Digital Archive

From the first glance at the new DH sample website, you can see much improvement from the previous link. The previous link was just a list of DH projects. The new website categorized all the projects making it much easier to navigate. There are 7 categories to choose from: Archive, Visualization, Mapping, Digital Edition, Network Analysis, Textual Analysis, and Audio Analysis. Depending on what you are working on, you can easily choose a category and pick a project.

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The interface of Indegenous People Archive

The first category I looked at was Archive. I saw three DH projects that are exceptionally well designed. They are all very well put together and easy to navigate. The one that struck me the most was the Indigenous People project, which is from Bucknell Bertrand library. It is very well organized. After clicking on Exploring Collections, the site shows you every document the project has to offer. With the searching mechanism, you can choose documents depending on Content Type, Document Type, Language, and Source Library.

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A picture of a Kiowa married couple

There are many advantages in making digital artifact from archival documents. It is easily accessible and it is widely available. The problem that original documents have is that they can be easily damaged. Similar to the video we watched in class, many documents are in bad state so we don’t have access to them. By putting them online, we can preserve the documents and make it available for anyone who is interested.

The only disadvantage I can think of is the hand-on experience. When holding the documents with your own hands, you can deduct many things from its physical state and the material it is made of. Without personal touch, it is hard to empathize with subject of the document.

There will be many obstacles in creating my DH project. The main challenge would be making it easy to navigate for others. It is hard to create an interface that can help people understand my intent and my thought process.

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The projects on the Sample DH projects link are based on a variation of artifacts.  The categories are: visualization, mapping, digital edition, and network, textual and audio analysis. The categories are found on the top of the page, which makes it easy for the reader to choose the artifact they want to read about.


I will mainly be talking about the archive section. The three articles in this section are: Old Weather, Lincoln 200, andDatabase of Indigenous Peoples in North America. On the main page there are summaries listed which makes it really easy for the reader to figure out which project they want to click on and read more about.

I found the old weather project extremely interesting to view. This website enables people to view the documents of the boat they picked and then people can help with the transcriptions. The historians used the people’s work to track past ship movements and tell the stories of the people on board.



Some of the advantages to creating a digital artifact from archival documents would be that your not damaging the artifacts you are preserving them. There is easy access to the digital artifacts which is helpful to people who are unable to travel around the world for research because it is too expensive for them.  Lastly, by using a digital artifact you are able to do more complex research with the access. Some of the disadvantages of creating a digital artifact from archival documents would be that there are things you can catch with the physical object that you wouldn’t be able to with the digital. There are fewer distractions with physical archives because you know you only have a certain amount of time to look at it. The idea of community opposed to an online course is another disadvantage. With a community there is an emotional connection that you wouldn’t get when you’re sitting alone looking at a digital artifact on a laptop. A long with that people tend to work better when they are working off of one another’s work.

Some challenges I might face as I build my digital humanities project may  be making sure the website is easy to navigate and interesting for the viewers and making sure I’m careful while scanning the artifacts because they are very delicate and the time I have with them is precious.





Archives: Physical and Digital

Looking at the new Sample Projects site, all of the featured projects have been separated and grouped based on what kind of data was collected, and form of digital media the raw data was translated into.  Categories such as Mapping, Visualization, and Network Analysis contain projects that are very visual-based, while others, such as the ones in the Archives section, deal with and create mostly text-based artifacts.  I looked in-depth at the Old Weather project in the Archives section.


Old Weather - Transcribe

The process of transcribing original documents into raw text data.

The aim of this project is to transcribe old ship’s logs from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The data contained in those logs are useful for researchers in many different fields, from naval historians to climate specialists.  One powerful benefit of choosing to digitize the archives is that all of these interested researchers are now able to access the data without trouble.


Old Weather - Our Weather's Past, the Climate's Future

An overview of the scale and progress of the Old Weather project.

