Category: Uncategorized

Progress: Cold War Constructs and How They Relate to the Bond Films

I’ve finally decided on a platform – WordPress. The simplicity of the layout, the editing tools available, and the interface all prove to be most effective in displaying my project. We’ve used WordPress before, but I had never spent much time playing with certain features or other tools.

After deciding on the layout, I began getting to work. I changed up the theme, font size, font color, the header image, the site icon, and much more.

My project, which can be viewed here, aims to provide evidence that shows the connection between the James Bond films and the social/political constructs at the time of production. Out of all 24 (well, 27 if you include the films not produced by Eon Productions), I tailored down a list of six films that I will use in order to establish these connections, all of which is mentioned in the synopsis of my project, on the project’s website.

Some challenges i’ve had in my work so far is StoryMaps. I haven’t worked with StoryMaps before, so when I tried integrating a blank map onto my WordPress page just to see if ti would work, I found myself confused and I ultimately gave up. I’ll have to come back to StoryMaps seeing how it is an essential part of my project, but for the time being the challenges it’s given me have been too much to focus my time on.

This would just add to the list of changes I’ve had to make to my project since the thought first arose. I was originally going to try and compare all 24 James Bond films to their social counterparts in society, but doing so would have taken much more time than I have to work on the project. Since I had to scrap my original plan, I came up with a new idea. I decided to just choose six films instead of 24. And instead of focusing on the general cultural reactions the movies had, I decided to shift focus on the relationships between the films and the era of the Cold War/Space Race. This way, I will still be able to influence the reader to analyze the James Bond films, but I can do so using a more time-efficient method.

 

Another change that I’ve had to make to my project is shifting my focus. As I briefly mentioned, I shifted focus from a broad view of the cultural constructs to the way that the Bond films respond to larger problems created by the Cold War and Space Race. This was harder to do because it meant that my list of films decreased. There were only a certain amount of films produced within the ten-year span that I’m covering. Fortunately for me; however, I have already picked specific scenes that are going to help further my exploration.

Progress: The MTA as a Model for Positive Corporate Propaganda

My website hosting this project is live and can be viewed at any time at https://jacksnyderdh.wordpress.com/

My projects purpose is to highlight a subtle aspect of New York City life that I find intriguing – the MTA’s advertisements. These advertisements work as a positive form of corporate propaganda to build a sense of community amongst riders, reinforce continued use of the subway, and unconsciously and subconsciously promote better ecological habits. This project examines a handful of advertisements to break down how the MTA does this and the impacts these advertisements have on riders. I also conclude my project by suggesting that others could emulate the MTA’s types of advertisements for a number of reasons that benefit both the company and its target audience.

This project adapts traditional humanities work by analyzing the inner workings of how the MTA establishes a unified community of commuters, exposing and unpacking some factors that hold the subway riders together in the community, and suggesting how this community could be replicated by others.

Traditional work in humanities could not analyze photos like I plan on doing in this project. The digital tools I am using (WordPress, StoryMapJS, Photoshop) allow me to make an intuitive platform for graphical analysis that could not be achieved as well on a non-digital platform. The one-page homepage format of navigating my topic also allows for more fluid ingestion and perusal of the information contained than could be grasped from skimming a research paper or a book. Aside from benefits to presentation, these digital tools allow for a wider sphere of access to my project. In paper format, it would be difficult to find a publisher to spread my ideas to others. An easily sharable website allows for widespread distribution and direct engagement with the readers through comments or my contact form.

I had touched on this earlier, but by the end of my project I hope that my readers can understand how the MTA builds and maintains such a strong and ecologically aware community through advertisement, and can be able to see similar elements and methodologies in other types of advertisements in order to appreciate them as positive. The project concludes that other companies can attempt to replicate such a style of positive corporate propaganda with advertisements on the internet or on television to the benefit of the company, their consumers, and the environment.

