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CHI Grad Fellow Post

Autumn Beyer


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of the site, and the augmented reality (AR) app that was developed to showcase the virtually reconstructed town through historical documents and archaeological evidence.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


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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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.






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


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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Autumn Beyer


October 5, 2015

A Quick Trick: How to view the HTML coding for any website

October 5, 2015 | By | No Comments

For this week, we had a challenge assigned to create a website. There were several stipulations, the website needed to contain a landing page, several subpages (one for each team member), and a way to navigate between each page.

My team, Jon, Santos, and myself, worked together to create our lovely website. The most important thing I learned through this challenge was taught by Lisa Bright, one of the returning CHI Fellows. I learned that it is possible to view the HTML coding from any website, so you can see how they set up the page. Now, with her help, I have the skills to do it and I would like to share the trick with all of you! Inspect Element

For Mac users, on Safari, you need to go to your Safari Preferences tab. Under this tab, choose Advanced and check the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” option. Now, when you are viewing any website, highlight a section of the page, right (or double) click, then choose “Inspect Element.” This trick will open up another window or sidebar, allowing you to view the HTML coding for the page, with that element highlighted!

Take a look at these screenshots from my team’s webpage. The first one shows that I highlighted a portion of the website header. I then chose the “Inspect Element” option and the sidebar appeared, which can be seen in the photo below.

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I hope you all found this little trick helpful! It turned out to be extremely useful when our team was working on creating our website challenge.

Lisa Bright


October 3, 2015

Ethics and Digital Archaeology/Osteology

October 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

Recently Alison Atkin (@alisonatkin) put a request out on Twitter, asking for examples of how individuals have dealt with ethics and digital osteology.   When it comes to what osteologists choose to share online, there really isn’t a set code of rules or guidelines. Alison was giving a presentation on this lack of protocol at the last BABAO conference, and summed up her talk on her most recent blog post.

What to share online, and what to keep private, is something that is often a delicate balance between the source of the information, and the personal ethics of the individual creating or curating the digital resource. This was something that I had to decide when I created Mortuary Mapping for my CHI project last year, as well as the archival updates I complete this summer.

When I worked excavating the cemetery, I had permission to take photos for personal and teaching purposes. I’m in possession of many images of skeletal remains that would have been relevant to the Mortuary Mapping website. However, I made the personal decision not to include any images of human remains (other than one photo that appeared in a local newspaper article) on the website. I did this out of respect not only to the individuals that were buried there, but for the extended and direct living relatives that may still be in the area.  Read More



September 30, 2015

CHI Fellow Introduction: Jorge Felipe Gonzalez

September 30, 2015 | By | No Comments

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I am a second year PhD student in the Department of History at MSU. I received my undergraduate degree in History at the University of Havana in 2007. During a couple of years after graduation, I taught different courses at my Alma Mater. After a research stay as a fellow at the Iberoamerican Institute in Berlin, I started working as a researcher at the Fernando Ortiz Foundation in Cuba. The first digital project I was involved was a digital database about the liberated Africans community in Cuba during the 19th century. I coordinated a team of scholars working in Cuban archives, collecting, processing, and adding data to a software created for this project. Currently, I am developing with a colleague another digital database (hosted at MATRIX at MSU) based on baptism records from the black population from Cuba, Brazil, and the US. This project will gather substantial new information about slaves and their descendants in different regions in the Americas. This fellowship is a great opportunity to enrich my knowledge about digital tools that historians can apply for processing, preserving, and sharing data. CHI is undoubtedly related to my research interests.

My PhD dissertation focuses on the Atlantic connections among slave traders from Upper Guinea, Cuba and the Southern States in the US in order to explain the origins of the Spanish slave trade at the end of the 18th century and the emergence of the region of Galinhas in Africa as an important port of embarkation during the 19th century.  My fields of specialization are Atlantic History, Caribbean/Cuban History. I am currently pursuing a degree as Africanist at MSU. I am also codirecting a project at the  Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center about the connections between Cuba and the US in the Atlantic slave trade.



September 28, 2015

CHI Fellow Introduction: Jon M. Wargo

September 28, 2015 | By | No Comments

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 4.22.21 PMHello! My name is Jon M. Wargo. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in Teacher Education specializing in language and literacy education and receiving a graduate certificate in qualitative research methods. Prior to coming to Michigan State University I received my B.A. in English and Gender Studies at Indiana University and taught/field-instructed K-12 English language arts in Colorado. I am very excited to round out my graduate school career by being a CHI fellow!

Anchored in interdisciplinary study, my work engages with qualitative and humanities oriented research to explore the intersections of language and literacy education, technology, and cultural rhetorics. Given the increasing presence and seemingly ubiquitous status new media and digital technologies have in mediating contemporary lives, my dissertation project examines how LGBT and queer youth engage in these varying levels of mediation as they navigate and negotiate communities, construct visibility, and orchestrate convergent identities across online/offline contexts. Emerging from my interests in youth multimodal composing, my research continues to be informed by the haptic practices of writing in digital environments. Leveraging audio as the mode of primacy, I hope to utilize the CHI fellowship to interrogate how community literacies and cultural rhetorics are written through and with sound. Ultimately working to connect digital soundscapes around the globe, one of my larger goals this year is to develop pedagogical materials for humanities teachers interested in working with sonic composing. Through this participatory archive and knowledge base I hope to build materials that hear, recognize, and sustain community and help attune educators to the rhythms of culture.

Sara Bijani


September 25, 2015

CHI Fellow Introduction: Sara Bijani

September 25, 2015 | By | No Comments

I am a historian of the contemporary United States, with research interests in the areas of gender and political culture. This fellowship presents an exciting opportunity to learn methodological skills that will strongly enrich my future work, as the temporal and social dimensions of my research are well suited to the unique narrative structures that digital scholarship provides. More specifically, my dissertation project explores the interactions of activist coalitions, federal urban policy, and municipal governance in the late 20th century United States. Within this context, I study the intersections of formal politics and outsider identities in large municipalities, with an emphasis on those coalitions and politicians whose activism reshaped structures of governance in several large cities during the culture wars of the 1980s. I am principally interested in a small wave of women who were elected to mayoral offices in large U.S. cities during the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the local coalitions that made these elections possible. I argue that these women mayors in the late 20th century U.S. demonstrated a spectrum of sensitivity to sex, gender, race, and other identity based experiences of injustice that cannot be simplistically reduced to their own individual sex identity, but that also cannot be entirely disassociated from the situated cultural experience of being sexed in a particular time and place. Uncovering these experiences—many of them retained by living people—requires the development of a toolkit that incorporates but goes beyond the archival methods traditionally employed by historians.

I recently completed an intensive and inspiring two week summer institute in oral history at Columbia University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics, where a fair amount of the workshops emphasized the unique challenges and opportunities of digital curation within oral history archives. As Doug Boyd compelling (and repeatedly) warned the fellows at this institute, the promise of digital access is still very much a work in progress for most archives, as the sheer volume of the collections makes accessible curation extremely difficult. As a CHI fellow this year, I hope to develop a pilot version of a recyclable digital gallery interface for oral history collections here in the Michigan State University libraries. Recognizing that this is a very lofty goal, I do hope to produce something that will add to the library’s ongoing digital initiatives in a useful and meaningful way. Stay tuned to find out what that looks like!

[image: A “pro plan” delegate at the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas clipped from the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year. “The Spirit of Houston: The First National Women’s Conference: An Official Report to the President, the Congress and the People of the United States.” Washington: U.S. Government. Printing Office, 1978.]