March 23rd: Complications With Memorial Sites

Historical sites with memorial connotations are very complicated places for public history. On one hand, they are sites of memory, of emotion, and of education. On the other hand, they are tourist locations meant to entertain and fascinate visitors. New York’s 9/11 museum, for example, fits into both of these categories. The museum works as a memorial site for all those who died during the 9/11 attack; from the monument naming all those who died to the pictures and stories within the museum dedicated to those who died. In this way, it is an emotional memorial site for those affected by the 9/11 attack which shares the memory and teaches others about what happened. However, this museum can also be seen as more of a tourist site. The price of admission is $24 for an adult. This price jumps up to $42 for the guided tour. Whether museums should charge or work off of donations is a separate argument, but these prices certainly seem steep for such an important memorial site. This, along with the museum’s gift shop, complicates the importance of this place as a memorial site. The museum gift shop includes a number of tourist staples, including key chains, magnets, and water bottles, along with toys for kids and even collars for pets. In this way, the museum seems to profit off of the important memorial links of the site, which can be seen as problematic. Thus, while the site does work to share the emotions and memories associated with such an important memorial site, the museum can also be seen as trivializing the traumatic events associated with the site by catering to tourists. 

Places can have different meanings for different people. Some people are more deeply impacted emotionally by the 9/11 memorial museum while others may be there to learn or to sightsee as a tourist. Likewise, other memorial sites can have different meanings, such as the Alabama teen who had to defend her smiling selfie which was meant to be a tribute to her late father. Much like museums, memorial sites seem to have a sort of unwritten code on how to act. However, even more than museums, memorial sites have different meanings for different people, and so people have different feelings on the “proper” ways to act. Some attacked the Alabama teen for smiling and taking a selfie, while others offered her support and encouragement. However, although it was a different sort of memorial, the Auschwitz site still worked as a memorial site for this teen. How one should act at memorial sites get even more complicated when they are encouraged as tourist locations alongside memorial sites. 

November 28th: Abandoning Photogrammetry and Choosing to Map London’s Historic Plaques

If you open this link in a new window and scroll down, you can see screenshots of my photogrammetry test: https://imgur.com/a/fFAaR3w

When I first started thinking about the final project for this course, photogrammetry was something that popped up right away. I thought about the possibilities for museums to not only share pictures of their artifacts, but full models. This could be a huge help for people who are far away, or otherwise unable to visit the museum. I was also inspired by some of my colleagues, who tried photogrammetry apps on their smartphones. Rather than repeat exactly what they did, I chose to use a computer program, Autodesk, and my own digital camera. Autodesk is a program that takes in all of the pictures you take of an object, and turns it into a 3D model. While it usually requires payment, they allow students to use it for free. 

I decided to test it out before committing, and using a proper studio for everything. I set up my brown, wooden table in the middle of my dining room, placed my open wallet on the table (I was curious as to whether the program would be able to get some of the edges of my cards), and got to work taking pictures. While I was able to move around my table easily, I found trying to keep the camera in the same position, while moving it slightly, was very awkward. I definitely changed positions (and thus angles, meaning I am at least partially to blame for the imperfect result) while walking around. In hindsight, I should have set up a circular perimeter around the edge of the table, to give myself a rough sense of where I should be taking pictures from. I also should have been in a wheely chair instead of standing. 

Once I finished taking around 20 photos, making it once around my wallet, I plugged my camera into my computer and uploaded them to Autodesk. Like with the actual taking of photos, this process took longer than I thought, although I shouldn’t be surprised given what the program has to do. The result, as you can see above, was not perfect; I found it surprisingly good, especially considering how I changed angles and didn’t plan out the taking of pictures extremely well. 

However, the imperfect model was not the last of my problems. Autodesk allows for you to edit the model after the fact, filling in holes and cutting away what your object was on. Whenever I tried filling in the gaps in my wallet, the hole and much of the inside of the wallet (where the cards are) was covered up by a weird browny-black colour that neither matched my table nor my wallet. The likely problem here was using a black object with poor lighting, but as I said before, this was a test. I also had an issue with exporting the model, which I don’t believe was my fault (for once). I was able to save my model open it back up in their program for viewing 3D models, Autodesk ReCap Photos (which came with Autodesk, but I believe you can get it separately if you need a program to view models). However, when I tried exporting the file to share, it got rid of all the colours and textures in my model, leaving me with a mess of polygons. I was unable to figure out a way to properly export the model how I saw it. 

