Museum Update!

For that past couple weeks the James Monroe Museum group has been working diligently to get our project done as efficiently and quick as possible. One of the obstacle that really stood in our was the learning curve that the technologies that we were using presented to us. When we were told that we could use three different 3D scanners and in the end we found out that only one would work the way that we wanted it to. One of the scanners 3D printed the object but didn’t include the colors of the object, while the other scanner wouldn’t work for us because the plugins that we needed weren’t working. In the end the IPad 3D scanner was the one that would best do the work that we wanted it to do. This learning curve caused the group to fall behind for the scanning stage, but ones that issue was resolved, we were able to swiftly catch up and continue on our planned schedule.

Digital Resume – Update

When originally doing the assignment to create a digital resume, I ran into a problem with Domain of One’s Own; I had used up my disk space somehow, even though I only had two sites attached to the domain and in file manager, I could not find what was taking up all the space. So I was unable to make a new site to display my resume. After a visit to the DKC, I was allotted more space to work with, and I now have another site to use, located here. I’m still toying around with the site, but the basic bones of it are complete; I might steal an idea from a few other members of the class and display my work history as a JStimeline as well.


When as a group we started to upload Pvt Gordon’s diaries to our website we made a important discovery. It turns out that both diary 3987 and diary 3983 claim to take place during the same exact time. Each diary claims to end on March 18th 1864. Now there are of course a number of reasons this is impossible. Other then the obvious question why would he keep two diaries? The two diaries have conflicting content and conflicting days of the week for the apparent same date. 

To try and figure this out Alex figured out that diary 3983 started on Tuesday November 10th, by using a calendar application he was able to confirm that November fell on a Tuesday in 1863 so diary 3983 was in fact the diary for November 10th- March 18th. I started to do some looking into diary 3987 which claimed to go from July 10th 1863- March 18th 1864. What I found was that July 10th did not fall on a Wednesday as the diary claimed.  In 1863 July 10th actually fell on a Friday, however in 1861 July 10th did fall on a Wednesday .

Originally we as a group was convinced that diary 3987 was the correct diary for 1863, this was because the diary actually had an old label on the back that said the diary went from July 10th 1863- March 18th 1864.

frsp_3987_0112 (2)

Another reason we were very convinced was that the first page of the diary also had 1863 written on it. We first figured that it was Gordon who included the year because the numbers looked very similar to his numbers. However under closer inspection the numbers for the year are slightly different then his.


When we realized that these two diaries were so mislabeled I realized we needed to check the other diaries just in case those also got wrong dates attributed to them. (I am currently in the process of checking those now.) I am still unsure why this label was ever attached to the diary when the year is clearly incorrect or why someone wrote into the diary. However this process has reminded me of the danger when you assume that sources you receive all have the correct data. Thankfully we caught this, however mislabeling and incorrectly categorized dates are a big issue in researching especially when you assume that all the information is correct.

Google and HCC Group Project Update

This week, one of our class readings talked about the idea that Google “making us stupid”. The author proposed that the Internet is reshaping our thought process, making us unable to concentrate and think like we used to. He also suggested that the way we read is changing. “Efficiency and immediacy” are becoming priorities over deep reading and engaging. Kubrick’s prophecy states, “as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence”. I found this interesting, and can see where he is coming from, yet I found it to be more extreme than the reality. My perception is that the Internet is changing the way we read, but the changes are not only negative. We may be less focused, especially when reading longer texts, but information is much more available today than it used to be.

At this point in my group’s HCC project, we have completed all of our interviews. Now, what we need to focus on is finishing the timeline and finalizing the website. We are up to date on our contract.

Weekly Update 3/24

It’s been a while since I looked at the front end of the site; after having a new theme installed and messing around with the layout, the new site looks very good.  There are a lot of placeholders right now and I want to change the look of at least one menu but it looks very good.  On my end, I have just finished uploading all of my letters and pdfs in the collection but I may need to go through them again and look for spelling errors.  I also need to add tifs to pretty much all of the items and that may take a while depending on the internet speed I currently have (which is not good).  Other than that, there is not much going on.  The team is working on a StoryMap and the letters to be recorded for Slaughter have been chosen.  At this point, the webiste is mainly tying up loose ends and various miscellaneous tasks.

Text Mining + Group Update

The readings for this week were pretty interesting and they seem to involve some tools that I used in some other courses throughout my journey as Digital Studies Major. Nicholas Carr’s article, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, really stood out to me because of the brief mentions of electronic reading compared to physical reading. I’m taking a course right now called After Books with Professor Whalen and whenever we begin to read a new book, he asks everyone how did they obtain it and how will they be reading it. We’ve read four books so far and I’ve read 3 of them in an e-book format. I personally don’t feel any different reading a physical book compared to an e-book, but I do miss the feeling of holding an actual book. It’s just something about feeling the actual mass of a specific book instead of your e-reader for everything you read that is really satisfying.

Like we discussed in class today, I do feel like reading electronic text, be it e-books or articles online, actually helped improve my reading ability with the concept of skimming through text and picking out various keywords and such. This should be true for the majority of individuals living in this digital age because everyone speeds through text messages and articles in order to bring them up in future conversations or they just to learn more about an event that is happening in the world.

