Wikipages: Whores and Witches

February 19th, 2012. 1 Comment.

For this week’s assignment to look at Wikipedia pages and their discussion boards I decided to start with the infamous Nell Gwyn, with whom I share my birthday. The first thing I found when I looked at the discussion board for her page was a statement that this was not a forum for discussion of the topic but a place to talk abut making the page more accurate. All the comments were geared towards perfecting information and making the article better. There is some dispute about her famous line “I am a whore, you must find something else to fight about” in response to her footman getting into a fight over someone calling her that. But other than that there is much less trolling than I expected to find on Miss Nell’s page.

The next page I checked out was on the folklore of the slavic witch Baba Yaga. I have taken a few Russian History classes here at UMW with Dr. Harris and inevitably someone always asks about her. Her wiki page is full of contridictions which I see now stems from the discussion page where there is a huge debate over Russian versus other Slavic sources of the myth as well variations amoung the different tellings. They can’t seem to agree on anything about the myth or the character and thus the page is sparce and confusing. It’s a pity too as Baba Yaga is a particularly interesting character.

Group Contracts: The Confusion, The Laughter, The Re-Write.

February 16th, 2012. 1 Comment.

Over the past week my group has been writing the contract for our project. We started out with a really rough idea of what we would be doing and who should be doing what. As I said in my last update, we feel very good about the road map we have drawn for ourselves and I am glad I have such creative and smart people in my group. While in our revision of our contract we agreed that there needed to be more specificity to our tasks and due dates I think that as far as mapping out work we did fairly well.

The big question for our group was whether to use Word Press or Omeka. While Professor McClurken and Jim & Tim advocated Word Press we decided to go with Omeka. The challenges we might face with never having used the software before are outweighed in our minds by the benefits that it offers as far as photo display and organization. We set up our page today in class at jmpolitoons.omeka.net. After finally figuring out how to set up an account and find our dashboard, we were very excited to start working. Omeka seems fairly easy to operate, its appealing in its organization and we are willing to embark on the journey of building the site together as a group.

I think the most important thing about this project for me is the fact that my group members are all so hardworking and dedicated to the project and so willing to work together. I have never been in a group where people can co-operate with one another as well as we do. Because we are all working together to do the major parts of the website, I feel like we are less divided as a group and are less likely to be at each other throats by the end of it because of individual mess-ups. We divided the work that goes into the site equally but the actual website design, building and formatting will be done together which I think will only help the site be the better. We are starting the building process tonight by uploading all the cartoon photos and sorting them into categories for further research, interpretation, etc.

Hope everyone is doing well in their groups and have a nice weekend! 🙂

It’s Friday, I’m in Love…….with Digital History!

February 10th, 2012. 2 Comments.

           This week has been particularly productive for our group. We mapped out our group contract and it really set my mind at ease to have a game plan finally. I think we have divided the work evenly and I am happy that we have such a diverse group within our members. We set tasks that play to the strengths of the individual team member; for example I’m going to handle the label writing process for the cartoons since I’m a museum studies minor and we’re covering labels in my exhibit design class and Rachel L and Heather are handling the teacher resources since they are both in the education program here at UMW.

I am very excited to start making our web-page and this weekend we are all doing Publisher mock-ups of what we would like the website to look like, to get an idea of where things should be, how to space them, what the visitor would see, etc. I am thinking of incorporating the colors used in the James Monroe Museum website to provide some continuity from site to site if they choose to link us in the future. Overall I am pleased to be working on this project with my awesome team mates!

🙂 Happy Friday Everyone!!! 🙂

Google-Fu

February 2nd, 2012. Comments Off on Google-Fu.

Surprisingly I am better at Google-Fu than I thought I would be. In creating my map I found Google Earth very simple to download and use. The only problem I had was finding a place to link it here. I clicked just about every button I could find trying to upload it so eventually I just gave up on finding a link and took a screenshot of my map in Google Earth with Jing. The screenshot is below. The actual mapping part was pretty easy. I really like Google Earths capability to show the terrain. This map in particular I made to help me study for a map quiz on Indonesia I will be having tomorrow. I mapped all the sites on the Island of Sumatra that I would need to know and linked them with current day roads. This will help me remember how far apart the cities are. I don’t think Google Earth will be of much if any use in my project however. Working with political cartoons leaves nothing really to map other than to point out the collection’s host museum, the James Monroe. Although I think perhaps if we wish to display where the cartoons are from in terms of which newspaper in the USA a Google Earth map could be used to show the diversity of newspapers the collection is from.
In current news about our project we are trying very hard to find out information on a certain Andrew K. Reynolds, to whom a large majority of the cartoons are dedicated fondly. We found a lead in an obituary with the help of Jarod, the curator, and are thinking about using my aunt’s ancestry.com’s log-in to find census information on him. He is a link in how the collection ended up at the James Monroe even though few of the cartoons pertain to Monroe himself. We are also in the process of defining our project and goals more clearly in order to write our group contract. Overall I really love the project we’re working on and can’t wait to see where it takes us. 🙂

Zotero Tutorial Next Monday

January 30th, 2012. Comments Off on Zotero Tutorial Next Monday.

