Project Reflection

I came into this course very ignorant of digital studies, since I had never taken a digital studies course and am not very technologically savvy, but I feel that I came away with a greater understanding of digital tools and the significance of digital history. One aspect of digital history that had not occurred to me before taking the course was how digital history projects can make history more accessible for anyone. In this day and age, an internet connection can enable people from around the world with different backgrounds and education levels to access academic historical work. As a history major, I can take this knowledge with me as I continue my studies and could use digital tools to share history with broader audiences in the future. I was initially intimidated by the prospect of creating a digital project, but I learned a lot and have a new appreciation for digital studies and digital history. I am proud of the product my group members and I created, and I no longer feel as intimidated by digital tools.

For me, researching about the name changes of the University of Mary Washington institution was the easy part of the project. I enjoy diving into a topic, finding sources, and constructing text about the findings, so I was able to research quickly and effectively for my designations of the project. However, I was intimidated by LibGuides, and I had to learn how to use the platform relatively quickly. Some aspects, such as editing to input text, were not intuitive, and even toward the end of the semester, I would still frequently hit the wrong edit button. It was also confusing to me that putting in links did not immediately hyperlink them, which is a feature I am used to on other platforms. I particularly struggled with inputting images, since they were all different sizes, but I eventually figured out how to implement them without it looking completely overwhelming. Alyssa also suggested using a gallery feature for the pages in which I wanted to put multiple photographs, which worked out much better than my previous attempts. Ultimately, by the end of the semester, I became fairly knowledgeable about the workings of LibGuides and would feel comfortable working on that platform again in the future.

I think we followed our contract well. We met our mission, which was to create a location for resources about the University of Mary Washington’s name change and time as a college in the University of Virginia system so that our institution’s history could be more accessible for others, especially alumni. I also think it was good that we split the project into two smaller projects to better handle the information. The division of labor into two different parts of the project enabled us to do more with the project as a whole. Generally, we stayed well on track of our schedule and were even head of schedule at times, but we did hit some unexpected snags, such as creating and embedding the timeline, that occasionally put us a little behind schedule. Trello was definitely helpful in making sure that we were still hitting deadlines and, since our group was comprised of two smaller groups, keeping track of the other group’s deadlines too, holding each other accountable, and to ensure that we would reach the deadlines set for the entire group as a whole.

Blog Post 9

The due date has arrived!

Throughout this semester, I researched, gathered research, dealt with archives, learned how to use LibGuides, and wrote the pages about the history of the naem changes and the changing of the institution’s presentation/marketing alongside the name changes via mascots and logos. I put a lot of time and effort into this project, and I am proud of what we have managed to accomplish.

However, I am a perfectionist, so there are still some elements on our website that I would have liked to change or improve, if I had had more time.

I learned a lot about digital history, aspects of public history, and the curation of digital projects this semester. Through this course and project, I gained greater insight into how the discipline of history can reach broader audiences using digital tools, which will stick with me as I continue my history degree and as I enter the workplace. Before beginning this project, I considered myself unfamiliar and uncomfortable with digital tools, and while I am still not very technologically savvy, I am grateful to have learned the background of digital history and the basics of some digital tools, technology, and methodology.

Blog Post 7

In the readings I read, a significant change for historians regarding the increasingly digital world was the increased access to archives and primary sources. These sources are abundantly available online, often for free, to a possibly detrimental effect, since the sheer number can be overwhelming. Today, a historian could do all their research digitally, and anyone around the world with access to the Internet can also access these archives and historians’ digital projects, such as the Digital History reader, which increases accessibility to knowledge and academics. This accessibility also creates an overlap between digital history and public history, expanding the audience due to the Internet’s wide-reaching scope.

However, the digital world has also affected how historians evaluate scholarship. The AHA’s guidelines for the evaluation of digital scholarship argues that historians in digital studies should be evaluated based on their innovation in the discipline to advance scholarship, expanding the field and audience, an evolution of the expectations for historians.

Cameron Blevins also critiques digital historians for prioritizing the potential and future of digital history instead actually creating and engaging in arguments about the past. It seems that for a while, at least, historians became focused on the future of the field rather than history itself because of the dramatic changes and potential of the digital realm.

UMW/UVA Project Update

In the video below, my group members and I discuss our plans for the UMW/UVA project. We have also considered the use of video in the website for our project. For now, we do not plan on using video, because we do not think that the medium will be necessary for our project, but we are not opposed to utilizing videos if the need arises.

Blog Post 1

I am taking this class because I am interested to learn about how digital studies can be used in the discipline of history. I also think that it would be beneficial to learn how to use digitial tools, even though I am intimidated by them. I am also interested in digitizing history and making history more accessible to the public, because I think that everyone deserves to have access to history.

I found the definition of digital humanities to be a bit convoluted, but it seems that digital humanities is a field, often used to encompass other digital studies, that prioritizes collaboration, experimentation, and openness; however, Stephen Robertson suggests that digital humanities has a more shallow understanding than digital history. According to Robertson, digital history is more democraticized and radical, seeking to share knowledge with and reach the wider public. Digital history also makes use of the multimedia naure of digital studies, allowing the discipline to focus less on text sources, which are often the primary focus of historians.