Switching Strategies as the Tornado Appraoches

(The tornado is the looming deadline that is this Friday. I am the one laughing. Hopefully I am the one laughing. Hopefully.)

Blog Post: Consider the differences between digital and traditional scholarship, drawing from your experiences over the summer and in your previous academic life.

My research seems the most traditional of the group; my research and information-gathering has reached a very usual process and conclusion: sit, read things, gather information, try to reach an end point that explains all the work done before. I met with Kelcy and Sarah about this  sudden stop-point. I wasn’t feeling too excited about the only possible way to show my data-gathering over the last couple weeks. In any other situation, I would condense all my notes and thoughts into an essay. Because this is digital scholarship, I want to at least try and use some interesting methodology, some tool that would make this information visible ~in a new light~. After much brooding over Neatline, ArcGIS, and Omeka, my dissatisfaction with each of the methodologies stemmed that I was trying to change my information for the tool, not the other way around. I was considering using the tools for the sake of the tool  – that was definitely out of line from the general guidelines we drew up during the first couple weeks of the internship: the tool was meant to enhance the data, not the data existing for the sake of the tool. So out go all those ways of showing the data: Neatline was cool, but I see no reason to use a geographical tool for 4 buildings on the same small plot of land. :/ ArcGIS was just WAY to big and extensive  for the small project I aiming for. Omeka… is… Omeka… Just… Look at it and know that it is not am appealing project host…

I had accepted my not-too-interesting project format. If the natural traditional form of my research would be an essay, the natural digital form would be an exhibit. With the incredibly visual focus of the collecction and the archive in general, this is a path that works. The WordPress theme we have chosen – Pond – has a gallery feature that can function as an exhibit.

Looking nice B-)
Looking nice B-)

(Ive just realized this post has no bulletpoints. Go me.)

From my conversation with Kelcy and Sarah I also narrowed my scope once more, going from 11 buildings constructed during Hitchcock’s time at Amherst to 4 that are the most interesting examples of his impact on architecture (Morgan Library, Appleton Cabinet, the President’s House, and the Octagon) to just one – the Octagon. (The process reminded me quite a lot of the phrase “You could stop at five or six stores… or just one“)

So my choice is now only one. The most interesting one. The most ~*^iconic^*~ one (I guess living on campus really dulls your appreciation for the aesthetics of the more common wow-architecture? I remember arriving and being like “Wow! Octagon!”  and that is definitely no longer the case).

Anyways, I am now completely narrowing down. Putting that info in with gr8 pictures. Finding some conclusions about Hitch’s involvement into WordPress. Yes. That is the plan.


You Won’t Believe What Happened After They Started Researching!

Blog Post: You’ve each been exploring individual project ideas that will be part of a larger whole, but as some of you have already noted, these projects will benefit from a team-based approach. How will you use the team to shape, amplify, improve and implement your piece of the project?

1) Actually exchange information about what we have been doing.

  • We’ve mostly kept to ourselves during the last week – I’ve been in the Archives’ small room, looking through documents and getting pages upon pages of strange information about the buildings I have decided to look further into: Appleton Cabinet, Morgan Library, the Octagon [Woods Cabinet and Lawrence Observatory], and the President’s House. My best object was an art history class essay written in 1996 about the decades in which these buildings and a couple others (namely Williston and Barrett Halls). The argument of the essay was that the 1840’s and 1850’s brought about a new dimension in learning through these different, specialized buildings. College Row, built during the religiously zealous second president’s term, is  cemented in one dimension; the Octagon and Morgan Library, when they were built, added some dimension in both the academic areas of the college (with an expansion of science and specialized learning) and in the single-plane of the College Row. It’s a very artistic description, but it works.
  • There was this great moment on Friday when we were all sitting in Barker (for one rare moment), when all of a sudden we realized no one had an idea about what everyone else was doing. “SOOOoooooo what have you been up to this whole week?” was the prevailing question.

2) I have quite a lot of information, random things, interesting things, tidbits and curiosities, but I am unsure about how to organize them.

