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CHI Fellowship Program

Jessica Yann

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November 18, 2016

Timeline of Michigan Archaeology

November 18, 2016 | By | No Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot these last few weeks about my project for my CHI fellowship.  As I have mentioned before, I strongly believe in making archaeology accessible to a broad range of people. In my work with the State Archaeologist of Michigan, as well as with various school groups, I’ve noticed that there are several things most folks really want to see: a timeline of Michigan archaeology to help put things into perspective, and lots of artifacts.  You can view a basic version of the current available timeline on the State Archaeologist’s website.   However, this timeline is very basic and lacks any interactive features.  It also highlights very few artifacts. Read More

nesbit17

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November 11, 2016

Project Musings

November 11, 2016 | By | No Comments

As the semester rolls on and we are tasked with trying to visualize our CHI projects, I am feeling a little stressed and inspired, all at the same time! As I’ve said before, my project is going to center around the research I’ve been conducting in the Sociolinguistics Lab in the Department of Linguistics and Languages, here at MSU.  For this project, we have been conducting and recording interviews with college freshmen at LCC and MSU and subsequently training them to interview their friends and family members.  The purpose of building this corpus is to document language change in the Greater Lansing Area. There are two reasons for having people interview their friends and family: (1) to gain less accessible participants and (2) to get a better picture of the social networks and upbringing of the college students.  These last two factors have shown to have insurmountable effects on ones choice to participate in a sound change and I’m hoping to drive this home somehow with my CHI project.  Thus far we have interview data from over 50 speakers ranging in birth date from 1908 to 1995! My initial idea for my CHI project was to create a website through which we could (1) gather more data – via some sort of recording interface whereby native Lansingites can record themselves reading some of the data samples and answer some of our demographic questions and (2) update the larger community (linguistic or otherwise) about our research and findings.  I am still a little unclear of how I am going to make the components of this project work, BUT I am inspired by the group projects that we did in LEADR two weeks ago.  For that project, we created a website that had a map and integrated way points onto the map that were related by some theme.  I’m thinking I can use this exercise to better visualize (1) where the speakers in our sample were born and raised, but also (2) to display how language in the area has changed over time.  In essence, I’d have way points for each birth place of a speaker and then perhaps another set of way points documenting where they moved.  It would also be nice to use a visualization tool to display familial and friendship relations within our sample.  Not sure how all of this will work, but I am very excited to figure it out.  To be continued…

 

Nikki Silva

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October 28, 2016

Wrestling with The Digital Dissertation in Anthropology

October 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

Academia is changing. The old standard 500+ page, written dissertation may become obsolete as new technologies develop and academia starts accepting new models of the dissertation. One model is incorporating digital components (i.e. a map, database, appendices, or other entities) into dissertation projects. Because of my participation and experiences in the CHI fellowship, I have been asked by a few people (including CHI director Ethan Watrall) whether I want to incorporate the skills I have learned to add a digital component into my dissertation. Honestly, I have been fearful of even bringing up the idea to my committee chair. Why am I so afraid? I think this stems from the idea of doing something ‘different’, ‘new’, or something that ‘isn’t the standard’ for a PhD dissertation in the heritage/human sciences.

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Jessica Yann

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October 22, 2016

Making Archaeology Accessible

October 22, 2016 | By | No Comments

These past few weeks I’ve been pondering what to do for my CHI fellowship project. This has prompted a lot of introspection on what I think is important about digital cultural heritage, along with many internet searches.  One of my core beliefs is that archaeology, in some form, should be accessible to the public (this is sometimes referred to as public archaeology, or you can go here for more information on digital public archaeology). This is partly because people need to be invested in our shared past, but also because the public supports archaeological research (in more ways than one).  But making it available and helping people understand it are two different things.  How do you help the public understand sometimes difficult concepts?

