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.

Interesting Post, Thought I’d Share.

An insightful post, from a rather funny writer, about creepiness, internet “anonymity,” and “free speech” in private forums.

WARNING: Explicit Language!

Here’s the link if you want to check out his site:


Gawker, Reddit, Free Speech and Such


I’ve been watching with some interest the drama surrounding Gawker writer Adrian Chen revealing Reddit user/celeb/moderator/troll Violentacrez’s real life identity (Michael Brutsch), which among other things resulted in Brutsch losing his job, presumably because Brutsch’s employer was not 100% comfortable employing someone who spent his days moderating online forums with titles like “Chokeabitch” and bragged about the time his 19-year-old stepdaughter performed oral sex on him. It also resulted in Reddit globally banning links from Gawker (since rescinded, although forum moderators (“subredditors”) can choose to block links within their forums — and do), and various bannings due to discussion of the drama.

Wrapped up in all of this are various chest beatings about free speech and whether someone’s online anonymity is sacred, even if he is a creep, the culture of Reddit in particular and the Internet in general, and in a larger sense where the rights of one individual — say, a creepy middle-aged dude — begin to impinge on others — say, young women who don’t believe that merely being in public is an invitation to be sexually degraded. This is all interesting stuff, to be sure, and naturally I have a few thoughts on these topics. In no particular order:

1. The “free speech” aspect of this is largely nonsense. Reddit is not a public utility or a public square; it’s a privately owned space on the Internet. From a legal and (United States) constitutional point of view, people who post on Reddit have no “free speech” privileges; they have what speech privileges Reddit itself chooses to provide them, and to tolerate. Reddit chooses to tolerate creepiness and general obnoxiousness for reasons of its own, in other words, and not because there’s a legal or constitutional reason for it.

Personally speaking, when everything is boiled down to the marrow, I think the reason Reddit tolerates the creepy forums has to do with money more than anything else. Reddit allows all those creepy subreddits because its business model is built on memberships and visits, and the dudes who visit these subreddits are almost certainly enthusiastic members and visitors. This is a perfectly valid reason, in the sense of “valid” meaning “allowing people to be creepy isn’t inherently illegal, and we make money because of it, so we’ll let it happen.” But while it makes sense that the folks at Reddit are either actively or passively allowing “we’re making money allowing creeps to get their creep on” to be muddled with “we’re standing up for the principles of free speech,” it doesn’t mean anyone else needs be confused by this.

If someone bleats to you about any of this being a “free speech” issue, you can safely mark them as either ignorant or pernicious — probably ignorant, as the understanding of what “free speech” means in a constitutional sense here in the US is, shall we say, highly constrained in the general population. Additionally and independently, the sort of person who who says “free speech” when they mean “I like doing creepy things to other people without their consent and you can’t stop me so fuck you ha ha ha ha” is pretty clearly a mouth-breathing asshole who in the larger moral landscape deserves a bat across the bridge of the nose and probably knows it. Which is why — unsurprisingly — so many of them choose to be anonymous and/or use pseudonyms on Reddit while they get their creep on.

On the subject of anonymity:

2. Anonymity/pseudonymity is not inherently evil or wrong. Astute observers will note that on this very site I allow both anonymous and pseudonymous postings, because sometimes you want to say something you wouldn’t normally say with your name attached and/or because you have personal/business reasons to want not to have a trail of comments lead back to you. Perfectly reasonable and perfectly acceptable, and as I moderate this site pretty attentively, anyone who decides to use the cloak of anonymity to be an assbag will get their words malleted into oblivion in any event.

It’s not anonymity or pseudonymity that’s the issue. The issue is people being assholes while anonymous because they don’t believe it’s ever going to get back to them. This is a separate issue from anonymity/pseudonymity. Someone who is anonymous shouldn’t be assumed to be an assbag, any more than someone who uses their real name should be assumed to be a kind and decent human being. In both cases, it’s what they say that should be the guide.


