Finishing up the Site!

I realized that I haven’t blogged a progress report here for a couple weeks–we have split up the progress reports for our group so that each week, one person will post. This process is hopefully making it easier for our virtual CA classmates to keep up with us. I’ll link here to our progress reports from the past two weeks:

Post-Draft Update: UMW and Homepage (April 5, 2014)

Look how far we’ve come! (March 30, 2014)

Essentially, we have made great progress, and the polished first versions of both of are sites are complete. We definitely still have some playing around to do with formatting and aesthetics, citations (still figuring out the footnote placement), etc. Our biggest news for this week is that thanks to the awesome Ryan Brazell, we have been able to embed our interactive map into a WP page! Other than that, we just have some kinks to work out and editing to do. I’m really happy with how everything has come out so far!

Impact of Digital History 2.0

I previously made a post about today’s readings for the COPLAC portion of this class, which can be found here.

However, I did also skim Sherman Dorn’s article, as Dr. McClurken suggested, and I am quite fascinated with what he has to say, and I think Dorn makes some intriguing points about digital history. I really like how he frames digital history as yet another historiographical development that contributes to the development of the field–an astute observation, and one that I had not considered. Digital history has definitely added a new dimension to the field, especially because the question still remains about reliability, source citations, etc. I also like how he points out the breadth and depth of various digital history projects, especially the extent to which they make an argument. This point rings particularly relevant to me because it is something that I have encountered in the COPLAC portion of this class. Some of my virtual classmates are going for creating an online archive, while others like Julia, Candice, Jack, and I are creating an exhibit. It’s interesting to see how each of us interpreted the Century America project and what we have done with it. And even then, the “exhibits” that we are creating are more along the lines of narrative history, rather than history that makes an explicit academic argument like you might find in a monograph.

Commodification of Information

Out of all of the articles for class, two really resonated with me.1 The first was “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr. I found it extremely ironic but wildly appropriate that as I was reading, the page was loaded with ads and links to other pages–the same kinds of distractions that he talks about. It was interesting to read about how the Internet is actually changing the way we think because I never thought it would have that much of an impact. I had no idea how malleable our minds could be. That being said, I think part of the problem here goes beyond the fact that it’s changing the way people read and process information: it seems that no one is making an effort to counteract that, for which I think the blame should partially be laid on people–not the Internet. I have always loved reading and been an avid reader. I do spend a lot of time on the Internet now, but I make a concerted effort in my free time (AKA the summer) to read a lot of books, do crossword puzzles, and spend less time on the Internet. If you aren’t doing anything to try and maintain your ability to read normal novels, then of course you are going to lose that ability. (I do realize that people–myself included–are not aware of the profound effect that the Internet has on their way of processing information. This issue is not simply solved; nevertheless, I still maintain that we are part of the problem. The Internet is too.)

Like Carr, I am extremely unsettled by Google’s assertion that we might be greatly improved by artificial intelligence, or if our brains were completely replaced by artificial intelligence. The thought alone is scary. Intelligence is simply not that simple–you can’t replace it in one fell swoop. There are several different kinds of intelligence (8, according to Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory) and I truly believe that no artificial intelligence could completely embody any one of them, let alone multiple ones or a combination of some. It could perhaps come close with the logical-mathematical intelligence, but otherwise, no. Our minds are complex and each one is unique–there is absolutely no way that supplementing or replacing our brains with artificial intelligence could improve the way we think (unless the goal here is to process information like a machine–personally, I would rather not do that). AI would have to be extremely versatile and malleable to be able to adapt to each different person’s mind because, as Carr points out, our minds themselves are malleable, forever changing. I have very strong feelings on this topic, but I will leave my ranting to a minimum and simply end by saying No.

I am also not very comfortable with Google’s view of information as a commodity–I think it takes away much of the value of the information and the work that goes in to creating it. I’m having a difficult time articulating my feelings on this topic, but I will do my best. I suppose I feel so strongly about this because I really value learning, especially the process of learning. I don’t care much for some of the end results of learning (AKA tests), but others I thoroughly enjoy, like books. To think that information is a commodity somehow cheapens it, and it completely eliminates the wonderful learning process, and you miss the rich surrounding context. As a commodity, I suppose information still has value, but it’s a different value. It has a value for people/organizations like Google, because it gives them meaning. But it loses intangible values. (At the same time, I do wonder if one day, when information has become so much of a commodity, that somehow the tidbits of information that are not commodified will be extremely valuable–priceless–much the same way the commodification course has gone with nature.)