Overall, using Autodesk worked out much better than expected. It really was amazing to see the end result so close to what it should have been, given my inexperience taking photos for this sort of thing. I’m sure if I set myself up with better lighting conditions and took my time more in preparing to take the pictures, I could have ended up with a much better model. However, I decided not to continue with this for my final project. 

Instead of photogrammetry, I am using ArcGIS to map out London’s heritage plaques. I was inspired by a number of readings for our other class, especially “What Counts as History in Toronto? Digitally Exploring Toronto’s Heritage Plaques” by Ian Milligan (found here: http://activehistory.ca/2012/08/what-counts-as-history-in-toronto-digitally-exploring-torontos-heritage-plaques/). I was also inspired by the London City Map program, in part because it didn’t have the city’s plaques on it. In fact, I couldn’t find one website with all of London’s plaques on them. I had to browse a few websites, and I’m still not positive I got them all. 

A close-up of London, showing some of the plaques in red (federal) and blue (provincial)

I don’t want to go into too much detail here, as it’s still a work-in-progress. Perhaps once it’s finished, I will add another post with more information. Above, you can see the map I have made. The red squares are the federal plaques, and the blue squares are the provincial plaques. I chose to separate them so that I could choose to analyze them separately and together, to see if there are any stark differences between the two. In the image below, I clicked on point, so that you can see the types of information (category, heritage district, etc.) I will be looking at with my analysis. The map also shows London’s heritage districts, as I was curious to see whether there was any sort of correlation between the plaques and the heritage districts. The main correlation is that many of the plaques, both federal and provincial, are clustered downtown. This is likely because the plaques were meant to be public, seen by all, and perhaps even political, as Paul Litt suggests in “Pliant Clio and Immutable Texts: The Historiography of a Historical Marking Program.” 

A zoomed-out look that shows all of the plaques within London

While I haven’t gotten into analyzing the language of the plaques much yet, I do hope to look into the kinds of words that come up more often in London’s plaques, and compare them to what Ian Milligan found with Toronto’s plaques. In this way, I quickly created a Wordle by copying and pasting the text of the provincial plaques, seen above. The two most common words, “London” and “Canada” show that these plaques could invoke a sense of pride in people for their country and their city. It’s interesting to see that “Western” and “University” are some of the next largest words. Then there are some other common words similar to Milligan’s findings, such as “oldest” and “first.” As I said, though, I haven’t gotten into my analysis much, and this is just to show my work-in-progress.

Nov. 12th: AR and VR in PH (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Public History)

As I look towards my final assignment for the Digital Public History course (wondering what kind of project I could do that is useful for museums), I found this week’s readings on how museums can use VR and AR as a way of engaging with a wider range of visitors very interesting and thought-provoking. I’ve never really thought about how museums not only compete with other history-related activities and learning centres, but also with things like movies, books, and video games in the entertainment industry. An article from The Guardian talked about how museums compete with these products of the entertainment industry in the business of telling a good story. It’s almost unfair to think museums have to compete with these products, given that these products are playing by different rules; video games, books, and movies are all able to manipulate history or use it as a setting for something unrelated or fictional, while museums should strive to share and preserve history as much as possible within their shared stories. Museums have to find new and unique ways to tell their stories in order to gain a wider audience, while also staying true to their history.

A few weeks ago, we spent part of our Public History class analyzing and discussing why people do or do not visit museums. We talked about how there are three types of museum visitors: the frequent visitor, the occasional visitor, and the non-visitor. Overall, we found that those who visited museums less frequently (or not at all) wanted a different kind of experience compared to what museums traditionally offer. Rather than passively reading and looking at objects, these people seek out activities that are more hands-on, and more immersive tours where they can engage with each other throughout. At the time, this reminded me a lot of the Museum Hack website, which specifically markets itself “for people who think they don’t like museums.” Now, these statistics on museums visitors has come up again in this week’s readings. 

