next Innovator-in-Residence. For more information, visit labs.loc.gov.
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