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Katy Meyers


April 17, 2014

The dead have come alive!

April 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

ieldran, the Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Mapping Project, is officially live and can be found here:

It’s been very exciting having the project live! However, because I went live early (most CHI projects will be going live on May 1) there are a number of features I wasn’t able to finish. There are two major features that I hope to add in the near feature.

  1. Submission of sites by users: I really want users to be able to add data to the project. The form wouldn’t directly add data, but rather would email it to me, and then I could add it. However, due to my lack of knowledge of PHP and lack of time to add more data at the moment, I had to comment this feature out. It is something very important to the project, especially since we currently don’t have inhumation only cemeteries in the database. With more time in the future, I will definitely add those sites and hopefully perfect the submission form.
  2. Downloads of spatial data: One of the reasons I went ahead with this project was that I wanted to make and share spatial data about site locations so that other people could use it and wouldn’t have to remake the data every single time. Sadly, due to my own lack of knowledge of PHP, I wasn’t able to get this feature running in time. I also need to figure out a way to add a license to the data so that the hard work that Matt Austin and I did to create it won’t be forgotten. However, it is impossible to add license or commenting directly into geoJSON data- meaning that we need to come up with another way of adding metadata either through an attached XML document or some type of modal.

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April 15, 2014

Always Learning

April 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

I went the the Anishinaabemowin-teg conference in Sault Saint Marie a few weeks ago and was encouraged by all the work that was being done on Language revitalization involving technology and the internet. Communities are really using these technologies I think in a positive way that will be of benefit to preserving and promoting heritage language use.

One of the things I took away from this conference was the importance of maintaining the cultural components when teaching the language. As one of the elders and fluent speakers said, “Its important to teach the language using the culture, and to teach through doing things so that these activities and the language used to describe them remain linked.” One of the many talks I went to showed how communities are working with language teachers to document traditional activities like ice fishing and making baskets and recording them being done in the language. These then become resources that teach the language through action and doing things which is an important way to learn and more important remember. This is especially true for kids, but also for adults.

What I saw and heard going on at this conference has helped me to shape some possible directions for my website and how I can make it a better resource for language learners. I was also at a session that was all in Anishinaabemwoin. It was difficult for me to keep up at times and it reminded me that I still have a lot to learn. In terms of my project I am posting added content. I now have almost 25 hours of audio recordings to sort through, some videos and soon many photos to post and categorize. However I am going to concentrate on just a few of them for the debut of my site. I have the summer to clean up and add the rest.

I have also been discussing with community members different approaches in terms of access and traditional knowledge licenses. My original platform had these built in and I am working on how to incorporate them into my site. I have also put the call out to the community to see if anyone has photos, videos or stories they would like to share. I am getting some positive responses and hopefully more materials to include.  My goal is to have this be a community based project where the community has both control of and ownership off the direction and scope of the site.

Once I have this content up and looking good I feel confident that it will be something that the community will want to use and be part of. I am also looking into how the other efforts I saw at this conference could somehow be integrated together or linked in some way to create connections between communities that are engaged in language and cultural revitalization. Perhaps a web portal with an interactive map that links communities and their digital spaces together. I think this would be a great future project for someone.



April 15, 2014

Use of Mobile Phone Pedagogies in Rhetoric and Composition Studies

April 15, 2014 | By | No Comments

This year was my third time attending the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCCs) annual convention. The conference’s mission is to support and promote the teaching and study of college composition and communication. The theme this year was Open, Source(s), Access, and Futures. Dr. Adam Banks, this year’s program chair, invited us to reflect on our disciplinary histories and practices which he argued have always aimed at pushing towards values like “greater freedom, possibility, transparency, and equality” within the academy. He thus invited us to imagine a new future for our discipline particularly in the digital age, as we critically consider issues of open access scholarship, open source philosoph(ies) and politics. In his call, he hoped that scholars and teachers in our field would consider and share ways in which we can imagine a future that will not only transform our discipline, but also the academy and higher education in general.

