Workin’ Hard.

I’ve been up to a many many things in regards to our scrapbook project for the past couple of days. I’ve used Alex’s research to create a timeline of events for the 1960s that can be seen here http://scrapbooks.umwhistory.org/timeline . It still needs a bit of fine-tuning, but it is up and running! I made sure that all the images I used were public domain. The tab on Google Image search where you can limit the results based on usage was really helpful. When creating the timeline, I went back to some of the posts that the class did in January to refresh my memory and help me troubleshoot some issues.

Laura-Michael and I also had a meeting with Suzanne at Special Collections. It was a really great session. She explained how to straighten images in photoshop (which is something I had already half figured out but was missing a crucial Homeconomicsclub-pg13.editstep). That knowledge was really helpful because many of the pages in the second home ec. scrapbook were a bit slanted. The straightening tool was able to fix that in a jiffy. She also showed me a different way to shrink images, that I do like better than the optimizer that I was using. When you crop in photoshop, the program deletes the pixels (and resulting byte-age) from the image. Therefore if you combine that cropping process with the shrinking process then the result is a much sharper image. Also with this process, I was able to pair down the various different byte sizes to 1-2.5 megabytes respectively. This is a bit bigger than the byte-size the optimizer was making them, but it is much more uniform. Using this process, I was able to prepare the entire second scrapbook (40+ images) in about 2ish hours. Laura-Michael is going to batch upload them and report back to me on the time that takes. Crossing my fingers for good news! Tomorrow is a data day. I have recruited Jess to help me out and between the two of us, we should be able to hammer out the metadata with no problems.

 

Progress, Progress, Progress!

First off, everyone’s websites are really coming together, and we can’t wait to see what the finished products look like!  On Thursday we virtually met with the rest of the students working on the Century America project, and they were able to give us some helpful input regarding the overarching site we are creating.  We will be putting the finishing touches on the site soon, so hopefully they will like the finished product!

As for how our progress is going, we can’t really complain!  We’ve been really lucky to have been able to rely on each other, and thank goodness for Jack and Leah and their knowledge regarding WordPress and programming!  Often Candice and I feel like we can’t contribute that much in regards to the technical aspect, but luckily this past Thursday night after hours of fiddling with widgets we successfully created the “Voices of the Great War” widget to show up on individual pages, and were able to make them different for each page.  Voices_1We’ve also just been editing little things about the site, such as fonts, color schemes, and finishing up citations – that will probably consume the majority of our remaining time on the site, since we want to make sure everything is given proper credit.

For the overarching Century America site, we are still working on embedding the map into the site, and have decided to create a new page specifically for the map so that the home page isn’t as overwhelming or distracting.  We are also working on editing the timeline that Leah has put together – we just need to add a few more events and the pictures, so I will be doing that and attempting the citations.  We’re on the right track though, and can’t wait to show our finished site to everyone in our class, and the world!

Is Google making us stupid? No, be we might be doing it ourselves.

This weeks readings brought up some good points about multi-tasking, shrinking attention spans, and TLDR.

I absolutely feel the effects of these- definitely have trouble concentrating on long texts, particularly online, and I feel almost slighted if there are no visuals. I routinely scan articles instead of carefully reading them. All this contributes to the idea of “pancake” understanding- broad but shallow. I don’t want to fall into that trap.

I think we are still very capable of reading carefully, even long texts, and memorizing large amounts of information. People do the former all the time for work, education, and fun (granted this is more complicated on a screen), and I think the memorization issue is absurd. Actors learn lines, vocalists learn lyrics, and lots of people memorize large portions of religious texts as part of their worship. I personally have memorized sections of the Bible ranging from a few verses to a whole (albeit short) book. It’s hard, but like anything it gets easier with practice. The world we live in naturally teaches us to process only very small pieces of information at a time, but that just requires us to make a conscious effort to develop the skills that come less easily.

In the spirit of TLDR, I’ll end here.

Then & Now: The Purple Crocuses by Russell Hall

Purple Crocuses by Russell Hall

Purple Crocuses by Russell Hall

“Walking down the brick steps to Russell Hall on one spring occasion, for example, admiring the extensive drift of purple crocuses that adorned that area, she remarked that that the site ‘always makes me think of a fairyland or some other place out of a storybook with beautiful princesses and wood folk about.’ Thanks to [Joni] Wilson’s effort, the campus was indeed a visual delight, season after season, much to the enjoyment of those who called it home.” (University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History 1908-2008 by William B. Crawley Jr., pg. 555)

Joni Wilson has been the director of landscaping and grounds since 1986.

I am actually on the President’s Council of Sustainability with Joni Wilson and although I haven’t gotten to work with her that much, she’s always great to listen to at meetings and really cares about the school. I also loved seeing the purple crocuses bloom this spring, and have a “Now” picture of it!

