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2014 January

David Bennett


January 30, 2014

Visualizing Southern Television

January 30, 2014 | By | No Comments

There can be no question that television news reporting has played a key role in the cultural history of modern America. Since the late 1950s, any written historical narrative must compete in the minds of those who lived through the event with memories inspired by television footage. Yet that footage was not obtained in a vacuum: there have been documented instances of reporters interfering with events, and the presence of cameras clearly leaves a physical footprint on the event itself. In order to truly understand televised historical events, cultural historians need access to television footage. Read More

Katy Meyers


January 23, 2014

ieldran: Proposing an Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Database

January 23, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

Robert and Mays (2010), two leading bioarchaeologists, found that of the over 250 articles written on bioarchaeology in Britain from the top four journals, 79% of them were based on collections from only 5 locations. While this uneven use of skeletal collections can be attributed to a number of reasons, the one that they highlight is the availability and knowledge of collections. The same is true for archaeological sites. The ones that are easily accessible on Archaeology Data Service or through other digital resources are more readily used and studied than those that reside only in analog format.

During my own research on Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, one of the issues I have run into is that there is no central database for learning about what sites exist, who excavated and interpreted them, and within which university or museum they are currently held. However, examining other texts and dissertations has shown me that not only has this work already been done, but also it has been done repeatedly by a variety of scholars. The lack of a central location for knowledge about archaeological material causes loss of time due to each scholar having to search through grey material and primary sources to dig up the original data. While this is a good exercise in research, and independent study of original sources is useful- we need to start working together to create open digital resources that increase our productivity.

I propose to create a community sourced digital map and database of Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. The project is currently being known as “ieldran”, meaning ‘ancestors’ in Old English, though this is potentially something that will change as the project progresses. The primary feature will be a map that shows locations of cemeteries in England dating from the mid-4th to late 7th century CE. Each site can be clicked on to reveal more information about the cemetery, the burials, associated artifacts, references for books and journal articles written about the cemetery, and where the original excavation materials, human remains, and artifacts are kept. Hopefully the site will also include elements such as a way for others to add their site to the map, a list of references for this period, updates about the project, and links to other digital resources.

A Drawn Version of the Database with Link to Specific Site and External Link to ADS Pictured. Click the image for larger version. Created by Katy Meyers.

A Drawn Version of the Database with Link to Specific Site and External Link to ADS Pictured. Click the image for larger version. Created by Katy Meyers.


Currently I am deciding which programs to use or this project. The map base will likely be Leaflet based, and the site itself will probably be however I am open to suggestions since the project is only in the ‘ideas’ phase, and no actual development has occurred. Currently I’m loving the Center for Planning Excellence’s website as a template, since it has a focal map that changes lower content when clicked. This site is based on and a Google Maps API. I also really love the design and function of Pinterest’s new “Place Boards”, a good example is the Pure Michigan “Unusual Attractions” Board. While this is a drastically different design, I like that the links on the side can be used or the links on the map, and that the two portions are responsive. Then, when you pick a pin, it goes to the larger more explanatory site.

Works Cited

Roberts and Mays 2011. “Study and restudy of curated skeletal collections in bioarchaeology: A perspective on the UK and the implications for future curation of human remains”. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 21.5 (2011), pp. 626-630

Brian Geyer


January 21, 2014

Kenya Bird Sounds

January 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

My proposed project, Kenya Bird Sounds, is to develop a mobile-based website that maps posts from Twitter onto a map of Kenya. By using publicly available mapping data (via Google Earth or other publicly available aerial photography), I will draw onto the site’s map the approximate edges of Nairobi and other several large towns through a process known as geofencing. Initially, I had intended to focus the map solely on the region around the Maasai Mara National Reserve, drawing in geofences for the Reserve and several nearby privately-run conservancies. I still plan to mark these, several community centers in the region, and many of the roads that connect all of them. But, because of a lack of Twitter use in the region, I have decided to expand the map out to a large portion of Kenya (if not the entire country); hence the decision to geofence Nairobi and other towns as well.

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January 20, 2014

A Collaborative Digitization and Annotation of Kenyan hip-hop Lyrics

January 20, 2014 | By | No Comments

My project aims at creating a one-stop site for hip-hop scholars, educators, practitioners and fans interested in accessing and learning more about the Kenyan hip-hop lyrical content. The project is motivated by the desire to collect and preserve Kenyan hip-hop lyrical content in ways that are accessible to fans, practitioners and scholars both locally and globally. My interest in creating the site arose from my personal frustrations as a hip-hop scholar in trying to find Kenyan hip-hop lyrical content for my own research, and lack of reliable metadata needed for citation/bibliographic information. My goal is to create a collaborative online site similar to rapgenius in an effort to begin building a community between Kenyan hip-hop scholars, practitioners, artists and fans. Besides digitizing and sharing lyrics, people will be invited to write annotations to the lyrics, and encouraged to participate in discussions that contribute in understanding not only the lyrical content, but also the entire Kenyan hip-hop culture.