What seemed to stand out for me this year were the numerous sessions on the use of mobile phone and social media pedagogies in the teaching of writing. In one of the panels I attended titled “Out in the Open: Exploring Mobile Phone Pedagogies and Everyday Composing Practices,” the panelists shared how phones and mobile apps can be integrated into writing courses. One of the panelists, Robert Carlton from Southern Illinois University, argued for the value and need for writing teachers to embrace mobile apps in the teaching of writing. He showed an example of the free application Suzuki Write developed for iOS and Android devices which provides a “mobile writing resource” to assist writers with simple quick references and simple composition tasks. Carton demonstrated the design features of the app, and how writing teachers can customize the modular code of the app to fit their individualized needs. Here is example of the how the app is being used in building Mobile Writing Labs (MWLs). Carlton imagined future trajectory of the Mobile Writing Labs arguing that apps designed for writing instruction need to consider issues of access particularly when it comes to catering for individualized circumstances of individual users and writers. He also urged writing teachers to not only use the apps but also to gather data about devices, users, and developers as a way of contributing to assessing the effectiveness of such tools. Such an assessment, he argued, can contribute to giving app developers ideas to improve the app and user experience. Finally, he asked teachers to be getting involved in building the apps and working with developers. For more, here is his Presentation.

Randall Monty from the University of Texas, another panelist, demonstrated the how mobile technologies and social media platforms like twitter are helping transnational students from Mexico attending college in the U.S to navigate their professional and academic identities. Monty, “drawing from a multi-institutional study that tracked the lived writing practices of self identified transnational students,” as well on current scholarship on technology and access, demonstrated how students were exploiting the affordances of mobile phone technologies and social media in their learning. Some of the examples he shared with us were how teachers can use twitter to share teaching content with their students, keep track of students attendance, engagement and participation. He also noted that since many authors the students read participate in the twitter culture, social media allows students to be in direct contact with the authors and can ask them question or clarification on issues about readings. Monty also noted that social media allows for democratization and agency in the use of these technologies as students learn/practice the use of these tools not just as students but as professionals. He also shared how the transnational ESL students were using the dragon app’s transcription service to facilitate their composing processes.  However, in sharing the affordances of mobile phone and social media pedagogies, he also highlighted particular dissafordances like access noting that some students may not have smart phones, which have capabilities of performing some of the complex or intricate tasks. Other issues he raised are cyber aggression, unpredictable and expensive mobile services across the border (Mexico), privacy issues in relation to social media and mobile service, among others.

Ehren Pflugfelder from Oregon State University presentation “Our Phones, Ourselves: Questioning our Mobile Lives” presentation explored the emerging scholarship in our field on the role of mobile phones in literate lives of students. At the same time he noted the growing scholarship (in other disciplines) which raises concerns on how the use of phones negatively impacts on its users, for example, “psychological over attachment”, “distracted walking,” “self absorption” among others. His presentation was on how phones can be used as data gathering tools. He showed a methodology he developed in a media literacy course where students were asked to use their phones to create a collaborative, creative-commons –licensed documentary about the role of cell phones in their lives. Here is the Documentary, where students reveal “complex opinions, biases, and desires, as well as surprising inconsistencies” about the role of phones in their lives.”

This panel is just one example of the how our field is embracing digital tools and particularly apps to perform numerous tasks. For example, many attendees in this year’s conference had easy time getting information about the conference through a CCCCs app developed by TripBuilder Media. The app allowed attendees to get updates or reminders of featured sessions and speakers, create a personalized schedule of the sessions one wanted to attend, view the entire searchable program schedule on the phone, take notes during sessions etc. This saved many attendees the burden of carrying around the 400-page book length program schedule.

As our field moves forward, it will be interesting to see how it continues to embrace new digital tools, and to imagine new ways of teaching writing. In this year’s conference, there were many sessions on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as  presenters shared challenges, successes and pedagogical possibilities of these new learning online platforms. Our own department  Rhetoric and Writing here at MSU has also been thinking and piloting teaching  writing using MOOCs. It is clear that our field is imagining a future that will make the learning of writing accessible to everyone interested, not just here but around the world.





