All posts by gkmiller

Midterm Rubric: Salem Witch Trials

 

1-Doesn’t meet expectations 2-Meets some expectations, decent 3-Meets most expectations, good 4-Meets all expectations
Content -No research question

-Info is severely lacking

-Shaky research question

-Info is somewhat there

-Good research question

-Info is apparent and makes sense

-Extremely clear research question

-Info is all relevant and directly relates to research question

Navigation/Organization -Not well organized

-Clunky and difficult navigation

-Decently organized

-Navigation is somewhat difficult but can figure out with time

-Good organization, makes sense

-Navigation is easy

-Great organization, everything where it should be

-Navigation is done without thinking, everything in it’s place

Interactability -Links to other pages/docs not working -Some links to other pages/docs work -Most links to other pages/docs work -All links to other pages/docs work
Credibility -Researchers not credible

-Not funded

-Researchers somewhat credible

-Funded a little

-Researchers educated and credible

-Funded well

-Researchers very well educated and credible

-Funded extremely well

 

Score: 13/16

Content: 4/4

The content of the project was interesting and followed the research question well. All of the information was relevant to the history of the Salem Witch Trials and directly dealt with each other.

Navigation/Organization: 2/4

The organization and navigation of this project could use some improvement. It takes a little time to figure out the organization although it is doable. The navigation is also a bit difficult and it is not clear where certain links will lead the user or where certain information is located.

Intractability: 3/4

The interactability of the site was good. The majority of links and documents worked well although a few did not load or did not have information in them.

Credibility: 4/4

The credibility of the project was excellent. It was clear that the researchers were well educated and all held degrees from top institutions. The project is well funded so the chances of extendability of the site are high.

 

Midterm: Salem Witch Trials

Brett Mele & Georgia Miller

3/9/2017

Nieves

Digital Humanities Midterm

 

Evaluation of Salem Witch Trials Archive

The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project is a collection and transcription of primary source documents that originated during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. This project improves upon the current records of the trials through the provision of new transcriptions which may uncover more about the past. This project will immortalize primary sources, records, books, and maps about the Salem Witch Trials. It ensures that the events of 1692 won’t be forgotten in the larger context of history. In addition, an important part of the scholarship is the process of making the Salem Witch Trials, not just the outcome of the archive or the transcriptions. Due to the importance of process in the transcription and collection of sources, there is an opportunity for growth after the process is completed. Many different archives, libraries, and historical societies participated in the archiving process which has resulted in multiple sources of funding and grants that will sustain the project.

The project pushes the state of knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials forward through the discovery of new information and the collection of past data. The redone transcriptions of court records contain corrections on the Salem Witchcraft Papers from 1977, the original transcriptions of the court records. In addition, the online collection contains multiple types of 17th Century documents, a collection of different historical maps, a list of notable actors in the trials, selected literary works, and holdings from various archives. The information surrounding the trials is well rounded and multi dimensional and has room for extension. In addition, the project appears to be well-funded which should ensure the sustainability the archive.

The goal of the project is to organize and compile relevant information on the Salem Witch Trials in a systematic fashion. The primary research question is: How do all of the maps, documents, and people surrounding the Salem Witch Trials fit together and how are they relevant to history? In addition, what does the historical context say about the events that occurred?

The design of the project is easy to navigate; however, the site is outdated and could use an upgrade. The interface appears to be from many years ago although the different categories of research topics are all color coded which is useful for the user. The ‘Project Mission’ and ‘Project Information’ sections all contain relevant information on the background and funding of the project. Within the ‘Documents & Transcription’ section, the original version and the new transcription, where necessary, are pictured. The ‘Historical Map’ section provides maps that allow the user to zoom for closer inspection. Most of the maps have keys as well as a small amount of text that explains what they are depicting. The ‘Archival Collections’ section provides scanned pictures of the manuscripts from various libraries. This is interesting, however, there are no translations so it is almost impossible to garner information from the large quantity of manuscripts. Lastly, there is a section on ‘Notable People’ to the trials which I find to be one of the most important. There is a small description as well as a full essay available. Overall, the project design is decently organized and easy to navigate if the user knows what they are looking for but it does not provide many different modes of navigation or a fun experience for the user.

For the front-end, the site looks like it uses basic HTML or some other web design program. The copyright date is 2002, and it does not look like any of the technology has been updated since then.On the back-end, the project employs a number of unique technologies, particularly to map the sites of the exact location of the witch trials. Benjamin Ray and his team of researchers used Global Information Systems (GIS) technology to digitally map the Salem area. Additionally, the project needs some sort of database to store all of the documents.

