Digital Project Proposal

For my digital project proposal I would like to create a website using wordpress that will consolidate information from travel books and other websites about the Battle of Verdun during World War I. It would seem like a helpful project to provide World War I history buffs with a website that will allow them to access detailed information about the battlefield to enable them to enjoy a visit.

Unlike Ypres in Belgium and the Somme in northeastern France, which are the two most popular battlefields for visitors, there is not a wealth of online visitor information about the Battle of Verdun. This battle tends to dwell in the shadows of its bloodier rival, the Somme. The Somme and Ypres are quite close to each other geographically and there are websites that provide visitors with history, analysis, visitor information and visitor experiences for those two battlefields. No one has provided an extensive historical website for prospective visitors from for Verdun, which is considerably farther away in central-eastern France.

Many people do not know that the Battle of Verdun witnessed just under one million casualties, which was the fourth most of any battle during the Great War. Hopefully this digital project will give both agency and a wealth of useful information to prospective visitors and traveling history buffs so that they can better enjoy a trip to Verdun.

I intend to create the website as a way for potential visitors of French World War I battlefields to learn more about the battles fought on the battlefields themselves as well as to provide visitor information about tours. I intend to include maps, photographs from the Verdun battlefield and from the present, recommend reading lists, my own analysis of the importance of Verdun, as well as those from acclaimed historians, and past experiences and stories from visitors and history buffs who visited the Verdun battlefield to show not only what potential visitors might expect to see on their visits but also how these battlefields touched and influenced visitors from the past.

While there are currently websites about the history of Verdun and tour information in French, there are no exclusive English websites that offer the same information. Many websites that I visited offer tourist information about hotels, desirable car routes, and nearby restaurants. While this may be helpful to some people, I am more interested in providing a website more focused on historical facts, scholarly analysis, stories, and past visitor thoughts and experiences about Verdun. I intend to conduct some of my research in French as many websites on this subject are in that language.

“Show and Tell” Post: Hidden Agenda, A Game With A Clear Agenda

Alright, so before I launch into what Hidden Agenda is, I will let you know how to get the game. Since publishers no longer carry this game it is free. You can download it at this website along with some instructions:

You can also get it from the developer himself. All you need to do is send him an e-mail saying that you will donate to one of a number of charities with a focus in South America. I doubt any of you will do that, but it gives you some information on what kind of person made this game. Now once you have downloaded the game you are going to need a program called dosbox to run it, probably. You can find that here:

Essentially, if you want to play the game, you first install dosbox, and unzip the Hidden Agenda file. Then in the Hidden Agenda folder you will find a file called Agenda, drag and drop that into the icon for dosbox you will now see on your desktop. Now you should be running Hidden Agenda. If that seems far to complicated for you, you could just read what I have to say about it here.

The first thing I would like to point out, is that to download this game I had you go to a website that styles itself as a museum for video games. The reason I point this out is because I would like to ask an open ended question to you about the present and future utility of video games as historical sources. Some video games are played by several million people and have the ability to either reflect sentiments, or alter peoples understanding of the world around them. An easy example can be found by looking at the glut of games that now depict Americans in a war with Russia. With Russia being the old bag guy and showing some regional aggression now this could reflect something of how Americans perceive Russia. What do you all think about video games one day being a source for historians?

Now the second thing I would like to discuss is the game itself. The State department actually bought a single copy, pirated it, and then sent several hundred copies of it to diplomats. In addition to being a potential source, this game has a very clear argument. If you play it you will see what I am referring to.  Essentially the game places you as the leader of a fictional South American country, Chimerica. The game creator had witnesses violence and corruption in South America first hand. As the leader of this country you are given a number of policies you can set, and you are also presented with a number of crises. As you play through you will find you are being pulled several different directions. You may want to be the benevolent ruler of the people, but a strong military, the CIA, and more will all force you to weigh your decisions carefully. When I play through I usually get on the military’s and CIA’s bad sides, and then die in a bloody coup. If you want, play through it and let me know if you have a different experience. Anyways, the argument is that with all these different pressures, stability is out of reach for many South American countries, and the United States is certainly not helping anything.

As you can guess, the main reason why I bring this up is to present video games as not just  a primary source, but also as a secondary source. I think video games can be a good way of presenting historical arguments to students and the general public alike. Consider that the American Army pays for a video game to boost recruitment and provides it for free and that the history channel had games for major battles during WWII. This is a powerful medium. Let me know what you think about video games as potential historical texts!

Here are a few interesting links regarding the game:

An interview with the creator:

The website regarding the game the creator maintains:

Digital Project Proposal

The topic of North American maroonage is one that is rarely studied or discussed. Maroonage, or marronage, is the act of a slave fleeing, generally to an area uneasily accessible, such as a swamp or mountains. Maroonage is often divided into two sections, grand and petit. Petit maroonage is temporary, it is when a slave flees to visit a family member or is trying to negotiate better terms with the plantation owner, but intends on returning. Grand maroonage is when a slave flees permanently, sometimes forming communities with fellow slaves out of the reach of the power of the slaveholder society. It is grand maroonage during one of its highest points, the American Revolution, that this digital project will address to help address the lack of public knowledge regarding this important action or resistance of resistance.