All of the above being said, I find some aspects of data mining interesting. The “Mining the Dispatch” site was fascinating, especially for the trends it shows. What makes these results valuable, though, is understanding the context in which they exist, as Dan Cohen alludes to in his piece about Google N-Grams (which, incidentally, I also think are very cool–if you have the context). I think these tools are wonderful ways to discover and visualize trends throughout history and aid us in understanding and representing history to the fullest extent possible, but they should not replace the physical research we do with books and archives, and they definitely should not be pursued or employed without proper context.2

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1. I would like to note that I read all of the articles for class, but am choosing to blog about the ones about which I feel most strongly.

2. Random thoughts about the other readings: I like how sassy–for lack of a better word–Dan Cohen is in his piece about N-Grams. And as per Turkel’s piece, I can’t believe people actually want to know the history of all those topics–shaving legs? Really?

My Digital Portfolio

My digital portfolio is finished for the most part! Aesthetically, I still have a couple elements that I would like to alter. You can view my digital portfolio here.

I chose the Matheson theme because it is sleek and simple–a great place for me to showcase my academic and professional work. The homepage of my digital portfolio is a short “About Me” section. I originally wanted to have separate About and Home pages, but I realized there wasn’t much I could say on the Home page that I wouldn’t also be saying on the About page. Next I have my complete CV online. I am working on making it available as a PDF in addition to the web page. I want to change some of the formatting, but this page was simple to create.

I wanted to showcase my academic/research experience and my archives/museum experience, so I decided to create two separate pages for these. I would like to add a list of courses that I have taken at UMW onto the Academic page, because at the moment it only lists my major research projects. I think that providing a list of other courses I have taken, in which I have done smaller research projects and papers, will give a more comprehensive view of my experience and work. Next, my Archives/Museum page details my experiences in these areas. I would like to elaborate a but more on my experiences, because right now it looks essentially the same as my “Experience” section on my CV. I’d like to add more material to both, so that visitors can get a better idea of what I’ve been working on.

EDIT: After much consideration, I decided to switch from Matheson to a different theme so that I wouldn’t have to worry about finding an appropriate header picture that I wanted to appear on every single page of my digital portfolio. My portfolio’s current theme is Preference Lite, which I really love because of the colored menu bar! I don’t have to worry about finding an image, and the menu bar adds a splash of color, but isn’t overwhelming.

Digital Identities

The three sites I looked at for this assignment are: Digital Tattoo, Dr. McClurken, and Caitlin Murphy.  The following are lessons about digital identity that I have learned from these pages, hopefully in some semblance of order.

1. Until this class, I’d never considered a digital identity beyond the scope of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. So for most of my digital life, I have always thought of a digital identity as something intimately and exclusively connected to my social life–an “informal” life, if you will. After attending some Domain of One’s Own workshops and looking at Dr. McClurken’s and Caitlin Murphy’s pages, it dawned on me that you can also have a professional digital identity, something on the web for employers to discover besides your Facebook profile (or, God forbid, your MySpace page). I have always tried to be judicious and thoughtful about what I post on social media, in order to control that aspect of my digital identity, but it never even occurred to me that I could construct the professional side of my digital identity–something that I would want potential employers to find.

2. On the topic of being selective about what I (and others) contribute to my social digital identity, the amount of stupid and/or illegal things that people publish on their own digital profiles never ceases to amaze me. While browsing Digital Tattoo, I came across an article about a ridiculously stupid trend called “Neknomination.” Basically someone drinks an obscene amount of alcohol, posts a video of it on YouTube and other social media, and challenges someone else to do the same thing on an even more dangerous and ludicrous level. The viral nature of this trend is enhanced by people’s desire to get “likes” and to become virtually famous. I guess the lesson here (that I am fortunately already aware of, but this article truly underscores) is to not put immature, dangerous and/or illegal material online that could tarnish your digital identity.

3. Additionally, just as your real-world identity does not solely consist of you, neither does your digital identity. It also consists of the people, organizations, institutions, etc. with whom you engage online. The Neknomination fad is strongly connected to digital peers, according to Digital Tattoo: “Students may feel pressure from their friends and cohorts to participate, as those who do not accept the challenge or who do not outperform their nominator, risk losing face among their peers.” Even if you don’t rise to the challenge, per se, a tag, like, or comment on a Neknomination video/post goes onto your digital record. Just as you should be careful in choosing your real-life friends and associates, you should also carefully construct the friends and other entities that are connected to your digital identity.

