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Creating a Digital History Project….

When I sign up for this class last fall, I’m not quite sure what I expected. I kind of knew what digital history was, but I didn’t have a great understanding. When we first got the assignment it was to create a new 360 tour for the museum. That seemed really difficult and yet overly simple at the same time for a semester long project. The museum wanted a new 360 tour, the rest was pretty much up to us. Working with the base idea that we wanted people to be able to immerse themselves in what the James Monroe Museum has to offer, we decided to make artifact videos for some of the items currently on the museum floor. Then we had to consider what the best way to incorporate this into the project would be and came up with the idea of putting hotspots (links to the videos) in the tour. Then, I believe after a suggestion from Dr. McClurken, we decided to also link previous projects on the museum in the tour. We had some trouble with figuring out what program to use with the hotspots because many cost quite a bit, but then Lesya found one that was free and could do everything we wanted.

When reviewing the website, we also noticed that they has a bulleted timeline of James Monroe’s life. Emily had the idea of creating a timeline using Timeline JS to make their timeline more immersive and incorporate pictures. From there, we came up with the idea of using StoryMap JS to highlight and give visual context to the travels that James Monroe took during his lifetime. This was created by Sarah based on the timeline provided by the James Monroe Museum. While both pieces feature similar information, they have different uses and focuses for people visiting the site.

Besides editing two videos (Neoclassical Chair and the Monroe Doctrine Desk), I created and designed our website. The process was interesting. For my own website, I’ve cultivated it over the last couple years to make it what I wanted it to be. For this, I had to work under a little bit more of a time crunch. Then I had the idea is that our project featured a few different things that could potentially have formatting issues on our site, so I had to spend quite a bit of time just trying to find a theme that worked with what we wanted. Then can the formatting. Again, we had a few different pieces and I was trying to find the best way to bring them all together, then I also had to consider outside sources. I ended up finding a slideshow theme that really fit my needs. For other formatting, I included the James Monroe Website in out menu since everything is based around the museum. Then, to keep the menu from being visually overwhelming, I grouped the timeline and StoryMap together. Formatting everything was slightly more stressful than anticipated. Video editing was also slightly stressful. I’ve had experience video editing in previous classes, but for this we had a hard time getting all the pieces so that we could record the video. Once we got everything, it was pretty easy breezy.

The contract for this project was helpful, it forced up to consider what we were doing and create realistic goals. However, we were pretty unfamiliar with some of the aspects of our project so we didn’t really know what was realistic. Ultimately, meeting our deadlines within our contract were a little wonky, but I think we stuck to owe original idea. We wanted to create an immersive experience with the museum to draw people in and attempt to integrate technology and learning and I certainly think we did that. Using our project (and even those linked from before) teaching can see wat the museum has to offer. So while we may have taken longer than planned to edit videos, I could not be happier with what was created. Each piece allows people to immerse more into the museum and we also created QR codes for our videos so that even those the museum have something extra to find.  I am so happy I got this experience and hope I get to use it again soon.

So this is a little late, but last week we worked with to update the Digital History book. It was quite interesting. The section I worked on what regarding ownership of online sources. Most of the annoations I made were actually not regarding policy changes, as those have remained pretty steady, but complications to rules. I noted a lot of ideas and rules that were mentioned that have since been complicated like music and Youtube as well as fair use and classrooms. For the book, some of the rules may be the same, but the layout of the board has changed dramatically in some ways.

Final Steps

With the project being due on Tuesday next week we are finishing up fine details and fine tuning little things. For me personally, that means a list of website edits including things that need to be done amd others we’d like to have done. I need to add final featured images on the site to replace the temp photos I originally put in as well as cite the pictures I have already changed. I also need to reformat some of the pages like changing the artifacts page to a Hotspot library with all of our videos as well as previous projects on the James Monroe Museum as we decided to include those in our hotspot. Emily added a bibliography page so we need to get that updated and I am working on finishing our About page and adding a brief description of each page to explain each pieces purpose. Some possible changes that aren’t entirely necessary include changing the color of text when hovering over a link. Right now its a baby pink and while its not that bad, we want to see if we can change it. We also want to resize the slideshow images so that they are thinner and don’t overpower the main page so much.

Everyone else has some little things, most of us are editing videos and Emily will be adding in the closed captioning on all the videos once they have been completed. Sarah is researching previous projects. Lesya is waiting for all the videos to be done so that everything can be put together. While it seems like a lot I’m confident it will all get done and be beautiful.

Comparing Progress with Our Contract

Comparing Progress with Our Contract

When we first started the project, we progressed in our tasks than any of us could have anticipated. However, as time has gone and we’ve gotten to a part of the project that takes some more fine tuning, our deadlines have started catching up with us. Due to scheduling conflicts and Spring Break we finished filming later than we had originally planned, but still mostly meeting our deadline. However, it took longer to get the scripts finalized so we have only recently sent them to the Speaking Center for their aides to help record. Additionally, we had planned to finish editing this week, but without the voice overs and other time conflicts we haven’t been able to finish everything. However, since we have moved quicker in other areas we have more time now to focus on video editing and have even started on some of our reach goals like the StoryMap which Sarah has been working on. I know video editing won’t be simple, but at this point, it is our main focus so I am confident we will get it finished in a timely manner even if we haven’t been able to meet the deadline we put in our contract. I am very happy with how we have progressed even with some of our ups and downs.

