Final project update / preview

1-1The hard part is over! I finished my sculpture on Sunday, I waited cautiously for everything to set and the glue to dry for a day before calling it. Today I focused on getting the 3D imaging done. It was a little daunting, and as I write this my phone is currently analyzing all the images. I was surprised to find out that the maximum allowed shots for any given image is 70, so I’m crossing my fingers that the images I took once complied will be sufficient to produce a detail model. I hope to be able to tweak and clean up the model tonight before calling it finished. I also took photos throughout my process this weekend that I’d like to share on a separate post so I’ll be doing that as well as finishing my reflection tonight.

I’m feeling positive about the way things are coming together. I’m going to hope that the 3D model doesn’t give me too much trouble, and that’s really my only concern about now, I expect to complete everything tonight. I’m excited to present my work to the class tomorrow as well as see everyone else’s projects!

 

Here is a little preview, I don’t want to give too much away 🙂

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Project update: construction

For the construction stage I have been doing some more planing and research into the anatomy of hands, below are the guides I have chosen to help me with this project. I think I’m going to follow the bone structure model more closely than the muscle or vein guides. I’m going to try not to be too critical of the “accuracy” as I go and aim for the overall impression to be recognizable hands.

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Today Sat. 3rd I’ve set aside all afternoon and tonight if need be, to make major changes and hopefully finish most of this piece. I’ll try to remember to post another update/ preview pictures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Proposal revision/ final

Project Proposal : Our “Hands”

By Kimberly Carbajo

Executive Summary

In short, I plan to create a sculpture to address my feelings on our digital culture, specifically the internet as our peripheral and the keyboard as a symbol through how we interact with this virtual interface through our hands and physical touch. I will attempt to make this piece with little other than the repurposed parts of the keyboard itself, and model it on human anatomy. In addition I will use 3D imaging tools to accompany the sculpture and give both a physical and interactive  perspective. My goal is 2 part, to complete this project as originally imagined, and to have it create a conversation on the individual’s relationship/ use of tech as a peripheral.

Rationale

The purpose of this project is to explore the link that exists between technology and the individual. As one of our five senses our hands are how we explore the world through touch yet one could argue that technology has made us lose touch with reality. In our readings for this course, as well as other material from previous DGST courses, I have been motivated to explore the relationship between the “self” and the gadgets we use to transport ourselves physically or virtually to catch a glimpse of something new. In the novel we read this semester William Gibson’s “The Peripheral”, I was drawn to the idea of a peripheral itself  as virtual sensory device. I asked myself how we have been affected by our own technology, albeit rudimentary in comparison to the novel’s, today. It occurred to me that we have been using the internet as our peripheral since it was created, but the keyboard specifically, has acted as the link that has physically connected us to this virtual world. With this in mind, I aim to create a sculpture made almost entirely from the parts of a keyboard that resembles the human anatomy of hands. In the process I hope to continue to question the relationship and digital culture between man, machine and peripheral, and hopefully provoke others to ask even more questions and reflect on their own feelings/ relationship with tech. My audience for this project would be other students and faculty within the Comm & Digital studies major and anyone else who is interested in the subject.

Risks and Rewards

As I undertake this project I have come across some risks that should be addressed. One of them is that I can tend to be overzealous in the imagination stage of a project but have trouble with the execution. I’m very excited to explore this theme and would hate to have to downgrade or swap out any ideas to compensate for lack of skill and time. I think my second biggest challenge will be sourcing the materials and deciding how to best use them. This will very much be a “learn-as-I-go” type of project, and I’m hoping that my crafty side will come in handy. On the other hand if I am successful and able to overcome these obstacles I will immediately benefit from having brought a creation that started off as a far-fetched daydream to life. I also hope that my classmates will benefit from the variation of my project and my hope is to at the very least elicit some type of response from them, whether positive to to construction or even if they find the sculpture grotesque, I hope it will make them pause and think.

