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Sara Bijani


November 18, 2015

Thinking Precarity in the Digital World

November 18, 2015 | By | No Comments

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending and presenting some of my research at the National Women’s Studies Association’s annual conference. I’m still processing all of the wonderful difficult conversations I was witness and participant to in this space, but Sara Ahmed’s keynote speech at the conference resonates through all of it. Ahmed approached the conference theme of precarity through a long meditation on “Feminism and Fragility,” with persistent metaphors of breaking against walls. According to Ahmed: “So much is, so many are, involved in a breakage.” Despite their social nature, these walls are often invisible to those who aren’t pushed into them, leaving the meanings behind stories about breaking against walls often unintelligible to those who don’t share the experience. Believing in these walls is feminist work, as is honoring the expression and knowledge of those who reveal the walls we don’t see. Ahmed presents clumsiness—meaning an awareness and embrace of the “bumpiness” of equality—as the basis of a queer ethics. “Smoothness,” in this formulation, is a form of violent adjustment to a world with walls that are positioned to break one’s self. These walls harden history, and histories then themselves become walls. Ideas of the past become themselves the agents of breakage in the present.

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Nikki Silva


November 16, 2015

Recap of the Midwest Archaeological Conference

November 16, 2015 | By | No Comments

At the Midwest Archaeological Conference (MAC) from Nov. 5-7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I presented a poster titled “A Taste of Archaeology: The Importance of Public Archaeology Programs and Digital Cultural Heritage”, which discussed my experiences as a supervisor for a public archaeology camp offered through the Dickson Mounds Museum (DMM) and a description of my joint CHI project with CHI fellow Autumn Beyer: Mapping Morton Village.

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Autumn Beyer


November 13, 2015

The New Philadelphia Augmented Reality Tour App

November 13, 2015 | By | One Comment

This past week I attended the Midwest Archaeological Conference in Milwaukee, WI. One of the talks I found very interesting and relevant to our CHI Fellowship was by Christopher Fennel of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, titled: New Philadelphia, Illinois: From Research Project to National Historic Landmark. He spoke about the significance of the site, and the augmented reality (AR) app that was developed to showcase the virtually reconstructed town through historical documents and archaeological evidence.

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Lisa Bright


November 3, 2015

Don’t fear the database: SQL v. SPARQL

November 3, 2015 | By | 4 Comments

As I previously mentioned in my introduction blog, this year my CHI project is directly related to the project myself and Katy Meyers Emery are working on for the Digital Archaeology Institute. ossuaryKB – The Mortuary Method & Practice Knowledge Base seeks to create a singular location where mortuary archaeologists can see best practices, exemplar case studies, innovative methods and more. We want the site to be functional, allowing people to easily find projects, articles, or forms based on identifiers or keywords. Creating a functional database that will do this is easier said than done. My focus for CHI this year it to create this database.

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Bernard C. Moore


October 26, 2015

The Politics of Academic Publishing on/in Africa

October 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

I buy too many books. There, I said it. (admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?). I see it as something of an investment though, and though the books may sit on my shelves for several months before I get around to actually reading them, I do eventually crack open the spine and begin to write all over it with one of my multiple hi-lighters and pens. You don’t want to read a book when I’m done with it.

By and large, the bulk of what I read comes from American and European presses. This is indeed strange because I research African labor history, particularly southern Namibia. Scanning through my shelves this morning, I ratted off a list of presses: Berghahn, Cambridge, Oxford, Chicago, California, Brill, Routledge, Palgrave, Helsinki, NYU, Columbia, UPenn, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin. I then sought out any African-based presses. I have a few from University of Namibia press, UCT Press, Wits, and UKZN Press, as well as a handful from Dar es Salaam.

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October 21, 2015

Building a new relationship: Cultural Heritage Informatics and Black English

October 21, 2015 | By | One Comment

This post is dedicated to the amazing and internationally renowned Dr. Geneva Smitherman–Dr. G. To keep it brief, as she has too many accolades to list, Dr. G is the University Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of English and Core Faculty to the African American and African Studies (AAAS) Program at Michigan State University. Most importantly, she is the preeminent scholar in the field of linguistics, specifically, African American Language (AAL), Black English (BE).

Dr. G teaches an online class AAAS 891 focused on African American Language, a class I’m currently enrolled in and enthusiastically support. Believe it or not, African American Language does exist. It is not slang, broken English or some contrived dialect that spawned yesterday. Black English is a legitimate language contrary to popular belief. The history and many books on the subject speak for itself.

images-14Post-Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the integration of classrooms nationwide, the exposure to the tongue of Black America—Black English—“a style of speaking words with Black flava—with Africanized semantic, grammatical, pronunciation, and rhetorical patterns,” according to Dr. G, came this abrupt awakening no one was expecting. Since that time there has been ongoing onerous debate about the place of AAL in education. Both sides have vehemently argued for and against it. Maybe digital? Why not digital?