It is important to note the scale of this project.  There are well over 100,000 pages of data from dozens of voyages to be transcribed.  A team of researchers with the original documents would never be able to get through everything in a reasonable amount of time, so the team behind the Old Weather project rely on another major benefit of their digital archives: crowd sourcing.  Just like the previous idea how anyone can access the final data, thousands of people can also help to interpret the raw data.


For all the virtues of digital archiving, however, it does have its flaws.  When transferring documents over into a digital format, you can only transfer what you think to look for.  Some information can be lost unless someone in the future wants, for some reason, to take another look at the originals.  Crowd sourcing also has some flaws.  While it is nice to have extra hands doing the work, unskilled hands can possibly do more harm than good, and create more work for the research team.


The most difficult part of our project will probably be interpreting the various documents we will come across.  This hurdle will just have to be overcome as we gain experience.

New DH Sample Projects

“Featured DH Project”

The new format of the sample DH projects webpage is now very easy to navigate and is user-friendly. Upon visiting the site, I noticed several categories listed at the top of the webpage. They included: archive, visualization, mapping, digital edition, network analysis, textual analysis, and audio analysis. Users can click on the each individual category to find sample digital humanities projects that fall under the selected category. It is now much easier to explore the webpage due to its recent re-organization that is beneficial to all users. On the sidebar of the sample DH projects webpage, there is a section called a “Featured Project.” As of this blog post, the featured project was “The Great Parchment Book.”


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Logbook of ship trapped in ice


One specific category is “archive.” Projects under this category are “Old Weather”, “Lincoln at 200”, and “Database of Indigenous Peoples in North America.” These contain artifacts that were scanned and put into a digital format. For example, in “Old Weather” this is a logbook for a ship that became trapped in ice.
While the average student may not have access to the original copy of the logbook, it is now more easily accessible through the use of digital humanities. Damage by human use is less likely to happen due to the fact that less and less people are physically touching the artifacts. The use of digital humanities is also beneficial in that it allows the researcher to be more organized through digital means. Copies of the artifacts create the opportunity to go back to the source multiple times to get most of the information that the artifact provides.

Digital humanities has a lot to offer in terms of advantages to the humanists; yet, there are some drawbacks when it comes to the use of technology. First of all, scanning the artifacts has a lot of room for error. That is something I will need to take into consideration and try to limit when I am using this process. Also, with transcribing the artifacts digitally, it leaves a lot of room for human error and subjectivity. Again, with my best efforts, I will try to not let this happen. Despite some sources of error with the use of digital humanities, it is very beneficial to students and researchers.

On Digital Archives

Screen shot 2014-09-07 at 2.25.04 PMThe new layout for the Sample DH is very easy to navigate. It clearly shows the seven categories: Archive, Visualization, Mapping, Digital Edition, Network Analysis, Textual Analysis, and Audio Analysis. It is very easy to find what you are looking for. Under the Archive section it is simple to navigate Old Weather, Lincoln at 200 and Database of Indigenous Peoples in North America. There is a little summary given for each of the three sites to peak your interest.

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I thought that Old Weather sounded pretty fascinating because it was about old ship’s logs, and you could read some of them. The website is fairly easy to navigate and understand, but it does ask you to log in to view the archives so I was not able to see them.

There are many advantages to creating digital artifacts from archival documents. First is the accessibility it enables. With artifacts online, anybody with Internet connection can retrieve information on the archives, not only the specialists that are granted access. They are also fast and normally very easy to navigate. Also, this new technology even allows the specialists to read more of the documents than they could have before. This is because some of the documents are illegible and too fragile to try and flatten out to ready. So with technology, even the oldest and most delicate artifacts are available for the public to view.

However there are also some disadvantages to digital artifacts. You do not have the document physically sitting in front of you. Viewing it online is not the same experience as being able to pick up the artifact. And although most of the time transcribing the artifacts makes it easier to read, sometimes doing so could affect some of the writing and make it more illegible than before.

As I build my digital humanities project, there will be many challenges that I will have to face. Transcribing will definitely be a struggle as well as working with the website for the first time. I also know that I will struggle when trying to organize my words and images clearly.