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CHI Project Info

dixonel7

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February 16, 2018

Learning To Code….Twice

February 16, 2018 | By | No Comments

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I’m working on a project that illustrates and advocates for non-linear, queer composing as a death-defying act of world-making. To do this in a digital project, I’ve been making my project using Twine, self-described as  “an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.” I think most people tend to use Twine to create a kind of “choose your own adventure” story-game. In this way, the platform works perfectly for my project. I want users to click through it and feel like their experience is completely random and different every time they come to the site.

The weird thing about Twine is that it has its own coding language, plus it uses html, css, and javascript. It won’t let me just code using html, but rather I’ve been doing a combination of both html and Twine’s style of coding. So, to get a bunch of overlapping pictures like this:

I have to code it like this:

Plus some css on another page.

I’m not great at coding in the first place– I knew nothing about it until starting this fellowship, so having to both continue to learn the basics of html, css, and javascript, as well as Twine’s formatting is a bit of a chore. To be frank, it took me six hours to get those pictures randomly on the screen and turn them into clickable buttons. Still, I love working with Twine because it offers up a cool way to think about creating a website/story that is random and non-linear in the way that I need it to be. This is what my collection of pages look like right now:

I’m so excited to keep working and build an even bigger web of pages. Wish me luck!

Nicole Raslich

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February 6, 2018

Digital Formats for Teaching Cultural Heritage Preservation

February 6, 2018 | By | No Comments

As the second half of the academic year is well underway, I am mired in digital platforms, establishing my project. It always helps me, when I get stuck on something and find it overwhelming, to go back and read what I proposed to do. This is where I am starting today. The rest of this post lays out what I am attempting to do, for the first time, for my CHI project. Having previously designed and taught my own course at another Big Ten institution, I find it fundamentally easier to create a typical, lecture style, college course centered around these same materials. I wanted to do something new and challenging with this CHI fellowship, as well as something that could reach a broader audience than a class of fifty college age students. Having several certifications in policy and law compliance, I noticed that the majority of people at these certification workshops are working professionals. People in this arena would likely never take a traditional college course yet needed this information immediately when it came across their desk at work. For the majority of people, it never crosses their mind that when running a water line or erecting a lamp-post or building a house in an old neighborhood, they might run across a burial ground or something else of historic significance. I hope that the online project I develop will aid these endeavors.

Issues such as the return of items of cultural patrimony, the looting and annihilation of irreplaceable cultural heritage monuments, traditional cultural properties and the desecration of national heritage sites worldwide plague our world daily. Because of these issues, my project for CHI is to create an online course specializing in cultural heritage management policy and law both nationally and internationally (UNESCO). This course will highlight some of the more notorious cases, how they were dealt with and the applicable laws used in their mitigation. I hope this course will enhance curriculums in cultural heritage management as well as deliver needed policy training for people outside academia in institutions such as public or tribal museums, and government offices. An online format for this course works well for this topic as the laws dealt with are tedious in a standard lecture format. This format allows for the topics to be broken down into a series of public lectures or informational online sessions that appeal to a wide range of disciplines and audiences.

Designing a course such as this integrate me further into the realm of cultural heritage management by allowing me the expertise required to assist local communities with the preservation and dissemination of their own cultural heritage agendas to a wider range of recipients. Developing this course will allow me to engage with pedagogical approaches for digital course design and digital scholarship while allowing me to deliver a much-needed source of information the communities I work with. As digital outlets become the most common way to reach the widest audience, it is crucial that we as cultural managers take advantage of this trend. In an era where funding quickly disappears without an apparent real-world application, it is crucial we reach a wide audience and make our classes relevant to a broader market.

This will be a mixed methods course, involving short, twenty minutes or less, lectures on each policy, when it applies and the steps to work through it. After each lecture, hands on activities involving actual cases from around the world will be used to allow the participants to work through the mitigation of each law. Then, another short lecture will be given, discussing how each case was mitigated and the results of each mitigation. Discussion boards/online forums will be used to stimulate interactive discussion about what things went both right and wrong in these mitigations. Further lectures will illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of these policies.