  • Some relevant examples:
    • The minutes of the Trustees’ meetings say that, on Nov 5th, 1833: “Voted to cause  house to be erected for the use of the President, provded the present one can be sold for a sum not less than $2500.” In January, an offer arose. The Trustees decided to accept the offer. “Voted that the TreasurerEach of the College be directed to borrow from the Amherst Bank such sum or sums of money as may be necessary to fulfill the contracts for the building of the President’s house” etcetc. The new one cost $9000.
    • Reason #3 why Charles H Hitchcock wrote “The Visitor’s Guide to the Public Rooms and Cabinets of Amherst College with a Preliminary Report” was a hope for donations.
    • Each room of the Octagon had a name for a prominent donor. Apparently the college was that desperate to show their thanks for the benevolence of Josiah Woods, Charles Baker Adams, and Abbott Lawrence. Also the Octagon w as built in 1847-48 – the actual literal years of the worst of the debt crisis. Nicely done, Hitch.
    • Morgan Library had an open stack structure when it first opened, along with four paintings on the walls: the three college presidents and Aristotle.
    • The Dewey Decimal System was initially created for Morgan Library. Dewey was one year out of college (he graduated in 1873 I believe, from Amherst) when he was asked to help organize the increasing library collection.
    • Apparently when Morgan had free-standing stacks people flipped because that was a revolution in library organization. :/
    • The Assyrian Reliefs have been in nearly all these buildings: they were bought by Hitchcock because he hated Williams (the tl;dr version). He had heard that Williams and Dartmouth had secured Nimrud Reliefs for their collections. He contacted a recent Amherst grad, Henry Lobdell (Class of 1849), who was stationed in Persia, to procure some for the college. Lobdell agreed, saying that he could get better ones than them, and Hitch forwarded him $500 to do the job. Right now, that $500 is nearly $15,600.00 (Purchasing Power Calculator).
    • The cost of Appleton’s collections exceeded $5000 and every single document (and very few exist, unfortunately) mentions its fireproof nature. Apparently that was a big deal back then – fireproof buildings.
    • In addition, Appleton was built in 1855 from a fund for the creation of “benevolent and scientific objects” from the Estate of Samuel Appleton of Boston. Hitch applied in 1853 for funding; his request was approved in 1854. The building cost $10k; the collections inside, $5k.
  • Cool. Cool cool cool.
  • But my question is: how do I compile all these curiosities into an interesting exhibit?
  • Not sure, completely, but I did find some examples with the site that I am most interested in using.

3) Wix would be a pretty great. Really great.

Look at it! This is a really simple site I threw together from a sad template to show my thoughts after I initially vomited them onto the whiteboard  (which  does help with thinking, huge thanks to Dustan for introducing that idea of throwing everything we know on a whiteboard and then whittling away what does not matter). Next to the whiteboard is also a rudimentary post-it-note information architecture (pics unavailable D:). The main idea is that  the site content – the four projects – would be separate from the documentation of the  Behold!


Not the worst thing for a five-minute work of assigning badly-named pages to a usual template.

Here are some other sites that show the capabilities of wix, especially in projects similar to ours:



This sleek, simple layout is basically what  I have in mind as well. Something that is flexible to showcase both data and gallery-esque visuals, and enough of a traditional layout to look good. Yes. Looking good.

TO conclude this post, here is a video of a great moment from a cartoon I am currently absolutely in love it right now:


Building it up

Are there projects out there like the one you have planned as a team? Like your smaller individual piece of the team project? What do they do well, and what could be improved? How are you feeling about your project now?

