New tools

Posted in Digital History on January 31st, 2008 by Colin

So, I figured that I would go ahead and do the assignment in case I forgot and incurred some horrible Digital History wrath on Tuesday.

There was some good stuff on that list, but honestly, I didn’t see a lot that I thought was good for our group. I signed up for one program that looked interesting that offered a way to collaborate online called LiquidPlanner,  but the load time was slow and once I got in I saw that it didn’t do much that Outlook and GoogleDocs don’t already do, but it does incorporate things from both which is neat.

One thing really did catch my attention for my group, though. GalaxyIt is a new search engine that groups results in a cloud around your search term. The farther from the term the less it has to do with what you asked, but you can scroll out and in to both increase the cloud and reduce it. Apparently it uses fractals, which means nothing to me, but it has a lot of potential and is different from Google. Load time is also slow, but they’re not even to beta yet, so that will probably be getting better soon. Apparently it adapts to your search criteria as well, so I think if nothing else it may help us double check our Google results.

What tools should we focus on?

Posted in Digital History on January 29th, 2008 by Colin

After Andy Rush’s presentation today on new media, I think that there are a couple good tools for us to focus on, at least for my group.

One of the things that the James Farmer group is talking about in our Google doc is creating a mashup after Andy introduced us to them today. I personally think that it’s a good idea, and want to know who suggested it, because I think a mashup would be a great intro to our final exhibit. 🙂

With that in mind, of the tools we saw today, I think that we need to focus on stuff like jamendo (which I’m listening to right now) and file converters like zamzar and media converter.

With that said, as far as problems, Andy also mentioned movie software for PC’s, but didn’t go into the details. I would like someone to go into the details because I don’t know anything about this.

Creative uses of tools

Posted in Digital History on January 27th, 2008 by Colin

I’m sorry that this is late. We just got back today and didn’t have internet access from the hotel, so I didn’t realize it was due yesterday.

The thing about the blog readers are they plug anyone into the web in the same way that major news organizations might also have. The days of just the select few with a connection to the newswires is gone. I think for independent journalists this is a great thing, because now all someone needs to get started is a computer and web connection, and suddenly they can monitor newspapers, political campaigns, government websites, and other sources for news instantly.

Speaking of blogs, blogs themselves are very powerful tools for marketing. For example, Woot has a different product every day that they sell on their blog. All they have to do is find a new product and give a review, and they earn the commissions.

There are also some really good collaborative uses of blogs, so that a community of contributors write one blog together. Metafilter works by allowing members to post links to cool websites that they find on the web. Other users comment on them which appears all together as one blog. This sort of technology is widely reproduced for some other purposes as well.

James Farmer Digital Presence

Posted in Digital History on January 22nd, 2008 by Colin

Now that it’s time to start thinking about our actual projects, I have a few things to share about our James Farmer Project.

Firstly, I just want to make sure that my group knows that I won’t be in class on Thursday. I have a conference I’m going to for the UMW Model UN this weekend and we leave Thursday. I mentioned it today in class to you guys, but here is another reminder. Dr. O’Donnell had a presentation tonight at 6pm in the Red Room of the Woodard Campus Center on James Farmer. I had class at 6 but went by later to introduce myself. I look forward to getting started on this.

So, after doing the assigned readings from Cohen and Rosenzweig for this week, I feel a little bit better about our options for organizing an online exhibit about James Farmer. I know a little bit of HTML, mostly text formatting, tables, and the basic body and head tags, but that was not going to get us very far. However, I think that the Omeka software that we were introduced to today in class would help us to go a long way in putting documents on the web (not by mere coincidence I’m sure). Also, Cohen and Rosenzweig mentioned that Firefox has HTML editors, so I found some that I recommend (especially SeaMonkey). Therefore, some combination of Omeka, some old-fashioned HTML, and maybe a web editor like the one in SeaMonkey would be really helpful. When in doubt, Microsoft Word also lets users save documents as web pages.

As far as what sort of exhibit we will have and where we will host it, I am assuming that Dr. O’Donnell and Dr. McClurken have their own ideas about that. We first need to know what sort of documents we are dealing with in the UMW Archive that have not already been digitized. Then we can decide how to present them.

On a related note, Cohen and Rosenzweig recommend looking at other examples of historians doing similar projects. There are a couple good ones that involve Farmer, including a documentary by New Hampshire Public Television called You Don’t Have to Ride JIM CROW!, the Greensboro Voices, and the James L. Farmer Home Page.


Some good reading

Posted in Digital History on January 19th, 2008 by Colin

Today, I poked around on the web and came across a few really good blogs that I thought had either a special appeal to my own interests in history, or stood out from other historical blogs not just because of their quality, but also for their originality.

  • Holocaust Controversies is an extremely powerful blog written by a team of historians that focus on contemporary issues regarding the legacy of the holocaust, including the rights of holocaust deniers.
  • The History Podcast Network offers historical podcasts from museums across the country and around the world.
  • Cafe Historia also specializes in contemporary issues in history, but on a very broad basis.
  • Today in Alternate History takes real historical events and considers other possibilities where things might have turned out differently.

Sona what?

Posted in Digital History, Uncategorized on January 18th, 2008 by Colin

After a question I got yesterday, I thought I would address something.

Sona si latine loqueris is Latin for: Honk if you speak Latin.

And you thought it was something smart. 😛

The Benefits of Digital History

Posted in Digital History on January 17th, 2008 by Colin

Hello, class, and hello, world.

My name is Colin Biddle and I am a senior history major at UMW.

My decision to take history 471C3, “Digital History,” was not very hard. I needed a seminar, but this class stood out. Seminars offer a survey of a particular topic, and usually, in history, it covers a specific time, place, or group in human civilization. Its true that the topics for the groups in this class all have something to do specifically with the University of Mary Washington and/or its community, Fredericksburg, but the approach of this class is so new that it goes beyond the topics of each group.

The internet connects people in new ways. If history is to survive in a digital world, it must adapt to include new tools besides pen and ink (and I don’t mean merely a word processor, either). As a history major, I hope to gain experience in this class in developing the craft of history to use the new technological tools society possesses. I signed up because I thought the tools I would gain in “Digital History” will better prepare me to face the future of history.

One thing sticks with me: the history major teaches individuals how to think critically, but does not offer any tools for expanding the space of history beyond the tried and true methods. Historians looked at primary sources like diaries and public documents long ago. In the 20th century, media technology improved exponentially and provided another rich source for the study of history, but books and journals in non-digital format still dominate the craft of history in the early 21st century. They are only now beginning to break out onto the digital scene. I think that this class can help change that.

By the way, for those wondering about my blog title, it is Latin. (And no, I don’t. :-P)

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