The Burning of Columbia uses digital media to commemorate history

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Have you ever dreamed of what it would be like to go back in time to take part in a historical event? In this podcast, we’ll meet someone who has been involved in helping many folks do the next best thing. Her name is Carrie Phillips, and she is the director of marketing and communications at Historic Columbia in Columbia, South Carolina.

Historic Columbia used digital media to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the burning of that city during the American Civil War. This kind of concept is gaining popularity in a variety of contexts, and I think you’ll agree that Carrie’s group designed Burning of Columbia expertly. Here are the highlighted topics from that interview:

  • About the historical event “Burning of Columbia…”
  • What inspired the design of the campaign
  • What were the goals
  • Who was involved and what their roles were
  • Deciding mix of platforms and message
  • Advice for others considering a similar approach
  • Audience feedback
  • Companion website
  • The future for this project
  • Tweeting historical events

Endnotes:

Downloadable case studies on livestreamed webcasts, museum interactives, and the use of Wikipedia for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.

Book Reviews: Art of Social, Art of Work, Impact Equation and Leadership Handbook

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

I’ve been working in (and with) social media for several years now. Despite all the emerging services, there’s been very little that’s actually new in approaching it. Guy Kawasaki is someone I respect, and it’s the reason for looking at this book more deeply. Its stated purpose “is to enable you to rock social media.” Much of what’s here, you’ve likely heard before, scattered across thousands of social media posts over the last few years. The charm of this book is that is distills this conventional wisdom into a concise handbook on social media process and strategy. From planning to writing to SEO and graphics—it covers exactly what you need to keep in mind. A good primer for the newbie, and a good reminder for the veteran.

The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

What is the impact equation? No worries, you won’t have to be good in math to understand it. Instead, this book is a reflection of the concepts that shape today’s social media-focused values. I have to admit that one statement in the first chapter really hooked me: “If you’re in a small town in central Louisiana, your needs will be different from those of someone in New York City.” I was “that guy” in a small town in central Louisiana when I discovered my digital heritage legs. I’ve now lived in Philadelphia and Miami, and can say the principles in this book will be applicable to any time and place or stage of learning. It provides insight on establishing your platform, and then demonstrating the bravery to be different, even as you attract an audience. The book is full of simple, yet profound, truths. A philosophical complement to Kawasali’s “Art of Social Media.”

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Admittedly, some of my interest in “The Art of Work” came from the author’s name being so similar to mine. Having read it now, I can say that it’s a good, concise distillation of methods for keeping perspective on work situations.  Like many books, it’s often allegorical or filled with stories from the lives of famous people (e.g. Walt Disney, Steve Jobs). The quote that introduces part two pretty much sums up the purpose of this work “Every single that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.” The book has a balance of practical and philosophical  advice. It calls on the reader to consider their situation and, with intention, employ “deliberate practice” so that they are able to live their best lives, which is often the result of repeated failures. The author’s story about becoming a writer is particularly inspirational. Goins sums it up by saying “…finding your calling, as mysterious as it seems, is not only a mystical process; it is intensely practical. You either act of what you know, or you miss your moment.”  All-in-all, this book is a quick read that encompasses profound life lessons.

The Leadership Handbook by John C. Maxwell

One of the first business books I ever bought was authored by John C. Maxwell. Billed as “the leadership expert,” John’s relationship-centered approach is good for introverts like me to remember now and again. This book is a keeper as it distills many of his leadership concepts into brief and actionable instructions. It goes beyond handbook to function as a devotional, and a course in positive habit development. Application Exercises and a Mentoring Moment end each chapter to ensure each lesson is taken to heart. One of the most valuable pieces of advice Maxwell offers is in the chapter “Keep Your Mind on the Main Thing.” There are times in life that you have to step back and ask three critical questions: 1. What gives me the greatest return? 2.What is most rewarding? 3. What is required of me? He adds to that a closing chapter on the importance of establishing a legacy by picking NOW how people should summarize your life. What’s your legacy? The stylistic elegance Maxwell has honed over his decades of writing has produced a volume of simple truths that you’ll want to continually come back to throughout your career to refocus your life, and savor.

Note: These books were provided to be as review copies by their publishers. I wrote these reviews because I they mean something to me, and I think you might like them as well.

Paging the Past: A compelling gaze into “the belly button of the ancient world”

Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World Book Cover Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World
Michael Scott
History
Princeton
2014
Hardcover
440

Note: This book was provided by press.princeton.edu as a review copy, though opinions below are entirely my own.

