Researching in my Pajamas

Carla, Katie, Lauren and I decided to make a documentary about the use of online databases and research for our final project. We started with the idea that the internet has increased access to information for research, and we narrowed our topic down from there. We decided to interview a professor who we know has done research for a book recently. We interviewed Dr. Poska from the History and Women and Gender Studies departments about her experience as an academic and as a professor with online databases. Dr. Poska talked a lot about how digitized primary and secondary sources has made her research easier because she no longer has to go to every little town to access their records (she can now research in her pajamas). As we have discussed in this class before, the internet has increased accessibility to a lot of information, and databases that offer primary and scholarly secondary sources are among the most best the internet has to offer to college students and scholars.


Primary Sources

Washington Dodge, Eyewitness account of sinking of the Titanic, April 15, 1912. (Gilder    Lehrman Collection).     reform/resources/eyewitness-account-sinking-titanic-1912.

United States National Archives and Records Information. A third-class ticket for a white liner.

United States National Archives and Records Information. Letter of claims from William Gwinn.

United States National Archives and Records Information. Letter of claims from Charlotte Drake Cardeza.

United States National Archives and Records Information. Partial list of names of people taken onboard the Carpathia.

United States National Archives and Records Information. Case against Oceanic Steam Navigation Company.

 Secondary Sources

 Titanic (1997). Performed by Kate Winslet, Lenoardo DiCaprio. United States: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, 1997. Film.

Titanic (1997). Music from James Horner. United States: Sony Classics, Sony Music, 1997. Soundtrack.

 “Biblioteca Virtual Miguel De Cervantes.” Biblioteca Virtual Miguel De Cervantes.

Derose, Steven J. “Navigation, Access, and Control Using Structured         Information,” The American Archivist 60, no. 3, Special Issue on Encoded        Archival Description: Part 1-Context and Theory (1997): 298-309.

Coleman, Alison Colman. “ and Net. Pedagogy: Introducting Internet Art to          the Digital Art Cirriculum,” Studies in Art Education 46, no. 1 (2004): 61-  73.

Mcmanus, Barbara F. and Carl A. Rubino. “Classics and Internet Tehnology,” The American Journal of Philology 124, no. 4 (2003): 601-608. 

Rekrut Martha D. “Using the Internet in Classroom Instruction: A Primer for          Teachers,” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 42, no. 7 (1999): 546- 557.

Walz, Joel. “Critical Reading and the Internet,” The French Review 74, no. 6          (2001): 1193-1205.

Tweeting from Space

Today at my internship, I was researching some stuff on the International Space Station and I ran across some information about the first tweet from space back in 2009. I know that this is now old news, but I thought it was pretty cool and thought I should share with the class because we have been talking so much about social media connecting people, and now people are connected to astronauts through twitter in (almost) real time. In 2009, for an astronaut to send a tweet from space, it actually had to be emailed to someone on earth, who could then tweet it for them (because they only had enough internet access for each astronaut to send out two emails a day. Mike Massimino, who sent the first space tweet, had to email his to NASA JSC who then posted it for him. A software update that was installed to the ISS in 2010 now allows astronauts to live tweet from the ISS. The on board internet access is called the Crew Support LAN and allows the ISS crew to remotely access a computer on the ground and use its internet connection via an on board laptop to tweet.

First tweet from ISS

First live tweet from the ISS 

Internet Privacy

We started talking about this in class, and I thought I should bring this issue back up because it is directly related to UMW. A few people at UMW have been trying to get the #IStandWithFaith trend going to get the attention of the school and of disability services. They have posted a Facebook event to try to raise awareness about the issue, and to get people involved. Here is what the Facebook event says happened:

Last week, Faith was inappropriately confronted by a staff member at disability services who had violated her privacy and printed out a copy of a PRIVATE facebook status in which Faith expressed frustration with their ineptness.

Faith was implicitly coerced to feel guilty about her status and we want to raise awareness that NEGATIVE FREE SPEECH is not being welcomed at UMW. FREE SPEECH MATTERS. We as students HAVE RIGHTS to express opinions without any form of intimidation.

Although this explanation does not give exact details about what happened, the issue of privacy on the internet is clearly a contributing factor.  This goes directly into what we were talking about in class. The internet is not private, not even your personal Facebook page, because things are put on the internet specifically for people to see them. As we all know, Facebook is making their pages increasingly less private, and therefore, everything we as users of Facebook post is within the public realm. That obviously affects the way that some people use social media. If you expect that people will see your posts, even those that were not intended to do so, you are probably going to be more wary about what you post.

I am not saying any of this is right or wrong. I have no insight into the details of the issue presented by the Facebook post, other than what was written in the description. She is making the claim in comments in the page, however, that social media is inherently private, because only those you choose to be friends with can see what you post. Although there is that security in social media, I do think it is a false security. In another post on the page, she says that her status was brought to the attention of the Disability services by another student. Again, I have no idea what exactly happened, and I am only going off the details on the Facebook page, I think that this incident serves as a reminder that what we post online can never really be private.

Propaganda Campaign

Our propaganda campaign is based on the government from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In Fahrenheit 451 the government does not want people to read because it would lead people to think for themselves. The people who are living under this government get their information from radio like ear buds, or flat screen television like technology that only shows soap operas.

