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Archive for November, 2008

Beginning of Grant App

Posted by osiern on November 20, 2008

To Support:  The development of an Android application for a self-guided tour of Third Winchester, Winchester VA and 40 T-Mobile G1 mobile devices to serve as a visiting class set.


Abstract: Self-guided tours are a great way to provide a tour without the resources of staff or volunteers.  The Third Winchester Tour Guide would use the hardware, software, and various applications on a mobile device to present a pocket sized multi-media tour.  A class set of G1’s would be provided for visiting classes with the application already on the devices. However, if another visitor were to come to the battlefield with the Android operating system he or she could down load the tour as well. The tour can be run in sequential order following the physical waysides or materials could be pulled out separately as the visitor desires.  Audio, video, web, and GPS capabilities make it possible to provide a wealth of primary and secondary resources right in the palm of the visitor’s hand.


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To wayside or not to wayside?

Posted by osiern on November 20, 2008

Alright I’m trying to come up with other terms for wayside so here’s what I have so far:

sign, sign post, marker, trail marker, stop, trail stop….hmmmm

I want a word that is not too general that it might be mistaken for something else, but at the same time people will understand/know what it means. 

Suggestions Wanted!!!

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Photography on the web

Posted by osiern on November 17, 2008

This is an interesting format for showing photography.  The Art of the Carte.

This might be something for me to think about in my project, I just don’t know how well it could be seen from a mobile device.

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Posted by osiern on November 17, 2008

Ok, here is my presentation which includes 5 mock ups.  Please look at them and give me your thoughts.  Thanks!


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Reading Reflection

Posted by osiern on November 10, 2008

This post is in response to Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, and Trees; Timothy Burke, response to Graphs, Maps, Trees ; Dan Cohen’s, “From Babel to Knowledge: Data Mining Large Digital Collections;” and Will Thomas and Edward Ayers, “The Difference Slavery Made: A Close Analysis of Two American Communities,” http://www.vcdh.virginia.edu/AHR/

This week’s readings continued last week’s class discussion in which we questioned:  How do we search?  Is there a better way through technology? How much are we missing when we search? Is more better?  Does math bring us towards a “more truthful” history?

Burke states, “Historians live in their archives, but we don’t really know them half as well as we ought to. We accept the categories that the archive offers us, and read along the pathways laid down.” I thought this was a valuable point to think about and discuss.  It is frightening to think about how much information is out there, how much we are missing, how many records have been destroyed, how much we miss just because it has been organized by someone else. It is interesting how often you read a headline that says something along the lines of, “Really Important Letters Found in the ______ Archive” How could they be lost? They were in the archive! The letters have been there all along, but they were probably hidden away under some heading that no one would think to look under.

These readings discuss the other possible ways of organizing information.  There is more than one way to find, interpret, and organize the historical records.  A record may fall under various categories and may not be as significant in one as it is in another then years later It may be more significant in another category based on current events or research.

I find Moretti’s organization of information to be helpful because it’s more visual. I can scan the graphs, maps, and trees quickly and see the relationships easier than I could by reading the text.  This could be one (or three) way of organizing records or data we collect in archives or while doing research.

Dan Cohen discusses algorithms search engines use to quickly scan website for key words, topics, images, types of documents or websites, etc.  Web 2.0 gives us multiple ways to search in a very short period of time.  This is probably our quickest, easiest, and best way to search through vast amounts of records and information.  However there are downfalls, as discussed last week; the researcher needs to know a little bit about their topic to bring back results and the more the research does know the better the results will be.  Also, records and information is entered by humans if the information has not been put out on the web or digitized, it’s still “lost.”  Finally, algorithms will find a vast amount in a short time, however these are set up to do specific search and can miss items as well. So math could bring us closer to the truth by providing a larger “testing pool,” but it still needs to be combined with an understanding of the topic by the researcher otherwise the large amount of material collected may not actually be evidence at all.