4. Another interesting lesson I learned from Digital Tattoo was the extent of my, or anyone else’s, digital identity, or what they call a “digital dossier.”  DT’s page and video about digital dossiers points out that your digital identity is created before you even get online, which I think is especially true today, and it lives on after your death. I see countless mothers, young and old, posting pictures of their children on Facebook and other social media, creating a digital identity for their children before the kids even know what a computer or the internet is. The purchases you make online, medical and other records filed on you (behind hopefully secure barriers), any websites you may use, all contribute to your digital identity. Even after death, online obituaries, condolences, and memorials further add to your digital identity. Until visiting this page on DT, I had never realized just how much makes up someone’s digital identity, and how it is partially out of your control (what happens before and after your internet life).

5. The above point being said, Dr. McClurken’s and Caitlin Murphy’s profiles highlight the amount of control that you do have in constructing and enhancing your digital identity, and just how much better the web may be for a resume/portfolio (depending on the person, of course). For example, Caitlin’s digital resume is perfect for her interests in photography and video: she can easily display her work for friends, employers, and anyone else who may stumble upon her site. Additionally, even though photography and video may seem like hobbies to some, Caitlin’s site allows her to present her interests in a professional manner. Dr. McClurken’s site conveniently keeps all of his professional experiences in one place–something that would probably be an absolute pain and an environmental threat to the trees if it had to be examined in physical paper form. Looking at these two sites, and also considering my ever-increasing involvement in the digital world (professional and social), I am quickly realizing the advantage of having a digital resume as part of my digital identity. I honestly hate including web addresses on my CV (they take up space and probably divert attention), so it seems like a digital resume will be the perfect solution for me! I will, of course, keep my regular CV as well.

Impact of Digital History

The first article I read about the impact of digital history on the field of history was by none other than our very own Dr. McClurken. The first thing that struck me from this article was how much digital history, and digitization in general, has changed classroom teaching. Without the perspective of more than 21 years, all I have ever known in conducting serious archival research is having many materials available online, searchable catalogues, and occasionally photocopies or reproductions. I kid you not, my mouth dropped to the floor when I read that he used transparencies to show students nineteenth-century handwriting. Transparencies!!! That just boggles my mind, and I think really highlights how much digital history has changed the classroom. I also didn’t realize how much a dependency on digital history and its materials can cripple a class, if user interfaces, urls, or accessibility change. I definitely have to agree with Dr. McClurken that the relationship between the college classroom, and I would even say academia in general, and archives is mostly Web 1.0. From what I have seen with the digitization projects I’ve worked on, right now it’s all about actually just getting everything digitized and putting it up online, making it accessible. Oftentimes, little to no thought is given to how the accessibility of these great collections will be promoted. However, I would say that some institutions are definitely taking the dive into the ocean of social media and handling it pretty well! I am most familiar with the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and I know that SIA has a pretty active Facebook page, which can be found here. SIA makes at least one post a day, that highlights an item or items in its collections, and they usually try to make it relevant to current events. SIA’s blog, The Bigger Picture, also updates at least once a day with relevant content–right now SIA is posting a lot of content about collections related to women in science, in honor of Women’s History Month. Beyond Facebook, though, SIA isn’t really present on other social media platforms, and I hope that this fact will soon change. As much as some people look down on social media, there is no denying that Facebook, Twitter, etc. reach an incredible number of people, and institutions could reach a much wider audience if they embraced social media more. (I do realize that the issue is not that simple–there are many other things to consider when getting involved in social media, like Who tweets? Do they have to be approved by someone? Do you follow back people? Are you endorsing the people who follow you? Etc.) Part of Dr. McClurken’s point, though, is that this relationship is between the classroom/academia and the archives, and as we all (hopefully) know, a healthy relationship is a two-way street. So it can’t just be the archives who are embracing the social media and putting themselves out there. The classroom and academia must also embrace these social media platforms, which I think is part of the problem, particularly for the older, more “traditional” members of this field. Some historians cannot see past the social “mob” aspect of social media and cannot grant the platforms value. My own advisor seemed incredulous to discover that students use Twitter for classes. For a young person like myself, social media makes sense as a vehicle for establishing a relationship between archives and classrooms, but for someone who didn’t grow up with social media, I can understand how it can be overlooked.