I loved reading about how the British Museum turned one of their exhibitions into a digital scavenger hunt, where kids use tablets to seek out certain statues based on their outline and by telling them more about the exhibit and directing them into the next stage of the game. In this way, the museum is able to engage more with children, who are less likely to enjoy merely reading and looking at objects. Instead, they are able to interact with the exhibitions and learn while playing in the museum. Likewise, the CHESS (Cultural Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling) project seemed very interesting to me. It was interesting to read about how they were able to not only create a number of interactive games and tours within one museum, but also have the program become tailored to the individual. This program goes along perfectly with what we read before on the different kinds of museum visitors; a survey before starting the program would allow it to learn what you’re interested in and how you would most enjoy going through the museum. In this way, the program serves as an interactive tour that learns what you like (by noting whether you spend extra time at certain objects) and how you would appreciate the museum most. Part of this project involved digitally restoring lost colours and features of architectural and sculptural remains in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece. While the idea of physically restoring artifacts is problematic in a number of ways (see this article from My Modern Met on a restoration project gone wrong: https://mymodernmet.com/botched-restoration-estella/?fbclid=IwAR3xuCUKVPQKJmXmNROTLoGgyAbjGCMr-tE_am6PXML1a5m53KztNRIIFMY), using technology to give new life to old artifacts is an amazing way to engage with more people. 

The Niagara Falls History Museum had a pilot project which involved the use of AR in one of their galleries. I wasn’t working there while this project was going on, but I did visit one of the exhibits that used AR and got the chance to try it out first-hand. The AR project involved a number of exhibitions, but the one I came in and saw was for Canada’s 150th anniversary, which involved a collection of artifacts from the community. The museum had tablets with an app on it specifically for the AR. Once I entered the gallery, I could see a number of floating cubes on the tablet – one for each artifact on display. Once clicked on, these cubes offered typical object write-ups, along with additional information which sometimes included images or videos from the people who submitted artifacts for the collection. The AR worked really well in this exhibit from a visitor’s point of view by giving new ways to see typical museum information and also expanding and using the AR to give more information. With that being said, there were sometimes issues trying to get the videos to load and play properly. These and other glitches, along with the fact that the program itself was not very user-friendly (programmers had to come in and set everything up when the exhibits changed) are ultimately why the NFHM did not continue with the AR in their exhibits. I suppose that shows the balance museums have to find; they have to cater to more audiences and try to incorporate new features while also finding features that work for them and are not too complicated or too costly.

Oct. 25th: Testing Map Scholar and ArcGIS by Plotting 1812 Forts and Battles

After looking at how to map the past and going through the GIS workshop, I decided to compare and contrast Map Scholar with ArcGIS. Map Scholar is a program from the University of Virginia made freely available to the public to use however. ArcGIS, on the other hand, is a program that requires payment (unless, like me, you’re able to access it through your university). They are both programs that allow the user to create and share geographic stories and information. My personal experience was much better with ArcGIS compared to Map Scholar. Part of this may be due to the fact that our class had a workshop where we learned the basics of ArcGIS, and I was left to learning Map Scholar on my own. However, regardless of the workshop, Map Scholar is a much more complicated and less user-friendly program compared to ArcGIS.

Map Scholar has three different guides, all of which go into different amounts of detail and discuss different aspects of the program. The first guide you see when you click on the “build” section is a developer guide. Below this is the full guide to Map Scholar. However, there is a third guide, the “user guide,” which I could not find on their website and had to google (it was hidden in a different section, away from the “build” menu). In total, these three guides amount to over 45 pages. I admittedly didn’t read through all of that, but I skimmed the parts I thought I needed and had a lot of trouble trying to do what I thought were basic things with Map Scholar. 

It would have been really nice to have some of the information in the guides moved into the actual builder. Once you start working on your map, there is no information or help to be found (except within the external guides). I really wish that Map Scholar told me what certain buttons did, or how to begin, without having to read an entire manual. They do have one area where there is a guide, however, I found that it did not work. 