One (I think) cool option for making it easier for people to understand and become engaged with archaeology is through 3D modelling, which has already been discussed in several other blog posts. As I was perusing some of my archaeology news sites this week, I came across an article where researchers had created a 3D rendering of a wealthy family’s home at the site of Pompeii, in Italy.  This site was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which buried much of the city under layers of volcanic ash, preserving the site in situ (in its original, undisturbed location).  3D modelling is great for providing these views of how things looked in the past, like this tour of Rome as it looked circa AD 320.  This allows people to get a glimpse of these sites at their height, as well as see some of the results of the archaeological research that has been done on them.  Significant research goes into recreating these sites as they would have looked 2000 years ago.

Models such as these make sites that may not be accessible for a variety of reasons (cost, distance to travel, general accessibility) accessible to anyone with a computer.  Whether you have bad knees and can’t walk great distances, or just can’t afford the cost of flying to a foreign country, you can still experience what it feels like to be amid these important sites, while also experiencing results of the research done there.

If you are just interested in viewing some of the more well-known sites from afar, 3D imaging allows for that now as well.  You can use Google maps to do street views of many popular archaeological sites, such as Stonehenge, Pyramids of Giza, Chichén Itzá, Machu Picchu, or the Colosseum in Rome.  While these views don’t provide any interpretations of the sites, they do open the door on the conversation, and allow greater accessibility to places that are of great historical importance.  Hopefully this can be a start to prompting additional research and more in depth thought on these sites and what they mean, while also being another avenue for digital public archaeology.

While I highly advocate for greater accessibility to important places such as these, and for cool new ways of providing archaeological interpretations such as through modeling of sites as they looked at their peak, this greater accessibility does lead to some issues.  Increased awareness and increased tourism can lead to greater risk for the site and its preservation, in the forms of looting, vandalism, or just through additional traffic by tourists (for more information on the effects of tourism, check out this article: Tourism and Archaeological Heritage). At the same time, these digital representations help preserve the sites in one, static form.  As of yet, there is no easy answer on how to rectify this.  There are many challenges yet to be overcome, but this is an exciting direction to see things headed in.

Erin Pevan

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October 21, 2016

Språklivet: Using Digital Humanities to explore connections between language, identity, and the problem of boundaries

October 21, 2016 | By | No Comments

Since my last blog post, the foundations of digital project planning have been arranged, and the next steps have been taken towards creating the framework for my CHI project. From learning the fundamentals of project management to work plan preparation to geospatial web mapping, the tools have been placed in our hands to begin the process of building a solid digital space that houses a compelling theoretical argument and visualized representations of our evidence.

I’ll be quite candid in saying that ruminations of my project have been lurking in my mind for several weeks now, further established and solidified as I continue through my readings course, a course designed to ignite those sparks of thought and theory in hopes of contributing to the development of a project. My ideas and their solidity were put to the challenge when an opportunity to apply for a conference in Göteborg, Sweden (Digital Humanities in the Nordic) presented itself and suddenly all of those ideas needed organization. And this is where I saw the efforts of the last several weeks of learning and challenges and collaboration exude through my project proposal.

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In preparing this proposal, I considered all the ideas (however general they may be at this point) I wished to considered for my project, as well as honoring my interests and greater research goals. In addition, I also took the valuable advice and direction from my graduate committee when considering the ultimate goal of this project, as well as the greater theoretical question I am aiming to answer, or at least attempt to answer. In this, several questions came to mine to start the framing of my project. They include:

  • How is literature used to address issues of language identity in Norway? How can a digital platform negotiate boundaries and barriers of language use and identity in ways another medium is perhaps limiting?
  • How can we use a digital map to show flexibility in language use boundaries in ways that acknowledge the problems of creating boundaries of language use and identity?
  • How can a digital platform be used to acknowledge perspectives and boundaries, such as those in a cultural, political, or colonial context, while still providing an answer to the question of how literature, through time, has contributed to a Norwegian national identity through language?