David Bennett


April 13, 2014

The Current State of Louisiana Digital History

April 13, 2014 | By | No Comments

The end of March found me escaping the snow-draped landscapes of my East Lansing, Michigan home to attend the 2014 Louisiana Historical Association (LHA) Conference in Hammond where I was to accept the Hugh. F. Rankin Prize. At the conference, I had the opportunity to survey the footprint of digital history within the LHA community, and to discuss and pitch my project digitally mapping the southern television stations from 1942 through 1965. What I discovered is that 2014 was a significant year for Louisiana digital history.  Read More



April 13, 2014

An Imbiza Update

April 13, 2014 | By | One Comment

As the May 2nd launch date approaches, I find myself surprised at how much this project has changed (and changed again, then changed again) since the original idea emerged in an October 2013 Session of the Football Scholars Forum.  Originally, I planned on a project that focused solely on the stadiums and fan parks, but now I am working on a project that will encompass the entire tournament; not only the stadiums and fan parks, but also the fans, the sounds, the writings, and, most importantly, the football. Read More

Ethan Watrall


April 8, 2014

May 2: Cultural Heritage Informatics Grad Fellowship Information Session

April 8, 2014 | By | No Comments

Join Dr. Ethan Watrall (Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative) On May 2 from 10-11am in Natural Sciences 407 (MATRIX conference room) for a casual information session about the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) Grad Fellowship Program. Attendees interested in applying for the 2014-2015 fellowship year will get an introduction to the program, including disciplinary and intellectual scope, expectations, activities, resources, and support.  Attendees will also get the opportunity to meet past and present CHI Grad Fellows to learn about their experiences in the program.  The session is open to any and all graduate students who are interested in finding out more about the CHI Grad Fellowship Program.

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Katy Meyers


March 21, 2014

ieldran comes alive with the dead (despite issues)

March 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

Over the past few weeks of working on my Bootleaf based project, ieldran, there have been a number of interesting problems and developments that I’d like the share.

Being a good linked open access site: Last summer I was accepted into the Linked Ancient World Data Institute, an NEH ODH sponsored two day workshop/discussion on how to create links between various open access resources for the ancient world. Following this, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research and thinking on the problem of creating good linked open access sites and resources. I’ve been focusing more though on how to make my dissertation data open and accessible- and ironically not considering how to apply these standards to my CHI project. So now I’m going back to basics, and trying to make this good linked open data. A quick overview, five star linked open data has five principles (Taken from Tim Berners-Lee and Summary Site:

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March 14, 2014

Making progress and future projects

March 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

In the last few weeks I have been talking with community members about my project with the CHI Fellowship and getting some input on its potential. Some really exciting things came up in our conversations that I want to share as well as some of the things I have uncovered as part of my research on the Native community in Lansing.

As a disclaimer I have to say that many of these things are at the moment beyond what I can do with the site. As always I have to remind myself that I need to keep things simple and stick to my plan. I have the tendency to see many paths and possibilities that could be projects onto themselves, and I forget to focus on the foundations. That being said I see that this site could expand once its launched.

While the foundation of my site will be the experience of elders coming to the Lansing area for work many of the people I have spoke with see it as being a platform for recording indigenous knowledge and the oral history of local elders. (IYEP), the Indigenous youth empowerment program is working on some grants that could be used to do recordings. The idea being that they would work with local youth who would do the interviews and recordings of elders and fluent speakers and create connections across generations that are vital to maintaining cultural continuity. Some community members have also expressed the idea that this remain a community based project rather than an open source website for some of the materials which I like as it is inline with what I wanted to originally do using Mukurtu. My next step for this will be working with community members and stake holders on developing different levels of access, traditional knowledge protocols and licenses.


I have also been working on the Native history of Lansing as a place of movement and subsistence and came across a great resource. Of course I cant find the title of the book in my notes so I will have to update my post later. This is a pic from the book of the local area showing trails used my Native people as well as other important parts of the landscape such as mounds, burials and villages. What is great is that it has every county in Michigan and it shows how these trails connect to larger systems and networks that stretch East to the Atlantic and all the way South to the Gulf. There are only 100 of these books left, the rest were lost in a fire. For anyone interested in a mapping project in the future this would be a valuable resource to digitize and make available online. I am thinking that I may try to tackle this in the future and if anyone else is interested send me a message. For the time being however I am going to have to put it on the back burner.



March 1, 2014

Creating complexity with simplicity

March 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

It almost never fails that, when attempting to simplify, complexity always follows.  As I mentioned in my most recent blog post, the project that I am undertaking as a CHI Fellow this year is to compose a “best practices” guide, of sorts, for what is to be a relatively simplified means of 3D data capture for archaeological skeletal material.  When I say “relatively simplified” what I mean to say is that the process is somewhat easier to carry out than other options.

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David Walton


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.