Resources

For this project I will need:

  • 2 (very basic) keyboards
  • Dremel drill & smaller drill
  • Set of pliers
  • Interchangeable screwdriver
  • Wires and nails/ bolts
  • Craft glue ex. E6000
  • Safety goggles, dust mask, gloves

Skills / software:

I’m familiar with using drills and other equipment to make jewelry, and I’m not afraid to break things apart so I’m hoping I’ll be able to adapt these skills to this project. I’m also planning to use a 3D imaging app to create an interactive way to display the finished piece. The app is called 123D catch and I will be using my phone as well as my laptop to render and tweak the images.

Time commitments:

Once I have sourced and have all my materials I think the biggest obstacle will be the deconstruction and construction days. I will have to set aside time in between classes and during the weekends to do most of this work, and some of it might be a little noisy so I will have to do it during the day. Most if not all of this will take place in my dorm, as I don’t have, or know of an on campus location where I could do the bulk of the crafting, because of this I do have to conscious of when I do most of the work.

Schedule

Between now and Dec 6. I plan to have each of these stages completed

  • Plan day (completed)
  • Deconstruction day  (completed)
  • Construction  day  (in progress)
  • Finishing touches –  3rd-4th
  • 3D imaging day  – 4th-5th
  • Presentation – Dec 6th

Assessment

I will know this project is successful if I can manage to make my vision into a reality be presenting a morphing of the human anatomy and technology. If I am successful, I hope to present a piece both physically and digitally on Dec 6th that represents this theme. I think the fair way to grade this project would be a division between effort/ execution how much time and skill I put into the piece and secondly, your own personal reaction to it, specifically if it succeeds or fails to provoke questions or  discussion.

Progress Report

So far I’ve fully completed two of the 5 stages of my project. The first stage was planing which I took a bit longer than expected with as I was figuring out how to best approach my concept. I think I have a solid foundation now and it has alleviated some of the stress to know that I have also thought of a few back up solutions in case problems arise. I was also able to source the rest of my materials during thanksgiving break, the most important of which were the two keyboards. I ended up caving and purchasing them from Walmart at $10 a piece. The second stage was the deconstruction phase of the project in which I took apart one of the keyboards and made further plans about how to incorporate the pieces into my design. This part was fairly quick, and since then I have been able to jump into stage 3 which is construction. I hope to be done with the bulk of my sculpture on or before Saturday which would give me the weekend to finish steps 4-5 finishing touches and 3D imaging. I want to work ahead of course in case any issues or setbacks come up. Worst case I want to be able to run to the store and buy whatever in need in an emergency.

Below are some photos of the materials I’m using and some from the deconstruction stage.

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Why I am Learning Programing / Introduction

Introduction notes:

I was pleasantly relieved after reading the introduction for this textbook to learn about the unique approach to coding, or what the author Nick Montfort refers to as the “creative potential of computer computation” I’m genuinely interested in how we’ll explore computation as part of our culture and possibly get a chance to reflect that in our semester projects. I was also glad to learn that this text was produced with students in mind and not for individuals who might already have some prior coding experience. Although I have attempted to learn coding in the past I’m grateful for the refresher and would like to take baby steps back into this realm. I’m also very intrigued by the authors claim to lay a different foundation for beginners that focuses on a more “Artistic and humanistic inquiry” which really calls my attention as a creative person who likes to build and tear things apart to better understand how they work. Overall I think the introduction did a nice job of conveying Montfort’s approach and soothing my own fears about revisiting coding.

Why I’m learning:

My history with CompSci and programming has honestly been a rocky one. As a Comm. and digital studies major I’ve attempted twice to take some variation of an intro course for computer science and haven’t had much success. I’ve always been interested in the process but find that the classes I’ve taken move too fast for me even at the beginner level. I think my biggest problem is that I get easily overwhelmed by how complex some of the languages like Python can be and like the quote from the introduction stated “Unless you can think about the way computers solve problems, you can’t even know how to ask the questions that need to be answered.” This pretty much sums up my biggest dilemma; I’m much more of a hands on tactile learner and with coding I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how it all comes together on the screen. On the other hand I have no problem fiddling away with HTML or CSS. I’ve spent pretty much all of my adolescence up until now toying with building and designing webpages so it has always been a source of frustration for me that coding has been so difficult to learn. I’m optimistic about this new approach though, which like the author mentioned I had never considered before as an area where both the computing and arts/ humanities could be blended. Thinking about it again after reading the introduction, it sounds like the type of approach that would best benefit someone like myself who would like to learn the basics so that I could enhance other projects and avoid the stress I’ve felt in the past about having to undertake an entirely new language. The way the author talks about his guided approach was very reassuring and reminded me of the saying “a mile wide and an inch deep” since we’ll be covering a few languages and techniques.

