Wikipedia and Creative Commons

When looking at the specified Wikipedia discussion tabs on several historical pages, the first thing I generally noticed was something further specifying what the page was, and a listing of what categories and WikiProjects the page was related or relevant to. That page would also tell you if the article had been nominated for or won any good or featured article type awards within its category. Following that, what you would see is a listing of posts by various users about the article, particularly about how to improve it or fix problems. While the discussion page isn’t supposed to be for general discussion of the article’s subject, there were some examples I saw of historical debates breaking out on the page over discussions ostensibly about improving the article. One example was on the page for the Thirty Years’ War, where there was something of a debate about in what order to list the belligerents of the war, with the idea seeming to be that the importance or scale of those nations’ contributions was relevant to how they were listed. There was even some nationalism on display, as one user seemed to be arguing that the English-speaking world downplayed the French contribution. The “history” tab, which showed what edits had been made, generally showed people had made edits in order to improve the attributions and categorizations of the articles, rather than major changes to the text.

For our own group project, I feel the most accommodating CC license, that of Attribution, would be the best. Going through the Stanford guide to fair use, I feel the nature of our project, a published website which we will try to disseminate as widely as possible across the Civil War historical community, is something we should very much encourage people to visit and use material from with no fear of fair use problems.




James Monroe Update

After completing our team contracts, Which had our mission statement and listed all the tools and artifacts that we would be scanning. The contract also included a tentative schedule that we would begin to follow a soon as we finished writing our final draft of the contract. In that schedule we list the weeks prior to writing the contracted and listed what we did. This being said we decided to write out the rest of our schedule, by including what days we would scan items and also say which days we would edit and finish the artifact videos we decided to create. Following this schedule, that same week we met with George Meadows who is in charge of the 3D scanners that we will be using and decided to start getting a handle of how the scanners work,

Week 5: Update and Progress

We have our contract approved! Now it is time to get to work. This week our Civil War diaries group finished scanning all the transcripts we have and we started scanning the diaries. Suzanne Chase has been extremely helpful with the scanning process and helping us use the Cobra, a rare book scanner. She also made a spread sheet on the desktop of the lab computer so we can keep tract of who is doing which diary. I really enjoy using the Cobra but it took a bit to figurer out how it works but I think I got the hang of it now. On Thursday, I got through 37 pages of a diary and Ms. Chase said that I can come in next Thursday to work on scanning the diaries some more. We met with Catherine Perdue at the library and she gave us some great information about plugins for Omeka. She suggested we use the page turner plugin instead of Scripto so we will have to test that out. Ms. Perdue is also going to send us directions on how to use the page turner plugin. She also gave told us about plugins that allow the user to mass enter metadata which will be very helpful because our diary pages are all going to have similar metadata. Our main goal at this point is to get all the diaries scanned over the next two weeks so that we can upload them to Omeka and start testing out these plugins.

3D Laser Scanning Project Updates

This week we searched for  plugins to allow us to embed the  3D laser scans in our Omeka website. The only plugin we found required  the browser to be able to support it, so we’re going to continue to search for plugins and use the SketchFab website to host the  scans if necessary. Fortunately, SketchFab is free and the scans would remain the propert of the James Monroe Museum.

Dr. McClurken also asked our group to consider ways to expand the scope of our project. After consulting with the museum, we decided to make short videos of the curator talking about the objects we scan. We plan on keeping the videos basic with a very brief introduction to the museum, object, and curator before cutting to the curator discussing the object. The video will end with links to the museum’s website and our project website.


Project Update

This past week our group working on the Stephen W. Gordon diaries has been focusing on finishing the actual scanning of the diaries. Mostly this has involved a lot of time working in the digital archiving lab. Suzanne Chase has been incredibly helpful in answering our questions on scanning and how to properly handle the diaries.

For me personally scanning has been a really interesting act. Getting to actually pick up the diaries and flip through them. When I first started scanning this week it was also a little daunting realizing that what I was scanning and how I scanned it would be how the public viewed these diaries. It made me think more on how each scan looked and working to try and make sure that every page was as clear as I could get it and things were not as cut off. In the end though when I got to flip through the diaries and read what Gordon did on that particular day years ago it was such an awesome moment for me.

Since the project started I have also had an complicated and struggle filled relationship with Omeka. This has involved meetings with quite a few people and lots of testing out new ideas. It also included a short but spited battled with FileZilla that is now happily resolved. However I will save the full depths of the Omeka struggle for my presentation tomorrow.

HCC Website Update

This week, our group has made lots of progress in the planning of our website. We finalized our group contract, delegated responsibilities, and started gathering tools to begin creating our website. We met with Kyle Allwine, Assistant Director of Admissions, to discuss what Admissions would like to see regarding our project and how they could use it to attract prospective students. He was very enthusiastic about the project, and told us that he could help us to advertise the site once we finish, and wants to stay updated on our progress. We also reached out to the Building Manager of the HCC, and tomorrow, we are touring the building with him to learn more about its features and capabilities. We also reached out to President Hurley, and will hopefully be interviewing him on his views of the building, and what it means for him to have the building renamed after him. Right now we have a lot of work ahead of us, but it feels good to really be diving in to all of the logistics of each piece of the project this week, and finalizing the details on our contract.