There are a lot of toxic commercials in our world and on the internet that leverage stereotypes, gender norms, unhealthy attitudes, or other unethical means to sell a product. I hope that through this project, readers will be able to differentiate positive advertisements from toxic advertisements, understand how positive corporate propaganda can benefit both the provider and the consumer, and will leave with an increased ecological and communal awareness that positively influences their lifestyle and mindset.

 

The site is designed to be fully experienced from the homepage, although there is a quick links tab on the left side of the page to provide hyperlinks to the introduction, each individual advertisement, and the conclusion. I chose this homepage format because I think it lends itself to the natural progression of analyzing photographs as well as keeping all the main information centralized and easily digestible.

The about section will be filled with a general outline of my process through making the website and the final list of tools used. The references tab contains MLA formatted references to the photos, informational resources  and digital tools used throughout the project. The contact section is a simple form to send me an email.

When clicking onto a single section from the homepage, the site redirects you to the individual post and allows for sharing options, leaving a comment or response, and shows the titles of both the previous and next section, with links to each respective one’s individual post. I think its important to have a comments section for each individual post so that readers can interact with me and each other on the topic of the subject matter. Each of the posts can also be edited and updated if there is something worth adding later on, making it easy for me to update the website and keep it up to date.

 

One problem I had was the need to find a good theme in WordPress that lends itself well to a one-page design and allows for showcasing photos in that one-page design. There are a finite amount of free WordPress themes, and it is quite easy to preview them with posts you have made already, so I was able to privately upload a number of posts and see how various formats handled the simple text and photo combinations. I eventually settled on the WordPress team’s theme “Twenty Fifteen” due to the simple solid color background, clean side bar, and the clarity each post had from another while showing the full text and photos.

Another problem was figuring out how to annotate my photos in a more intuitive and interactive way than just referencing parts of the photos in the text. I initially considered using an image map generator or the HTML <map> tag, although these are highly antiquated, non-user friendly, and unintuitive methods for annotating photos. Next I considered simple photoshopping of the photos with arrows or isolating elements and inserting them in-text. This can always be an idea I return to for highly important elements of the advertisements, but working with these pieces of the photos while still editing the text analysis for each photo makes it difficult to keep re-editing and orienting the elements properly in the text as I develop my ideas. Finally, I had tried using StoryMap JS earlier  in the semester to make annotations on my photos instead of a map, but I found trouble with the interface and could not figure out how to replace the map. I picked the effort back up after Dr. Schacht showed me a website proving that this was possible. I am currently making no headway on getting this to work, but it is ideal for what I want to do so I will be figuring it out.

A final problem I am having is finding good stock photos to include in my about section, references section, and contact form. Right now they are the theme’s default photos, but I plan on finding different cool stock photos related to subways or the environment or communities or something of the sort. I did use photoshop to combine a photo of a green earth and the MTA logo to make a logo for my site (shown left) which is featured on the top left of the homepage and in the site’s icon.

Through working on this project I have gained a better sense of how to work with WordPress, learned what HTML <map> tags are and why they are obsolete, and developed my understanding of aspects of graphical construction in building an easy to browse website. I also learned that there is a lot of information on the internet to help with any digital tool you need, so resorting to a google search is nothing to be ashamed of.

What made the Dead so Great?

Throughout the semester so far I have been conducting research for my project that is about the Grateful Dead. My goal for this project is to see what influenced each band member and why they decided to go through with music and being a “rockstar” when most people they came across in their early life told them that music will always be just a hobby, you could never make a real living out of it. Little did they know the Grateful Dead would soon destroy this image of rockstars.

When Professor Schacht introduced the project to us, I had this huge and truly great idea for a digital project. My first thought was to go through psychedelic rock as a whole and discover where the influences came to start this new genre of music. I sat down and thought to myself a little and thought about how much time I will have to complete this project if I go through with it and I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be too smart for me to try and figure out where this new genre of music came from, there just wouldn’t be enough time. My idea came from this book I am currently reading called, “Deal” by Bill Kreutzmann (drummer for the Dead).