Changes in Digital History

Digital history is still a relatively new field that has evolved greatly during its growth. One key change that comes in many forms is that historians have had to learn to accept the good with the bad when it comes to online resources. Blevins describes some of the main “uses” of digital history: archiving, digitizing, and creating collections. However, this contrasts with what he described as the main goal of history, which is to make arguments. While historians have greater goals for digital history, its reality is more of a source material than a platform for arguments. Dr. McClurken also make a good point regarding the availability of online sources. While have the ability to access more material without having to drive to larger library and archive resources in D.C. and Washington is nice, many things are not accessible. They may only be partially released, there may be a cost associated, or the source may be contained in way that makes finding the desired content difficult. There is also the fact the reality available material (Wikipedia) is not necessarily a desired or reliable source. However, this technical “bad” can also be put to good use. One professor used it as a way to teach his students how history can be created on a public forum. While relyign fully on Wikipedia to understand material may be a bad idea, it can be used as an effective way to demonstrate how history is formed. Another professor believe it is important to know how Wikipedia works. Telling students not to use it does not really teach them anything, but instead can be used to explain parts of history instead of trying to site a historical fact. Digital history is fresh, but still growing. It is giving history a way to grow, to reform, a way to make it something more than an archive. For every bit a growth, there is a backlash that historians have to deal with. Historians must learn how to make lemonade out of lemons when the digital world gives them trouble.

Creating a Digital Identity

This week we focused on how to create a digital identity. There is no set format or way to create this identity, giving people lots of options as they try to create a digital portfolio. Some lessons that I have learned while viewing others websites and advice blogs:

  1. From Jessica Reingold I learned that my profile does not need to completely serious. The language that she used was very personable and friendly. I also liked that at the bottom she included just some general likes and hobbies she has that let people reading her profile get to know her a erosion in addition to her professional experience.
  2. From Dr. McClurken I learned that you should link reverent content. To a certain degree I have this because I use my blog for many of my class, but I could add other material to help build my digital portfolio.
  3. From Build a Digital Footprint You Can be Proud of, I learned that while you cannot always get rid of something bad (like on third party publications) you can try to burry it under a lot of good.
  4. From How is the Internet Watching You, the fact that nothing that I do is really private was represented in a terrifying way.
  5. From Danah Boyd I learned that a digital identity is not something that you work on once and then never look at again. You should regularly review and update the public profile that you put out. Additionally, you should be aware of everything you post, not just your own blog. People can find you public profile and that nasty comment you made on so and sos blog as well.

Heading in a good direction…

This week has been trying to get back into the swing of things. However, we are definitely more ahead than we thought. We are essentially done with the 360 videos and just need to finish recording the rest of the artifacts which we will do this week.  Then comes the harder part, editing. We have not really started on editing everything and have instead focused on getting everything together so that once we start editing we can go full speed ahead. I’m really happy with how the website turned out. It took some time switching between themes, but I think I finally found one that would work. While it is certainly far from finished, the website is making great strides. We ran into a small problem with our software for hotspots. Lesya is no longer connected to our original hotspots because they required payment. However, it seems as if my group may have found an alternative for our hotspots. Unfortunately, it may not work as we had originally intended with google maps, but we are working on making everything function in a way that will still be beneficial for our group and the museum. We’ve hit a series of small up and downs through the first few weeks of the project. However, we are well on our way to making this a great assignment.

Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs

Tuesday last week seemed to start off on a good note. We were getting our contract settled and we were starting to get our ideas cemented. However, we ran into a small snag when we realized that the HCC did not have a 360 camera available and the one in the art department was potentially going to be difficult to use. Luckly, the DTLC got one last week that we were able to use this week. We did our first day of filming on Tuesday this week. We got 360 images of each room to start and see how they look and figure out the editing process. We also filmed for 5 different artifacts. Our plan at this point is to go back next Tuesday and film the rest of the artifact options we were given and redo and 360 shots we know we need to do then. While we are still not sure that we will be making 10 videos, we decided to film all the artifacts as the decision on how many we will do will be based on how long it takes to edit the footage. Then, if we decide that the editing doesn’t take too long we can jump right into editing since we will already have the footage. We hit a few snags, but we are finally heading in a good direction.

Contract Struggles

Contract Struggles

This week we discussed contracts. In general, we needed to make everything a little more specific. We’ve run into a couple of snaggs since we couldn’t get the camera that we originally wanted, but hopefully we will be able to get one from the art department. In regards to getting more details for everything, we are working out more details of why we are using each tool and what we hope to accomplish with it. Although we thought we had enough, I can see why we need to explain more to ensure that what we want to do is clear.

Although we have added more specifics to our contract, we still need to get a 360 camera and learn to use it. Once we have done that we can get a better, more accurate timeline. We still have a few things to work out, but I am confient that we will get everything figured out to get our contract finalized.

Project Nerves Setting In

Project Nerves Setting In

We’ve gone over a lot of great tools so far and I can see how they can be useful in a lot of different digital history projects. However,  based on what our group has discussed so far, it seems like our project will be mostly video based. We have a few things in our ambitious goals category that dip into other fields, andI know we are doing what the museum wants,  but I wish we had the opportunity to utilize more of the tools being shown to us.

Creating the contact is going to be interesting. We have the main goal of creating the 360 tour and then several smaller potential add ons. It will be interesting trying to figure out what is feasible and how to format the extra ideas. I was thinking something along the lines of “here are seven other potential things we would like to do.  We plan to compete at least three of these.” If we do more, yay, if not, we’ve given ourselves a workload we can work with while giving us the opportunity for more if we have the time.

The topic modeling was very interesting. I definitely think there were a few things that could be added to the ambitious column. Like the network of Monroe’s communications could reveal something interesting: who were his influencers and echo did he influence. I’m sure there are other ways we could format topics that the museum would potentially be interested in seeing.