Archive for the ‘Digital Humanities’ Category


Sail the ocean blue…or at least search the Resource Connection

October 5, 2009

“In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue …” Many of us learned that rhyme as small children or taught it to our children, but few of us have really pondered the relevance of the man behind the “discovery” of the America. To celebrate Columbus Day, (Oct. 12), we traversed the mighty Resource Connection.

The Resource Connection has a lot of great resources to help you learn more about Columbus, including lesson plans from the National Endowment for Humanities and Center for Innovation in Assessment, and a Seeds of Change Garden online exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute that lets you learn more about the types of food the explorers grew.

Check out these resources and find out more about the man behind the nursery rhyme.


Master the Technology and Share the Cookies

November 12, 2008

Our resource partners at Buddy2 have helpfully passed along the Indiana Department of Education’s K-8 Technology Skill Benchmarks. If you have a kindergartner at home, it’s time to make sure your young person can “identify digital tools by name” – scanner, cell phone, MP3 player, etc. Your 2nd grader should be able to “cite sources of information, print and non-print, for class projects.” Good, because then they’ll be ready for grad school.

Of course, many parents are way behind their kids technologically and need their offspring’s help to log onto secure networks and so on.

What, then, is the pinnacle of this K-8 pyramid of tech skills? The effective 8th grader should be able to:

  • Plan, design, and develop a digital product.
  • Explore technology use in real world applications in a global society.
  • Demonstrate effective use of the Internet and exhibit digital citizenship.

The global society is no problem — one can hardly get involved in any online discussion without Finns, Italians, Australians, Taiwanese, and others putting their 2 euro-cents in. Digital citizenship, though, would definitely take a few weeks to learn, for it is “a complex set of behaviors that define the appropriate use of technology, including the areas of safety, rights, communications, etiquette, education, access, commerce, responsibility, and security.”

In fact, the threads woven through the K-8 benchmarks are these three — productivity, communication, and digital citizenship. Only one of them is concerned solely with the child/machine relationship. The other two have to do with the child/world and child/society interface, still the crucial application where education needs to ensure a higher level of functionality.

This entry was posted by: Nancy

Meandering Indiana – 9

November 5, 2008

Today seems like a particularly good day to write a “Meander” about Lake County, which once again made it into the national news spotlight last night.

Sometimes called “The Region,” the northwest corner of Indiana is its own place, holding special meaning for our state’s ethnic history, labor history, religious history, and women’s history.

For example, Lake County has the highest percentage of Latinos in the state, roughly 14%. This ethnic community dates back to 1919 when U.S. Steel in Gary and Inland Steel in East Chicago imported Mexican laborers to help break the Great Steel Strike of 1919 (as told by Edward J. Escobar in Forging a Community: The Latino Experience in Northwest Indiana). Women workers from the city contributed to the steel industry during WWII; their Rosie the Riveter was Mela, Queen of the 12-Inch (Bar Mill). East Chicago remains a strong Hispanic center, with its historic Our Lady of Guadalupe parish.

African American workers came to the steel region as part of the Great Migration from the South in the early twentieth century. The community centered around the Midtown District, where Gary Roosevelt, one of the state’s newly built segregated high schools, opened in the 1920s.

Like nearby Chicago, the Region also has many ethnic groups from Eastern and Southern Europe. IHC recently funded a project to trace the Serbian community of northwest Indiana, one among many. In common with other groups in the Region, the “Serbs of Steel” look with pride to their military service in World War II and other American conflicts.

Quite a lot of these stories are preserved in the Calumet Regional Archives at Indiana University Northwest. (See images from the collection). Steve McShane, the archivist, has lately been involved in adding photographs of Gary and its steelworkers to I.U.’s digital library.

My recollections of northwest Indiana include working with the Senoras of Yesteryear on their book about East Chicago, visiting Gary Westside High School one day when the students were trying out their language skills on a visiting group from Japan, and organizing a 1995 conference that brought all the different ethnicities together for exhibits and panel discussions.

And indeed, there are features that unite the Region. For many years those of us who live in central Indiana suffered under the cruel jibes of NBA fans there, all of whom were Bulls devotees in the Michael Jordan era. Perhaps I should compile a briefing sheet for political candidates on the subject of “who roots for whom where, or, my state but not my team.” It would still, I suspect, apply to northwest Indiana.

