Digital Humanities Questions, Day 2

How has historical computing changed over time?

What are the digital humanities? What are its various “camps”?

What do digital humanists do?

What are the advantages of digital humanities over more traditional, analog forms of historical practice?

What do you see as the disadvantages or liabilities of digital humanities practice?

Digital humanities skills — as found in job ads

strong computer skills

website development

web-based publishing

data mining


digital collections

social media marketing

app development


programming skills

digital scholarship

digital cataloging

social network analysis

digital preservation

good communication through web

metrics and analytics

content specialization

current system architectures

research skills


database design and development

marketing and publicity

contemporary art knowledge

topic modeling

data visualization


online and in-person interaction and community-building


Welcome to Digital History!

Welcome to the Digital History course for fall 2014.


Reflection on Local Wiki

Eric Schooley
19 December, 2012

My first project idea for the Boise Wiki was a history of a local ranch in the Lake Hazel area that has been sold and converted to a housing subdivision. A few weeks before the project was due, I spoke to the ranch-owner’s wife and got her permission to speak with her husband, as the ranch had been in his family for generations.

On the day he was available, two days before the wiki was due, he had suffered a change of heart. I approached him on the road and could tell from 20 yards off that something was wrong. His body language was defensive and he called to me too loudly. As I came up to him I smiled and put my hand out while I introduced myself and began to explain myself. He refused my handshake and cut my sentence short. Claiming, “I don’t wanna talk about that at all! We won’t even go there, and if I see my name in print, I’ll sue!” While I don’t think he’d have a case, I’d still like to respect his wishes, even if they were badly put forth.

For a variety of personal reasons, along with this major setback, I had to both request an extension on this project and find a new topic. I eventually started the AR project and got thoroughly distracted. So, I decided to combine my resources and focus on the Idanha Hotel. Since there was already a brief article concerning the hotel on the Boise Wiki, I added much more information, an anecdote and some citations.

I discovered this morning that I was, in fact, out of printer paper! So this will have to do for now =)


Aaron Elfering

Hist. 381


Technology in the Classroom: A Digital Frontier

            Reflecting upon my experiences with educational technology, both in theory and in practice, I believe that we are in the midst of a major revolution in this field. Over the past semester, I have been introduced to a plethora of technology aids, resources, and tools that even I never suspected to exist. Technology can be made to be a great asset in any classroom, both as a motivational aid and a teaching tool to help students succeed. The realms of technology in the classroom have expanded far beyond mere word processing and basic presentations with images, and technology is now a prime way to motivate students. Now, those same programs used for simple tasks are capable of so much more. For example, instead of merely creating a linear PowerPoint presentation, teachers can use the Kiosk features of the program to create interactive, non-linear activities for students such as Jeopardy or Hollywood Squares for use during lessons. Video games, before used only for children’s entertainment, now can be learning tools instead with a proper introduction. For example, strategy games created about the civil war can be used as instructional tools when describing the lives of soldiers during the conflict or other related topics. By using technology in this fashion, students can become more engaged in instruction and achieve a more substantive learning experience.

Perhaps my favorite use of technology over the past semester has been our use and discussion of GIS oriented tools. I’ve been acquainted with these types of tools for a long time now but never cease to be amazed by the potential that lies in GIS based learning and technology. Stretching far beyond dinking around with google earth, I was fairly excited to get to incorporate this kind of technology into our grant proposals and discuss the huge potential that this sort of technology can bring to the class room.

One of the things I find most interesting about technology is that, for the most part, users are able to use many different kinds of technology in conjunction with the other to create/present information in ways that many people might not think possible. It was great to see this same effect occur first hand in class with each project/study area. It’s nice to know that I could combine GIS technologies along with some augmented reality (QR codes, video reporting etc.) and analyze through copious amounts of big data and primary sources to create one killer wiki page or even a large scale grant proposal. Ultimately there just don’t seem to be many classes I’ve taken where towards the end I felt that I could use each project or area of study in a practical, impressive manner.

The fact that students were encouraged to use any technology available to them felt very refreshing and in my opinion, access to smart phones, tablets and laptops being openly encouraged seemed to make for less distraction for students. It is my hope that other courses will start to step away from the idea that these devices are taboo in the classroom. While I personally stand by the use of technology in the classroom due to its seemingly limitless potential, I feel like it’s important to note that if technology is to be implemented heavily into the educational world, it is crucial that it is used to foster a more encouraging, interesting and creative learning environment rather than being used to homogenize education and allow for lazier teaching methods; the focus must remain on the student and in many cases, the classroom will still play a vital role.