I envision this project wholly within a digital space such as a web map, or more simply a web site, in the most simplistic sense. The project itself will be housed within a digital space, utilizing a digital mapping environment provided through open-source platforms Github, Leaflet, and Mapbox, and enhanced through JavaScript and Python programming to maximize functionality and ease of the user experience. Digital mapping and the possibilities entailed within this structure allow for conveying the natural fluidity and negotiation occurring across language boundaries.

While the project has a long way to go in terms of planning, organizing, and really tackling that theoretical question, this is a start. Next week I will be attending a workshop in LEADR which will introduce 3D Modeling with photogrammetry. I’m not new the world of 3D modeling (I’m looking at you 3dsMax) but I am new to creating 3D models in conjunction with photography. I’m hoping this new tool provide an extra dimensions to a future iteration of my CHI project!

Autumn Beyer

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August 11, 2016

Morton Village: Final Update

August 11, 2016 | By | No Comments

Over the summer, we have been working on making some major changes to the main Morton Village research page: mortonvillage.anthropology.msu.edu. While there are a few more things we would like to change, we wanted to give you a final update for the summer!

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Autumn Beyer

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June 22, 2016

Morton Village Continued: Updating the main website

June 22, 2016 | By | No Comments

This summer, Nikki Silva and I are working on updating the main website for the Morton Village Research project: mortonvillage.anthropology.msu.edu. This website/blog was created in 2008 and is in need of some major updates. We have several areas of the site that we are going to update!

Website Theme: Currently it is an outdated version of the 2011 wordpress style. We will be updating the theme to the 2014 version, which is more modern and includes sections for integrating videos and photos.

About the Project: We are going to expand the description of the project and include photos of the project directors, Drs Jodie O’Gorman and Mike Conner.

Research Page: Update the language used (make it more public friendly), add photos within the text.

Add A Graduate Student Research Page: Include blurbs from past and present graduate students on their research at the site.

Expand the Resources Page: Add descriptions for links, direct links to articles on the site, link to Mapping Morton Village, and add PDFs of conference poster presentations.

Add Photo/Video Galleries: Include field and lab photos and videos, as well as images from conference presentations.

 

As we work on changing and adding pages, we will continue to re-evaluate the site to see if there are any other changes we would like to make! Please let us know if you have any comments or ideas!

 

wargojon

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May 7, 2016

The Launch and (Re)Emergence of #HearMyHome

May 7, 2016 | By | No Comments

Originally conceived of as an “everyday” cultural heritage informatics project interrogating how contemporary youth write community through and with sound. #hearmyhome inquires how hearing difference and listening to community may re-educate the senses and attune us towards cultural difference. Ultimately working to develop materials that hear, recognize, and sustain community literacies and cultural rhetorics, #hearmyhome asks educators, users, and participants alike to take heed of the frequencies and rhythms of culture as they architect, design, and teach towards more equitable landscapes for learning.Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 9.33.34 PM

Focusing on “everyday” cultural heritage, #hearmyhome demonstrates how youth can “hear” and “listen” to better understand difference and community literacies through expansive personal learning networks (PLN). Illustrated by the site’s larger open-networked soundscapes map, #hearmyhome is an affinity space wherein participants share both knowledge and life experiences (through audio, visual, and text) as a way to form interpersonal relationships and create a fuller understanding of community.

#hearmyhome has three primary goals:

  • As an area for research, #hearmyhome is about examining rhythmic rituals and the ambient soundscapes of culture that cut across the contexts of home, school, and community, looking at the connections, overlaps, and disjunctures.
  • As a pedagogical project for learning, #hearmyhome posits that some of the most meaningful forms of learning happen when a learners have interests or passions they are pursuing across contexts of (inter)cultural affinity, social support, and shared purpose.
  • As a model for connected learning design, #hearmyhome offers a way of connecting the spheres of home, school, and community-based learning, leveraging the affordances of digital and networked media.

