Greetings once again fellow traveler on the great ocean of knowledge that is the internet! I am Daniel Fandino, a third year PhD student with the History Department at Michigan State University. Coincidentally, this is also my third adventure with the CHI Fellowship, as my affiliation with the fellowship coincided with my start with MSU. My research is centered on U.S. cultural history, with a particular focus on the intersection of popular culture, identity, and technology.

Since my first year at MSU I have become deeply interested in digital history and cultural heritage, in no small part due to CHI. This is now reflected in the direction my dissertation is now taking. Before my time at Michigan State I earned my Master’s degree in History from the University of Central Florida and then spent the next few years living in Shanghai, Taipei, and Tokyo.

I am honored to return this year to CHI for the second time as a Senior Fellow. Historians, as noted by engineer and cartoonist Jorge Cham, are among the lone wolves of academia, usually working solo on projects. This was especially true in my case, as I completed my Master’s thesis away from UCF and a collegiate academic community. My first year with the CHI Fellowship was a fantastic introduction to not only the application of digital methods and tools to my discipline but also a true fellowship in the sense of connecting with other graduate students as friends and colleagues. This fostered a sense of community beyond the walls of my own discipline and added new perspectives I believe have enhanced my own thinking and work.

My previous CHI projects have dealt with the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the rise of conventions as a cornerstone of American popular fandom throughout the 1980s. These two projects led to a deeper consideration of how to move my dissertation towards a true hybrid model, incorporating a substantial digital element alongside the written work. This year I am considering using my CHI project to further the skills I believe I will need for the digital portion of my dissertation through exploring the evolving cultural heritage of a major shrine in Tokyo as tradition and popular culture unexpectedly collide.

Follow me on Twitter @danfandino and if you are so inclined you can read my musings on the intersection of history, popular culture, and technology at my blog Journey to the (Wired) West.