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CHI Announcements

Ethan Watrall


March 29, 2019

Call for 2019-2020 Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship Applications

March 29, 2019 | By | No Comments

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative invites applications for its 2019-2020 Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship program.

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowships offer MSU graduate students the skills to creatively and thoughtfully apply digital methods and computational approaches to cultural heritage collections, materials, data, questions, and challenges.

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May 3, 2018

Launch of Tokyo 6420!

May 3, 2018 | By | No Comments

I am pleased to announce the launch of Tokyo 6420, a digital project on the Tokyo Olympic Games. Taking the name from the combination of the 1964 Games and the upcoming 2020 Games, Tokyo 6420 attempts to link together the story and cultural legacy of the Olympics in Tokyo with the urban transformation of the post-war Japanese capital. The Tokyo 1964 Games were one of the most successful Olympics of all time and it is this legacy that is driving the 2020 Games. As with 1964, 2020 is being seen as a redefinition of Tokyo and to a large extent, Japan itself. How the Olympics changed the face of Tokyo and how they are remembered and depicted in Japanese culture are the core questions this project is seeking to answer. Although this project has launched, it is an ongoing effort to chronicle the past and future of the Olympics in Tokyo and will be continually updated until the torch is extinguished at the close of the 32nd Olympiad in August 2020.

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Julia DeCook


May 2, 2018

Launching: Networks of Hate

May 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

After a long seven months of dreaming, planning, and making, I’m happy to announce that my project, “Networks of Hate: Visualizing Extremist Celebrity Networks” is now live!

The motivation behind building this website was to visualize the ways in which extremist celebrities are connected in terms of the larger movement that they identify with or have been identified as belonging to. Many have noted how groups like the Manosphere and movements like GamerGate served as gateway ideologies/movements to more extremist groups like those that fall under the Alt Right or Alt Lite label, and the goal of my project was to visualize the networks of celebrities that these ideologies often travel on. To build the visualizations, I used R to make the interactive networks.

 Why celebrities?

The new extremism is notable for their use of digital platforms in community building and mobilization. Because of this, there are a number of “celebrities” in the movements themselves that serve as vehicles of these ideological messages, and visualizing how these celebrities are connected can demonstrate how the beliefs of these groups intersect. Of course, celebrities are individuals, but they speak and represent the groups that they are affiliated with to larger audiences. Extremist celebrities in the 21st century not only forge connections but expose groups to one another like brokers. Using platforms like YouTube, Twitter, reddit, and many others, these extremist celebrities forge connections between groups and seeing their group affiliations may illustrate the movement of these ideologies.

The home page gives a brief overview of the project and provides links to the networks themselves. The site is organized into four main pages and then four subpages under the “GROUPS” main page. The pages are as follows:

  1. HOME
  2. ABOUT
    1. Alt Right
    2. Alt Lite
    3. Manosphere
    4. Gamergate

As discussed above, “HOME” is the landing page where some cursory information is given about the project itself and the motivation behind it. This is an “at a glance” page and it includes links to the network visualizations on the landing page and an explanation of how to navigate the website.

A more in depth essay on the reasoning and motivation behind the project will be found on this page.

The main “GROUPS” page includes information about all of the groups and reasoning behind why they were included, and is titled “THE NEW EXTREMISM: Who’s Who?” to illuminate the purpose that these visualizations are meant to serve.

Alt Right
The first of the subpages includes a brief essay about the Alt Right, who the main players are, and presents the first visualization which includes all four of the umbrella groups that are included in the networks.

Alt Lite
The second of the subpages includes information about the Alt Lite, key players in the movement, and how it was borne out of the Alt Right – particularly after the Charlottesville Rally that resulted in the death of one counter protestor, the Alt Lite aimed to distance itself from overt white supremacy and instead is more focused on a nationalistic, “Western” civilization view. The network visualization on this page shows the connections between the Alt Lite and the Alt Right.

The third subpage is about The Manosphere, which is a web-based loosely connected collection of men’s rights activist websites, Pick Up Artistry spaces, and others. Groups that fall under this umbrella term include Mens Rights activist, r/TheRedPill, MGTOW, A Voice for Men, and others. Whether or not Incels has a place in the Manosphere is contested between the various groups. The Manosphere in particular has been pointed at as a gateway ideology, and this visualization illustrates the connections between the Manosphere and the Alt Lite.

The final subpage is about Gamergate, which was a harassment campaign targeted towards women gamers, game developers, and journalists, and culminated in a number of death and rape threats toward them. The communities where many of these harassment campaigns were enacted are still active and thriving, even if they have slightly receded from the limelight. A notable celebrity of this movement is Milo Yinnaopoulos, who then parlayed this fame in to being connected with the Alt Lite, Breitbart, and the Manosphere. This visualization presents the connections between Gamergate and the Alt Lite.

