Digital Project Reflection

Project Reflection

[If you haven’t already—check out my website on Masonic Structures here!]

As many of you probably remember, I spent this past semester interning for the House of the Temple, the headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite in the United States (I know—quite a mouthful).  During these last few months at the House of the Temple, I have been fortunate enough to learn a great deal about the history of Freemasonry in this country, as well as the District’s ties to the fraternity.  I was also able to gain first-hand knowledge on the extent of the public’s knowledge on this history, which, in my opinion at least, was far less than it should be.  Freemasonry has been intricately linked with the United States since the country first began to take form; however, with the recent popularity of Masonic conspiracies, many people have misjudged and do not understand the rich past of the organization.  In order to clarify some of the misunderstandings surrounding Freemasonry, I decided to create a web resource that would educate D.C. visitors on the history of Masons in our city.

My initial idea for this project was to create some form of an interactive map of the House of the Temple—this quickly got pushed aside as I expanded my audience to include Masons.  Many members of Freemasonry travel to the House of the Temple every year in order to learn more about their brotherhood or to simply admire the mecca of the Scottish Rite.  Many Masons are often unaware of the many other Masonic structures located in D.C. and, upon learning of them, are very eager to explore these sites as well.  This excitement to explore more of the city, which I witnessed multiple times, led me to broaden my digital project and to include Masonic sites throughout the D.C. area.

After finalizing the subject matter of my project, my next step was to choose the platform I would use to build my web resource.  It just so happened that this step coincided with the presentation of Viewshare in class.  Viewshare had everything I wanted and more!  A map, a gallery, a sortable list—oh my!  Despite my initial enthusiasm, after completing a draft of my project I became very disappointed in Viewshare.  The platform was very simple and easy to use but it was also not very flexible.  Overall, the webpages just didn’t look how I imagined they would.  Alas, I decided to expand my project further and create an entire website.  I chose to build my website by using Google Sites due to its simplicity and the ease by which I would be able to integrate other Google products into the pages.  My new website, Masonic Structures in D.C., now offers a simple history of Freemasonry, a (Google custom) map of the sites, a gallery with pictures of each structure, and an individual page for each location that provides a brief history of the site.

I am very proud of what I have created; nevertheless, there are still improvements I wish to make to the site.  For example, I would like to alter the appearance of the gallery and add multiple images for each of the structures, I hope to expand the information pages and include some more helpful traveling and visiting information, and perhaps also add an “F.A.Q.s” section to answer some of the common questions people ask about Freemasonry.  I plan on continuing to improve my website and hopefully have it appear on the homepages of various Masonic-related organizations in D.C.

If you have any suggestions for how the site can be made better, please let me know.  And if you’re looking for something a little different to do, make sure to check out Masonic Structures!

Final Project and Reflection

My goal for this project was to create a webpage that would encourage D.C. visitors to stray a bit from the beaten path and take in the fantastic Masonic Sites of our nation’s capitol.  I wanted the website to appeal to Masons, individuals interested in Freemasonry, as well as people simply visiting the city.

I began crafting this project with the help of Viewshare; however, due to a limitation on the extent of my control, I expanded my project to include an entire website.  I laid out an extensive map and plan, then used Google Sites to build the website.  By working to create a multi-level website, I learned a great deal about the importance of organization, planning ahead, and the basic functions involved with the creation of webpages and websites.

Overall, I believe I created an appealing, helpful, and easy to use website.  I believe that this website is a successful starting point–but there remains work to be done!  I am going to continue expanding and adding to my website and looking for new ways to advetise and spread the word about it.

You can check out the site here!  I would really appreciate any feedback you have to offer!

Show and Tell: Hans Rosling’s Amazing Grraphs

Now I don’t know if it was just me, but graphing was the best part of learning math growing up (I know, I know—it was only me).  If graphs were not your box of juice as a kid, have no fear!  With Hans Rosling’s graph presentation methods you too can wonder at the awe of graphing.