This is the Map Scholar interface. Here, I was attempting to show the various battles and forts on the map, but the points disappeared anytime I clicked off of the map.

Within the map you are able to add lines, markers, and shapes (see above). I was under the impression that these would stay on your map and become public once you shared your map. However, anytime I added markers or lines, they would disappear as soon as I edited the map in any other way. I managed to save the markers, but when I loaded them the text disappeared, and added a random yellow image near one of my markers (see below). Even after loading them, they would disappear if I clicked anywhere off of the map (like to the right, editing the text or pages of the story map). 

To the right are the various ways you can add text, images, etc. to your project. I was only really able to get the text and images working, although I tried a few other things (like overlaying an image onto the map, which didn’t work).

I had a few other problems, either bugs or issues with the program. While I was editing the details of the map and text (on the right side of the images above), the map would sometimes disappear completely, leaving an empty space on the left. This was fixed by zooming, but it was rather problematic to have happen while trying to edit other aspects of the project. Another problem I had was with uploading images; I got them to work, but when it told me to define the exact sizes, it didn’t seem to work. I was either able to make the images way too big, requiring scrolling to see the full thing, or so small that I had to zoom in to see them properly. 

Finally, when I felt I had done enough to publish as a test, I came across my last problem: it doesn’t tell you how to view or share your project once you publish it. I had to reopen the 3 different guides and search for a way to share them. It turns out that, instead of giving you the link, it wants you to copy and paste the URL for sharing and type in your project number. However, the link they have in their guide has a typo, which took me a few extra minutes to figure out and finally get the link to share my test.

Overall, while some people were able to put together a decent project using Map Scholar, I found it very frustrating. Nothing about the program is intuitive or user-friendly. If you are planning on using Map Scholar, be prepared to dedicate a lot of time towards reading, and even more time towards trial and error when things don’t go quite as they are supposed to. 

As a comparison, I tried to do what I envisioned on Map Scholar using ArcGIS. I found the entire process so much better using ArcGIS. I was easily able to do exactly what I wanted with the map, which was to add markers for some of the forts and battles around Niagara during the War of 1812. I did this by creating a spreadsheet, saving it as a csv, and then uploading the file into my map. It’s a little more work than placing the points down, but it’s more precise (and it actually stays on the map). I was also able to easily find and overlay two early-1800s maps that show the old forts, something I tried for a while but couldn’t figure out with Map Scholar. I was very happy to find adding text on ArcGIS didn’t cause the map to disappear, like with Map Scholar, as well. And finally, when I went to publish my ArcGIS story map, it sent me directly to the published version so I could copy and paste the URL to share (instead of having to dig through the manuals and use some trial and error to figure out how to share). 

Here is the link to my Map Scholar project: http://www.viseyes.org/mapscholar/?2807. There isn’t a lot to see on the map, as my points kept disappearing, and the images and text were just short tests (note how they block the map when opened). Compare that to what I did with ArcGIS here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/547dd798209f4acc835c02df6fb01ac5. ArcGIS has a lot more going on because it was easier and took much less time.

Oct. 10th: Recreating a Historic Township Hall with SketchUp

This week, we looked a lot at digital reproductions, including the option of playing around with SketchUp. SketchUp is an interesting tool, in that it allows someone to create anything from personal belongings to artifacts to buildings to anything one can imagine, really. This past summer, one of my assignments at the Niagara Falls History Museum involved using a lot of SketchUp. First, the curator and I went to the old Willoughby Township Hall where we measured as much of the building as we could and took lots of photographs. My job was to recreate this historic building in SketchUp, essentially creating the best digital reproduction that I could, and then work on populating the inside with various visible/open storage displays. 

