Week 5: Learning from Mistake

Oy! Making the contract has turned out to be quite the problem. My group had managed to finish most of it on Thursday, but we had a few kinks to work out, particularly the dates for our milestones. And of course, the snow made it virtually impossible to meet over the weekend.

So, come about Monday morning, I see that no one has done any editing to our practice contract. I make a new final contract, do a little editing, invite everyone to join, and send out emails to my group. Monday night, no one has done any editing, so I do a little more. Monday morning comes, and still no editing, so I finish it up and send to Dr. McClurken. While I was very glad all of my classes were canceled, I couldn’t figure out why no one else in my group seemed to care about the contract getting done.

But then I get an email back from Dr. McClurken saying that we have two contracts! Turns out, Lauren was wondering the same thing I was about the group and finished one up on her own. She also apparently sent out emails and an invitation to her contract that I know I at the very least didn’t get.

Fortunately, we got it sorted out, but now I’m wondering what was up with Gmail for our emails not to go through. Next time, I’m definitely trying several forms of communication to make sure the group’s on the same page. Google Wave seems to have worked, though I hadn’t checked it until yesterday afternoon. Lauren had made a wave the day before about the contract, and it was my own fault for not looking at it sooner.

I think that if the group had shared phone numbers, this problem would not have happened. So we should definitely exchange our numbers, as that’s still one of the surest ways to get into contact with someone efficiently. This class may be about awesome computer technology, but sometimes good old fashioned tech can still come in handy. The telephone is not outdated yet!

I think we’ve learned a little something about better coordinating our efforts, and hopefully we can avoid this sort of miscommunication in the future.

Posted by on February 10th, 2010 5 Comments

Playing with Omeka: Grammy’s Edition

I finally got into the back end of the Omeka demo site, so I fiddled around with it. I created a few items and made a collection, using two of the 2010 Grammy performances as my test subjects.

I actually didn’t watch the Grammy’s because award shows tend to be tedious, but there were some pretty cool performances, like the Lady Gaga/Elton John duet and Pink’s acrobatic number. Watch the awesomeness of the Lady Gaga and Elton John performance.

There were also some not so good ones. Be traumatized as Taylor Swift murders Rhiannon with Stevie Nicks listening in horror.

Better yet, save yourself the pain. Watch the master sing it right.

Posted by on February 4th, 2010 Comments Off on Playing with Omeka: Grammy’s Edition

Week 4

So far, this week has consisted of going over primary sources and working out a proposal.

In particular, I’ve been looking at the primary sources from women relief workers at these Fredericksburg hospitals. Fortunately, I already know a little about women and the reform movement during this period, as I’ve been taking the women’s history courses, which will maybe make background research easier. It’s useful when classes overlap, and there’s a lot of it going on this semester. I’m thinking about writing my military history paper on the Battle of the Wilderness in some capacity since I have to research it for this project anyway. And finally, I’m in the Civil War class, so I’m sure there will be some useful information gleaned from that class for this project.

My group is definitely going to use Omeka, as we’ve got a lot of great primary sources that we want to make available to our visitors. We’ve already thought out a sort of structure for our site. I was hoping that we would be added as administrators on the demo site so we could fiddle around with things ourselves, but I assuming we haven’t been added yet since I don’t notice any extra control.

My group and I have been working on a Google doc to mesh out our proposal, but we are hoping to meet over the weekend so we can discuss everything face to face. Though with the possibility of all this snow, we may just have to get through what we can on Thursday.

Posted by on February 3rd, 2010 1 Comment

Week 3: Various Tools

The fact that eHub can usually introduce two or three digital tools every day speaks to the ever increasing capabilities of web, whether it be communication, organization, creativity, or whatever else. A number of the tools that I looked through are unlikely to be especially useful for my project or even in my daily life, but there are a few that might be helpful.

MediaCore is an open source video, audio, and podcast publishing platform. If my project actually ends up with any video or audio I could avoid uploading them, which takes up storage space my actual site, by uploading and linking to them at MediaCore. Of course, Youtube works too.

