Independently Strong, But Better Together

“There are a million things one might do with a block of wood. But Mahoney, what do you think might happen if someone, just once, believed in it?”-Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Magorium in Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (as I shed tears with my mother rolling her eyes at me)

I would say that our project is a little more complex than a block of wood, but hey, for these purposes lets say its our block of wood.

One thing I will always value from this team is the capacity to work independently. Throughout this process we have communicated thoroughly over email and text to remind everyone of work that needs to be done as well as the progress of the work that we are completing, creating a very open atmosphere for all of us to work effectively yet at our own pace.

Following the comments from the guests at our dress rehearsal, however, it is now time to really make our stamp on this project a group. It is all of our block of wood.

Of the most helpful comments were those from both Dr. Daggar and Dr. McShane as well as Christine Iannicelli; and that is to take the opportunity to create a narrative. Though we all have our separate conversations and content that contributes to the project, there is still the question of “so what?” that looms over our Omeka page. Even the power of being able to transition between speakers in a presentation is hindered by the topic needing clear connection to modern concepts. After most of our guests had spoken with us, the most intriguing aspect of the presentation is the conversation which the group members began to have after talking with them.

Andy Prock gave invaluable suggestions about our aesthetics and metadata, which I certainly won’t fail to mention. But just as valuable was the conversation that he started with us about nuances in the Curtain Club that we no longer see today; most notably in the name itself. Soon after we began talking with Andy we talked more about the significance of labeling the club a “club” during the time it was created as opposed to now, and what the context of the club’s inception necessarily suggests for inclusivity of clubs both then and now. For each interesting but quick suggestion Andy had given we had about 10 more minutes of individual discussion and contemplation, which created a great yet cohesive atmosphere of discussion between group members that we hope to translate into our final product.

Going forward we are going to take advantage of these very helpful suggestions from our guests to tweak both the cohesiveness of our data as well as our presentation of information. For instance, while my primary focus is the significance of staffing on the identity of the club, dynamics such as race and demographic are incredibly relevant to social movements which is Joe’s area of expertise. Andy was also generous enough to give us detailed evaluations of our internal metadata, which we hope to heed and create a much clearer and cohesive organization of our content. My ultimate goal before our final presentation is to have a real discussion with my group mates about weaving a story that combines all of our passions and interests of this project in the hopes that we can make our audience just as intrigued as we are.

Forgive the cheesy movie reference, but as I watched the film over break with my family I contemplated the real wonder of a finished product (it was also helped by receiving a GroupMe message from Sophia in the middle of the movie). Joe, Sophia and I have all believed in this block of wood when creating this project, but the real magic is best revealed when we can get the audience to see much more than the block.

 

Film Referenced: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Directed by Zach Helm, performances by Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, Mandate Pictures, 2007.

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Finally for Eyes That Are Not Our Own

Whilst standing in front of actual eyes on our project, it truly made the public feeling of the project present in our eyes. Now it wasn’t our little baby that we’ve been catering to for the last few weeks, but the project we have built it to be through many hours of collaborative work. And yet, the days have passed so quickly that it only felt like yesterday that we were even learning to handle Timeline JS. I only hope that we can all progressively recognize the progress we have made, as it can translate in a much more affirmed delivery of the project.

The presentation practice itself was not a nerve-racking thing; but wishing to represent everything we have found and produced within a 5 to 7 minute span was very much a challenge. Throughout this process each group member has become further endeared to the project by means of nuanced and interesting findings as well as mutual group excitement over the progress that we have made. Our greatest hope is to be able to translate this excitement to our audience.

Going forward, my hopes is to use this passion and excitement to give a much stronger presentation that will grab the attention of the (hopefully) bigger audience in the actual launch. One step this will include is limiting discussion to that which is essential to understanding the message and extended goal which we hope this project will portray; primarily through less discussion of problems and a much earlier exposure of project aim and extended relevance to modern society. Our secondary task is to highlight more of our compassionate (but relevant) interests of the project so that the audience is more captured and we have the capability of more confidently presenting our information.

