Today’s Thought 11/11/2015

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I hate holidays. They should be celebrations but yet they are so commercialized. Let’s have a thanksgiving sale or a memorial day sale when there are more important things in the world.

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The Time When Your Life Was Changed Completely

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*This was my post from a blog I contribute on*

As many of my digital history classmates know, we learn new things everyday. Things I never knew were out there on the interwebs. This week we talked about social media and crowdsourcing.

For those who do not know, like myself, crowdsourcing solicits and combines data by users of the internet to help complete a project. Not the clearest definition, but in general terms, crowdsourcing takes data produced by everyone that has access to the internet to aid in some type of work. Jeff Howe, which we read in our class, provides a good explanation of crowdsourcing and its uses. Additionally, Tevor Owens also wrote about crowdsourcing that can help to understand what it is.

Here are some sites that are good examples of crowdsourcing: Old Weather and Operation War Diary. There are many other examples of this, but these are two we talked about in class.

And here is where the mind-blowing fact comes in.

Ever have to do a reCAPTCHA to prove you aren’t a robot? It’s one of those little boxes you have to fill that are unreadable numbers and letters. While it protects your information, it is also a crowdsourcing project. :O I know, right? I don’t even know what to think anymore.

How is this crowdsourcing you ask? Well, those little boxes that we fill out are actually of books that are being transcribed and digitized by no one other than internet users!

What. Is. Life.

What we do when we fill out the reCAPTCHA is transcribing text that is hard to read. The heads behind the project compare what responses were given to find the most accurate transcription of the text. This is insanity at the highest level! But this is also a great example of what we can learn by using the internet. History can be boring, but it can also bring many together to transcribe old text. We are all connected in some way or another.

For The Love of the Library 

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In my short time as a researher, I’ve never actually seen myself as a researcher or historian. I’ve more or less thought of myself as an historian in training, and sometimes just doing research. Grad school and classes didn’t change this. Although, I have encountered many opportunities in my classes to be a researcher. I took those chances and skills to call myself an historian in training, with the optimism that upon graduation I will be a historian and true researcher. But, in my second year something snapped. I began to feel like a grad student. I began to feel like I knew what I was doing, like I was meant to be here. To be honest, I have no idea what snapped. But I’m glad it did. I’m focused, driven, and excited about the future. I am forever grateful for my experiences at my summer internship at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for allowing me to be the researcher I want to be. I was so deeply immersed in the collections that I’ve found a love in archives and libraries. So much so that I get upset when people want to look at my favorite collection. It’s my hidden gem that I want to keep to myself. Alas, it is a popular collection. I think every researcher has that one collection they truly love. And if it wasn’t for HSP I would not have that experience. Going through boxes and folders finding amazing pictures is the highlight of my day. It’s my little piece of heaven that brings joy to my life. In that joy I realized I truly am an urban historian. No one will understand what I find so fascinating about train tracks but I smile at it nevertheless. And sometimes it is all that’s needed to make the day better. Library collections are my happy place and archives are where my soul wants to be. 

I am not an object

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Let’s get this straight. Men are beautiful. Women are beautiful. But we are not looks. We are more than that. While when you are first meeting someone you only have that to go on, but dig a little deeper. When you first meet someone, why can’t you call someone pretty or whatever and have that be it? Stop objectifying women, and men, because we look sexy or whatever. I’m guilty of this as well. But I believe it is more common for men to do this. I mean look at society and the media. Women are meant to be this beautiful sexy skinny model. And that is not the reality. So please, let’s stop with the objectification. Women are beautiful, but we are also smart, kind, and intelligent, and have respect for ourselves. We have a brain and interests that are not about makeup and looking nice. Yes, we enjoy hearing we are beautiful, but referring to us as beautiful consistently does not help your cause. We also have names. And they are not “Sexy” “Beautiful” or “Pretty.” Our names were given to us by our parents and we would like to be called by them. I am not speaking for the entire population of women, but I know a handful of women who feel as I do. As much as we respect you, please respect us. Good relationships cannot be built on whether some looks good or how nice their body is. Relationships are built on trust, shared interests, and respect for one another. Until this is realized the world will never change, nor will you have a long-lasting relationship.

The Joys of Archives

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The further I get in my education, the more excited I get about the possibilities and finds. I have the great position of researching in the archives at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. It might be the most rewarding position I have been in. I have found so many interesting things I never thought I would like. That being said, the archives, and the Historical Society, are virtually undiscovered. Ton of visitors flood the library daily, but most of them have been working on projects for months or years. Where are the new researchers? Archives hold many treasurers that are unheard of and not discovered. It is our job as historians and educators to make these sources known to the younger generations. One factor is high school and college students are not interested in history, yet they interact with it every day. Studying is so boring, they say, history is your life I say. The past may be over but examining the past makes for a better future. What better way to examine the past than through archives? Lets work together to make archives accessible and known. We need archives as the windows to the past.

Second Year Has Begun!

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We are back at it again. Second year of graduate school and surprisingly I am not too worried. Although I have three class, work, and graduate assistant duties I am looking forward to the challenge. It is going to be an interesting semester nevertheless. So I hope to capture my failures and successes as I finish my Master’s degree and hopefully Ph.D. My classes are Military History, Digital History, and Theories and Methods. All will have their challenges but with hard work and dedication anything is possible

A Little Summertime Break

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Shocking update. I finished my first year of graduate school. I’m a little surprised I actually did. It was tough but I learned a lot and had fun doing it. I have one more week left of “break” before summer classes start and I’m at it again. Its been a great break to relax and prepare myself for the remainder of my Master’s program. I’ve been in Philadelphia for almost a year now and while it has been a struggle I am glad to call this great city my home. It seems like I need to make more use of my blog… So I’m going to post more and some of my photos. I went to this great art fair that inspired me to sell some of my photos. Maybe I should do that. What is better than sharing art with people? Anyways, looking forward to the summer, not looking forward to the heat and humidity.