Reflection

April 24th, 2012. 1 Comment.

Wow. I can’t believe that its the end of the semester, that our project is, for the most part (barring revisions) completed, that its almost time to say goodbye to something that has become such a part of my life. This project has eaten my life, in a good way. It was rewarding and challenging, but more on that later.

As for what we contracted at the beginning of this semester, I feel that we met and exceeded every goal we laid out in the group contract. We archived all 114 political cartoons, and made five mini-exhibits, which exceeded our original goal of making just one with the Monroe related cartoons. This is thanks to the Omeka interface, which I really pushed for since it had an easy exhibit builder plugin and I was looking forward to putting into practice everything that I was learning about in my exhibition design lab. In such a rewarding way, everything I learn in both classes contributed to my projects for both.

We researched and displayed all the cartoons in a viewable manner, and despite problems with Omeka we managed to have EVERYTHING and more we wanted for the site. We got the mini-exhibits, we got the archive, we got the Timeline (finally!) and the glossary page. By downloading a new theme we got the slideshow and featured exhibits on the home page, and a really easy to use interface. While it does still have glitches in teh exhibit builder, it is worth it to have everything else we wanted. Overall I am very happy with how the site turned out and believe that we fully met and exceeded our goals.

The process this semester, the getting what we wanted part, was long and at times complex. Originally we were researching alot, which almost made us feel like we were behind the other groups, who seemed to focus on building thier site first. However it was the nature of our project. We decided to say somthing about these cartoons, not just throw them up in political cartoon vomit on the screen, which I think was a good choice. Choosing Omeka was a no-brainer for me, but for the others it was a harder sell, especially since we had so many problems moving from omeka.net to omeka.org and organizing our information at first. I was confident however that it would come through and be better suited for our project than wordpress and I’m glad I conviced them to stick with it.

The editing of the cartoons and the labelling was the most time consuming of my personal tasks. While we agreed that each person would write labels and edit the cartoons in their own section, I was tasked with editing the labels and seeking uniformity. As a result I edited almost all 114 cartoons, as we all ahd different programs for editing and I ended up being the one with the more usable programs. It was time consuming and at times a headache, but I’m happy with the results. The cartoons look like new and are easy to view online, one of the main reasons we edited them. Another task of mine was to make a video about the editing process, and while the contract said we’d use imovie, I didnt touch that program. I had Jing on my computer and used it to shoot the video. I then uploaded it to screencast.com from which I copy/pasted the HTML for embedding the video in the site. It was easier than attempting to upload it to youtube and I’m happy with the video quality. The player has volume and fullscreen options, just like youtube, only without all the hassle.

Label writing is an art, and I repsect now even more curators who write them regularly. Reading 114 cartoon labels per day, every day, for finalize them was a trial. The problem with such a dense collection was that some did slip through the cracks, only to be caught and added later. So the label writing process was long and drawn out way past the due date on the contract, but they got done, which is the main thing.

As far as the group work, I feel that as a group we worked together pretty well. We all had our stengths and we all had our faults, mine mainly being trying to take on too much work, because I like doing the museum work that was associated with it, and I liked learning the HTML later on. Rachel L was a fantastic research guru and label writing machine. Her faults was trying to do too much, like me. Andrew had a styleto his writing that was distinct and inviting. His fault, not of himself but of circumstance, was being stretched thin between this class, others, and his 485 project. Heather was the most technologically savvy of us and worked wonders with DTLT and making the Timeline happen and installing all the plugins and working the behind the scenes interface of Omeka. Her fault was the label writing, but she improved greatly after practice.

Overall this process has been so very rewarding. Not only did I learn about all the digital tools needed to create a website, I worked on a digital exhibit, which is a growing concern for many museum. So many lessons I learned from this project, about coding, and visual design of a website, and bringing museum objects to a new interactive space, will only serve to help me when I try to break into the museum field. I’ll be bringing so much experience in a variety of areas with me and so many good lessons. I’d just like to thank Dr. McClurken, for opening my eyes to the world of Digital History, and for making me take this incredible journey, both inwards and out.

The End Is Near…

April 19th, 2012. 2 Comments.

So I haven’t updated in a while-my schedule has been super super busy this last week, compounded with a newly sprained ankle and voluntering for yet another extra-curricular. However I am happy to report that the ankle is healing spectacularly and my extra activites have been rewarding and more stress relieving than inflicting. As for our project, I am so glad that the end is near.

