Itinera

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    Sisterhood

    Sisters Mary and Agnes Berry, daughters of Robery Berry, born in Britain only 14 months apart, naturally had an insepreable bond. Their mother passed away when they were quite young in childbirth, and so did what would have been their third sister. Their fathers story is tragic, in that 18th century kind of way, his Uncle left all his money and estate to Robert's younger brother, William, because Robert had failed to create a male heir (of course)! Mary did not forget this, she wrote, "For many years afterwards," she could not of the will, "without my blood boiling in my veins, and lamenting that I had not been present to support and reply for my father," (Journals and Correspondance of Miss Berry). Although Mary did not need to stay for long in Britain lamenting this disrespect because in 1783 she convinced her father to give up thier house in London and travel abroad, fullfilling Mary's lifelong dream of fleeing British society. In Naples she was invited to the court of Caroline, daughter of the Austrian Empress Maria Thersea and Emperor Joseph II, in Rome she was presented to the Pope, and on following trips she conversed with famous mathmetician Pierre Simon Laplace and personally met Napoleon Bonaparte. The sisters travelled to "the Continent" together nine times in their life before their death only months apart.

    Today, I must choose what I would like to research with the VMW this semester, to help build a web of knowledge about the Grand Tour. My choice is simple-- women who travelled-- exploring thier world and educating themselves. Miss Berry never married but instead dedicated herself to being a role model for her sister and guide to her father (and not the other way around). She is an impressive women, whose adventures in Europe deserve a chance to be documented and logged into the world of Itinera! It is my little way of supporting sisterhood. 

    Categories: 
    • Agency
    • Mobility/Exchange
    • Current Projects
    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW
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    Unicode test issue 

    Testing the unicode

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    Visual Media Workshop Fall Newsletter

    Whether you are interested in one of our longer term collaborative research projects, primarily use the lab for short-term support for your own work, or are just curious about what’s happening, you will find that we are an interactive team interested in a variety of cultural questions and embedded in the dynamic interplay between the humanities and information science.

    Constellations Website [www.constellations.pitt.edu]: This year, all the grads in the lab are encouraged to post their thoughts on their current work every two weeks on the Constellations Website.  Feel free to browse through our work, and be sure to check out Katie’s “Knitting Subjectivity” post, an insightful comparison between knitting and the Bertillon system. 

    Decomposing Bodies [http://bodies.haa.pitt.edu]: The VMW team and Josh Ellenbogen continue to collaborate on Decomposing Bodies, cataloging and data scraping thousands of identification cards collected last fall at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus, Ohio. These cards are artifacts of the “Bertillonnage” criminal identification system, developed by Alphonse Bertillon in Paris, and a popular method of criminal systemization and identification in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  The Decomposing Bodies team is also actively brainstorming ideas for a future exhibition.  Alison, Josh, Aisling, and Jen plan to make another research trip to Columbus in January of next year.

    Itinera [http://itinera.pitt.edu]: The Itinera project, a collaboration between the VMW team and Drew Armstrong, maps culturally-motivated travel.  Beginning with eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European travel, Itinera continues to expand into new geographic and temporal networks. Presently, the Itinera team is developing a set of standards that would allow a wider set of researchers to contribute data to the project.  As Itinera opens to a broader spectrum of travel, and our network becomes denser and more complex, more inter-related opportunities emerge.  For example, Jen’s work on Alexander von Humboldt expands the body of European travelers into networks within nineteenth-century South America and Russia.  

    Bunker-Haskins: In order to provide scholars digital access to the Bunker-Haskins slide collections, we have been working on configuring an instance of ResourceSpace, an open source digital asset management platform.  A key objective of this project involves enabling user-contributed metadata by subject specialists to enhance resource discovery, but users will also be able to download digital images, create collections, and more.  

    Network Ontologies [http://www.networkontologies.org]: Scholars from all over the country will convene at the University of Pittsburgh on November 21 and 22 for a workshop entitled, "Network Ontologies in the Early Modern Period," co-sponsored by a number of local and regional groups. The aim of this workshop will be to share experiences implementing data ontologies in digital humanities projects, such as our own Itinera, and to develop a metadata structure that would then support the interoperability of these networks over the long term.

    Undergrad Activities:  The work-study students in the lab have been very productive on a number of different projects.  Linda and Leah are digitizing the Bunker-Haskins slides and researching a crowd-sourcing space that would allow experts in the field to contribute descriptions.  Linda has also been scanning images to support teaching, including the ongoing project to catalog all of the images from Terry Smith’s textbook, Contemporary Art: World Currents. Dan does a little bit of everything and anything.  He is currently preparing videos on printmaking for the art gallery, working on code for the digital humanities website, and transcribing criminal identification cards for Decomposing Bodies.