SketchUp really tries to make everything as easy as possible for the user. I was able to select either the line tool or the rectangle tool and type out all of the measurements for the floor, walls, doors, windows, etc. and have them easily placed, to scale. However, the program is also very particular; it wants things a certain way, and if you don’t abide by its rules (such as by creating “groups” out of your lines and faces) you could easily mess up the entire project by moving one little line. The image above was a good start, but it was rather bare compared to the actual building. My goal wasn’t just to make a space for museum exhibitions, but to recreate the historic township hall, showing the history inside the building along with the building itself. I ended up watching a lot of Youtube videos on how to make certain things, like the roof, stairs, and windows, and I was able to learn a lot and came up with something quite similar to the actual building.

It isn’t a perfect recreation by any means. While we documented a lot of measurements and features with photographs, certain things, like the height and angle of the roofs, took some guessing. I should also note that this project, either actually working on it or watching videos to learn how to do something with it, took up the majority of my time while working. The two above screenshots were taken in the span of a number of weeks. I feel like a project like this would be an interesting-but-doable final project for our digital history course.

Once I had the building recreated in SketchUp, I started designing example display cases around the perimeter. Thankfully, SketchUp allows users to upload their own creations, which can then be downloaded and used by others. This meant that I was able to download all of the “artifacts” shown in the display cases, rather than having to create them all myself. SketchUp also makes copying and pasting groups easy – there’s a special function that allows any changes you make on one group to affect all of the groups you’ve pasted – and so you can see I cheated a bit by copying some of the display cases, like the one with the guns. 

Overall, I had a lot of fun working with SketchUp this past summer, with both recreating a historic building and turning the interior into an open storage museum exhibition. I’m really interested in what else is possible using SketchUp as a public historian. After I finished everything, I was able to use another tool within SketchUp that allowed me to set my height and walk around the inside of the building; perhaps there is the possibility of recreating and exploring lost buildings and historic sites within SketchUp.

Oct. 5th: Walking Tours and Video Games

Last week, we all went to downtown London and did last year’s historical walking tour to learn more about how walking tours work and get ideas for our own place-based historical project. I had never been on a walking tour before, so it was a really cool experience. We charted the course of the alleged cop-killer, Peg-Leg Brown, who had hopped trains from Georgetown to London. Instead of giving us all the answers, the tour gave us some facts from different sources, like the London Free Press and its liberal counterpart, the London Advertiser. The tour also got into the details behind his trial, questioning the evidence used against him that led to him being hanged. In the end, the tour challenged us to think differently about Peg-Leg Brown, and come to our own conclusions on whether we thought he was innocent or guilty. 

While I haven’t done this kind of historic walking tour before, I have been on various other kinds of tours. For example, I have done a few different types of guided tours at Old Fort Erie, which were similar in nature to the walking tour we went on. The guided tours involved walking around to different sections of the fort and hearing information on the fort’s history, the day-to-day lives of the people on the fort, and, of course, the War of 1812. I was also involved in the Niagara Falls History Museum’s cemetery tours last year, which involved guided tours and portrayals of both well-known and lesser-known people involved in the War of 1812. Like the walking tour, both of these tours worked to challenge the typical way of thinking about certain aspects of history. Old Fort Erie had female soldiers who would talk about how women would dress up as and pretend to be men so they could fight in the war (I remember my guide explaining the situation as being similar to Disney’s Mulan for some of the younger kids in the tour). Likewise, the cemetery tours also portrayed the story of a young girl with many brothers, who pretended to be a boy in order to join a fife and drum corps. I felt like these tours did a good job of making me, and the general public, more aware of the lesser known stories of the War of 1812. Afterwards, I felt challenged to question my assumptions about history, and I hope that the public had a similar attitude.