 

Devil Goat Day Poem

I’m bookmarking pages in the University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History 1908-2008 by William B. Crawley Jr. that have information on the pairs of pictures that I am working with. I came across this Devil Goat Day poem from the 1938 Bullet! I thought it was kind of cool, especially since I love being a Devil. :)

“Just after you’ve been entered here in the fall,
You’ll be heralded and welcomed by a tribal call.

Either Devil or Goat as the case may be
And expected to support it with loyalty…

The emblems of green Goats and Devils of red
Are sported by students–
even to bed.”

(Devil Goat Day poem in the 1938 Bullet)
[University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History 1908-2008 by William B. Crawley Jr., pg. 126]

Game Day

I hope everyone enjoyed our presentation today. Our site is progressing nicely and the addition of the last few “now” pictures we needed is great. Another step towards completion!

Going up on the roofs was an awesome experience. There were some great views that we normally don’t get to see. The construction in particular was cool to see, as you usually can’t get a good view with the fences. But from the top of Virginia, you have a straight shot. One of my favorite pictures I took was this:

image

It has a kind of “tower of doom” vibe–unintentional, I assure you.

I (and my groupmates) would really like to thank Harold Williams for taking us up on the roofs. He was a great help and talked to us a great deal about the history of campus.

There are lots of great stories about our roof adventures–we shared a few in class–but there are too many to write out here. Suffice to say that the day was an adventure, with climbing of super-steep ladders, old graffiti, and a new point of view.

Readings

I am just now getting caught up on my post for this week. I have to say I agree with the notion the internet is making us less logical. you have only to browse the youtube section of popular videos to see the result of internets presence.  I will admit that the argument relating to the storage of knowledge is a particularly compelling one. I do appreciate the knowledge aspect of the internet. I can access musical scores from composers in Australia. That’s the one part of the web  I do full heartedly support. Social media has its benefits as well so that people may stay current, and up-to-date. the problems of the internet are everyone is commenter. The other problem is people do not take everything seriously because bombarded with information or misinformation.  I think google is making us less self reliant, because all we have to do is search. The internet is a remarkable research tool, but it can be used for so much more. The key for future generations is going to be how to moderate use. This way you have the best of research without the worst of YouTube.

Reading

The first article I read was the Nicholas Carr one, original I know. I completely agree with him. I actually had a conversation with my Dad about this topic a few weeks ago. I’ve noticed the same change in myself. I used to love to read, all throughout my schooling up until about 11th grade I read all the time, but once I started to have to read books that I wasn’t as interested in, I didn’t have time to read the ones I did. Once I started having time again, I struggled to get in to the books. The same is true with readings for school, even though I’m interested in most of the topics, I have to push myself through it because my brain is so used to reading short things online and moving on to the next one. I think that the internet is fantastic, but it has definitely affected my ability to focus for long periods of time. I hate to use this term, but due to the “rewiring” of our brains, I think we need to remember to practice staying focused and reading more often. I think its more important than ever to make an effort to read for pleasure, lest we risk losing even more of the ability to focus on long stories. Reading boring subjects for school or work or whatever is already hard enough, but it will only get harding if we don’t exercise our long term focus.

The Gathering of Digital Information

Nicholas Carr’s article was the first one that I read when preparing for our class today. It got me thinking about how much technology and the internet has really affected me.One of Carr’s points that especially resonated with me was his claim that he could no longer successfully read long passages of text. If I know I absolutely have to read a long text, either for class, research, what have you, I usually skim and stumble my way through it (his article especially, just because I saw the the scroll bar on the side was so long. Luckily it was shorter than I anticipated, and I made it through alright). My problem with reading long pieces of text mainly only applies to the internet- If the work is in physical print, I usually don’t have an issue with it. People today have become quite accustomed to short, concise strings of words, thanks to avenues like twitter or texting. I especially enjoyed this passage from the article, and wanted to include it:

“The process of adapting to new intellectual technologies is reflected in the changing metaphors we use to explain ourselves to ourselves. When the mechanical clock arrived, people began thinking of their brains as operating “like clockwork.” Today, in the age of software, we have come to think of them as operating “like computers.” But the changes, neuroscience tells us, go much deeper than metaphor. Thanks to our brain’s plasticity, the adaptation occurs also at a biological level.”

So, from this I gather that the adaptions of our brains to new technology is not a new thing. And we shouldn’t be too terribly alarmed about our “brains getting rewired,” as long as we are aware of these changes.

Now for the other topics up for discussion: text mining, N-Grams, and topic Modeling. Honestly, I was very confused at first. I had never heard of such things before these readings were assigned. I grasped the concept of text mining and topic modeling but, even after reading the article twice and after hearing what others had to say about them, I still don’t really understand N-Grams completely. In light of my ignorance of these subjects, I feel like more awareness of these sorts of tools is necessary for students today. These tools, while useful for historians (and art historians!), can be applied to a broad spectrum of disciplines in the academic world, and can greatly benefit researchers in any field.