Print Project Proposal: #HistoricAnnapolis

Instagram Photo of Frederick Douglass at the Maryland State House in Annapolis

Living in a beautiful city like Historic Annapolis means that interacting with tourists is part of daily life. Whether they are coming in to town to for the Blue Angels Show, holiday events, or just to shop and dine, tourists are flowing in and out of town constantly. On any given day I can expect to give directions to confused travelers, offer recommendations for the best seafood restaurants, or simply shuffle out of the way so people can take the perfect picture of the colonial architecture and charming cobble stone streets. I often think to myself, “I bet those pictures are going straight to the Gram,” (Instagram that is.) For my print project proposal, I would like to survey the Instagram hashtag #HistoricAnnapolis, and analyze the ways that tourists, or anyone for that matter, have used the hashtag. In recent years, I have become interested in the tourism industry, specifically its relationship to historical interpretation, ethics, and representation. It would be interesting to see what aspects of Annapolis’s history people deem Instagram-worthy, and how those posts fit into Instagram user’s overall social media identity; are they a tourist or a local? Do they have some kind of project or business they are trying to promote? Are they visiting a museum of historic site, or just walking around the city?

I could execute this project by searching #HistoricAnnapolis, and looking at the first 15 posts under both the “top” tab, which show the most liked posts with the hashtag, and the “recent” tab, showing the most recently posted posts using the hashtag. Then, I could analyze each post, collecting data such as the content of the post and any information each user volunteers about themselves. I could also compare the post using #HistoricAnnapolis to the rest of their profile to gain a better understanding of their perspective on Historic Annapolis, and what they found interesting or Instagram-worthy about the city. After I collect as much data as possible, I could create a spreadsheet to organize the data with various graphs and charts to provide visual representations of the results.

Although this project focuses on one social media site and would only give us a small glimpse into how people interact with Annapolis and its history, it provides us with valuable information nonetheless. The results of a project like this can reveal demographical data about the people who engage with the city’s history, sites or narratives that are popular, and the ones that could use more interpretation and visitor engagement. As an Annapolitan myself who is familiar with the city’s history and interested in the public’s perception of it, determining what people find most interesting, relevant, and Gram-worthy would be a compelling project.

Practicum: WordPress

Hi all! I’ll be demonstrating WordPress for part of this week’s practicum. You guys are all somewhat familiar with the basics of WordPress since that is the site we’re using. I don’t see WordPress being a tool to produce a digital project alone. I see it as more of a way to share and present digital information. My goal with this post is to give a brief introduction to the platform and then use Dr. Owens’ WordPress website to provide an example of how it can be used.

WordPress is a platform that allows users to create their own website without needing advanced technical skills, like coding. It is designed for a wide variety of users from individuals to businesses. The platform has extensive features available to users at varying price points, including a free version.

Because building a website from scratch can be overwhelming, WordPress offers a variety of pre-made themes to fit different website content. There are options for blogs, business centered websites, personal professional websites, and more. The WordPress interface is extremely user friendly and offers extensive options to embed content from other platforms. As a digital historian, WordPress could be a great networking tool to disseminate research and star building a professional identity online.

Some of the platforms WordPress allows users to embed
Dr. Owens uses WordPress to create a home base for all of his scholarly activity.

The above image comes from Dr. Owens’ own WordPress website. He uses the website both as a blog and an interactive CV. He links everything he discusses to create a seamless experience for people wishing to find out more about his work. All of the links are also a great way to continue making online content more accessible and open access.

Another feature of WordPress is the ability to leave a comment on posts, which we are required to do for this class already. The social aspect is representative of the open communication digital history values. The authors are more personable than they would be if they published in a scholarly journal.

I am sure we will all become even more familiar with WordPress as the semester continues. If anyone has discovered any interesting tools, please leave a comment! I would also love to hear if anyone has already considered how to use their own WordPress site for this class!

Practicum: Omeka

Hey! For this week, I will be guiding the class through the publishing platform Omeka. In a nutshell, Omeka is an online platform that allows users to share digital collections and create object-based online exhibits. This is a great resource for students, teachers, archivists, and librarians. As seen in our weekly reading of “Omeka and Its Peers” by Tom Scheinfeldt, there isn’t anything on the market that can compare to Omeka’s usability or accessibility. As an example, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum uses Omeka to share their digitized collections with the public. I have been using Omeka since the spring of 2019 and it is a great way to learn website design, collection management, and curatorial practice.

