We built our first exhibit today! Yay! The main idea is to take some of the groups that we have in collections and build “exhibit” pages that will provide background information, further links and work to demonstrate why that group of cartoons can be viewed as a collection with a common theme.  We started off by building an exhibit for the James Monroe Cartoons. It is slightly ironic that it is the smallest exhibit we have considering that the cartoons were housed at the James Monroe Museum.

The only downside of the new format we are using with omeka is that we are going to have to do some hand coding on some of the pages. Hopefully this won’t be too painful and will be part of the learning experience that is my training in digital literacy,

I have begun to upload all of the content labels to the website. It has been interesting looking at each of them as I put them up. I have not yet adjusted to the fact that content labels are meant to be a simple little snippet to engage the viewers interest and provide them with very basic facts on the image. I keep wanting to have more detail and more facts! But seeing how this is something I have felt all semester I don’t think it is likely that I will adjust/change in the last few weeks.  I like the idea that leaving things simple can peak a viewers curiosity however and inspire them to possibly engage in further research on their own.

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The first article I read for this assignment was one of the pieces on using Wikipedia.  I was interested to read more articles on historians opinions on the topic after our class discussion on the freedoms and dangers of wikipedia.  Contrary to my assumption that the article would just describe the same arguments that I had heard previously the author had several new issues that he brought up in regards to working with wiki. The first that I was surprised by was the fact that only 7 out of 28 people in the class had heard of wikipedia.  This article was written in 2006 and this was hypothetically a college class! I am some what shocked/appalled at that fact.  I would have been a sophmore in high school at that time.  I assume/hope that I was aware of wikipedia at least on some level.

The author reminds the audience that historians should react to wikipedia the same way they do to any new resource: study it, change it, and improve it to fit their needs.  The common fear towards wikipedia is the fact that it is too easily manipulated.  As historians we want information to come from accredited sources, official looking men and women with collections of college degrees.  A second article I read commiserated on this opinion in its statement that we often forget the fact that “history is created.”  Someone came before us and wrote down the accounts that we are reading. Historical accounts are almsot always going to be some what subjective, either in the focus, tone or attitude of the author.  Each historian approaches their work by focusing primarily on what they find interesting.  Their focus on a certain perspective would hypothetically limit an individuals full understanding of an event.

The second issue I took away from reading these articles on digital history was the fact that the opportunities with digital resources are essentially endless. Conducting a search on terms in a library could provide you with a significant number of sources.  Conducting a search on the internet however could provide results in the hundreds of thousands.  One of the articles discussed the forums and collections of articles that have been compiled on the issue of women and social movements.  Digital history requires that historians think ahead of time what overlaps could exist in research terms.  This database would hypothetically have to have resources on women in the abolition movement, Civil Rights, the Suffragette Movement, etc.  In the past these resources would have existed as separate entities in a library environment.  That being said digital collections like this one could be said to be saving a lot of time and work for future researchers.

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Update

So just a current update on our progress:

The main thing I have been working with this project lately has been research and writing content labels for the various cartoons.  This has been an interesting experience because as we have mentioned the cartoons cover a variety of topic and sometimes obscure issues.  As a result, research has been rather difficult at times and I have felt some what insecure in writing and publishing content labels.  In some cases there is not enough information given that I can find and cite a concrete issue that is being addressed in the image. As a result the label I write is essentially my interpretation of the cartoon.  The problem I had with this however was the fact that our goal for the site is to serve as a authentic and scholarly source for information on the political cartoons.  What if I my interpretation are radically inaccurate?  Do we have the responsibility to list on cartoons where were unable to cite facts that the label provided is simply an “interpretation”?

That being said I am extremely excited about all the educational resources I found on lesson plans which use political cartoons.  Hopefully we can publicize and promote the site with the local high schools and lower grades.

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We got this.

So I have been pretty paranoid lately feeling like we are extremely behind for our project.  My group  mates however, have convinced me that we are more on top of things.  We are working our way through the content labels and Andrew and I have started working on the glossary page. We have been debating how much information to provide as definitions and we have decided to model them in a format similar to the content labels, simple but relevant explanation.  Not the 3 paragraphs I found looking up Huey Long in the Oxford Dictionary.   Thursday we plan to make the switch to omeka.com.  I am hoping to have a solid collection of information to add as background information to the pages. For example, the articles I mentioned last class on the Hurricane of 1938. I am debating whether it would be best to upload a select few and have the citation of the website I got them from-which is a photo archive of the storm or simply put the link of the site. Any suggestions?

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E-portfolio

So I still have a couple last minute changes I want to make in this thing, But here is my page as of right now.  In my page I attempted to emphasize the things that sell me as a teacher and future educator-aka my academic and work experiences. Over the next few days I would like to add a section focusing on my passion for traveling and my experience studying abroad.

 

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Breakthrough!

So I just had to share my excitement with everyone. I had mentioned in our presentation on Thursday that I had been having some problems finding sources on the context of the cartoons. On Friday I found a super cool article that finally gave me some insight on the background of one of the pieces.  I was attempting to do some research on the Maine Election cartoon. Through a search on the deep web I was able to find several newspaper articles written a couple days before and after the cartoon was published that detailed the unique situation of the Maine election of that year.

Now that I have that information availble to me I am going to attempt to write my first content label to accompany this cartoon.