3. If at this point in Internet history you think you’re really anonymous/pseudonymous on the Internet, or that you have a right to anonymity/pseudonymity on the Internet, you’re kind of stupid. Yes, stupid, and there’s no other way to put it. I remember back in 1998 and people with pseudonymous online diaries freaking out because they ranted about a family member or boss online, and then that person found out, and as a result the diarist was fired and/or had very awkward Thanksgivings for several years. And you know what? Even back in 1998, when the Web was still reasonably new, while one could be sympathetic, in the back of the head there was alwayswell, what did you expect? It’s not that hard to find things out. Something will give you away sooner or later. Here in 2012, if you’re going to make an argument to me that anonymity truly exists on the Web, I’m going to want you to follow up with an explanation of how the Easter Bunny is riding unicorns on Mars with Kurt Cobain.

I find it difficult to believe that Redditors don’t understand that anonymity online is merely a facade; indeed it’s probably one of the reasons that revealing the identity of pseudonymous Redditors is looked on as such a huge betrayal. That said, anyone who goes to Reddit and truly believes that a site-standard ethos of “don’t reveal our members’ identities” fully protects them from being revealed or allows them to revel in obnoxious and/or creepy behavior without fear of discovery, they’re kind of dumb. I won’t say that they deserve what they get — maybe they do, maybe they don’t — but I will say they shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

Now, you might argue that someone has a right to pseudonymity or anonymity online, and depending on your argument, I might even agree with you (hint: such an argument doesn’t involve posting sexualized pictures of minors or the unconsenting). But I would also agree with you that it would be cool if the Mars rover beamed back a picture of Kurt and Peter Cottontail jamming on “Pennyroyal Tea” while their unicorns kept the time on tambourine. Back here in the real world, you should get used to the idea neither is happening soon.

Speaking of the real world:

4.  Reddit is not the Internet, the Internet is not Reddit, and in neither place is one obliged to privilege anonymity/pseudonymity. It seems like a lot of the angst emanating from Reddit regarding this event is based on a presumed community standard of not outing anonymous or pseudonymous Reddit users. However, leaving aside the fact that this “community standard” is found neither in the Rules of Reddit nor its “Reddiquette” document, just because something is a community standard does not mean one is obliged to follow it in all ways at all times, and if the “community standard” is doing real harm or is being used as a shield to allow people to act badly without consequence, then it’s a reasonable question of whether this “standard” is to be allowed to stand unchallenged.

In any event, an argument that those outside the community are bound to its standards is a tough one to make outside of that community. Am I, John Scalzi, enjoined by Reddit “community standards” on my own site? Not in the least, and if anyone suggested I was, I would point and laugh at them. Am I when I am on Reddit, signed into my Reddit account (“Scalzi,” which, I would note, is not particularly anonymous/pseudonymous)? Well, I’m enjoined by the actual rules (seeing as I have no right to free speech as understood by the US Constitution while I am there), and generally would try to abide by established local practices. But there are rules and then there are guidelines, and I don’t need to believe that the latter has the force of the former.

In the case of Adrian Chen, the Gawker writer who revealed Violentacrez’s real-life identity, I think he’s perfectly justified in doing so. Whether certain denizens of Reddit like it or not, Chen was practicing journalism, and writing a story of a figure of note (and of notoriety) on one of the largest and most influential sites on the Internet. They may believe that Mr. Brutsch should have an expectation not to have his real life identity revealed on Gawker, but the question to ask here is “why?” Why should that be the expectation? How does an expectation of pseudonymity on a Web site logically extend to an expectation of pseudonymity in the real world? How does one who beats his chest for the right of free speech on a Web site (where in fact he has no free speech rights) and to have that right to free speech include the posting of pictures of women who did not consent to have their pictures taken or posted then turn around and criticize Gawker for pursuing an actually and legitimately constitutionally protected exercise of the free press, involving a man who has no legal or ethical presumption of anonymity or pseudonymity in the real world? How do you square one with the other? Well, you can’t, or at least I can’t; I have no doubt some of the folks at Reddit can guide that particular camel through the eye of the needle.

