Archive for the ‘Digital Humanities’ Category

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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.

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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
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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
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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Shallow Reason #1 on Why You Should Self-Archive

July 16, 2008

Math is easy. I mean, not easy for me, and not “easy” to imply that it’s all memorizing and no thinking. I imagine that Bertrand Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics has gotten more twenty-somethings to reconsider that Philosophy BA than any other single book written in the pre-Habermas era, second only to Heidegger’s … well…anything by Heidegger, really.

Take this amazing excerpt for example, brought to you by way of Fair Use:

This, then, is what is really asserted, and in this proposition it is no longer necessary that our variables should be numbers: the implication holds equally when they are not so. Thus, for example, the proposition x and y are numbers implies (x+y)2 = x2 + 2xy + y2 still holds equally if for x and y we substitute Socrates and Plato:both hypothesis and consequent, in this case, will be false, but the implication will still be true.

Try wrapping your head around what “Socrates squared plus two Socrateses times two Platoes plus Plato squared” might mean. Then go get that Literature degree you’ve been eyeing!

I mean that if someone says they study, teach, or practice mathematics, we all know generally what they do. I would venture to guess that nearly everybody has some daily interaction with mathematics in its simplest forms–and whether they know it or not in its highest forms. We all, for example have to do the reckoning* behind how much we’ve spent and how much we’ve got left.

But if somebody said, “Hey, what’s all that math good for?” somebody could easily point to Teh Internet and snark back, “That’s pretty cool, innit? And that’s what all that math is good for.” And then somebody else can pipe up, “Google’s pretty cool and it makes millions and millions of dollars and it will be so powerful people will hate it the same way that hate Wal-Mart and Disney!!!! And that’s all because of very complex of applied mathematics!!!!!”

I don’t know why that second guy is so excited about Google.**

At any rate, since you’re reading this on the internet, I assume you have just very recently used Google to do something and therefore, whether you knew it or not, you just brushed against some pretty complicated math. Its worth to you is proven by the simple fact that you now know exactly where that brick-and-mortar Threadless shop is in Chicago.

I, on the other hand, work in the humanities, and while everybody has benefited from the existence and practice of the humanities, there’s very little I can point to to prove it.  Which is one of the reasons the Indiana Humanities Council exists. Not only do we organize and sponsor projects that are the humanities, we also promote the humanities more broadly.

One of the ways we do that is by increasing people’s access to the work that humanists are doing. It is my hope that one day, professors and whatnot will co-mingle with the non-professors right here on Hoosierati. They don’t yet, but when they do, I hope they find this post…with this link…which will take them to a website that will give them a little of what I like to call “good advice”: Open Access Publishing. Not only does it help the environment and provide knowledge to people that seek it, but it might make them famous***.

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*The original “Three R’s” stood for reading, rhetoric, and reckoning (reading, writing, and math).

**Probably because it’s me.

***College-professor-famous, not famous-famous.

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Weekly request for more Indiana blogs

June 9, 2008

As you may remember I said a little while ago that I was looking for some Indiana blogs to add to my reading list and that I would be repeating that request, well, here it is.

I’m on the hunt for humanities-related Indiana blogs….always. Last time I quoted and linked to some things on the Indiana Humanities Council webstite that might explain what it is I’m looking for, and if so, you can now search the Hoosierati archives to find that particular post (or just click here). But I thought I might explain things a bit differently this time ’round.

Literature, language(s), history, art(s), culture, and philosophy are the primary subjects that are widely recognized as “the humanities,” but basically anything qualifies depending on how that subject is treated (and certain subject more readily wiggle their way in: sociology, political science, jurisprudence, economics).

So, perhaps the easiest way to understand what I’m talking about is to read the instructions on how to make a cappuccino in the directions included with your new Mr. Coffee espresso machine, and then read Anne Fadiman’s essay on coffee in her latest book. In both pieces, coffee is the object under scrutiny. One is a basic list of ingredients (coffee beans, water, milk, sugar) and step by step instructions on how to produce a finished coffee product. The other is a thoughtful treatment of a subject of great emotional, intellectual, and physical importance to the author that takes into account the history of the subject, as well as that of the author herself. It includes trivial bits of chemistry and biology, but it also places all of it into a larger cultural context–a culture in which coffee and the author are both a part.

As it says on the IHC site, it’s not what we talk about, it’s how we talk about it. So if you know of a blog where the topics might not be “the humanities” but the conversation is good, you should let me know anyway.

Of course, there is another problem with the search. Most of the blogs I have run across are from here in Indianapolis, and there’s good reason for that. There are roughly six million people in the state of Indiana, about 1/8 of them live here in Indianapolis. So I figure that Indianapolis bloggers will make up a larger percentage of my potential reading list compared to other municipalities/regions. However, Indianapolis should still be outnumbered roughly 7-to-1 compared with the rest of the state (of course ignoring that urban areas might be more blog-friendly than rural areas–so let’s just say 5-to-1, it’s easier to figure anyway.

I would like to add more blogs to the IHC blogroll but more importantly I would like to be reading more blogs so I have a better picture of what’s going on out there. So tell me, Hoosierati, what are reading?

So the short of it is (you can read the long of it on the previous post) I need Indiana, humanities blogs, preferably written here in the state, and I would like to be reading a good selection of blogs from Not Indianapolis.

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Veritas and My Search for Truth

June 4, 2008

I have to tell you how I got myself into this mess or you won’t believe it. Inspired by Jim’s post on notebooks, I pulled out a couple of notebooks I bought a long time ago. One of them is a black, spiral-bound notebook with the word “VeritasTM” on the cover and “Made in Taiwan” on the back.

Veritas, of course, means truth. So I decided to try to find out who had trademarked the Truth. I googled Veritas. The first hit was Veritas Data Center Software, owned by Symantec Corp., the owner of “veritas.com.” The second was Veritas Restaurant in New York, where the menu says that “Excessive Fragrances Detract from the Wine Experience. Please Be Sensitive to Those Around You.” (So take it easy with the Old Spice, I guess.) The third hit was Veritas GMAT Elite Test Preparation, in case you would care to join the elite, which is fine if you don’t plan to run for President. The fourth hit was Wikipedia where we finally get some Roman mythology. The fifth hit, however, was Veritas Vineyard & Winery. All right, I see: In Vino, Veritas.

This was getting me nowhere, or at least no closer to Taiwan, so I decided to try another strategy, namely Wikipedia, where I typed in “Search for Truth.” The first hit there was, as you probably have guessed, a vinyl record released by the progressive metal band, Protest the Hero. It has only 2 tracks, the first being “Is Anybody There?” Not a bad question if you’re searching for truth. The second hit was an anti-Mormon video (good grief). The third was (oh, thank heavens) a treatise by Descartes.

In the top 20 Wikipedia hits, we also find “Search Engine Marketing” (ha, a lot of help that was), the Colbert Report (ah, yes, truthiness), and — what’s this? — “List of US daytime soap opera ratings”?? What does that have to do with the search for truth? Oh, wait, that would be “Search for Tomorrow.”

I guess there’s no point in trying to track down the trademarker of Truth. Instead I should get a lantern and join Diogenes in his search for an honest man, or, in my case, an honest search engine.

This entry was posted by: Nancy