LinkAider definitely seems like a useful tool. It analyzes sites, finding broken links, making sure pages are reachable by search engines, checking for server failures, and more. My group will need to be aware of site problems before we can fix them, and having a fully functional site will ultimately make a better experience for our visitors.

MagCover, which allows you to create your own magazine covers, seems kind of awesome. It would be cool to create a main page that looks like a magazine, using the text to link to relevant information. This, of course, isn’t necessarily useful for a project on the Civil War, but for other sites it would be be interesting.

Most importantly, all these programs are free!

Posted by on January 27th, 2010 2 Comments

Week 2: Creative Uses for Digital Tools

I’m not feeling especially creative at the moment, but I did try to investigate the tools we went over in class to learn more about their uses. I doubt I’ll be creating some kind of revolution with my ideas, though.

Through delicious and google reader, I can share any interesting links I come across with my group quickly and easily. On delicious you can search through the tags, which might be useful in coming across new sites. It also notes how many other people have bookmarked that site, which might be an indicator of the site’s quality (though not necessarily). Google reader provides recommendations for new feeds that are relevant to what you already have a feed to, so that’s another good way to come across new information and sites.

John Hennessy gave us a lot of primary documents, most of which I’ve uploaded to google docs and shared with my group. This way we can analyze, highlight, and make comments on the documents, and all of us will be able to see this work and edit simultaneously. When discussing our schedules, we found that they didn’t match up much, so perhaps we could schedule a time to look through the documents together this way and to discuss our project in general. Google spreadsheet will also help us keep track of authors, places, and other bits of information from our primary sources, and we can all add to it. I’m not quite sure how we’ll be able to make use of all those cool extra functions that we saw in class in a way that is relevant to our project as of yet, however.

I also found that the searching function didn’t work for some of the PDF files we were given, so I uploaded them to google docs with the hope that searching for words and phrases would work there. It didn’t. The same files have the same problem. I’m sure I’ll figure something out eventually. Some of those documents are hundreds of pages, so the search function is going to be really important!

Some of the plug-ins for the blogs were really interesting. I haven’t tried out the postie function yet, but if my group chooses to do our project on wordpress, we could all edit the content even if the blog is only under one group member’s account. Or maybe I’m wrong and just misunderstood what the function is supposed to be about.

However, I did add google analytics to one of my sites, and I’ve already got two hits. In fact, one person was from Alaska. I sure feel special.

Posted by on January 20th, 2010 Comments Off on Week 2: Creative Uses for Digital Tools


I’m Taylor. I’m in my first semester as a senior, and I’m from the Fredericksburg area. Obviously, I’m a history major, and I’m especially fond of learning about the American Civil War and the early to mid-20th century. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to working on the Fredericksburg Civil War hospitals project. In 1864 thousands of Union troops were evacuated through the city, aided by a massive gathering of organized relief workers. When this project is done, I’ll apparently be one among very few people who will know so much about the subject, which is an exciting prospect.

I’m interested in this class for several reasons. I’ve had a class with Dr. McClurken for nearly every semester that I’ve been at UMW, and I’ve enjoyed all of them, so I’m glad to be in another class with him. And because I’ve been in his classes before, I already have some experience with creating online projects, which might make things a little easier for me. I also need another history seminar, and this class isn’t like any other I’ve had before. I’m looking forward to learning plenty of new things that I can use in both my personal and professional life and getting away from the occasional tediousness of lecture and reading based classes. Finally, I’ve been told that this class proved to be the most helpful in finding a job in the history field after graduation. There’s apparently a big interest in updating stuffy and cobwebbed history in the technological age.

I find that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the fast paced and ever evolving world of technology, but it’s not really something that anyone can afford to do if they want to remain relevant. I want to be relevant!

Posted by on January 17th, 2010 3 Comments

Footnote Test

Trying to figure out how to use footnotes online is a new experience.[1] I’d love to go back and fix some of my previous online projects, like my Gentleman’s Agreement review or my zipper project. I’m still trying to figure out how to link the footnotes to their sources on another page, though.

[1] But I might be getting the hang of it.

Posted by on January 12th, 2010 Comments Off on Footnote Test