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CHI Grad Fellow Post

Lisa Bright

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December 2, 2015

ossuaryKB: The Mortuary Method and Practice Knowledge Base

December 2, 2015 | By | No Comments

I’ve previously mentioned that Katy Meyers Emery and myself are working on a larger project called ossuaryKB: The Mortuary Method & Practice Knowledge Base. This project is being produced in conjunction with the Institute on Digital Archaeology Method & Practice. This multiyear institute is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and organized by MSU’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX.   We attended the first portion (this past August) along with other archaeologists and scholars to develop new skills in digital method and practice. Each participant is required to develop a significant digital archaeological project by the end of the second portion of the institute (August 2016).

OssuaryKB seeks to leverage the diversity found in mortuary archaeology to improve standards, increase conversation and collaboration between different periods and regions of research, and improve methods and practice. In order to do this, we need a single knowledge base where mortuary archaeologists can see best practices, exemplar case studies, innovative methods, and more. This knowledge base will allow researchers to find new methods, see innovative practices, connect with other archaeologists, comment on these new methods and share their own work.

Each project included in the site will have identifiers or keywords that relate to the methods and practices that they are using that will allow people to easily find the project based on those words. For example, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Historic-Era Cemetery would be listed as a project with keywords such as ‘historic’, ‘inhumation’, ‘block-lifting’, ‘low preservation’, ‘redwood coffins’ etc. Users who were interested in learning about unique methods for dealing with ‘low preservation’ would look that up in the knowledge base, and learn about projects like this. Each record about the site will include a narrative about the site, citations, any documentation they used, and space for commenting from the archaeologists and users. In addition to the project records, there will be information about the new and traditional methods that these projects are using. We will also provide links to various websites or databases that are linked to the projects, methods or practices- such as links to ASU standards or BABAO forms.

So, for my CHI project I’ll be working on a portion of this larger project, specifically building the database. I’m taking a KISS approach (keep it simple stupid) and am leaning towards a SQL database. This will of course depend on the hierarchical data organization we decide on for the website functionality. The Digital Archeology Institute also pairs each of the projects with several mentors who provide feedback and help guide the project. Their input may slightly change our trajectory, but I look forward to sharing the process with you all!

mcgrat85

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November 30, 2015

Reading Digitally, Archiving by Smartphone

November 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

A friend of mine once joked that so many Victorianists become digital humanists because Victorian novels weigh so much. If the Victorianist is drawn to DH because of the ease—and chiropractic benefits—of digitization, then the Modernist might stay away for similar reasons. Hamstrung by copyright laws, modernist scholars like myself find it quite challenging to undertake a large-scale digital project with the texts we find so interesting. Of course, this is too simple: a number of online repositories, such as the Modernist Journals Project, the Modernist Versions Project, and Editing Modernism in Canada have done so much to increase digitization efforts and make rare texts available to scholars digitally. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder at the relative lack of digitally-inflected panels, workshops, and seminars at the Modernist Studies Association’s most recent annual conference in Boston last week (2 workshops, 2 roundtables, 1 panel, 1 seminar, and a “digital exhibition,” featuring 8 projects).

I set aside lobster rolls and Sam Adams and oh-so-good East Coast pizza to attend one of the pre-conference workshops that took up this issue. Led by my new #scholarlygirlcrushes Shawna Ross and Claire Battershill, “Digital Modernist Texts in the Classroom,” addressed questions of access and digitization for research and teaching. Shawna and Claire are a part of a group working on Open Modernisms, designed for digitizing, archiving, and anthologizing modernist texts. In many ways, Open Modernisms is a crowdsourcing anthology project: users can upload their own texts to the database and access others, creating their own anthologies for teaching. (Undoubtedly, Open Modernisms will have other uses, but our workshop focused on teaching).

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wargojon

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November 30, 2015

Failing While Folding; Or, Let’s Hope this Project Works!

November 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

In starting the “building” phase of my project, I am reminded of Pearce Durst’s recent blog essay on “Inventing the Digital Humanities through Freirian Praxis.” In it, Durst uses the metaphor of origami and the particulars of folding and unfolding to nuance the rhetorical practices of building and deconstructing in the humanities classroom. For Durst, this recursive practice is a bright spot in the advancement and ongoing invention of what is being called the digital humanities. I would add, however, that it also serves as an apt metaphor for failure. Despite following the 20+ steps to make the paper crane, I am often left asking, “Why doesn’t mine look like the picture?” Similarly, in our latest quick-build challenge, I asked myself a similar question, “Huh? How did we do that?” Using Durst’s metaphor of foldings this month, I will work to meditate on the particulars of theory, application, and reflection and consider failure as a pedagogical necessity for innovation.

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Sara Bijani

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November 18, 2015

Thinking Precarity in the Digital World

November 18, 2015 | By | No Comments

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending and presenting some of my research at the National Women’s Studies Association’s annual conference. I’m still processing all of the wonderful difficult conversations I was witness and participant to in this space, but Sara Ahmed’s keynote speech at the conference resonates through all of it. Ahmed approached the conference theme of precarity through a long meditation on “Feminism and Fragility,” with persistent metaphors of breaking against walls. According to Ahmed: “So much is, so many are, involved in a breakage.” Despite their social nature, these walls are often invisible to those who aren’t pushed into them, leaving the meanings behind stories about breaking against walls often unintelligible to those who don’t share the experience. Believing in these walls is feminist work, as is honoring the expression and knowledge of those who reveal the walls we don’t see. Ahmed presents clumsiness—meaning an awareness and embrace of the “bumpiness” of equality—as the basis of a queer ethics. “Smoothness,” in this formulation, is a form of violent adjustment to a world with walls that are positioned to break one’s self. These walls harden history, and histories then themselves become walls. Ideas of the past become themselves the agents of breakage in the present.

