Camtasia Trial

Below is a brief recording that my project members and I did in class, using Camtasia 9. We were just having fun!!

 

 

Digital Teaching Assignment – Developing an argument around internal conflicts among colonial powers in the Gold Coast

This week, our assignment was to imagine that we were online course instructors at MSU and as part of the course requirements, we were to ask students to do a digital homework. In my case, I designed my homework around the internal conflicts that occurred among European colonial powers in the Gold Coast. One could think of my class as a senior or graduate seminar. Below is the prompt.

Description:

I am holding an assumption that the students are knowledgeable about the history of colonialism in the Gold Coast; and thus, aware of the conflicts the ensued among the different colonial powers. Students are to use Google Maps to identify as many castles and forts along the coast of present-day Ghana. After identifying, use Google Maps to determine the distance between one castle/fort and another. Based on the distance between these castles and forts (i.e. territorial proximity between the European powers), students are to develop analyses (and extrapolations) about the nature of the intra-European contestations. In other words, I am asking students to utilize their knowledge about the distance between castles and forts as well as their historical knowledge of the contestations to reconceptualize the intra-European conflicts in the Gold Coast.

Students may follow this link to locate the different castles and forts in Ghana.

Rubric:

**Students may select any five castles or forts that belonged to at least two different colonial powers.
**Students must indicate the distance (either in miles/kilometers) between the selected castles or forts.
**The write-up may not exceed three (3) pages. Students should vividly and convincingly articulate their claims and, if possible, substantiate those claims with external sources.

Web Mapping for Digital Humanities

Diana Sinton’s piece and the UCLA Sandbox article engages the different dimensions of web mapping. One important takeaway from these articles is that in humanities, mapping has no single definition because it is a multi-faceted methodology that scholars use to variously depict the correlation between objects in space and in time. Multifacetedly, maps have been expressed in/through Minard, Hypercities, Google Earth, and Simile. Underpinning these forms of expression are two important components of web mapping: spatiality and temporality.

It appears that every map is developed with the idea of visually depicting the relationship of an object or a phenomenon between a geographical space and time. This understanding helps to explain why the Minard’s map of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign in 1812 (for instance) underscores the evolution of Napoleon’s expedition over time vis-à-vis the geographical space, amidst the other important themes that the map portrays.

Sinton makes an important point that the expectation of a project plays an integral role in selecting the type of map to be used for that project. For instance, maps that can be generated with software such as a geographic information system (GIS) depict spaces that have a consistent scale throughout and portray information as representations of simple geometric shapes. Such maps are designed for geometrically consistent spaces rather than representing nuanced “senses of place” (Cresswell 2004). Digital cartography, on the other hand, is limited in its capacity to capture and display factors of cultural geography that we associate with the human experience, producing instead “positivist representations of space” (Pearce and Louis 2008). So having realistic expectations for what a digital map alone can support or provide is worthwhile

I look forward to engaging in practical mapping projects in today’s class.

Updated Project Proposal

Initially, I proposed two different projects – online mapping and oral history digital repository – but, over the course of the weeks, I have developed a keen inclination toward to the oral history digital repository project. I will be working with three other African historians-in-training (Ryan Carty, Katie Carline, & Chioma Uchefuna) on this project. Below is the updated project proposal.

 

Oral History Digital Repository

Team Members: Katie Carline, Ryan Carty, Eric Kesse, Chioma Uchefuna

Project Summary:

This project will build a prototype digital repository for oral history audio and video recordings. We will build the repository on an MSU Reclaim Hosting domain, using Omeka as a content management system and the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer application as a tool to index the interviews and their transcripts. Additionally, the site will have a series of short methodology essays on best practices for oral history collection, with attention to the specific needs of African oral historians. These essays will explain the technical considerations and best practices for choosing recording equipment; data storage; metadata collection; software for transcribing and analysis, and long-term management and preservation of oral history recordings. The practical experience of this project will prepare each of us for effective future dissertation research. Moreover, the methodology essays will be useful to other oral historians. The essays will show that the technical process of recording and preserving is integral to the analytic, scholarly work of oral history.

Project Workplan

Text Analysis

This week, our focus was on “Text Analysis” and “Distant Reading,” and we engaged with different fascinating readings. Permit me to summarize the understanding I garnered from the assigned readings.

Text Analysis can be understood as one of the methodologies of digital humanities, together with other activities like online mapping and digital exhibits. It can be described as a way of using computer/technology to understand and appreciate a corpus of data through text and visualization. I find the visualization component of Text Analysis very fascinating. I am intrigued by how a wide range of data, qualitative or quantitative data, that capture a vast period get presented in a graph – Google NGram – and allow the reader the room to interpret the displayed image from different perspectives. Surely, you will need the skill set (Python, R, etc.) to be able to digitally analyze your text.

Thinking of these readings in terms of my project, I do not see myself doing a text analysis. However, I strongly believe that it is a useful methodology for digital handling data.

During our section, we used the Voyant tool to tinker with some texts. Of particular interest to me was one of Frederick Douglass’ documents titled, “My Bondage, My Freedom.” Below is one of the fascinating correlations that me and my partner, Ryan Carty, identified.

From the above, it is apparent that there exist a high frequency and a significant correlation between frequency of the words, “slave,” slavery,” “man,” and “woman.” Is it this fascinating…?

Visualization

This week, Professor Dear Rehberger took us through Visualization, a crucial component of Digital Humanities. Author Erik Champion espouses that digital visualization is an important scholarly methodology, which I strongly concur. During our class session, my team tinkered with RawGraph, a data visualization framework built with the goal of making the visual representation of complex data easy for everyone, and came up with the below.

AfricaAfricaAfricaAfricaAfricaAfricaAfricaAfricaAfricaAsiaAsiaAsiaAsiaAsiaEuropeEuropeEuropeEuropeEuropeEuropeEuropeEuropeEuropeNorth AmericaNorth AmericaNorth AmericaNorth AmericaSouth AmericaSouth AmericaSouth AmericaSouth AmericaSouth AmericaSouth America

Hello World!

I am a doctoral student of African History at Michigan State University. This website is created for a digital humanities graduate course (HST 812: History in the Digital Age). This is my first formal engagement with digital history and I am so excited to be part of this class. Each week, I will be engaging with sets of readings and offering succinct blog posts. I am hoping to learn novel ideas and technologies, and develop an online map that will portray the movements of groups of people in West Africa from the prehistoric era to the 18th century.

Fingers crossed, I hope to produce a very good project in this class that will serve as a starting point to my dissertation project, which I will discuss in the weeks to come.