Archive for January, 2012

Getting Started…

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

This week in class, we were introduced to some very helpful tools and web interfaces to help with designing our websites. Personally, I have already used all of them with the exception of Omeka for site building. Looking at the tools in particular, I plan on using Zotero and will push for my group to do the same because it is extremely useful to the historian. A creative way to use this tool would be to make a preliminary library for the archival part of my groups website. Even though my group is working mainly off of images at this point, we could possibly upload them onto an image storage site such as Flickr and use Zotero to start categorizing them by theme.

Besides Zotero and focusing more on Omeka, this site developing platform could be used by groups as maybe a message board, having each member post when them have succeeded in completing an aspect of their assignment or when they have come up with a new idea they would like to share.

Besides an introduction to tools and web interfaces, we also talked about digital history websites in general. Considering the websites that Dr. McClurken suggested we look at, what I liked on a whole was the organization of the sites. However, I did not always like how the information was presented. Some of the sites had blocks and blocks of text which turned me off from reading more than necessary. Despite this, I liked how the sites organized their information as well as their use of images where present. In crafting a digital history website with my group, I will push for an emphasis on images over blocks of text to make the site more appealing and less cluttered to the visitor. I really want to avoid putting out lots of text out front because I do want my visitors to enjoy what they are looking at rather than get overwhelmed with all the information present. The information will still be there, just under a drop-down box (hopefully).

I will just have to wait and see when my group builds the site to see if it all works. Hopefully it will!

 

Learning About Digital History

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Learning about Digital History this week has really made me think more about the greatness of the internet and all of the opportunities there are in using it. As a historian, we know that one of the fundamental purposes of our work is sharing and explaining past information, beliefs, and events in a truthful way. Events, people, and purposes are always being re-evaluated, but prior to the internet, this process was very limited. With the internet, scholars can share and collaborate on projects which previously could take years and years to publish and/or organize. With Digital Humanities, these processes do not have to be that difficult. However, there are also issues that come with using the digital means of communicating history, or any information for that matter. The fact is that not everyone has the full story or idea about an event, person, or place. Like David Cohen mentions in his introduction of his book, “Digital History,” there are just as many results for “Gettysberg” as there is for “Gettysburg.” There is a lot of misinformation out there that needs to be corrected and observed, for the dangers of doing any kind of research through the internet comes with the risk of not using a correct, supported, and valid site for making arguements.

Knowing the benefits and pitfalls of Digital History along with moving forward with the James Monroe Museum’s political cartoon project, I know that it is our responsibility to get the information accurate. I also know that the matter in which my group presents this information is crucial because the most important benefit of making and using Digital History is the ease of access this medium provides for knowledge. My group needs to make sure we keep things simple, clean, and easy to read and this will ultimately determine the success we have with making a good contribution to the Digital History world.

Moving to progress, I am happy to report that my group is meeting with the James Monroe Museum’s curator this Friday to discuss access to the collection, our predicted website, and the best way to present the cartoons overall. We have also decided tentatively to make our website mostly archival with a mini-exhibit about what we consider to be the most interesting aspect  of these cartoons. I am happy with where we are in the planning stages and truly excited to get this project going!