To fill this gap in knowledge, my digital project will be a website on North American maroons. In addition to providing simple information about maroons, how they lived, and how the American Revolution provided them the chance to leave their plantations during the chaos of a British invasion, this website will also present information on the maroons in a number of non-textual ways. Using Viewshare my project will include a map, time-line, and perhaps some charts or graphs, to display the locations of maroon communities during this time period, when they existed, how large they were thought to be (if this information can be found), and what happened to them. Integrating this with stories about the maroon communities will create a multifaceted and engaging way of learning about maroons.

A brief examination on both the scholarship on North American maroons and websites dealing with maroons reveals an unsurprising absence. When maroons are mentioned it is generally in relation to Haiti or South America, and this is still a rare occurrence. Since this absence is so great the audience my website will aim for is broad. Educators and students will be foremost amongst who will benefit from this website, but anyone looking to learn more about the American Revolution in the South could benefit from this website. While academics will not be the primary audience, I hope that the maps and charts produced will have utility for an academic audience. Reaching these audiences is the greatest difficulty my project will encounter. Outreach to related historical websites and organizations is the most obvious way of reaching this websites audience, but other ways will be explored during the development of the website.

The most time consuming aspect of this project will be gathering and organizing the information for Viewshare, making it the first priority in my work plan. Once organizing is done, I will input the information in Viewshare and experiment with which visualizations are the most usual. When the Viewshare portion is complete then I will focus on making the website itself using WordPress technology on a domain I will purchase(most likely dream host). Currently I have already done some research on this topic and know many of the sources I will draw upon.

Digital Project: Butte, Montana Blog

My family is originally from Butte, Montana, a city to this day called the “Richest Hill on Earth.”  In its heyday from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, Butte was a booming mining town.  Workers pulled tons of gold, silver and other metals from the mines, but the city was especially famous for its rich abundance of copper.  In 1920 Butte produced 15% of the world’s copper supply, and beginning in 1941 the city provided the U.S. with 51% of the total copper used for America’s war efforts during WWII (  Butte is also home to famous daredevil “Evel” Knievel!  After being essentially shut down for nearly three decades, Butte’s mining industry has been resurrected and the city continues to be a global supplier of ore and minerals today.

Although I will probably be sticking with my print project, if I were to do a digital one I would like to create a blog dedicated to analyzing and discussing Butte’s rich history.  Butte’s historical significance is fairly well-known even outside of Montana and the western portion of the U.S., but its presence on the web appears to be lacking in several respects.  From what I could tell from a little bit of research, not many people are talking about Butte on blogs or other digital media.  More importantly, I could not find a blog that was dedicated to a scholarly discussion of Butte’s history or legacy.  I think that there is a need for a blog such as the one I am proposing.

I would use WordPress for this project.  I would have several posts devoted to various aspects of the city’s history.  Topics might include:  Butte’s rich and diverse ethnic heritage, the Copper Kings (the men who basically started the mining industry), unionizing efforts, the Anaconda Company (Butte’s largest mining company), the growth of the Berkeley Pit and the destruction of several ethnic towns that it caused, Evel Knievel and his contributions to U.S. culture, open-pit vs. underground mining, and so on and so forth.

My intended audience would be fairly broad, but I would maintain my concentration on offering a scholarly discussion about history.  I would ardently strive to foster a thoughtful dialogue and would try to prevent the blog from becoming a venue for people to simply post small snippets of their own experiences in Butte.  It would most likely appeal to former and current Butte residents and scholars of history, geology, ecology and anthropology, but I can imagine that people who are interested in the western U.S. would also potentially visit my blog.  I personally know people who fall into each of these categories, so I would have them view the blog and evaluate it to see if it met their needs.  I would rely on class readings, discussions and practica  to help me create the blog and mold it into a useful digital tool, and I would utilize a collection of Butte-related historiography to help provide the historical content.  If it evolved as I imagine it, I really think this project could be an effective way of showing this city’s local, regional and national significance.



Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17, 1961 has deeply impacted the U.S. relationship with Cuba over the last fifty one years. Not only was the invasion a failure for the CIA, but the covert action and the initial lies from the Kennedy administration about the details of the invasion caused the American media and the American people to begin to question government’s claims regarding foreign policy. The truth about the invastion trickled out from April 1961 to 1965, when several books and articles were written uncovering the details of the invasion. Since then the internet has created a plethora of videos to portray  the Bay of Pigs invasion and its legacy.

My digital project will create a website using Omeka to compile a variety of different links to sites that depict the Bay of Pigs for a comprehensive studyof how the Bay of Pigs is presented via video and pictures. What will be significant is that this website will help users solve the Bay of Pigs puzzle; that is, it will enable the user to unravel the true account of the Bay of Pigs. These websites include videos from You tube, the History Channel, NBC, ABC, PBS, Flikr and others.

Most importantly, the goal of the project will be to compare the different presentations of the same subject, the Bay of Pigs, and discern any differences regarding the facts that are presented. I will compare the different vidoes and pictures and anaylze them. Some of the details I will look for include if there is a political bias in the different presentations, if there are facts about the invasion that are deleted or inaccurate and how credible the presentations are to the user. I will also look at the comments from the general public and comparetheir responses to the different videos and pictures.

This website will target both scholars and researchers, who want to know more about the Bay of Pigs. It will provide a resource for students, who want to want to ferret out the facts of the invasion and enable them to to distingish fact from fiction. After looking at this site, a researcher will also be able to distinguish between the videos and pictures that offer the most substantive account of the Bay of Pigs and the ones that either gloss over the facts, twist the truth or provide information that is unreliable.