Who? What? Where? – A New Podcast

Over the course of the semester, I have been working on a series of podcasts that I plan to grow. Titled “Who? What? Where?,” the podcast is aimed at secondary educators and students, as well as lifelong learners who simply want to learn something new.

Digital history does not look one way. It is dynamic, ever-changing. Even through this semester’s project, I’ve seen these facts play out. My own ideas were fluid. As I beta-tested the idea of the podcast with my friends who are educators, I learned that students are most engaged with history when it’s fun. When it’s a narrative. When it’s exciting. I paired this realization that the best learning takes place when the senses are engaged and paired it with a medium that continues to evolve: Podcasts. Probably the most recognizable, podcasts have risen to the spotlight as modes of narrative.

At the end of the day, I love interacting with students. I love the looks of amazement as history finally becomes more than words on a page. Coming from a family of educators, I realized how prevalent the search for digital history actually is. 

The website itself is aimed at teachers. Every podcast page has the script I have written for the episode to engage visual learners. Paired with pictures, the script is written in conversation language. The audio aspect of the podcast is aimed at aural learners. I narrate the podcast as if I was explaining this topic to my brother who is an accountant. Finally, there are links for continued reading. Looking back, I wish I had a place that put different topics with further reading lists in a place all together. That is what this project is for – it’s for the students like me who wanted to dive deep but wasn’t always given lists of resources by my teachers.

Digital History is not “one size fits all.” For Public Historians dedicated to education, it’s an accumulation of tools by historians aimed at engaged the widest audience in engaging ways.

So you can find my website HERE. And you can find the podcast HERE.

The project poster is below. Creating a website and podcast demonstrated how important digital history is. And I look forward to continuing the journey of exploration as I continue to cultivate these skills.

Practicum: The Theresa Duncan CD-ROMS

So Today we’re looking at the Theresa Duncan CD-ROM collection. These interactive videos debuted in the 1990s and defined what interactive storytelling would become. This website is the presentation and digitization of both Rhizome and the New Museum. So let’s jump into this Digital collection of history.

So this is the landing page. The appeal of this practicum is the fact that the CD-ROMS, despite falling into obscurity as technology advanced, have become playable online. The tabs on the left help you navigate the website. The tabs include “Intro,” “The Games,” “Origins,” “A Trilogy,” “Story,” “Artwork,” “Music,” “New Ventures,” Conservation,” and “Thank You/Credits.” These aren’t new tabs – they are simply links to different points within the same web page. This digital database for the Theresa Duncan CD-ROMs is accessible for the general public to use. It is a no-frills, no bells and whistles type of website, reminiscent of many websites in the early days of CD-ROM games.

The most importance part of this digitized resource is “The Games.” This is the home of the digitized CD-ROMS that are available for the public to play. Playing these games are free. What’s also cool about this resource iss the fact that it emulates a 1990s operating system. See the image below for how the operation of playing Chop Suey, Smarty, and Zero Zero works!

The Theresa Duncan CD-ROMS present a trilogy where young girls navigate the adult world, one that is often complex and scary. Placing these mediums as video games, however, allowed young girls to cope with the adult world as they grew up. The website writes that “It was these facets to which Duncan was drawn: complex settings and characters; sophisticated visuals and music. The result of extensive collaborations with uniquely talented artists, the games are sprawling anthologies of songs and artworks and moments, which bring vivid, delirious worlds to life.” The games themselves are inviting and colorful, the very aspects that drew a following to them in the 1990s.

The Conservation of the sounds, artwork, and playability of the game “marks the first time server-side emulation has been used on a large scale to provide access to digital artwork.” This honors the work, the soul that Theresa Duncan poured into these three CD-ROM games, each made by a woman navigating the adult world for girls who would one day follow suit.

These games were written for girls – mainly before game play was marketed for girls. The website notes that “Duncan and Gesue’s game was “for girls” only in the broadest sense. Still, it holds a crucial place in feminist gaming history; as game critic Jenn Frank wrote, “It dared to represent the criminally underrepresented: that is, the wild imagination of some girl aged 7 to 12.” It heralded a new era of feminist gaming. The digitization of a game that marked a turning point in the storytelling of girls’ experiences represents the importance of digital history – the very topic that we are studying in order to preserve what matters to those who can’t provide the resources to preserve what matters to them.

So, go exploring! You can find the link to this incredible resource right here. And drop a comment! Do you have a digitized resource like this one? And what can these sources tell us about a specific moment in time?

Week 3 Readings: Digital Searching

So we’re talking data and mining this week. We’ve got a great lineup up scholarly pieces, so we’re jumping in.

The History of Walking and the Digital Turn: Stride and Lounge in London, 1808–1851” by Joanna Guldi

Searching is Selection. Scholars have to be creative when searching. Guldi argues that true scholarly work is in the nuance. In fact, Google Books, as well as other search engines, offer a curated list. The question scholars must ask is How can I create nuanced search words that curate a list of diamonds in the rough?

As historians, it becomes vital to find common links – as databases become more interconnected and search engines evolve, results will become varied. For now, a good historian will follow a trail and find hidden gems. Like Guldi, we must ask How do certain words or jargon lead to different results? How can understanding the language within sources or research topics make a difference?

“Space, Nation, and the Triumph of Region: A View of the World from Houston” by Cameron Blevins

Space and Place are difficult notions – even for a seasoned historian. SO what are these notions made of? Well, according to Blevins, space is ever-changing. It’s dynamic and usually associated with processes of power. Place is built on locations. There’s often an emotional response to place. Space and Place can have tension. But what happens when the two coexist within literature? Well, that’s what Blevins is exploring.