But they would be wrong. Mr. Brutsch’s actions are newsworthy, and it’s neither libel nor defamation for Gawker to correctly attribute his actions to him, whether or not he ever expected them to be attached to his real life identity. If they don’t think so, I heartily encourage them to take up a collection for Mr. Brutsch so he can sue Gawker. I know what the result would be, but I think the path to getting there might be instructive to some Redditors.

Or maybe (and hopefully) they already know they don’t have a legal or ethical leg to stand on, which is why they eventually fall back on well, this just isn’t done and then ban Gawker links on Reddit. Which, of course, is their right. That is, so long as the people actually running Reddit believe it is.

Scenic Sunday (Cross) Section

Ryan Regis

April Raine

Eric Schooley

Just like the pioneers, come from the East. (I-84) This will lead you nicely onto the Gowen exit which takes you to Federal Way (on this piece you will be given a panoramic view of the valley you are about to explore, as well as the famous Table Rock) and then Turn on Apple. Apple leads to Park Center (an long-settled and affluent part of town, with lots of historical markers of interest), and then onto Beacon to Broadway (look to your left and you will get to see a part of campus and the BSU stadium) and then left on Idaho which will lead downtown past the Capitol (take note of the neo-classical architecture of the Capitol Building, complete with a Golden statue of Nike atop the dome). After a few more miles, head North on 13th (if you’re quick, and equipped with our interactive app, you may see the area which used to be Boise’s only ethnic enclave, China Town!) towards Hyde Park (an interesting area due to the confluence of new money in older areas, traditionally populated by lower income residents). After a lovely view of the neighborhood and big trees, head west on Hill Road for a quick jaunt through what could be described as semi-urban ranches which used to be much more prevalent in this area. Soon, you will find Hwy 55, take a left to the south, and then right on State, which will lead to a left turn to the South on Eagle Road. Eagle will lead to Chinden Boulevard where you will take a right (west) (here we find an industrial center of the valley, a center which used to be much more active). Soon you will find the City of Caldwell, our trip is over! Good luck getting home without our help!



Cities of the Forgotten: Japanese-American Resistance in WWII Internment Camps

Eric Schooley
Digital History (HIST-381)
Dr. Leslie Madsen-Brooks

8 October, 2012

Cities of the Forgotten:
Japanese-American Resistance in WWII Internment Camps
A Research Project Plan

During World War Two, America committed one of the most heinous acts in our history: the practice of our government interring Japanese-American citizens at relocation camps for the duration of the war. While many of the internees in these camps volunteered for military service or accepted their fates, several did not, and maintained a vocal resistance during their incarceration.

1: The newsletters printed by the internees were a critical connection to a sense of community that is necessary for any type of resistance to be effective. Social gatherings, sporting activities, religious services played major roles in developing this sense of belonging, and the grassroots newsletters produced by the internees were the only available sources of news in the camps.

The Tule Lake Bulletin is a prime example of the types of stories published by these newsletters. I’ve included a later issue, in total, as an example. Here we will explore the same things we can see in newspapers from small communities across America: local sports, church meeting times, honorable mention for students, and police reports involving residents. Citation: Tule Lake Bulletin, March 2, 1944. http:/ (accessed September 21, 2012).

A classified ad from an early edition of The Manzanar Free Press advertising lessons in the traditional Japanese instrument: Shakuhachi. This shows a desire to maintain cultural traditions. Citation “Shakuhachi Lessons,” Manzanar Free Press, June 20, 1942, page 4, http:/ (accessed October 6, 2012).

An article written by an administrator of the Gila Flats Camp urging internees to do their part to beautify the “city.” Although this article is not written by an internee, it gives a good sense of the attempts made at community building. Citation: Fryer, “Residents Urged to Beautify City.” Gila News-Courier Vol. 1 No. 4, September 23, 1942, page 1. http:/, (accessed September 23, 2012).

