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September 11, 2014

Ngiyabuya! (I Am Returning!)

September 11, 2014 | By | No Comments

I’m very excited (much more excited than the gentleman to the left!) to be returning to CHI for the 2014-2015 academic year.  I learned so much last year, both in terms of technical ability and conceptually in terms of the importance of digital cultural preservation, and I am really honored to get the chance to further expand that knowledge and get to collaborate with a whole new group of fellows.  Returning to the program also allows me the chance to continue developing my project.

Last year, I built Imbiza 1.0, which is a digital repository of videos and images from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I cataloged all of these objects using KORA, MATRIX’s digital repository software. The final product was a digital repository, built on a WordPress platform using a highly altered theme.  Although I was fairly happy with the end result, which is live now and available for browsing, there are some major changes that I want to make and some even bigger ones that I know I have to make to increase the functionality and utility of the site as a whole.  The two main issues that I want to address (there are countless others, but I will spare you the details . . . ) are:

  • A New Focus:  I spent a lot of time this summer thinking about what I liked about Imbiza 1.0 and what I really wanted to change and focus on as I approached Imbiza 2.0.  One of the main reasons that I launched this project was because there was such a wealth of information; one of my main challenges has been in organizing and finding compelling ways to present these sources and data.  I learned a little too late in the game last year the importance of managing expectations and, if I’m being perfectly honest, the project suffered from a lack of coherent vision and focus as I got overly excited about the materials at my disposal and the many tools I could play with to present these materials.  So, my first order of business as I re-enter the CHI program is to develop a clear vision for the project and develop a feasible, practical workplan that I can stick to as I navigate the perils of 3rd year PhD studentship.  Expect to see more about this blog as I work it out in writing (as I tend to do with most things).
  • Integration of Geospatial Visualizations:  So, one of my very favorite parts of Imbiza when it was in development was a series of maps of all of the World Cup host cities, which included plotting out the location of the stadiums and fan parks, as well as the zones of exclusion that were mandated by FIFA to be enforced in each city.  But, unfortunately, at the end of the year, as I faced a huge time crush and loads of work that I hadn’t planned for, these maps got cut.  I’ll be working on refining these maps, experimenting with different visualization tools, and figuring out how they fit in with the rest of the repository.  For a sneak peek of what these maps might look like, click here.

In addition to continuing to develop Imbiza, I also really want to expand my knowledge and application of digital tools, both in my own research and pedagogy.  I am working as a graduate assistant in the newly opened Lab for the Enhancement and Advancement in Digital Research (LEADR), housed in the MSU History Department.  LEADR is intended to serve as a space for undergraduate and graduate students to learn and experiment with digital tools, technologies, and methods.  We are still getting things figured out (and playing with a lot of the brand new equipment), but there are already some exciting projects in the work and I’m really excited to expand my digital knowledge and share that knowledge with others.  Being able to work in LEADR and continue to serve as a CHI fellow for the year will really allow me to stretch myself as a digital scholar, and I am looking forward to it!

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