Digital Humanities Reflection

Kyle Varnadoe

Digital humanities

Prof. Leslie Madsen-Brooks

Technology Reflection

I was most intrigued by how much technology relies upon games in aspects of storytelling and what goes into creating a virtual environment for gaming, as well as accuracy in historical interpretations.  Technology through History using games; this was described comprehensively by Bryan Alexander in his book The New Digital Storytelling and also by a new digital pen-pal of mine named Adam Chapman, who I’d describe as a younger generation’s version of a developing digital humanist.  I met Chapman on my digital humanist interview assignment and was enlightened by his field of research.  Problem-based storytelling in games, along with historical accuracy, is developing into one of the fastest forms of learning popular history.

There are certain characteristics that storytelling within a game has on the audience that other popular form of historical interpretations, such as film, don’t have.  The filming industry portraying historical events is often criticized for lacking in historical accuracy, portraying inconsistent accuracy in historical interpretation to the viewer.  One can argue that such assimilation to the viewer can be miss-leading, directing a discourse for historical interpretation.  Aside from documentaries, it’s a real bummer because I’m such a historical movie buff, but I often catch myself analyzing a movie as I watch it to find these misinterpretations.  They can be as tedious as German Shepherds in “Gladiator” or as overwhelmingly inaccurate as FDR standing up out of his wheel chair in Pearl Harbor.  These forms of skeptic analysis in historical film formats are conjunctive to the popular design of problem-solving based models in the storytelling of games.  I mean come on, who wants to watch a movie with someone who points out all the mistakes or refutes claims made by the film-makers, who cares?  I could only imagine how an early French film-artist may have felt when witnessing Joseph Goebbels accuracy in historical interpretations on film.  The difficulty behind historical narratives being used as a standard for applying accuracy to a story and relying upon both evidence of the past and the historical writing is the interpretations.  This new game based story-telling is a new opportunity to avoid past mistakes in historical interpretation, promoting more accurate forms of learning history.

Clearly what’s being sought after by historical researchers in connection to the gaming industry is a solution to the discourse of learning accurate history.  This was my favorite aspect of this course, what lays on the horizon for new potential careers and industries focused on History! I’m pursuing a degree in history and teaching, but I’m not sure that I want to teach yet, nor am I certain of what I truly know anymore sometimes.  It’s all so speculative and can sometimes be frustrating, when analyzing the past.  Bitter truths are sometimes hard to take in and those of us like Jack Nicholson saying to Tom Cruise “you can’t handle the truth,” acquire a mode of thinking that goes past the ideals of society to unveil the realities which we face today, my true struggle.  There are little things that frustrate me sometimes, that reveal a truth inside me, perhaps my human nature.  For instance, why the hell am I frustrated about cell phone reception and computer issues in a day and age when my parents would have killed for these conveniences in school? There’s a lesson in being the only student with a flip phone in this class, my stubbornness to adapt to new technology has been intimidating, especially amongst my peers who all have iphones and ipads, I feel Jurassic in my era sometimes.  More importantly it comes down to fear for me I believe.  I’m afraid there may be a motive for misinterpretation.  It’s true that many of these discoursed lessons are simply misinterpreted or embellished purely by accident, however if there’s one thing I know about real history, it comes with a heavy dose of sobering reality to those who find what they fear the most of it.


Alexander, Bryan. The New Digital Storytelling. Praeger, 2011. Print.

Chapman, Adam. “Privileging Form Over Content: Analysing Historical Videogames.”       Journal of Digital Humanities. Volume 1.2 (2012): n. page. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

ARG Resources for November 28


World Without Oil overview

World Without Oil archive — use the “Time Machine” drop-down menu at upper right to navigate through the game

Nina Simon on WWO, museums, and ARGs

Mark Sample on ARGs as history games

Jewel of the Valleys Civil War ARG

Superstruct archive

More of Bryan Alexander’s writing on ARGs, from his blog Infocult

Questions for today

1. Futurists have been using ARGs to crowdsource forecasting and preparation for an uncertain environmental and social future. How can historians harness this technology and user energy to either (a) expand our collective understanding of the past or (b) help people better understand what we already know about the past?

