*Interpretive* Final Project

For my final project, I created a business plan project proposal for the start of the program as well as a 2 scene example of annotations. Since I could not create a video to show as an example of the final product due to copyright infringement, I decided to create it on a Google Doc with the annotations as comments to the side and the sources as footnotes. If you have not seen it, here is what the sample product would look like:

I found this research to be rather difficult for the annotations due to the high volume of Janne Austen blogs on the Regency Era and new threads about Bridgerton. That is pretty much all that comes up if you search. “Regency Era.” It took a lot of work to find historical books and literature on the subject and even harder to access it because none of the book in our library have Regency books digitized. That is why this program is so important though. So many people trust the blogs or discussion threads that they read about this history that has no scholarly work to back its facts and work. Being able to provide not only professional history annotations to the shows, but also to include further reading lists will give the audience a wya to find reputable sources to continue their own research.

Overall, I really enjoyed this project and the class. This project was challenging for me because I have never studied Regency history or digital history. I loved being able to combine the two and am so excited for future work on this project and perhaps even getting it started as an actual project for people to be able to use!

Thanks for a great class y’all!

-McKenna Crews

Reading Response: “Analog” by Johnathan Stern

In his journal article “Analog,” Johnathan Stern tells the history of the term analog from its beginning use to the end with its current definition as of 2008. He references,

“The term “analog” has come to mean smoothly varying, of a piece with the apparent seamless and inviolable veracity of space and time; like space and time admitting infinite subdivision, and by association with them connoting something authentic and natural, against the artificial, arbitrarily truncated precision of the digital (e.g., vinyl records vs. CDs). This twist in the traditional meaning of “analog” is a linguistic relic of a short-lived and now little-remembered blip in the history of technology” (Robinson 2008, 21). (31).

This gives the modern definition of analog. A significant part of both the definition and Stern’s argument are that the word had changed culturally snd as an idea as well as in physical terms. He starts by explaining the two major problems he sees with Robinson’s definition. First, an analog is a “specific technical process” and the example he gives is that a violin is not an analog but a synthesizer (32). The second problem he denotes in his writing is that the entire world cannot be “analog.” Things in the world can be but the world in its entirety cannot be (32). He does this to say that everything “not-digital” can’t be an analog.

He then goes on to differentiate between things like how analogs are used in the physical realms of chemistry and biology as compared to computer science or engineering. He references two people in explaining the difference in looking at it. One being that an analog is a thing in the world for a computer to put out and the other being how a computer puts out signals for another computer to complete (34).

He ends his argument saying that it is pretty much impossible for an analog (referencing it as the analog) to both both a noun and an adverb (?) (instead of the analog of) (38). He uses case studies to explain the difference using works from scholars such as Kittler with his explanation of sheet music and the phonograph (38).


  1. What does Sterne say is the difference between an analog and a “not-digital” analog? (37).
  2. Which case study in the reading helped you to comprehend the reading and understanding of analog the most?
  3. Do you agree with Sterns argument? Why?
  4. How can the concept of analogs be used in our projects when thinking about digital technology and not-digital methods (like map making)?

Reading Response Post- Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

The book Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination written by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum tells the story of digital storage. Much of his books talks about electronic writing which at times is very had to understand especially with his style of writing which uses a plethora of parentheses. For this class, Prof. Owens has asked us to focus on the first 3 chapters of the book, pages 1-158. This response post will break the reading down by chapter and help to give a broad overview of main themes and ideas as well as focusing on the many, many definitions and categories of media storage that Kirschenbaum writes about throughout the book.

Introduction: Pages 1-23

In the introduction, Kirschenbaum goes into great detail to set the reader up with a foundation of understanding about storage especially with the terms he uses. He makes it very clear what terms to focus on to help set you up for the rest of the book as well as outlining how the rest of the book will be laid out and talked about. Some key terms he uses in the introduction are as follows:

Physical Objects– “‘signs inscribed on a medium’ — for example, the flus reversals recorded on magnetic tape” (3).

Logical Objects– “data as it is recognized and interpreted by particular processes and applications software; for example, the binary composition of a Word .DOC file” (3).

Conceptual Objects– “”‘the object we deal with in the real world,’ such as a digital photograph as it appears prima facie on the screen” (3).

Materiality– which the author breaks down into two factors as forensic materiality and formal materiality. Forensic materiality is looking at the actual make up of an object to see that no too objects are exactly alike and that this can extend to the digital world (10). While formal materiality is to “manipulate symbols” in a computer instead of physical matter (11). While these terms are harder to understand in the pretense of the substantial chapters, the background sets one up for success.

