18 FebWikipedia and Update 4

Wow, fourth update already! Things are going pretty well, but we definitely have some challenges. The videos are of somewhat bad quality and we don’t really have the resources to fix it in the near future. In other news, we had discussed creating a Twitter for James Farmer’s notable quotes from the lectures, but weren’t sure how to maintain that after we leave. So my job is officially transcription, upload of video files (with help from the video peeps)  and upload of the audio files. In addition, I guess I’m working as a publicity manager in a way as well, trying to get our website out there and viewed by many people through email to other sites, asking them to link our site to theirs. Yes, I’m still VERY excited.

On to wikipedia. I was so disappointed, because my first two searches “Martha Ballard” and ‘Jane Sharp” don’t appear to be controversial topics. Or maybe midwifery history in general is just something not many people really want to argue about. Anyway, I searched them because I wrote a paper on midwifery education in eighteenth century America in History 299 and those are two female midwives I really like. (Go ahead, check out The Midwives Book or the Art of Midwifery Discovered by Jane Sharp and for a cool trip down memory lane to Maine, check out A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard based on her Diary 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). LOVE THEM. Ok, so then I decided to get serious and searched for the Dawes Act, also known as the General Allotment Act. This was more controversial, as a lot of the viewers felt that Native Americans were poorly represented. When any group is underrepresented, it appears tempers will flare (except in the under representation of midwives..hmm.) Either way, I was glad to have finally found one that had a discussion page that had content, and the Dawes Act itself is definitely controversial as it really messed up things in the sense of tribal ownership and vast lands.

11 FebContracts and Update Number 3!

While there is a whiteout outside my window from snow, I’m glad I have transcripts to keep me busy (and inside and warm!). Group contracting went so much better than I had hoped. I thought it would be difficult to divide labor and set deadlines, but no! It really seemed to be a piece of cake once we got into the Google Doc and started working. So, I took on the somewhat daunting (at least to my perfectionist side) task of transcribing the thirteen lectures. I say daunting because the audio/sound quality is lacking on a lot, and when you think you hear a word, but it doesn’t make sense in the context of what the person is talking about and sentences seem to run on forever like this one…well, you get the picture.  Yes, it takes time, but it is so amazing to see Farmer’s stories come to life and the way he tells them….oh, well you’ll just have to wait for the website to be up.

So the transcripts are going well, and I’m slowly but surely getting through them. Also, since we gained access to the digital media lab, it will be easier to finally start working on and editing the videos/relinking audio to them. I feel like a little kid at Christmas time, like when your parents made you wait on the stairs, and you were anticipating the running down the stairs to see the inevitable piles of presents. Yeah, I feel like I can’t say awesome enough about this project. Or talk about how excited I am (without the aid of pixy stix). I hope everyone else’s projects are going super awesomely as well!


01 FebGoogle Maps and Google Earth/small project update

While I really liked the concept of both, I had difficulty making a fun map with all the bells and whistles Tim showed us because it seems my hometown has yet to be mapped in great detail. I’m originally from the Eastern Shore of Virginia (you know, Chincoteague pony swim, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and some really weird town names-all that jazz). Needless to say, I was disappointed because I was looking forward to the idea of traveling there without having to drive 3+ hours and pay a 12 dollar toll. However, I do find google earth to be a useful tool in the more populated areas and also just helping visualize surroundings in general. I also, for some reason had difficulty attempting to create a sightseeing tour. By the end, my map was all kinds of messed up and I was ashamed of the final product. Maybe if I had chosen a more prominent location, it would have worked much better. So after deciding to have a final product I should show, I went with Kitty Hawk, where I lived for several years. I put my aunt’s house on it because, she can be kind of mean, so it’s ok. Somehow, her house is pre-pictured on google maps. (her house is a monstrosity; when we lived there people called it the White House of Kitty Hawk Landing). So here’s a link to the map, which has a beach access that is usually not crowded, and also the best place to eat on the beach.

I do not think that this tool would be useful for our project, mainly because there aren’t really locations to be mapped. We want the sole focus to be on Farmer, and by mapping locations (which would be sort of made up as we just have lecture videos) it would take away from the great orator that is Farmer. On the plus side, Jim Groom is talking to vimeo about letting us host so we could stream directly onto the digital archive. I’m currently knee-deep in the transcription process, although I really don’t mind it since Farmer has so many interesting stories. Tim O’Donnell suggested we also get to work on descriptive paragraphs for the videos as well as a concise copyright-old tv station loving paragraph, tracing the history of the videos. I’m so excited about how it’s coming together! Once we get in the digital media lab, it will be a huge bonus to see what we have to work with. We’re also considering, at the suggestion of Tim O’Donnell, creating a trailer of sorts  to lure people to watch the videos.