While this project has taught me so much about using digital tools, and I have enjoyed throughly working with my group and sharing the journey towards our final site, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy the semester is almost over. As it is there is only a few things left for my group to do. Andrew and Rachel have to figure out what they want to do with our glossary page, if there is even going to be one, (not likely) and Heather has to get the Timeline up. At long last DTLT figured out a way for us to have one and I am super excited to see how it will look when Heather gets done with it.

I have a few more pages to collaborate on such as the related links and resources page, where we are compiling helpful sites about political cartooning and the like, and citations to upload. I am having the most trouble with formatting them. I used one site that had pages upon pages about the Cuban Missile Crisis for almost all my section of cartoons, because all the James Monroe related ones were about the policies of the Monroe Doctrine in relation to the Crisis. Problem is, it seemed to be a compilation site, where multiple contirbutors had built it, and I wasn’t sure who to give credit to. Luckily the page had copyright information at the bottom. Whew!

I am super excited to present during the History Symposium! As a junior I see this as a chance to get experience with the presentation I will have to take on next year alone, and what better way than to practice. I agree that during out Research and Creativity Day presentation we were a little vague on things that people would not necessarily understand, such as the Dublin Core and other functions of Omeka. We forgot that our audience had not spent the past months working with it. Lol. Hopefully the next time we will remember to go slow and keep it simple.

Looking forward to making the final push and presenting for the last time. I invited Jarod Kearny from the James Monroe Museum to come and see our presentation and he said he was lookign forward to it. I think I will email Martha Burtis and Jim Groom to invite them as well. I also am inviting my roomate, who lovingly took care of me and brought me snacks when I was sitting on the floor editing cartoon #58 and all the way to #114. I want to her see that it was all worth it.

Keep it classy, digital history friends. Wish I was in San Diego. See you on Tuesday!

Wiki-Victims, Writing History, and AHH Only Three Weeks Left!!

April 9th, 2012. Comments Off on Wiki-Victims, Writing History, and AHH Only Three Weeks Left!!.

Although we have already discussed the benefits and disadvantages of Wikipedia as a source in class, I chose to talk about in this post two articles that discuss Wikipedia because I saw something new in the analysis. Strange Facts in the History Classroom:  Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and   Love the Wiki(pedia) by Christopher Miller really got me thinking about who creates history. I mean whether the answer is who is editing the Wiki page about a subject or is it all the professional historians and anthropoligist who write articles or is it people who jsut simply share knowledge and traditions? The kind of open source knowledge that Wikipedia offers is remenscient of the kind of information that historians study later, and it begs the question how deos wikipedia not only change the study of history now, but will someone be studying the way we studied it later?
The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia,  by Robert S. Wolff, raises the question who will be the authority on the writing of history on the web. This too is a problem oft run into with Wikipedia; because anyone can edit it, can we be assured that the information is correct?  How will people write history differently with no experiance with the analytical tools taught in the craft? Interesting questions all. But I digress.

This past week has been crazy. My group is trying to get everything on track so the site can go live by next Tuesday for Research and Creativity Day. Almost all the labels are written and I am in the final stages of editing them. I have real respect for museum curators and designers who write labels now. Try reading 114 labels once a day every day for a week and then tell me labeling is not an art. I am attempting to create a few narratives for the mini-exhibits based on the labels so that if when we open the exhibit builder there is a section or intro label that needs text I will have something. We should have the mini-exhibits up by the end of the week as well as the timeline. I haven’t heard from Heather whether or not she made any headway with it but here’s to hoping all is well.

Taking out the Ancestry account today and here’s to hoping it works and we can track down some information on the infamous Andrew K. Reynolds. Wish me luck!

Press Release

April 3rd, 2012. Comments Off on Press Release.

From Immediate Release                                           April 2012

James Monroe Political Cartoons Site to Launch

Andrew Becken, Rachel Icard, Rachel Luehrs and Heather Thompson are pleased to present a web exhibit and digital archive of the political cartoon collection of the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library. The collection encompasses cartoons ranging in date from 1850 to the 1960s. They also range in topics from FDR, to the Cuban Missile Crisis, World Wars and Political Partisanship. Our goal with this project was to display the complete collection of one hundred and eighteen cartoons in a digital format. The site will go live on April 24, 2012. The URL is jmpolitoons.umwhistory.org.

For more information on our project, come to the Creativity Day Presentations in the Great Hall on April 17, 2012 or Spring 2012 History Symposium on April 27, 2012 in Monroe Hall. We will be presenting our website and sharing our experiences and reflections at both of these events. Both events are sponsored by the University of Mary Washington. For more information about attending the events please contact Dr. Jeffery McClurken at jmclurk@umw.edu.