  • I am currently reading up on various buildings erected in Hitchcock’s time as professor, president, and professor again. After reading through the relevant sections of President King’s The Consecrated Eminence and getting a bit of background info on the 11 buildings constructed then. To be fair, King definitely has a narrative going on about the college having no money, the college having good relations with rich people all around, the college having people who know how to ask for money from those rich people, not enough money being transferred for those buildings, etc etc. “What a distasteful building,” says Hitchcock the Elder. “Did no architect glance over these plans before construction started?” (But of course, we can’t all have tasteful buildings. Then there would be no need to complain or pay any attention to them.)
  • Hitchcock had an absolute abhorrence for the North and South College architectural styles. “Colonial”, plain, and utterly boring compared to the potential grandioseness that could be a New England college campus, they are a complete disappointment. Apparently the buildings were not only  dorms, but also lectures rooms, literary society rooms, attics, sermon areas, etc. Those buildings were meant to be functional, and they fulfilled their roles.
  • This quote on JChap is rather apt: “It was unfortunate that the plan of the building did not pass under the eye of some competent and responsible architect.” Burn.
  • Another interesting fact that came up recently: Other New England colleges tore down and rebuilt their college rows a rather long time ago. For us, the ~worst buildings~ are the most iconic ones. Simply going on the Amherst webpage shows that College Row remains the most iconic and notable part of campus.
  • https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/news/news_releases/2015/05-2015/node/608111
  • Look at this. Half the pics are of Johnson Chapel. Hyperbolically.
  • Anyways, after all of these readings, I realized out of the initial list of the 11 buildings constructed during Edward’s time at Amherst, not all of them he had direct input in creating. After reading more about the various groups of faculty and donors who decided on the various structures, I realized only a few of them really mattered in the context of Hitchcock
  • The Octagon [known as the Woods Cabinet at first]
  • The Octagon now
    The Woods Cabinet then


  • The Appleton Cabinet [now Appleton Dorm]
  • Appleton Cabinet then
  • Appleton now


  • The President’s House
  • President’s House then

    President’s House now
  • Morgan Hall [previously Morgan Library, complete with the Observatory]
  • Morgan Library then
    Morgan Hall now




Nothing really comes to mind. I have found a couple projects that show architectural history, but in their own way, not in a way that I want to.

Some examples:




BUT ALAS none of them really show what I want to create. I have yet to decide what I want to create. It would feel quite a lot like Pottermore though.

Title title title title

Blog Post: what was it like to put proposals together?

  • We split up into our own heads during the proposal section; the whole process was basically us retreating to our interests, doing our personal research and finding our own sources and figuring out which methodologies would be the best. This meant that each of our proposals also had a different focus: Marie’s was in-depth, with many many words on her thought process –  Seanna’s was all bulletpoints of possible questions and paths of inquiry; Daniel’s was an example of the process he would use to explore a comparable question.
  • I decided to softly pursue two proposals because of my initial understanding that we would require to do 6-8 proposals EACH. Gladly, I found out that we had to do only  6-8 TOTAL. God bless.
  • (We still only have 5?? Perhaps we should make one more just to have more options?)
  • My two inquiries were, naturally, following my interests: architecture and Orra’s drawings (visuals, mon ami!)
    • Hitchcock obviously influenced the college, yeah, old story. However, how much of his legacy is PHYSICALLY present on campus, that we must interact with every day and deal with? Yeah, dinosaur tracks, cool, but what of his do I actually have to see? This brought me to the fact that the iconic view of Amherst – College Row, complete with JChap, South, North, and Appleton – got built during his era as president. The Octagon too was a love of his, and an indisputable part of the college’s unique architecture.
      • I realize after typing and deleting the phrase ‘and so the question remains’ that I have no concrete question concerning this research – it would just be an exploration of the college’s architectural history and how Hitchcock’s decisions then affect our current student lives.
      • Part of me is also superinterested in hearing what people thought of it all THEN – Hitchcock’s contemporaries. What did students think of his hatred of dorms, citing them as “evil?” Did faculty care about having their own academic buildings, or were they content with the multi-purpose rooms of the South attic?
      • Anyways, questions that are terribly Amherst-important rather than irl important.
    • My other inquiry dealt with the forgotten variable of Orra White. She had fallen off our vision board a couple weeks ago; after answering all our initial questions about her, we sorta stopped… caring about her. There just seems to be nothing else that can be found out.
      • Criss, one of the interns last year, told us to just write SOMETHING on paper to feel as if we’re exploring new territory. Missy also warned to add Orra into the equation one last time and conclude decisively  to not drop her form our inquiry. Out of the four of us, I decided to take that path.
      • So I took a couple paths. First I took OW’s Herbarium and decided to do a side-to-side comparison to a couple different things: her drawn specimen, her contemporaries’ drawn specimen, a modern drawn specimen, and an actual photograph of the specimen. Second, I would take her lecture drawings for Hitchcock and compare them to modern scientific illustrations. I know at some point Orra drew this creation.
      • I hate to tell her that she's a bit off with that plan of the earth.
        I hate to tell her that she’s a bit off with that plan of the earth.
      • But yes; that is the general idea. To think about her drawings, their accuracy, and their place in the history of scientific illustration.
  • What I am concerned about is how these various proposals will fit together. The one on the relation of science and religion could possibly extend to analyzing citations; finances  of the college could possibly be related to the effects of Hithcock’s architectural decisions. Otherwise, all these fall under the realm of ‘legacy’ but even through 3 separate concept maps we have not found a way to  fit the four together in a cohesive manner. Perhaps that will come with time.