Goals:

One of my goals, and probably the most important one, is to stay on top of all the readings for this book. Now that I have a copy I plan on catching up and staying ahead of the readings so that I have enough time to digest the material. I’m usually a fast reader, but I know there will be parts in this textbook that I might have to read several times before I feel like I’ve fully grasped the concept. I will own that time management has always been a slight struggle for me and since this will be my third time approaching programming, albeit from a new angle, I’d really like to not hinder myself by falling behind and playing catch-up this semester.  Another goal of mine would be to create something worthwhile using the tools in this book. I’m excited about the artistic element to this upcoming project and I’d really like to come up with something unique that reflects both what we’ve learned in class and tests my imagination.

Project reflection & semester review

This semester has been a very tech-oriented one for me and I was happy to be able to put those skills into practice along with my team for our project. The mission statement definition of our project in a broad sense, was to digitize the Civil War letters of Montgomery Slaughter and George Murray. In our contract we outlined several milestones and assigned each other roles to help keep us organized. In the end although we missed a few milestones, I feel that we created a fully rounded space to house these documents. The only area in which I feel we are presently lacking is in advertising. Our group worked steadily from the finalization of our contract, to fixing edits until our symposium presentation to create a worthy website, but I think all this energy may have exhausted us and taken away some time to advertise before the event. Looking back at our contract I think most of my team would agree that we were a little ambitious with our goals, but I think that worked in our favor because even though we sometimes found ourselves in a time-crunch to make up for passed deadlines, in the end the website turned out to be more than just an online archive but also a digital museum in my opinion.

In the group planning stages we envisioned this website as a good primary resource for those interested in Fredericksburg Civil war history, and I think we accomplished that goal very well. I have to mention that I was/ am very proud of the teamwork within my group. I’m not sure if it was due to the survey we initially completed before the start of the semester (I think that was a great idea!) but we ended up having a good balance of skills, Breck and Kathleen as History majors, were already familiar working with primary documents and citations, which really benefited us the entire semester. In addition, Matthew and I brought varying levels of technical skill and experience working with coding and website design which we consistently used as well throughout the semester.

I think the most challenging part for my team was the actual digitization of the letters themselves because it was the most time consuming. I was responsible primarily for the scanning of the Murray letters, and his biographical page on our site. Kathleen and I spent the first weeks of the semester scanning letters, and then the whole team was responsible for uploading and including the correct metadata for a selection of letters. My own contributions leaned more to the technical and creative side of the project. Within the website I worked on configuring our theme on Omeka and the individual page designs for our website. I also created some original art for our homepage including a banner and the decorative image of Murray and Slaughter. One of the biggest challenges I had was figuring out exactly what kind of beast Omeka was. I’m not used to working with websites that are more restrictive, but the experience helped my test myself in working around a problem to find unconventional solutions. One example of this is the image galleries I created to display separate images in both the Slaughter and Murray bios; I would have liked something a little fancier, but it serves its purpose.  In the final weeks I also collaborated with Kathleen to make an introductory video for our website. It was an experience, that I won’t forget soon, after 11 hours in the video editing lab I think both of us walked away with new skills. Ultimately though I feel it’s a nice and necessary addition because it summarizes everything that our website represents in a concise way.

In closing, I’m very pleased with the final product and the experiences I’ve had in this class. I hope our website and the depth of information it holds become a good resource and add to the historical Civil War community in Fredericksburg.

