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CHI Fieldschool



May 2, 2017

Reflections on Earle Draper and the Making of Company Towns

May 2, 2017 | By | No Comments

In working on the website and uploading materials, it struck me that the houses primarily material authored by Earle Draper. Most of that was not by design but primarily due to the fact that most of the material easily accessible (both at the National Archives in Atlanta and the Rare Manuscripts Library at Cornell) is authored by Draper.  That having been said, it is striking the investment that Draper felt to the project. Draper embodied a particular kind of imagination. In reading essays by him, one is struck by this imagination. Norris was not just a planned town; it was experiment in peri-urban living. It also embodied the culmination of a process started by the TVA, a process that was, arguably, the raison d’etre of the TVA—electrification of rural homes. Electrification of the homes in Norris was an important aspect of the planning. It was seen as being distinctly ‘modern.’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, design became a means to modernize rural areas and usher development. Company towns were more than just housing for workers, through Norris, they became a conduit for a particular vision of the world. Bear in mind, this is a moment, around the world when ‘development’ becomes a rallying call. As I think about the summer, I am looking forward to examining more material authored by Draper on Norris, to better understand what modernity meant to men like Draper.

Working towards making a functional website also raised some technological issues. For instance, I thought I had worked out how to display pdfs as well as short reflective essays about the primary source pdfs on the website. When I actually began writing those essays, I realized that I had actually not worked out the issue. It made me realize that displaying a textbox and an iframe side-by-side is difficult! I was able to work out a solution eventually, that involved putting them both in one container that was able to recognize their differences and still let them be. In hindsight, it is probably the easiest and most straightforward solution but it was one I was avoiding because it would mean changing back-end code everywhere. Eventually, that’s what I had to do and it turned out well. Lessons learned: think about using CSS so as to avoid having to change lines in the html code of each page and second, create fully functional dummy pages!

The second big/bug issue I had was with Mapbox. My original plan was to georectify a site plan of Norris and use that on the home page, to create an interactive interface. However, whilst trying to do that, I realized that I did not have the right site-plan. After week of searching, I found the right version, right here at the MSU library! Having secured the right site plan, I set about trying to make my home page. However, mapbox was unable to handle the georectified image. So I was unable to create a tileset and get on with things. I am still working on resolving the issue, but for now, I am embedding a GoogleMap I created. It isn’t the ideal solution, but well… Lesson learned: find your sources before time!

Now, back to tinkering with the website! It launches soon!

David Bennett


February 24, 2014

Television and Celebritization: A Louisiana Story from 1960

February 24, 2014 | By | No Comments

Television has been turning everyday people into celebrities since it became a fixture in American households. Although reality television did not begin until 1973 with An American Family, television news reporters were putting everyday people in the spotlight long before that. Throughout the later 1950s and 1960s, we can see television news coverage turning local issues into national spectacles, a single person’s voice into the voice of an entire city. One such early instance of television news plucking ordinary people and thrusting them into the national spotlight occurred during the New Orleans integration crisis in 1960. Read More

Rachael Hodder


October 25, 2011

Rachael Hodder: aspiring maker of cool things

October 25, 2011 | By | No Comments

My name is Rachael, but online I go by @zenparty. The name that I use in digital spaces is as important to me as the one that’s on my driver’s license. Check out my blog post at for more information about my online identity.

Here’s a quick and dirty introduction:

A picture of Rachael Hodder's face

Greetings, Earthlings.

In my MA studies as a rhetoric student thus far, I’ve focused on building technical skills in web development and a theoretical foundation for how to do ethical, user-centered work. I place a high value on the ability to produce work that is accessible and useful to its intended users and stakeholders. At the core of my philosophy for composition and design is user advocacy, open access, and beauty in simplicity. Previously, I earned my BA from MSU in American Studies where I focused on postcolonial histories and cultural studies. Although I am now a rhetoric student, Read More

Ethan Watrall


May 20, 2011

Call for (Virtual) CHI Fieldschool Presenters

May 20, 2011 | By | No Comments

The start of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool ( is rapidly approaching (May 31st), and we are currently seeking interested individuals (scholars, industry, etc.) who would be interested in giving a virtual talk (via Skype) on a topic relating to this fieldschool’s primary focus: mobile and locative media for (and in) cultural heritage. The range of presentations we are interested in is very wide: tech intros, project case studies, best practice discussions, etc, etc, etc. Want to do a talk introducing students to jQuery Mobile? That would be great. Want to discuss a an ongoing cultural heritage mobile or locative project? Awesome. We are also interested in presentations on more general topics relevant to digital humanities and cultural heritage informatics (user centered design, project management, etc.) The idea is to introduce students to as broad a range of topics, platforms, perspectives, practitioners (scholars, grad students, developers, Read More

Ethan Watrall


January 12, 2011

Announcing the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool

January 12, 2011 | By | One Comment

We are extremely happy to officially announce the launch of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool. Taking place from May 31st to July 1st (2011) on the campus of Michigan State University, the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool will introduce students to the tools and techniques required to creatively apply information and computing technologies to cultural heritage materials and questions.

The CHI Fieldschool is a unique experience that employs the model of an archaeological fieldschool (in which students come together for a period of 5 or 6 weeks to work on an archaeological site in order to learn how to do archaeology). Instead of working on an archaeological site, however, students in the CHI Fieldschool will come together to collaboratively work on several cultural heritage informatics projects. In the process they will learn a great deal about what it takes to build applications and digital user experiences that serve the domain Read More