Just a page with a contact form, and nothing more.

Future Directions
I’m hoping to make more detailed visualizations in the future, like the specific groups that are connected since all of the groups I included in these initial visualizations are the broader umbrella terms. Also, my initial plan to have text pop up as one clicks on each node required a lot more technical knowledge than I could learn in a year, but I feel happy with the end result despite it being slightly different from my initial plan. Despite this, the website is a first glance at seeing how cultural flows and ideology are spread from celebrity to celebrity within these extremist groups, and future work can build off of these initial maps.

Ethan Watrall


February 19, 2018

Call for 2018-2019 Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship Applications

February 19, 2018 | By | No Comments

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative invites applications for its 2018-2019 Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship program.

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowships offer MSU graduate students in departments and programs with an emphasis on cultural heritage with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to creatively apply digital technologies to cultural heritage materials, challenges, and questions. In addition, the fellowships provide graduate students with the opportunity to influence the current state of cultural heritage informatics and digital heritage, and become leaders for the future of cultural heritage informatics.

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February 2, 2018

Lost in Translation or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Github

February 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

Grandiose ideas are often the downfall of any undertaking. Take Napoleon and the decision to invade Russia, Tony Stark building Ultron, the Sega Dreamcast and the withdrawal of Sega from the console market. The most important point I am trying to keep in mind for the project is to keep the parts under the hood straightforward and trust the end product will be more than the sum of its parts. The second point was ensuring compliance and responsiveness on both computers and mobile devices, as I am running with the idea that most people idly browse the internet on their phones. If my site was to develop into something useful for students, scholars, and casual visitors during the 2020 Games, I had to ensure a clean and intuitive interface that wasn’t going to cause me grief a few years down the line.

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May 12, 2017

Launching NorrisTown!

May 12, 2017 | By | No Comments

Welcome to NorrisTown! This work of love (literally) has taken a long time. This will be updated through the summer as I find and digitize more material, so I would really appreciate your feedback, especially if you know more than I do about the town of Norris!

The website is largely clean and accessible (I hope!) with pdfs housed together along with reflective essays. There images from the Farm Security Administration (from the Library of Congers website). In addition, there is a list of sources online and books that the website shall point you to.

While I was initially very, very afraid of having to code from ground up, in hindsight, it was easy as long as I was patient while I continuously tested the mock-up page. It took a while to finalize the mock-up page but it was well worth it. In the long run, it saved time and effort. It also made it easier to isolate issues that cropped up as I was inputting information. For instance, as I replace dummy text in the reflective essay boxes, there were alignment issues on the page as the pdfs were suddenly sent to the bottom of the page. In addition, the drop down navigational menu was going into the background. Given that I had written the code ground up, I was able to (relatively) easily isolate the problematic code and rewrite/edit it. It was small and big things like this that made the process annoying in the short run but extremely fulfilling because I learned so much.

The website was mostly created ground up, without any themes. I used iframes to house pdfs for easy access and readability. While I am happy about the project overall, there is one niggling aspect that needs some fixing. The home page does not have the originally envisioned geo-rectified site plan of Norris. Although creating the geo-rectified image was easy, there were some issues with Mapbox and I am still working towards fixing it. I would really appreciate any ideas about how to fix it. For now, the home page consists of a map I created on Googlemaps that has markers. Each of the markers is an important place on the site plan and the markers themselves have little information blurbs as well as images (when available).

For now, though, I hope the website is interesting!

Ethan Watrall


April 12, 2017

Cultural Heritage Informatics Grad Fellowship Information Session

April 12, 2017 | By | No Comments

Join us on Friday, May 5 from 9-10:00 am in LEADR (112 Old Horticulture) for a casual information session about the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) Grad Fellowship Program. Attendees will be provided with an introduction to the fellowship 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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Ethan Watrall


April 12, 2017

Call for 2017-2018 Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship Applications

April 12, 2017 | By | No Comments

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative invites applications for its 2017-2018 Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship program.

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowships offer MSU graduate students in departments and programs with an emphasis on cultural heritage with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to creatively apply digital technologies to cultural heritage materials, challenges, and questions. In addition, the fellowships provide graduate students with the opportunity to influence the current state of cultural heritage informatics and digital heritage, and become leaders for the future of cultural heritage informatics.

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Bernard C. Moore


May 6, 2016

Namibia Digital Repository: Official Launch!

May 6, 2016 | By | No Comments

This post officially declares the project launch of the Namibia Digital Repository! For the past year, I have been slowly digitizing and piecing together a Namibian Studies online digital library. Far too often, existing scholarly materials pertaining to Namibia are not accessible to Namibians for many reasons; this project seeks to fill a gap in scholarly access.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, this project is both creative and agglomerative. It is creative in the sense that countless hours have been spent in front of scanners and VCRs digitizing books, photos, documents, and films (for more on this, click here). It is agglomerative in the sense that I also pull from existing Namibiana resources on the web, providing attribution and an alternate host for the files (for more on this, click here).