This entry was posted by: Nancy

Idle Thoughts on Intellectual Assembly Lines

September 5, 2008

Here Bruce LaDuke puts “crowd sourcing” into a historical context that raises some interesting questions about the future of intellectual endeavor. Go here  if you don’t know what that term means and want a neat (and timely example) of how it works.

I’m not at all sure what an assembly line looks like in an intellectual setting and I’m even less sure of what it might mean in terms of how the various human component will be viewed by society at large. Just taking a casual glance back at the way we’ve treated human assembly lines in the past there seems an ambivalence of attitudes.

On the one hand, a craftsman able to perform every function of a line: a person who can build an engine from beginning to end, is given more respect than a person with just one of the necessary skills, boring cylinders, for example. We make television shows of organ makers, for example, but none on the guys that press the brass into the sheets the organ makers use. On the other hand, boring cylinders is hard work and requires a trained hand. Moreover, America’s factory workers are the backbone on which our prosperity is built. I’ve been very proud of all my relatives in various blue collar jobs and have never once faulted them for not being a craftsman, and I know I’m not alone. 

I don’t know if I will feel different about the intellectual assembly line. By now Wikipedia has been out long enough for me to 1) have participated in editing pages and 2) know people who have. But it hasn’t been around long enough that I know anybody whose soul employ is being one of the crowd sources.

At any rate, as a writer I don’t see myself sharing a skillset with the Wikipedians any more than I think the similarities between press releases and poems is anything more than superficial. It’s not a looking down on what they do. I find their work worthwhile in my day-to-day life. I just would never compare what they do to what I do.

But that’s just Wikipeida. Open source applications are a growing realm for this sort of intellectual assembly line. I imagine already that certain people are really good at creating certain kinds of widgets, themes, and other applications that are built for specific interactivity. If a really wonderful calendar widget comes out for Firefos, how long do we wait for its creator to make the same basic interface for Chrome? I’m coming from a place of ignorance here but breaking application work out from more holistic programming seems like just a subset of the larger craft. Do webapp specialist get viewed as peers of programmers or as something else altogether?

Of course, science has been using an assembly line system for awhile now so maybe I’m decades late in even wondering about this stuff.


A Blog and a Library Collection that You May Care About

August 25, 2008

Thanks to Worth Your Attention (one of my favorite local blogs, and not just because they have impeccable advice on food worth seeking out) I found Child of the Fort–a pretty neat blog written by Kristina Frazier-Henry. On it she shares a mix of her personal history in Fort Wayne, archival photos of the Fort’s past, notes on historical men and women of note, and current public policy. The reason WYA linked to the blog, and the reason I clicked over, is because Kritstina linked over to this: an awesome collection of old Indiana photos at the Allen County Public Library site.


George Orwell Has a Blog

August 11, 2008

This has got to be one of the best ideas for blogs since blogs!

The Orwell Prize, Britain’s pre-eminent prize for political writing, is publishing George Orwell’s diaries as a blog. From 9th August 2008, Orwell’s domestic and political diaries (from 9th August 1938 until October 1942) will be posted in real-time, exactly 70 years after the entries were written.

That’s right, the diaries, which start on August 9, 1938 (the first diary entry-as-blog post went up on August 9, 2008) will run until October 2012 (or October 1942 for Orwell). If you are at all the kind of person that is interested, biography, literature, politics, history, India, World War II or…I guess…herpetology, simply subscribe to the RSS feed (as I have already done) and you’ll get your daily dose. In no time flat you can loudly proclaim to your cocktail party friends (as I am already doing) that you are “reading Orwell’s diaries.” Four years later you can claim to “having read Orwell’s diaries.”

For those people of a more esoterically-inclined nature, Phil Gyford since January 1, 2003 has been publishing the diaries of Samuel Pepys “the renowned 17th century diarists who lived in London.”


Once, he put a woman he thought was dating Cormac McCarthy on the Ransom’s advisory board

July 17, 2008

I am nonplussed after reading this D.T. Max piece in the June 11 New Yorker. The only thing I know for sure is that I think this is horribly, horribly wrong:

Staley’s conservatism extends beyond his literary taste. He does not want to place the Ransom’s archives online.

Seriously wrong.

It would be unjust for me not to say something nice about Tom Staley since Max paints such an intriguing and charming picture of the archive’s curator, but Staley is obviously not a man too moved by a sense of justice so, for the moment, neither will I be.