As for the website, I think this is a great way of presenting evidence.  Just as in a book the authors have presented their thesis and used evidence to support it.  They have just shown their evidence in a different format.  This format is easier for me to navigate than the pages of a book, however I don’t know how I would read this if it had been assigned in one of my antebellum history classes.  I looked at it today from the point of view of how data was set up so I quickly skimmed it, but if I had to read it, such as I read books for class, I’m not sure if I could pay attention to it very well.  I feel that my attention span especially on-line is very short.

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Reading Response

Posted by osiern on November 3, 2008

This post is in response to my recent reading of  “Googling the Victorians” and the American Council of Learned Societies’ cyberinfrastructure report.

One of the fundamental questions in the Cyberinfrastructure report asks, “What is cyberinfrastructure?

The basic argument presented in this report is that the humanities are different than math, science, and technology.   The humanities require a combination of hardware, software, and professional expertise that is of a different nature than those of the sciences.  Cyberinfrastructure basically combines the three elements and creates a way for individuals working in the humanities to participate in the digital world.

This report is trying to get organizations (universities, government, and private companies), professors, and professionals in the humanities to come together and get the ball rolling at a quicker pace.  They suggest that various organizations get involved with projects to digitize and create software that will be useful for humanities based work/research.  They suggest that grants are awarded for those with the determination and knowledge to create new media projects for the humanities.  They are pushing for innovation so that the world of the humanities can expand beyond paper.

In “Googling the Victorians” the positives and challenges of digital research are discussed.  It’s remarkable to the author how quickly he can search and how much more data he can gather in such a short amount of time.  He also enjoyed the social networking he was able to do which would have been very difficult or costly before, vastly speeding up and adding value to his research.

A point where these texts converge in combination with, Peter Norvig’s lecture, “Theorizing from Data,” is on searching.  In “Googling the Victorians,” Leary discusses how he needed to know a certain amount about the Victorian Period in order to retrieve appropriate information.  Norvig discusses how search terms work and how they can be completely off base at times, based on what the user has put in and how the software is designed.  The report discusses how humanities professionals are used to searching in certain ways with humanities centric thought patterns.  The ability to search on the web is great and is often my quick method to find data, however the user needs to know how to search appropriately.  I believe that using the report suggestions more humanities friendly software can be developed and instruction on how to search a topic can be provided.  Leary is correct that the more knowledge you have about a topic the more fruitful your search will be, therefore old fashion research needs to continue, but we can also develop better digital humanities research.

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Pack Rat or Preservationist?

Posted by osiern on November 3, 2008

I come from a family with some of the worst pack rats on earth and therefore I have a great fear of it.  I am also a highly disorganized person, although most would never believe this.  If things get messy I fall apart.  If my house is disorganized I cannot do my homework.  If my office if disorganized I cannot do my work.  I keep planners, maintain a strict filing systems, and everything has it’s place place.  The rule of my house is “if something comes in, something must go out.”  I have tried to have a collection, however find it too much clutter to collect anything.  My 700 sq. foot apartment with ZERO storage space does not allow for collecting or preserving.  I have some books on a bookshelf from throughout my life, I have a few photo albums, and limited number of “important items.” My most important item, my wedding dress, has been preserved by a specialty wedding dress cleaner and is at my mom’s house.

I actually love to throw things away and clean out.  I donate clothes to charity four or five times a year.  I am actually in the process of going through my closets and cleaning things out before my in-laws come to visit.  I even purge electronic documents on a regular basis because I don’t like them cluttering up my computer.  I save things for a limited amount of time and then assess whether I will need them in the future.  This might be upsetting to me in later years for sentimental reasons, but I really just don’t have the space for everything.  I also like to keep everything very minimal for my own sanity.

The one item I know of that my husband and I work to maintain is our picture collection.  We use a digital camera and post a fair amount of pictures online.  We have all of our pictures on our hard drive as well as backed up on a CD.

Another group of items I save is my work from graduate school.  I currently keep it all stored on my lap top, but I don’t have it backed up any where.  I guess I’m just hoping the computer won’t crash before May, when I hopefully recieve my degree.  I have all my syllabi saved in paper form in a grad school file and my major research project is also saved in a paper version in the file.  I felt like these were the most important items, so the only items that really needed to be saved in a hard copy.

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