Historical Will Annotation Continued: A WP API Experiment

The Judah Will Project (now with new URL!) has continued to grow as Ryan has been putting in serious work on the research and writing side of things. I have no choice but to step up my game and it’s been an interesting learning experience as it’s the first time I’ve tried anything sophisticated with WP providing the writing/data side of things while presenting that information somewhere else entirely. Headless? So here’s a recap of changes since the last update. More Obvious I talked to Jim about the project a few days ago. It became clear to me that it wasn’t obvious that the names in the will transcription were clickable prior to actually clicking on one. I fixed that with a simple dashed underline. This was one of those times where I was trying to keep the visual elements minimal but ended up going too far. I also threw in a modal popup for initial directions to make things more obvious. I just used this simple modal jquery plugin. It immediately drove me crazy by popping up all the time. So I looked around and found a solution to set cookies which I’d never done before. I also used a modal for the ever-growing family tree. When you have 12 kids in a generation, things get pretty wide. Permanent […]

Simple Interview Formatting Using Pseudo Elements

I had a quick question today about formatting an interview. That led to some quick experimentation in Code Pen and some simple uses of pseudo class selectors.1 When I first looked at the transcript I started to assign a class to each paragraph. That would work but was tedious. Given we were switching speakers at every paragraph I could be clever/lazy. nth-of-type will let me select odd and even elements. You can also be far fancier (every 5th etc.) but even/odd was all I needed. Given how pleasant that was, I figured I’d try a few more. This CSS lets me grab the first letter (and the colon) of the paragraphs and make them a bit like a drop cap.2 I wondered if I could use the selectors in combination to alternately style the first letters drop caps. Turns out you can. Anyway a fun 10 minutes or so that might be of interest to other wanderers out there. See the Pen demo for clare – fancy version by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. 1 Disregard my neapolitan-ice-cream-inspired color scheme. 2 I had to look up the word for ‘big letters in medieval manuscripts’ and didn’t actually read/follow the tips for drop caps at the URL linked here . . .

Audio Annotation POC Using WaveSurfer.JS

See the Pen wave surfer – waveform by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. I needed to make a quick proof of concept for the annotation of audio on the web. In this case, it’s meant to provide a visual and auditory way to play through interview segments that represent different categories of responses. I found WaveSurfer.js this morning and just a bit later I had a functional example. I find the ability to highlight track elements visually and access specific segments to be a pretty powerful combination. If we stacked several tracks vertically the visuals would quickly point out content variation in terms of timing and total composition. You could get more and more complex from there. Playing with it gave me all sorts of ideas (including possibly using it as part of of the upcoming Reclaim Your Dance Party // API + Audio = (beats, visuals, internet, participate) session at Domains 17 with Grant and Brian). It’s also looking like I’ll be able to work more with our music department to think through online course on music so possibilities like this will be very useful. This kind of thing would be pretty easy to turn into a plugin . . .

Annotating a Will: A Digital Process

One of the projects that Ryan Smith chose as part of our Digital History course was the collaborative transcription and annotation of a historic Richmond will . . . describing it thusly1 in the syllabus. Collaborative annotation: To further put our emphasis on collaboration into practice, we will annotate [explain, contextualize, add to] together one document, the last will and testament of Isaac Judah, an early Richmond resident. This assignment will require student research, online or in person, to help explain and contextualize this document for a public audience. What software platform should we use to markup the item? How should we handle the will’s transcription? Who are the parties mentioned in the will? Where are the locations? What historical lessons can it teach readers? The quality and quantity of each students’ research/commentary will count as 10% of the final course grade. The will can be found on our course website, in the Google Drive folder. The transcription file is: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ghG-oyFvyza-zRUE4ZJf0_HF4_D5dey4Bv4BmM5JYFQ/edit. Annotations can begin as soon as the course begins and should be finalized by February 23 March 30. If the annotation is fruitful, we may post this result for public consumption. We ended up with quite a bit of work . . . in fact so much work that displaying it via the Google Doc didn’t really work. It […]

Random Re-Connection via Twitter

@twoodwar is this the T Woodward I I knew in Cola, SC?!?! I'm still recovering from those suicide kicks! #greengate pic.twitter.com/4HTaNHEi2N — auz1111 (@auz1111) April 7, 2017 That is me- back row, partially obscured (and not just by the camo). Pretty wild that John found me somehow and that we’re both involved in WordPress and web design stuff. It led me to look up another guy from that photo and a few seconds later . . . presto. He was even using that same picture as his avatar (because, as it turns out, they had a bet on who could find me on the Internets). Not world shaking but a fun connection to the past (30-ish years ago!) and one that inspired a bit of digital wandering. I’m relatively sure this is my house back in 5th/6th grade but I’m not entirely sure. I mainly identified it by the creek visible in the map view. I probably spent more time there than in the house. That’d definitely the pond where I used to fish and catch baby turtles (something of a family tradition now). I went to E.L. Wright M.S. before we moved to the hell that was 7th grade in Huntsville, Alabama’s creatively-named Huntsville Middle School.