 Newly constructed Goal

One of my favorite bands is the Grateful Dead and to sit down and do a project about them for school is just an added bonus for me to do. I have three main goals for this project. My first is figuring out what influenced each band member to be able to accomplish what they had done.I am currently doing research, which I have been doing for some time now, and I am figure out what each influenced each band member from Jerry Garcia to Donna Godchaux. My second goal is me working along side with Kirk Anne. He is helping me with my middle part of my project which is about text analysis. My last goal is to see the influence the “deadhead” community has had on the future generations. There are people like me and a lot of my friends that will never have the opportunity to hear Jerry play music, but for some reason we are just as much “deadheads” as the people from the past generations.

Lyrics of the Dead

Kirk is helping me with another aspect to my project. He took every Grateful Dead song and and examined their lyrics. He ran them through a database called “azlyrics.com”. My next step for this part is to compare their lyrics and style of music to modern groups and bands. I gave him a list of couple of modern bands. The list is, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Dr. Dog, The Dove and The Wolf, and My Morning Jacket. The two main groups focus on are Phish and Dave Matthews Band. The Grateful Dead started the Jam Band movement. Without them jamming wouldn’t have been around for a while. 

This semester I am taking Music 291 with Dr. Kimball. This course is about folk music and mainly about Woody Guthrie and who he influenced. Woody Guthrie happened to have a slight influence on several band members in the Dead. This course ends off with a look on Bob Dylan and what he did for folk, blues and country. Also the dead toured with Dylan a couple of times and had impacts of each others careers.

My most stressful part is yet to come. I am a little behind most people because I have not set up a website yet. I am planning on using either Omeka or wordpress. As of right now I am leaning towards wordpress because I have a little experience with it and it is easy for me to navigate my way through.

My digital aspect to this project comes with the interaction one will be able to do when going through and reading this site. Throughout my research there have been many facts and interviews that are best explained by the person himself and not me. Like the project that I found in the beginning of the semester about indigenous LA I would like to have video clips of  what band members are saying about their own music. Along with that since my focus is their influences and what type of music they listened to growing up or what attracted them to the drums for the first time I am planning on inserting little audio clips of music. For example, when the Grateful Dead were The Warlocks, at first, they did not use electronic instruments, they were just a bluegrass band, that is it. Then came the introduction of these bizarre instruments that they seem to enjoying.

 

Historical Homestead

As the homepage of my Omeka site states, the overall goal of Historical Homestead is to utilize “virtual representations of the objects and rooms of the Wadsworth Homestead” to ” illustrate a larger connection between the Wadsworth family and Geneseo, Livingston County, and American history.” By examining select rooms and objects within the estate, I hope to draw connections from the founding family of Geneseo to larger contexts in history.

Initially, I set out to simply create a virtual representation of the Wadsworth Homestead. I have been conducting research on the remarkable home for my ARTH 288 course, Introduction to Museum Studies, and wanted to do more with this piece. Inspired by the virtual tours I have seen on museum websites like the Frick Collection and the Uffizi Gallery, I wanted to explore this approach with the Homestead. In addition, I wanted to highlight certain objects of the Wadsworths to better tell their story. This is a common aspect in other virtual tours in museums, allowing visitors the opportunity to click and explore more about an object.

The Frick Collection’s virtual tour of the Library. Notice how the desk is highlighted, meaning there is additional information that the user can click on.

After talking with Kirk Anne, we determining that a project like this was possible, both in terms of the technology available and the time constraints. To create a virtual experience, a 360° camera would be necessary to capture the entire room. With those scenes captured, we could upload them and configure their layout to render as virtual rooms.

