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2013 October

David Walton


October 28, 2013

Digitizing and Preserving African American History and Heritage

October 28, 2013 | By | No Comments

Digitizing and preserving African American history and heritage is an important mission in the digital age.  Providing access to K-12 and undergraduate students and educators, as well as the community at large, is the largest challenge.  Furthermore, strategies for preserving African American heritage and history as it happens is the newest challenge faced by those interested in the field.  Thus, at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) 98th Annual National Convention held October 2-6, 2013, in Jacksonville, Florida, two sessions were dedicated to this very issue.

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David Bennett


October 22, 2013

The Visual Image’s Challenge to History as a Profession

October 22, 2013 | By | One Comment

Asked to imagine the trial and death of Socrates, we might conjure up an image of Jacque-Louis David’s oil painting Death of Socrates, or recall Plato’s written accounts. We might even imagine modern day reinterpretations of the event. However, none of these interpretations are perfect reconstructions, and their flaws – be they problems of translation, or questions about authenticity or their creator’s intent – cause us to harbor a deeply rooted skepticism about them. The historian’s role, for centuries, has been to engage in a peculiar type of storytelling which attempts to allay that skepticism.
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Brian Geyer


October 21, 2013

CHI Fellowship Introduction: Brian Geyer

October 21, 2013 | By | No Comments

Hey everyone my name is Brian Geyer and I am a doctoral student in the Anthropology Department here at Michigan State. Though not formally a Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellow, I have joined the team this year to develop my technological skills and become a more robust candidate for employment once I complete my Ph.D.

Upon completion of my B.A.s in Music and Anthropology at Washington State University, I briefly entered the workforce as a clerk in my area’s court system. My first encounter with digital archives would prove to be eye-opening. The software packages we used to create, access, and update official court documents were cumbersome, awkward, and generally unfriendly to the average user. From that experience I have carried with me the importance of a well-thought-out interface with regards to archival software. As I’ve gone forward through life, other events far more specifically relevant to my career as an anthropologist have further informed my thoughts on web-based archival technology.

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October 17, 2013

In Pursuit of a Digital Academic Workflow: Putting Digital Reading, Annotating, and Citation Management to Work for Your Studies

October 17, 2013 | By | 4 Comments

I’ve always been one of those students who had trouble taking notes from readings.  I’ve tried a variety of strategies with varying degrees of success and most of these revolved around ways to write notes on paper, Word documents, or annotate hard copy texts themselves. Yet, I encountered problems with keeping track of notes and citations over time and even the basic step of making enough time to read AND take good notes.  I also experienced some bibliophilic trauma when I moved a few years ago and had to give away much of my personal library of heavily annotated books.  These experiences motivated me to explore ways to develop a digital workflow, so that I could keep as much of my library, as well as notes and annotations, on my computer or online for greater durability of access through life’s changes.  What follows is what I have found to be a useful digital academic workflow to minimally supplement the study habits of today’s students and scholars.

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October 15, 2013

Researching African Hip-hop Culture: The Role of Online Archives

October 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

For the last couple of years, I have been engaged in researching Hip-hop culture specifically, Kenyan Hip-hop. Owing to difficulties in finding original music albums, coupled with music piracy in the country, I have found myself relying mostly on online resources to do my research. One of the resources I have come to find very useful is Ghafla!  I started using this site way back in 2009 when by then it was called It was interesting to read that the developer/creator of this site, Mr. Majani, was motivated to develop the site because of the same experiences and frustrations I was going through: Lack of ACCESS to Kenyan music content. In an interview, this is what he said:

After my discontinuation in college, I became an idler and I would listen to the collection of music I had accumulated from JKUAT. I had love for Kenyan music, and I remember looking online for lyrics of the song Jamani by Bamboo but never got it. Then I looked for other Kenyan Music but never found it. I saw this gap and started filling it while still at home. So I started running a website called

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October 10, 2013

Naangodinong kwii bekaayaa wii noondaagoyi

October 10, 2013 | By | One Comment

One of the issues that confronts those involved with Native American language revitalization is how to teach a language whose speakers are often few and far between and potential students are often spread out over a large area. In Michigan there are less than 50 speakers of Anishinaabemowin, or the Ojibwe language. While many reservation and urban communities are engaged in language revitalization, the number of people it reaches is limited, and the small number of fluent speakers and language resources only compounds the problem. One way to solve this is through digital media and web based learning. However, Native urban and reservation communities have lagged behind other communities in terms of their access to the technology and infrastructure that could make this possible.

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October 7, 2013

Digital Collaboration

October 7, 2013 | By | No Comments

One of the difficulties of being a historian of South Africa living in East Lansing (or really being a historian of any foreign place) is that, for most of the year, I am over 8,000 miles away from my subject matter. This is not to say that I do not have valuable resources at my disposal here; thankfully, I do have access to an impressive number of archival materials thanks to the stellar collections available through the MSU Library and MATRIX. However, for someone who centers their work on the testimonies and perspectives of South Africans, this distance becomes difficult. Recently, however, I have begun to consider the potential of digital platforms (particularly blogging and social media) to bridge this gap.

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