Reflection and Project Poster: 1970-1989 Dating & Relationship Advice Literature Timeline

Throughout the creation of my digital project I learned quite a lot. Although I have used TimelineJS in past projects, applying a different topic changes many things. This semester I learned that my project needed to flow like a story. When writing papers, we are constantly instructed to maintain a clear beginning, middle and end so it tells like a story. Taking that same concept to a digital timeline ironically was harder than I thought. In past projects, I had not considered the value of creating a storyline before. I had just input my content on each slide and added an image to match. This project was different because this class taught me the importance of writing to speak directly to my audience since digital history ideally allows the audience to interact with the information presented through links and images, providing an overall visual connection. I realized the value in this interaction right off the bat with our blog posts. We spoke more casually and openly to our audience, giving feedback and compliments that, in my opinion, more directly facilitated growth and academic stimulation than feedback on an essay can. Not that that feedback is not valuable, but creating a digital platform doubles your exposure and feedback through direct interaction with a wider audience.

Through this process I realized, with Professor Owen’s direction, that dumping a bunch of content on my digital timeline would not be as effective as I initially thought. From there I added a wordpress site to hold all my content and accompany my timeline. Now my timeline does not stand-alone but instead highlights the major themes and points I make throughout the wordpress site so as to create a visual, interactive and simplified version of my research. The images and ability to click through a timeline give a unique learning experience that effectively demonstrates change over time for my audience that can not be achieved solely through a paper or website. Together they tell the full story of shifting dating and relationship practices and gender roles.

Another thing that this class and my project taught and reminded me is how important it is to understand the back end of digital media and how that works because it directly effects the creation of your project or content presentation. When we read about the importance of understanding the materiality of digital content in Kirshenbam’s piece, it hit me that I definitely do not always look at digital content with a proper understanding of how to create/support it. I learned after reading this and our class discussion that in order to effectively create digital content one must truly understand the ins and outs of the program or content set up that goes into it so they know their boundaries as well as all opportunity to utilize the digital material’s strengths. This definitely came into play for me in creating my digital timeline. With TimelineJS, I had to input my content into a Google spreadsheet that is more convoluted than one would think. You actually do need to know some basic coding in order to organize and style the visual layout of the content effectively. Same goes for adding background colors or images, the url is required or and html color code. You cannot just drag and drop an image or color where you want it. These are a few simpler examples than what Kirshenbam refers to, but nonetheless they are applicable and important for the timeline design.

This has been a great semester and I have really enjoyed learning about digital history and everything that comes with it. I hope to carry this with me as I continue with my program and potentially to whatever career I find myself in. I think digital history has the potential to thrive in almost any job setting.

Here is my project poster!

Here is a link to my Final Project! and below is the downloadable version of my poster!

Thank you everyone for a great semester!

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Project poster and reflections

Hi everyone,

For starters, here is my project poster:

you can download my poster below!

I learned a lot this semester. It taught me the powers and dangers of the internet when it comes to history, something I had never fully considered before this class. I also appreciated the various practicums we used throughout the course. I would have struggled to find all of these tools on my own, and watching y’all demo them made me feel very comfortable with even the most finicky and difficult software (looking at you, Aris). Lastly, our discussions often inspired me or challenged me to be more critical or to explore the depth of history on the web, which helped me grow as both as a historian and as a person.

When I decided to pursue a digital project, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I knew I wanted to build an interactive map because I feel participatory engagement is crucial to learning in the digital realm, but otherwise I was starting from scratch. When I landed on ArcGIS StoryMaps, it felt right but definitely daunting.

So, I started to embed myself in my research, scouring various databases and websites for elusive monuments and groups. Once I found a majority of the monuments that fit my criteria, I started to build the map. I had a near disaster when I lost half my points when my site reloaded before I saved (talk about a heart attack) and spent too many hours trying to figure out short cuts and ways to tweak my map so that it would present well.

Once I had a map, the rest of the site sort of wrote itself as I talked about what I was seeing and how that compared to what I was reading about these monuments. I found that these monuments carry on a historical legacy but have some new features about them that set them apart from previous memorials. In the end, it was a fun project and definitely a skill I am glad I learned. I want to keep working with it by updating it as necessary.

This process blended all the reading we finished throughout the semester and taught me how to think creatively and skillfully regarding digital websites and exhibits. As professionals, these skills we’ve practiced throughout the semester will be invaluable as our profession slowly embraces the opportunities the digital world continues to offer those who want to preserve and interpret the past.

Here is my final project, and on a similar note to Amanda’s post, you can follow me on twitter at @joshnreynolds . Congrats on making it to end, y’all

#Twitterstorians, What I learned and How I’m Using It

Over the course of this semester, we have seen and read different sources and practicums designed to take history into the digital world. Slowly but surely, historians are embracing this new platform and using it to connect with different audiences. The practicums we studied showed me how vast the field of digital history is and the different tools that exist. As museums, institutions, schools and other forums for history start to embrace the digital world these tools are available to help curate content and reach broad audiences.