Living in a world that seems to inject an element of magic in nearly every story of time and place, it's surprising to me that Delphi hasn't attracted more attention to this point in books or film. In "Dephi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World," Michael Scott manages to craft a richly detailed history of this ancient place through an accessible narrative style.

While I confess to a bit of Delphi obsession, my knowledge of it would scarcely fill two pages of this book. The span of history covered is awe-inspiring. Has a historic site—and a relative few individuals (women no less) ever held such influence over world affairs so long a time?

Here are five interesting elements of this book that enlightened my understanding of Delphi, which Scott describes as “the belly button of the ancient world”:

  1. It’s virtually hidden away. Despite its central role in the ancient world, Delphi was never exactly accessible. It lies in the foot hills of the Parnassian mountains, “resembling a fortress that Nature herself had chosen to take care of.” Nature and time have obscured the site even more, but it has never seen more traffic either—about two million visitors per year.
  2. Vapor courage was the secret sauce. The Pythia’s responses were “inspired” by a vapor chasm, over which she sat on a tripod.
  3. It changed hands more often than Chrysler. Nothing speaks to Delphi’s political and cultural influence more than surviving invasions on too many occasions to count. For a small town, it carried tremendous staying power.
  4. It was a monument to heroism (from a certain point of view). Partly because so many cultures occupied Delphi at some time or another, the monuments there are a fairly definitive gallery of world history. It’s regrettable so few have survived, but this book describes them well.
  5. Nero (?!) slept here. Nero was indeed the first Roman emperor to visit Dephi. Initially, he gave much autonomy to the city’s ruling council, and was honored with a statue of himself there. Unsurprisingly, the relationship cooled when Nero claimed some of Delphi’s statues, and the Oracle made a comment to him about mother-murderers.

IMG_3771

There are several aspects of how this book was written and organized that I appreciated:

  • Shakespeare framed its structure (kind of). In his introduction, Scott frames the book’s three parts with a quote from Twelfth Night: “some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them.”
  • It’s chronological, but narrative. The book certainly has themes weaved into its narrative, but it is largely chronological. A wise move for making so much history make sense.
  • The illustrations add value. Quality photos and illustrations abound, always adding to the story without overwhelming it. Favorite images: “The Priestess at Delphi” and anything from the chapter on archaeological excavations of the early 20th century.
  • The end matter is a book unto itself. The story of the modern archaeological record is indeed my favorite part of this book, and it leads elegantly into perhaps the best end matter I’ve seen in any work: An insider walkthrough of the Delphi museum as it appears today, Abbreviations, Notes (about 60 pages) and a detailed index.
  • Top-grade construction. The first thing I noted about this book is the quality of its construction. The weight and feel of the paper, the binding and even the typographical presentation, make it a pleasure to read.

If Delphi intrigues you on any level, this book is a masterwork for your library. It’s authoritative and accessible, and only gets better in the final few chapters. Worth the read, in print format especially.

Question: What’s your favorite fact, story or resource about Delphi? Leave a comment below, or share it on social media with hashtag #voicesofthepast. I’ll be listening!

Paging the Past: No Greater Valor and the role of faith in a pivotal WWII battle

No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle That Sealed Allied Victory Book Cover No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle That Sealed Allied Victory
Jerome R. Corsi Ph.D.
Nonfiction
Thomas Nelson
October 28, 2014
Hardcover
384
http://www.amazon.com/No-Greater-Valor-Bastogne-Miracle/dp/1595555218/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424259376&sr=1-1&keywords=no+greater+valor

The role of faith in the military is a worthy subject as it plays a key role in a successful military. Surrounded by death, faith is both weapon and defense. In "No Greater Valor," author Jerome Corsi explores the role of faith in delivering the "Christmas Miracle" at Bastogne, Belgium, during World War II.

The narrative focuses specifically on American military faith in the Christian tradition. It’s a fair thesis in the context of the time and place of the subject matter. And, on the whole, the book is an engaging, solidly researched narrative about the beliefs of the people who experienced this chain of events.

There are several good stories encapsulated throughout the larger narrative. The stories are told from multiple perspectives using primary sources. Chiefly, this includes an exploration of General Anthony McAuliffe’s unlikely “Nuts” response to German demands for surrender. There are some good folkloric elements as well, such as the story of an eleven-man “ghost patrol” that advanced peacefully through no-man’s-land into American lines unchallenged and then disappeared into legend.

