First blog post

My name is Everett Phoenix, which is a flamboyant name, for lack of a better term. With that in mind, a google search of my name displays the results of plane tickets; from Everett, Washington, to Phoenix, Arizona. The search also displays local businesses with the name ‘phoenix’. I do appreciate the level of privacy allotted with the results. That being said, I am not a location, nor a plane ticket, nor a local business.  

A website may improve my digital presence in a number of ways. The website would certainly help to spread awareness of my digital presence. People that notice the website may reach out for job opportunities; as websites are a good resource for contact information. They can also be used to share any work or content that a user may have already created. In addition, employers might notice the website when considering a job application. Many employers search for people’s social media accounts, such as facebook and twitter profiles. So having a website can give the employer a more positive image of the individual. The website can give people an insight into personality and self expression. A website may also help with networking; as the site can be used as a channel to share ideas. Having a website will also improve the self image, as the content of the website can make the writer appear to be a more experienced professional. For example, a user could post their credentials, such as work experience, or a cv.  The website may also help people stand out, in case they have a less common name. For example, if your name is ‘Sarah Johnson’ then the website might be an easier method of being noticed than having people attempt to search for social media accounts.

The website could also be used to post links to personal interests, or other social media accounts. For example, the website could contain links to other websites or videos that relate to the user. The user could not only write, but also create podcasts or videos for self expression. Hearing the sound of a person could give insights that their words do not, and vice versa. I feel that hearing someone speak gives insight into personality, almost like a conversation, or interaction. In addition, video blogging can portray facial expressions and vocal tones that are not necessarily portrayed through words. Good writing is certainly a channel of self expression, but speech and image are other options.

Second blog

Copyright and licenses are important concepts to acknowledge. If one does not comply with copyright and license agreements, then they are liable for a lawsuit. Plagiarism has certainly always been a risk for students, but copyright and license infringement are greater risks. With these concepts in mind, consulting parties associated with a historical topic may be an important tactic for respecting any rules or regulations that relate to the topic of interest. Ownership of online content is another potential barrier for research. 

Privacy is a very interesting and relevant topic in this era. Scenarios relating to this subject have surprising implicaitons. For example, there is ambiguity associated with whether or not a social media account is considered to be personal property. I would think that the profiles belong to the organization, not the individual, but people may believe otherwise. This scenario is relevant to anyone that might use historical information that could be found on social media. World leaders, and other historical figures, of the future may have social media accounts, for example. Today, the standards of privacy may vary, from region to region. Some countries, or cultures, may be more open to the disclosure of online information than others. Finding testimony in a country, or from an era where the society lacked free speech or free press may increase the difficulty of gathering historical data. Some societies may aso suppress information. For example, literature from the Uyghur ethnic group in China is suppressed. In a hypothetical scenario, research sites may not be available without the consent of the local government or owners of property. 

Ethics was an interesting topic to focus on. I agree that consulting parties that are relevant to a research topic is important. I can see the importance in making sure that one does not demean or belittle a topic of a given culture. I am reminded of historical writing of native American and African cultures that would describe people as if they are subhuman. Gender bias was another interesting subject that relates to ethics. Not making prejudicial assumptions about a given community is an important virtue. Big data ethics was another interesting field. For example, some argue that the information that people have access to on social media could influence elections. Search engines could selectively decide to remove results from search pages, making desired results difficult to find. The search engine companies may have the intent of filtering information that is perceived as controversial, or offensive. However, the same method and argument could be used to censor information. If a researcher wanted to find information related to former president Trump, for example, then they would have trouble finding his content from the websites ‘YouTube’ and ‘twitter’. With that in mind, the concept of ethics is ever changing, with ongoing challenges as society changes.

Tidy data

The 3 principles of tidy data are that each variable forms a column, each observation forms a row, and that each type of observational unit forms a table. The intent of the tidy data methodology is to make information appear more legible. This would be useful for gathering historical data. For example, in class, we created a spreadsheet listing data regarding old death certificates. Properly labeling different categories of data is useful for being able to easily read the data. There may also be circumstances where different columns could be merged into one; for the purpose of simplicity. Likewise, some researchers may prefer to have additional categories, for the purpose of detail. So the organization of data is subjective, to some extent.

The tidy data set report is a guideline, but not a strict requirement. The content does raise a lot of interesting questions about different scenarios. For example, there may be some variables where data is available for a given observation, but not for all, or other, observations. There is also the possibility that the method at which data is organized, may not transfer easily, from one spreadsheet program to another.

 One technique that I would like to consider is the method of not using column labels that look like codes. I find that sometimes people will organize information in such a way, that the information is understood by the writer, but not as well from third party observers. One idea that this article presents is experimentation with different methods of organization. The writer seems to have a lot of experience with the organization of data. Another technique that I admire is the idea of grouping observations of the same name. The example that the writer used was a list of songs that were organized based on popularity, as part of the ‘billboard top 100’. The author appears to have vertically grouped the different weeks that a song appeared on the list; so as not to force viewers to scroll through the list horizontally. In contrast, sometimes, if a set of variables is not too long, then organizing the observations horizontally, as opposed to vertically, might be more aesthetically pleasing. So the structure of the data seems to be a subjective balancing act. With pattern recognition, I could imagine being able to create new variables or associations between variables, if there were observed correlations. With these observations, perhaps new data tables could be created.

