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 Not only did I apply my skill of critically analyzing historical documents, but I also learned the importance of actively participating in the documents themselves.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.

Week 11: Update

We are making a lot of progress uploading metadata and images of the diaries to the site. Our group has been discussing and updating each other on how we are formatting our information so that there is a sense of consistency throughout the site. For example, we have chosen to use dates for the title of each diary page using the format of month, day, and year such as August 1st, 1862. We chose this format because it is similar to how Gordon titles most of his pages. To help us decide on information to add to the metadata we are using the Omeka Library guide that was made by Carolyn Parsons in special collections. The only major issue we have had is that when we started uploading images they were not showing up but that issue has been resolved.

I am still trying to find the pension record on Stephan Gordon but the national archives that should have it takes several weeks to get the copy back to you and also it costs money. At this point, I think having the index record that I found included in the page about Gordon would be beneficial because interested people could do further research to track down his pension based on the information on the index record.

We have a lot of work ahead of us still but I think we are making good progress and I personally am learning a lot about the decisions a group has to make when formatting information because everyone can do it their own way.

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

Week 8: Digital Resume and Update

I created my resume with the idea that it could be used by potential employers to see my work in a professional and creative way. My site includes an about page, examples of my research, a resume timeline and a pdf version of my resume. The research projects I have included are focused around the study of the art and history of early modern Europe because I would like to pursue something related to that field. My resume timeline has pictures and information about my work and educational experience. I also have a slideshow with my photos from my travels. I chose my header photo (Hampton Court Palace) because I am a very interested in English Tudor and Stuart history. I chose the colors because I thought they matched the picture.

http://research.jamesstewartumw.org/

I started developing a bibliography for our site so that we can start working on how we want to cite our sources for our project. I am also using this information for the timeline as well as information we are finding about Steven Gordon. Are main goal for the next few weeks is to  upload the image files and enter metadata.

 

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.

 

Five Lessons Learned About Digital Identity

After reading and exploring Jess Reingold’s web site: http://jessicareingold.com/, Footprints in the Digital Age by Will Richardson, and Who Owns the Digital You? (Three Parts), I learned these lessons about digital identity:

  1. There is the “real-you” and the “digital-you” but they are interconnected.
  2. Your digital self can be larger than your real self because of the amounts of bytes.
  3. Oversharing or creating too much of a digital presence could jeopardize your privacy.
  4. Your digital identity is a way for you to express yourself while communicating and collaborating with the outside world. You can create an online resume or portfolio that shows your interest and experience and you can talk to friends, family and even strangers.
  5. It is up to the individual what and how much of a digital identity a person wants to have depending on how much they want to share and communicate.

The Importance of Digital Indentity

I already had some familiarity with looking at digital identity constructively. In a project I did recently in another class I examined blogging and as a piece of that I looked at the way Mary Washington students and staff, as well as others shape their digital identities. This exercise pushed those thoughts I have already been forming further into understanding digital identity.

1 Digital Identity needs to start young

I’ve heard it before but in Will Richardson’s article,“Footprints in a Digital Age”,  he put it blatantly that he worried about his young children’s digital identity. I’ve always thought that collage age and up is when people really start structuring their digital identities purposefully it surprised me that we should think about from early childhood.

 

2 With the internet people can find anything

In the Wired article about Evan Ratliff I was surprised just how much information people could find on him. The collective “everyone” always tells you to be careful what you have online because it can always been found however I never understood how deeply this “everything” went. (How do you find someones cat sitter for instance?)

 

3 Google has the power

The majority of the time when someone goes to look you up they plug your name into Google and see what comes up. This is a continual process that I have been a part of too. When I got my random college roommate freshman year the first thing I did was google her and was concerned because I found almost nothing. The blog post, Personal branding in the age of Google reaffirmed this feeling. When you want to hire someone you Google them whatever comes up gives you an instant opinion of a person.

 

4 It is important (and necessary) to build networks

In “Footprints in a Digital Age” there is a discussion about how not only are networks important but the way we shape them as well. I particularly felt that the concept of creating a network that challenges you to grow and gives you other view points was an important point. It can be easy to form a comfortable network of praise online but listening to opposition can be productive in some ways.

 

5 Control over your digital identity is important.

Prior to this assignment I had already come to this conclusion through the other articles and discussions I have had with people.  The articles however served to further confirm my opinion. How you use digital identity and how others perceive you is important. It gives potential employers and total strangers a snapshot into who you are and making sure you are the author of that image is increasingly important.

Wikipedia and Copyright

I mostly looked at Wikipedia pages about British history. Overall, the more popular topic of history such as “Henry VIII” had more comments and the less known topic had fewer comments. Many of the conversations seem to get very heated such as the spelling of “Stewart” in the “House of Stuart” page. Sometimes the comments were very aggressive urging the writer of the edit to produce a source to back up their argument. Many of the edits and comments seemed genuine and brought up some good issues. I was happy to find that most of the edits that were not correct were rejected which I thought was good. Although details of most of the topics are lacking the Wikipedia pages I looked at provide a good overview of historical events and people.

I am not sure exactly how we could use Creative Commons for our project. We could CC our scans so that people can reuse them for educational purposes but I assume we should discuss that with the National Park Service since they own the diaries. According to chapter seven of Cohen and Rosenzweig it says that we do not need to place a copyright notice on our work which I agree with since in our about page we can clearly layout who we are and our project. One thing I could see us having a copyright discussion about is anything (images, videos, etc.) we use from the National Park Service but since we are helping them by digitizing their diaries I don’t think it will be an issue.

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.