Mapping the Taiping Civil War

This semester I’ve been helping Susan Fernsebner, UMW professor extraordinare, with her section of HIST 297: History Colloquium. This course serves as “an introduction to the methods historians use to analyze the past,” and all three sections, each taught by a different member of the department, are focusing on digital skills not as an add-on, but as a critical, integrated part of the course. Susan wrote a great post this past summer that outlines the structure and purpose of HIST 297, as well as the intentionality with which the department decided to spread what used to be a one-semester methods course into a two-semester sequence. You should go read her entire post on the subject (it’s not long! go read it now!), and I’m hopeful that she will have the time and opportunity to write more about this as the semester starts winding down.  Seal of the Taiping Revolution, via Wikimedia Commons. The basic goal of HIST 297 is to introduce students to the methods … [Read more...]

Already got a domain? I challenge you to reclaim your server.

It started with a chai latte. Not this particular bowl of chai (from La Boulange in San Francisco), but one equally as potent. The other day, I was poking around the list of apps available for automatic installation for Domain of One’s Own participants. I have experience with WordPress, Moodle, phpBB, MediaWiki, and YOURLS, but there are 100+ other applications that I’ve never used or seen, let alone installed and configured. I thought to myself, I should probably check out a few of these apps so I can provide some guidance to people who are looking to set up their site, and don’t know where to get started. I decided to start with the image galleries (which I’ll write about later), as that was something that would have immediate application as part of my own infrastructure. I also decided to make myself a cold chai latte, as I’d been up late the previous night getting sucked into a game on Steam. Within an hour, my brain was vibrating in my skull (or at … [Read more...]

Moving into month #2

Some assorted thoughts as I enter month #2 of my employment here at UMW: I have been here … for a month? I have been here FOR A MONTH. My perspective on this is short and narrow so far, but it seems strange that a liberal arts college would focus so aggressively on attracting more men by de-emphasizing its past as a women’s college. I’m coming from a community that errs on the side of overselling its commitment to progressive education, so that’s a big change. Also, seeing an entire organization try to butch itself up is amusing to no end. Tim, Andy, Martha, and Jim are even more ridiculously creative and talented than they appear from afar. Adventures in anxiety, part 1: whenever a super cool project comes up, my first reaction is “I would love to do that, but I have all this other stuff to finish before I can tackle that.” And then I take a deep breath and realize: nope, those cool projects ARE my job. Sure, there is administrative and support … [Read more...] just might make the web relevant again.

RSS this, syndication that — my new colleagues here at DTLT have a torrid love affair with web feeds, and rightfully so. Of the media I consume online, probably 60% of it comes from the 113 sites I follow via my preferred RSS reader, with the other 40% consisting mainly of activity on Twitter, Netflix, and Hulu. The only time I really ever visit a website by browsing directly to it anymore is 1) because the map view on the Craigslist mobile app is frustratingly unusable, 2) to check the latest posts on Ask MetaFilter when I’m really bored, or 3) because I’m shopping for an item and want to check reviews. When I do find a new channel of news, culture, entertainment, etc to follow, it’s usually because someone whose opinion I trust has linked to or otherwise recommended that source, not because I went searching for it or stumbled across it. In short, RSS is a filter for me; all wheat, no chaff. Problem is, by being such an active curator of the web and making sure … [Read more...]

All aboard, hippies! Next stop: UMW

It’s official, so I can finally share the good news: this summer I’ll be moving to Fredericksburg, Virginia to work with Lisa Ames, Martha Burtis, Jim Groom, Tim Owens, and Andy Rush as well as an amazing group of faculty, staff, and students at the University of Mary Washington. The DTLT and the people they support are doing really amazing work (UMW Blogs, Domain of One’s Own, DS106, DTLT Today, the ThinkLab makerspace, etc) and I am totally thrilled to join what I consider to be the best damn edtech shop around. I don’t have a whole lot of brainpower at the moment, but I want to take just a second to thank someone who has been an integral part of my getting to this point. To Barbara Sawhill: thank you for all you have done to push, cajole, thwap, and encourage me lo these many years. (Okay, so it’s only been eight years, but I think we’d both agree it feels like longer.) If I have seen further it is by standing on your shoulders, and I am … [Read more...]