Dr. McClurken also mentioned crowdsourcing, which I won’t go into detail explaining–rather, I will link to a current example of a digital history crowdsourcing project: the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Many of the SI museums/archives have contributed digitized materials to this project for the general public to transcribe. You can browse by theme or museum. (Dr. McClurken, there is a Civil War diary in there if you haven’t seen it yet! I haven’t looked at it, but I know it is a popular project.)

The second article I read was from the crowsourcing chapter in Writing History in the Digital Age (2011), and it is about digital history and black Confederate soldiers. I really like the article’s emphasis on using digital history to help democratize the discipline, without sacrificing accuracy. For many people history is an almost esoteric discipline–they can’t grasp its functions and advantages, how it works, what is “true,” etc. (For the record, I believe there is no such thing as historical truth.) I think using the internet for displaying historical materials and research is a great step towards involving more people in history and expanding historical knowledge. And, like all good historians, Madsen-Brooks emphasizes that we still have to be critical of the information we find online. She delves into a discussion about “historians” and who historians are, which I think is an interesting consideration but somewhat of a moot point. Just because you aren’t a certified, PhD in history doesn’t mean you can’t make a valuable contribution of knowledge to the field. History isn’t limited to one discipline–it is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary at its best. Anyways, Madsen-Brooks’ cautionary tale against content on the internet is great, because it truly is something that we have to take into careful consideration–and the same goes for print sources as well. I think her analogy at the end of the article is a nice description of where the digital history field should go/is going: historians are the “guide[s] on the side,” helping to guide others engaging in history, teaching them how to think critically about their sources and analyze their information.1 Nevertheless, I see no problem with historians also taking center stage and making their own significant contributions, which can help guide and further inspire those engaging in history. The lesson for me from this article was that “the masses” are slowly infiltrating the field of history–which I don’t think is a bad thing–and that now more than ever, we need to be critical of our sources and information. The crowd can make valuable contributions to history. Maybe they can do simple things like transcribing, or maybe they can do analysis, who knows. Even if the analysis is inaccurate, we can still learn valuable lessons from them. For example, the Confederate records that Madsen-Brooks discusses highlight the difficulty of interpreting some primary sources and the different definitions of “soldier” that people hold today and held during the Civil War. Inaccuracies may bring to light new angles of a topic to consider. I’m not trying to say we should all go out and write wildly inaccurate pieces about history with reckless abandon–I am simply stating that there is a silver lining to this dark cloud of inaccuracies in democratized history that seems to be looming over some historians’ heads.

Also, here is a paragraph about the value of crowdsource projects like Wikipedia from my other digital history blog: “I also have another comment to add to our conversation about Wiki and its validity/usefulness.  Because Wiki is such a high-traffic site, the Smithsonian museums are making an effort to contribute to Wikipedia, by editing pages related to Smithsonian museums and collections, or creating the pages, adding links that will direct visitors to the appropriate SI site, thus increasing traffic to their own websites.  I attended an SI meeting that talked extensively about this process, and I found it fascinating!  It really is a great way to increase site traffic, because Wikipedia is such a popular site, and it’s also just a great way to get the word out about things and contribute to public knowledge.  It’s also really cool, because I think it shows how the perception of Wikipedia has evolved over time, and people are slowly beginning to realize that maybe it isn’t so bad after all.  It can be a source of valuable information, if the “right” people are creating and editing the pages.  A leading research and museum institution, the Smithsonian, hires what they call Wikipedians-in-Residence to create and improve SI-related content!  The Wikipedians-in-Residence and their associated SI units also occasionally host edit-a-thons, where they marathon-edit pages on a given subject to improve content and link to SI sites/collections.  Really cool concept!  You can read more about one specific WIR here!”

Disclaimer: The featured image from this blog post is from Virginia Tech’s Digital History Reader, which can be found here

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1. Leslie Madsen-Brooks, “‘I nevertheless am a historian’: Digital Historical Practice and Malpractice around Black Confederate Soldiers” in Writing History in the Digital Age: A Born-Digital, Open Review Volume, edited by Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, http://writinghistory.trincoll.edu/crowdsourcing/madsen-brooks-2012-spring/ (accessed March 5, 2014).

