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CHI Fellowship Program

Jack Biggs

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October 18, 2017

The Future of the Past

October 18, 2017 | By | One Comment

Archaeologists and anthropologist back in the day (say around the later Victorian era and the early 20th century) had it easy in terms of research and methodologies.  Study subjects and specimens were abundant while strict and standardized methodologies were not.  Researchers just went out and both literally and physically grabbed data. They weren’t data necessarily that they needed, but data they wanted.  Many times, collection techniques were…less than completely ethical, but as has been the long trend in human history, we learn from our mistakes.

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dixonel7

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October 18, 2017

Introducing Elise Dixon (CHI Fellow)

October 18, 2017 | By | No Comments

Hi Everyone! I’m Elise Dixon and I am a third-year PhD student in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures program. I am very excited to be a part of the 2017-2018 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship– it fits very well with my research interests. My research focuses on queer and feminist multimodal composing through a cultural rhetorics lens. In most of my work, I employ feminist, queer and cultural rhetorics orientations to think about the ways queer people, military wives, and writing centers “compose” themselves through writing and creating. These may seem to be disparate interests, and in some aspects, they are. However, in all of my research work, I am focusing in on how people and organizations express their identities through various composing practices.  Because of these interests, the CHI fellowship is a perfect fit.

I am working through my comprehensive exams currently and I have been ruminating quite a bit on what I plan for my dissertation. I was originally planning to make my CHI fellowship project my first foray into my diss. In my comprehensive exams, I am focusing on how multimodal composing can support queer and feminist rhetorics. What I am bumping up against is that the voices most amplified in queer and feminist rhetorics are often white voices. This does not mean that people of color aren’t doing queer and feminist multimodal composing; it means that the modes of composing discussed by scholars of color are undervalued by these disciplines that have been shaped by many multiple white people. I am trying to find ways to address this in my work, and hopefully I can integrate that into my CHI fellowship project.

 

My original plan for my CHI fellowship project was to examine some pieces of ephemera and zines from the MSU Queer Archive and Zine Archive and create a small digital archive of my own of them. I still intend to do this, but now I intend to be careful to look at the creation of these objects from a cultural rhetorics lens and foregrounding the work of people of color.  I look forward to exploring this project more through this CHI project. I think it will help me develop some direction for my dissertation and give me time to practice and learn how to code and make digital projects from scratch.

 

I’m so grateful to have this fellowship this year. Working alongside the other fellows is a highlight of my week, and I am looking forward to working hard on this project throughout the year.

Julia DeCook

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October 12, 2017

Cat memes and Identity – Archives and Digital Worlds

October 12, 2017 | By | No Comments

The reason why I wanted to do this fellowship was not only to expand my knowledge of computational/digital methods of approaching cultural heritage questions but also to have this methodological knowledge situated in appropriate theoretical and philosophical frameworks. Particularly, something I have noticed often in data-driven approaches to research within my own discipline is the lack of positioning – what does this data mean? How did it come to be, and what does it signify for larger historical, cultural, and social realms?

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Nicole Raslich

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October 9, 2017

Digitizing our Cultural Heritage

October 9, 2017 | By | No Comments

My own recent ethnohistoric research for family genealogy made me think about ChiMatrix and the need to digitize old documents public documents. Anyone who has ever used county libers will agree but for those of you who have not, let me explain. Prior to the 1960’s, all births, deaths and marriages were recorded by hand, in large ledger type books called libers. These books are huge, leather bound tomes, inscribed by hand. They go back to various decades, the ones in Saginaw County Michigan, for example, go back to the 1830’s with a small, three ring binder of marriages going back to 1825. As these tomes are hand-written, the penmanship varies as does the legibility of said documents.

Using these documents can be problematic for several reasons. One, they are “protected public documents” according to the County Clerk, so they cannot be photographed. Photographing or scanning with a handheld scanner would allow them to be digitized and put into a database. Two, when you require a certified copy, a county employee must come over and handwrite the information they see, then type that up into a legal, embossed certificate. This is problematic as the penmanship is open to interpretation. There were several times when at least three workers would confer about a letter or word written and then come to a consensus. Being unfamiliar with Ojibwa names, they would take most often, not take advice on spelling, trying to decipher it on their own. Three, they are only available during the hours of the office. The office opens at 9 a.m. and documents are done being printed by 4:45 p.m. Four, they are extremely fragile and heavy, (not a good combination) stored on shelves with rollers. The leather bindings break down after several decades and the tomes are now taped together, with labels taped on the outside. Several of them had the pages inside laminated, which was nice since they are handled by the public. Sometimes, due to the weight, the books are dropped and damaged upon being removed from the shelving units.