Now for a little update on our Convergence Center Project. We have our final interviews Wednesday morning and afternoon, so we will be able to talk about those during our presentation on Thursday. There is a possibility of working on our video walk-through on Friday of all of the resources, but we need to discuss it more with each other. After that we will put all of focus into the website and meet up with Kyle from admissions again to see what he thinks about our website so far.

Before the week is over I will be uploading the edited versions of the interviews to the Explore HCC YouTube account, so they can be put up on our website.


Questions? From where?

Text Mining is often used in a way to find questions not answers. From an old time of historian, thinking ‘I dont have enough documentation (information)’ to the more recent ‘I have an abundance of documentation (information)’. Its amazing looking at how far we have come, yes that is a loaded statement… some might ask ‘how far with what?’ or ‘whose come?’ but that is the beauty of it. Text that brings questions forth, text (i.e. information) that provides more then clues or answers to questions… rather text used to widen the field of questioning.

“My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles.” a generation of instant gratification, and lost attention span, I found this post particularly interesting as it depicts the fact that the internet brings forth a place that when utilized correctly can be an unmatchable aid in research and finding relative information for all branches of study and curiosity. The way I think of this illustration is the classic saying ‘it’s a blessing and a curse’.

Never the less how do we use the information provided? How do we utilize what we have read? I think being aware of the generational falters, but also take on the tools that are available. To not be bogged down by an abundance, rather to strengthen through knowledge.

Readings for curiosity:

Week 10 Reading

“Anecdotes alone don’t prove much.” I feel like the Nicholas Carr reading probably could have stopped there, and little of value would have been lost. I think there are quite a few problems with Carr’s article, but I would definitely point at a very faulty assumption in his basic premise as one of the root issues. Carr seems to think that because we read differently on the Internet, we are by definition not reading as well. As someone who has grown up with the Internet and doesn’t really recall a world without it, I can definitely say that I don’t think Google has impeded my ability to read long books, for instance. I’m a history major, and even long before college I would often dive into very long books for pleasure reading or simply because I wanted to learn something about the relevant topic. I have read War and Peace and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, to name two famously long and heavy works.

Rather than weakening our capacity for “deep reading,” perhaps Google simply teaches us a different kind of reading that’s equally useful within its limitations. Even if we accept that I’m less likely to stop to read an entire article in-depth while I’m browsing JSTOR and in all likelihood doing multiple other things in different tabs, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not accomplishing something useful. For instance, the online format makes it quite easy for me to quickly skim through the article, determine if it would be useful to me, save it for later, and use its author, references, and key-phrases to quickly find more related articles. But by the standard Carr is insisting on, that’s apparently the same as flitting around frivolously and rewiring my brain to be more shallow. Reading a book “deeply” and reading articles on the Internet might be different in terms of how you read them, but I do not buy that they are mutually exclusive.

Text Mining and Site Traffic

I had never heard of text mining before, so the reading this week was particularly interesting to me.  When I first read about topic modeling, I thought this would be an interesting thing to do with Slaughter and Murray’s letters, but then I saw that to do this, you need one hundred items at the very least, and we fall short.  But, other ways of text mining seem to be useful for our purposes and may be potential methods to increase traffic to our site.  In William Turkel’s article “Searching for History,” he talks about AOL’s release of search data in August 2006 and how information like this is useful for historians to see what kinds of things people are searching for in relation to history.  Although this could be beneficial in that historians could include key words on their sites that match up with popular search terms, where would one find the information to mine?  AOL released data, but soon took it down because people had used things like credit card numbers in their searches.  Do other search engines, such as Google, release search data that excludes sensitive information like this?

I Googled “Google search data” and one of the first things that came up was “Google Trends—Think with Google” (  I clicked on it and the basic description that popped up was “The Rundown:  How do people search for your brand? When do searches spike? What about your competitors? The Google Trends tool uses real-time search data to help you gauge consumer search behaviors over time.”  You can search for certain terms and Google Trends will give you a graph that shows you interest in a topic over time.  I need to play with it some more, but given the description of this tool given by Google, it seems to be more geared towards businesses, but could prove to be useful to increase traffic to our site.

Week 10: Text Mining, Topic Modeling, and Searching in History

I found the readings very interesting and came up with some ideas to possibly incorporate in our Civil War diaries project. Wlliam Turkel’s “Digital History Hacks,” explained that different words and forms that people used to search history. It never occurred to me to think about what search terms were popular. If we can figure out what common search terms have been used to research civil war soldiers then we can use them in our site to get more visitors. Turkel says that most people use adjectival forms to search different histories. So in our case we could possibly use things similar to Civil War history. Although Turkel’s research does not necessarily include every search term it is a very interesting concept. The readings and site that discussed topic modeling also gave me the idea that we could do some topic modeling for the diaries because there are so many entries. Our topics could include some of our tags that highlight major themes in the diaries. I think that topic modeling adds a lot to sites and projects that are databases because it shows the main themes in an inventive way.

The reading about google made the argument that the internet is reprograming our brains and making them weaker. I agree that due to the internet has led to writing and reading being shorter but the author does not clearly point out that the internet also creates a larger amount of data. Not only have people been able to document more information than ever it has also become easily accessible to many more people.