Group update

This week has been very productive for my group. We are nearly done with our website, which makes me really happy as it’s been a a tough process getting the pages to look exactly as we envisioned. I can say that it’s tested my resourceful-ness especially with the image gallery I wanted to include for both Slaughter and Murray’s introductory bios. I couldn’t alter the HTML in a way that would allow  me to integrate an image slider into the pages so I created small icons for the images I wanted to include and attached links to them that redirected to “secret” pages where I could host the image at it’s original size and provide captions.

see ex: http://slaughtermurray.umwhistory.org/slaughter

Yesterday I also joined my group mate Kathleen to record the introduction video for the website which we’re hoping to have done by next Thursday. Otherwise things are coming along well, my other group members are continuing to record some more letters this week and our StoryMap is almost complete. Other than some more website fine-tuning these are the three major things we hope to complete by the project due date. It’s amazing how fast the weeks seem to be racing by at this point.

Thoughts on readings

For this weeks reading I found that one important principle for the future of digital humanities seems to be how to use technology to make information more accessible. In one of the articles I read “Zotero: Social and Semantic Computing for Historical scholarship” it was stated that the library of congress contains over a million academic dissertations, but much of this information is typically buried within itself due to it’s size and depth. The task is to make all the information easier to organize, share and discover and this is where program concepts like social computing via del.icio.us, or Zotero come in handy. I am already familiar with Zotero, having used it for previous research assignments, and there are many aspects to it that I find useful such as being able to store and share information from your personal collection with others via it’s cloud website.

A similar article I read which stressed the importance of incorporating new tools was by Amanda Grace Sikarskie called “Citizen Scholars: Facebook and the Co­creation of Knowledge” and focused on the new role of the historian or “Citizen scholars” (non-traditional academics) in using social media as a tool for historical research. In her example she mentions a Facebook fan page for quilts she managed and how she would regularly post questions for followers to answer. In this she explains how within the online community of quilt enthusiasts a broad scope of information was shared but also returned and analyzed by this online collective :

“Social media shifts the role of authority from being vested solely in a historical cultural domain, such as the museum or the university history department, to being shared with a community- or user-generated body of information that is critiqued within the community.” (Sikarskie)

I personally agree that this shift is a good thing for the future of digital history, as was mentioned in a previous class  Wikipedia used to hold little academic standing but that has changed in the last few years. Likewise, I believe social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are going to be further adopted into digital history methodologies because they offer accessibility in both their reach and organization of information.

 

Project update

This past week our website has really begun to take shape. Working with Omeka has been an experience. I think my biggest challenge has been assuming that editing the web interface would be as easy as in WordPress, and while I value the archival elements that Omeka has, I wish a better option existed that blended the best elements from the two platforms together.  So far my biggest issue with Omeka is getting the homepage configurations right. There seems to be some presets to the main tables on the page which I’m hoping to get around by possibly creating a new page and linking that as the new homepage instead of using the default option.

Another issue I’ve had this past week is sourcing images to highlight the content we already have. I was able to find a a great painting by Carl Rochling of the battle of Fredericksburg which I used as a backdrop and then layered a slightly transparent copy of one of Murray’s letters. I think this new banner gives a good sense of what our website contains, and the personal/ intimate feel that we’re going for. I also attempted to create an image of for our site introduction by combining both the Murray and Slaughter photographs, but I mistakenly forgot to account for the Union flag, which is incorrect in the image. I’m going to email our contact Luisa from the national park service and hopefully she can point me in the right direction as to picking a more accurate flag for the time.

This week my main goal will be completing/ revising page aesthetics and getting the skeleton of our website in order so that our group can organize our information in a clearer more definite way.

Digital Resume

The last few days I’ve been working on revising both my resume and domain of one’s own to resemble more of a digital portfolio of my cumulative work at UMW thus far. Admittedly I  spent quite a lot of time on the aesthetics of the site itself. I’m a fan of  minimalist style but I also wanted my site to be customizable  so that I could include widgets like an “about me” and icon links to my other social media accounts. It was tough to find a layout that worked, but I’m happy with the current results, although I’m sure after my presentation today in class I will be tweaking a few things. I have already included a “projects” page which has a few selected digital media projects, unfortunately I don’t have anything substantial to show for my second German major yet, but that should change in the fall after I have completed my honors thesis. I have also included both a text and link to a copy of my resume / CV in the menu bar. I think I’ll continue to edit my resume since this assignment has given me the opportunity to really overhaul the information I previously had down. I’ll be planing to use my resume in the Fall and the university’s upcoming internship fair, so this updated website will also be a good asset to have for the near future.