2: There was an underground rumor-mill that, while not always accurate, was incredibly active.

Interview with Mr. Kenge Kobayashi, in which he relates the proclivity of rumors in his particular camp. Citation: Kenge Kobayashi interview by Alice Ito, July 4, 1998, http:/, (accessed October 1, 2012).

Interview with Mr. Jim Akutsu, where he relates a story of himself and three other internees petitioning camp administration for better food and living conditions. Citation: Jim Akutsu interview by Art Hansen, June 9 & 12, 1997, http:/, (accessed October 1, 2012).

Interview with Mr. Cedrick Shimo, a Nisei soldier, recalling an “angry bull-session” among soldiers about the plight of their interred families. Citation: Cedrick Shimo interview by Tom Ikeda & Martha Nakagawa, September 22, 2009, http:/, (accessed September 22, 2012).

3. Resistance, in fact, took many creative forms. Including, refusal to sign the infamous “Loyalty Questionnaire,” draft resistance, and hunger strikes.
Interview with Mr. Jim Tanimoto, in which he relates his interviews regarding his refusal to sign the “Loyalty Questionnaire” and the consequences. Citation: Jim Tanimoto interview by Tom Ikeda & Barbara Takei, December 10, 2009, http:/ (accessed October 6, 2012).

Another interview with Mr. Jim Akutsu about the beginnings of unrest concerning the draft laws of 1944.Citation: Jim Akutsu interview by Art Hansen, June 9 & 12, 1997, http:/, (accessed October 1, 2012).

Interview with Mr. Gene Akutsu, brother of Jim, describes his arrest and time in jail for resisting the draft. Citation: Gene Akutsu interview by Tom Ikeda, April 17, 2008, http:/, (accessed October 1, 2012).

Interview with Mr. Fred Tadashi Shingu where he tells a story of a hunger strike at the Tule Lake facility in 1943. Citation: Fred Tadashi Shingu interview by Tom Ikeda & Martha Nakagawa, July 29, 2010, http:/ (accessed September 23, 2010).