Okay I know that was a cheesy introduction but seriously, you’ve got to check this out!  The video below shows Rosling giving a TED Talk using un-boring data models.  He explains how he was able to use these interesting presentations to engage his students with material on international development over time.

TED Talk: Hans Rosling

The first time I saw one of Rosling’s presentations it was a bit more high-tech than what he was able to do during his TED Talk.  The video below is shorter than the TED Talk, so definitely take a look!  It shows Rosling using historical statistics to create a moving graph showing the changes in average life expectancy rates and average income rates for 200 countries over a long period of time.

200 Countries Over 200 Years in just 4 Minutes

I found these videos to be especially interesting because of the potential they demonstrate for the future engagement of students and audiences.  Was anyone else as awed by them as I was?

Google Custom Maps

Google has become the go-to spot for anything and everything you need on the web.  Need a new email address? There’s GMail for that!  Want to upload and edit pictures?  There’s Picasa and Picnik for that!  Going to create a new website or blog?  There’s GoogleSites and Blogger for that!  The list goes on and on…

Google has had a mapping app since 2004 and since this time they have worked to expand the program’s uses.  In my opinion, one of the most interesting parts of GoogleMaps, is the “My Places” tab through which you can create custom maps.

I created a small map of some of my favorite restaurants in the DC area (just click the link:  It was extremely easy and the interactive tutorial helps lead you through every step!

After playing around with my own map, I got to wondering how this tool has been used by academics.  I was able to find the Google Developers Showcase (, a sector of Google that shows off how developers have used Google technologies to create amazing sites and applications.  One of my favorites was the interactive DC map created by the National Capitol Planning Commission (  This map shows every memorial in DC, groups them into categories to make it easier to sort through them, and allows you to see each memorial from the street view.  A more historical use of GoogleMaps can be seen at Historypin (  This site has popped up before in class, but it is an excellent way to see maps with past photos overlaying current structures.

After exploring these sites, I am excited to see how such an application as GoogleMaps will grow and expand in the humanities field.  In my opinion, this is an excellent way to encourage visitors to different cities to explore the history of the area; however I am worried that the historical use of mapping technologies may not be able to expand far past the tourism sector.

Digital Project Proposal

Similar to my print project, the digital project I am considering pursuing is focused on the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.  As an intern at the House of the Temple, the headquarters for the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, I have come to learn a great deal about the brotherhood and its ties to Washington, D.C. over the last few months.  Like many visitors to the House of the Temple, when I first toured the building I was surprised to hear about how closely connected masons and freemasonry are to many of the popular tourist destinations within the city.  It is this initial surprise that inspired me to want to create an online exhibit of masonic related monuments and buildings in the DC area.

My hope is that this digital exhibit will be appealing not only to masons visiting the House of the Temple and D.C. but also to regular individuals who visit the House of the Temple and are interested in seeing more masonic sites in D.C.  I would also like it if the histories and stories presented in this exhibit help to spread the amazing history of Freemasonry and dispels some of the conspiracies that have risen lately against the brotherhood.

I am currently planning on using Viewshare to create this digital exhibit.  My plan is to use the platform in order to create a map showing the locations of the important sites, to make collections of the images of each site, and to attach some useful information about the masonic history, or even some simply interesting stories, to each site.  My hope is that the history and stories will entice individuals to explore some sites that they normally would not consider touring. I am also hoping that the map will be a helpful tool that can be used by people navigating the sites in D.C. or planning a tour of the city.

In order to spread the word about this site, I am hoping to find a way in which it can either be integrated or just simply mentioned on the House of the Temple and the Supreme Council’s main website.  Ideally, I would love for the site to be mentioned on the websites of some of the sites I am including in the project (however, this does not seem a likely avenue of marketing).

Overall, I am excited to begin working on this project and I hope that it will be of use to visitors of the House of the Temple.