Posts Tagged ‘final project’

absolute final

This is my final final project. Thanks to everybody for this class!


Read Full Post »

Finally, my final project is online. Now, it is time for some conclusive remarks. First of all, I would like to thank all my classmates and Professor Paula Petrik for some great insights. New Media is not as easy as I earlier assumed but at the same time you don’t need a lot of technological information to design an elementary web page. You need just a little bit of CSS and Photoshop. Then, everything depends on your creativity and willingness to learn.

On the level of the time devoted to different assignments, it is interesting that as the semester went on and the assignments became more complex, I actually devoted less time to each assignment. In this sense, the most time consuming project was the first CSS page. With respect to other assignments, the most challenging were: footnotes in the type; colorizing in the image; header image in the design and the link scheme in the final project.

Referring to my progress in the class, I can say that if at the beginning of the semester, I hardly imagined myself being able to produce some sort of a website, then, now, I am confident that I can at least recognize when a site is developed professionally and how to improve some design elements in it. Also, during the semester I decided to change the character of my assignment from one based on text and documents to one based on the visual elements. So, in addition to some web design skills, this course helped me understand the added value of images in understanding the past.

Concerning the problems which I’ve encountered on the road to my assignments, I think the main problem was my laziness. In addition, I have to say that I am a part of that side of the humanity, which is reluctant to embrace any new technology only on the grounds that it is “new.” The fact that I am a historian only enforces this tendency. That is precisely the reason why I am glad that in addition to some elementary web design skills, I have developed a new perspective on the role of the images and photography in history. Now, I can say that in addition to being an appendix to the main content, images are valuable sources on their own.

As a result of this course, I think about several future projects, which will rely on the skills developed during this course. First of all, I will develop a personal web site with a special section devoted to my dissertation work. In addition, I plan to add a section on the role of the visual elements in my work. Among the visual elements I plan to concentrate on maps and photographs.

Another project concerns the development of an educational curriculum, which will take into account the new technologies and their role in the teaching and learning of the historical disciplines. I plan to devote a special place to the question of how Internet emphasizes the role of the visuals in our understanding of history.

Read Full Post »

Since there has been a lot of debate about the nature of science and the role of scientists, I thought that some of you might be interested in a discussion on “Visualizing Science”. This discussion is interesting not only for scientists. I think is is also relevant for historians. Participants in the discussion stress the importance of illustrating scientific knowledge through art, in order to inform the wider public on the challenges of the modern science.

Some would argue that science and art are incompatible. By their essence, science is about analyzing data and drawing conclusions, while art is about creation and improvisation. So, it is right to argue that to a certain extent, by trying to illustrate complex concepts, artists might distort their meaning. But, at the same time, in this way, they focus the attention of the wider public on these subjects. Thus, they facilitate the interaction of the public with scientific knowledge.

In addition, the fact that two scientists are trained to talk about certain things does not mean that, in their discussion, they just interchange their own brains. Certainly, they use language to express their thoughts and in this way they transform their scientific concepts from the world of ideas to sentences and words. So, one can say that they will never come to fully transmit their own ideas. In this way, images can add a new perspective on the scientific knowledge.

So far, I talked only about science, but at a closer look, the lines from above could easily apply to the realm of historical scholarship. After all, aren’t we not facing difficulties in expressing our ideas? Well, these difficulties are faced by every human being. Of course, but with us, the problem is much more visible because the language is in fact our main professional tool.

These thoughts came to my mind while I was engaged in colorizing the images for my final project. Surprisingly, I am not worried that I will get the colors wrong. Why? Well, because, as well as with words, images could not provide a full description of the past. Moreover, how can images and words provide a “true representation of the past” if they cannot do it even with the present.

Of course, this does not mean that I will use arbitrary colors for my images. All that I can do is to approximate the colors of the time to convey a glance into that historical period. In addition, I think the goal of this exercise is not only to approximate the reality, but also to engage the attention of the public to this intriguing aspect if studying history.

Read Full Post »

In my previous post, I referred to my final project as a colorization project. On the one side of the pages, I will have black and white images of the Russian October Revolution. On the other side of the pages, I will display the same images in color. My argument is that in this way, visitors to my website will be able to see not only the gray scale of the events, but also their color representation. In this sense, their understanding of those events will be more complex, but, at the same time, the past will be less of a foreign black and white country.

So far, it seems that everything is going smooth and all I need to to is just to follow the instructions of Photoshop and to get a deeper knowledge of the portraits and the dress code of that period. Nevertheless, there seems to be one more aspect of my colorized project. This aspect concerns the web surfers with different degrees of colorblindness.How to convey a sense of color to persons who cannot see any color?

I started to think about these issues, after reading Leslie Jensen-Inman’s thoughts on Contrast is King. The main idea is that if for normal vision, contrast is king, then for viewers with colorblindness, contrast is King. In other words, if for a person with normal vision, contrast is an additional device to improve the readability and the overall feeling of the website, then to a colorblind person contrast is crucial, because this category of users are able to feel the color only when a strong contrast is conveyed.

From theory to practice! In the article Jensen-Inman provides a series of tools, which can help us to design a contrast and color safe website. From these series, I especially recommend two websites: checkmycolors.com and graybit.com. Both of them are good tools for checking a website in terms of color contrast. The former website is a devise to check the arrangement of colors on a website while the later reads your website in a gray scale.

I have to say that I tried it for my own portfolio site, and it proved slightly painful: out of 27 elements on my page, I got on average 15 failures. Nevertheless, it is better to improve your site in the design phase, then to wait for a couple of years. In addition, it helps to put your website in a context with other websites. As Jensen-Inman acknowledges: “The only site I tested that did not have any “failures” was checkmycolours.com.”

Since my final project is focused on colors, I have to think about the ways in which to provide a sense of colors not only for the audience with normal vision, but also for the part of the audience, which has different degrees of colorblindness. Since a web page is a combination of color and text, I will provide an in depth description of the each element of the colorized images.

Read Full Post »

CSS page

Finally, after hours of creation and destruction, I’ve uploaded some kind of a CSS page, which as I hope will change a lot during the semester. I have to say that at the beginning, every task is overwhelming, but during the process of creating something, you always learn certain things. It might not be visible on the final product but as any good markup language, the language of failure is much more visible than the language of success.

Read Full Post »

straight to the project

As time is cruel and does not support too much reflection, I will bring forward the behavioral and the visceral components of my brain hoping that with your active support, we will be able to create a pleasant environment for our creative skills and  to drown into the necessary level of stress in order to keep our focus strong. On the final project, my behavioral layer suggests to rely on the experience of Clio 1 and to provide some links, from my previous blog, which will shape the necessary context. So, here are my thoughts on the basic features of the project, and here is a very embryonic mock-up.

Referring to the nature of the project, I have to say that with every class in digital history, my initial excitement with overambitious project fades away, and instead it favors a minimalistic approach. The smaller the project, the better. In this sense, I am aware that the taming of Omeka and GIS  might be premature for my project. Instead, I will rely on the elements, which are available to me at the moment. These elements are digital photographs of several hundreds of archival documents and newspapers from the region of my interest. So, basically I will have to find an improved interface for the presentation of my documents. At this moment, I can think of a map of the region with a timeline. On this timeline, I will assemble collections of documents, according to the year of their creation. Finally, the mock-up should not be perceived as a solid structure, but rather as a starting point for my portfolio.

Read Full Post »