 

Designing the Site

Busy with weddings and other events, the earliest I was able to get the Homestead free of guests to begin photographing was November 1st. To be able to present something in class the week before, I began work on the Omeka site that is going to host the tour. I decided on an Omeka site, over a WordPress or other digital tools, because it is the best platform to design an exhibition about the rooms and present the 360° photos.

The navigation bar of the website, showing the specific sections on the rooms and objects.

At first, I only did some of the basics, like choose a cover photo and font colors. As I began thinking more about the project, I designed special sections of the website to give direct access to specific rooms or objects quicker. This way, if a viewer wanted to learn more about a specific room or object without having to go through the entire virtual tour, they could easily access everything in these two sections.

Recently, I began experimenting with the HTML of the homepage text, and was able to change several aspects of it successfully.

 

Developing a Theme

Will Wadsworth, current owner and 6th generation of Wadsworth to occupy the Homestead, gives a tour of his family’s home.
Courtesy of WadsworthHomestead.com

During our preliminary talks, Will Wadsworth expressed great interest in the project, with one reservation. The owner of the Homestead was worried that if a virtual tour of his home was published online for the public, tour groups would stop coming and the estate would lose a major source of revenue. I reassured him that nothing would be published publicly without his consent, and began research into the pros and cons of a virtual tour for museums.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find an abundance of literature about the issue. To remedy this situation, I decided to narrow the focus of the site as a means of solving this problem. As a result, the goal of the project has become to illustrate connections between the Wadsworths and larger contexts by highlighting certain rooms in the estate. Through this narrowed lens I am able to leaving other rooms private. So, instead of creating just a “virtual homestead” as initially thought, I would argue this point of a larger connection though highlighting three select rooms and objects. Thus, I can still create a virtual tour of part of the house without feeling like I left certain aspects out, and Will does not feel tours will stop just from this sneak preview of the home. This solution is sufficient to both better arguing my point, while keeping enough of the Homestead away from the public’s screens that there will be no loss of interest to visit.

 

Shooting Begins

On November 1st, Kirk and I met Will at the Homestead to begin photographing. Both Will and I were surprised as to how easy the camera, a Samsung Gear 360, was to use. I simply set it up on a tripod in the middle of a room, moved out of the way (usually behind a door or in another room), and triggered the camera remotely via Kirk’s phone. From his phone, the three of us were able to view the photos in real time, and get a sense of what they would look like rendered on the Omeka site.

The Samsung 360 camera in use at the Wadsworth Homestead’s Library

We photographed every room on the first and second floor, often multiple times and from various view points. By that afternoon, Kirk had uploaded the images and sent them to me for viewing. The photos, as of now, are rendered as these circular photos, resulting from the two lenses of the Samsung camera. Kirk is working now to “bend” them into rectangular panoramas, for better viewing on the Omeka site. This hopefully will be done by this week.

The piano room
The main foyer and grand staircase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Humanities

Overall, I am pleased with how the project is coming along. The question still remains of whether we are going to put this site publicly on the web. Will Wadsworth wants to use these 360° photographs we have produced to show the estate to wedding planners and potential guests. Kirk Anne will be using these photographs as examples to put forth funding for anther 360° camera. So even if we never go public, I am glad that this project will be used by others outside of my specific aims for it. I wish that I had started photographing earlier, to leave myself more time to fully develop the Omeka site and everything, but I am not too worried. The next step, which is currently underway, is to decide what objects and rooms to highlight. I took note of important pieces, such as the Big Tree painting, a sculpture of Austin Wadsworth’s horse, Persian armor, and James Wadsworth’s Civil War sword, all of which are potential pieces I can use to present the Wadsworths in a wider context of history. Once the images are rendered as panoramas, and easier to view on the Omeka site, then final selections will be made.

Narrowing my focus, from a whole-house virtual experience to using a select number of rooms and objects to illustrate connections, has created a great project and connected my digital work with more traditional humanities work. Like a typical historical essay, I will be arguing a point using historical evidence and facts. The digital twist comes when the viewers of the site are able to interact with the house and historical objects that I use as evidence in my argument. Thus, I am performing traditional humanities work in a digital environment.

