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Final Reflection

My last post for the semester will reflect on what I learned and what I will take with me. I learned a lot, that’s for sure–more than I ever expected. The most important thing I learned was probably to use the internet as a tool and not to think of it as this big, abstract thing that I don’t know how to use. That sounds silly, but, in the past I would use the excuse, “I don’t know how to do that,” a lot when referring to things online. The digital exhibit we created, for example, was complex and required me really learning how to use the tools available to me. I think, had using Omeka and Neatline just been optional, in the past I would have chosen to do something simpler without even trying it, just out of the fear of not knowing how to do something. I’m glad I stuck with it and faced the challenge. I feel like I can tackle anything online, now. So, that is probably the most important thing I learned–aside from all the technical things and learning about Open Access. From this course I will take away the value and importance of the internet–especially now with the possibility of Net Neutrality being in danger. We take it for granted that we will always have access to the internet, and, with greedy corporations in power, that’s just not the case.

I believe I will continue to use my blog for what my title suggests, theories, thoughts, and inspirations. I’ve found that a blog is a great place to sort ideas and work out problems. So, in the future I will continue to use this blog for that purpose. I love to read, so I will stay academically literate and write a book review or two, as well. In all, this course has been fun–a lot of hard work, but very satisfying.


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Analysis of a Social Media Program: Kansas City Museum

The often overlooked little museum in Old Northeast is undergoing an extensive and costly renovation right now. The Kansas City Museum is still, however, open to the public. But in the absence of a thorough hands-on experience (due to the construction), this museum takes advantage of the latest tools for digital history and offers an excellent online alternative. is the museum’s official website.

When I first visited this site what immediately jumped out at me was the GLAMA banner that scrolled past. GLAMA is the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America. I clicked on the link and was taken to the GLAMA page where I noticed that the museum had launched an oral history initiative. This fits right in with the architecture of participation from Web 2.0. I am very excited to see that a local, small, historical institution has taken the principles of public history to heart.

Back on the museum home page I hovered over the Exhibits & Archives tab and saw that Kansas City Museum was also hosting another collecting initiative called Nuestra Herencia, an initiative “to assemble, preserve, and make accessible a collection of diverse materials that document Kansas City’s Hispanic Latino/a communities.”  As a member of this Hispanic community and an enthusiastic historian, this pleases me.

Additionally, there were Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Instagram buttons on every page. There were several collections, archives, and data bases available for public viewing. And volunteering or participating as a community curator was suggested throughout the website. This tells me that while this museum may be physically small and often times overlooked, the high quality and rich content, and the several different ways that this museum reaches out to the community speak volumes of what century they reside in. The difference in a decade, when it comes to technology, is immense and institutions that implement practices that encourage active public participation with others, with the museum, and especially with technology, appear to be the most successful.

There is always room for improvement, though, and the wonderful thing about Web 2.0 technology is that change is inherent in its principles. Perpetual Beta is a Web 2.0 concept that museums can implement into their best practices. The Kansas City Museum is physically undergoing change ironically. As far as suggestions go, however, I was very impressed with this site. They appear to have their Web 2.0 bases covered. When I visited this past summer the docent told me about the renovation and how expensive it was, so, my suggestion would be to include a money raising initiative to help with the cost. All I saw was a Donate button at the bottom of the home page. But, perhaps they have a wealthy benefactor at their disposal.

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Professional Book Review

This is the last reblog, for a while, anyway, I promise. I’m not too lazy to write something original, this post is just really good! Time to start really brushing up on my book review skills because this sounds like fun.


Editor’s Note: In need of inspiration? You are in luck! Hack Library School plans to bring back reviews to the blog – on books, technology, and other resources in the LIS field – and will even consider guest reviews! You can check out previous books reviews on the blog here.

By now you’ve probably noticed that here at Hack Library School we are really big on a little thing called professional involvement. Just recently, we’ve covered professional organizations, conferences, committee work, and more. It’s an excellent way to develop important skills, learn about issues and conversations in the field, meet people, and demonstrate to prospective employers that you’re proactive and engaged. Book reviews are one important (and fun) avenue of professional involvement that many students aren’t aware of. HLS alumna Annie Pho first suggested book reviewing to me, and I’m so glad she did. Now that I…

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Deliberate Starvation of Peasants

This is another project I’m working on. It’s a little more interdisciplinary, which is why I like it so much. This is where the activist in me can come out and play so I thought I’d introduce it here.

