Reflection: American Revolution Floridian Road Trip,-81.311467,11/bounds/29.722383,-81.449915,30.072002,-81.173019/paging/1/pin/1105527

My favorite part about this project was researching sites in Florida that had some connection to the American Revolution and learning how to use HistoryPin to create a tour of these sites. Though I was familiar with some sites and their connection to the American Revolution, I found out about a lot of new information about Florida and the American Revolution that I had never known before, which was really interesting to explore.

If I were to continue this project, my next steps would be to continue to contact the various historical organizations that feature in the tour or local historical sociaties that could help promote the HistoryPin tour to a wider audience, especially since not many people know about HistoryPin. I have yet to hear a response from the places that I have contacted but I think it would be interesting going forward to work with these institutions in order to promote revolutionary history in Florida. HistoryPin is currently working or fixing their app, so if/when that is up and running again, I think it would make it easier for people to follow my tour and learn more on the sites that they are visiting.

One of the more challenging aspects of creating this HistoryPin tour was selecting which sites to include. While I found many sites around Florida with a connection to the British Period, it was harder than I thought to weed out which sites actually had connections to the American Revolution and which sites were just connected to the British Period in general. Another issue that I ran into when working on this digital project was HistoryPin itself. Before starting the project, I thought HistoryPin seemed very straight forward and I didn’t anticipate much issues. However, I had to figure out many aspects of HistoryPin, such as creating a tour, though trail and error, especially since I did not find their help or faq section particularly helpful. I also ran into issues when I left HistoryPin open for too long and it would sign me out without me realizing or would run very slow. Sometimes the pictures that I would want to use for a pin would come out blurry and it would take about an hour of me replacing the photo until it somehow just worked looked normal. Little technical things like that would be a bit frusterating during the process of the project but it all worked out.

Overall, I had a lot of fun working on this project, especially since it allowed me to explore other skills and allowed me to do something other than a paper.

Project Rough Draft: American Revolution Floridian Roadtrip,-81.311467,11/bounds/29.722383,-81.449915,30.072002,-81.173019/paging/1

For my final project, I am creating a HistoryPin tour of sites associated with the American Revolution across Florida. Finding places with verifiable connections to the American Revolution, not just the British Period in general, has been more of a challenge than I originally thought. So far I have 9 locations across Florida from Cape Canaveral to St. Augustine, and across to Pensacola.  I am in the process of researching and finding more places to add to my tour, I am hoping to reaching at least 15 different sites in total. Each pin consists of a photo of the site and a description of its connection to the revolution.

HistoryPin doesn’t seem to like my citations for some of my pins and keeps deleting them from my description, such as the Castillo de San Marcos pin. If someone knows how to fix this, I would be extremely grateful for any advice.

In order to publicize my tour, I plan on reaching out to the various institutions featured on the tour, in the hopes that they will spread the word and gain an audience for my tour, especially since not many average tourists may be familliar with HistoryPin. I am also hoping that these institutions could provide more insight about areas associated with the American Revolution that are not showing up in my research. I also plan on creating a brochure about my HistoryPin tour, that could be passed out at the institutions featured on my tour.




Sterne, Format Theory Post

Hey, it’s me again! Because we both accidently wrote posts about the same reading, Kate and I broke down the second half of the readings for this week to blog about before class on Wednesday. Sorry again for the confusion! This blog post is about Sterne’s Format Theory chapter in his book about the  history of the MP3.

Before reading this chapter, I had only really thought about MP3 audio files in terms of technology like the ipod (RIP). However, Sterne sees the MP3 as the “point of entry into the interconnected histories of sound and communication in the twentieth century” (2). In the chapter, Sterne emphasized the historical roots of the MP3, especially the strides made during in researching auditory perceptions during the devlopment of the telephone. I thought this was interesting because I tend to think of the MP3 has a relatively new technology, but Sterne shows readers that telephony and the “peculiar characteristics of its infrastructure are central to the sound of most audio technologies over the past 130-odd years,” (3)  that can be seen in the MP3 audio format.

Sterne states that the history of the MP3 belongs to a general history of compression (5) .  As people and institutions have developed new media new technologies, they have also sought out waysto make this new media more efficient. I learned that MP3s discard the parts of the audio signal that are unlikely to be audible to us and reorganize redundant data in the recording to make  the file smaller, meaning it takes up less storage space. The fact that MP3 audio files can do this, demonstrate that the MP3 “carries within it practical and philosophical understandings of what it means to communicate, what it means to listen or speak, how the mind’s ear works, and what it means to make music (2).”  MP3 files are not just files on a computer, they reflect entire histories of sonic practices that can be traced back to over a hundred years ago.  Considering the importance of MP3 audio files within the practice of oral history, it is important to understand the history that makes MP3 files possible. 

Questions to consider:

1.  Sterne calls the MP3 the world’s preeminent audio format in this moment, until it is eclipsed by something better and more efficient. Is there any current audio formats that you think can rival the MP3?

2.  Sterne states that we should be more confortable talking about the  changes in format, similar to how we discuss the history of visual art or printing, what might be the benefits of this? Challenges?




Oral History in the Digital Age

This week’s readings were about the meaning of oral history in the digital age, and how the practice of oral history has been affected by the new tools and technology of the digital age. This post will focus on the articles written by Michael Frisch, Doug Boyd, and Kara Van Malssen.

