Katlin Humrickhouse

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  • Katlin Humrickhouse

    My contribution this week is a review essay on a few different works by Tanya E. Clement titled “Half-Baked: The State of Evaluation in the Digital Humanities.” I found her arguments to be really relevant to the works up for discussion this week.

    Clements contends:

    The intellectual, technical, and theoretical motivations behind the projects discused in The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age and Switching Codes mirror the most productive (and unique) motivations behind current scholarship and practice in DH in general – that is, to critique and change scholarly information infrastructure. Thus, these books’ real contributions are the responses they offer to critiques of DH;

    The article is comprised of her review of those books listed above, and she comes to the conclusion that they are “important books because they help us mark and reflect on how evaluating scholarship…is evolving.”
    What these two books do is stress the importance of measuring contributions in the field of digital humanities.

    This article does a good job at summing up a major role of DHers – the role of critique. It is important, for the field to grow and evolve, to critique each other’s work.

    in reply to: Evaluation Criteria #207
    Katlin Humrickhouse

    I guess I am going to take this question a little different than others posted. I am going to answer it in two ways: how do I evaluate and how should we evaluate. I worked through this assignment much like I would work through a paper or a skeleton review. Professor Schocket has discussed this approach a couple of times – even in the prompt. So – here were my steps.

    First, I looked at the title and “cover”, or home page, much like I would when evaluating a book. Does the title or cover mean anything? Can anything be taken from it? Or, in this instance, was there much work put into it? Charles Darwin Library is pretty straight forward. I knew it was going to be knowledge based – academic in a way.

    Second, I looked at formatting. In a paper, I would generally look at citation style, spacing, organization, and other like traits. For this assignment, it was no different. I took note, probably more subconsciously, of the font style, spacing, and the organization. This all falls into the evaluation of the aesthetics. Was it confusing? Was it clean? Was it easy? This all plays into ease of use of the project. Organization, much like in a paper, is very important in a digital humanities project. In a paper, citations and a bibliography as well as organization of content make the paper easy to navigate. I know if a paper is written in Chicago Style, I will be able to look to the footnotes for a quick citation. If a paper is written in MLA, I will have to flip back to the bibliography. This sort of organization is also needed in a project such as the Charles Darwin Library. I think what I used most to evaluate the tools was ease of use and accessibility. Also, the more the support a tool has the better off it is.

    Third, I looked for a thesis or purpose. What or why need to be answered. If there isn’t a reason for the project or tool, or for a paper or book, then what purpose does it even serve? A thesis or purpose is a very important part of a paper or book as it is a very important part of a digital humanities project. And, much like a paper, a purpose for a digital humanities project can become something difficult to come up with. (As some of us, including myself, are finding with our semester long projects.)

    The big question is should we use these steps to evaluate digital humanities projects and tools. I say yes! If we can use these steps to evaluate projects and tools, we can come close to finding worthwhile resources in digital humanities. We can even use these steps to evaluate and improve on our own digital humanities work. Using these steps to evaluate our own work can make our projects more dynamic as well as academic – which Shane argues very much for, and I totally agree.

    in reply to: Project Evaluations #205
    Katlin Humrickhouse

    Screencasting is becoming a pretty big thing. Think about it – how many tutorials or walkthroughs can you find on YouTube right now? The answer is nearly and infinite amount. This had become so popular that even new gaming systems have a sort of screencast program built in to live stream or record and share gameplay. Screencasting can be used for a number of things in the digital humanities. You could use it to show your work and gain support. In fact, there is even a page on digitalhumanities.org dedicated to screencasting. As I explained in class, someone doing a history of gaming (or programming or social networks) could use screencasting to show gameplay (or a walkthrough of a program or site). There are a number of screencasting tools out there.

    The one I mentioned in class was called CaptureFox. This tool is a free plug in for Firefox. It is easy to use and, if you do get lost, you can find support and help quite easily in the format of FAQ. However, it is only compatible with FireFox and Windows. In fact, it is only compatible with older versions of FireFox. So – if you are like me and update regularly – you may find it difficult to get CaptureFox working. It seems to have lost grounding and has been left at an old version since 2011. Fortunately, there are many other screencasting tools out there.

    ScreenFlow is a Mac-only screencasting program. ScreenFlow allows much more editing than CaptureFox. It is easy and, like CaptureFox, you can get support. However, you can get support that is up to date! ScreenFlow is a paid service – $99. It could be worth it if you screencast regularly, but for a one time use, it probably isn’t worth it.

