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David Walton

David Walton

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May 11, 2014

Introducing the Virtual Black Romulus Cultural Heritage Center

May 11, 2014 | By | One Comment

Introducing the Virtual Black Romulus Cultural Heritage Center (VBRCHC), whose web address is: http://vbrchc.matrix.msu.edu

Introduction

I must begin by stating that I was born and raised in Romulus, MI.  I attended Cory Elementary, Romulus Middle School and Romulus High School.  This project is a labor of love. It truly all began when I was an elementary school student at Cory Elementary.  My mother took my siblings and me to the IGA Super Market.   On the wall was a mural that represented the Black heritage in Romulus.  I was shocked and amazed.  As I continued my education in middle and high school, no one could decipher nor translate the mural into common lay person terms.  I asked my elementary and middle school teachers about the information represented in the mural, but as people that were not from Romulus, they were ill equipped to address my questions.  From that moment forward, I have been dedicated to presenting the history, heritage and legacy of African Americans to the development of Romulus, MI.  Thus, 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).  This project is the manifestation of that childhood dream and passion. Read More

David Walton

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February 28, 2014

important lessons learned by a novice in digital heritage preservation

February 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

For the novice computer programmer or coder, the digital preservation process can be very educational.  Yet, it can also be very frustrating.  The most difficult part for me was actually getting started building the platform to present the cultural heritage being preserved.  I had downloaded the files for the platforms I want to work and experiment with following the directions to a tee.  However, I was stuck.  What do I do now?  Where do I begin?  Two very simple, yet complicated questions.  A fumbled around for about two weeks, not really making progress.  I began to grow weary; I was having major problems that required minor solutions.  Spending much of the time data collecting, I became accustomed to working alone, problem-solving on my own and planning on my own.  Asking for help did not readily come to mind.  After realizing I needed help, I found myself apprehensive because I did not know what to exactly ask people when I asked for help.  All of a sudden, those two previously stated important questions seemed quite silly.  I was embarrassed.  It is here that a lessoned was learned.  Humility and thick-skin are important.

I reached out to two people that helped me greatly.  I wanted help and insight from two perspectives: a programmer’s and a fellow colleague who is more advanced in several of the platforms that I am working with.  I also wanted a diversity of world-view in any fashion I could configure, because ultimately world-views effect how we engage in problem-solving processes.  As a result, I consulted one woman and one man.  Their advice proved invaluable.  The very first step I needed to do was place a specific aspect of my data in a form that I could conceive it being displayed, presented and aggregated.  That simple exercise actually formed the basis of the questions that the programmer could assist me in.  First, I needed to assure that the code and files I had was not the issue.  Secondly, I needed to convey how I wanted to display, present and aggregate my data to the programmer and confirm if the skeletal codes I was building around were not flawed or errand. The answers to ‘What do I do now?  Where do I begin?’ did, indeed, get me started.

What I thus far have learned, as I transition from data collector to a curator of a “Virtual Black Romulus Cultural Heritage Map (VBRCHM),” is that one must never be afraid, embarrassed or hesitant to ask for help.  By definition and nature, projects such as mine are collaborative by nature.  Asking questions about coding, design, aesthetics and etc are vital and intrinsic to the character and success of the project.

David Walton

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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. 

Description:

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.

Functionality:

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.

 

David Walton

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December 12, 2013

Laypeople’s Role in Cultural and Heritage Preservation

December 12, 2013 | By | No Comments

Laypeople and community organizations can aid scholars and professionals dedicated to digitizing African American culture and heritage in four important ways.  First, scanning photographs, obituaries, organizational documents, class photos, workplace photos, and other documents (such as report cards and newspaper clippings) into digital format will help preserve primary sources that will prove valuable for students, educators and researchers.  Secondly, due to the rapid increase in technology, such as digital cameras, camera phones, iPads, and etc.; anyone can quickly and easily take digital photographs.  Photographs of important historical sites of your community and/or organization are valuable assets in the cause of digitizing African American culture and heritage. Further, photographs of sites, events and people that the community presently deems important are also valuable assets in the process of cultural and heritage preservation, as well as family gatherings such as weddings, funerals, family reunions, graduations and etc.

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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 Walton

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September 20, 2013

CHI Fellowship Introduction: David Walton

September 20, 2013 | By | One Comment

My name is David M. Walton (aka Kalonji A. Butholenkosi).  I am a dual doctoral student in History and AAAS (African American and African Studies) at Michigan State University.  I am from Romulus, Michigan.  My research interests are: African American history (1860-1993), African history (colonization and decolonization), South African history, Detroit history, Michigan history and slavery and the slave trade (Africa and the Americas).

My mother has been my main source of strength, ambition, and commitment to excellence.  Although not a unique experience, she raised my siblings and me as a single parent in a low-income housing tenement, yet she never allowed the use of our situation as an excuse for failure or mediocrity.  Without her example, courage and commitment I never would have pursued higher education.  Furthermore, my mother emphasized a curiosity in Black History and Africa.  Moreover, my mother made it quite clear that community service and engagement were required qualities and endeavors for all members of the community.   Thus, as a first generation college-educated African American, the first in my family to pursue a doctoral degree, and my working-class background I believe it is my duty to engage the community.

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