What questions do you still have?

  • None really right now? Mostly this urge to create something out of these loose ends.

What do you find exciting about moving forward?

  • I’m curious about the deductions we will make from our proposals. Yes, we know that Hitchcock’s financial abilities were enough to lead the college out of ruin, ~by the grace of God~, but I’m looking forward to finding out the numbers that allowed that to happen. Same goes for my idea about the architectural plans. I know that the college was slowly built; seeing how much WASN’T there is also something that I’m very looking forward to.
  • Basically, I’m interested in seeing results. : /

Reflect on moving from individual proposals to the group project.

  • Ooooohh suddenly I understand the difficulty that last year’s group had with reconciling their differing project ideas. If we have such a softcore attachment to our projects after a couple days, I can imagine what a month can do. Hopefully our group project will evade that issue and instead for one cohesive project instead of four disparate ones.

What concerns do you have and how do you think you can allow for one another’s interests?

  • I’m willing to scrap my ideas; I know they’re of the weaker variety (already my first proposal, Orra, has fallen out of the conversation) and I’m willing to let them go if they are unnecessary.
  • Another thing: we could switch roles in our
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tDjYuqJRJQ
  • On a completely other note, I’ve been scouring Bioshock playlists on 8tracks and have completely fallen in love with this one playlist about the protagonist of the sequel and have listened to this song on repeat for days on end. My current music mix is sad emotional duets about water, pumping electroswing, and this weird southern gothic/Americana style that I have never been attracted to but cannot let go of now.
  • There’s something interesting about creative energy – when it’s there, its sheer force makes it hard to use or direct. When it’s not, it’s hard to get going. I’m not quite sure what to do with this thought; I’ll keep it for now.


Beneski Museum and the Reaching of the Idea

(I’ve been thinking a lot about Harry Potter recently – had to make a bad syntactical reference)

THE PROMPT: Reflection. How has the visit to the Beneski shaped your understanding of Hitchcock and your research questions? Do you feel ready to begin making the transition from the learning phase of the internship to the project phase?

1) Beneski visit

This visit was one of the most concrete moments of conceptual progression so far – we left with more questions, more answers, and a better feeling of what we will explore. I took notes during the expedition, both of the tour that Kate Wellspring, Collections Curator of the Beneski Museum, and of our ponderings. Some highlights include:

  • Hitchcock was originally interested in astronomy, but after a case of mumps, could not pursue that path  because of his weak eyesight.
  • The Most Coolest Thing: the idea of geological time
    • I need to explain this further. Kate led us to this exhibit on the Oxbow:

    “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow”, by Thomas Cole (1801–1848), commonly known as “the Oxbow” – a moment when we realized we were onto something
  • Kate told us that Hitchcock was standing on this mountain when he he saw the Connecticut River flood. When rivers flood like that, the usually-meandering river decides to forge an easier path – completely ignoring the curve of the oxbow. Here’s how it occurs:
  • Apparently, this was a pivotal moment in Hitch’s life, as said Kate. Before, geological time was huge – larger than a person’s life, each formation taking so much time that it could only be seen from way above the human vantagepoint. Hitchcock witnessed such a huge occurance in the span of a day or two. This got him thinking – if such change can happen in such a short period of  time, how much change could occur during the Earth’s existence? Since change occurs so much, isn’t the world much older than we think it is?
  • A map of the current Northampton Oxbow, courtesy of Google Maps
    A map of the current Northampton Oxbow, courtesy of Google Maps
  • We are not sure if this story is real – none of Edward or Orra’s works explicitly mention this moment. However, as a narrative tool, it functions fantastically. We can easily split Hitchcock’s life into these two parts, one of conventional thinking, and the other focusing on geological time and human mortality.
  • — A week has passsed since I wrote these portions above. The glorylight of the revelation – “we can use time as our umbrella topic!!” has passed, and we have a huge whiteboard to prove it.
    Observe the wall of overrall confusion and a furious wondering: what can we do to make our ideas work? Most of this writing is mine though.
    Observe the wall of overrall confusion and a furious wondering: what can we do to make our ideas work? Most of this writing is mine though.