Wikipedia: Better than You Think

I remember going through my high school years, and my teachers constantly said, “Don’t use Wikipedia! Wikipedia is not a valid source!”  We were supposed to avoid Wikipedia like the plague, and I understand where my teachers were coming from–however, at the same, I never really understood all the hoopla about how terrible Wikipedia was.  To me, it seemed like a good place to get basic information on subjects.  Not analysis, but information.  To this day, I use Wikipedia very frequently, and I use it for academic purposes.  I used it to locate primary and secondary sources for my thesis.  I think a lot of people, and those in academia especially, are very wary of Wikipedia because it is something for “the masses” and can be edited by anyone, and the articles on Wikipedia do not clearly come from academic sources (but I’m willing to bet that many people in academia have made contributions to Wikipedia).

A lot of the suspicion also stems from a lack of understanding of the extensive monitoring/editing/quality control process that Wikipedia has.  Honestly, I did not even know how extensive this process was until I watched the TED talk video, and I have even more respect for the work that Wikipedia does than I did before.  I looked at three different Wikipedia pages and their histories: Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, Barack Obama, and Cat.

Generally speaking, the history pages are enlightening in that you can see how often pages are edited and get an idea of the quality control work that Wiki editors do.  However, I honestly had a very difficult time following the history pages–they are like a foreign language to me.  I’m sure someone more familiar with Wiki work can understand them, but I felt like I was looking at gibberish.  That being said, I understand that the gibberish clues us into how much is going on in these articles and the variety of changes that an editor may make to a page.  I think the “History” function is really great because users can see just how much Wiki cares about having quality articles, and most of the people online care for the same thing.  It is also just really cool to see how pages have evolved over time!  For example, the very first version of the “Cat” article (November 9, 2001) has almost no information in it, compared to how extensive the article is today.  The article today is extremely informative and is a good example of how Wiki’s diligence has created quality articles.

I picked the Barack Obama article because I was hoping to come across some amusing troll edits, but the gibberish overwhelmed me, and I gave up pretty quickly.  I did find one feature that I thought was a troll, but that turned out to be true–apparently President Obama won a Grammy!  It was for Best Spoken Word Album.  I have always associated the Grammys with celebrity Hollywood artists, so I was extremely surprised to find that he does, in fact, have a Grammy, and I had not successfully found a troll change to the Obama page.

However, I already knew that troll edits (at least, I hope it was a troll…) had been made to the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire page, because I had actually visited the page on December 9, 2013 (yep, I was writing a final paper for a history course, and I needed dates) and experienced this misinformation first hand.  You can take a gander at the “edits” here, but I will post the relevant paragraph here to save time (and clicks):

“The mexican conquest of the Aztec Empire was one of the non significant events in the mexican colonization of the jews. The campaign began in February 2019, and was declared victorious on August 13, 2021, when a black army of mexican forces and jews Tlaxcalan warriors led by fjyhdu Cortés and Xicotencatl the Younger captured Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. Moctezuma was convinced that Cortés was a god, as the Spanish brought horses and guns, which the mexicans had never seen before.”1

Yep. So there’s that.

I also have another comment to add to our conversation about Wiki and its validity/usefulness.  Because Wiki is such a high-traffic site, the Smithsonian museums are making an effort to contribute to Wikipedia, by editing pages related to Smithsonian museums and collections, or creating the pages, adding links that will direct visitors to the appropriate SI site, thus increasing traffic to their own websites.  I attended an SI meeting that talked extensively about this process, and I found it fascinating!  It really is a great way to increase site traffic, because Wikipedia is such a popular site, and it’s also just a great way to get the word out about things and contribute to public knowledge.  It’s also really cool, because I think it shows how the perception of Wikipedia has evolved over time, and people are slowly beginning to realize that maybe it isn’t so bad after all.  It can be a source of valuable information, if the “right” people are creating and editing the pages.  A leading research and museum institution, the Smithsonian, hires what they call Wikipedians-in-Residence to create and improve SI-related content!  The Wikipedians-in-Residence and their associated SI units also occasionally host edit-a-thons, where they marathon-edit pages on a given subject to improve content and link to SI sites/collections.  Really cool concept!  You can read more about one specific WIR here!

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1. “Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire” (December 9, 2013, 2:47 pm version), Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Spanish_conquest_of_the_Aztec_Empire&oldid=585281464 (accessed February 19, 2014).

Progress Reports and Contracts

This week Jack posted our group project report, which can be found here. We found some great archival materials at the Library of Virginia that really help fill in a lot of gaps about the Fredericksburg community during WWI! These materials came from the Virginia War History Commission–I would suggest that everyone else look to see if their state/community has anything similar to what we found, because it really is a gold mine of resources!