Website design is very complex so I am going to do my best to briefly walk you through the different elements of Omeka. I will be using images from Miriam Posner’s “Up and Running with” blog post alongside some images of the Clinton Digital Library as examples.

Once you have created a site, there are two important elements you must understand. The first being the public view of the website and the second is the backend of the website.

Public view
Public View Homepage

The public view is what visitors will see when visiting your site. You have the ability to customize this view as you see fit. This includes the homepage and the different exhibits you may add over time.

Clinton Digital Library Homepage

The backend of the site is where the magic happens. This is where the owner of the site can edit and change how the site looks. The public does not have access to this portion. The owner of the site can add in items (videos, images, recordings) create collections of items, and install plugins (creative add-ons like an exhibit builder).

Plugins page
Add an item
Adding Items
Add a Collection
Adding Collections

When you add in items and collections, you will be greeted with a screen that allows you to describe your item or collection. This is one of the biggest reasons why it is so popularly used by professionals. For each item and collection, you can extensively provide the metadata that is appropriate.

Add collection metadata
Adding Collection Metadata

These are the key aspects of Omeka. Like any digital tool, it takes some trial and error to understand the limits and possibilities of the site. At its core, Omeka is designed to showcase digital collections and build exhibits around those collections. The possibilities are truly limitless. The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum uses Omeka to make its digitized collections accessible. If they wanted, a family could use Omeka as a digital photo album to share family photos. I have used Omeka to curate an online exhibition on the video game Assassins Creed Odyssey and included video recordings from my Xbox. Hopefully, this has been a useful introduction to Omeka and I would be happy to answer any questions in the comments below or in class this week!

Week 4: Communicating Design

When I first started this week’s reading, Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning by Daniel M. Brown, I asked myself, “With how quickly the internet and technology have changed over the past twenty years, what kind of relevant information can I gain from a book on website design that is over fifteen years old?” As it turns out, my skepticism was unwarranted. This book, a cross between a self-help and how-to manual, provides a wealth of professional and technical knowledge packaged into organized blocks and accompanied by numerous diagrams, examples, and illustrations.

In what ways is this manual still applicable to website design today? In what ways could it not be applicable?

In his preface, Brown states that this book is all about documentation. According to Brown, documentation is a critical part of the design process. Effective documentation provides a history of the site, gets new team members up to speed on the production of the site, shows every major decision made during the site’s development, and gives readers the big idea of the site. It is essential that team members create proper documentation to ensure the smoothness and success of the development process, so Brown wrote this book to help you, the readers, “improve your documentation, providing advice on how to plan your deliverables and use them effectively in meetings and on project.” I personally feel like a lot of the information he provided could be applied to the development of products other than websites.

How has this book influenced the way that you think about your own projects for this class? Are the assumptions Brown makes detrimental to his argument or helpful?

Brown specifies that while his book provides a guide for website design, every situation is different, so he outlines the assumptions he made for the sake of structure. Providing these assumptions is helpful for readers like myself, who have no website design experience, and it bolsters his credibility as an authority on this topic. However, after reading these assumptions, I was left wondering on what he based these assumptions. Of course, it is impossible to provide an answer for every situation, but did he base his assumptions on the most common situations in website development or on his own firsthand experiences? According to Amazon—the only place I was able to find information on his background, Brown has been a consultant on information architecture and user experience design since 1994. Because this book has no sources to define where Brown got his information, I assume that his suggestions are based on his own personal experience and expertise.

How reliable is this type of resource when it is based on only one person’s experience?

This book is extremely effective as a guide because of the rigid structure Brown employs throughout. Brown divided his book into three major sections or categories of documentation: user needs documentation, strategy documentation, and design documentation. Those categories contain three or four of the most prevalent types of documents (one for each chapter): personas, usability test plans, usability test reports, competitive analyses, concept models, content inventories, site maps, flowcharts, wireframes, and screen designs. Each chapter is further broken down into a main idea and definition, an overview of the chapter, instructions for how to create that chapter’s document, how to present the document, and how to place it in context. The sections on creating the document contain three layers: layer one, or the most vital information; layer two, the supporting details “to enhance the document”; and layer three, information putting the document into a larger context. In my reading, I also noted the significance he placed on communication and presentation in each chapter. His tips for presenting were helpful, if a bit reiterative, because he indicates that effective teamwork relies on efficient communication. Another reason for the repetition is that this book could be read as a reference, so readers could pick out the sections that apply most to them and only read those sections.