  • So we realized that our overall interests with the Hitchcock collection veered on two main categories: legacy and context – “why should I care” VS “tell me more about why people then cared,” as I casually put it. Both of these categories deal with time.
    • On a very cool note, we have to do small projects for each tool that we learn. For the initial mapping project, we created this idea of basically recreating the 1800’s through mapping little snippets of info, photographs, and overlaid maps to show what life was like back then and how Hitchcock fit into it. That is still currently our best idea, but we need to find a way to narrow the question down so we could finish it in the next… month? We  only have a month left, wow.
  • We’ve learned how to fiddle with gelphi (I tried to make my own spreadsheet and import it; I now understand the difficulty of data-mongering. I got nothing fruitful out of that exercise except a rewritten spreadsheet and a diagram that makes 0 sense, but hey, the librarians tell me that even a failed project is an addition to academics, so I shall let it go). The work we did with Tableau was the most fascinating so far – it’s a program with quite a lot of potential. I mapped out the winners of Eurovision by year, color, and points on a map. It was so cool, but only useful with specific spreadsheets and data. My question is: ok, great tool, now how are we going to use it?”
    • For this project with Tableau, the idea we came up with was looking into the financial history of Amherst and perhaps plotting out the money in the ledgers, seeing when it came in, from whom, how it waws used, perhaps tallying it up, etcetcetc E T C. We have yet to go do that fully, but we did fiddle in the archives. I must say, we need to spend more time there, because there is so much more there than anywhere else. I need to spend more time in the Archives.
  • Currently, we’re at a strange place. We have found this umbrella topic of time, and are trying to narrow it down to find a suitable research question. Orra has pretty much completely fallen off the radar. We have questions for some other collections – Deerfield, the Jones Library, Amherst Historical Society, Town of Amherst Collection.
  • I’m not quite sure what to do at this point.
  • To be fair, some more time is needed with the collection. Perhaps I’ll find something interesting to explore. During the last team meeting, we specifically asked about this and supposedly we’re in a good place? I sure hope so. Because I want to move forward but there’s nothing that I can grasp to move forward with.
  • Im listening to the Bioshock Infinite OST right now and I simply cannot handle this level of emotion and tragedy and loss and I’m not ok I recorded my reaction to the ending yesterday because this game is Not Okay in the slightest. Filled with American exceptionalism, religious zeal, impossible science, absolutely lovable, amazing, beautiful characters, an atmosphere of freedom and light and joy and I’m not ok. I’m so not ok, and I cannot believe that that game exists. What a beauty. The Bioshock series is completely fantastic and I hope everyone has a chance to take a look at it, not be repulsed by the horror and gore, but look further into what it carries to its players. (I’m not ok, I went from listening to the OST of Bioshock Infinite to the  first Bioshock and now Im thinking about Burial at Sea and I’m Not Ok because Booker deWitt did not ask for that fate and neither did Elizabeth and they didnt deserve what came to them they did not and now they’re in Rapture and its so strange seeing it Before – before the ruins, before the civil war of 1959, before splicers took it over, just as Andrew Ryan sent Fontaine Industries to the bottom of the sea. “It must be horrible,” said Elizabeth, “Imagine the person you would have to be to do that.” Booker asks her what she means. “To send someone to be buried at sea.” And I have to pause because Im crying and looking at her and thinking, “You shouldnt exist! Youre buried at sea too!! Booker’s supposed to be dead, and youre not supposed to exist!” and the game continues on, and I hope that I will have  some answers to this glorious time-travelling, Not Ok series. On a completely hilarious note, Daniel and I were literally  talking about Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged and then I go home and watch Bioshock which is literally like 829% based on the ideas of Atlas Shrugged – there’s a freaking character  named Atlas, another called Fontaine (aka Fountainhead???) and  Atlas is also a mythological figure who has an Art Deco statue in NYC for it and the whole  game is made in an Art Deco style?? Then there’s the cool thing that Andrew Ryan, creator of Rapture, the underwater city of free artists and scientists, was originally Andrei  Rayanovski which is a play on Ayn Rand’s name and just. Wow. The connection between the  original and Infinite is also SO tenuous, so tenuous, and somehow the developers made it happen, they created these two worlds, these  two utopian/dystopian cities  that were meant to fail, and drew a line between them in the form of the sharp, helpful, beautiful, amazing Elizabeth Comstock. or deWitt. [I want to know more about the universe where Booker deWitt  joined the Vox Populi and Daisy Fitzroy and led the rebellion and died a martyr for the revolution. I want to know more about the universe where Elizabeth lived with him, as a daughter should, for her childhood instead of being locked up in a tower with songbird. I want to know more about Elizabeth’s connection to Rapture, to ADAM, to these failed universes. If she has the power to tear apart reality, I want to  see what realities she creates. Perhaps they’ll be better than the ones she lived through.]) I’m not ok and Bioshock is So Good. Please at least just watch a trailer or two for the original Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. Simply, amazing, amazing games. I havnt felt this energized my media in a long time.
  • Now the question is, is it possible to somehow use this rant/infodump somehow for Hitchcock?
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2jd-85dGEk So this is a bunch of music from the 1850’s, Hitchcock’s time.
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrhmA8rgI2o And here is a great song from the Bioshock Infinite OST? I hear a bit of a similarity?
    • Did music even get PLAYED at all? Did Hitchcock think dancing was a sin? What were the auditory aesthetics of the 1820-30-40-50’s? What WAS life back then? If Amherst was such a backwater, then why did Hitch commit himself to this area? Why did Orra even choose him? If she was such an exceptional woman, then why didn’t she go  further in her career? I know that she already had one when they decided to marry, and she continued drawing and working even as a mother, but why didn’t she put her name on any of her works? Why didn’t she date her creations? How was Hitch as an actual college president? What the hell did students and faculty think of him?
    • And now before the Internet completely dies and the cat videos take over, I’m going to post this mess of a post.

Week 2 – beginning the trials

Forming, storming, norming, performing. We’ve got it down.

  • HOW IT’S DONE: We’ve  started learning the various methodologies used in DH –  currently up to Omeka exhibits and geographical mapping. Each tool-learning experience starts with a little “evaluate these other projects that have used these tools” session in which we basically critique other projects, making notes about how what we should take from their example or do differently.
  • OMEKA: After learning the  tool with small demos, we proceed to write a bunch of concept maps and research questions. For the Omeka exhibit, this worked fine: 4 concept maps, one brainstorming session, and we had some topics. Although our facilities dealing with concept maps were exhausted, we had some idea of where we were going.
    • Interestingly, the most fruitful discussions about research questions and concept maps come straight from the blue – from Kelcy’s “what if” questions and Daniel’s spontaneous tangents. One of these discussions arose during a concept map session (the last one, god bless). Someone suddenly asked, “What if we observe Ed and Orra’s achievements from a modern lens?” Suddenly, the tedious brainstorming (we had just done it so much in such a short time!) had an outcome – we had another point of view that created interesting questions we had not seen before. The “legacy” aspect of our project intrigued me the most.
    • These are just two examples of concept maps - including the one we used to create the final exhibit prototype!
      These are just two examples of concept maps – including the one we used to create the final exhibit prototype!


