Reflecting at the End…

April 25th, 2012

At the beginning of this semester, the James Monroe Museum political cartoon group was faced with the task of taking 114 cartoons present in the collection at the museum in downtown Fredericksburg and make it accessible to the public. Our project took the form of creating an archive where each and every cartoon would be available to the public with historical commentary to guide the audience of researchers, educators, and the interested public. Looking back on this semester and at this extensive project, this group not only fulfilled what was promised in the contract, but also a great digital history resource was made available as the end result.

After deciding that this project would feature all 114 cartoons and that they would be presented as an archive, we ventured to the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library to assess the collection of cartoons. Discovering that we already had photos of all the cartoons, we were able to focus our project on bettering the quality of the images, taking pictures of those that were overlooked, categorize the total collection into separate exhibits based on topic, and do research on the events discussed in each cartoon. We then were able to focus on the website itself, deciding on a site platform and what kind of information architecture we wanted to use in displaying this weird, but wonderful collection.

In the beginning, we decided on using Omeka.net as our site support because of its great image hosting capabilities, its exhibit builder, and the Dublin Core data design, which guided our information architecture. Due to the limitations of Omeka.net however, we eventually decided to move everything over onto its brother site, Omeka.org.  While this move was never noted in the contract, we still fulfilled this obligation because we are still using an Omeka based platform.

In building the site, as a group the four of us made sure we distributed the tasks evenly. Although some members were more eager to do more than they should, we made sure no one overstepped their boundaries and that no one took over another’s task. For example, Rachel I. oversaw the writing of the content labels because with her experience with museum work, she knew what components made for a good exhibit label. Andrew, Rachel L., and myself wrote a third of the labels and had Rachel I. look over them for both continuity and to make sure they flowed with each other. We also divided cleaning up the images, citing sources, and making the individual exhibits in this way. We also made sure we had our own little projects, such as my construction of the timeline and my collaboration with Rachel L. on the educational resources page. I can safely say that each group member took their responsibilities in stride and did what they said they were going to do.

Comparing the result of our project with our contract, it is important to note that while we came close to needing to change things around, we never did. The only thing that we were not always faithful in fulfilling was having certain aspects of the site completed by every due date. When this happened though, we were within reason. With my project, the timeline, I had plug-in compatibility issues and this caused us to be two weeks late with its completion. Otherwise, each group member met their due date. In the end, our project came out the way we planned it would. We succeeded in making this unique collection public using every resource and presenting every aspect we said we would. I am very proud with how this came out and feel that we were very successful in creating a substantial piece to contribute to digital history.

Final Countdown!!

April 19th, 2012

This week, we had presentations for Research and Creativity Day as an aside to our continuing work on our websites. Overall, I was impressed with everyone’s presentations. With the feedback our group got today from Dr. McClurken, I feel that my group will have an excellent presentation prepared for the History Symposium next week. Having already given a presentation on a thesis, I feel confident that we’ll be very impressive and will blow the crowd away with our final products!

Other than presentations, we have reached that time in the semester where everyone is making those finishing touches/ last minute uploads to our pages. Right now I am going through all my citations and making sure they are in proper Turabian format and uploading both the note and bibliographical citations to the site. Other than that, I have also tweaked the education page a little bit more and will finally get that timeline I have been having difficulty with up by Saturday at the latest.

Its all finally coming together and I must say that I am proud of all we have accomplished so far :).

Contemplations on Digital History

April 8th, 2012

Over this Easter weekend, our assignment has been to check out a couple of articles and an excellent example of what and how digital history is done. While we have spent these past weeks working on our website and reading up on how to go about it, these articles discuss how it is taught, considered, and whether or not its methods apply to the study of history today.

The two articles I looked at include Christopher Millers Strange Facts in the History Classroom: or How I learned to Sto Worry and Love the Wiki(pedia) and Adrea Lawerence’s Learning How to Write Analog and Digital History. Both articles discussed how Wikipedia was part of the study and commented on how this website has grown from a considered unreliable source to something that has to be reconsidered over the years. Both articles also talk about how history is done differently from traditional history in such that digital history allows the historian to be that more creative and keep adding on to their research, updating it with new information.

Which leads us to the footnotes of The Age of Lincoln, written by Orville Burton. His online footnote resource allowed him to continue to contribute to his book a year after his book’s publication. With traditional history, once its printed, it cannot be easily added to without revamping the entire work. With Burton putting his footnotes online, he allowed himself to continue searching and considering his topic, reaffirming it as new sources become more available. Doing digital history is so similar and yet different from traditional history because the same research and citations go into both forms, however, with digital history, we’re allowed to present our information in a new way and continue to work on it long after it’s set in print.

Timeline and Press!