Working with Omeka

Initially when I downloaded Omeka to take a quick look at it for how to make our site, I was worried that I would not be able to actually use it.  All I could see was folders after folders with php files, jscripts, and various other kinds of files that could break everything if touched wrong.  After seeing it actually work on the web though, it looks similar to WordPress and incredibly easy to use.  With its ability to have collections and items, and its item types including images and sounds, it looks like Omeka should be an optimal tool for my group’s project.  At this point, all I really need to learn is how to format all of the data so that it looks nice to the user.

My main reason for posting about this is because this was my main worry with the project as a whole.  I thought I would have to spend several weeks learning how to use Omeka and post all of the digitized letters, pictures, and everything else we would do all in one large bunch.  Since I know that will not be the case now, I am much more relaxed with this project knowing that I can work at a slower pace by uploading everything as they come to me and designing the final site throughout the semester.  Of course, that does not mean I can slack off and not work on the project at all.  I still have a team that is counting on me to do my share, and that share I will do.

HCC Project Update

Recently, we met with Kyle Allwine from Admissions to discuss the ways we could bring traffic to our future site. The talk went swimmingly as we constantly threw ideas at each other. We talked about putting up billboards around campus to encourage students and faculty test out the various technology within the building. We also came up with the idea of having QR codes around that would send anyone to our site, so they check out the rooms and services for themselves.

After a group discussion, we decided to to keep the option of video interviews open to everyone, but we believe that we have to video interview President Hurley since the building has his name. We have fourteen possible candidates to interview and it would be great if we could get to them all, but if worst comes to worst, I believe 7 or 8 should be enough input on the building  and their involvement. We plan  to split up and do the interviews in order to get them all.

Before I conclude this small update, I would like to talk about the group’s plan for this week. We each will be doing our own research on the Convergence Center while also trying to the perfect WordPress theme for our site. We need to make sure that it works on both mobile and desktops if we plan on doing the QR codes mentioned earlier. Part of that research requires us to take a small tour around the building to make sure we understand everything ourselves. Once we do that, our next step is to put together the timeline for the building.

Group Update

Prior to writing the group contract, I felt slightly overwhelmed at the volume of work that our website was nonetheless going to necessitate.  However, now that we have divided the tasks and set milestones for their completion, I feel much more confident about the direction of our project.  Our contract divides the work evenly among our four group members, and everyone’s tasks are spread out throughout the semester, meaning that one or two people will not become overwhelmed by constantly having a looming due date.  Currently, our first milestone is to finish scanning Slaughter’s and Murray’s letters, scanning the typed transcriptions of Murray’s letters, and typing the handwritten transcriptions of Slaughter’s letters.  It is essential that we get this done soon as our subsequent tasks for the construction of the website revolve around their digitization, which include creating online exhibits for the letters.  I also think that when it comes time to create our digital exhibits, Omeka will be very helpful.  My group created our site last class, and when you click on “Add an Item,” Omeka prompts you to enter the appropriate metadata for the document or other primary source you are uploading.  This will help keep our website consistent, as all group members will be reporting the same kinds of information to describe each letter.

The one difficulty that I could potentially see my group running into is finding sufficient information on Montgomery Slaughter and George Murray so that their introductory blurbs will give site visitors a solid context with which to read the letters.  However, the National Park Service has already helped with this, as a basic biographical sketch on Murray’s activities during the Civil War were delivered to UMW along with his letters and transcriptions.  Additionally, when we make our visit to the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum to look at George Murray’s possessions, we can speak with Ms. Luisa Dispenzirie, the museum curator, so she can give us more information about these two men.

Building an Audience

As we have discussed in class, an audience is key to a successful web site because if no one visits the site then there is not much of a point in making it. When I stated to think about building an audience I thought about how I am part of the audience of the sites I visit. When I enter a site it is usually from a link or from the results of me googling a certain term. Occasionally I hear about a site from other people or via social media such as Facebook. I tend to use sites that are organized and easy to navigate. Keeping my personal interaction with the internet in mind I think that creating a digital project that uses frequently searched terms and using social media to spread the word that the web site exists will ensure its success. For our Civil War diaries project we are planning to make a site that is easy to navigate whether you enter from the main screen or a specific dairy page. Since we are working mostly with primary sources it is important that we make the site easy to follow and not too complicated so the visitor can find what they are looking for. My group and I believe our main audience for the site will be scholars and educators that will use it for academic and educational proposes. We anticipate that many other people will visit our site such as people interested in the Civil War and visitors to the National Park Service. The main goal for our website is to educate our visitors about Steven Gordon and the importance of primary sources.