Open Content Creation at VCU

I’m going to hit a few of the things I’ve done with people around open educational resource creation.1 In the discussion, I’m going to ignore some complexities around the term ‘open’ in order to avoiding dragging the whole post down. My personal definition of open is very liberal2 although I can see the value of Wiley’s R framework in a variety of conversations. Once again, I’ll try to move from simpler to more complex options. The Judah Will The Judah Will is a will that was transcribed and annotated in the digital history class this semester. Ryan Smith is the history professor behind the idea and has been more than awesome to work with. Right now the work is all in Google Docs but we’re looking at paths/tools/display options that will better show the research and conversations that occurred. The simple act of transcribing the will is one act of OER creation and active participation in the field of history. The additional research and investigation of the elements of the will constitutes another layer. The majority of students in the class really enjoyed the process and liked the idea that they were adding to the sum of information available to historians. This activity also enabled the professor to model historical research/thought while interacting with the students on a project with […]

A WordPress Authoring Continuum

Image from page 60 of “Birds of La Plata” (1920) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I often feel much of my life has been spent arguing against binary judgements related to technology.1 I’d like to have neater boundaries and simpler discussions but they always seem to get in the way of what I perceive as reality. I’ve certainly tried to articulate options for content in creation in WordPress before. I tried really hard to have a nice list here that would move you from full-constrained incrementally towards the normal backend editor but the lines kept blurring on me so . . . you get what we have here today . . . which is a failure to delineate, crisply.2 The idea that WordPress authoring is super-easy or needlessly complex is one of those arguments I have repeatedly. I believe, with varying degrees of effort/skills, WordPress authoring is simply what you want it to be. It can be tightly constrained, without even the need for an account or even a visit to the backend of WordPress. It can also be fully open with all the options and complexities you could want. They’re both choices with a fair amount of room in the middle for variations. I’ve found a few plugins and/or design […]

ANTH 101 Rebirth

I had the chance to work more on the ANTH 101 site with Ryan and Mike over winter break. It’s a pretty significant change. It’s almost entirely gutted in terms of the WordPress side of things with a different theme, some new plugins etc. but also some significant changes on how student see and interact with the work they make. Some of the initial conversations resulted in the Minimal WordPress work which . . . we ended up tossing.1 But what we ended up creating is pretty slick and does a number of pretty interesting things. The Bones ANTH101 is a large class- several hundred students large – so a chunk of being able to deal with that is making things simple for students. A large chunk of work went towards simplicity. Another large chunk of effort went towards making it feel and look app-like on a phone. That’s the equivalent of making it look cool/interesting and feel modern – pretty much the opposite of most course site software. It was expected students would be using their phones to submit work and browse. ANTH101 runs on a child-theme of Boss.Not like this boss (#nsfw). There are few different plugins that make it all work. The major ones are as follows – Visual Composer – both Mike and Ryan want to […]

More Than a Bunch of Stuff – Argumentative & Experiential History Sites

In working with students in the Digital History course, we’ve repeatedly bumped up against the idea that it’s harder to make a cohesive argument on the Internet (vs a traditional paper) or that constructing a web-based exhibition abdicates controls you have in physical space. There are frequent examples of archives referenced in the texts (Valley of the Shadow for instance) but for various reasons (age, limited time/space/knowledge) there aren’t many decent examples of constructing a multimedia argument or experiential/immersive examples. So here’s an attempt to show some sites that are far more than a-bunch-of-stuff-on-the-Internet and some elements that help them do that. Kennedy/Oswald It’s a bit heavy on the parallax for my taste but it’s a pretty direct parallel to a museum exhibit. It sets out to parallel the lives of Kennedy and Oswald reinforcing that parallel with visual metaphors (split screen transitions, similar images etc.) to reinforce that concept. There is a main text-based storyline, music to reinforce a certain mood,1 and the ability to see supporting elements by clicking on various items. The movement through the site is very guided. The links are kept within the site and remain contextualized rather than leading to other sites. The ancillary materials are a mixed bag of audio, images, video, and mixed media. Digital primary source materials are used throughout to […]

Trump Dump Data & Playing with TAGS

Image from page 60 of “Children’s ballads from history and folklore” (1886) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Driven mad by curiousity after this Matthew Baldwin tweet, I built this little thing. It uses the amazing Martin Hawksey’s TAGS for gathering the Tweets in Google Sheets and then displays it with Vue.js (which I’m sort of learning). It led me to realize that I could extend TAGS without much effort. My first attempt was to write two custom functions to get favorites and retweets. Turns out that was pretty straight forward given all Martin’s work. The TAGS element (TAGS.get) links me into Martin’s library and that’s that. So very easy once you know and then you’re just navigating the Twitter API. Turns out I can do something similar to get the Twitter bio. Initially, I just stuck these in like you’d do normal functions … =getRT(A1) or whatever and it soon ate up all the processing time allowed for my Google Scripts. That caused other things to break. Lesson learned. I then opted to set the value in the script and write that value to the cell. This little script runs on the spreadsheet change trigger and checks to see if there are any blank cells in the Favorites column (column U) […]