He asks a major question in the introduction which helps to set up the book and establish why these terms are important, that question being, “In what… does the materiality of electronic texts consist?” Or in other words, are electronic texts a material object at all?

Chapter 1: “Every Contact Leaves a Trace”: Storage, Inscription, and Computer Forensics Pages 27-71

This chapter starts with talking about physical and logical objects and how those objects can have their data wiped or destroyed… but can it really? Kirschenbaum talks about different types of media storage like CD’s, Floppy Disks, USB thumb drives, and others to differentiate between kinds of digital storage, how they are used, and how protected they have to be to stay intact and readable. For instance, he writes about how CD’s have to be protected on the side that holds data much more than a thumb drive needs to be protected (32).

One really fascinating point he makes in this chapter is about how media storage keeps changing. Where it used to be very materialized (like stored in a floppy disk) it is now all very abstract with pie charts showing us how much space we have left rather than just buying more floppy disks for more space. Kirschenbaum write, “Greater and greater storage capacity will only serve further dematerialize the media as their finite physical boundaries slip past the point of any practical concern” (32).

He continues the chapter talking about the physicality of text and words once put into the digital framework. He compares this to a typewriter or a physically written document and how different these ideas of physicality are.

Kirschenbaum ends the chapter focusing on forensic materiality and how to retrieve “lost” data. He explains that this is mostly done by government agencies such as the FBI and the strategies in which they use to bring those files back to life. These include ephemerality (50-53), fungibility (53-56), and fixity and fluidity (56-58). Each way explains how one recovers files from a hard drive and how each file is unique even if it is a copy. he uses pictures of the zoomed in magnetic tape to show how each are different and to give a visual on his argument that everything is different.

Chapter 2: Extreme Inscription: A Grammatology of the Hard Drive Pages 73-110

Kirschenbaum starts chapter 2 talking about the make up for a hard drive and how it is used in a storage capacity. He then transitions into the history of the hard drive and how the first one was release at the World’s Fair and it was composed of a bunch of disks that would rotate to give you the data needed. It only had 5 megabytes of storage though (76-77). This machine, Kirschenbaum states, may have been one of the first digital libraries for holding and storing historical data.

Next, Kirschenbaum breaks down different terms used in computer computer and data science in terms of grammatology. These phrases are random access, signal processor, differential (and chronographic), volumetric, rationalized (and atomized), motion-dependent, planographic, and nonvolatile (and variable) (89-96). These explain how a computer storage system works on different levels.

He concludes the chapter focusing on email and printing storage. He goes over data points for how storage and date work from various authors, books, and articles.

Chapter 3: “An Old House with Many Rooms”: The Textual Forensics of Mystery_House.dsk Pages 111-158

This chapter takes a unique turn from the others as it starts with information and becomes a case study on the idea of storage while following the Mystery_House.dsk (.dsk is a disk if you were wondering because I sure was) game that was made for the Apple II computer. Kirschenbaum walks reader through the digital image of the file and what it looks like. This walk through helps to contextualize some of the points brought up in the book prior to this chapter.

Overall, this book is very hard to follow as someone with no prior computer background or knowledge. I do think his definitions are easy to follow and help with understanding some of the concepts, but this book is not made for the average person with no computer storage background.


  1. How did this book get you thinking about storage and data?
  2. What is the difference between physical, logical, and conceptual objects? (3-4)
  3. What is storage? How can we use it to optimize our digital history projects now and in the future? (4-6)
  4. What is “materiality” and how does it evolve over the book? (9)
  5. What is the impact of erasing data? Does it ever really go away?
  6. What is “screen essentialism” and why is it significant to the book? (31)
  7. Why was the magnetic disk storage created? (84)
  8. What is a disk image and how is it different than what the words makes it out to be? (115)
  9. How might you use these storage data points to better secure your projects?
  10. What critiques do you have about the book?

-McKenna Crews

Practicum: The Rossetti Archive

This archive is a digital collection of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s paintings, designs, and writings. The archive was completed in 2008 which seems to be the last time the design of the website was updated as it is very simple. The archive is however, public access, so it is free to any user who comes across the site. This seems to be an archive for people who know specifically what they are looking for of Rossetti’s works.

The “Home” page of the archive with a small introduction to Rossetti and his works.
The list of mediums are links to take you to the itemized archive of each medium.

