“I’m Looking for a Mind at Work.”

Update on the progress of eCapitol:

All in all, I’d say that this project is going really well!

Via Omega, I have managed to create two maps using two floor plans of the Capitol I found on Wikipedia. From here on out the plan is to add map points for various rooms, pieces of art, significant items, et cetera. Each of these points, when clicked on, will give the visitor a photograph of the subject as well as a brief discription. As of right now, the first floor is almost complete (save for one room) and the second floor is off to an amazing start! In the Rotunda, I have managed to complete all of the major works of art I will be including in this room, as well as the general information on the room itself.

The biggest challenge for me right now is making this website visually appealing. As of right now it is functional, but aesthetically, it is bare bones.  I’m trying to figure out exactly how to clean and pretty it up, but it is coming along!

Miranda, Lin-Manuel. “The Schuyler Sisters.” Hamilton, AvatarStudios, 2015, Genius, genius.com.

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“Let Me Go Far Away Somewhere They Won’t Ever Find me, and Tomorrow Won’t Remind me of Today […] I get on a Train That’s Bound for Santa Fe.”

In class this week we learned about digital maps and space. This was big for me for two reasons: 1. My final project is literally going to be a map and 2. History is more than just dates, trends and occurrences. Changing space and spacial relations (that is, the time it takes to get from Point A to Point B, the actual milage, et cetera) are just as important. This can show how changing technologies, landscape and communication affect how the human population thinks and/or alters space.  According to Richard White, maps and texts are not sufficient in explaining the narratives behind space. He then describes technologies that work with in order to better tell this narrative.

In class, we worked with an example of this technology, creating a digital image by overlaying two maps (White did something similar).  Here is mine. I found a map of the plan of Washington, D.C. in 1793 then combined it with a current map of the city. Because I focused on such a small area, it is difficult to see just how spacial relations have changed. However, one can see how the city has changed, which itself exposes a narrative. While it appears that the area has not changed all that much, one big thing that did jump out to me is the rivers and how they and the shoreline have changed. For example, notice the “Eastern Branch” (on the older map)/the Anacostia River (newer map.) On the old one, the river looks significantly smaller than the modern day Anacostia. This could be for a number of reasons, such as erosion. However, from personal experience, I know that that is a fairly well populated and active area. The Washington Navy Yard is present on this river. Perhaps human activity is to blame to the change. Also notice “Ronald Reagan National Airport” on the southern portion of the Potomac River. This airport was built (according to flyreagan.com) to replace the inadequate airport in Washington, D.C. in the 1930s. Note how, in the old map, instead of land being present in the area, it was water. According to flyreagan.com, the airport was built on mudflats in the Potomac and dirt and sand had to be brought in. This is a perfect example of the landscape being altered by a narrative. Washington, D.C. needed a better airport and, considering space was very limited, it was decided that new land would be created in the river (flyreagan,com). This story would not have been told with just one map. However, by combining the planning map and the current map, we were able to see just how humans have changed both the rivers and D.C. as a whole.

Menken, Alan. “Santa Fe.” Newsies, 2012, Genius, genius.com

 

 

“You simply must meet Thomas Thomas!”

Recently in class, we discussed textual analysis, particularly word frequency. According to Ted Underwood, studying word frequency can show the development of certain words   over time or allow for the comparison of certain texts. This study can be done by hand or with textual analysis software. If you have just one short document to look at, by hand is not a problem. However, if you are working with the entirety of Alexander Hamilton’s works, you are going to want to use the software. This can have both pros and cons. Pros: quicker, less work for you. Cons: computers cannot pick up on typos (for example if someone wrote “teh” instead of “the” the computer will consider it two different words) and software can be expensive.

In class, we used a website called Volant Tools in order to create a visual representation of a document. I looked at letters from Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the United States Capitol Building.

One letter I looked at was a letter written by Jefferson on April 22, 1807 concerning various architectural aspects of the Capitol building. I created a word cloud in order to analyze the documents, which is an image that projects frequently used words , with more often used words appearing larger than others.