2. Might/should/could your augmented reality tour incorporate elements of gaming, and particularly ARGs?


Wiki Relflection

The first time I heard about Fort Boise Military Cemetery, I was told it was haunted. Around the time I had two friends that were interested in the cemetery. One that had watched too many episodes of ghost hunters and one that didn’t believe in anything of the sorts. I suppose I fell in the middle somewhere. The first time we tried to visit the location we couldn’t find it and ended up just going on a hike through the foothills instead. When we did find it however we were shocked at how small the cemetery was. It makes sense that some of the readings I did on the assignment called it Boise’s forgotten cemetery. I found the site to be incredibly interesting to my research on the topic because it was essentially digital history. The site is hoping to gather enough information to create an online database for those buried there. As it is now there are numerous unmarked graves. One thing I couldn’t find concrete information on was whether the location is a military family cemetery or just a veterans cemetery. I almost feel that the story has been exaggerated so the haunted stories can be more dramatized.  The story about seeing ghost children wouldn’t be as popular if there wasn’t also stories of children being buried there as well. There was a lot of information that I never even knew about the location before this assignment so I really liked researching something that I had personally experienced. I had also never heard of a cemetery being moved from one location to another, that was very interesting to me as well. I will admit that finding information about the cemetery was a little difficult because most of the information online has to do with the cite being haunted. There is a picture someone took claiming they captured an apparition at this site if anyone is interested In the times that I visited the location I never saw anything spooky, besides the regular spooky that all cemeteries are.

JFK Reloaded, Adam Frickey

JFK Reloaded

JFK reloaded is a first person shooter in which the player attempts to assassinate JFK .

The creators of JFK reloaded released this realistic shooter on the 41st  Anniversary of the JFK assassination amid a storm of understandable backlash. The creators however claim that the game was not intended to be offensive but instead created the eerie simulation in an attempt to educate the public and debunk assassination conspiracies surrounding that fateful day. In order to accomplish their educational agenda the game places you, the shooter, in the exact location where Oswald stood and challenges you to re-create his three shots. The closer you get to replicating those three shots the higher score out of 1000 you receive. In theory the game presents an interesting and controversial concept, and presents it in a user friendly way, it allows the general public to investigate a very divided topic and generate their own opinions.

For the most part the majority of the games I discovered online were historically based but didn’t seem to really try and impart any knowledge on the players. The majority just had small tidbits of historical fact (tank names, places, time frames for example) but for the most part they were intended to entertain as opposed to educate.

Boise Wiki Article – Reflection

​Although my topic is probably the most macabre of our class’s articles, I believe writing and publishing it on the Boise Wiki is a service to fellow Boiseans. There are too many extravagant myths surrounding what happened at 805 Linden and I want people to be able to access the truth as easily as they can access those myths. I first encountered the “Murder House” stories as a sophomore in college, soon after moving to Boise, by one of my friends. I love mysteries and took on the challenge of uncovering the truth by first speaking with an old boss of mine, a retired police officer who worked the case. Ever since then I have been rather interested in sharing the truth of the “Murder House” with other Boiseans. Given the task of writing an article for the Boise Wiki, I thought this writing on this subject would make a perfect piece.
​Since I could not really cite my discussions with my old boss, I first searched for Idaho Statesman articles written soon after the actual murder took place. Alas, I could not find any articles on the online Statesman database (offered through Albertson’s Library) and did not want to spend hours scanning through microfilm. After some more in-depth online searches I was able to find a few good sources—a more recent online article by KATU (channel 2 news) and the original court document related to Daniel Rogers case (the murderer). These two digital/digitized documents offered the facts I needed to write a truthful account of the murder that took place at 805 Linden.
​As I have explained, I wrote my article using facts about the murder, and I hope that my accompanying Wiki post remains factual. I would love to see my article grow, with fellow writers posting more photos and expanding the account I have given. However, as with any editable online article, I am afraid that others may not be as concerned with the truth as I am. I would hate to see my article become one of the extravagant urban legends that already occupy much of the online space pertaining to this murder case. Hopefully fellow writers will consider their sources before editing my article, and hopefully any personal future editing will be simple enough so that I can manage the factualness of my article. Further, writing about such gruesome events as the murder at 805 Linden in an online Wiki format will most likely bring outsiders (foreigners to Boise and the surrounding area) who enjoy reading and elaborating on murder stories. Hopefully, since my sources come from websites with open accessibility, those foreign readers—and possibly writers—will take the time to access similar (factual) sources.
​In order to create an interesting, but concise, Wiki article I had to account for only the most important details of my subject, which took some time during editing. For future Wiki contributors I would advise that editing an article before posting it is probably the most important step!