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CHI Announcements

Ethan Watrall


May 12, 2014

Call for 2014-2015 Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship Applications

May 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative invites applications for its 2014-2015 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship program.

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowships offer MSU graduate students in departments and programs with an emphasis on cultural heritage (Anthropology, History, Art History, Museum Studies, Historical & Cultural Geography, Classics, etc.) the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to creatively apply information, computing, and communication technologies to cultural heritage materials. In addition, the fellowships provide graduate students with the opportunity to influence the current state of cultural heritage informatics, and become leaders for the future of cultural heritage informatics.

During the course of their fellowship (which lasts an academic year), students will collaboratively develop a significant and innovative cultural heritage informatics project. Projects might include (but are certainly not limited to) a serious game, a mobile application, a digital archive, or a collaborative digital publication. To support their work, fellows will receive a stipend of $2000 Read More

David Walton


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:


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 Bennett


May 9, 2014

Visualizing Southern Television (v. 1.0) Launched!

May 9, 2014 | By | No Comments

In 1987, the University of Mississippi held a symposium entitled “Covering the South: A National Symposium on the Media and the Civil Rights Movement” wherein participants discussed the influence of media on the civil rights movement. During one panel, a group consisting of eleven Pulitzer Prize winners and three Emmy awardees make huge claims about television’s role in the movement. CBS reporter Robert Schakne claimed that “Little Rock was the first case where people really got their impression of an event from television. It was the event that nationalized a news story that would have remained a local story if it had just been a print story.”[1] NBC news correspondent John Chancellor touted that reporters “were able to show [southerners] themselves on television. They’d never seen themselves. They didn’t know their necks were red. They didn’t know they were overweight. The blacks didn’t know what they looked like… [These images provoked] a profound reaction in both the black and white communities, because they’d never seen that, because we never see ourselves.”[2] While these comments are clearly disturbing in their simplification of southern self-awareness, they also illustrate a problematic and commonly held view of television’s relationship with historical events. For these journalists, it seems, television made these historical events important. 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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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.

Ethan Watrall


February 6, 2014

Talus Released for Android

February 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

We are very happy to announce that the native Android version of Talus is now available for free from the Google Play Store. Created originally as a mobile website by Emily Niespodziewanski (a PhD student in the MSU Department of Anthropology) as part of her Cultural Heritage Informatics Grad Fellowship, Talus aggregates dozens of the most commonly used bioprofiling methodologies into one easy-to-navigate mobile application. The app is designed to help forensic anthropologists, bioarchaeologists, and paleoanthropologists analyze human skeletal material without having to rely upon dozens of physical articles and books.

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Ethan Watrall


August 27, 2013

Welcome to the New 2013-2014 Cultural Heritage Informatics Grad Fellows

August 27, 2013 | By | No Comments

The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative is pleased to welcome seven new CHI Grad Fellows for the 2013-2014 academic year.  The new fellows come from the Departments of Anthropology, the Department of History, and the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures – and represent a wide variety of subdisciplines and areas of research.

In the following weeks, each fellow will introduce themselves in more depth, talking about what drew them to the program as well as some of the preliminary interests for their activities during the duration of the academic year.

In advance of these more detailed introductions, its my pleasure to briefly introduce this year’s cohort of fellows:

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