The front-end technology creates a working display for the archive and provides a means for navigation. For the back-end, the scholars use the technology to create the unique content for the archive. For example, the GIS mapping is used to create interactive maps based on originals that detail all the witch accusations in Salem at the time.

The project succeeds in increasing knowledge about the Salem Witch trials. It compiles numerous primary documents including maps, books, images and more. The project also succeeded in their transcription, as the primary documents are now available on a digital forum. Additionally, the interactivity of some of the maps is a successful feature of the project; it allows users to gain an overview of the topic without having to sift through all of the documents.

Despite some successes, the project has room for improvement. For an outside user, the information is not organized well enough to get substantial value. Some links lead to transcribed letters with little context, and some lead to messy original manuscripts. Overall, the project needs tying together. The broad categories on the homepage lead to a confusing array of documents in most cases. There needs to be more of a breakdown so the user gets a sense of the significance of each primary source.

As the project director, Benjamin Ray assumes the responsibility for the outcome of the project. However, he employed a number of other scholars and many things had to work in his favor along the way. Under the project staff link, over 30 researchers were responsible for different aspects of the project, which includes those in charge of transcription, database design, GIS mapping and more. All of these pieces had to come together cohesively for the project to work. Additionally, Ray needed to acquire proper funding for the project to work, which it seems like he secured due to the support of a few different organizations, including the University of Virginia Scholar’s Lab. Despite the fact that it took such a collaborative effort to get the project off the ground, I would say the ultimate success or failure of the project falls on Ray, simply because he assumed the responsibility of overseeing the entire project, which should include making sure all the other researchers are doing adequate work.

From the rubric, the criteria that matter most in this project include: research question, maintenance and sustainability, navigation, presentation, academic importance, credibility, argument, accessibility and organization. Of these, the project does a below average job in navigation, presentation and organization. The site feels clunky, the presentation is not uniform throughout, and as the project needs to better organize its content. The project scores average for accessibility and maintenance, and scores above average on the other categories. It asks an interesting research question, and in its answering provides new information on the subject of the Witch Trials. All of the scholars involved in the project hold degrees from top institutions, and the project is well funded, so there is no questioning the credibility of the website. In sum, based on the created rubric, this project rates as above average, but not higher due to the key drawbacks previously discussed.

Lab 3: Solo Response

The lab showed how GIS technology is used through a multitude of websites. Some websites were more clear than others while showcasing various types of information. The question of “What’s the point?” was very clear in the “Gemini over Baja California” and the “Battle of Chancellorsville.” The two are navigable websites that have specific spatial research arguments. The importance of location is clear; the Gemini project explores a zoomed in shot of the overall satellite view while the Battle project displays important locations of a specific armed conflict. Both maps are interactive and allow the user to access more information; the two give spatial perspective through an adjustable sidebar that allows zoom. However, a drawback is that they are both static images of events/places in the past. The satellite images are from 1965 and 66 while the map from the battle dates back to 1863. Overall, both projects offer strong spatial arguments and representations with clear and navigable maps.

Writing Assignment 2: Cultural Analytics and Obama

The longstanding question of “How do we place value on data?” is important in the study of cultural analytics and digital humanities as a whole. The study and analysis of trends is pivotal in understanding the historical and present aspect of culture. Cultural analytics is the medium in which we see and visualize patterns. The goal of projects under this category try to determine how “’big cultural data’ can help us to question traditional assumptions and concepts in humanities and social sciences” (Cultural Analytics, 2014). A project that best reflects this is Digging into Global News by the Software Studies Initiative. The project uses a set of 113 weekly address videos by President Obama in the span of four years from 2009-2011. Digging into Global News aims to explore “how visual imagery reflects the rhetorics, aesthetics, and narratives of broadcast news, specifically in the case of political speeches that are remixed and interpreted by various international news sources” (Losh 2011).

Due to the fact that news broadcasts are not considered as serious as print news, the project aims to give a more in depth look to news as evidence and as an example of “database cinema” (Losh 2011). This type of evidence is composed of many different cinematographic elements that all add to the overall complexity of news as a form of importance evidence. Digging into Global News begins by using the archived videos of President Obama that “is easily accessible in HD format and clearly identified as free of copyright restrictions” (Losh 2011). This accessibility allows the footage of the President to appear in many different types of contexts, such as different news channels. The fact that the same clip is portrayed in different ways shows the individual biases that various news sources hold.