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What we’ve been up to

So just to bring everyone up to speed on our progress…As of last week we had our website up and running. It is not public but we have started to upload the data.  As a group we have started to divide the tasks based on our passions and talents.  Rachel Icard for example, is our groups designated picture editor. She has been using photo edit programs in order to return the cartoons to a black and white format with more contrast.  She is currently in many museum studies classes and has told us that this is the trend among several digital historians dealing with photos.  Once we have finished our project we hope to have a page illustrating the work that has gone on behind the scenes.  Hopefully we will have a page with an original and edited image placed side by side.  The viewer can then have a chance to observe the cartoon in its original format. As we discussed in class this is extremely important as some viewers will be bothered by the fact that the piece that they are looking at has been edited in some way.

My current project this week has been research and data entry. Last week the other Rachel and I went over the museum and typed up all the records they had gathered on the artist, publication,date etc for each piece.  Now we have the fun job of doing the mindless data entry into our Omeka site.  We have run into several problems along the way. For example in the records there are two individuals with the name Berryman-C. Berryman and G. Berryman. There is some debate on whether or not this is a data entry error and that it is the same person.

I have been not exactly sure on how to go about my research. Many of the political cartoons have explicit events that they discuss so there has been material written on the terms or topics that they cover. Others however can be quite obscure at times.  One of the cartoons I was attempting to research yesterday was on the republican candidates for NY governor.  I attempted to do several searches on the deep web using the terms governor election, NY, and the candidates names. Nothing has come up as of yet though. Researching for these cartoons is really pushing me to be creative and open minded in my search terms.

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Oh Wikipedia

I will not lie and I have often turned to wikipedia as a quick source for rapid fire information on general topics that I am curious about.  For in depth research however, I have had enough experience with seeing mistakes in the site in the past that I know that it is necessary to be very cautious about using it as a source.  During the last presidential campaigns one of my friends and his roommates decided that it would be funny to hack the entry on Sarah Palin so that it listed that her current residence was their college dorm room.  Their edited version of her wikipedia page stayed up for most of the day before it was corrected.

I asked a friend what I should pull up as a topic for the wikipedia search this week. She suggested beluga whales. I figured this would be a totally random topic and that it would not be beneficial for this assignment.  However-this article ended up being a perfect example of the information that is covered in the history and discussion section of a wikipedia page!  The article had been given a B rating, demonstrating that it was overall a good article but that there were still several areas of weakness.  One of the collaborators/commentators mentioned that at one point the article stated “that belugas eat mainly human flesh – obviously ridiculous but I am not a marine biologist and don’t want to replace one error with another.”  This was rather entertaining and demonstrated the problem that wikipedia can function as a rather fluid source where people can without academic backgrounds can change the information at will.

On the plus side the Discussion section also contained a very interesting paragraph of  “debates” where individuals were able to write arguments in support or opposition of changes to be made to the site.   In this sense Wikipedia demonstrates an exciting chance for the community to get involved in discussion of a topic while hopefully maintaining accuracy.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beluga_whale

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contract time!

So we have spent the past few weeks learning about the various tools and strategies that go into making a website…now its time to get ready to actually make one!  I think all in all our group has a pretty solid idea on what we are aiming for with this project.  There are more than 100 cartoons in the collection. While the curator told us that hypothetically they were gathered based on some connection they had to James Monroe there are actually only maybe 10 or so that can be related to Monroe.  There are some that are as bizarre as focusing on class issues and tobacco usage-at least as far as we can read from that cartoon.  Our plan is to divide the collection in to 4 or 5 broad categories such as James Monroe, WWII, FDR, etc.  Each of us will be in charge of the creation of a specialized exhibit on the context and information on that section.

I have not done a group project in awhile and it is a great reminder of how group projects bring varying talents and interests to an assignment.  All of us are history majors but each of us has a different interest or way of looking at things. Rachel Icard for example has focused on the art aspect of the cartoons, Andrew and I have focused on the context and issue of the cartoon, and Heather has been there to serve as the resource for how to implement the various technologies into the assignment.

we have completed our group contract and have some solid milestones laid out for ourselves.  I think its safe to say we will officially began to kick off some serious work on this project.

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So working with Google Earth is a reminder of how I strongly dislike video games. I have a really hard time working with computer simulations that project 3D images.  I always get really dizzy and have no idea on how to manipulate the controls to move where I want to go.  As you can see from the rough draft video i have uploaded my movements are jerky and do not always get me where I wish to go.  The pauses in the video were when I took the time to click on the photograph images.  I am not quite sure why they did not pop up during the tour. One of the things I will have to discover through continued practice is making sure I know what capabilities will be recorded in the final video.  I was first introduced to Google Earth in one of my Education classes last year. I recognize that there are so many possibilities in using it-such as the “tour” we took of the Eiffel Tower and Colosseum in class. I just have to continue practicing with it in order to warm up to the technology.

I am not quite sure if using Google Earth would be relevant to the political cartoons project.  We could hypothetically do a tour of the areas covered by some of the cartoons, such as Central America.  Maybe we could do a fly over of satellite images of Cuba during the Cuban Missile crisis-This would be in reference to the cartoons of Kruschev etc.   Over all I do not think that we will be using it.

if anything we could upload a simple Google map route on how to reach the Museum from central locations such as campus.

 

-Last minute question-Heather/anyone who will see this first. How do I post my google earth video to word press? Is it through sharing with the google earth community?

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