Since this past class involved discussing video games in digital public history, I also wanted to talk about my experience with the “Discovery Tour” mode of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Before actually starting a tour, I was already learning about the Ancient Greeks. While the game is loading, you are able to scroll through a number of quick facts on Ancient Greece, such as the kinds of goods found at markets, or when and where certain battles were. After it loads, you are able to start one of the many tours offered, which Ubisoft emphasizes were curated with the help of historians. The first tour I did was on the Athenian Acropolis, and I found the form was very similar to a real walking tour. Each tour gives you a path to the next stop, where a narrator will talk to you, offering you more information to read and a picture of an artifact (much like the guidebook we got with the Peg-Leg Brown tour). The tour involved a number of facts on people involved in making the Acropolis, and others who were important for Athens during this time-period. While this tour involved more fact-based learning (ie hearing about the specific people of Athens, what they did, when they lived, etc.), a different tour, one on women in Ancient Greece, was more complicated. This tour involved an interesting look at the historiography of ancient Greek women, making note of how certain things were poorly documented for women compared to men, like the idea of playing outside; the tour mentions how Ancient Greek boys would often play outside, and this is depicted often in writing or art, while the same is depicted very rarely for the girls, even though they were known to do the same. Overall, I found the “Discovery Tour” section of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey very intriguing. Even though I only did a couple of tours, I found them both to be very interesting. The first involved the recreation of amazing buildings and statues now lost or in ruins, accompanied with information on them, while the second tried to offer some interesting and lesser known facts about Ancient Greek women.

Sept. 22nd: Crowdsourcing

This week’s readings, specifically those on crowdsourcing and Transkribus, reminded me of a project I worked on at the Niagara Falls Historical Museum. They have a huge project for volunteers that involves transcribing 59 handwritten ledgers from the 1831 Niagara Falls Museum founded by Thomas Barnett. The ledgers date back to 1838 and span more than 150 years, so there is a lot of work to be done. Currently, the museum sends the digitized files out to their volunteers and allows them to work on transcribing whenever they have time to spare. While reading through the crowdsourcing guide for libraries, I couldn’t help but think how perfect crowdsourcing this project would be. Instead of having to send out the digitized files and check in with their volunteers, they could publicize the pictures and create a platform where anyone could go on and transcribe these ledgers. Some of these ledgers have some very famous signatures (e.g. Sir John A. MacDonald, Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant, and P.T. Barnum), which could be a way of getting the attention of more people. Likewise, there is also the chance that people have family members who would have visited Niagara Falls and signed one of these ledgers, which could also attract more people to help. Right now, the pages that have been transcribed can be searched online.

An example of one of the pages of the ledgers from Thomas Barnett’s museum that has already been transcribed and is available to be searched here: https://niagarafallsmuseums.ca/discover-our-history/barnett-guest-register

I also tried to look into how exactly Transkribus works, and whether it would be applicable for this project. While this project would be complicated for Transkribus (since it has many different handwriting styles), I wondered whether what someone else has “taught” the program (say, someone who has already digitized and transcribed documents written by Abraham Lincoln) could be used by the museum to have his signature transcribed automatically. I couldn’t tell for sure, but what I read made it sound like each person has to train Transkribus to recognize the documents that they are using. It did make me wonder about a universal version of this program; perhaps a mix of crowdsourcing, in that anybody can upload and transcribe any sort of document they want (perhaps even specific words or phrases in their own handwriting), along with the institutional uses that Transkribus has, in order to teach an AI program that can they learn and be used by the masses (instead of keeping the training specific to the person, like Transkribus).

I also found the suggestion for libraries to digitize their images and allow them to be catalogued and described by the public to be very interesting (and also very applicable for the Niagara Falls History Museum). Having gone through the process of digitizing, cataloging, and describing artifacts, I can comment on the large number of hours it takes. Being able to take some of those steps away from the institutional workers, and allow the public to help, allows for employees to spend their time on other projects while also engaging the public and giving them an easy way to volunteer their time. As a more general note after reading through the crowdsourcing suggestions, I did find myself wondering how everything would be moderated, since the article doesn’t really touch on this. Just as with Wikipedia, I’m sure there would be instances of people messing around with crowdsourcing projects (especially in an online setting). How would institutions like libraries and museums make sure that only those legitimately wanting to help are allowed to volunteer via crowdsourcing? I’m sure staff could go over what would be uploaded, but that might take almost as much time as doing the crowdsourced work.

Sept. 13th: The Beginning

Do… or do not. There is no try.

— Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (Yoda)

I’m not the biggest fan of Star Wars (I don’t dislike Star Wars; I just wouldn’t call them my favourite movies), but this quote has recently struck a chord with me as I move from the small town of Fort Erie, and from the much smaller Brock University, to Western. Learning the ins and outs of a new city and new campus has been a bit of a challenge so far, but I feel like I’m adapting well and getting all settled into my new schedule and new life here. This quote acts as a nice reminder for me that I’m already here; I’ve accepted my offer and made my choice not to try, but to do.

I’m both excited and nervous about having to step out of my comfort zone with this digital history course. I feel like I’m proficient when it comes to technology, but part of me knows it would be easier to do new projects with forms of digital history that I am already familiar with. However, a larger part of me knows this is a great learning opportunity and I’m sure I will get a lot more out of learning new programs and projects. I am looking forward to discussing and learning different ways that digital history can be presented, such as the upcoming podcast project. While I’ve recorded and edited videos, I’ve never done any kind of podcast work; I’m hoping the editing process will be similar to what I already know. I find the open-endedness of the final project rather daunting at this point; the fact that we can use almost anything to accomplish whatever we’d like is exciting but also seems problematic at this point. I’m sure that, as we work through this class, something will click for me and I’ll know exactly what I want to do for this project.

When it comes to what I want to accomplish, I didn’t come into this class with a specific project I wanted to learn how to do. Rather, I’m hoping that I can learn a variety of different skills and digital programs to help me as a public historian. However, as I thought about it more, some ideas popped into my head. One thing that I wanted to share is an article that I read last year and saved for future reference, which has always stuck with me; My Modern Met’s article “Animated GIFs ‘Reconstruct’ Famous Ancient Ruins Around the World” (found here: https://mymodernmet.com/ancient-monuments-animated-gifs-expedia/?fbclid=IwAR313CmUu4p0n2OhzhkmNflFKZnrxGfjm5IcJDjH1pXeYJnkU6mgRk9bzJw) shared such a cool project that I had to save it on my computer. I love the fact that this can help bring back ancient history that has been lost to us. I’m very interested in ancient history, and I learned a lot about ancient wonders that are no longer around to see. Finding a way to bring them back using digital history would be an amazing project for me; I’m not positive exactly how I want to go about doing this, but I’m sure some of the assignments in this class will guide me towards accomplishing this goal (perhaps even as my final project for this class)

Two great examples of digital history games that I immediately thought of were the two most recent Assassin’s Creed games. As I said earlier, I’m very into ancient history, so when Ubisoft came out with Assassin’s Creed Origins (which takes place in Egypt, 1st century BCE) and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Greece, 5th century BCE) came out, I had to see how they were combining digital and public history. Overall, the games both create a historical setting that feels very real, while the stories and characters in the games are more loosely based on primary sources. The games both truly shine as works of digital public history in their “discovery tour” modes. These modes ignore Ubisoft’s crafted story and combat and instead share an educational tour of their recreation of Egypt with information on historically accurate people, places, and events that happened. Anyway, I could (and likely will) talk more about this in another post or project, so I’ll leave it at this: I really wish I could have been a part of the creation of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and hope that I can perhaps accomplish something similar within this class.

There was one last thing I wanted to add to the this week’s post in relation to our discussion in class. Tim asked how to best get children engaged and interested in museums, and I was thinking a lot about that in reference to the museums I’ve worked at. While it depends on the child, I feel that one way to increase the change of children enjoying themselves at a museum is to have exhibits which they can interact with. While museum exhibits are generally meant for looking at and reading, I have seen some great interactive exhibits that both children and adults have loved. The Niagara Falls History Museum had an exhibit that was largely meant for children on different holidays from around the world, and the whole exhibit was interactive. They had a combination of musical instruments, card and video games, and all sorts of other tangible pieces that taught the children about other cultures. The Willoughby Historical Museum has two interactive artifacts on display: a loom and an old telephone and switchboard. Both adults and children loved coming in and learning how both of these artifacts worked, but the children would always be especially amazed at how the process of calling someone worked back before modern telephones. I know that making interactive displays is often difficult, but in my experience it has worked well to pique the interest of kids who otherwise may have been uninterested in our museum.

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