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2016 December

Erin Pevan


December 27, 2016

Rifling through a stack of books: Examining expressions of Norwegian national identity

December 27, 2016 | By | No Comments

In my last CHI blog post of 2016, I’ll discuss the next steps of my project, expanding from my last post regarding the visualization of cultural heritage and ethnographic topics to the overall scheme and vision of my own project on Norwegian national identity. As with most large scale and content heavy projects, mine has evolved over these several months to this current iteration that not only serves as the main component to my master’s thesis, but also as the platform from which I can launch further projects that involve my interests in Scandinavian culture heritage, language, and the use of technology as the medium through which I can explore these interests.  Read More

Nikki Silva


December 16, 2016

Project Introduction: Directory of Oneota Scholars

December 16, 2016 | By | No Comments

Project Description:

My dissertation research focuses on Oneota populations living in Illinois. Artifacts attributed to the Oneota have been found primarily in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Because of the variety of Oneota sites and the different geographic areas where artifacts have been found, it is difficult to parse out who is currently studying or has previously studied the Oneota and what has been published on Oneota archaeology. For this years CHI Project I will create a website that serves as a directory of these scholars and lists their publications, areas of interest, and current institutions of employment. This directory will be used by graduate, undergraduate, and PhDs trying to find other scholars studying the Oneota.

Read More



December 10, 2016

Clarifying My Project’s Topic

December 10, 2016 | By | No Comments

My project will consist of a deep dive into the representation of heritage objects in CIDOC-CRM and will result in an interactive presentation of case analyses of CIDOC-CRM object descriptions.

I’m interested in exploring the operations through which an object comes to be recognized as a heritage object. In documenting the why of the project, I’ve dabbled with the term heritage industry.But while I’ve found The heritage industry: Britain in a climate of decline (Hewison, 1987) pretty compelling, I’m not interested in what seems more like a particular argument’s foil to historywell executed, than a term with much analytic purchase here. It will be more productive to say that I’m interested in what happens in the space described in the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC), most recently in ISIC Revision 4 Section R Division 91:

This division includes activities of libraries and archives; the operation of museums of all kinds, botanical and zoological gardens; the operation of historical sites and nature reserves activities. It also includes the preservation and exhibition of objects, sites and natural wonders of historical, cultural or educational interest (e.g. world heritage sites, etc).

This division excludes sports, amusement and recreation activities, such as the operation of bathing beaches and recreation parks (see division 93).

Moving forward, I’ll need to do some reading about the extent to which activities in this space can be described in concepts like between-firm value networks and within-firm value chains composed of business processes, not to mention the very concept of the firm, and whether organizations acting in this space can even be described as such.

I’m thinking this project will involve almost as much conceptual plumbing work as it will design and development. I’m not unhappy about that, but it should go without saying that suggestions on literature to check out will be welcome!

Jessica Yann


December 9, 2016

Gliding through time!

December 9, 2016 | By | No Comments

Last time I described my idea for my CHI fellowship project, an interactive timeline on Michigan’s Archaeological history.  I have had plenty of time to play with this idea and test out several different means to try and get a functioning timeline on my web page.  I think I have finally decided on using Timeglider JS, as it looks like it will allow me to create the pop-ups and interactivity I am looking for.  Timeglider JS is a widget written in javascript that you use to create your timeline, then incorporate that into your web page.  I’ve tested it with dates from 14,000 years ago up through the present, and even tested the interactivity to a point. I believe it will do everything I am hoping for.

Now that I have decided how I’m going to accomplish my project, the next step is to accumulate the information to put into it.  During the coming semester, I am going to start compiling archaeological information on important sites and themes to include on my timeline, while figuring out how to best incorporate them into the timeline. Some of the major themes I am thinking of incorporating into the timeline include major environmental changes, faunal changes (i.e., demise of mammoths and mastodons), and then major technological changes (i.e., appearance of pottery, plant domestication, introduction of the bow and arrow).

While I can do this all on my own, I am also soliciting input from you all as well.  What do you see as the most important themes in Michigan Archaeology that should be included? What are your favorite archaeological sites?  What information do you think the general public would most benefit from having included? Let me know what you think!