I found Twitter to be a fascinating realm for digital history. Professionals are starting to use social media to communicate with each other and the general public. I had not seen this trend on social media until I started graduate school. It was continuously communicated that Twitter is a great step for emerging professionals.

The downloadable version of my poster is below.

After I interviewed the nine Twitterstorians, I made my own professional Twitter. I wanted to start making connections and developing my own network of historians. My interviewees also addressed how they handle trolls and hate speech on Twitter. They recommend using the block feature to create a respectful community, which I intend to use as well. I am excited to become a Twitterstorian and start to establish myself among peers. Though, I will note that I am using mine to listen, watch, and seek occasional advice. I have already asked for advice and gotten really helpful feedback, Twitterstorians are a supportive community. After this project and my brief time on professional Twitter, I would recommend if you have not already you make a professional Twitter.

Digital history is a more accessible and oftentimes more engage forum for audiences. As the field embraces the digital world, it is our job as emerging professionals to use the resources available to us.

Thank you all for a great semester! If you are on Twitter follow me @agallagherhist 🙂

Print Project Update: Digital Folklore on TikTok

Since my proposal, my print project has changed a good deal. As I did further research, and I realized that while there certainly is folklore on Reddit, much of my interests showed examples that seemed to limit the capacity of users to partake in folklore practices or create legends. For example, the r/nosleep subreddit has an extensive set of rules, which require viewers to only post original stories, never break character in the subreddit comments section, etc. which fundamentally limits the process of creating and sharing a legend. As a result, I aimed to find what I thought was an incredibly current, viral example of folklore in action: the Randonautica app and the subsequent TikTok trend that grew out of a gruesome Randonautica story.

For my project, I have been evaluating the user video creation and response to Randonautica on TikTok, placing this phenomenon as a case study for the theoretical concepts discussed in digital folklore and digital ethnography. I have tracked the most popular TikTok videos that follow the randonaut adventures of users, looking at views, likes, and comments, as well as mainstream responses through articles and other forms of social media, to understand the impact of User-Generated Content (UGC) on the capability for folklore to spread quickly, powerfully, and ultimately for a very short amount of time (as it seems to be for all TikTok trends).

Please find a draft of this paper attached below, and let me know your thoughts!

In-Progress Report: Made By History Print Project Draft

As a quick refresher–I am doing an analysis of The Washington Post’s Made By History blog section.  The blog features pieces that connect current political events to their historical roots.  I separated my paper into three parts—exploring the blog’s content, analyzing recent contributor interview responses, and conclusions.

Part I: Exploring Made By History’s Content

In part I, I summarized and analyzed a recent piece in the Made By History section to showcase the kind of work and content the blog produces.  I chose a piece by Kyla Sommers called “The battle against D.C. statehood is rooted in anti-Black racism.”

Part II: Contributor Interviews

I sought out participants based on topic.  I chose three pressing political issues—DC statehood, voting rights, and immigration—and reached out to two contributors of each subject whose recent articles I found compelling. These are the participants:

Dr. Adam Arenson is a professor of history at Manhattan College in New York City.

Rebecca Brenner Graham is a PhD candidate in history at American University, an AU Public History Alum, and a history teacher at the Madeira School in McLean, VA.

Kate Masur is an associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

A.K. Sandoval-Strausz is the director of the Latina/o studies program and an associate professor of history at Pennsylvania State University.

Elliot Young is a professor of history at Lewis & Clark College.

Robinson Woodward-Burns is an assistant professor of political science at Howard University.

I asked each contributor a series of five questions.  I condensed them for the purposes of this post:

  1. What motivated you to contribute to the Made By History blog?  When do you consider writing an op-ed or blog post?
  2. How do you view your contribution to the Made By History section? 
  3. What is the significance of connecting the present to the past?  And why do you think this—showing the public the utility of history and the work historians do—is important right now?
  4. What are your tips for historians looking to write op-eds? What makes an engaging op-ed?
  5. How is the Made By History blog changing the nature of how historians engage with the public?  What does this digital resource say about the emerging possibilities for new forms of scholarship?

The responses were really interesting, and I was able to draw conclusions about the blog from participants’ professional backgrounds and from their responses. For example, most participants do not consider this kind of work “scholarly,” yet every participating contributor either holds a PhD or is a PhD candidate.

Part III: Conclusions

I am waiting to hear back from Made By History co-editor Kathryn Brownell.  She is working on some questions that I sent her regarding the blog’s goals and to what extent she thinks they have been successful.  I currently have some very broad conclusions that I will hopefully be able to clarify more when Brownell gets back to me—hopefully by the end of the week.  I also found that I had a really hard time organizing this paper so any feedback on the structure would be much appreciated!