Wiki Reflection (Bahnu Naimi)

I chose to write about Castle Rock Reserve because it is a place I have been visiting for at least five years now. I often hike the trails and have spent a lot of time on top of Eagle Rock looking out over Boise, so the place has some personal significance to me. In addition, someone told me a long time ago that it used to be an Indian burial ground, and I was interested to know the truth and the tale behind such a statement.

The main technological frustration I experienced—if it counts as technological—is that there are not many sources on the history of Castle Rock and many of them say essentially the same thing. However, the sources varied enough that I was able to collect the pieces of information exclusive to each source, and create an article that incorporated them all. Also, I was unable to position the photos and the text of my Wiki article in the format I desired. I overcame this hurdle by simply accepting that people will get the point no matter where the photos are placed.

I think the idea of a large, collaborative history of Boise is genius. First of all, the fact that it is collaborative means there is a huge variety of different personalities deciding what things are important about Boise, and what is important to record about those things. For example, my first choice was Castle Rock Reserve because it is important to me, and then I chose what I thought was important for people to know about the place. Because so many people and their differing interests are involved, the history is and will become even more diverse as well as detailed. In addition, having so many people—who I assume are either from or living in Boise—collaborate to create a history is almost like having Boise write its own autobiography. Further, the histories we are collectively recording may very well be useful to people in the future studying our own time and place. If you think about it, a Wiki article is sort of like an average or mean of people’s opinions, thoughts and ideas. Collaborative writing will essentially give future historians a sample and view into the workings of this extensive group of people.

One advantage of writing local history on a Wiki is that it is easy. Anyone can do it, and therefore the information on the Wiki is more likely to be expanded upon. This however is also a liability. With such open access, validity of information is always an issue and must be questioned. Another advantage is that writing local history on a Wiki puts all the information in one, easily navigable place. If someone wanted to visit Boise or was considering moving here, all they would have to do is explore the Boise Wiki page and they would find tons of information straight from the people of Boise themselves.

I would advise future Boise Wiki contributors not to be discouraged if they find their topic has already been written about. First, if you see your topic on the list, click on the link! Some of the articles have barely any information and are simply waiting to be expanded. Second, write about something you care about; you will end up looking harder in your research and thus providing a more detailed article for the Wiki.

Super awesome augmented reality graphic novel!

It’s called Anomaly and it’s the longest graphic novel ever written, it is also the first to incorporate augmented reality. Since that is something we will be studying, and since this thing is REALLY cool, I thought I’d share.

Here’s a link to a trailer:

Public Domain Bahnu and Charles

New York Park Avenue after improvements in 1922

Photo taken from this website

Creative commons license Bahnu Naimi and Charles Winslow

Graffiti in Boise

Freak Alley in Boise by continuity, and used under a Creative Commons license




A Spy Named Pony

Five Card Story: A spy named Pony

a Five Card Flickr story created by Bahnu, Caitlin, Adam

flickr photo by bionicteaching

flickr photo by bionicteaching

flickr photo by Serenae

flickr photo by Serenae

flickr photo by bionicteaching

The FBI had long been in the search for the elusive spy only know as Pony. After numerous tips they narrowed the search after a once in a life time case breaking dragonscale cup was discovered in the Blue room. Known for its seedy underworld clientel the blue room is the secret meeting place for Benjamin Franklin and his top secret rave friends. The one and only person ever to be seen drinking from such a rare cup was none other than GERTRUDE….the janitor….and she was definitely not part of the top secret rave friends meetings. Ben Franklin gathered all his employees in the interrogation room and announced that they had discovered the identity of Pony, and with the awesome power of his radioactive boombox he incinerated Gertrude.

Bahnu, Adam, Lucas, Caitlin, and HannaLore

We researched Civil War Soldier Databases and looked at the different information easily accessible data.  Looking at what information was available, we ended up having a lot of questions.  How does recruitment age change compared to desertion age?  Can you ask the similar questions of confederates as you do to the questions of the union?  After looking at a relational database, what are the common factors, solely the soldier’s names?  How are they building the soldier’s stories?  Can this information about the individual’s be used to reconstruct trends and patterns among the cities, states, counties… While looking through corresponding data throughout the website, we realize there is a great need to incorporate data on to the same graph in order to quantitatively and qualatatively compare the information.  The axes must be rethought, as five month increments can be deceiving.  The other axis reads “experience value” which brings a lot into question.  What happened at the peaks and lows in the historical sense? We would like to compare these trends to historically significant events.  In essence, we want to qualify the quantitative data given us on the site in order to make sense of it all.    Some other ideas we had involved graphically representing the information on a map of distribution and cities versus the country, as well creating bar graphs that explain human input into the war and human output out of the war (in terms of how they entered and exited the war).

Interview with Mills Kelly

I chose to interview Mills Kelly of George Mason University. Because I am studying to become a history teacher, and he is a professor of history working with technology, I thought he might give me some insight into what I need to know before I begin teaching in the digital age.

My first question for Mr. Kelly was what his biggest obstacles have been in working with the digital humanities. His response was time and funding. Apparently and unfortunately, there is a lack of grant agencies that are willing to fund projects in the digital humanities, especially those that are related to teaching. I find this extremely unsettling considering the increasing presence and importance of technology in today’s society. I find it even more unsettling that funds for projects specifically in education are even more scant. The quality of education today is what will define our society’s future, for the people making the decisions in 50 years are being educated now. Humans need to evolve with their technologies, and if those technologies are not used to help educate future generations, how can we expect our world to progress?

The second obstacle Kelly noted—time—may in fact be related to this lack of funding. Mr. Kelly teaches, runs a Global Affairs program and conducts his own historical research, so he hardly has time to work on his digital projects. It seems to me that if more funding went towards digital research and the people who conduct it, perhaps people like Mr. Kelly could find time for their projects without putting their livelihood at stake.

In addition to his history classes, Mr. Kelly has also taught a course similar to our Digital History course: Teaching and Learning History in the Digital age. I asked him what the biggest changes have been since he began teaching this course; his reply was “the advent of social media”. When he first started teaching this course, he says the closest thing the world had to a social network was “Friendster”.

My next question to Mr. Kelly was what he considered to be the most important thing for future teachers to know as they begin teaching in the digital age. He noted that there is a difference between understanding how students learn with technology, and understanding how they use it. He says it that “we place far too little emphasis on teaching teachers how to understand how their students learn” and that it is most important to understand how students learn with technology, so that it can be properly utilized in the classroom. In relation to this, I asked him what he thinks are the most useful technologies in helping students learn about history. As may be expected, he said it was the internet, adding that data analysis tools will become more and more important in helping students maneuver their way through overwhelming databases.

Currently, this issue of helping students learn is Mr. Kelly’s greatest area of interest. Specifically, “how technologies are transforming the ways that students learn about the past, how they use those technologies to create new ways of expressing historical arguments, and how they use technology to bind themselves together either briefly around an assignment, or over the long term to create colleague relationships with other learners around the world.” His current project is a web journal called Global Perspectives on Digital History (, which gathers material from a multitude of sources including the personal websites of scholars, institutional sites, and blogs. In addition, this journal monitors different types of social media to see what is being discussed by the community. This journal is available in English, German and French and on its way to incorporating many more languages so the information found on its pages may be shared across the world.

The project Mr. Kelly is most proud of is his 1989 project he did a few years back . This is a webpage with information about the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, including an introductory essay, primary sources, scholar interviews, teaching modules, and case studies. The webpage is easy to navigate and contains many useful sources. Not only can this site be useful to students, but it contains a variety of helpful resources for teachers.  I can definitely see why Mr. Kelly is so proud of this project.