Specials thanks to Dr. McClurken and the UMW History Department, Jarod Kearney, and Scott Harris, the curator and director of the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, Paige Gibbons, the brilliant intern for taking all the photographs of the collection, and Jim Groom and the UMW Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies.

 

Progress!!

March 28th, 2012. 3 Comments.

Ok so exciting news is exciting! We have been having some trouble hunting down sources about some of the political cartoonists in our collection. After C.K. Berryman was confirmed last week I was jonesing to take on another quest. So I decided to take on a certain Sparling, of whom we had lots of cartoons but no information. While others in my group had tried googling this guy and using library databases to dig up information, nothing had surfaced but a comic artist.

I decided to take a different approach. After yesterday’s class where we talked about data mining and specificity of search terms I had an idea-perhaps we were using the wrong search terms or getting stuck in the research by simply looking for a person with the name. So I googled Sparling’s name but I added the term “signature.” I was aware that the comic artist would come up and that he was the right time period for our collection. What I wanted to see was if his signature was anything like the ones on our cartoons. After a laborious search I finally found an originally signed comic. Prognosis: Positive. The handwriting was a dead on match for our artist. After a little more searching under his comic career I discovered that Sparling had started doing editorial cartoons before moving to comics.

So I am pleased to announce that the Sparling mystery is solved. What will I research next? It will be up to what the others are having trouble with, but I am thankful that my section on Monroe and the Cold War has been pretty smooth sailing thanks to the JFK Library and Museum site, who have wonderful transcriptions of his speeches and resources out the wazoo. Happy digitizing groups! See you tomorrow where I will say all this again and then some! Lol!

“Filled with the Conceit of Wisdom Instead of Real Wisdom”

March 26th, 2012. 2 Comments.

“Is Google Making Us Stupid?”
At the risk of the opinion that I did not read the other readings, I would like to dedicate this entire blog post to that article, because it raised a lot of thought provoking questions for me and was the most interesting piece to me. I did however do the other readings and will be ready to talk about them tomorrow in class. But back to the first question, is google making us stupid?

This article caught my attention right off the bat. He mentioned the loss of his ability to read books, and frankly I thought it was just me. I used to read a Harry Potter book in one sitting on a lazy summer day. Now I can barely make myself start a lengthy book, for fear I’ll never finish reading it. I couldn’t figure out why Vanity Fair couldn’t hold my attention anymore. Now I understand, they way I read has changed. Even reading his article I stopped to check my email, look at the course blog, and start this post. The idea that people’s reading styles as well as writing styles change with the Internet is very interesting.

The article also made me think of the eventuality of the rule of the Net, where information is delivered so quick we as humans forget that we ever had to sit down and read a newspaper for world events. I was reminded of a short story I once read called “Stupid, Perfect World,” by Scott Westerfeld, where the main characters existed in such a universe. The protangonist Kieran’s brain was connected to the web and not only could he receive messages from friends in his head, he could look up information, watch TV, etc. In the story he is made to experience something from the past as an assignment for a history class. He chooses to experiance sleep, as in his world everyone simply plugs in. And then he dreams. And it changes him, to know that such things are possible without the Internet providing the images.

That in the end is what I’m afriad of, that people will lose their creativity, their dreams, their knowledge of the world around them simply because of how fast they could look it up. People now dont’ spell because spellcheck and dictionary.com do it for them. I’m worried in the future no one will learn when it’s not required. And this has a profound effect on me because I love learning and sharing knowledge. I want to work in museums where the whole experiance is about learning and taking the time to contemplate information. What happens in a limitless information world? Museums, books, things that I love become obsolete. And so after this post, I am putting down the computer for the night. I am going to check my email only once before I go to bed. I am going to eat dinner and read the next book in my spy series. I am not going to be filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom.

ePortfolio

March 20th, 2012. 1 Comment.

Hey, this is just a post to give you guys the link my ePortfolio. Its http://rachelicard.umwblogs.org If you have any ideas on how I can improve the site I would love to hear from you. I am looking to add a video of me teaching some ASL from this weeks meeting thursday so look for that then.
🙂

Deductive Reasoning Wins the Day!

March 19th, 2012. 1 Comment.

Ok so this past week we were all supposed to create a digital e-portfolio for ourselves. Myself not being so tech savvy I created mine through word press, because its just so darn simple to use. Although I still had some problems pasting content from Word, such as my resume and linking PDFs. If anyone knows how to link PDFs to word press pages please show me, cause even after googling I’m clueless. I wanted to include some of my fashion history papers under the academic tab on my portfolio. Other than that creating the pages and organizing the site was super easy and I even figured out how to personalize the back ground and header pictures without using a theme.