One fact we have all acknowledged though is a lot of practice is in our future 🙂

The Curtain is Far From Closed

Ah how the days are fleeting-but only because it is exciting! The Ursinus Curtain Club project is beginning to take shape, with a great deal of uploads and dynamic color schemes to make it look all shiny and new. Just this week the group had the opportunity of presenting current information and progress to the professors and other groups, which has only further helped us in terms of molding what we wish to present to our audience. Through the actual experience of providing our personal insight first-hand we as a group were able to more clearly see what aspects we wished to improve, chiefly through the use of more secondary sources to give much larger societal context to the narrative which we are finding.

Entering the writing part of the project has all caused us to stop and see what relevance we have been finding throughout our research. Just the other day, Sophia had found through an old publication of the Ruby that the true date of the Curtain Clubs founding was earlier than our previous date (was around 1930s originally, but the Ruby stated 1925), but a separate publication mentioned the starting of the club around the 1930s. And while this may be seen as a simple date change, we have to question why record was not kept for this gap and what this means for the maintenance and regard of the club at the time.

Below is an image of our title card for the project. Though it may just appear as an extremely uniform (and lordy did I try to keep that uniform) compilation of playbills, it is all too indicative of the understanding we have of the Curtain Club in the last few weeks of searching and scanning. We want to do our best to provide the clearest narrative possible for our audience; to answer all the questions that we have ourselves. And even as we gain more info and mess with the lines to see how things fit right exactly where, it is important to not lose sight in the bigger relevance of the dissonant information and data changes. The difference between 1925 and 1930 could mean a lot more than just 5 years.

Title Card

Developing Technology at UPenn Archives

Throughout our discussions in class we have re-emphasized the importance of accessibility an enumeration of times. One of the most important facets of digital history archives is the accessibility of the information to multiple demographics and backgrounds of the public audience. Our trip to Penn and the work which they are completing at the archive there further supports the building narrative that open access to historical archives and their messages is a dimensional and important process to effectively complete.

The most poignant aspect of this is the communication between the articulation of population “wants” in reference to accessibility of archives and the response of attempts by archivists to create and program things which increase accessibility. This particular archive at Penn shows the innovative nature of such programming, with a feature that offers a greater perspective to the physicality of a book by using an interactive feature that establishes full leaf and choir dimensions of the pages within their manuscripts.

The influence of technology is also seen through the archivist’s use of modern media platforms and tools to articulate the physical contents of their manuscripts. An interesting example of this was the use of GIFs to show one manuscripts inclusion of a dimensional orbital graphic. Technology such as GIFs are nothing new to computers or media users, but the use of tools such as this demonstrates the adaptive nature of digital archiving.

The Scale of Our Personal Media

At the moment I live in a semi paradoxical state.

Throughout this past year I have gained a predisposition to try things which put me out of my comfort zone. Several misguided attempts to push my social boundaries and countless recuperation nights later I wound up running two different organizations’ social media accounts.

In my consideration of how I personally represent myself on social media, however, I am unjustifiably lacking in presence and know-how. Understanding this contradicting concept, I question what exactly is the divide which creates comfort with the responsibility of two separate organizational social media accounts and presences, while there is also discomfort at the aspect of projecting an image personally.

To this, I consider a classroom discussion on the development of social media as a means of personal branding and the integral dimensions of image that contributes to a social media presence. The immense accessibility of the internet is something to both celebrate and be wary of. I by no means insinuate that there should not be transparency in a social media presence, but more an awareness of the reception of how a person or company presents themselves on such an open forum. Inherently the discussion and discourse which a person provides through opinion or comment on the internet invariably contributes to the outside understanding and perspective of that personality, ultimately branding said personality.

I then return to my personal consideration, and hope to better understand how I would like to move forward on my historical project as an extension of my own personal experience of social media. I find I may feel uncomfortable to establish a larger personal social media presence because I have loose definitions of what I wish my brand to be; that I am much more comfortable at the prospect of representing the two organizations that I do because they have relatively established boundaries and expectations for the presence which they want to show to the public. I however, feel I must understand myself and my values better before I strive to properly represent myself.

Following this personal evaluation, I find this incredibly significant to my history project. Similar for my wishes for my own appearance, I wish to better understand that which I am discussing prior to establishing a presence or project that I will proscribe to know. This is incredibly important in the respect of having a dimensional approach for my topic, and consuming multiple perspectives and voices surrounding the topic to best represent what I and my partners are trying to say.