The explosion of the digital space has been the truce or the much needed answer. As a digital zealot, Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) could possibly be the solution to this decades old debate. How and why? The infinite lifespan of a project in the digital world coupled with the creativity and customs of CHI may make the perfect focus group to allow for AAL in the classroom beyond social media, blogs and the like. This relationship could influence pedagogy, epistemology and rhetoric. Ideally, this is the beginning of something revolutionary in education, Black America, CHI and the digital communities.






October 19, 2015

Cultural Heritage Informatics as Rhetorical Praxis

October 19, 2015 | By | No Comments

As a digital literacies and cultural rhetorics researcher, I came to the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) Fellowship interested in developing the skills to hack (build) and not just yak (talk about). In other words, I was interested in how designing the experience and experiencing the design come to be pedagogical moments. How do these experiences illuminate facets of knowing and coming to know content, and heritage for that matter, differently? Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 5.43.34 PMLike many CHI fellows, I was unsure what cultural heritage informatics was. Who is it for? What does it do? In one of our earliest meetings, Ethan, drawing from Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, highlighted that informatics was “the creative application of information, communication, and computing technologies to ________________.” Hence, cultural heritage informatics, if we take this working definition, is the creative application of information, communication and computing technologies to cultural heritage.

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Nikki Silva


October 12, 2015

Cultural Heritage and Politics: Dealing with the Closure of the Illinois State Museum

October 12, 2015 | By | No Comments

On October 1st the Illinois State Museum (ISM), and its affiliates, closed its doors to the public. The staff is still going to work, but no one is able to visit the 138 year-old museum system. I have spent the past three summers working as a graduate assistant on the Morton Village Archaeological Project, an ongoing collaborative research project between MSU and the Dickson Mounds Museum (DMM), an affiliate of the Illinois State Museum. Since 2008, Dr. Jodie O’Gorman, Chair of the Anthropology Department and Associate Professor at MSU, and Dr. Michael Conner, Associate Curator of Anthropology at DMM, have trained undergraduates and volunteers in excavation and laboratory techniques at the Morton Village site, located within 2 miles of the DMM.

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Autumn Beyer


October 5, 2015

A Quick Trick: How to view the HTML coding for any website

October 5, 2015 | By | No Comments

For this week, we had a challenge assigned to create a website. There were several stipulations, the website needed to contain a landing page, several subpages (one for each team member), and a way to navigate between each page.

My team, Jon, Santos, and myself, worked together to create our lovely website. The most important thing I learned through this challenge was taught by Lisa Bright, one of the returning CHI Fellows. I learned that it is possible to view the HTML coding from any website, so you can see how they set up the page. Now, with her help, I have the skills to do it and I would like to share the trick with all of you! Inspect Element

For Mac users, on Safari, you need to go to your Safari Preferences tab. Under this tab, choose Advanced and check the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” option. Now, when you are viewing any website, highlight a section of the page, right (or double) click, then choose “Inspect Element.” This trick will open up another window or sidebar, allowing you to view the HTML coding for the page, with that element highlighted!

Take a look at these screenshots from my team’s webpage. The first one shows that I highlighted a portion of the website header. I then chose the “Inspect Element” option and the sidebar appeared, which can be seen in the photo below.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 8.47.33 AM

I hope you all found this little trick helpful! It turned out to be extremely useful when our team was working on creating our website challenge.

Lisa Bright


October 3, 2015

Ethics and Digital Archaeology/Osteology

October 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

Recently Alison Atkin (@alisonatkin) put a request out on Twitter, asking for examples of how individuals have dealt with ethics and digital osteology.   When it comes to what osteologists choose to share online, there really isn’t a set code of rules or guidelines. Alison was giving a presentation on this lack of protocol at the last BABAO conference, and summed up her talk on her most recent blog post.

What to share online, and what to keep private, is something that is often a delicate balance between the source of the information, and the personal ethics of the individual creating or curating the digital resource. This was something that I had to decide when I created Mortuary Mapping for my CHI project last year, as well as the archival updates I complete this summer.

When I worked excavating the cemetery, I had permission to take photos for personal and teaching purposes. I’m in possession of many images of skeletal remains that would have been relevant to the Mortuary Mapping website. However, I made the personal decision not to include any images of human remains (other than one photo that appeared in a local newspaper article) on the website. I did this out of respect not only to the individuals that were buried there, but for the extended and direct living relatives that may still be in the area.  Read More