These books hold a wealth of information and are invaluable references for any person doing historical research. As such, they need to be preserved and cared for in a more user-friendly way. Scanning would allow them to be run through handwriting analysis software and may take some of the user error out of the current transcription process. Here is an example: I was searching for a death record of an individual and found the written line in the liber. I then called the office workers over to make the certified copy. None of us could read the “cause of death” in entirety. We all agreed it said ‘_____ over by ___s.’ The death occurred in 1878. The first word appeared to start with an ‘R’ so everyone came to the consensus that it must read “run over by cars.” This is what was typed into the official record of death, as the official cause of death. Something didn’t seem right about this to me so I considered the history of automobiles since I’m from Flint and Michigan is the birthplace of the American auto industry. The first American gasoline engine was developed in 1895, and the first sale of an American gasoline car was in 1896, although there were those that ran on steam, they were few and far between . Cars in 1900 were a rarity, especially in a rural area such as Saginaw County, making this cause of death unlikely as it was multiple cars. The workers from the office did not want to change anything as they could not make out any other words and nothing else seemed logical, even though historically, this is highly unlikely.

The digitization of these tomes would enhance their usability and make the information more accessible to people who may not have the resources to travel to each county when searching for this information. It would also help people with vision and mobility problems use these documents. I am aware of the lack of funding our county records offices receive and of the thousands of work hours it takes to digitize documents. In no way am I implying a lack of effort on the staff of the County Clerk offices. The people in the Saginaw County Clerk’s office were wonderful, helpful, and friendly. The County Clerk himself even came out to answer several of my questions. I believe by digitally preserving records such as this, we can preserve and increase the access to our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Cody M

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October 3, 2017

Introducing CHI Fellow Cody Mejeur

October 3, 2017 | By | No Comments

Hi Everyone! I’m Cody Mejeur, and I’m extremely excited to be joining the CHI Fellows program for 2017-18. I’m a PhD student in the Department of English at MSU working at the intersection of many related areas: new media, narrative theory, game studies, cognitive humanities, queer studies, and digital humanities. That sounds like a lot (because it is!), but I focus my work on video game narrative. Specifically, I am interested in how games are changing our understanding of narrative, and my dissertation, titled Playing/Queering Narrative: Narrative Experiences and Interfaces in Video Games, develops a narrative theory built from the ground up on the interrelationship of narrative and play in games.

Game studies and gaming culture have grown exponentially in the past 20 years, but they have also developed a number of blindspots that have left some peoples marginalized or excluded. In gaming culture this is most evident in the debates surrounding representation and social justice that came to a head in the #GamerGate movement, which saw large groups of gamers working to harass and silence women, people of color, and LGBTQ folk. Game studies has seen similar issues, such as the infamous narratology/ludology debates, wherein some theorists argued that narrative theory and literary studies were threatening to colonize or take over game studies. My dissertation argues that these attempts to secure the borders of games and game studies are related: they both stem from a desire to defend the culture and study of games from perceived threats, whether they be literary theorists or marginalized peoples seeking to politicize games.

Rather than attempt to undo these tensions—that toothpaste is decidedly out of the tube—my dissertation seeks to move forward by constructing a narrative theory specific to games. Beyond looking at characters, cutscenes, and plots, I argue that the experience of play (running, fighting, scoring, etc.) is an essential part of game narrative. Play experiences are variable and extremely dependent on the player’s situation and context, and I turn to queer/feminist and cognitive narratologies to explain how they become narratives that construct our sense of (virtual) reality. This narrative process is inherently playful, and can potentially lead to emergent, transformative, and queer possibilities for individual and collective world-building.

As a CHI fellow, I’ll be working on the LGBTQ Video Game Archive (https://lgbtqgamearchive.com), founded by Adrienne Shaw. The archive seeks to catalogue and preserve all instances of LGBTQ representation throughout video game history. This project is especially necessary given the ephemeral nature of its source materials. Many of the sources detailing LGBTQrepresentations are blogs, wikis, and smaller websites devoted to queer gaming communities, and there is a constant danger of them going offline with little or no notice if their owners or authors can no longer maintain them. My project will involve saving copies of all websites and media objects that the archive references, and organizing them into an Omeka repository that will be stored at the Strong National Museum of Play. By preserving these resources, we can ensure that the cultural heritage of LGBTQ representation in games is publicly available to future gaymers and scholars.