If you are like me and are still a little confused by all these new tools and gadgets join me on Monday, February 6th at the Simpson Library, Rm 225 — 4 PM for a free 45-minute introduction  to Zotero. The Library will show you how to create bibliographies with just a few clicks.  Bring your own laptop, or borrow one of thiers. No registration required,  just drop in. Heard about it through the SAE weekly. 🙂

Digital Tools

January 26th, 2012. Comments Off on Digital Tools.

Even though I missed class on Tuesday, due to an unexpected illness, I have been able to look around the web for information on Zotero, Timeline and Omeka. Personally of the three I am partial to Omeka. Its seems to be very-user friendly and easy to operate. I like the idea of timeline in theory but not in practice on the web. You do a vertical timeline and there is so much scrolling down necessary and more link hopping for finding information that you need. If there was a way to get a timeline with all the necessary info in a better viewable format I would think the resource would be more valuable. I’m wondering if there is a way to make the timeline be page links that take you through in chronological order the items or artifacts at hand. That way relevant information and an image or other interactive feature could be displayed other than a huge line, tiny dates and text. I have some experiance with coding from a computer science course I took with Professor Ackerman but we learned mostly Python and nothing really to do with website building. I feel like if I had to pick up HTML or Java I could with some help. I do have Jing on my computer still from that class which I think will be great for taking screen shots or videos for my project website.

Of the websites we look at at for homework I will agree with Lindsey Smith that my favorite website was the Guilded Age Murders. It was organized and aestically pleasing without being overdone. I absolutely abhorred the French Revolution site. All the text was left justified and even in compatiability view the colors were not the best for visability. It prompted me to vow to never again use the color maroon again, which is a shame as it was part of my highschool colors. For my project I think it would be best to keep to a simple color scheme and I have thought about the idea of using the same colors as the offical site for the James Monroe Museum so if they choose to affiliate our work with their institution, visitors to the site will have some continuity. I definately want to avoid sloppy design and bad readability. I thought we might perhaps also incorporate videos and commentaries on the cartoons into our site. I want the site to be intersting, nice to look at, easy to read, and easy to navigate.

As for the question of blogs, there is so much more one can do with this form of media than personal reflection. With a blog you can not only talk about yourself but your ideas, which in turn can be discussed with other bloggers. Blogs also have a great ability to be informative about news, meeting times and dates and events. My club, UMW ASL, just actually decided to start a video blog that documents our progress in our use of ASL as a way to keep people informed on what we’re doing at meetings, what happened if you miss one, or a resource if you can’t make meetings due to a time conflict. I find digital tools like blogs to be very useful in connecting with people you would otherwise never meet and learning through their ideas and conversation.

Info on our project: We are hopefully meeting at the James Monroe Museum tomorrow afternoon to start looking at the collection as a whole and deciphering themes and interpretation. I’ll let you know how it goes later in the weekend/week. Have a nice weekend everyone!

First Post, Week 1

January 23rd, 2012. Comments Off on First Post, Week 1.

As I reflect on my first week of classes, I find my mind more and more occupied on the complexities of digital history. As I previously thought that the term meant the study of how digital media effects social groups and behaviors, it surprised me to find that digital history is also used as an umbrella term for many different definitions and ideas about the use of history on the web, teaching methods and use of digital media in the study of history itself. In my opinion, digital history means the utilization of digital tools in the study and teaching of history as well as a community of those who compute and share historical knowledge.

As for my project in this class, my group and I are working with the James Monroe Museum’s collection of early 20th century political cartoons. We met with Jarod Kearney, the curator  of the museum on Friday afternoon to dicuss the project and his expectations of our work. He had a few of the cartoons out for us to examine and they were all mounted on acid free borders and in most excellent condition. He also was able to point out that the museum had taken prior photographs of parts of the collection which will be a great time-saver if the photos are in good condition. Mr. Kearney was most helpful in giving us an overview of the collection history, and some ideas on where to start as far as our interpretation of the cartoons. At the moment we are deciding between doing a website that is more archival in nature with perhaps a few mini-exhibits on parts of the collection we feel has a message or clear interpretive features or an online exhibit of all the cartoons. Which one we decide to focus on will depend on our examination of the cartoons themselves. We plan to mount and photograph them first and discuss the potential for exhibits or archives as we get a sense of the over arching themes of the collection.

As for why I am taking this class, I am a junior history major and museum studies minor and I feel that being able to work with digital media will benefit my musuem work greatly. I feel I have the best project group I could have asked for as this project will challenge me to use what I know about museums and merge it with the use of digital tools. Learning how to manipulate the web is becoming more and more key in the museums field. I feel that taking this course will greatly advance my skills in exhibition design, interpretation and the use of digital tools with museum artifacts.

A few things of personal note about myself…I love the Boston Celtics. If I had only been taller I think I would have tried out for basketball. I am obsessed with fashion history and would love to work in the museum field dealing with re-construction of historic garments and their preservation. I also love writing about fashion’s role in history as since it is a relatively new field of study and there is always something interesting to say about it. My favorite color is purple and I am currently reading a fiction series about French and English spies during the Napoleanic Wars.I hope that everyone has had a lovely weekend and I will see you all in class on Tuesday.

Testing

January 17th, 2012. 3 Comments.

Hey Everyone, I’m testing my new blog  for Digital History 🙂

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