In creating the #HearMyHome landing page, I used two primary tools: Bootstrap and GoogleMaps. Bootstrap was used early on during the Fellowship year to create the front-end framework and GoogleMaps was used to create a participatory archive of pins with links to modal referents and participation. Pins include reference to username, mode, and link. Explore!

Across the 8 week sonic series (Feb 8 – April 2, 2016), #hearmyhome introduced over 100+ users to the affordances of audio and sonic composition. From Billings, Montana to Coffs Harbour, Australia, we earwitnessed community and culture from a variety of peoples, places, and soundscapes. Although I was initially disappointed that the project did not have the massive 500+ member following I hoped for, the avenues of collaboration and networks of participation that transpired excite me. I look forward to collaborating with folks from #CLMOOC, #walkmyworld, and Sounding Out!

This summer, I hope to categorize, index, and host the soundscapes of participation for users to download, remix, and employ in their own interrogation of sound and audio possibility. Additionally, I hope to write grants that explore the sonic possibilities of classroom composition, connected learning, and practitioner-inquiry. Still interested in collaborating? Join by signing up for our email correspondences here or like our page on Facebook for more information on each sonic event, or simply ‘lurk and learn’ by following the #hearmyhome hashtag across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

Bernard C. Moore

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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.

Enjoy!
Bernard C. Moore

wargojon

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April 29, 2016

Cultural Heritage Informatics as Connected Learning? Modes, Meaning, and Metrics of Success

April 29, 2016 | By | No Comments

Last night, my collaborator and I were featured on the Google+ program Teachers Teaching Teachers to talk all things sound, community literacies, and connected learning. Across the larger broadcast we talked through the many phases of #hearmyhome, detailing how it was at once a grounded project in classroom and community spaces, while simultaneously operating as a networked collaborative that invited participants to earwitness culture and community through eight sonic events. We helped shape the soundscapes of the everyday. In the penultimate minutes of the program, the moderators asked us to consider metrics of achievement. “How would you qualify success for the project?” Eagerly, I started talking numbers. “We had over 100+ unique participants! We saw how modes connected, overlapped, and caused disjuncture in how we came to configure ‘home.’ We had participants across the globe, from East Lansing, MI to Australia.” Reflecting on my response, another language and literacy researcher, Ian, asked me to move beyond the numbers. “But what did you learn?” he asked.

As I reflect on the #hearmyhome project, and the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship in particular, I want to highlight how at a macro level, the projects that emerged from our shared community of fellows are exemplars of connected learning. Refracted through our varied interested in cultural heritage, we designed opportunities for engagement in powerful, relevant, and engaging ways. The affordances of the digital only augmented these visions and aided in the creation and building that occurred. Our learning was participatory, networked, and experiential. At a more micro level, #hearmyhome exemplified that some of the most meaningful forms of learning happen when a learners have interests or passions they are pursuing across contexts of (inter)cultural affinity and social support. The group operated with a shared purpose.
As a model for connected learning design, #hearmyhome offered a way of connecting the spheres of home, school, and community-based learning to leverage the affordances of digital and networked media. We met friends through #CLMOOC, collaborators with the team at #walkmyworld, and even had cheerleaders amplify the project at Sounding Out! In total, the modes, meanings, and metrics of success were larger than the decisions of design and/or series of sonic interactions. Sustained teaching and learning and engaged user participation was the result of making our process open.

As we close out the year here in LEADR, I know many of us would agree that at the core of the work we accomplished this year, our vision was guided by more equitable, social, and participatory forms of learning across our fields and disciplines. Through production-centered and open forms of cultural heritage informatics, we each engaged in relevant, hands-on, and innovative forms of design to fuse our own intellectual interests with digital experiences. Success, then, isn’t the completion and release of our individual projects, or the statistics and benchmarks of how many users, lurkers, and learners visit your site, but the behind-the-scenes process and sustained engagement of open learning.