Screenshot of the Namibia Digital Repository

Screenshot of the Namibia Digital Repository

As of 5 May, 2016, I have uploaded 246 items into the repository, broken down into the following collections:

Basler Afrika Bibliographien: (2 Scanned, 18 Agglomerated)
Dissertations on Namibia: (7 Scanned, 24 Agglomerated)
Documentary Films on Namibia: (20 Digitized, 5 Agglomerated)
Finding Aids: (2 Scanned)
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: (9 Agglomerated)
Labour Resource and Research Institute: (8 Agglomerated)
Legal Assistance Centre: (15 Agglomerated)
Leiden University: (3 Agglomerated)
Miscellaneous Articles: (3 Scanned)
Missionary and Travelers’ Diaries: (1 Scanned)
Namibia Documentary Series (Interviews): (11 Digitized)
Namibia Institute for Democracy: (12 Agglomerated)
Namibian Autobiographies: (5 Scanned, 1 Agglomerated)
Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit: (1 Scanned)
Nordic Africa Institute: (19 Agglomerated)
Nordic Documentation on the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa: (6 Agglomerated)
Out of Print Books on Namibia: (44 Scanned, 11 Agglomerated)
Political Documents: (3 Scanned)
Thomas Baines: (11 Scanned)
Union of South Africa “Ethnological” Publications: (7 Scanned)

Some of these collections are still works-in-progress, particularly the ever-important “Out of Print Books” and the “Missionary and Travelers’ Accounts” collections, which will see their numbers rise as I include some recent scans I’ve made.

Furthermore, I’ve recently received a consignment from the retiring Professor Dr. Robert Gordon of the University of Vermont. Dr. Gordon is an esteemed and radical scholar, authoring several books on Namibian history and anthropology (perhaps his most famous is the 1991 The Bushman Myth). On his retirement, he has provided me with many boxes of old papers from the United Nations Institute for Namibia in Lusaka, Zambia and of early, pre-independence publications from the University of Namibia. During this summer, I will be digitizing these papers and publications to form two or three new collections. For digital library projects to succeed, it is necessary for them to incorporate new content regularly. I hope to continue to live up to this.

Other than continually adding more material during the summer, I will also be spending a great deal of time advertising the resource, appealing for other scholars, librarians, and archivists to make use of the repository, and hopefully add their own materials. I cannot do all of the work on my own.

The final aspect of the repository, and this is the most fun, is the use of exhibits. For those of us who use archival resources in our research, one often opens old finding aids to try to locate archival boxes relevant to our research. The first few pages of the finding aids often have a brief introduction from the archivist or scholar who organized the collection. This introduction is intended to go beyond just introducing the user to how the resources are organized; it is meant to provide thematic guidance. Exhibits in Omeka can function the same way. I plan to incorporate a number of short historiographic essays into these visual exhibits, introducing the user to the materials included in the repository, as well as the significance of each one. I have built one exhibit on Namibiana studies and resources in Finland, and I have another en-route exploring writings on trade unions and labour in Namibian history. These will form a crucial component into allowing other scholars to contribute more than just PDF scans and audio files. Exhibits will also help university students navigate the website in the best way possible.

I hope that all of you enjoy going through the materials I have created and collected over the past year, and I would love to receive feedback on the content and look of the site as well.

Bernard C. Moore



September 29, 2015

CHI Fellow Re-Introduction: Santos F. Ramos

September 29, 2015 | By | No Comments

Coyols Unapologetic Survival

I am a returning fellow for the program, last year having developed a digital project documenting Xicano culture in the Great Lakes Region, Indigenous food sovereignty, and MiXicano visual art. I am now in my second year of a PhD program in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures, focusing on Cultural and Indigenous Rhetorics. My research takes an ethnographic approach to examining the intersections of pedagogy, Indigeneity, and social movements, and I also try to spend as much time as possible supporting local community education programs geared toward Indigenous youth—such as the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program and the Native American Youth Association.

One of my primary interests is looking at cultural continuance as a form of resistance to assimilation with Western modernity and considering the relationship between academic research and non-academic Indigenous communities who engage these types of practices. Especially as a Xicano person living in Michigan, much of my attention is also focused on inter-Indigenous relationships and with negotiating the often-conflicting markers of “Indigenous” and “migrant.”

I am excited to be back for another year in this program because it has created many opportunities for me to think about all of these fun/complicated topics in a different way than I am typically used to. By developing a website to explore these subjects, new questions come up about the way that cultures are being influenced by the intense emergence of digital platforms.

Here’s to another solid year as a CHI Fellow!

Update: the image used above was created by Angélica De Jesús and was used in my project for last year, The Xicano Cookbook: Survival in the Great Lakes Region.