So, Blevins discusses in depth this terminology called “distant reading.” For Blevins, this looked like noting the frequency of place names mentioned in a newspaper over a prolonged time period. By noting this, Blevins is able to blend a digital reading with a traditional reading, better understanding the political implications of space. This leads the reader to ask How can distant reading enhance other projects? Are there other types of projects where distant reading can be helpful? 

“Topic Modeling Martha Ballard’s Diary” by Cameron Blevins

Blevins again with some fantastic lessons to learn. 27 years worth of diaries leaves the reader to wonder: How is Blevins going to comb through that vast number of articles? Most important to note is Blevins’ use of topic modeling. And again, a question emerges – What is topic modeling? Topic modeling according to Blevins is “a method of computational linguistics that attempts to find words that frequently appear together within a text and then group them into clusters.” The software, specifically Mallet, produces a list of topics with words within each topic based on how the word is used rather than what a word means. This gets the audience to ask Does the software relate topics to each other? Can the software work in other languages? And how does a software like Mallet affect sources other than diaries? Would it be helpful for archives of other types?

“Digital Visualization as a Scholarly Activity” by Martyn Jessop

Graphic aids aren’t new. But digital technology enhances them. Jessop raises these three questions: What role have visualizations played in humanities scholarship in the past? If the majority of images in print are to be regarded as ‘illustrations’ what is the distinction between ‘visualization’ and ‘illustration’? How has the emergence of digital media affected the development of visualization?

By looking at visualization within the digital humanities, Jessop begins thinking about these questions. He notes that there are different categories visualization affects: space, quantitative data, text, time, and 3D visualization. This asks the audience to think How can different types of visualization affect different projects? When are the best times to bring visualization into a scholarly subject? And which category is most compelling based on Jessop’s article?

We’re going to look at some of these questions in class as we tackle talking about digital data, searching, and mining. Until then, happy reading.

Print Project Proposal – The Museum of the American Revolution

For my print project proposal, I propose looking at the Museum of the American Revolution on various platforms, looking at how this newer museum is engaging with the public.

The Museum of the American Revolution is a newer institution in Philadelphia, PA just a few blocks from independence hall. This museum opened its doors in 2017 following the mission statement “The Museum uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government.” Since opening its doors, the Museum has engaged with hundreds of thousands of guests in person, but also virtually.

Something special about the Museum of the American Revolution is its virtual programming. This organization has an emphasis on digital engagement. I plan to dig deeper into how different demographics are interacting with the content produced by the museum. The main demographic I plan on researching is secondary educators. 

There are virtual field trips, reading lists, lesson plans, and a plethora of other digital accommodations. Looking at how these resources open up education and engagement with the American Revolution, as well as how these resources build up the literature and literacy of the American Revolution amongst the public is an interesting study. This museum’s digital history, much more than most, opens up new ways to “do history.”

I plan on combing through Instagram and Twitter, looking up different hashtags used by the museum to highlight different users of these digital resources. A plethora of teachers build teaching communities on both social media platforms. Understanding these teaching communities that transcend school district lines, even state lines, gives a better understanding of how the use of these digital history resources are highlighted. Hashtags such as #readtherevolution and #howrevolutionary are utilized by the Institution to engage with guests.

On Instagram, there are approximately 1000 posts archived under the hashtag #howrevolutionary. On Twitter, there are even more. As for #ReadtheRevolution, on Instagram there are a little more than 100. 

I plan on looking at how people are engaging with the Museum virtually. In an age where social media and the rise of internet connectedness continues to break geographic barriers, museums like the Museum of the American Revolution are uniquely situated to connect with people. With emphasizing hashtags, museums open up doors for younger demographics to learn more about history, especially those who cannot travel to where museums are. The Museum of the American Revolution is setting trends in this field.

Digital Project Proposal – A New Podcast

In an era of constant busyness, commuting to work, and the rise of technology, podcasts have only increased in popularity. The ability to listen to bite-sized morsels of knowledge presented in an entertaining way have only continued to draw crowds to podcasts. And the number of people flocking to history podcasts only increases as more historical content is put out into the digital world to enjoy.

For my project, I propose creating a podcast that focuses on five figures who don’t necessarily appear in the mainstream literature, but who have a profound impact on American history. Each episode will center around one of these figures, creating a bibliography for readers to continue researching each individual. Podcast episodes will be posted on a website blog through wordpress.com to create accessibility for audiences to listen. And these episodes will not just be for adults. The goal is to create content that even secondary students can enjoy and learn from.

This project is two-fold. The first prong is the podcast itself. Content will be recorded, and I plan on inviting other graduate students to participate, creating a true conversation around these hidden and influential characters. By inviting other voices to participate on the podcast, my goal is that those who listen would create their own conversations with those they are in contact with. The second prong of the project is the website that will house each episode of the podcast. This website will not only hold the episodes, but will also hold content related to the episode. Further reading material through bibliographies, photos related to the episode, and scripts will be posted for those who listen. By supplying these additional materials, the goal is that the audiences will have a variety of methods for interacting with each individual episode. It is one thing to post a podcast. It is another to have images and primary documentation that accompanies what a podcast host is talking about. When these sources are provided, it makes the material much more accessible for the audience, taking into account that audiences have different learning styles.

The outreach for this project will include a website and social media account. New content will be posted on an instagram account with links to episodes. The hope is that as people search through hashtags, they come across this podcast and learn something new. By using wordpress, the evaluation of the project and outreach is demonstrated through site traffic and statistics provided by the blog.

History education is reaching a new phase in its life. Through podcasting about lesser-known individuals, audiences can grasp onto something new, sparking new conversations while learning to utilize primary sources. The past is relevant. The people can still inform us about life lessons. This project is meant to connect with those who once lived.