Creative Commons

After looking at the History tab of several Wikipedia articles, I notice that a lot of updates tend to be around the same time.  One day may have eight different updates/edits while another day may have none at all.  Another thing I noticed is that most edits are small (change grammar/wording) while other edits are bigger and required discussion.  Some edits were completely reversed after other users claimed that everything must be discussed when making an edit.  On the discussion page, there were many suggestions to improve the articles by adding various people, events, etc.  That said, it looked like any regular internet forum where everyone gets into fights over little details and users throw the rules at each other claiming that the page should/should not be edited because they (the user arguing) is in the right because of whatever their argument is.


Looking over the different Creative Commons Licenses, I believe our project would benefit most from the “Attribution” license given that the National Park Service may want to change something later after we finish (but since I cannot be sure what, this provides them with freedom to edit what they may want to).  Of course, if the NPS would prefer this license, it will be their job to make sure all of the information is accurate.  Copyrights should not pose much problem since we are only working with historical documents which we already have permission to scan, transcribe, and upload.  At this point we have no intention of using anything licensed at all so there is currently no need to address any copyrights.

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.

Project Video?

There was no prompt for an entry this week so I will write the first thing that came to mind.

Recently we learned about different ways video can be used to express a message without actually saying anything.  What I wonder is: “Is there any way we can use a video in our project of digitizing letters?”  At a first glance, the answer is no; mainly because we are only looking at letters and I am a computer science major who would not consider the historical aspect of the project (which is really what the project is about).  At a first glance to anyone who is not me, the answer is yes; there are many historical reenactments around Fredericksburg and if any of them have recorded a video about an event in the Civil War that coincides with one of the letters we are looking at, then we can use their video in our site (with their permission as necessary).  My group also talked about museums downtown that we could go to with a video camera to record different exhibits.  We could record them in such a way that it would appear to the viewer as if they themselves were feeling the exhibit or were looking up at a superior or across from a field of weapons.  Maybe we could even record the letters themselves as if the viewer was reading them while they were being read aloud by voice-over.

So after giving it good thought there are plenty of ways we could incorporate a video in our project that I had not considered until recently.  We could give a new angle to see these written letters and do more than have people read them off of their computer.  Granted, I do not know if we will actually do any of this but having this option open could lead to an interesting final project.

knightlab Timeline + Map


<iframe src=’//′ width=’100%’ height=’650′ frameborder=’0′></iframe>

(If the above looks like html, there is a link to the timeline below)


(I could not find a way to embed my Map so here is a URL linking to it).


For the most part, the two tools were easy to use.  The timeline simply required dates and from there I could enter any information I wanted as well as pictures or youtube videos (though I chose not to).  The map was basically the same; enter a location and then any information I want to go along with it.  My main issue with both tools though, is that I expected them to work together but they did not.  If both tools are made by knightlab, it should make sense that I should only have to enter the data once and the two tools could work together and create one smooth timeline/map.  Since they do not work together like this, it may be better to just pick one tool for a project based on if location or general information is more important. (If they do somehow work together and I am not seeing it, then I would like for knightlab to make it clearer that they do work together.)

Creative tool uses

(First, quick apology, I thought I linked the ADH category so I don’t know why my DGST 101 post appeared when I did not even link it.  I’ll look into this later but it may end up reposted to ADH site.)

With various plugins, WordPress can be used as not just a personal reflection, but reflections of other various other things, such as commerce (Amazon or customer feedback) or a blog between many people (like the ADH site).  I have never used Omeka before but after looking at the other sites, it looks like it can display timelines and annotations, map to other pages (inside the same domain and other sites such as Youtube), and Omeka sites can play avi files and different kinds of music.

My group will probably make use of the timelines and annotations and our project will probably be very similar to the Emile Davis Diaries site but we will find a way to personalize it and make it our own.

Digital History Websites

Valley of the Shadow:
Pros: Everything is organized very well, there are links all over the site that direct to pages that go more in depth about what was clicked on, and there is a title page detailing what the site is about before actually going into the details.
Cons: Some pages are very long, uninteresting font and no background, there is only one link to the title page but the graphic to the link is deceptively at the top of every page

Map Scholar:
Pros:  Posts are organized chronologically and when viewing a post, one can click to the next and previous post.  There is a sidebar that (almost) consistently displays the same information
Pro/con: There is an archive organizing every post made but dates are irregular and there may be only one post in one month.
Cons: Links look exactly like the rest of the text (not clear what is a link and what is not), some posts are just pictures with little/no information.

Emile Davies Diaries:
Pros: Every page has the same layout throughout the site, pop-up annotations appear for some additional details, two kinds of menus (drop down and scroll), scrolling menu does not change page, scans of diaries can be enlarged, and while scrolling down page, the menu at top of the screen stays at the top of the screen.
Cons: When “Davis” was searched, the “About this Site” post returned as a result and when clicking to enlarge picture, picture is not enlarged much (but it is good resolution).

Imagining the Past:
Pros: Timeline can be dragged and specific dates can be selected and menus at the top and bottom are consistent throughout the three main sections of the site.
Cons: Wasted white space on the sides (and bottom on some pages), drop down menu has space between options, menu suboptions appear before first option is highlighted, some subsections are completely empty, some pictures are not centered and waste space by all appearing on the left, broken links, the main sections of the sites are not connected to each other except for the home page, and it appears as though each main section was done by a different person and there was no editor to make each section look the same.

Virtual Paul’s Cross Project:
Pros: Everything is organized well, drop down menus are done well and consistent menu/picture at the top of each page.
Cons: Overview starts with a quote while it is not clear that it is a quote (I thought they misspelled “hours”), there is a map that lets me “choose a location” with some amount of people that does not do anything when I click an option, there is an ambient noise page that does not add anything to the site, urls do not show the menu option that was selected, and some links change the current tab while other links open new tabs.


Main takeaways: Consistency is important, annotations help to give additional details/clarification, clearly distinguish links from the rest of text, if something seems irrelevant, keep it out, make things easy for the user, make sure all links work, and display pages and transcription at same time but allow user to see larger picture of page.


Intro post(?)

This post is being written for my DGST 101 class which wants me to introduce the blog I am using and my home page.  As I have been using WordPress for over a year and a half, coupled with the fact that I am using WordPress in other classes at the same time, I will be sticking with it.  In order to separate posts for this class from other posts, I have created a separate category for this class.

I have also made a change to the home page so that it now talks about me as opposed to displaying recent posts.  I will post more using this category in the future but there is not much else for now.

Adventures in Digital History

Hey guys!  My name is Matthew Gaughan and I am a Comp Sci major and Digital Studies minor.  The first reason I signed up for this class was to fill the capstone requirement for my minor.  The second reason was because I wanted to learn more about older technology and what people did with their old computers and how it led to what we use today.  I think the class will also help my future career if I have a major digitization project on my resume.  In any case I look forward to working with you all!