Language and Dialogue in Persistently Developing Social Media

#resist was a relatively new concept to me prior to this past weekend. In fact, until recently I had not become well versed in many aspects of social media prior to recent years and involvement in organizational and career social media and public relations. The tag became known to me through multiple friends of friends over Facebook, so in light of interest on social media campaigns I decided to see what narrative Twitter maintained for this specific social media campaign and its following.

Like a great deal of politically or morally charged social media campaigns, this particular hashtag is readily identifiable in terms of the unified nature of the content and opinions which follow the movement. Through broad skimming of the hashtag’s search results on Twitter, a general audience could interpret a left-leaning campaign from the particularly negative connotations and general resistance of notable right-wing figures and their respective actions. One particularly poignant example is that of a Democratic Coalition post which follows a story of Kavanaugh who has become a markedly divisive topic in the public eye recently (1). This post, while adorned with the #resist tag, it was also associated with a #stopKavanaugh tag as well.

While the aforementioned post could be more viewed as more informational (though left leaning) in nature. However, a significant portion of the posts are relatively confrontational in nature. Two posts which caught my eye were right together, making their messages all the more impactful. The messages of the profiles “Jeremy the Coose” (2) and “Lock Up MORON trump” (3) both voiced opinions of resistance, properly honoring the hashtag moniker, with the latter’s name being much more evidently left leaning at first glance. Though dissenting opinion is expected in such a politically charged context, there is a degree of silence imbued through the use of predominantly negative dialogue.

Negative messages have the potential to end in all outside opinions to feel ostracized and shut off from the campaign, ultimately not allowing any form of debate or dialogue which facilitates possible change through political collaboration. Though the #resist movement by no means should be defined by the extreme voices of those that choose to use its tag, the extreme voices of any social media campaign only emphasize the importance of how the tone we deliver opinions through affect the incentive of any kind of democratic debate.

Notes:
1) Democratic Coalition, Twitter Post, 12 September 2018, 5:24 p.m., https://twitter.com/TheDemCoalition/status/1040033444632379393
2) Jeremy the Coose, Twitter Post. 12 September 2018, 8:33 a.m., https://twitter.com/DasCoose/status/1039899819223998464
3) Lock Up MORON trump, Twitter Post. 12 September 2018, 7:40 p.m., https://twitter.com/ih8morontrump2/status/1040067694819778560

Digital Humanities and Philly History

The Philly History Archive serves as a relatively large-scale collection of relevant historical artifacts, documents, and data. The website itself is particularly simple in terms of aesthetics; the home page is adorned with one rotating image to circulate featured articles, and the rest of the site is sprinkled with announcements pertaining to the site and any of its related organizations. This particular Philadelphia archive is consistent with (but not for lack of appreciation of) the strong relationship between most digital humanities archives and a mode of blogging. A running narrative of the actions and progress of the archive and its related historians creates a sense of involvement that does a far greater service of providing an outlet for public interest. An archive could stop at the compilation of relevant historical artifacts, but an interactive and consistently modernizing blog in association with the archive builds the sense of historical community that can nurture a further developing archive.
The interactivity factor, however, adequately supports the viewer base that this particular archive might appeal to. Considering that this archive compiles based upon the broad topic of the city of Philadelphia, it is reasonable to assume that the archive expects a relatively heavy amount of traffic for a relatively high amount of compiled data. The main source of interactivity within the site is consistent of the updated blog and information/news that updates on the home page of their website. In a lower traffic situation, the site may benefit from a focused article on a specific section of the archive that utilizes a more involved interactive factor. The higher volume assumed in this situation however leads to a broader viewer-based approach that wishes to get as many eyes on as many articles. Similar in this trend is the apparent argument or purpose of the site, as it follows a more generalized goal of providing comprehensive access to the history of Philadelphia. The sites availability of the information only emphasizes the significance on part of dedicated historians to evaluate and interpret the collections of information that archives provide.
Site Referenced:
“Philadelphia City Archive”. Philly History. Accessed September 5, 2018. https://www.phillyhistory.org/PhotoArchive/Home.aspx.