Progress: Women Writers & Social Change

My project is a text analysis of the works of American women writers in the 19th century. Based off the core texts I read in Dr. Caroline Woidat’s ENGL 439: American Ways: Plotting Women, I hope to prove with digital tools that women writers in this period were intent on tackling pervasive and even controversial social issues. This work will attempt to break down misconceptions that early American women were confined to the sphere of domesticity in their writing by examining their works’ relationships to topics such as slavery, education, economic empowerment, and more.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet E. Wilson, and E.D.E.N. Southworth

Establishing connections between literary pieces and historical contexts is a traditional humanities aim, allowing us to understand what these texts may be responding to or influencing. Like many projects, it will focus on identifying trends, patterns, and language to support this goal. The benefit of digital tools, however, is that they allow us to push the boundaries of what a single human scholar can study; using Python, Voyant Tools, and/or other programs with text analysis capabilities, many lifetimes of reading can be processed at once.

One of my main obstacles in tackling this project has been stepping outside of my comfort zone and embracing the broad scope that digital tools can allow my work here to have. I’ve read roughly eight texts for the class this project is stemming from, and I initially intended on just analyzing those – I know them well, which means I can run them through text analysis with the results already envisioned. Below, the spreadsheet I’ve been developing this semester lists these women and their literary works on top:


Discussion in class and my meeting with Kirk Anne, however, have pushed me to include many more writers and texts in this analysis. Kirk can pull every text file from Project Gutenberg (happily, the time period of focus here precedes copyright law) and apply commands to them in order to identify the word choices, patterns, and relationships I’m looking for. That’s tens of thousands of options, which opens up so many opportunities – we could compare trends in women’s writing across time periods, compare them to a canon of typically much more well-known men’s works, etc. There is an honestly overwhelming amount of approaches, but for now, I am focused on finding a wider selection of American female authors within the window of the 19th century, using the writers I initially intended to analyze as major touchpoints.

This process is a challenge in itself, as I find myself running into the most sweeping questions English as a discipline faces – who do we read, and why? Which books and authors should I include, and on what basis? It’s also technically difficult; Project Gutenberg does not make distinctions between male and female authors, so Kirk has been working to parse that out based on name – leaving a massive chunk of authors in uncertain territory. The Excel file he has compiled of all the women writers on Project Gutenberg that he can identify is still monstrous, however!

Kirk Anne’s Excel spreadsheet listing all 4,103 identified women writers on Project Gutenberg; here are just a few in the range of birthdates to death-dates I’m focused on.

As I broaden my canon, I also have to identify which women are American on my own. I’ve been doing this by cross-referencing the Excel file with some Internet research on women writers within the given period (which, again, brings me back to an ideological conundrum about finding authors who aren’t going to pop up in Wikipedia lists but still had important things to say).

Here, I’ve identified Susan Warner as American and have highlighted her many texts as possibilities.

There’s also the question of genre; in my original selection, most texts are fictional novels, but there are lots of women writers in this period who were publishing nonfiction, poetry, or, in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s case, defenses of their own novels. There’s a lot I’d like to include that will force me to really consider how comparable different types of texts are and where data might be skewed.

Voyant Tools

Another, less mind-boggling obstacle is just my level of technical proficiency. Voyant Tools, intended for this type of digital scholarship, has been a great free resource for me as I begin to explore the connections between texts and social concerns on my own. With these, I can create frequency-based word clouds using the Cirrus tool, visualize the relative frequencies of word usages across all my texts with a graph, and get some data about which texts are longest and use the most unique words. Voyant Tools is user-friendly; you simply upload the text files you intend to use and it runs them for you on their website. Then, you can change which tools you’re using, make your own restrictions as to which words you want to search for within texts, and then export the results as images or embeddable HTML.