    If you’re not into installing and paying for something to screencast, there is a web-based, free screencasting tool known as ScreenToaster. It is easy to use, FREE, and quick. It also supports picture in picture screencasts – so you can use your webcam and record yourself talking about the main screen! However, there aren’t any advanced editing settings and your browser has to support Java. ScreenToaster is definitely the most exciting tool that I’ve come across. This sounds great, right? Too good to be true? Well, it is. Because since 2012, ScreenToaster has been down.

    in reply to: Project Evaluations #203
    Katlin Humrickhouse

    Charles Darwin Library

    While watching this week’s episode of Cosmos, I stumbled upon the Charles Darwin Library. I thought it only fitting as this week Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed natural selection and evolution. The library, which I would refer to as more of a collection, has some great source material on Darwin. Their purpose is laid out simply on the home page:

    Charles Darwin’s Library is a digital edition and virtual reconstruction of the surviving books owned by Charles Darwin. This BHL special collection draws on original copies and surrogates from other libraries. It also provides full transcriptions of his annotations and marks…what our digital reconstruction of the Darwin Library delivers is the ability to retrace and reduplicate Darwin’s reading of a wealth of materials.

    In many of the history classes I have taken as well as all of the papers I have written, I have learned that annotations are generally the most important part of a primary source document. It is easy to notice some good and bad things of this project right away. However, some other issues arise once you’ve really dived into the library. First, I will discuss what they did right.

    The first thing to notice is the layout of the home page. It’s not necessarily attractive, but not overly busy. It is OK. The books are laid out from A-Z, and you are able to search or sort by author, year, and title. Once you find a book, it becomes interactive. You are able to go to pages where Darwin’s annotations are found or look at the entire book. In addition, you are able to download and print. The page is pretty accessible and easy to navigate. However, it definitely has it flaws.

    Firstly, it is kind of confusing. The Charles Darwin Library is within the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and the page is inset into the BHL’s page. Therefore, you may be clicking link and doing searches on the entire BHL collection if not careful. In addition to confusion, there is a “Help Support Us” type button almost always present.

    A good comparative project for the Charles Darwin Library is the Newton Project. This provides good comparison because the Newton Project offers Isaac Newton’s drafts, notes, and correspondence much like the annotations provided by the Charles Darwin Library. The Newton Project does a much better job than the Darwin Library in the sense of aesthetics. The page is pretty attractive and easy to navigate. In fact, I have nothing bad to say about the Newton Project. Interestingly enough, as a side note, both of these projects share a sponsor: JISC.

    in reply to: Getting Started #155
    Katlin Humrickhouse

    I have been thinking very much about what sort of project I want to do, but I’ve come up with little to nothing. I have had a couple of ideas, but I’m still pretty hesitant on what exactly it is I want to do.

    My first idea was to digitize my husbands (short) military career. However, I have no idea how exactly to tackle this.

    Then I had this great idea to expand my Omeka stuff – retro games. But I’m not sure if I want to go that directions.

    I could also – instead of digitizing my husband’s military career – digitize another family member’s or one of the folders at the local historical museum.

    I’d love anyone’s input, especially Dr. Schocket’s.

    in reply to: Theorizing the Digital Humanities #139
    Katlin Humrickhouse

    “If our peers in the DH are “scholarly editors, literary critics, librarians, academic computing staff, historians, archaeologists, and classicists,” I believe it’s their duty, as is with any scholar, to progress their field by using any skills they can apply.”

    Yes! I love this point, and to continue from HIST 6760, I agree with you again, Becky! In fact, I actually noted exactly what you did about digital libraries from Ramsay. As a “historian in training”, I am so very thankful for the growing digitization of artifacts and documents. Making these items available to scholars around the world in an instant is a powerful thing. (I’m also totally grateful that you referenced Back to the Future!)

    Obviously, for me being the public historian of the group, I immediately think of an archive when I think of traditional. I can’t help it. My mind lives in the museum field. So, for me, the similarities between traditional and digital scholarship lies within the museum. Traditional artifacts, documents, and what have you are important for education. But, digitizing these objects is just as important if not more. Yes, having the privilege to hold a Civil War letter is way more enriching than seeing a scanned copy of it, but it is enriching nonetheless.

    I’m sure I’m totally off with my comments, but I guess digital humanities means something different to each one of us. This is what it means to me. (Plus it’s pretty late, and I’ve been writing a paper about 1984. So my mind is all jumbled about.)

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