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 7.59.00 AM

Notice how it is fairly clear that this letter was about architecture, as seen from frequency of the words, “plastiering” (plastering), “dome” and “architecture” (duh). However, now look at this word cloud, analyzing a letter written on October 10, 1809. Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 8.16.44 AM

This one is a little harder to tell the topic of the letter. It does emphasize the frequency of “capitol,”, it also says that “pleasure” and “doubt” were also used often. Is this talking about the Capitol building or something else entirely? I can tell you that a majority of the document is Jefferson inviting Latrobe to his home, hence the more vague terms. This is where a word cloud falls short. If the document changes topic, then the word cloud will be muddled with a variety of terms.

In other news, I will be using Georeferencing and will be calling my project, “Virtual Tour of the USCapitol”

Miranda, Lin-Mauel. “What Did I Miss?.” Hamilton, AvatarStudios, 2015, Genius, genius.com.

 

“What Would You Do If You Have More Time?”

Hello everyone! In class we made a timeline. Considering my final project is a virtual tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, I opted to make a timeline of the construction of the building. Fun fact: the Capitol was not built all at once. It has been altered multiple times over two centuries, as late as 2008. This timeline is a summary of *some* of the changes that the building has seen over the years.

In her article “Spacial Storytelling”, Emily Bembeneck discusses how the human world revolves around time and how our lives are dictated by it. While she does go onto say that our minds handle time in varying ways and emphasizes the importance of space (rather than time) in regards to storytelling, she does make a valid point. As she said, “Time is a strict master of our lives. Our clocks tick like marching bands, and our calendars send reminders just on schedule everyday.” This is true, especially in regards to history. I cannot say how many times people have said to me, “You’re a history major? Then you must be good at memorizing dates!” While there is so much more to history than memorizing dates, they are important. It is how we contextualize and understand what happened in the past and how various events/trends developed and effected the future. The U.S. Capitol Building is a great example of this–as the country changed and grew, so did the building. For example, as states were added, the House and Senate Chambers had to move multiple times to accommodate more representatives and Senators. Even today, paintings and statues are added and altered in accordance with various events in American history. Therefore, a timeline is appropriate, because, via a timeline, one can see how the Capitol changed along with the nation.

Note: the title of this post is from the musical Hamilton. Here is the citation:

Miranda, Lin-Mauel. “Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story.” Hamilton, AvatarStudios, 2015, Genius, genius.com.

 

“And There’s a Million Things I Haven’t Done, but Just you Wait, Just You Wait.”

 

I finally have an idea for my project! I would like to do a virtual tour of the United States Capitol Building. Basically, I want to show people the great art and historic sites in one of America’s most prominent buildings. There are so many hidden gems in that building that most people wouldn’t know about even if they were looking straight at them!

At the moment, I plan on using maps of the building along with photographs of certain points in order to help educate the public—almost like street view on Google Maps. Currently, I am most worried about accurately representing the building and its history—there is so much valuable information pertaining to the Capitol Building that I’m afraid I’ll leave something important out!

Note: The title of this post is from the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Here is the citation:

Miranda, Lin-Mauel. “Alexander Hamilton.” Hamilton, Avatar Studios, 2015, Genius,

https//genius.com/

 

 

 

“Who is that shape in the shadow? Whose is the face in the mask?”