A Cirrus word cloud based on some of the core texts I’m using with specific “stop words” edited out (i.e. said, he, she, the, and).
Tracking the relative frequencies of a few key terms (orange = slave*, green = christian*, pink = school*) across texts – slavery hits a huge peak in A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Voyant Tools does have significant limits when it comes to more advanced or particular text analysis attempts, which means Kirk Anne has been doing a ton of work on this project, pulling files and running his own commands. I do not have the programming knowledge to carry much of this out, which means I’m really going to be relying on his expertise and working to decide what I want to look for and how that can be pulled off. I’ve been really impressed with the range of possibilities this has opened up; for me, analyzing texts has always meant closely reading them, whereas he can find patterns in over 10,000 works at once.

Once I finalize my list of texts, I can start delving into finding the patterns I’m hoping to identify. In the next few weeks, I can hopefully compile some interesting results and display them – which leads to more choices and digital tools, for I am debating creating a WordPress to host this project and also developing a TimelineJS timeline of the women writers being showcased.

Around DH in 80 Days

Around DH in 80 Days” is a Jekyll site made to collect interesting Digital Humanities projects from around the world and share them with a larger audience in an accessible and interesting format. The title is a play on Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days,” and once a day for 80 days, a new Digital Humanities project was shared through an RSS feed, a summary and link were posted on the website, and a dot was placed on a map to show where the project was from.

Projects came from all around the world, highlighting how integral the internet is to sharing and finding projects in the budding field of Digital Humanities despite language or locational barriers that might exist in other more traditional formats.

The website also benefits from being a Digital Humanities project over another form of humanities project because the RSS feed and blog format kept users coming back each day to check on the new Digital Humanities projects. This kind of suspense and anticipation for new content would be difficult to create in a book – one could just flip to a random page and see a new Digital Humanities project. Also, interacting with the projects would be cumbersome in a traditional humanities format – having to type a long website address from a book could be enough of a deterrent to turn users away from delving further into the Digital Humanities projects described.

The dots on the map are interactive – clicking them directs the user to the blog post from that location. This provides multiple ways for users to scour the different Digital Humanities projects – chronologically, locationally, or by selecting the projects with interesting titles in the list of all the projects (what the website calls “The Full Journey”).

 

The blog posts themselves are quite straightforward. The day out of 80 that the project was posted on is followed by the project’s title and the actual date the post was published. A brief summary of the project is provided with either a copy of the projects own description, an editorial description, or sometimes with quotes from the authors of the projects after being reached out to for a statement. There are always links to the projects, hyperlinks to related texts when appropriate, and credit is given to the member of the “Around DH in 80 Days” team who found the project and wrote the summary.

The descriptions are interesting enough to hook the reader into clicking through to the project’s website and browsing around a topic they have likely never heard of or even considered before. The large amount and wide variety of projects presented here practically guarantees that any user will find something new and interesting.

 

In class we have talked about discrimination in the field of Digital Humanities and we watched a clip where a woman stood up for gender discrimination at a Digital Humanities convention. We have also read several pieces about the importance of categorization and representation of minorities/misrepresented groups in the humanities and in Digital Humanities. Around DH in 80 Days shows the power of the internet to increase the publicity of different nations and peoples, and how the internet can be utilized by Digital Humanists to share culturally specific information to the world. This is important for ensuring that everyone’s stories can be told and found by others who can learn from or make use of their information. In my opinion, a more connected world is a more accurately informed world and thus a better world for all.

The website itself could be more interactive and aesthetic, but in the about section the website states that it decided upon a Jekyll website specifically because it is a “simple, blog-aware, static site generator” that would make the website download faster in countries where internet bandwidth might be an issue.

From the intent of the project to the prominently displayed map to its core programmed functionality, the idea of making projects from around the world accessible to the entire world is very well executed and quite admirable.