My intended audiences are Anthropology, History, Museum Studies, and other disciplines utilizing museum collections and working with issues involving cultural heritage management more broadly. Tribal historic preservation offices, city, county and state governments agencies that deal with these policies can use the modules as training aids for their staff. In many communities, it is an inadvertent discovery or a NAGPRA issue that sparks the formation of a cultural center or society or a board to address issues revolving around section 106. An introductory timeline of the history of these laws followed by a comment section will open the course where participants will offer their experience/involvement with these laws and their background. This is intended to lead to an understanding that almost everyone involved has had little to no training in this and all want to learn more about to protect the past. This creates a sense of community and shared goals through preservation.

fandinod

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February 2, 2018

Lost in Translation or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Github

February 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

Grandiose ideas are often the downfall of any undertaking. Take Napoleon and the decision to invade Russia, Tony Stark building Ultron, the Sega Dreamcast and the withdrawal of Sega from the console market. The most important point I am trying to keep in mind for the project is to keep the parts under the hood straightforward and trust the end product will be more than the sum of its parts. The second point was ensuring compliance and responsiveness on both computers and mobile devices, as I am running with the idea that most people idly browse the internet on their phones. If my site was to develop into something useful for students, scholars, and casual visitors during the 2020 Games, I had to ensure a clean and intuitive interface that wasn’t going to cause me grief a few years down the line.

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dixonel7

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October 27, 2017

Making as World-Making

October 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

Part of my goal in the CHI fellowship has been to explore an idea I have been developing over the last year about queer multimodal composing: that the act of making things can make worlds. I’m definitely not the first person to have developed an understanding of making as world-making, and I owe much of what I know from the work (and in many cases personal mentorship) of Malea Powell, Angela Haas, Jacqueline Rhodes, Qwo-Li Driskill, Gloria Anzaldúa, Trixie Smith, and Dànielle DeVoss, Andrea Riley Mukavetz, among many others.

In this fellowship, I would like to particularly focus on how queer modes of composing and making can create more welcoming, beautiful, livable worlds for queer people. What follows is some history and background of my project, alongside some of my own art.

Queer Composing as Life-Affirming and World-Making 

As the Cultural Rhetorics Conference in 2016, I sat in on a panel on queer mentorship. At this roundtable, a director of a writing center at a women’s college told us about her writing center as a queer space. She had multiple students who identified as LGBT and she worked hard to cultivate a welcoming space for them. Still, at one point, as she discussed her students’ struggles with self harm and thoughts of suicide, she tearfully asked the group of us: “My queer students are literally dying. What can I do?” We remained silent, blinking at the enormity of the question.

How many of us had asked ourselves this? How many had asked our mentors? Probably everyone in the room. We went on to share some stories of possibility and hope, but the questions stayed with me long after the session. It still sticks with me. I want to know what I can do as a scholar, a student, a teacher, a practitioner and a mentor to defy the deaths of my queer siblings, friends, mentors, teachers, and students.

Because it is what I am perhaps best at and what I care about most, I want to think about how queer work in writing and rhetoric especially can defy death.

Terrific, Radiant, Humble

In “Cultivating the Scavenger,” Stacy Waite writes,

I advocate for queer methodologies because I am queer, because queer teenagers all over the world are killing themselves at horrifying rates, because if oppression is really going to change, it’s our civic duty to think in queerer ways, to come up with queer kinds of knowledge-making so that we might know truths that are non-normative, and contradictory, and strange. (64)

Like Waite, I want to spend my career thinking in queerer ways, encouraging my colleagues to think in queerer ways, teaching my students to think in queerer ways. Developing and foregrounding the queer imagination is one way to counteract the normative structures in place that delegitimize and erase queer ways of knowing. For instance, Waite recalls a time in the second grade in which, as an answer to her teacher’s question, “what saved Wilbur from being killed in Charlotte’s Web?,” Waite responded “writing” instead of “Charlotte.” “I remember she said my answer was ‘kind of out there'”(65), Waite writes. Indeed, how many of us have been told our work, our desires, our thoughts, our hopes and dreams, were ‘out there?’ How many times can we hear it before we grow too weary to go on?