As a kid I was always told not to share my personal information on the Internet (name, age, address, et cetera) when talking with someone via this relatively new form of technology. The person on the other side of the screen may not be who we think he/she is (i.e. a middle aged man posing as a 14-year-old). With the advent of social media, it seems that this advice has went along the wayside…at least in the case of personal information (seriously, some people like to share everything online, don’t they?). Still, that advice rings true in the world of digital humanities. Anyone can buy a website for little to nothing at all (*cough cough*) and say whatever they want. One perfect example of this is the blog, “The Last American Pirate.”  This blog was actually created by a college class pretending to be “Jane,” a student working on her senior thesis. “Jane” described her investigation into Edward Owens, supposedly the last American pirate. However, once one finished reading the blog posts, it was announced that the entire blog was FAKE. Yes, this class took the time (for a project) to falsify the life of a Virginian. To reiterate this point, my professor had us make our own online museum exhibit. I chose to make an exhibit on Captain America (titled “Captain America Etc“). While I did strive to be as accurate as possible, I do not work for Marvel and I am not Stan Lee, therefore, I am not an expert. However, for exactly zero dollars, I was able to pretend to be an expert on all things Captain America. Pair that with the fact that many people (including me) tend to believe what they read on the Internet, it can be dangerous. Confession time: I believed the Last American Pirate. Yesterday, my roommate and I were out shopping and we wondered when a movie came out. With a quick Google search on my phone I got my answer in the first search result. That answer could have been wrong but I whole heartedly accepted that the movie came out when the website told me it did. My Captain America exhibit and my Google search may have been innocent and not exactly important, it can have pretty big consequences. This tendency to believe the Internet can majorly affect one’s perspective of history. According to Leslie Madsen-Brooks, the reason for the belief in the over exaggerated number of African Americans who fought for the Confederacy is false information that can readily be attained via the Internet. Therefore, as historians, we must strive to be fully accurate with the information that we present to the public, as well as wary of online sources. I’m not saying don’t use digital sources, just do your homework and make sure what you’re reading is real.

Note: the title of this post is from the musical, “Phantom of the Opera.” Here is the citation:

“Weber, Andrew Lloyd and Hart, Charles. “I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It.” Lyrics. Phantom of the Opera. 1988.”

“N.Y.C. What is it About You? You’re Big, You’re Loud, You’re Tough.”

The three projects my group focused on in class were Digital Harlem, The Roaring Twenties and Gulag: Many Days, Many Lives. The first two projects were fairly similar: They both documented certain aspects of life in New York City in the 1920s. Digital Harlem worked to educate visitors to the website on the lives of African Americans. The Roaring Twenties shows visitors, via a database of sounds generated from videos, police reports and recordings from the Official Noise Abatement Commission, that noise has always been a problem in cities, particularly in New York City. Both utilize maps to present the information, although The Roaring Twenties also uses lists with various categories as well. The last website is different. It provides viewers with information on Gulag camps in a fashion similar to a museum, in that there are sections on the website concerning various aspects of Gulag camps. It even has a tab titled, “Exhibits.”

Though there is not one set definition of “digital humanities,” Lincoln Mullen in his article, “The Backward Glance,” outlined some examples of scholars partaking in the digital humanities, notably in the pursuit of information. Similarly, Anne Burdick wrote, “Digital_Humanities adopts a different view: It envisages the present era as one of exceptional promise for the renewal of humanistic scholarship and sets out to demonstrate the contributions of contemporary humanities scholarship to new modes of knowledge formation enabled by networked, digital environments” (Burdick, Anne. “Humanities to Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities. Cambridge: MIT, 2012. 7. Print.). All three of these websites described above provide information via the digital world–a relatively new way to attain knowledge–in order for scholars, students and anyone interested to access it for various purposes.

Digital Harlem and The Roaring Twenties were both very interesting in their presentation of the information. I liked how they took the location of various occurrences in New York City and gave the visitor specific events that happened there and what that location was like in the 1920s. It was almost like the websites took the viewer back in time.

Though I am unsure of what I would like to do subject wise for my final project, these websites gave me ideas for the formatting of my project, as I like the idea of utilizing specific locations to present information.

Note: The title of this blog post is a line from the musical Annie. Here is the citation:

Strouse, Charles, and Thomas Meehan. “N.Y.C.” Rec. 1980. Broadway Original Cast. Charles Strouse Publishing; Edwin H. Morris & Co. A Div. of MPL Communications, Inc., 1976. Metrolyrics. Web. 1 Sept. 2017. <http://www.metrolyrics.com/nyc-lyrics-annie.html&gt;.

Thanks for reading!