The Next Social Construct

This blog is about race and genocide but I deliberately chose the banner at the top for the implied message–that genocide is deliberate and that should be the most important qualifying factor in determining whether or not an act was genocide or mass killing. The comparison seems trivial to me and the reasons for not wanting any association to the word genocide are obvious. Is it any wonder that Soviets were always in attendance and ready with the “self-serving argument… that social and political groups were too fluid and too difficult to define for them to be included,” at U.N. committees on the subject. (Norman Naimark, pp. 37)

Nineteen thirty-two marked the end of Joseph Stalin’s Five Year Plan and in 1933 began a year of famine in the Ukraine which was the direct result of Soviet policy at Stalin’s discretion. (Timothy Snyder, pp. 23) Stalin was too smart to…

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Confirmation in a Coffee Shop; or, When I Almost Hugged My Laptop

So, I had to reblog this because it gives me so much hope as I stumble along my own path to graduate school. I get anxious and dejected at times, too, but then I have those little flashes of brilliance that totally make up for that. And they always come after I’ve been stressed out the most. I guess the secret to success in the History field is hitting a wall… and then finding a loose brick.

Adventures in Research

It’s no secret, at least on this blog, that I’ve been feeling stuck and a little dejected about my progress on my dissertation. Despite moments of real progress (several pages written!), I end up tempering them (they still need footnotes!) so I don’t really feel the joy fully. I know it’s a sign of burnout, or at least a sign of burnout for me. It’s long past time to reduce stress and anxiety and find a way to reenergize myself. While my stress load gets lower every month, my exhaustion with my sources doesn’t.

I’m going to be presenting an aspect of my research this week at a conference. It’s taking the article I wrote and advancing the argument. But the problem with the article was the small sample size I had to work with. I ended up doing a lot of extrapolation. I have realized the Marine Corps chapter…

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HTML Practice

So here is the document I have encoded below. I have no idea why all the metadata that I put into html is visible now. It’s metadata. I shouldn’t see it. Also, all my tags have disappeared when I switch over to the text tab.

F.W. Gunsaulus to Frank L. Wood, 22 Jan. 1921. Frank L. Wood Scrapbooks, 1864-1944.
F.W. Gunsaulus

Princeton University Library
Princeton, New Jersey

This is the editorial declaration

Armour Institute of Technology Chicago.
F.W. Gunsaulus, President

January 22, 1921

Mr. Frank L. Wood,
327 S. Campbell Ave.,

Dear Frank Wood:
I have a new set of slides made, so that you can keep those which you have; and when you are through with them, you can put them into safe hands. It would be wrong to use them in any public or money making scheme and would certainly get the user into legal difficulties. It is entirely proper and legal for you and me to do as we will with respect to the matter. I would advise you to go to the Art Institute of Chicago and ask to see, in my name if necessary,the great William Bode volumes, where you can get the descriptions of the colors of these paintings.

I thank you very much for the extract you have sent me from that

    fine souled woman,

who certainly has the essential thing of Christianity in her mind and heart.

Faithfully yours,
F.W. GunsaulusF.W. Gunsaulus

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Digital Historiography with Google Ngram Viewer

According to Franco Moretti, graphs, maps, and trees are the way to go when researching a historical question. Moretti claims that mapping genres and the literary output of specific countries can be invaluable to any historian. So, I tried it out with my own question of Stalin and genocide in the Ukraine during the 1930’s. I can’t really tell what exactly this says about Stalin and genocide, but I can see that he was certainly more popular than genocide, the Ukraine, or the class, kulak, which he invented so he could essentially get away with genocide.

The Google Ngram Viewer seems like it might prove useful to research if you know already know exactly what to look for, and also, if you know in advance the connections you are looking for. I can see it adding another dimension to research–it certainly is thinking outside the box and it offers an interdisciplinary approach to historical questions. I like that.


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What is Digital History?

According to The Journal of American History, digital history is “anything (research method, journal article, monograph, blog, classroom exercise) that uses digital technologies in creating, enhancing, or distributing historical research and scholarship.” (pp. 453) Digital history appears to be new enough that its range is pretty vast. Almost anything that was produced or distributed with the aid of any technology can fall into this up and coming field. William G. Thomas III’s definition of digital history is also vague, but I like where it’s going: “To do digital history, then, is to create a framework, an ontology, through the technology for people to experience, read, and follow an argument about a historical problem.” (pp. 454)

By the time I finally got around to going to college pretty much everything was either already or on its way to being digitized. As my favorite Latin American history instructor would always tell her students, we have it easy. Most of us don’t know what it is like to have to look for a journal article by using a card catalog. An incalculable quantity of information is available to us at the click of a mouse. And any information we, as historians, put out there can be read, viewed, and experienced, just as fast.

Best of Both Worlds highlights the other side of the coin. Digital history is not only about making it easier for historians to create and distribute their research, it’s about seeing the transfer of knowledge through from origin to recipient. Historians don’t just want to share information with other historians. That would make for a very short conversation. The goal of historians is to convey their findings to the public and get them to engage. I like to think about it like T.V. show or movie or book that I am really into at the moment. All I want to do is share my passion with others. It wouldn’t be any fun, though, if I was the only one talking. Museums in particular have a huge task in getting people to engage. Most museum visitors go to look, not to ask questions. This is where digital history is crucial. I agree with Matthew K. Gould who finds that “digital humanities is not just ‘the next big thing’…but simply ‘the Thing’…” Welcome to the twenty-first century.

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