April 5th, 2012

This week in class, we spent most of our time catching up with each other and discussing the importance of advertising. As a group, we composed a short two-hundred word Press Release. In the release, we discussed what our site is about, what sources one will find there, and who to thank for this project going to fruition. To take a look at it, check out Rachel Icard’s blog 🙂

Otherwise, I finally was able to get Simile Timeline on our Omeka.org site.  However, it is not as easy to use as I thought. Ihave the option to change the metadata and categorize it, however I do not know how to apply it to the website. I will be meeting with Jim Groom on Tuesday to discuss this further and figure out what our options are.

All Revved Up and Ready to Go!

March 30th, 2012

This week has been exciting for my group do to all the new changes that have taken place! As of yesterday we officially have moved over to Omeka.org and now have a new URL: JMPoliToons.umwhistory.org! Jim Groom has been extremely helpful in this shift, even going so far as installing the plug-ins for us! This weekend I will finally be able to catchup with our contract and get the Timeline all hammered out. Other than that, our group is still trucking away at making content labels and gathering citations together.

Altogether I do feel that is seems like we aren’t doing too much when we present to the class, but most of the stuff we have been working on has been behind the website work, so to speak. However, with the move-over officially completed, I feel we’ll have a lot more to present in the upcoming weeks 🙂

 

Weekly Update!

March 23rd, 2012

This week we reviewed our resumes as a class and continued working on our projects. In regards to my resume, I’m still considering what to add picture-wise and interest wise. But other than thinking my resume over, my group and I have been individually working on making context labels for the cartoon. Altogether we should have 1/3rd of them completed and ready to be posted to our new Omeka.org site!

Selling Yourself

March 17th, 2012

This week in class, we discussed not only what our identity is on the internet, but also how to make ourselves appealing to the job market. Outside of our continuing work on our projects, we were also set to the task of creating a digital resume. My resume, I must admit, is still going through the works. I have all the information necessary up, but I must admit I’m a little confused on how to work the plug-ins, like the contact me form, and how to assign it to certain pages. Despite this, I’m happy with how its turned out. This project forced me to write a resume (which I haven’t had to do before) and made me seriously consider the fact that I will be looking for a teaching job in a little over a year. Going forward with this, I’ll be working on finding/adding pictures to make it more visually appealing as well as use the advice of our guest speaker this week and make it more personal by adding in a twitter feed and such.

If you want to check it out, you can find it here

Who I Am According to the Internet

March 5th, 2012

This week’s readings include the looking at and reading blog posts and web pages based around who we are on the internet. I checked out: Digital Tattoo, “on distributed presence (and blogrolls),” and Seth’s Blog on “Personal Branding in the Google Age.” Each page and entry were really interesting and prompted me to Google myself. What I found was exactly what I wanted to find: nothing. Having a parent who is up in the government and is familiar with the hire and fire process, I’ve been lectured since day one on how you never put anything on the internet that you would not like your future boss to see. As a result, I have my facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and all other social media pages carefully filtered and/or completly blocked from the public eye. With the exception of my Google+ profile picture appearing, the only other information that came up was my YouTube page (where I do not post videos) which shows a handful of the videos I liked which included health tips and a bunch of nerdy things related to Harry Potter and my current literary love, The Hunger Games.

Overall, this weeks readings had me thinking about who I am on the internet and prompted me to search myself and confirm what I knew about my online privacy. On that note, I also want to share that Google itself has changed its privacy policy and that it can now track your searches when signed into your Google account and use that to prompt advertisers to sell things to you. However, this also implicates that Google is collecting your searches and can sell them to your future employer. Thankfully you can make your web history private, so everyone make sure you do that.

Enjoy your Spring Break!

Labeling and Tagging

February 29th, 2012

Working on our James Monroe Political Cartoon site this week, my group has been working its way through labeling and tagging the basics of our cartoons. In doing this, I can safely say that my group and I are happy that we chose Omeka as the base for our website because it has been so easy so far to do this task. By Sunday we should have all the cartoons labeled and we will be working on cartoon research over break. So far everything has been smooth sailing and I am so happy that everyone is getting along so well :).

History on Wikipedia

February 20th, 2012

Part of this weeks out of class and out of group assignment was to learn more about Wikipedia and how it does history on the web. Honestly, the Ted Talk video we had to watch really enlightened me on what exactly Wikipedia is other than a good place to get primary sources for research projects. Hearing about how this vast web site work is fascinating  in both a research and sociological sense. I also now think that Wikipedia does not always get the credit its due. Sure, anyone can go in and edit a page, but they make sure that there is enough manpower that keeps pages at its most true state.

In looking at various history pages on Wikipedia, I focused on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the Johnstown flood pages. In observing these pages, I find that both have a good amount of academic research put behind its creation. There are also pictures which are rather interesting and not always commonly seen (like hte caskets of the victims of the factory fire). Also, both pages discuss recent events, like the factory fire centennial anniversary last year in which the U.S.  Secretary of Labor  and Mayor Bloomberg spoke. Overall, both pages show a great chronology of what happened during that event as well as display its legacy. It really is a great example of how history is done right on the web because essentially, our web pages will be like Wikipedia pages in terms of the information we present, layout, and how we display our sources.