The “Exhibits & Objects” tab of the site is the most easy to navigate. It starts by showing you a list of his different mediums of work where you can then click the link to which medium you would like to search. It then takes you to the archive of those specific works. It is very nice that it breaks is down by specific medium so if you just want to look at pictures and not go through the entire archive, you have that ability. It does not seem that you can just look at all of the things in one cohesive list which would be difficult if trying to get a good sense of all of the works. You would have to switch back and forth between the tabs.

Alphabetical view.

Once you click on the medium of work you would like to explore, it pulls up the works in alphabetical order for you to browse. You can click through the list alphabetically at the top to get to where you would like to be quicker as well (left). There is a new feature as well to be able to see the works on a timeline view which is helpful and it also helps you to look at what works overlapped and when he started and finished them (below).

Timeline view of works as well as instructions for how to use the timeline.

The next tab, “Search Engine” is where users can search for specific titles, phrases, genres, names, and dates. You can also search for boolean. This is the part of the archive it seems you have to know exactly what you are looking for. The search engine is very specific and hard to navigate if you are just trying to learn about the general works. This is for people who seem to be writing a book or paper on the topic so they can search for very in-depth things instead of looking through the whole archive.

Archive’s search engine feature.

The last two tabs of the archive are very general and just noting things about the archive. The first to mention is the bibliography and just gives visitors further readings to look at for context of Rossetti and his works. The second to mention is the tab entitled “nines” which is a partnership of different 19th century work holding archives and talks about its influence on the Rossetti archive.

Overall, this website seems very old and can be kind of hard to navigate. It took me a good 30 minutes to finally get my foothold on finding where things are in the archive and how all of the linked things work. It is a great source for finding all things Rossetti.

-McKenna Crews

Practicum Post: The Bracero History Archives

The Bracero History Archives was created after the Bracero Program started in the United States during World War II.  The program was intended to help with labor shortages on farms while men were off at war.  This was an intergovernmental program that lasted between the 1940’s and 1950’s bringing Mexican guest workers into the United States.  The archive works to collect items, oral histories, photographs, and so much more of the Mexican workers who came to the United States through the Bracero Program to document what happened.

The archive has 6 tabs to explore different topics including “Archive,” “Teaching,” “History,” “Resources,” “About,” and “Partners.”  I will be looking at each throughout this blog post. Below is a photo of the homepage that serves as a starting point for research and exploration.  A very nice feature is that you can also see the site in Spanish since most of the people who are stakeholders are going to speak Spanish.

This is the main page of the archive. http://braceroarchive.org/
This is the page where you can look at the different options of how to search the archive.

The “Archive” tab is the main function of this site since it focuses on the archive itself.  When you click it, it takes you to the page on the left.  Here, you can browse all of the items in their collection or narrow it down to just photos, only documents, oral histories, or contributed items.  This helps to navigate and narrow down the options for what you might be looking for since these are their main donated collection pieces. Within the names as seen below, you can listen to and see a transcription of the oral histories.

Lesson Plan, “Activity- Learning from Photos.” http://braceroarchive.org/items/show/3008

The “Teaching” tab includes a short background and timeline for teachers to look at to get an understanding of the topic. Below that, the archives have three lessons based on their content for teachers to give in class. On the right is an example of one of the lesson plans using their photos archives. These lesson plans include so much for teachers and are a great resource to use in a classroom!

The “History tab is very straight forward but not what I expected it to be. Instead of having a history of the archive or of Bracero’s it is a Bibliography of books that you can look at to further your knowledge.

“Resources.” http://braceroarchive.org/resources

The “Resources” tab is very helpful. First, it explains that the site is an open access archives meaning you do not have to pay for its service or go through a university library that already pays for it. This makes the archive very accessible to the general public. The site then continues with a series of videos on how to navigate the site including ways on adding your own files to the archive to be looked at by the archives historian for publication in the archive. Having these tools and resources available to the public who may want to add to it is wonderful. The videos are sadly not in Spanish though which is something that the archive could improve on.

The “About” tab gives you a brief history of the Bracero’s but not about the archive which was a bit misleading. I wanted to know when it was founded and by who especially since the other tabs touch on this history. It does, further down, include biographies and credentials of those working for the archive.

The last tab, “Partners,” talks about universities that are helping with the oral history projects for this archive as well as partners who help with visuals and collections.

Overall, I would say this site is very user friendly and has a lot of great information especially for a public access archive. The videos on how to navigate the archive are very user friendly and are helpful in many aspects of navigating the site and how to use it to the best of your ability.

-McKenna Crews