December 9, 2016

Digitally Locating Hidden Spaces

December 9, 2016 | By | No Comments

I’ve been predominantly considering digital maps as a means of telling stories of communities. It could be that I’m a newbie at most things digital, but perhaps there’s something comforting in reclaiming space for the less represented or participating in the production of space on something seemingly so authoritative as a map. Interested in the visible physical markers of place and its effect on the public sphere, I have been drawn to how digital maps can facilitate an easy and tangible location and image for such physical data, but what about the spatial representations that haunt cityscapes and memory? What about the of tracing of movement, or representation of the dynamic and elastic boundaries of contested space? Just as impactful as the accuracy of pinning place on a digital map, revealing the intimate relations of communities and their city across space and time highlights the fissures and gaps of a city’s formal representations—the work scholars are often trying to do in order to contest dominant claims of space and sustain public dialogue and activity within the city. Beyond my own project which relies on the physical visibility of space, these questions are important for discovering digital opportunities for overlaying the city with more public means of sharing engagement with space.
The urgency to represent hidden place knowledges was made most apparent this last summer when I studied the physical landscape of downtown Atlanta for lingering traces of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. Just ten years prior, the city celebrated the centennial commemoration of one of the city’s darkest passages in history, an internationally publicized four-day race riot wherein white mobs killed dozens of black citizens, injured many others, and destroyed downtown business properties. The riot had a national effect on race relations, and is still an important memory for many of Atlanta’s citizens. With outstanding public and government support, the centennial commemoration in 2006 brought back its history and lessons with wide impact. Goshal’s (2013) incredible study of 26 racial violence commemorations since 1979 placed the riot’s commemoration among the top 13 in impact, though interestedly it was the only one to be completely absent of physical markers. As I walked around downtown, I found sites alluding to the riot’s famous locales, such as Herndon’s barbershop which was destroyed by the mob, but tells a different story of entrepreneurship. Other riot spaces have been replaced with the city’s narratives of business and entrepreneurial spirit.
Without the physical markers, only continuous public activity keep these stories alive. Additionally, with the recent passing of the beloved professor and tour guide Dr. Clifford Kuhn, the Atlanta Race Riot walking tour no longer resurrects the riot’s events in place. When physical markers are not possible and public activity is limited or cut off from various possibilities, I wonder what digital tools provide in restoring these intimate relations to the city, especially when the city’s places no longer mirror back what exists in publics’ minds.
Some locative media projects have allowed innovative means to fill this need outside basic uses of personalized digital maps. Previous projects have allowed users to record themselves on personal ‘walking tours’ of their neighborhoods and city, as well as access others’ recordings when visiting an area. Such collaborative new media and apps serve as a sort of participatory repository of place stories, interrupting ordered space with shared hidden knowledges of a locale (. Locative media has seemed to have dropped off since its early 2000’s enthusiasm, however. I was disappointed to find that Murmur, a web-based map with tag sites to store public stories and memories of places in Toronto and Montreal is no longer accessible. Nonetheless, I’m excited to continue researching new digital tools for facilitating public participation in public spaces and memory, especially as the face of physical cityscapes are increasingly unable to purvey these hidden knowledges.


Crang, M. & Graham, S. (2007). Sentient cities ambient intelligence of urban space. Information, Communication, & Society, 10(6): 789-817. doi: 10.1080/13691180701750991

Goshal, R.A. (2013). Transforming collective memory: mnemonic opportunity structures and the outcomes of racial violence memory movements. Theory and Sociology, 42, 329-350. doi: 10.1007/s11186-013-9197-9



December 3, 2016

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

December 3, 2016 | By | No Comments

One of the challenges I have when doing research is focusing my work and narrowing the topic. I do not think this is an unusual issue to have. However, it is one I have struggled with this past month. I think this is obvious from my last post.
When I first talked with Ethan about my possible topics for this project, we talked about narrowing it; however, we also discussed some other potential areas of research and I left our conversation with even more ideas than I had going into it. Ethan pointed out that one of the challenges in my project ideas is the relative paucity of research for me to lean on for my project, but there is so much potential in what I can do and there is much to explore.
This is part of the challenge. I keep finding myself being distracted by the openness of the topic: I understand and know the need to make sure my project is contained and focused, but I keep seeing all the open space beyond it. So, as I limit my topic to aspects of rhetorical sovereignty around Idle No More and Standing Rock, I see the issues of water, oil corporations, Native American studies, treaty law, government, tribal and community alliances, gender studies, as well as the linguistic and rhetorical structures and patterns that are present in these areas of study on the activist movements I am working with in my project.
One of the things I have been struggling with is thinking about what topic I want to explore after this project is completed. I want to set it up to make it easy for me to add on to it later. This, too, means I am aware of the open areas beyond the limited scope of this project as I see potential connections in my future studies. However, these decisions are difficult to make, as they are all interesting subjects that I want to delve into and explore. In the meantime, I continue to focus and try to not get distracted by the space all around me.
But, then again, …



December 2, 2016

Naughty Norris

December 2, 2016 | By | No Comments

While my project has changed, I am still trying to figure what the UI of my website will be. City plans tend to be static and insipid unless you are a city planner/architect/urban designer in which you start critiquing it. But I am getting ahead of myself. Currently as it stands my project will try and understand the connections between cities and infrastructural projects such as dams. My test site is the town of Norris in Tennessee built by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Today, parts of Norris are on the National Register for Historical Places. In trying to bring out connections between cities and infrastructure, I think it is important to bring out human stories. I anticipate using photographs (from the Library of Congress FSA collection) to think about the urban form. One of underlying aspects of my project is to try and analyze Norris for what it is — a model company town that embodied a certain utopia.

So then what is the story? Simply put the story is to try and think about the relationships between cities and infrastructure through people’s lives.

