Final Reflection and Contract Defense

Well, this is the end for me. Not only in this class but also at Mary Washington. It has been an interesting four years here and something I wouldn’t trade for the world. By and large, this class has been one of the most beneficial learning experiences at this school. Not only did I apply my skill of critically analyzing historical documents, but I also learned the importance of actively participating in the documents themselves. Reading through the diaries and analyzing them is one thing. But doing both of those things knowing that I am constructing a site for others to use is an almost sublime experience. Knowing that I contributed something useful that can be applied in other people’s research is rewarding.

I was also able to apply the skill of time management to this process. This is something that not only made my tenure at Mary Washington helpful, but also one that I can take with me out into the “real” world and claim confidently that I have worked diligently to first acquire and second hone. Between the hours spent scanning, uploading, and transcribing, all while knowing that there was a deadline as well as other people depending on me to do my role, time management became essential to the success of this project. I think my group, more than any other group, relied the most on time management. The sheer volume of material that we had to scan, upload, transcribe, and edit all while working out the many kinks with Omeka, reflects this challenge of managing our time effectively.

Although incredibly massive amount of things we had to do helped us hone our time management skills, I think it also hurt us. Towards the beginning of the semester when we were working on our contracts, I think my group kind of under estimated the challenge we were tasked with and as a result, the dates we put down did not always match with the dates we actually had the task finished by. Between other classes, graduation, job applications, and everything else in college, it was difficult for me, and I think my group as well, to finish by the dates we set forth. However, this was not due to us being lazy or procrastinating. I think we accomplished the goals we set out on the contract. We wanted to digitize a collection of diaries, with transcriptions, and include a page turning plugin with the goal of other historians or casual visitors to use and explore. And I think my group accomplished these goals. To be fair, we did have some hiccups along the way which did lead to some frustrations. But I know we all took those hiccups in stride and did not dwell on the frustrations but instead used them as learning experiences moving forward. The problems we faced with Omeka were handled wonderfully by Callie as she did not hesitate to ask for guidance. The same could be said about Mike when he was tasked with finding information about Steven Gordon. He maintained an effective line of communication with Luisa who supplied him with the necessary information. James kept his cool throughout the entire process. He was kind of the jack-of-all-trades of the group. He did the scanning, some research, made the timeline, and helped to outline our final presentation. He was essential to the success of the group. As for myself, I would like to think that I was helpful to the group. I worked on the transcription and finished it in time; put all the files on my hard drive and sent them off to Louisa; and stayed up really late the night before it was due making sure that everything was uploaded and formatted correctly (my hands still ache from all the alt-tabbing).

All in all, this semester and this project has been both a learning experience as well as an opportunity for me to apply my historical skills in a new way. It was more than just researching and then writing a final paper. It was an active participation with the historical process, creating a product that can be used by others. It was definitely one of the most rewarding classes I’ve taken at this school.

Adventures in Digital History! 2016-04-05 01:05:42

“Yet there are new opportunities and challenges that did not exist several decades ago. One is the ability to display primary sources and related data objects tied to those sources (tables, charts, and maps). As this volume’s chapters by Stephen Robertson and John Theibault demonstrate, we are surrounded not just by the type of static images and data objects that historians have used to make arguments for years but by the ability to present audiences and interlocutors with manipulable objects, using software to allow readers to zoom in and move around, add or subtract data layers, change axes and variables, or set the data object in motion” (Dorn).

I personally think this is one of the coolest things digital history has to offer. Creating a database of a collection is interesting and compiling primary sources is fascinating but creating something unique out of the information presented and presenting it in a manner that would have taken years to create is really, really special and indicative of the capability of computers and digital history.

Adventures in Digital History! 2016-04-05 01:05:42

“Yet there are new opportunities and challenges that did not exist several decades ago. One is the ability to display primary sources and related data objects tied to those sources (tables, charts, and maps). As this volume’s chapters by Stephen Robertson and John Theibault demonstrate, we are surrounded not just by the type of static images and data objects that historians have used to make arguments for years but by the ability to present audiences and interlocutors with manipulable objects, using software to allow readers to zoom in and move around, add or subtract data layers, change axes and variables, or set the data object in motion” (Dorn).

I personally think this is one of the coolest things digital history has to offer. Creating a database of a collection is interesting and compiling primary sources is fascinating but creating something unique out of the information presented and presenting it in a manner that would have taken years to create is really, really special and indicative of the capability of computers and digital history.

Gordon Diaries Update

The end is upon us. So I met with Mrs. Chase today and put all the files from the scanning onto my external hard drive; it was all over 10gbs! I just need to put the transcripts that I did onto this hard drive and all the scanning and transcriptions will be all in one place. Moving forward, I am met with a challenge that is not directly associated with this website. As my college career comes to an end, it has been quite difficult to dig down deep and find motivation to apply myself to the best of my ability.  However, I know that I will be able to push myself to finish out my semester strong.

Creating a Digital Resume

So I had some trouble with this assignment mainly with differentiating about what things should be included on a digital resume as opposed to a regular, paper resume. I understand the opportunities a digital resume presents such as being able to showcase digital works that you have worked on. My problem is that although I have made blogs for other pages, I personally do not think they are good enough for me to include on a portfolio that future employers (hopefully) will look at.

If you guys have any pointers, check out my link and let me know: resume.alexanderprivitt.org

YOU WON’T BELIEVE THESE 5 SECRETS ABOUT DIGITAL IDENTITY!