27 JanProgress Report 1

Well, the end of the second week is here! whew, that went fast. After meeting with Jim Groom and Professor O’Donnell, I think my group has an idea of where we’d like to go from here. As the James Farmer videos are about 30 minutes long each, it is really important to keep them in their entirety if at all possible. Our number one problem is hosting the videos. Professor O’Donnell prefers to host them to iTunes U, although we’d like to be able to embed them to our site. While vimeo and youtube would be great; each site has their own rules to either custom/user created content or copyrighting issues. However, we were able to learn that the TV station that no longer exists (the one that filmed the lectures) signed over the copyright to the school. In listening to the audio files, it becomes quite evident why Farmer was one of the big four in the Civil Rights Movement. To hear him fondly look upon CORE and other things, with his marvelously deep, clear voice is amazing. It’s also amazing that he seems to be reciting all of this from memory and weaves the story directly in front of the viewer. Because of this, we believe we want to move toward an archive setting, which would allow James Farmer to stand on his own, with our interpretations. Also, we would really like to be able to keep the audio and video in it’s entirety because these videos are so powerful. Once we figure out hosting, I feel like everything will fall into place.

25 JanCreative Uses and Other Websites

So…I’m kind of having difficulty thinking through this first one. Omeka would be great for cataloging resources. But, it presents information sort of statically (from what I’ve seen). I am someone who loves the bells and whistles of a website, even though I have NO idea how to construct such a thing. I feel like a blog could be very interesting, with a carousel of some type containing videos or images, allowing the visual viewer to scan through them first. I guess I also need to play around with plug-ins and experiment with how plausible that idea is. A timeline may work great for an introductory page. I think having a page where the viewer has to click to enter is always fun (unless the content on the other side isn’t).

The websites I looked at definitely had some good ideas, as well as things I’d like to avoid. I know in my 299 class, we did interactive websites, including the P.T. Barnum lost museum, which sent viewers on a quest for the perpetrator who set fire to it. While I really enjoyed that one, perhaps it’s not the best idea to employ with James Farmer. I really like the Valley of the Shadow; it’s straightforward, the click to enter, and doesn’t have distracting colors (which can be a plus sometimes.) The French Revolution one was visually appealing, but for some reason doesn’t expand to fit the screen, making me frustrated that it doesn’t use all the space. The UMW archives one, sadly, was the one I least liked. I felt as though it was difficult to navigate in the sense that it wasn’t a straightforward layout. I found there to be too many options and would have liked to have seen thumbnails of the images displayed as opposed to having to click back and forth in order to find the desired image. The Emancipation project fell flat as well, mainly due to a lack of visual appeal which made me eager to find other web pages to explore. The Gilded Age Plains City one is awesome. I like the idea of an interactive map, which some of the groups in our class could utilize.  From these sites, it’s clear that archives are difficult to present in a way that is appealing, making our task all the more challenging. The Omeka site I looked at was the Martha Washington one, which I really liked. The blue background was just enough color to grab my attention and not enough to  make it the only thing I wanted to look at. With only four tabs, the website was easy to explore and viewer friendly, even for those not so computer adept.

My problem will be controlling my urge to create something outlandishly colorful, although with respect to James Farmer I don’t think I could get too out of control. I’m more excited to see from behind the scenes how websites such as the ones we looked at are put together.


17 JanAbout me and why I am taking this class.

Hi! I’m Kelsey, and my middle name happens to be Brown, the most unappealing color in the world. Other than the boring color middle name thing, I consider myself to be pretty outgoing and friendly. I like any and all kinds of food. I’m a happy person in general, although that’s not to say I don’t have bad days. When there is a bad day, I find nothing quite cures it like a bag of chocolates and the movie love actually. I always have some kind of candy on hand, so if you find you NEED gummy bears or m&ms during class, I also always share!

I’m taking digital history to expand my knowledge of creating websites and also just to help me in general become more comfortable with all the different techniques of using the web to educate others. After meeting with Jim Groom and going over the video of James Farmer with him, it’s incredible to think that almost no one at Mary Washington has seen the footage. I guess I was kind of drawn to the class too in part because I like feeling like I’m a trailblazer in my own sort of way. It’s like I’m part of this much larger movement and it’s totally awesome when you see how much is out there and think, “wow! I have something new and different to add to that”. Anyway, I’m really excited for this class and can’t wait to see the final finished products of some brand new websites.