A collaborator of the site said, while sorting through projects to consider for the website, that the website should instead be called the the “1,001 nights of digital humanities” because there were so many different projects to choose from for the 80 days. While the field of Digital Humanities is still in its beginning stages, there is already so much information in Digital Humanities projects around the world that the creators of the website promote their users to continue looking for more projects: “We hope that you take these [80] selections only as an opening gesture, while we gather the army of collaborators that it would take to do 1,001 of these.”

Mapping Indigenous LA

“Mapping Indigenous LA” is a digital project created with ArcGIS which is a mapping software created by Esri. This project provides a map of Los Angeles and tells us the lost stories and history of the Native Americans. The tribes that are included are the Gabrielino/Tongva and Tatavian. The Native Americans were forced out West by governmental policies instilled by the colonist.

The main site has three links to separate sites. The first is introducing the tribes that the project will be covering and describes what the goal of the project is, which is to give us a detailed visual map of the indigenous people who lived on the land before. A map of LA doesn’t tell a story about its people who resided there first.

The picture on the left is the home site of the project. The two icons are links that send you to two different story maps. The first provides us with the mapping of indigenous LA and the second link is the history of Fernandeno Tataviam map. Both story maps offer an interactive and user friendly interface that provides us with links to other sites further explaining aspects, pictures, interviews with Native American historians, etc. The sites are well organized providing us with the writing on the left side and the pictures or videos on the right. The interface answers all of you questions for you as you read. For example, if you didn’t know what a “reed watercraft” was all you need to do is click on the word or phrase and a picture pops up on he right! 

The project accelerates the humanities in the way of organizing indigenous Los Angeles, remembering the Native Americans that are often forgotten and telling the story of Los Angeles before it became the city we know today. It is easily accessible to anyone and it has all the information right there and if it does not it send you to a site that explains the topic deeper. This project gave me ideas for how I want my digital project to turn out. I am hoping for well organized site that is easy to follow and easy to get access to.

The Story of the Stuff

The Story of the Stuff” is an interactive, multimedia project that provides insight to the relief efforts that the people of Newtown, CT suffered on the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. This project focuses on the items donated to Newtown and the overwhelming support that came with those items in a time of tragedy. This project greatly benefits from becoming digitalized because it shows, through the use of pictures, videos, interview recordings, and a timeline of other related events, that the information is readily available in the most easily accessible way.

 

The use of the timeline above provides useful information about the severity of other mass tragedies as well as the Sandy Hook tragedy itself being on the timeline also. The Story of the Stuff uses an interactive timeline provided by TimelineJS, an open-source, easy to learn tool that allows for the easy organization of time and events. Using this timeline allows the reader to compare the relief efforts of Sandy Hook to the relief efforts of the OKC Bombing, Columbine High School shooting, etc.

The projects main goal is to share the goodness that is unified among people when tragedy strikes. When a horrific event such as the Sandy Hook shooting occurs, the public are quick to help with the grieving process. By navigating through the site, you will learn that the town of Newtown was heavily unprepared for the mass amounts of gifts and other physical items that show condolences. The image below represents the amount of gifts the town received only days after the incident.

By digitalizing this project, it emphasizes the idea that with tragedy, the best part of people shines bright. No conflict or disagreement can hinder the support people give to one another in times of grief and suffering.

 

Yeats’s World and Biographical Storymaps

Interactive Home Screen of “Yeats, His World,” National Library of Ireland

The storymap “Yeats, His World” from the National Library of Ireland is a prime example of how interactive mapping can imbue our understanding of an author’s connection to place. The map, which is part of a larger digital (and physical) exhibition on Yeats, organizes photos and biographical information on Yeats by country (and then, region) so users can explore the poet’s involvement with different areas of the world.