Meet Norris!

Town Plan of Norris


The chief architect of the Norris idea was TVA Chairman Arthur Morgan. On paper, Earle Draper, was the town planner. The immediate purpose of the town was to house the workers building Norris Dam about four miles away on the Clinch River. The second subliminal goal might have been to show America that how cooperative living might work.

The houses in Norris were supposed to be built on a modest and tasteful scale, with an eye to community as much as comfort. In design, they were to balance the traditions of the Tennessee Valley (building materials of natural stone and native cedar, and a porch on every house) with modern conveniences. It is important to remember that at the time of its construction, the region around Norris was less than 10 percent electrified. Norris on the other hand was to be fully electric, with ceiling heat and refrigerators in every home.

Norris Town Center

Norris was also supposed to be a completely walkable town. Modelled around the garden city concept, the town would be surrounded by a buffer zone of protected, undeveloped forest that would keep the ugly outside world at bay. Thus the people of Norris would in theory be able to visit their neighbors, walk to school, the grocery store etc—all without getting into a car.

As I research though I am beginning to think about the user experience. Right now my idea is to create a website where users can use the city plan to navigate the lives of the people who lived in the town through clickable icons. In addition, longer essays would be cross linked. One of the ideas I am kicking around is to create a 3D model of the city plan that users could interact with on the website.

However, I am looking for new ideas, so any ideas would be most welcome!







December 2, 2016

Workshopping: How to Model Variation

December 2, 2016 | By | No Comments

As a variationist sociolinguist, my research focuses on the way language varies and changes in communities of speakers and concentrates in particular on the interaction of social factors (such as a speaker’s gender, ethnicity, age, degree of integration into their community, etc) ModelingVariationand linguistic structures (such as sounds, grammatical forms, intonation features, words, etc). As such, when trying to visually represent and statistically model the effects of various variables, many a variationist has simply defaulted to a statistician, throwing in the towel and hanging our head in shame.

Thankfully, I think my field has found a savior and is finally able to walk out of the dark ages.  I attended a workshop at the latest conference I attended (NWAV 45) and learned how to model variation through the use of an interactive application built as a Shiny app with various statistical and graphical R packages (a programming language I am already quite familiar with).  The Language Variation Suite “allows one to handle imbalanced data, measure individual and group variation and rank variables according to their significance”.  The best thing about this suite is that it is easy to use and requiring minimal programming skills.  Much of the interface requires only a drag/drop process.

I am in the process of writing my second qualifying paper for my degree and have low-key been procrastinating because I have had no idea how to deal with the interaction of all the variables I care about.  This suite has come at the perfect time in my academic career and I can’t wait to try it out!

Autumn Beyer


December 1, 2016

3D Modeling and Archaeology at MSU

December 1, 2016 | By | No Comments

This past summer at the Morton Village site, located in Central Illinois, the joint Michigan State University and Dickson Mounds Museum archaeological field school uncovered an artifact unique to the site. It is an zoomorphic sandstone block pipe, that we are interpreting as being similar to a bison! This artifact remains housed at the Dickson Mounds Museum in Havana, IL, but the co-directors, Drs. Jodie O’Gorman and Mike Conner, and myself were interested in creating a three dimensional model, both digital and printed. There are several reasons for this. First, because the artifact has delicate surface alterations including pigmentation and charred reside it cannot be handled without risk of damage. Second, because the object is housed in a different state, Michigan State University students would not be able to see the object themselves, and it could not be used in any public talks or classroom lectures. Having both a digital version as well as a printed model allows professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students to teach and learn about this object without the risk of damage that would be present with the original artifact.

Morton Village Sandstone Block Pipe

Morton Village Sandstone Block Pipe

How the models were created:

Using the resources available to anthropology and history students and faculty in LEADR, I was trained in photogrammetry and 3D modeling. As I am learning different techniques to create 3D models, I also used the NextEngine Scan Studio to create a second (not pictured) model. For the creation of the the final model, I focused solely on the photogrammetry images. After taking the photos, I imported the images into AgiSoft photoscan to create the model.  After aligning the photos, cleaning up the point dense cloud, erasing points that were picked up from the background of the photos, and aligning the points from the two rounds of photos, I had a complete model! This final version was uploaded to Sketchfab under LEADR’s account, but is being held private until final approval by the Illinois State Museum system. Hopefully we will be able to release the model to the publish soon!

Finally, I then took the digital model and printed it using the Ultimaker 2 Extended+ in LEADR. It took several tries and troubleshooting, but eventually I was able to print a high-quality version of the pipe!

3D Printed Morton Block Pipe

3D Printed Morton Block Pipe

If you would like to hear more about this project, feel free to come to the LOCUS talk (on modeling) today from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. in the MSU Main Library, 3W REAL Classroom where I will be giving a presentation!

If you are doing any 3D modeling in archaeology I would love to hear about it! What other ways are you using photogrammetry or laser scanning to create models?