  • For the Omeka exhibit prototype, we settled on a topic that arose from the “modern lens perspective discussion”: Ed and Orra’s impact on the interacting fields of Art and Education. The themes chosen were simple yet interesting: Edward, usually thought of as the scientist in the pair, had some projects of creative merit, and Orra, “accomplished artist,” was a trained and published botanist and scientific illustration. This role switch added another dimension to their characters – no longer were they known simply by their reputation.
  • In addition, this topic choice – Art + Education – was perfect for a visual  exhibit. We had the visual element in the title: art! We included as many images as we could for each of the respective pages we were doing.
    • During the session on actually creating an information architecture – where we basically create a site layout, with pages, subpages, themes, etc. The navigation for the site.
    • I’m particularly really proud of how this worked out – the group came in  at 9 am, threw our tired selves into this post-it note creation, and ended up with nothing. After a while of blank staring, I reshuffled the post-its into a cohesive format – Orra and Ed’s individual achievements on one side, Orra and Ed’s collaborative projects on the other, with more concrete pages stemming from those three broad categories. The end result had the unusually sleepy cohort blinking  awake – look! here’s something that makes sense! B-) go me
    • The end result of our informational architecture machinations. AKA "should we draw lines or put markers or just leave it how it is?"
      The end result of our informational architecture machinations. AKA “should we draw lines or put markers or just leave it how it is?”
    • Here’s the end result for the Omeka workshop! (X) Not all the pages have content, but here is the one that I made: (X)
  • MAPPING: Following the Omeka workshop was one on geographical mapping. Cool stuff. From the very beginning, I was particularly interested in mapping and maps and geography because what is more inspiring that the image of a world map? That view slowly eroded. The various mapping examples we looked at had me asking the same question: “Why are maps used in these situations? What does a map do that another tool couldn’t?” It was fairly disenheartening to see that a tool with such interesting potential had no use that I could  concretely see (with the exception of http://worldmap.harvard.edu/africamap/ this one is an adventure with all its interactive content)
  • We skipped the mapping process for the mapping protoype and went straight to research questions. The end result is a mess of questions, but the final one remains – what does the mapping tool add to any of these questions?
  • What an engaging mess. Fortunately, we actually had some interesting ideas spaced in here concerning the geographical aspects of the Hitchcocks' legacy
    What an engaging mess. Fortunately, we actually had some interesting ideas spaced in here concerning the geographical aspects of the Hitchcocks’ legacy
  • We then split into  two groups, making two prototypes. I was in the pair with Seanna that had to observe the movements of the Hitchcocks during their travels and plot them on a map using Orra’s diary entries. For this, we used TimeMapper, a simply and accessible tool  (although some Harvard graduate gave it a 1-star review – “this is so simple! there arent enough options with this tool!” yes mister, that is the point – simplicity!)
    • My partner had a health emergency, so I took on the diary entries myself. It was not easy.
    • "Don't we have interns to do this tedious work for us?" say the interns themselves
      “Don’t we have interns to do this tedious work for us?” say the interns themselves
    • Anyway, here’s my less-than-fruitful result. Sarah and Kelcy came over and the three of us together had a hard time getting this done, reading the locations and trying to find out the specifics with Google. “Is there a Gallahan Castle in Cologne? Which country is Cologne even in?” In the end, we knew more about the River Neckar than we ever needed to. Huge thanks to Sarah and Kelcy too – their help actually made my prototype exist. The prototype can be found here: (X)
  • LUNCHTIME: In addition, we met with the DH post-bacs. An interesting pair –  Jeffrey Moro (his twitter is here) and Mariel Nyröp. They brought up some interesting points about the politics of DH, the various limitations that each tool and methodologies use. The idea is that every tool has a certain communication to it and requires thoughts and ideas  to be delivered in that fashion, which may exclude people incapable to communicate in that manner. This was not a topic that we had discussed previously (although it was mentioned). That was my big takeaway from this lunch (other than the thought that people who are not official scholars also work in the DH field), but even then, the post-bacs themselves told us that “It’s like a filter. You have to decide when to turn on the politics and when to turn it off to actually get work done.”
  • This was one of the first images on Google for "politics digital humanities." It's a fairly common topic in DH tbh (according to the post-bacs)
    This was one of the first images on Google for “politics digital humanities.” It’s a fairly common topic in DH tbh (according to the post-bacs)
  • THE END: Otherwise, we’re working on the abstracts and methods for the last two projects, doing readings, living and breathing. Woohoo.  Last Friday, Daniel turned on some music ridiculously loudly in the room. The day ended with some soft partying to songs that shouldn’t be repeated. This morning on the way here, Flavia (who is working in the Archives for the summer) held the door to Frost Library for me and said, “You guys were playing music so loudly that I was finishing shelving to ‘Trap Queen’!” Because that’s what we do in Digital Scholarship, DH, the DigiShip, Diggy Human Dept. We party and write and research. Rock on m/