I am super excited to say that research over the past week for my section of the political cartoons has been going really well. I was stumped with one cartoon that to me seemed to clearly depict the events of Cuban Missile Crisis but was dated 1972-176 tentatively. I studied the cartoon art carefully and after determining that the cartoon was done all in graphite, I concluded that it was a candidate for further research on date accuracy based on that; into the 70s ink pens were becoming the new medium for cartoon artists. The artist of the cartoon, Jack Knox, also was at the height of his career in the 60s and was retired by 75. Also Nikita Kruschev, who was depicted in the cartoon, died in 71. After working with Jarod down at the museum we pried up the matting to discover on the back of the cartoon a different newspaper AND date than what was listed in the database. I was correct at calling the date of the cartoon as 61! I was super psyched that my deductive reasoning payed off!

I also was stumped with a particular artist named Berryman. In the museum database there were two Berrymans listed, a C.K. and a G.K. In order to further research the artist and time period, I needed to know which initials where correct. After examining and comparing the signatures on the cartoons by Berryman,and  googling both initials for popularity and prominence in history, Jarod and I concluded that the correct name was C.K. Berryman also known as Clifford K. Berryman, the man who invented Teddy Roosevelt’s nickname by depicting him in a cartoon with a bear cub. Jarod was very helpful and we felt very much like Sherlock and Watson after solving two mysteries in one day!

I can only hope this week brings as much success as last week and I am looking forward to doing more digging on this very unique and special collection.

Digital Tramp Stamps?

March 11th, 2012. 2 Comments.

For this week’s blog I looked at Personal Branding and the Age of Google, Digital Tattoo, and The Rise of Alter Egos in Everyone’s Space. The big lesson I tokk from visiting these three sites is to be careful with what you put online, because you never know who is going to look at it later. The Washington Post article about Alter Egos really spoke to me as I know a few people who go by alternate names on Facebook that I wouldnt have guessed if I hadnt been friends with them in person. I, like the writer, and not sure whether althernate names or alibis are a good idea or not. Sure it keeps random people and potential bosses from finding you and making judgements but it also alienates people who do actually know you but can’t seem to find all those pictures you took at their birthday party.

Another lesson I learned was about the amount of information you put on a site. Google can always find you and your past, no matter how many times you have deleted it from your site. This can be troubling for bosses looking for information about you or potential friends, inlaws, etc.

Digital Tattoo offered a well rounded idea of what it means to have a digital identity. It never occurred to me that what I read online, how I research, what I post on Facebook, and my UMW blogs is all part of my digital identity. Just like a fingerprint, these things combined make a unique person using the web. And just like all those things can say something unique to me they can also say bad things. If I post pictures of things I wouldn’t want my mother to see, I may end up with a digital tramp stamp. All those who saw it would be turned off from my prescense which could hurt me in the long run with future bosses, co-workers and other contacts.

All these sites have taught me that I ought to be very aware of what and where I post information on the web. I better watch out or my groovy new digital tattoo, newly inked in web blogs and Facebook, Cracked.com and Google, might become a digital tramp stamp.

Spring Into Technology!

February 29th, 2012. Comments Off on Spring Into Technology!.

This week sees the culmination of alot of hard work by our group. All 118 political cartoons are up on our website and are in the process of being tagged with appropriate terms. It took alot of sweat and hand cramps to edit all the photos of the cartoons to make them the most easily visable on the web and I am happy that process is over. Next we will move on to basic information labeling and then content labels.

 
I have to say I am a little nervous about being in charge of organzing and typing all the content labels. While I am a museum studies minor and have learned alot about labels, I can say truthfully that I am no where near as experianced as a museum professional. In light of that I am considering submitting a few of the labels to Jarod to see what advice he can give me about label writing. He was very helpful in discussing museum label mounting and design when he visited my museum studies lab. If he has time to help I’d love any advice he can give on the topic, especially since the web is a new media for museum people.

 
Over Spring Break, each of us in the group are researching terms and information concerning the cartoons in our divided sections, this mean I get to look into the Monroe Doctrine, the Cold War, some of the more well known artists and some of the miscellaneous topics. I will use all the research to hopefulyl write informative and entertaining labels to be placed on the web display next to a cartoon photo. May everyone’s Spring Break be fruitful and restful!

😀

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