I wonder, in what ways can writing, composing, world-making save us, as it did for Wilbur?

Resisting Linearity, Resisting Conclusions, Resisting Death

In “Opening New Media to Writing: Openings and Justifications,” Ann Wysocki asks, 

How might the straight lines of type we have inherited on page after page after page of books articulate to other kinds of lines, assembly lines and lines of canned products in supermarkets and lines of desks in classrooms? How might these various lines work together to accustom us to standardization, repetitions, and other processes that support industrial forms production? (114)

Just as Wysocki likens rows of text to rows of groceries or desks, I think about the rows and rows of gravestones in a graveyard: we live and die by (hetero)normativity.

I believe one way to avoid that kind of slow, organized death is to move beyond the boundaries. I mean this both figuratively and literally. Our rows and rows of alphabetic texts are products of Western normative thought, and each neatly concluded seminar paper equates to a little death: a finished product. To avoid these little deaths is to embrace the death-defying queer possibilities of non-linear composing and creation. A resistance to neat death-like conclusions is a figurative act of defying death. But, at its most literal, an embrace of queer multimodal composing offers up a space in which queer ways of knowing are valued, and an embrace of queer ways of knowing has the potential to save queer lives.

fandinod

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October 15, 2017

Future Tense – Digital Humanities, Technology, and the Scholar

October 15, 2017 | By | No Comments

As a historian in training in academia today, the question of technology goes beyond the subjects I study into the current state of the profession I have chosen to enter. In teaching digital tools to undergraduate classes I see a break as substantial as the line between the generation before and after the advent of the internet. Part of my motivation to become a Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellow was to explore how the digital humanities have transformed other disciplines and find ways to work on a digital project that incorporated my own philosophies and worked in tandem with my future research goals.
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mcgrat85

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September 22, 2017

Introducing CHI Fellow Laura McGrath

September 22, 2017 | By | No Comments

Hello! My name is Laura McGrath, and I’m delighted to be returning as a CHI Fellow during 2017-18. I’m a PhD Candidate in the department of English, working on computational approaches to post45 American literature.

My dissertation, Middlemen: Making Literature in the Age of Multimedia Conglomerates, studies the major shifts in the field of literary production in the wake of the mergers and acquisitions that roiled the publishing industry in the 1980s and 1990s—a process that resulted in the formation of what we now call The Big Five. Each chapter examines one influential figure in the publishing industry: the agent, the acquisitions editor, the publicist, and the social media manager. Too often dismissed as “middlemen” or mere bureaucratic functionaries, such professionals are powerful nodes between the artist and the corporation, mediating between the domain of aesthetic or literary value and the managerial imperatives of huge media firms. As such, these overlooked figures are not just powerful gatekeepers, but administrators of literary prestige, value, and “corporate taste” in the contemporary, shaping the form and content of contemporary fiction while providing access to mainstream publication, and cultural consecration.

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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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nelso663

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May 27, 2017

The Glambu-Launch Post

May 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

Question: What is the sum of the galleries, libraries, archives, and museums industry category‘s acronym (GLAM) and the archaic word ambulator (Noun, “One that walks about” [Lewis & Short, 1879])? Read More

Jessica Yann

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May 12, 2017

Launching the Timeline of Michigan Archaeology

May 12, 2017 | By | One Comment

The Timeline of Michigan Archaeology has officially launched! You can find it at timemarch.matrix.msu.edu.  Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, and I hope you are too. You can scroll through time, click on individual events (archaeological sites), or even search for a specific date to see what was going on at that point in time.  I created this timeline in part by request; I have often worked with school groups and the public at archaeology events and have had several requests for some sort of timeline. I don’t think this is quite what they had in mind, but I hope it suits the purpose.