How useful is this book as a reference or tool for website designers? Which section did you find most useful and why?

One thing I found confusing was the terminology of a document vs. a deliverable. At times, I got the sense that they were the same, but at certain points it seemed like Brown used the two terms interchangeably. He often provided definitions for each of his major terms at the beginning of each chapter. However, while he did define deliverables clearly, the exact definition of “documents” was harder to find.

Overall, I gained some useful insight into thinking about how to structure my own project for this class. I think the section I gained the most useful information from the chapters on user needs. I liked thinking about the different audiences for the proposal I have been drafting, and it gave me some new ways to think about the researching the diversity of my audience.

How to create a digital project? (the articles edition)

Projects have been key to most people’s lives, whether in personal experiences, at work, or during school. But, how do we understand digital projects? It may seem rather simple, and in some ways it is simple, but they are very complex machines. Here are the key factors to take into consideration if you wish to start a digital history project.

The Field Guide to Human-Centered Designs by

This kit is designed for you to turn objects into human-centered ones, but what does this mean? It is both a combination in believing that all problems are solvable and in emphasizing closely working with communities. By doing this, you will build relationships, connections, and empathy with your communities, which can be highly valuable in the development and standing of your digital projects. This is important to consider at the beginning of establishing your digital project as it can impact how your end product will look like.

The process is split into three categories and each emphasizes what you need to bring in the digital project building process:

Omeka and its Peers by Scheinfeldt

One of the many questions we may ask is what format should our digital project take? For some, Omeka is the answer, and it is a very neutral website that allows for users to create community service-based digital projects. It is very popular, as well, amongst preservationists and scholars because it offers open source, low price tag, and vast abilities to create archives, storage spaces, exhibits, and much more:

This is definitely not the only means of formatting a digital project, however (i.e. WordPress, YouTube, Tiktok,

A Short Guide to Digital Humanities

If you can only read one short document on how to create digital projects, then this guide is the best option out of these all. It is an excellent source that breaks digital projects as a basic idea, details the importance of working with not just communities but institutions as well, how to evaluate digital scholarship to work for your project, and breaks down some of the processes and methods of digital projects. However, the most important here is discussing advocacy and asking if your digital project is relevant?

“Among its other activities, digital scholarship asserts the possibility of charged relations between consumers and producers of cultural work”

page 15 in “A Short Guide to Digital Humanities”

Done: Finishing Projects in the Digital Humanities by Kirschenbaum

We’ve all come to a point in our projects, laid down our pens or closed our laptops, and gave an exasperated sigh to say “DONE!” But, hold on– are you actually done? Kirschenbaum discusses how you know when the project is finished by detailing various scholars and their endings to their projects. Some found their finale not in an epic battle, but in knowing:

  1. The preservation of the digital project after the work is done?
  2. Knowing there is a processional and financial necessity?
  3. Went to press?

For digital projects, we cannot just close our laptops, but we must continue our work to ensure it lasts beyond the high of creating it.

NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grants

These grants are built to support digital humanities projects as detailed above and can be research, studies, enhancement, or a design. These grants are split into three levels of financial aid that depend how much the projects need. The need here is either to fund the continuation of the project or sometimes in the permanent establishment of the project somewhere.

In class, we will be looking at two sample grant applications supplied by the NEH for their Digital Humanities Advancement Grants to dissect why these projects are examples of “good” digital projects.

The first is on the mapping project through the University of Georgia Research Foundation and the other is on open accessibility to manuscript collections through St. John’s University. It should be noted that these grants are for projects that already began before they applied for these grants.

Some of the questions to consider for this will be:

  1. Look at the list of people under each project’s teams. What do these lists reveal about the human state of digital projects and of Digital Humanities?
  2. What does each project add to digital history and to traditional history?
  3. How do the teams envision the project continuing to sustain itself?
  4. How would you apply this to public history?