    Grad Activities: Aisling, Jen, Katie, and Christie collaborate on several projects in the lab.  Aisling begins her second year working in the lab with a variety of responsibilities, including the supervision of the undergraduate students digitizing and organizing facets of the HAA slide collection and pursuing a new project related to the "Images of Medieval Art and Architecture" website [http://www.medart.pitt.edu].  Jen has been working on editing and standardizing Itinera data and expanding Itinera’s geographic network to include Alexander von Humboldt’s voyage to South America.  She is also researching Bertillon furniture with the hope of reconstructing the measuring apparatus and creating an interactive component for the potential exhibition. Everyone contributes to research on Itinera as well as a bi-weekly sprint cataloging the criminal identification cards collected during last fall’s trip to the Ohio History Connection.  In addition to Decomposing Bodies, Katie is contributing to the Bunker-Haskins Resource Space.  Christi’s projects include creating a digital space for the History of Art and Architecture Department to collaborate on pedagogy, providing social media maintenance for both the VMW and the Department of HAA, and assisting Kirk Savage with a research project.

    HAA Twitter feed: Follow the Department of the History of Art and Architecture on Twitter! Find us at https://twitter.com/haapitt

    The Digital Research Ecosystem at Pitt: The VMW exists as part of a larger ecosystem, extending beyond the HAA department, and even beyond the campus-wide DHRX [www.dhrx.pitt.edu], to the national conversation about the changing profile of the humanities in the age of digital hyperproduction. The VMW has evolved into a unique hub of cross-disciplinary energy, where students, faculty, and staff of all levels can engage not only with digital tools, but equally, with each other. 

     

    Categories: 
    • Decomposing Bodies
    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • Graduate Work
    • Faculty Work
    • VMW
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    Itinera News!

    In the coming weeks, I will be producing a new set of standardized instructions for entering data into Itinera, as well as updating the older data to comply with these new insructions.  Key changes include the way we will handle agents, tours, and tour stops going forward.  Work on Itinera has discovered that the boundary of a "tour" is actually quite fluid, and the fact that a particular agent is stationary on one tour does not mean that he or she will not travel in a later tour entered by a future Itinera researcher.  Therefore each agent entered into Itinera will receive a tour and every life event a tour stop.  This opens opportunities for future development, including the development of a module in which the research is able to enter in informtation for moving objects as well as people.  As more users add their research to Itinera, new researchers can build on the research of their predecessors by expanding and developing existing agents.  

    There is also interest in using Itinera to research the broader spectrum of travel.  Presently, Itinera deals with European travelers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  My work on Alexander von Humboldt amd Aimé Bonpland extends Itiera into South America and Russia.  Drew Armmstrong is interested in extending Intinera into the 20th century with the travels of Le Corbusier.  The hope is that, with clear input standards, more and more researchers will find Itinera to be a useful tool.  As our network becomes denser and more complex, more inter-related opportunities will emerge.

    Categories: 
    • Mobility/Exchange
    • Itinera
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    Alexander von Humboldt's and Aimé Bonpland's South American Voyage

    Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland expressed the intent of their voyage was to discover how the "forces of nature intersect upon one another and how the geographic environment influences plant and animal life."  They hoped to  "find out about the unity of nature."  The voyages and their "discoveries" did not necessarily uncover new knowledge, but rather interpreted the knowledge of the South American continent and made it legible to a European audience.  This becomes clear after closer anayslis of the networks of Humboldt's and Bonpland's South American travel companions, some named and some unnamed.  Humboldt and Bonpland, ensconced in the global legibility of nature, attempted to make the world visible and readable to an audience of both European specialists and armchair explorers.  Thus the product of the voyage was a series of presentations and 22 publications between 1805 and 1834.  Humboldt's publications can be divided into 5 subject catagories, survey measurements. botany, plant geography, zoology, and travel.  Most of the publications were published in French and some in German, and many immediately translated into English. Each topic reframed the inofmraiton for either a specific specialsit or general audience.

    The challenge of putting Humboldt and Bonpland into Itinera is limits.  The voyage proper begins and ends in Paris, but Humboldt also travels to and from Berlin before and after the voyage.  These European trips add a level of complexity to Humboldt's network.  The first stage of the project will consider the major stages of the trip between departure and arrival in Paris, but a later stage of hte project could consider the Berlin and Italian voyages of Humboldt and his companions.  Antoher roadblock is the extensive nature of Humboldt's social network, which was vast.  Selections will have to be determined on the basis of what networks are most useful to the project.