Concluding Paragraph:
The experiences of Japanese-American inmates at these internment camps was unfair, unjust and completely deplorable. However, the people in these camps insisted on maintaining their dignity and their identities. Through grassroots organization, they not only kept alive cultural practices, they invented new communities and support networks in some of the worst conditions. It would be a mistake to imagine these people, these American citizens, going quietly into these horrible camps, they fought their internment every step of the way, sacrificing their reputations, their health, and even their lives to improve conditions and get free of the camps.
Annotated Bibliography of Secondary Sources:
1. “A More Perfect Union, Japanese Americans & The U.S. Constitution,” The Smithsonian Institute, accessed September, 2012, http:/American union/experience/index.html
This interactive website designed by the Smithsonian Institute is a very good overview of the entire debacle. This source would mainly serve my project by helping me to establish an emotional connection to these events for my readers.
2. Daniels, Roger. Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993.
This book examines the internment of Japanese Americans in several camps and is incredibly useful for basic background information on topics including: the “Loyalty Questionnaire,” group identification through ethnicity, age and gender, and the treatment of long-term internees.
Like all research projects, the hardest problem to surmount with this project was simply choosing a topic to study. Unlike any other project I have worked on, this problem was multiplied tenfold. When one goes to research any topic in a more traditional, analog method, one’s choices are limited by the materials at hand, or the money/time budgeted for research. With the advent of digitization, these restrictions have effectively been lifted. This leaves us with an interesting problem: in the past, our fields would have been winnowed to a more manageable level before we were ever involved, but now that process is left undone and we are responsible for sifting through many more sources, and therefore many more researchable topics, than ever before. This means more time is required to research and choose a topic in the digital world than in the analog world. Of course, once I found a researchable topic, and then threw it and the next five out in favor of the final topic, I was faced with new problems.
An unforeseen obstacle I encountered was my unfamiliarity with the organization systems in various databases. At first, I thought my skills were lacking and I might need some remedial help, but after perusing several sites and databases, I realized the problem wasn’t my perceived misunderstanding of organizational structure, but more likely the fact that no two databases seem to work the same way. Get one figured out pretty well, and be ready to start the learning curve all over for the next.
Another interesting fact I found, I’d hesitate top call it a problem, is this: anyone who’s gone to the trouble of digitizing all the sources will have necessarily spent some time analyzing them. This means that in order to find an original, high-quality research topic, I had to dig deeper than I had planned to. Why even write a paper if there’s nothing new to say on a topic? There seems to be a fine line in digital research. If a topic is largely digitized, it follows that there will be a good deal written on it. The inverse of this is: if there is still a good deal to be said on a topic, there is probably not much in the way of digitized sources. Similarly, it seems that if you were interested in a particular topic, there might not be a large variety of organizations that have digitized their content. So, as seen in my project plan, many sources can come from one organization. While this might make research simpler, it certainly does not make for an attractive bibliography.
The project I exclusively worked with is the Densho Online Archive. These wonderful humanists have collected hundreds of hours of interviews, miles of documents, and official government papers concerning the Japanese-American experience, specifically focusing on the internment of citizens of Asian descent by our own government during World War Two. This collection of primary sources has remarkably little in the way of interpretation. That’s where I come into it. The archive is divided by topic, or camp, or time period, but all paths lead to the same sources. This allows for a historian to see connections the previous researchers have made, but more importantly, it leaves pathways for new intellectual connections to emerge.
In the end, I suppose it might be foolish to say, “the digital revolution is making it easier than ever to do research.” While the sheer amount of sources online can be beneficial, the tools used don’t really change the job to be done. There will always be a line between “research” and “good research.”

Committee of Fifty : 1906

Eric Schooley
Jim Duran
Ryan Regis
We envision a sandbox style game platform, in which the disasters of 1906 would play out in a linear fashion. Our “main” characters would be led by a single “mayoral” character, delegating rescue and response teams throughout the city. Time in our system would be divided into sequential “mini-missions” with set time limits. If a crisis were to be resolved before the times expire, the player will b given a slight reprieve to consolidate forces and resources. If the task is incomplete when time expires, the next crisis, or “mini-mission,” will begin with little warning.
The teams provided will resemble military, civil, and civilian teams from the era, as each crisis develops the “mayor” will be responsible for coordinating relief, or deploying resources to a different crisis. The unstated goal of the game is to educate the player on the progression of this disaster and relief efforts. The more clear goal, as it relates to the player, is to decide which parts of the city to attempt to rescue and determine which areas should be sacrificed. Later in the game, the player may be called upon to deal with media responses.
The feedback system for this game will include several status bars, accessed on a specific page. They might include: loss of life, property damage, response team health, civilian trust, major/minor landmarks saved/sacrificed, citizen panic level, city//private funds, and callousness of the player.
Unnecessary obstacles, could include traffic blockage, innocent objects, and even the terrain of the area would cause difficulties. The in-game animations will be based on, and include, archival photos and interviews. There are a LOT of options for actual game play. Each neighborhood includes specific buildings, and each of those has tenants and property that must be addressed. Will you spend resources, and possibly lives, in the attempted rescue of any one location? Is one building more valuable than others? What will the citizenry/media think of your choices?
While our layout has made space a larger factor in the actual game play, wee have taken a fast event and drawn it out into something explorable, from a variety of perspectives. However, time will remain a crucial factor, since it was one in the actual event.
Emotion activation will come throughout the game with loss of life and property, several heart-wrenching photos can be included. Further, at the end of play, you WILL be held accountable for your choices. You will be confronted with characters based on actual people, complete with profiles. Their lives will be in your hands, and when the game ends, you will be faced with accounts from survivors.

