Project Proposal

Colin McGuinness
Hist 305: Digital History
Prof. Smith
Project Proposal

The final digital project for this class will be an oral history interview with a retired famous surfer from California. In conjunction with Dr. Igmen’s Oral History class requiring a one-hour interview with a prevalent figure, I will tie the two projects together to further develop the California Surf Archive website by adding an Omeka exhibit with all the content on display; with the ambition of producing an accurate historical digital timeline of a famous surfer and figure in California surf culture.
The exhibit will use Omeka because it is easy to build and customizable to suit whatever direction the project turns into. It will also allow me to incorporate other digital items like maps, timelines, pictures, and possibly a video recording of the interview. Omeka has broad support for most of the web standards (CSS, XHTML), along with being able to import and export data. Our brief introduction to Omeka taught me how to create the metadata for the sources and items so that will be included as well.
My research question and thesis will be to argue, as best, how this surfer ties into the bigger picture of California surf culture. The takeaway is ideally that this surfer was influenced by, and help influenced California surf culture, and has valuable information about the history of surfing in California that can shed light on the importance of surfing in California’s history and surfing in general. The audience for this project will be anyone who accesses the California Surf Archive website, along with anyone interested in learning more about this particular surfer or surf culture in general. Subsequent digital history classes could potentially use this exhibit to create newer and better exhibits, building off of mine by interviewing more famous surfers; create a skateboard history exhibit and juxtapose them through Ngrams, maps, timelines, fusion tables, etc.

I feel that a video recording in addition to the audio recording would help establish the desired visual aspect of the website. A sole audio recording would, from experience, almost always be skipped over if the rest of the website is visually based. Furthermore, after learning the beginner skills to create timelines, maps, and Ngrams, I feel these could also be beneficial visuals to cement the historical story that I, and the site will be trying to convey.
A timeline of either the surfers life or how events in his life fit into a larger historical timeline of surfing in California (music including a sample if possible, clothing with Dublin Core, surfing locations on a map, famous beaches, etc.) is one way of establishing context. In addition to the timeline, I could create a map of California that traces the events in the timeline. I enjoyed creating vectors on large location on the George Freeth map Kathryn and I created. I am currently contemplating a way to make the transcription usable for the website and I could use some assistance for how that could be done.
The hardest part for me will be establishing the context through the visuals and oral interview. To solve this issue I need to work on forming the proper questions, which will be instrumental in creating a usable interview and then using the additional visuals to build the context and pull the story together. Since I consider myself a mediocre web designer with no training in coding or CSS, I will rely on the easiness of Omeka to guide me through the creation process.
Dr. Igmen’s project is not due until April 18, leaving me plenty of time to plan a schedule of events. The first part will be establishing contact with the interviewee, letting him know the goals of the project and how the recording of the interview will be used. This pre-interview interview will allow him to voice any concerns and coordinate both of our schedules to generate a day, time, and place to meet for the actual interview. Between the pre-interview and actual interview I will be able to locate additional sources to facilitate the interview such as pictures or maps, then do all the necessary background research.
Once the interview is complete I will need to create another schedule and outline for creating the Omeka exhibit. For this I will need to read up on creating useful exhibits and incorporating my interview material into one.

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