I found the map most informative for two central reasons: 1) the homepage shows the breadth and extent to which Yeats influenced different regions globally 2) it was useful for showing the relationship between select Yeats’s poems and specific locations. The website contains a key (which you can access by clicking the hypertext “mentioned in poems” on the bottom right, which lists each poem and a corresponding place:

“Mentioned in Poems”

This form of spatial learning is particularly important for an author like Yeats, whose poetry often centers on specific places in rural and urban Ireland. The map provides an image, for instance, of Yeats’ tower at Thoor Ballylee, a focal point for many poems in his collection The Tower. 

As much as I appreciated the maps’ information, I did see some limitations in the design of the website. My main criticism is that it’s not easy to access the page where readers can navigate “Yeats, His World.” In fact, I doubt I would have found the project at all had I not seen it in the physical exhibition in Dublin. This is because the map is embedded as a child page in the larger digital exhibition on Yeats. Several instances (including twice during my own presentation, regrettably) I couldn’t access the childpage I needed at all, despite going through the same set of steps I had used to get “Yeats, His World” previously. Another issue I had with the map is that the design is crafted to look like an older, vintage map (most noticeably in the yellow coloring and torn edges at the sides) which I found a little corny considering the map actually uses a sophisticated digital interface. These criticisms aside, though, I felt the site was a useful template for my work in mapping out a digital biography to show how a historical figure intersects with different global regions.

A Vision of Britain through Time

Overview:

A Vision of Britain through Time, a digital project based at the University of Portsmouth, aims to illustrate social and geographic changes in Britain’s counties over time by utilizing records and maps. To quote their official mission statement, the project “brings together historical surveys of Britain to create a record of how the country and its localities have changed.” A Vision of Britain was created by Humphrey Southall and the Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System.

Image result for university of portsmouth

Statistical Atlas:

A major aspect of A Vision of Britain is to demonstrate trends in the British populace through charts and tables. This information can be utilized in a number of ways by researchers, for instance in looking to make predictions about a certain facet of society based on its history.

 

Once a location is selected from the Main Page, such as Oxford in the example to the left, a range of topics are presented. Categories such as housing statistics and local industries, drawing their data from census records and local databases, all contain information as far back as 1801.

 

 

From there, a researcher can select a category to dive further into. Following the Oxford example, if one were to click on the “Population” section, a number of statistics and census records would show up. The main feature of these categories are the charts generated automatically based on the information, with data as far back as the 19th century. For example, this graph on the right shows the age and sex structure to age 85 and up for Oxford in 1911.

 

 

These charts on A Vision of Britain were generated using JFreeChart, an open access charting software.

 

Historical Maps:

Another feature of this project is their historical maps section. Researchers are able to interact with a map of Great Britain, composed of dozens of different maps, for an interactive experience spanning centuries.

The interactive map of Great Britain is seen on the right. The maps that make up the whole presentation are listed on the left. Notice that users are able to change time periods from the drop-down menu above.

Since this project is digital the researcher can utilize the information on hundreds of maps placed together to gain a better understanding of a specific area instantly. For example, a researcher can analyze the differences between 19th and 20th century London simply by selecting another map configuration, as seen below.

19th century London
20th century London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The combination of maps is made possible by the Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System and their unique Historical GIS software. In addition, MapServer was used in conjunction with GIS.

 

How This Advances the Humanities:

Courtesy of AVisionofBritain.org

A Vision of Britain is doing traditional humanities work as usual, but with the added element of being digital. Southall and his team are pulling data from primary sources, such as maps and census records, to provide the information on their site. Researchers are thus able to interpret this primary source data to further explore the relationships between people and their environment; in this instance, British citizens and the various localities across the island.

Being a digital project, as opposed to more traditional routes, allows for more interaction on the part of the user. Charts are generated to give them seemingly endless statistics on a range of topics across British society. Not only is the raw data given, but also the sources are listed and instantly accessible, something not possible in articles or books. Additionally, researchers can quickly move between maps across centuries and from different sources to find exactly what they need. When they are done, they have the option to download the maps for future use. In fact, the user can download most of the website’s open access software and content for use on their own personal projects.