My group made posters, and a radio advert as propaganda trying to convince people to turn in their books for burning. We decided that posters would be a way in which this government spread their propaganda because they are a simple and constant way of remind people of what you want them to do. I did three posters that focused on burning books in general, using quotes from Fahrenheit 451. Katie, Carla, and Lauren made posters for individual books we thought would be particularly dangerous. We also decided that the radio advert would be good because it could be streamed into the earbuds, as a reminder.

Here is the radio advert that Carla created for us:

Here are the general posters that I created reminding people to turn in their books for burning:

Book Burning Poster_4 Book Burning Poster_2 Book Burning Poster_1

Here is Katie’s poster warning against Slaughterhouse-Five:

Propaganda Poster 2

Here is Carla’s poster warning against Mein Kampf:

Propaganda Poster 1

And here is Lauren’s poster warning against The Jungle:

Propaganda Poster 3

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.

Domenach, Jean Marie. “Leninist Propaganda” The Public Opinion Quarterly, no. 2 (1951): 265-273.

Fraser, John, Anthony Dorrell and Sarah Wilson. “Propaganda.” Oxford Art Journal 4, no. 1(1981): 65-69.

Mahaney, Darlene C. “Propaganda Posters.”OAH Magazine of History 16, no. 3 (2002): 41-46.

Smolla, Rodney A., written by Ray BradburyThe Life of the Mind and a Life of Meaning: Reflections on “Fahrenheit 451″Michigan Law Review, no. 6, (2009): 895-912.

Propaganda Project Topic

For the Propaganda Project, my group decided to do a propaganda campaign based on the government from the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. We are making posters and a radio ad that stress the idea that books are evil and should be turned over to the government or fire department to be destroyed.   I have already made some of my posters (an example of one is below), and I am using quotes from Fahrenheit 451 and from the book cover for the theme of the poster. Lauren, Katie, and Carla are making posters that will be against specific books. Book Burning Poster_4

Women Computers

I love that we are talking about women computers for this class, because it is one of my favorite obscure historical topics. I am currently interning for the NASA History Office, and I was just having a conversation with one of my coworkers about it. She pointed me towards part of the NASA Langley archive that has information about “when the computer wore a skirt.”

The first women hired by the NACA (NASA’s predecessor) were hired because there was a weird belief that women would be better at little details and would therefore be better at the computations that the male engineers had been doing up until this point. These women mostly had bachelor degrees, but were still hired as “subprofessionals,” even though men with the same qualifications would have been “junior engineers.” Despite the lower value and pay put on women computers, they did get perks, such as being allowed to continue work after marriage, which was something a lot of careers did not allow. In the 1940s the NACA also began recruiting African-American women to work as computers. These women worked in a segregated team, and would occasionally work with other groups when extra help was needed.

These women computers were hired to read film, run calculations, and plot data. The data they analyzed was very important obviously for seeing the results of individual tests, which made the work these women did crucial to war time aeronautical advances. Women continued to do this work until electric computers were introduced, at which point they became the computer programmers. People like to talk about how amazing it is that America put a man on the Moon before computers, which is always said with the assumption that the NASA (male) geniuses did all the work of the computers. In reality NASA had a large and important workforce made up of women that get ignored by most historical narratives of aeronautical research and the space race.

Image Credit: NASA Langley Research Center #L-1957-00989


Titanic Radio Broadcast

For our radio broadcast project, my group decided to do a radio interview with two survivors from the Titanic. We decided to use the Titanic, because radio and newspapers would have been the main way that people got information about the tragedy.

Katie is the radio interviewer, Carla is Madeleine Astor who was an upper class passenger, and Lauren is Violet Jessop who was part of the crew of the Titanic. We used Audacity to record the audio and edited it so it sounded more like a radio broadcast.

“Madeleine Astor.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, September 13, 2014.
“Madeleine Force Astor – Biography – –” Biography. Accessed September 27, 2014.
“Miss Violet Constance Jessop (Titanic Crew: Stewardess) – Titanic Survivor.” Encyclopedia Titanica. Accessed September 27, 2014.
Winston, Brian. Media, Technology, and Society: A History from the Telegraph to the Internet. London: Routledge, 1998.


Cave Painting Map

This is the cave painting that my group came up with. We each picked a cave painting that we liked from a different continent, and then recreated them. In our map we have information about cave paintings, the original cave paintings with information about them, and then our version of the cave painting.

I recreated the cave painting from Bhimbetka, India using paint on computer paper

Potential Projects

I personally like the idea of working on Table 3′s option 1 [Create a book cover, film, movie poster, and advertise for the film and book over the radio to emphasize how the change of storytelling switched over from oral histories and books, into widespread broadcasting system]. I think this would be a fun project because it would allow us to analyze the change of the spread of information from oral to print to broadcast. I think it could be expanded into advertising for anything, instead of just a movie or book, and could even be combined with some of the ideas about studying changing propaganda.

I also like  the idea of setting up mock historical twitters to live tweet historical events. This would then give us the opportunity to play with the differences in how information was delivered (ex: newspaper) versus twitter today. There would then be a write up or explanation about what the twitter experiment showed and the historical context of how it actually went (for example, no one actually knew the American Revolution was over for a while, but they would have if information could have travelled instantly). I think it would really help put the differences into context of what most of us know best today.

Researching differential access to information technology today, even within America would be interesting, because this gap has been lessening. Studying it historically and maybe making an info graphic to go with it would be interesting.