In addition, due to the eloquence of Obama’s speech and his rise to international prominence, many scholarly sources published articles and books about him. The visualization technique used “features a single seated figure (Obama) with frequently recurring and easily identifiable backgrounds (rooms in the White House) that are shot with a fixed camera” (Losh 2011). Because of this consistency, different random patterns and occurrences appear more obviously and pose different questions about these striking irregularities. Although such inconsistencies may appear unimportant, the small differences between each weekly address adds to the importance of his rhetoric. The footage “focuses on analyzing the videos by duration, date, political issue, geographical staging, commodities and technologies displayed, gesture and facial expression in the oratorical performance, and aesthetic decisions about cinematography and editing” (Losh 2011).

Overall, the site represents one of the most successful cultural analytics project that we have analyzed. The visualization techniques are powerful because not a lot is left up to interpretation. The images are static within themselves although once they are combined, they form a powerful tool that analyzes an important aspect of the American presidency.

 

Bibliography:

2014. Cultural analytics. January. http://lab.softwarestudies.com/p/cultural-analytics.html.

Losh, Elizabeth. 2011. Digging into Global News. September. Accessed Febuary 14, 2017. http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2011/09/digging-into-global-news.html.

 

 

Writing Assignment 1: What is Digital Humanities?

Digital humanities is more of an ever-changing concept than a clearly definable topic with evident borders around its definition. It is an interdisciplinary field that uses advanced technology and different methodologies in order to further research on life questions within a certain area of study. Within digital humanities, there is a remapping and renovation of the traditional field practices; print is no longer the primary medium of research.

The process of research within the field of digital humanities is important due to the fact that that new methods of investigation yield new information. According to McCarty, “The primary question here is how our insight is sharpened and imaginations empowered to gain genuinely ‘‘new liberties of action’’ from computing” (McCarty 2003, 1224). The research question does not need to be explicitly answered; however, it is meant to be redefined and explored with great importance placed within the process. The idea of process over product emphasizes the idea that failure is an important step in the quest for new information in the field of digital humanities.

Digital humanities forms a link between humanities, social sciences, arts, and natural sciences. Its audience is expanding due to the growing social impact on humanities. New and refurbished methods are combined to form a new type of scholarship. The decreasing number of “barriers between traditional scholars and digital scholars” causes some traditionalists to worry, although the print industry is slowly dwindling and relevant information is now becoming digitized (Mullen 2010). Through different projects, every site offers its own narrative and poses a specific research question or questions. For example, the project ‘Quijote interactivo,’ is “an impressive interactive digitization of the original edition of Miguel de Cervantes’ cult 1605-1615 novel, Don Quixote” and adds another dimension to the classic piece of literature (Popova). Digital humanities is not just for furthering humanities research; it is about bringing a body of work online to the masses with a specific goal in mind.

Works Cited

McCarty, Willard. 2003. “Humanities Computing .” Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science , 1224-1235.

Mullen, Lincoln. 2010. Digital humanities is a spectrum; or, we’re all digital humanists now. April 29. Accessed Febuary 6, 2017. http://lincolnmullen.com/blog/digital-humanities-is-a-spectrum-or-we8217re-all-digital-humanists-now/.

Popova, Maria. n.d. Digital Humanities Spotlight: 7 Important Digitization Projects. Accessed Febuary 6, 2017. https://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/08/12/digital-humanities-7-important-digitization-projects/.

 

Quijote Interactivo website-Miller and Fu

  1. What kind of files, data, objects are being used in the project in question?

The Quijote Interactivo website presents the original edition of Miguel de Cervantes’ cult 1605-1615 novel, Don Quixote. It is a text transcript of the original book that is now presented in a more readable/accessible form. There are also different editions of the book in order to show a timeline of how the novel changed since its original publish date. There are extra files such as photos and maps to offer background information about 17th century Spain. There is also music in the background that represents Spain at that specific time period to foster a more authentic reading experience.

2. What’s the project research question? Or, questions?

Beyond simply creating an online version of Don Quixote, this website explores the historical context and culture of the novel. Overarching research questions include: How can we bring this classic piece of literature into the 21st century and bring it to the masses? And also how can we make it captivating using both visual and auditory methods? Can we explain the historical significance of the novel by supplementing it with various interactive tools?

  1. What tools are being used?  Created?

A high quality scanner is used to make the original book available digitally. The book is presented more as a gallery to flip through at various points rather than an actual book to read through from cover to cover.  The clear and instructional interface of the website utilized both visual and auditory stimulation. The information is organized in a way that is easy to navigate, even if one has no prior knowledge of the book or the time period in which it was written.

  1. What methods are being undertaken?

There are various methods that are being undertaken: the gallery format, the added music, the videos on background of the era, and the maps showing the location of the different chapters. All of these aspects contribute to the connecting of the past to the present and giving an interactive space to a piece of classic literature. These methods attempt to fill the space that the loss of a tactile method leaves.
Georgia Miller, Jill Fu