In “Oral History and Digital Revolution: Toward a Post-Documentary Sensibility” by Michael Frisch, Frisch stresses the importance of how new digitial technologies have opened new ways to work directly and easily with audio and video productions. Before the digital age, Frisch believes that the potential of audio and video documents were largely untapped because they were generally used and represented “through expensive and cumbersome transcription into text” (1). However, with the new technologies that come out of the Digital Revolution, people are able to search and organize within the audio and video documents directly, without relying on a transcription, and any point of the audio or video can be accessed instantly. For Frisch, this is important because this means that the actual voice of the speaker returns to the center of focus within oral history (3). Frisch believes that in the future, the entire practice of oral history will be digital, rendering the use of tapes and CD-Roms (which I am pretty sure are already basically extinct) useless. Frisch does not get into the specfic technologies of the digital tools used in oral history, arguing that they will already be old and obsolute by the time his article is published, since new and better technology is coming out all the time. Boyd and Val Malssen address this issue about oral history in the digital age, especially in terms of preservation.

We have already discussed the impact and issues that can arrise with rapidly changing digital technology in previous weeks when discussing digital archives and digital collections. In “Digital Video Preservation & Oral History,” I had never really put much thought into all of the pieces that make up a digital file before this class, so I appreciated the clarity of Van Malssen’s article. Van Malssen breaks down the most important components of a digital video and stresses that the preservation of a digital video must be addressed by the creator throughout its entire life cycle, not just an afterthught at the completion of the project. Both Van Malssen and Boyd stress that the decisions made about early during the creation of a digital video or audio project, has consequences as the project progresses, in terms of its preservation and usability later on. According to Van Malssen, using  video formats that are widely-supported will last longer in contrast to those that frequently change. However, even common and widespread platforms are subject to change, as seen through our discussion about digital archives and digital collections. Therefore, “it is important to constantly monitor the technological landscape to know when a format (container or encoding format) is at risk for obsolescence”  and “maintain original, high-quality files in their native codec and resolution.”

Out of the three articles, I really enjoyed Doug Boyd’s article, “Designing an Oral History Project,” the most. I once kind of did an oral history project in high school where we really di not have much guidence except to interview a person. I thought Boyd’s questions for designing an oral history project were supper helpful and something I would have benefited from in the past. Like Van Malssen, Boyd stresses the idea that your decisions in the beginning of an oral history project, has consequences down the road, especially in terms of the kinds of questions you ask. In order to frame your project, you need to ask yourself: Why am I doing this project? What is my desired outcome? What equipment will I be using? All of these questions will provide focus and clarity for your project. Boyd also stresses the importance of preservation throughout the stages of the project, especially when deciding how to create and distribute the oral history project, especially with rapidly changing technology.

Some questions to consider before class:

1.  When Frisch wrote his article in 2006, he predicted that oral history would be completely digital within 10 years. Has this happened or are we still transitioning to be fully digital?

2. What other questions and factors are important to consider when designing an oral history project that Boyd may not have mentioned?

3.  Have you ever participated in an oral history project and encountered the technological issues that can arise due to rapidly changing technology, and how did you avoid it or overcome it?

4. Why do you think it is so important for Frisch to refocus voices into the center of focus rather than transcriptions of what is said? Do you agree that the potential of audio and video material have been underutilized by historians in the past?

Practicum: 9/11 Digital Archive and Bracero History Archive

9/11 Digital Archive

Launched shortly after the attacks, the 9/11 Digitial Archives uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of 9/11 and its aftermath. The archives contains over 150,000 digital items, such as emails, personal stories, and digital images. There is also a section of the archive with gathered links of additional resources the user can use in order to research more information about the attacks on 9/11. The 9/11 Digital Archives is also powered by Omeka which was cool to see since we learned about Omeka two weeks ago in class.

For someone, like me, who has never seen the 9/11 Digital Archives before, the website is very easy to navigate. To search the collection, there is a collection tab that you can click and sends you to this screen, categorizing the digital collection into seperate sections, such as Audio, Personal Accounts, Photography, etc.

Collection categories

When a user click on one of the boxes, for example on the photography box, the user is sent to a page with a description of what is categorized under photography and a collection tree with links for all of the digital photographs, usually organized by people or title, that the user can click on and browse through or download.

List of the digital photographs available
Photographs contributed in memory of David Tengelin

One of the cool things about the 9/11 Digital Archives is that it is very easy for the average person to contribute their own content and personal stories to the archive. The user just clicks on the contribute tab and fills out the boxes of information. Any user can contribute their own personal story or audio, video, or digital images to the archives.

Contribution page

Bracero History Archives

The Bracero History Archives collects and makes available the oral histories and artifacts pertaining to the Bracero program, a guest worker initiative that spanned the years 1942-1964 where millions of Mexican agricultural workers crossed the border to work in more than half of the states in America. Users of the digital archive have the option to browse through the collections in either English or Spanish, making the archive accessible to a wide audience.

Home page

When the online user goes through the collection, they have the option to browse through the entire collection (3,209 items), or can browse through particular divisions of the collection: Images, Documents, Oral Histories, and Contributed Items. The collection items are not listed in any particular order, such as alphabetization, so unless the user has a specfic individual or item they are looking for that they can type in the search box, the user has to take more time to look through the collection to find what he or she may be looking for.

Collection items
Documents in the collection

The Bracero History Archives also offers users a selected bibliography if users are interested in researching the history of the Bracero program beyond the archives. The archives also offers resources for teachers to teach students about the Bracero program and also offers online tutorials on how to navigate the online archives for first time users.

Compared to the 9/11 Digital Archives, I found it much harder to contribute my own personal items to the archives. Even though the Bracero History Archives offer another video tutorial on how to contribute digital items to the archive, I still couldn’t figure out where on the website I go to contribute the items myself. I also think the website has changed since these video tutorials were created, making it difficult to find out where I am supposed to go to contribute digital items to the archives. Kudos to the people who figured it out though, since there are many contributed items to the archives.

Contributed item

Overall, I thought both digital archives were interesting and easy to use. I especially liked that both offered ways for ordinary users to contribute their own items to the digital archives.

Do you prefer one digital archive over another?