Introduction to All

What questions do you have after the first couple of days?

I arrived a bit late, but even after half a day of discussion and a couple of hardcore reading hours I’m filled with thoughts. We have not answered the question of “what is digital humanities” – and, for now, agreed not to have one, or to at least allow it to have its vagueness for now.

In addition, while I am all completely for the use of digital tools to look at primary sources and data, Daniel’s constant question, “What does the digital add to the project?” Many of the projects we looked at could have been done in a physical form rather than a digital one. Victoria’s second map from last year’s project, while incredibly appealing, could be made with some ingenious sliding mechanisms in a book. The linguistic analysis piece could have also been done by hand, albeit painstakingly.

As I’m thinking about the proper usage of digital humanities that helps the viewer better understand the material, I remembered about the Book of Kells, an Irish calligraphic version of the Bible made circa 800. I took a 3-day calligraphy class in high school; we watched the animated movie, “The Secret of Kells” (fantastic, unique, imaginative, 9/10, would recommend), gained a newfound appreciation for the book, and then proceeded to observe the book itself, in all its intricacy and beauty, through a digital collection of Trinity College in Dublin. What followed then was a practical demonstration of Irish calligraphy and then our own student trials of pen and ink. The movement from digital media to practical hands-on experience really solidified the small course and brought the students the most benefit in the most constrained time – a quality of efficiency that I hope to emulate in the less-pedagogical-more-research-oriented project.

This is the most famous page of the Book of Kells, the  Chi-Rho Page, named for the large character. 

Compare this image with Trinity College’s digitized version, which allows a fantastic amount of zoom (you need to scroll to folio 34 r to see it).

I’m not yet sure what  to do with this example yet except keep it as a model for a context where the use of DH helped more than hindered.


What are you particularly interested in exploring/learning this   summer?


I would like to know more about the concrete tools available for digital scholarship, which I suppose we as a team will be introduced to through workshop-like elements. Perhaps I can learn to tweak them to my advantage! After looking through the Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Finding Aid, I’m curious about seeing where their two strengths aid each other – his curiosity about dinosaur footprints, geology, and natural theology, and her accurate depiction of all things in the natural world. In addition, it would be interesting to compare the lecture notes that he used for teaching alongside her drawings, perhaps see the accuracy of their paired project as compared to current scientific drawings of the same objects.

What are you hoping to get out of this experience?

Most of all, a new range of skills that I could then carry on and use in other areas. My work with the Archives & Special Collections in the fall showed me alternative uses of traditional media – I’d like to see what else is possible with it. In all else, I know that everything I will learn will not come from me declaring it but rather living through the experience. I look forward to learning about these tools, researching the interesting people who are Edward and Orra White (who I have to explain and re-explain to all who ask me what exactly I am doing with my summer internship), and producing an insightful project with equally awesome people that can help others understand the interesting lives of our subjects.