New Media and Ambiguity: An Interview with Dr. Patrick Murray-John: Digital Humanist

Eric Schooley
Dr. Leslie Madsen-Brooks
18 September, 2012

New Media and Ambiguity:
An Interview with Dr. Patrick Murray-John: Digital Humanist

Most of the stress this assignment caused me was from the intimidating prospect of contacting a professional, who would be a stranger to me, in hopes of securing some of their valuable time. So, when you offered up Dr. Patrick Murray-John and his time on a silver platter, I jumped at the chance; it was dumb luck that he happened to be just the type of humanist I wanted to talk to: someone closer to the programming side of things with their fingers in a lot of pies. However, this meant that I had little to no idea what Dr. Murray-John does, except that he works for the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Patrick, as I’ve come to know him, has many roles at CHNM. This seems to be the case with most good digital historians, and key to his success. His primary role is management of the Omeka development team at the Center (Omeka is a free, open source web-publishing platform for the display of collections and exhibitions). This means he spends a lot of time trying to tie related, but somehow separated, information into a cohesive idea, but not just in his own projects. Like all digital curation, the idea is to source it to as many scholars as possible, so he must facilitate themes from other, similar projects like WordPress. A large part of Patrick’s work in Omeka also involve what he calls the “Omeka Commons,” which, if I understand correctly, is a system designed to aggregate data from a variety of Omeka sources. At this point I should make a confession, a good deal of the technical terms Dr. Murray-John used, along with the names and uses of programs, was beyond me. This is a good thing, though: it gives a list of things to go learn! As I mentioned, a major goal of Digital Humanities is to help other humanists preserve and present their own work, so in the noblest vein of curation, all of the tolls and plug-ins Patrick creates are available to anyone building an Omeka site. So, I see quite a bit of his work finding its way into my projects in the near future.

Like I said, a lot of this stuff is over my head, but that’s exactly why I wanted to talk to someone like Patrick, he can lend me valuable insight into which areas I should be focusing and some things I can do to make life easier for anybody involved in these future undertakings. For the efficiency of a team and the quality of the work, the advice is what you might hear if asking any professional about choosing the people they work with. Dr. Murray-John says, “Choose your team carefully. Look for people with overlapping interests. Respect them, and how their interests and expertise can contribute to the project.” Seriously, I’ve heard almost the exact phrase from people putting together a film crew, or a band, or a construction project, or even deciding who rides with whom on a road trip. Anything repeated this often, across this many demographics, must have some truth to it! Here’s a paraphrasing of some other tips I gleaned from his responses: Be honest, about what you know and what you don’t; Don’t be afraid to ask for help to better understand a tool or concept, remember the people you’re dealing with are humanists (read: “talkers”); It’s important to respect the programmers, they know how perform necessary work that I do not. On the other hand, I also know stuff they don’t, so don’t be a doormat either.

Patrick recommended quite a few programs to start experimenting with, but I don’t yet understand any of them well enough to describe them now, that sounds like fodder for a later blog post anyhow. The gist of the advice I can pass along from Dr. Murray-John is to become as familiar with the “production” side of things as you comfortably can, this will not only allow you to better communicate with the programmers, it will help you to appreciate the complex and laborious work they do to help transmit your ideas. Would it kill you to take these guys out for drink every now and then?

The main purpose, and simultaneously the biggest payoff, to choosing a team wisely, then learning as much from each other as possible in a group setting is this: the line between “humanist” and “technologist” is becoming more and more blurred. Digital Humanities isn’t just wearing away long-held distinctions between information sets, molding them into tools to generate new ideas and foster understanding, Digital Humanities is also eroding the distinctions between people. We would not be fools to expect similar outcomes we’ve seen with data happening with the people who curate it. When we no longer adhere to titles on business cards and diplomas, we can get closer to the truth of our world and, more importantly, each other.