Historical marker blog

The historical marker that I chose is near the intersection of Hunter mill road and Chain Bridge road, in the Reston/Vienna area. The marker was a channel for troops representing both the union and the confederate armies. Water and farmland were available to support the troops. There were local farmers that personally supported either the confederate or union soldiers. Due to the support of both sides of the conflict, there was tension in the region. Due to the popularity of foraging in this region, from both armies, the land was damaged. The harm to the fertility of the soil lasted for decades. Food extraction diminishes soil fertility, so the soil needs time to recover from the foraging of at least several dozen troops. 

I chose this historical marker for a few reasons. First of all, the proximity to my home is convenient. In addition, I find the landscape to be aesthetically pleasing. I’ve driven through this road multiple times, but I have not explored this area very much. In addition, environmental science is a personal hobby. So I like the relationship between farming and the historical marker.

Bias and objectivity seem to be themes associated with the book “silencing the past’, by Michael-Rudolf Truillot. Based on the reading, I will make sure to attempt to comprehend the historical event from the perspective of the people who were present at the time and location of the historical marker. The author Truillot seems to also emphasize the importance of acknowledging the perspective of the observer. He implied, with regards to slavery as an example, that a historian should not project their thought process onto the people of the historical event. So not only did people of the past, or a different culture think differently, but we also need to recognize our own ideologies to protect against bias. The Silencing of voices was also a theme of our reading. So in the context of the reading, the Europeans seemed to have more of a voice than the Haitian natives, and European historical figures, such as Christopher Columbus, are often idealized. I can apply this insight by trying to observe historical subjects from multiple subjects, and reduce emotional bias. Recognizing silent voices may also mean attempting to find perspectives that are not explicitly described at the site of the historical marker. There may also be contextual information that was not thoroughly recognized, by the creators of the historical marker. These are some of the insights and methods that I will use to learn more about this historical marker.

Blog post 5

Representing primary sources as data can help observers comprehend the information associated with the source. For example, for our most recent project, we were instructed to log historical data of donations made in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Organizing the information as data would help readers comprehend the text more easily. Some people may have difficulty reading the original cursive handwriting. In addition, having the data logged into a spreadsheet helps people notice trends and make associations within the dataset. For example, multiple donations listed by the same donor could be split into multiple pages in the primary source. However, when placing data in a spreadsheet, related content can be output on the same page. The donor data could be displayed in graphs that focus on given variables. For example, graphs could be used to visualize the location of origin of the donors. They could also be used to measure the quantity of donations from a given donor. The donations could have also been categorized into different types. For example, some items were related to food, while others were related to construction. Having different formats of the data gives readers a better understanding of the given information. 

Having multiple sources of information, such as in the form of data, helps to spread awareness of the information. The data could also be used to support an argument or observation related to the primary source. One side effect however, is that data could be skewed to distort or exaggerate information. If someone wanted to exaggerate or minimize a contrast between different variables in a bar graph, they could change the width of the bars, or change the scale of the y axis. Fortunately, these decisions are merely possibilities. 

Based on the tidy dataset research of Hadley Wickham, the data could be more neatly organized when modifying the structure of the information from the primary source. Thorough organization of data can drastically improve the legibility of the data. According to Wickham’s principles of tiny data, each variable forms a column, each observation forms a row, and each type of observational unity forms a table. He considers these methodologies to be ideal for organizing tidy data. In relation to tidy data, like Hadley Wickham, different people may have different interpretations of tidy data. For example, when my group and I, for the folio tidy data project, transcribed the donor data, we would discuss how to organize the data. At one point, we discussed whether or not to store multiple donations from the same donor into the same row. After the collaboration activity was over, at the end of the lecture, we continued to work independently. When I submitted my work, I felt that the data was neatly organized. After my submission, someone else had further rearranged the data. So Henry Wickham’s principles of tidy data are a nice template. However, I feel that the ideal organizational design may vary, based on the creator of the dataset.

self assessment reflection

I learned how to use wordpress, which is a very useful and popular tool. While I was already familiar with the gmu library page for archives and science journals, this course has offered more practice. I had embedded content on a website for the first time during this class. In addition, I learned of the value of creating a website. Thanks to this class, I have created a website for the first time. The timeline assignment was also good practice for online web design software. As a group, we collaborated together using google slides, while logging data in a spreadsheet. As a nursing major, this assignment relates to healthcare database administration. I might have to log handwritten data into a computer, in an organized manner. This class was also good practice for online research. There were also many useful resources that were shared during the class; that could be used for the purpose of research. The ‘tidy dataset’ reading was a very interesting example. The organization of data is an underrated principle. There were many techniques and arguments that were made in terms of how to structure information. There was also an interesting article that we read, that described techniques for mapping and visualizing data. As a nurse, visualizing data would help viewers notice patterns that may not be recognized if the information was not visualized. How the data is organized may also present research questions, or make subtle information more noticeable. With these data techniques a nurse researcher could visualize patterns, such as how temperature, or weather influence the behavior of patients. Another example would be patterns associated with the amount of care a patient receives, and proximity to the nursing office. There were many useful technology skills that were introduced in this class.

The textbook that we used helped us to understand bias when observing history. When we observe history, there may be significant parts of a historical event that are not acknowledged, or are understated. The author might also have an underlying theme, or message, that they are trying to portray. When observing history, gathering information from multiple sources is important for developing an objective perspective. In addition, if the historical event is about a conflict between two or more parties, such as a war, then attempting to learn from multiple perspectives is also important to maintain an objective observation. For example, when learning about native American history from the perspective western colonists, their testimony might dehumanize the natives. The colonists might also argue that their behavior was morally just or fair. So observing different sides of a conflict is an important part of understanding the historical event.