Entering the class, I felt pretty confident in taking on digital methods in history. Although I am no coder or techie knowledgeable in source code, I have always grown up with technology in front of me and thus have gained a basic understanding of how to navigate computers and the internet. Furthermore, I found it surprisingly easily to use the third party tools for constructing digital projects and felt I learned my way around them quickly. Although I did not use all the tools for our project, I found many useful for future projects that I intend on creating. However, I had no idea how to build a website or use any of the tools going into the class. Furthermore, I jumped into this class rather ambitiously and believed I was capable of doing much more than my group and I could handle.
The original objective of our site was to show the transformation of Downtown Long Beach from the postwar period to the twenty-first century. During the first half of the week, we believed we would be capable of creating a well-structured website; however, we quickly realized our research would prove to be Impossible for one semester. There were several issues we faced along the way showed me the difficulty researching less covered topics as well as the difficulty in collecting data and then putting them into several digital forms. However, the struggle of working on our site provided me with several new digital skills that will help me with future projects as well as my goals.
At the beginning of the semester, I was fascinated enthralled with all the digital projects we went over. The Republic of Letters project was one of the most impressive projects. I quickly decided I wanted to work with a digital map to formulate a historical study of spatial history. My first plan was to map the gentrification of Long Beach with the redlining HOLC maps from 1939. Totianna also was highly interested in redlining, so the two of us teamed up to work together. Ryan would join us as well due to the three of us all sharing similar pursuits for our projects.
Over the semester, the three of skimmed the internet as well as the libraries to find secondary and primary sources for our research. This became the first obstacle in our project. Unfortunately, historical analysis of Long Beach is nothing compared to Los Angeles, and historical research on the years following the fifties of Long Beach is non-existent. Thus, we had to drop my interest in examining gentrification and stick to redlining. Narrowing our focus eased the work load for us and allowed us to formulate a website with more accurate research. However, once we narrowed our topic, building the website proved equally difficult.
Thankfully, we had little difficulty with Omeka and the plugins used. Collecting sources and archiving them took up most of our time creating the website, but, ultimately, we had little difficulty understanding what to include into Dublin Core; admittingly, we struggled to maintain a uniform database, and this can be seen if one skims through our archive. Sometimes we would put “JPG” into format while other times we put “image.” The fundamental problem here was getting everyone to settle on a standard. However, I do intend to go back over the following weeks and tweak the archive.
Furthermore, the exhibits allowed us use our collected photographs and formulate narratives with these photos. My exhibits focused on the Lakewood area and how it became a racially exclusive extension of both Long Beach and Los Angeles. I had little trouble creating the exhibit up until I started tweaking with HTML text. Eventually, I grasped methods, but it took me an hour or so to get it down right. Regarding this, I still need to go back into the exhibits and make sure each exhibit is also uniform. Struggling with HTML was a learning curve and forced me to appreciate the work more code-savvy historians go through when building their projects.
Since my interest is in urban history and visualizing history, The American Panorama projects created by Richmond University had to be my favorite. Mapping Inequality presented one of the more fascinating tools I learned to use this semester. This project inspired the map and geographical approach to mapping Long Beach. Mapping Inequality layered Historical HOLC maps onto a web map. The project’s goal was to My intention was to layer a map, or georeferencing. The tool I used for this was ArcMap. Ultimately, georeferencing maps and overlaying them into a web map by appointing specific points of the historical map with a precise coordinate. Once I got the hang of ArcMap, I had little trouble layering the map precisely. However, There was excessive difficulty for both myself and Professor Smith in adding it to Omeka due to the requirement of additional software that needed to be added. In the end, I was unable to use the map for my project, yet I did take screenshots of my work. Due the complications, I instead drew each HOLC district by hand. It took me awhile to complete, but I was proud of it in the end.