You know we live in a different world when “living off the grid” is a title reserved for people on National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers. Whether we like it or not, the ratio between public and private life is favoring the public realm and as a result, our lives, more often than not, are presented for the world to see. A simple Google search of my name (something we all have done dating back to those special days in elementary school when we had a class activity that involved the use of laptops) returned things that I had completely forgotten about. Those team pictures from the year I made my Little League All Star Team? Yeah, those are up there. A picture of me walking across the stage at my high school graduation? Also up there. But recently, especially after reading several of these articles, I have realized not only the importance of having a digital identity but also of the responsibility attached to it. Without further ado, I present to you the five secrets I learned about digital identity.

  1. Provide a cumulative section in which all the things you have worked on are presented with a brief description and a link to the website or video.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. By providing a section in your website or blog that encompasses all of the work that you have played a role in creating, people who search for your digital identity are able to gain insight into the fields and sub-fields that you have spent time learning and contributing about.

2. You must be willing to share yourself with the public in order to reap the benefits of having a digital identity.

This may seem obvious but I think it is one of the most important tips that I learned through this exercise. Creating and maintaining a digital identity is one of those “you get out what you put in” kind of deals. Now, I understand that some people may not feel comfortable exposing themselves to the public eye; I get that. However, I also think that in this day and age, in order to be “successful” (however you might quantify that) you must in some manner, share yourself with the public.

3. Have links to websites or blogs that have a similar theme and explore similar topics as the one you are interested in and presenting to the public.

Creating a web of websites hosted by like minded individuals who are exploring a similar topic allows for both the user and the reader to expand their network and knowledge for a topic.

4. Don’t necessarily be scared of using and exploring the benefits of social media. Utilizing social media as a platform through which you can network and connect with like-minded individuals with similar interests and passions is important and extremely helpful.

This kind of ties back to my second point. Don’t be scared about putting yourself out there in the digital world. With all the fear mongering around the NSA and hackers and all that stuff that could be central to a plot to a 1980s action movie, it is understandable that people might have some hesitation about creating a digital identity. To me however, the pros of creating something in which people can look to as a comprehensive summary of who I am far outweigh the cons.

5. Find blogs and forums that are related to things you are passionate and PARTICIPATE in those discussions.  

For all you lurkers on Reddit, this one is for you. Think of forums or blogs as a book club but instead of meeting in a living room with refreshments and finger foods, you sit in the comfort of you room at your computer with a club consisting of thousands upon thousands of people, each with their own experiences and ideas about the world. Actively participating with others regarding a topic that you all share together can be an extremely rewarding thing; one in which you are able to not only express your thoughts and beliefs but also where you can gain new insights and points of view.

 

The Ever-Looming Copyright Law

Copyright is something we all run into on a daily basis. Whether it be a video on YouTube or a new album that is only streamed on a certain website that is losing a lot of money (I’m looking at you Kanye and Tidal). It is often times something that we understand is important but do not fully understand the repercussions when we break it.

Exploring the History and Discussion sections on Wikipedia is like a whole new area of Wikipedia that I had zero idea existed. The History tab is kind of boring, showing only what small phrases were changed or sometimes what things were completely taken out because of poor citations. However, the Discussion tab was the cool part. Here, the contributors communicate with one another to discuss improvements for the topic. The first page I read was the featured article of the day about Chester A. Arthur, the 21st president of the United States. In the discussion, the contributors talked about what new information that could add based on new information that has come out about Arthur. I think it is this latter point that is the most important. The new information must be backed up and cited by historians or others relevant to the field of study. The copyright comes into play because this information needs to be cited correctly.

For my project, I think the Creative Commons “Attribution-ShareAlike” would work best. This license would allow others to take the work that my groups has done and tweak it or add onto it. However, the person who decides to work on the project further must do two things. One, they must properly credit my group and the work we have done. And two, they must use the same Creative Commons license in their work. I really like the second part of this license because it ensures that the spirit of the work is moving forward as more people work on it and leave it open for others to extend on their research and work.

Blog Post #3 – StoryMapJS and TimeLineJS Exercise

For this blog assignment, I decided to use the same information for both the map as well as the timeline. Last semester, I wrote my Senior Thesis on a Major League Baseball pitcher by the name of Dock Ellis. The basis of my argument was correlating him to the counterculture movement of the 1960s. I figured this would be a good topic for this assignment because obviously the length of an athlete’s career is finite which gives a good window to graph since it has a clear beginning and end.

I did have some trouble embedding both the map and the timeline into this post. I Googled some things and discovered that I needed a WordPress plugin named “iFrame” which enables WordPress to embed using a “shortcode” (at least that is how I interpreted it). Eventually I got it to work but there are still some things that I would like to change but I am just not exactly sure how. These changes, such as extending the bottom of the map so the text from the post does not cover up the “StoryMapJS” information at the bottom, are just minor tweaks so I am not too worried about them.

Both the map and the timeline contain the same basic information but the manner in which this information is communicated slightly changes the interpretation. The timeline does a good job of laying out the basics: when he played, who he played for during certain years, and other major events in his career such as the All Star Game and the LSD No-Hitter. The map on the other hand, while still conveying this same information, allows for a more visual experience in which the viewer can see the location of the events change. I do like the option of the timeline to include videos which I think for oral historians especially, would prove invaluable.

Personally, I prefer the timeline to the map. While making the map, the presentation of the information was clean and easy to read. However, after embedding it, the map becomes smushed together and as a result, loses some functionality and readability. For my project on the Civil War diary, I think the timeline would be the most beneficial since the change of location would probably be rare. I could possibly use each slide as a separate diary entry, have a picture of the scanned page of the diary, and then have the transcription in the text box.