I believe the site will be particularly useful for scholars given the fact that global hip-hop is drawing a lot of scholarly attention today. By providing annotations to lyrics, the site will contribute to an easier understanding of the lyrical content since Kenyan artists compose their music in multiple languages or in the complex creolized urban youth code—Sheng.  Also to be included in the site is an online Kenyan hip-hop language dictionary. I will begin building lexicon specific to Kenyan hip-hop and provide definitions and explanations. As part of the community building process however, artists, scholars and fans will be invited to contribute/submit new lexicon and provide definitions as well. In addition, the site will be used to feature Kenyan artists by sharing their profiles, current projects and links to their social media sites.

Through the CHI fellowship, I will begin building a website for the project using Foundation. To be part of the community, one will create an account to be able to submit, share, annotate lyrics, and be part of the conversation. I will also use a web-based annotation tool a.nnotate to promote collaborative digitizing, annotation and discussions of the lyrics. Since I am building/launching the project, I will be in charge of running the site with the hope of enlisting serious contributors to help run it. My plan and hope is to see the site continue to grow beyond the CHI fellowship.




January 13, 2014

Lanisng Michigan Anishinaabeg Oral History Archive

January 13, 2014 | By | One Comment

My project is titled the Lansing Michigan Anishinaabeg Oral History Archive. The goal of this project is to record the oral history and stories of Native elders and fluent Anishinaabemowin speakers who came to Lansing MI to work in the auto industry and other jobs. These elders are now in many ways the backbone and center of the Lansing Native community are are valued for both their cultural knowledge and their fluency in Anishinaabemowin. The majority of these individuals came from reserves in and around Manitoulin Island in Ontario Canada but have made Lansing their home. This project is important for many reasons. First with the number of fluent speakers in the state down to 50 or less the wealth of information these elders have about Anishinaabeg language and culture is phenomenal. Also there stories about migrating to Lansing, their experiences working in the auto industry and their role in the community as elders is an important but overlooked part of Lansing’s historical and cultural heritage.

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David Walton


January 12, 2014

Announcing “The Virtual Black Romulus Cultural Heritage Map (VBRCHM)”

January 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

In this brief blog, I will provide a description of my project, discuss the importance of my project, and present the intended functionality of my project.  The hope is that the discussion of this project may inspire others to embark on similar projects as well as utilize the completed project for personal, professional and educational purposes. 


My 2013-2014 Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) project is titled the “Virtual Black Romulus Cultural Heritage Map (VBRCHM).”  The VBRCHM is the first step of a larger project, the Virtual Black Romulus Cultural Heritage Center (VBRCHC).  As its name implies, the VBRCHM is an on-line interactive map that will operate as a virtual cultural heritage tour of important historical and contemporary sites that are important to the history, culture and heritage of Romulus, Michigan’s African American community.  The VBRCHM is being designed to serve as a research and educational tool and resource for k-12 and undergraduate students, as well as for the community at-large.  The map will identify and describe sites in Romulus, Michigan, that are important to the culture, history and heritage of the African-American community.  The points of interest sites in Romulus will be aggregated by time, type of events, biographies and various movement(s) significance.

Why is it important?:

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.  With the increase in technology and digitization, students are accessing information via the internet in increasing numbers.  Furthermore, educators are also utilizing information via the internet in equally increasing numbers.  Thus, digitizing and preserving African American history and heritage; especially in small localized communities such as Romulus, is extremely important to the educational development of K-12 and undergraduate students.  With that being said, it is important that more and more projects and initiatives dedicated to the digitizing and preserving of African American history and heritage emerge.


I am building the web-site using Twitter Bootstrap; in addition, I am using Leaflet for mapping. For the imaging of points of interest, I will personally take all photographs.  Further, for points of interest, the map will include markers that can be clicked on to display information, pictures and/or video, as well as URL links for each site.  I am designing the VBRCHM to be extremely user friendly and simple since K-12 students will be a significant population of users.




January 6, 2014

Imbiza: A Digital Repository of the 2010 World Cup

January 6, 2014 | By | One Comment

ZuluImbizaIn Zulu culture, an imbiza is a large ceramic pot used for brewing utshwala (sorghum beer). This vessel enables the fermentation of a fluid that facilitates communication with the amadlozi (ancestors) and lubricates social interactions. Taking my cue from this vernacular technology, I am developing Imbiza: A Digital Repository of 2010 World Cup Stadiums and Fan Parks—an open access collection of primary sources for brewing ideas and encouraging public dialogue about this defining event in South Africa after apartheid.

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