I look forward to working alongside the other CHI Fellows on innovative approaches to Cultural Heritage Informatics, and to acquiring new skills with coding and digital tools and methodologies. Can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

fandinod

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September 29, 2017

Introducing CHI Fellow Daniel Fandino

September 29, 2017 | By | No Comments

Greetings traveler on the great ocean of knowledge that is the internet! My name is Daniel Fandino and I am a first year PhD student in the Department of History at Michigan State University and a 2017 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellow. My research is centered on the study of modern Japan with a focus on U.S. – Japanese relations and the intersection of popular culture, technology, and nationalism. Before arriving at Michigan State I earned my Master’s degree in History from the University of Central Florida and then spent the next few years living in Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo. Although my academic pursuits primarily revolve around Japanese history I have been able to explore other areas of personal interest such as fandom and video games by assisting in editing a collected volume of essays on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, contributing to an encyclopedia of Japanese horror films, and writing about dark tourism in the massively multiplayer game EVE Online.

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Jack Biggs

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September 27, 2017

(Re)Introducing CHI Fellow Jack Biggs

September 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

Greetings everyone!  My name is Jack Biggs and if my name sounds familiar, that is because I was a CHI Fellow during the last academic year and was fortunate enough the be a returning Fellow for this year.  I am now a 4th year graduate student in the Department of Anthropology here at Michigan State University focusing on bioarchaeology of the ancient Maya.  Although my research interests haven’t changed all that much since my first intro post last fall, I’ll go ahead and re-hash what Ispecifically study and some additions and changes since that last initial post.

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Nicole Raslich

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September 14, 2017

Introducing CHI Fellow Nicole A. Raslich

September 14, 2017 | By | No Comments

Hello everyone, my name is Nicole A. Raslich and I am excited to be a CHI fellow this year. The department of Anthropology here at MSU is my home, where I am a PhD. candidate. My training is in archaeology, and my research focuses on the expression of identity and landscape through ritual in descendant fisher/hunter/gatherer communities throughout the boreal forest.

During my time as an archaeologist, I have worked with Anishnabek communities throughout the Great Lakes region and the Inari Sámi of Finland on projects revolving around the protection of sacred sites. The ways in which these communities, and others, utilize archaeology to reinvigorate and raise awareness of their own cultural heritage is what piqued my curiosity about digital heritage management avenues. Being able to share methods and case studies among communities globally is one of the ways I have witnessed various communities utilizing digital cultural heritage. Much of my fieldwork has been in cultural heritage policy and law, acting as a NAGPRA representative for tribes and as an archaeological consultant for local governments regarding national heritage protection and protocol.

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Erin Pevan

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August 20, 2017

Nationalism and Constructing the Nation in Norwegian Museums

August 20, 2017 | By | No Comments

As a continuation of my examination of Norwegian national identity and the various medium in which this can occur, during this summer I expanded my project site to go beyond looking at literature for representations or depictions of Norwegian identity and decided to focus upon the conveyance of material culture in space, particularly through the space of the museum.

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nesbit17

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May 17, 2017

Launching Listen to Lansing!

May 17, 2017 | By | No Comments

This project is a website showcasing the results of a study I am in the process of conducting with colleagues in the Michigan State Sociolinguistics Lab.  For this project, we are investigating language change in the Greater Lansing Area (Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties). Analyzing the vowels produced by Lansing natives born between 1908 and 1997, my colleagues and I have been able to chart the decline of the local dialect spoken here in Lansing over a century of time.

Intended to be a resource for non-linguist audiences, this website provides (1) a general introduction to the dialect spoken in Michigan and the surrounding states, (2) a description of the research my colleagues and I have conducted and the results thereof including a graph showing the incremental decline in local dialect features, along with 5 second clips of speakers from each generation in our sample, and finally (3) resources, contact information and links to supplemental materials on language change in the United States are provided.

As for logistics, I created my website on GitHub, using a bootstrap theme as a base. The chart showing dialect decline was created using AMCharts’ online chart editor. The code for this chart was embedded into the HTML code of the main website. The data used for this chart was generated via acoustical analysis of the vowels produced by the speakers in my sample.  Vowel measurements were made and speakers were categorized according to sociolinguistic thresholds already established in the field of dialectology. The small sound files were spliced out of individual interviews using the phonetic software PRAAT and inserted into the website’s HTML code using the ‘source’ element.  Lastly, all supplementary material (published articles and websites) was embedded as hyperlinks into the HTML.

As stated earlier, this website is intended for those less familiar with linguistics who are interested in language change in Lansing and/or Michigan. It is also intended to act as a resource for those wishing to gain more knowledge about American dialects and/or language change in the United States.  Currently, I am working on adding two things to this site: (1) a map to the site that showcasing the representative Greater Lansing communities in our sample, and (2) a recording widget whereby visitors to the site can contribute to ongoing research by recording themselves speaking.  The site can be accessed through http://listentolansing.matrix.msu.edu/