The sites presented are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning that they are the some of the most significant archaeological sites in the state. There are two exceptions to this: the Tuscola Mastodon find and the Leavitt site. However, these present crucial information about this very early time in the state, and I thought it was important to include this information. The sites also span the complete history of the state, up to about 1930.

This site was created using the Timeglider JS widget, a Javascript element that can be embedded in HTML. It was surprisingly easy to work with once I became familiar with the code, and should I need to add new events in the future, should be able to. Anyone with questions on the technical process can contact me.

Otherwise, I hope you enjoy my site and find it useful. There is a lot of information contained within it. I did my best to provide what I thought people would be interested in, but if there is something that you think would be useful to include, please let me know!

Jack Biggs

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May 12, 2017

Launching J-Skel

May 12, 2017 | By | No Comments

I am very proud to announce the launch of J-Skel: The Digital Ages Estimator of Subadult Skeletons at j-skel.matrix.msu.edu!  I designed this website with the goal of]-o0 acquainting upper-level undergraduate students and early graduate students of physical anthropology and human osteology (or for anyone else just interested in bones) to aging methods of juvenile skeletons.  Though this may seem like a morose topic, skeletal remains from juveniles are actually quite enlightening and can even give information as to the quality of life, area of origin, and migration patterns across time and space.

All-in-all, juvenile remains are essential in reconstructing past populations.  This can only be done by understanding how the body grows and develops during this time period, hence J-Skel.  Data gathered for this project were from multiple resources that specialized on individual bones or elements and they aged over time during the life course.  However, the majority of these projects were conducted by white European or European-American scholars on populations of similar demographics. Although there have been recent pushes to get more geographic and cultural populational studies rolling, the majority of data out there are on individuals of European descent.

The J-Skel homepage allows you to click on an interactive SVG of a child skeleton which takes you to aging methods in different parts of the body.  After months of tearing through RaphaelJS, the original javascript library I attempted to use to create the interactive elements, I could never get the SVG I created or RaphaelJS to link to my html.  However, I was eventually able to use Inkscape to create the SVG of the child’s skeleton and directly embed this lengthy code directly into the body, giving me a large interactive component to the website.

For this site, the skeletal regions I chose to group were the skull, thorax, pelvic girdle, upper limbs, and lower limbs.  Each region/subpage is broken down by bone with general descriptions of age methods and age-related changes.  Beside those are classes of buttons which correspond to different levels of fusion between bones.  For example, the frontal bone (the forehead) is originally made up of two halves that fuse and become one single bone.  The buttons beside the description would say: ‘unfused’ – for two separate halves, ‘fusing’ – one bone that is in the process of fusing the two bones, or ’completely fused’ – the two haves have become one with no remnants of the fusion line.

Depending on which button you clicked per bony element, an appropriate age range would be generated and appear in a text box on the right side of the screen.  Using the example above, if you have a specimen in front of you from a skeletal collection where the two frontal bones are in the process of fusing, by clicking on the button labeled “Fusing”, the text box to the right would reveal: “Between 2 and 4 years old”.  This process is the same for all of the bones that I used for this project.  However, not every bone or bone type in the body is used for aging one the website.  Some bones are much better than others to use for aging, so those are the ones that were selected.

One aspect of the site that I plan to work on over the summer is to include a section over aging using dentition.  The teeth form and erupt (protrude from the bone) in a very particular order and on a strict schedule such that teeth can greatly increase accuracy in age estimations.  The reason they have not been included in the site right now is due to a function of time for research.  Teeth are incredibly complicated structures and the time it would have taken to get all of the information gathered and synthesized would have prevented me from launching the website on time, so be on the lookout for that section to pop up later this summer!

I hope you find this tool as useful, interesting, and informative as it was for me to create (both content-wise and from a web designer point-of-view).  This subject is one that may on the surface seem eerie or creepy, but recognizing the value of how infants, children, and teenagers make sense of- and are affected by the world around them helps us understand cultural processes and mechanisms of society.  This tool is just one way of starting to address these interests, so I hope you enjoy the website and learn something new!