February 16th, 2012
This week has been all about revising our plans for the rest of the semester as well as thinking about who is looking at our site. As a group, we needed to be more specific and have a better idea of what we wanted our site to look like. We decided to go ahead and create the base site on Omeka and are pretty sure we have all the specifics laid out for the rest of the semester.
Thinking about our audience, as a group we automatically jumped to the conclusion that those most interested in our site will be visitors to the James Monroe Museum and academics. Reconsidering this after our talk with Dr. McClurken, we reconsidered and realized that everyone, from teachers to artists to newspapers, maybe interested in our web site. Its funny ho we thought our web page would be limited in outreach when really the possibilities of attracting anyone are out there. I wonder if there is a tool, maybe a guestbook plug-in? That would allow us to keep track of who from what field is looking at our site.
February 8th, 2012
So, besides being a little over dramatic, today (February 8th, 2012) my group and I gathered together and wrote down a rough draft of our contract. We were able to cover the entire contract within one hour and were easily able to jot down the programs to be used, tasks to be done, and divide the labor evenly amongst us. Tomorrow our group will meet in the classroom and take advantage of the time available to make a final draft of our contract and send it to Dr. McClurken. I am very pleased with how the group is working together and relieved to know that we are all equally hardworking and eager to work on this project.
February 1st, 2012
The title to this post is a reference to last semester’s 485 meeting on presentation and apparently the stereotypical History major loves maps! I like maps, but I would not necessarily say that I am in love with them…
Anyway, this week we practiced our “Google Fu” and in particular, focused on using Google Maps and Google Earth. Using Maps, I made a map of the walk I take to get to the James Monroe Museum from the UMW Apartments:
The experience I had with making this map was overall good. The only difficulty I had was making the line begin and end where I wanted it to. I would use Maps for my project in a similar way that I already have: to point out where the James Monroe Museum is located if it is so desired to go take a look at the political cartoons personally.
In using Earth, I made a tour which shows the route I drove to get to High School four years ago. It was fun, however, I do not think this software is really applicable to my project. However, if I was in the historical markers group or even the UMW buildings group, I would use this program to do a tour of the markers/buildings on campus.
Overall, I enjoyed this week’s assignment. It really is an eye-opener on how these commonplace web applications can be used for both fun and academic reasons. I am really enjoying what I am learning so far!
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!
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!