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Nikki Silva

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November 16, 2015

Recap of the Midwest Archaeological Conference

November 16, 2015 | By | No Comments

At the Midwest Archaeological Conference (MAC) from Nov. 5-7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I presented a poster titled “A Taste of Archaeology: The Importance of Public Archaeology Programs and Digital Cultural Heritage”, which discussed my experiences as a supervisor for a public archaeology camp offered through the Dickson Mounds Museum (DMM) and a description of my joint CHI project with CHI fellow Autumn Beyer: Mapping Morton Village.

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Autumn Beyer

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November 13, 2015

The New Philadelphia Augmented Reality Tour App

November 13, 2015 | By | No Comments

This past week I attended the Midwest Archaeological Conference in Milwaukee, WI. One of the talks I found very interesting and relevant to our CHI Fellowship was by Christopher Fennel of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, titled: New Philadelphia, Illinois: From Research Project to National Historic Landmark. He spoke about the significance of the site, and the augmented reality (AR) app that was developed to showcase the virtually reconstructed town through historical documents and archaeological evidence.

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Lisa Bright

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November 3, 2015

Don’t fear the database: SQL v. SPARQL

November 3, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

As I previously mentioned in my introduction blog, this year my CHI project is directly related to the project myself and Katy Meyers Emery are working on for the Digital Archaeology Institute. ossuaryKB – The Mortuary Method & Practice Knowledge Base seeks to create a singular location where mortuary archaeologists can see best practices, exemplar case studies, innovative methods and more. We want the site to be functional, allowing people to easily find projects, articles, or forms based on identifiers or keywords. Creating a functional database that will do this is easier said than done. My focus for CHI this year it to create this database.

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farleyj7

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October 21, 2015

Building a new relationship: Cultural Heritage Informatics and Black English

October 21, 2015 | By | One Comment

This post is dedicated to the amazing and internationally renowned Dr. Geneva Smitherman–Dr. G. To keep it brief, as she has too many accolades to list, Dr. G is the University Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of English and Core Faculty to the African American and African Studies (AAAS) Program at Michigan State University. Most importantly, she is the preeminent scholar in the field of linguistics, specifically, African American Language (AAL), Black English (BE).

Dr. G teaches an online class AAAS 891 focused on African American Language, a class I’m currently enrolled in and enthusiastically support. Believe it or not, African American Language does exist. It is not slang, broken English or some contrived dialect that spawned yesterday. Black English is a legitimate language contrary to popular belief. The history and many books on the subject speak for itself.

Post-Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the integration of classrooms nationwide, the exposure to the tongue of Black America—Black English—“a style of speaking words with Black flava—with Africanized semantic, grammatical, pronunciation, and rhetorical patterns,” according to Dr. G, came this abrupt awakening no one was expecting. Since that time there has been ongoing onerous debate about the place of AAL in education. Both sides have vehemently argued for and against it. Maybe digital? Why not digital?

The explosion of the digital space has been the truce or the much needed answer. As a digital zealot, Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) could possibly be the solution to this decades old debate. How and why? The infinite lifespan of a project in the digital world coupled with the creativity and customs of CHI may make the perfect focus group to allow for AAL in the classroom beyond social media, blogs and the like. This relationship could influence pedagogy, epistemology and rhetoric. Ideally, this is the beginning of something revolutionary in education, Black America, CHI and the digital communities.

 

 

 

wargojon

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October 19, 2015

Cultural Heritage Informatics as Rhetorical Praxis

October 19, 2015 | By | No Comments

As a digital literacies and cultural rhetorics researcher, I came to the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) Fellowship interested in developing the skills to hack (build) and not just yak (talk about). In other words, I was interested in how designing the experience and experiencing the design come to be pedagogical moments. How do these experiences illuminate facets of knowing and coming to know content, and heritage for that matter, differently? Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 5.43.34 PMLike many CHI fellows, I was unsure what cultural heritage informatics was. Who is it for? What does it do? In one of our earliest meetings, Ethan, drawing from Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, highlighted that informatics was “the creative application of information, communication, and computing technologies to ________________.” Hence, cultural heritage informatics, if we take this working definition, is the creative application of information, communication and computing technologies to cultural heritage.

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Nikki Silva

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October 12, 2015

Cultural Heritage and Politics: Dealing with the Closure of the Illinois State Museum

October 12, 2015 | By | No Comments

On October 1st the Illinois State Museum (ISM), and its affiliates, closed its doors to the public. The staff is still going to work, but no one is able to visit the 138 year-old museum system. I have spent the past three summers working as a graduate assistant on the Morton Village Archaeological Project, an ongoing collaborative research project between MSU and the Dickson Mounds Museum (DMM), an affiliate of the Illinois State Museum. Since 2008, Dr. Jodie O’Gorman, Chair of the Anthropology Department and Associate Professor at MSU, and Dr. Michael Conner, Associate Curator of Anthropology at DMM, have trained undergraduates and volunteers in excavation and laboratory techniques at the Morton Village site, located within 2 miles of the DMM.

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