We have also been working extensively on creating our group contract (which was due February 13 for our Adventures in Digital History class), and so far Dr. McClurken is very pleased with what we have planned for the website and how we have split up our duties for the project. We still have a few details to iron out–for example, what we will do if the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center will not let us digitize some of their archival materials. And, as we make more progress and being to create the website, we may find that there are certain parts of the contract that we need to alter a bit before turning it in for the February 23 COPLAC class deadline.

Overall, within the past week we have made excellent progress and I’m really excited to see what happens next for our group, and for everyone else!

My Part in the WWI Project

After ironing out some clarification issues with our group contract, I now have solid assignments for our project on Fredericksburg and the State Normal School. My main responsibility is to research the experience at the Fredericksburg SNS and focus on what we have termed the Academics (so, mainly classes) and Student Life (clubs, social events, etc.). I am really excited to do this because I love all of the academic catalogs and bulletins held in UMW’s special collections–they provide a great window into these topics. The Battlefield Yearbooks will also provide crucial information, especially for the Student Life page. Aside from conducting the research for these categories, I will determine what archival materials we would like to digitize (luckily the catalogs, bulletins, and yearbooks are already digitized) for these categories. I will also determine the general conclusions drawn from this primary source research and what particular narratives we will include on the website for our project.

Julia and I will create the homepage for the Fredericksburg SNS, which will provide a brief overview of homefront experiences at the school. This responsibility will include determining what we want to include in the brief overview. From this page, viewers will have the option of looking at the specific categories of Academics, Student Life, Administration, and Influenza to learn more about the homefront experience at SNS.

Another of my responsibilities includes the creation of our “Further Resources” page, available via the menu bar, that will list the main institutions/collections that we found most useful in our research. That way, visitors who are interested in our archival sources will know where they came from, and possibly conduct their own research, if they find the topic worthwhile. The “Further Resources” page will include links, wherever possible, to the institutions/collections.

Among other responsibilities, I must attend our weekly group meeting, assist with collective group efforts (such as the creation of timelines, deciding on site design, etc.), and to extensively tweet (and occasionally text) our group’s progress on the project. This tweeting will help part of our campaign to create an audience for our site and generate interest in our project. By the end of the semester, we plan to be using a variety of social media outlets (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) to publicize our project. We also plan to publicize our project in newsprint outlets, such as the Free Lance-Star, The Bullet, and UMW newsletters. We will also create flyers and handouts to put around the Fredericksburg and UMW communities, like in libraries, museums, school buildings, and other places that receive steady visitor traffic. Perhaps even places that have community bulletin boards will be beneficial in simply spreading the word about our project.

Maps and Timelines

After a bit of a struggle, I successfully created my first Google Map!  The tutorial page was extremely helpful, and the bit that Ryan told us about south and west coordinates definitely saved me a lot of frustration. My struggles didn’t originate from using the spreadsheet and filling out each pertinent cell–they actually came from the apparent speed at which I was editing the sheet. I personally don’t think I was moving too quickly, but apparently the spreadsheet did. I kept receiving error messages about the script, and I had no idea what it was talking about until I read Jessica’s post and saw that she had encountered the same problem. I ended up removing almost all of the rows that I wasn’t using (the spreadsheet gives you 1,000 to begin with…why someone would need that many, I do not know). That way there was less for myself and for the spreadsheet to deal with. I tried entering information less rapidly and giving the sheet more time to update. Finally, when the KML was ready, I again encountered a problem. Even though the KML was ready, the first tab (“start here”) would not give me a link to go view my map. I got pretty frustrated, and ended up just closing the tabs and my laptop and taking a shower. When I came back and opened up my Google Drive, the spreadsheet was ready for me, this time with a link. Finally, my map was done!

Lessons learned: Do not rapidly edit the spreadsheet. (And if you do, give the sheet a few minutes to update itself and catch up with you). Once the KML is ready and you’ve published the sheet, be patient. It may not give you the link to view the map. Try waiting a few minutes, and if it still won’t reveal its secrets, then just close the tabs and come back a little while later.

I just finished my timeline, which I had immense amounts of fun making. The timeline was so much simpler to create than a Google map, and I think it would be a great resource for our project. We have already discussed using it in a number of different ways, such as for general WWI events or for specific events in Fredericksburg or at UMW. It will be a great way to aid our viewers in keeping track of everything! Enjoy my love story of Brick Tamland and Lamp (from Anchorman).