Monday, November 28, 2016

DIY Cybersecurity: Solidarity Through Technology

"DIY Cybersecurity: Solidarity Through Technology" a talk with Noah Kelley
December 8, 2016
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Williston Library Reading Room, Mount Holyoke College

In response to topics raised by the recent election, LITS is launching a speaker series on information and technology issues which affect society at large.  Our first speaker is Noah Kelley, "DIY Cybersecurity: Solidarity Through Technology".

Noah Kelley

Noah has created the DIY Guide to Feminist Cybersecurity and is the founder of HACK*BLOSSOM, an activist organization fighting for the safety and autonomy of marginalized users in digital spaces.  His work facilitates the exchange of technical resources, activist initiatives, personal writing, and artistic projects that foster an inclusive culture of technology.

In this talk, Noah will explore how personal relationships to technology can cultivate a culture that values safety and autonomy in digital spaces, especially in respect to threats of political oppression and personal harassment, as well as how technology can inform both institutional and personal activism.  He will discuss the current legal and cultural issues surrounding privacy, how cybersecurity plays a role in the addressing those issues, and how cybersecurity can be a launching point for creating enduring and resilient communities over the next few years. While he prioritizes the needs of women, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBTQ folks, his insights are applicable to everyone.

This event is free and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be served.

LITS is committed to providing universal access to all of our events.  LITS’ event and exhibit spaces are wheelchair accessible.  Please contact to request disability accommodations.  We ask that requests for accommodations be made as early as possible.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Managing Moodle for the Long Term

LITS’s goal is to keep Moodle running at its best for all of our faculty and student users, both now and in the future.  In order to balance faculty’s ease of reuse of course materials while controlling the risks associated with maintaining Moodle courses after they have been completed, LITS’s policy is to keep 3 full years plus the current year of courses on the system available to faculty. This policy was developed in consultation with the LITS Advisory Committee.

Because Moodle is still fairly new, the policy has not yet taken effect.  But it will this coming summer so we’re trying to get the word out: in August of 2017, the courses from Spring 2014 and older will be deleted from Moodle.  This leaves three years of courses within Moodle for easy re-purposing or reference.

For those faculty who wish to keep a copy of their course materials, we will offer best practices and easy instructions - as well as some drop-in help sessions - for saving to personal storage, such as Google Drive.

Best practices in a nutshell:
If there are materials from earlier course sites that you wish to save, there are two quick and easy options:
  1. You can create a course backup file* and save it to Google Drive or other storage. This file will later need to be restored within Moodle before you can pull out individual items, but it maintains the organization of the files more exactly.
  2. You can download all instructor files* and save the resulting folder full of files to your Google Drive or elsewhere. This allows you to pick-and-choose to re-use individual files, but does not maintain the course structure. (Note: you could also print your course page as a record of your organization of the course.)

*The links above are all instruction pages on our Quick Moodle Help Site

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Discovering Mount Holyoke: A Bag for Every Occasion

Today is November 8th, which here at Mount Holyoke means Founder’s Day! On this day one hundred and eighty years ago the first students set foot on the grounds of Mount Holyoke Seminary and made Mary Lyon’s vision of women's education a reality. In honor of this special occasion, we are kicking off the new Archives and Special Collections blog series, Discovering Mount Holyoke, with a nod to a couple of items that have played an interesting role in Mount Holyoke's history.

The Green Velvet Bag

In 1834, Mary Lyon set off on a mission to found an institution for educating women and traveled New England in search of supporters who would fund her dream. For three years she raised money, advertised plans for the school, and prepared the school itself for the grand opening. All this time she carried a small green velvet bag and in it she gathered the donations that would fund the school. 

The green velvet bag Mary Lyon used to collect donations

To this day Mary Lyon's bag survives in the Mount Holyoke Archives. Made of green velvet with two decorative tassels, this bag has become not only an interesting artifact from the past, but also a symbol of Mary's perseverance. 

The Mount Holyoke Mystery Bag and Mary Lyon's Six Cent Bag

Years later another bag entered Mount Holyoke history. During the Three Million Dollar Endowment Fund of 1919, one Mount Holyoke alum followed Mary Lyon's example and decided to raise money for the college. The idea for the "Mount Holyoke Mystery Bag" was introduced by Mary Ella Spooner, Class of 1872. Instead of simply asking for money, which she disliked, Spooner came up with a plan to invite curiosity and thus encourage donations. The idea was to hide a "treasure" in a black bag attached to what she called "Mary Lyon's Six Cent Bag" and six streamers that each contained their own message tempting donors to reveal the mystery inside. The streamer messages were as follows:

1. This is my secret. It is yours for six cents.
2. Thereby hangs a tale; two, a tale and a tail.
3. This tail/tale is not for you to tell; for Holyoke's Fund 'tis made to sell.
4. You never saw the like before, you never will again.
5. Curiosity is developed in women; it is born in men.
6. Isn't it worth six cents to gratify your curiosity?

Mary Ella Spooner's "Mystery Bag" and the opium scales it held.

The "treasure" and its tale came from Spooner's time as assistant to the president of Oahu College in Honolulu, Hawaii. Inside the bag hid a Chinese opium scale that was given to her by a friend who was also a sheriff. At the time, Hawaii was extirpating opium from the islands, which made it illegal to be in possession of any utensils connected with opium. Seeing its value, the sheriff gave her the opium scale, which had been recently confiscated, as long as she promised to leave it in the bottom of her trunk until she left the Hawaii Islands a short time later in 1891.

Unsurprisingly, Mary's "Mystery Bag" was not a very successful fundraiser, netting only $36. However it did spur a good deal of interest from the Mount Holyoke community. After making its first appearance, students began adding their own notes and even created songs for the bag as a way of encouraging donations. Many of these songs and slogans were inspired by Mary Lyon's original bag and also, as Mary Ella Spooner later wrote in a letter, honored "the achievements of Mary Lyon in founding the institution,"

There is still a lot to uncover about Mary Ella Spooner's "Mystery Bag" and many other materials waiting for you in Archives and Special Collections. Come visit and make discoveries of your own!

Author Brittnee Worthy '17 is a student Archives Assistant in Archives and Special Collections.