    Categories: 
    • Mobility/Exchange
    • Visual Knowledge
    • Itinera
  • FE-R students at their final presentations

    FE-R students Marybeth and Wawa, with Alex and Alison Langmead from the VMW

     

    First in Research Final Presentations

    From 4:30 - 6 pm yesterday, the WPU Assembly room was a zoo: 240 students, 51 faculty mentors, all their posters, laptop computers, and spiral-bound books of abstracts. The First In Research students' final presentations were awesome! Very impressive work by everyone. We loved having Marybeth and Wawa work with us this semester on Itinera. Art History also had teams working with Gretchen Bender and Jennifer Josten on challenging tasks: deepening the readings for intro to world art and modelling the locations of paintings in a 3D space. Congrats everyone!

    Categories: 
    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW
    Tags: 
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    The Beginning of the End

    This is my last time in lab before our presentations next Thursday.  (Everyone should totally come to the WPU Assembly Room to see all of the FER presentations on 4/17 from 4:30-6!)  It's really weird to think that today might have been my last time logging into Itinera.  My freshman year is ending, and it's overall just a really weird feeling.  It's even worse when I think about how I will be in Tanzania in a month and France in a year.  Everyone says college moves so fast and its so true.  Maybe that's true because the summer starts in April...

    Regardless, I have learned so much from working with Alison and Alex in the VMW.  I've learned so much about the digital humanities and history.  I never really thought about how people write history, a conversation Alex and I had today, or what research really is until I stepped into this lab.  I learned a lot about what specifically is data and the many ways it can be inputted.  I, of course, learned about the Grand Tour, but I am also leaving with tons of "transferrable skills," as Dr. Streeter put it.  Overall, this has been such a great experience, and I'm glad I cam to this lab.  Hearing my friends' horror stories from other labs, especially science related ones, I'm ecstatic that I was lucky enough to particpate to fully in the project.  I can't believe that this, and my freshman year, are ending--it's been great!

    Categories: 
    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW
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    So Long, Farewell, auf wiedersehen, good bye.... :(

         Humanities, usually has the the bad rep of being easy and lacking in innovation and necessary mental capabilities. Society contrasts humanities with both math and science. They say that unlike, math and science, humanities does not take much effort anad doed not necessarily build on prior knowledge. Well, for everything we've learned in the digital humanities this semester, I can honestly say, society has it all wrong. I believe society expects humanities (essentially the study of human nature and social science) to be flawed because humans are flawed. But society forgets that in order to go forward, we must learn from the mistakes and build on the feats of our predecessors. Itinera, I have come to believe, is an ongoing feat and testament to the curiosity and ability of mankind. We continue every single day to build on what was once just an idea.

         I am absolutely honored to say that I got to work on itinera. I learned a lot about myself, more about computers and a lot more about the nature of people. Most of all, I've learned that opportunities are endless when it comes to making yourself more aware of the world, whether its synthesizing information on a travel phenomenon or actually traveling to supplement a classical education. Life is full of surprises and no matter what your current skill set, you can always adapt to the world around you through curiosity and genuine willingness to learn. 

        Thank you to everyone on the Itinera team. I'm sad that it's almost the last week. I hope to see you all around sometime. 

    Categories: 
    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW
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    pass 1 and pass 2 of work flow timed test

     Last week we discussed work flow and the most efficient way to get the most done possible. So we tested ourselves to find out how much work we could do in a specific amount of time, and if we encountered any problems while doing our timed test. Some of the problems we encountered were the inability to track pieces of artwork, not understanding abbreviations that are no longer used, and how to identify a relationship between two people. We attempted to talk through these issues and did come up with a few solutions. 

    The work flow was almost on target. Alex asked that we complete about 10 letters and input them into itinera, and Marybeth and I had almost 10 letters done in 1 hour and a half. The second pass was very quick, since we were now used to disciplining ourseloves to NOT search up a picture of each peprson, and find out what their whole name was, and pretty much NOT do any research. The more we did, the quicker it got. 

    Categories: 
    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW
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    A Working Title

    In lab last Friday, we had a tour stop meeting.  At the meeting, we discussed the issues we were having when making tour stops, and how best to fix those issues.  After mulling over the conversation for a few days, I am still left with the impression that we could not figure out the answers to the majority of our issues. For awhile, I was pretty confused as to why all of these questions were left unanswered.  Then, I realized that we were working on these tourstop issues kind of how I approach cleaning my room. I take everything out of its place, make a huge mess, and then I start putting everything back in its place.  This is exactly what we were doing.  We discussed the problems, and possible solutions, but tourstops are nowhere near dealt with.  Its kind of like how I tell my mom my mess is a "working mess," and everything is always a work in progress.

    Categories: 
    • Itinera
    • Undergraduate Work
    • VMW

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