The legend of this moment in time extends to three tellings of the origins of “The Patton Prayer” by Chaplain James High O’Neill. This prayer was composed at the behest of General Patton for clear weather for battle, and printed on a Christmas card and distributed to soldiers. The prayer was credited for the unexpected break in bad weather on Dec. 23, 1944, that allowed American fighting planes to repel the Germans while other resupply aircraft relieved Bastogne’s suffering. The fortunate weather also earned O’Neill a medal from Patton.

If you’re interested in this as a historical work, you’ll find it more credible if you skip the author's hyperbolic introduction. Among other things, his remarks connect the end of "don't ask, don't tell" to the conjectural court martial of chaplains who refuse to marry same-sex military officers. The next sentence wonders at the likelihood of the banning of the Christian Bible from military bases.

The final chapter makes a more reasoned argument regarding the role of a moral code for keeping a nation united for the greater good. In “No Greator Valor,” Corsi accomplishes his goal in “picking up the pieces of history, and confronting the puzzles of the past” through compelling storytelling about people whose strength of character made a difference in a pivotal moment in time.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Book Review: Dek Unu

Dek Unu: Another Tomorrow Book Cover Dek Unu: Another Tomorrow
Gor De Meel
New Generation Publishing
November 24, 2014
http://www.amazon.com/Dek-Unu-Tomorrow-Gor-Meel/dp/1910266442/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428173861&sr=8-1&keywords=dek+unu

When I read a book review that says “I could not put this book down” I’m always a bit skeptical. But Dek Unu qualifies for this superlative statement. The only thing I knew about it when I started to read it was that it had some archaeology in it, and one of the early quotes that hooked me is “Knowledge of the past is knowledge of ourselves, he kept telling himself. If we don’t take history to heart, we have no future.”

While it contains those heritage values I hold dear, it more so blends my other favorite genres—Sci-Fi, fantasy and post-apocalyptic fiction to create the most pleasantly surprising read I’ve experienced in a while. The book is built in layers, with each piece of the narrative taking a slightly different approach as the story builds. Why did mankind fall? Who are the Protectors and what is their interest in us? What the destiny of the select children? Is life without faith a life of choice?

There are many intriguing plot and philosophical issues, but what makes this book shine is the skill of the narrative. It’s clean, well paced and entirely natural. Something you want to savor. Whether it’s debate among scholars or violence in the back alleys, Dek Unu is always accessible. With all the mysteries, the biggest remains who is Gor de Meel, author of such coolness?

Note: This book was provided as a review copy from the publisher

Book Review: The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig

The Southern Foodie's Guide to the Pig: A Culinary Tour of the South's Best Restaurants & the Recipes That Made Them Famous Book Cover The Southern Foodie's Guide to the Pig: A Culinary Tour of the South's Best Restaurants & the Recipes That Made Them Famous
Chris Chamberlain
http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Foodies-Guide-Pig-Restaurants/dp/1401605028/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1428172157&sr=8-1&keywords=the+southern+foodies+guide+to+the+pig

It's about history, it's about food, it's about the South! During my time in the North, I sought out little bits of southernness I could find. The Southern Foodies Guide to the Pig by Chris Chamberlain is one of those gems that fed my soul, and my mouth. Subtitled “A Culinary Tour of 50 of the South’s best Restaurants and the Recipes that Made Them Famous,” the book more than lives up to its promise.

  • Favorite profile: What sets this book apart is its interviews with the “masters” who make the meat. People like The Pit Master Pat Martin of the Fatback Collective, who raise awareness of heritage hogs and cook whole hogs around the country. The process for whole-hog cooking is described in g(l)orious detail.
  • Favorite Hint: 8 Ways to Use Bacon Grease made my mouth water and brought back fond memories of my grandmother’s cornbread (hint: use a tablespoon of it to grease your skillet before you bake).
  • Favorite tidbit: Then there are the nuggets of folks wisdom and myth busting between chapters. For example, “Wild hogs used to roam the fields of the lower end of Manhattan. Farmers had to build a wall to keep the pigs from digging up their crops. The street that ran alongside this wall became known as ‘Wall Street’.”
  • Favorite Recipe: Tennessee Whiskey Sauce
  • Meal for my bucket list: Central BBQ Baked Beans, Fresh green peas with new potatoes, fried apples, and double-cut pork chops with dirty rice. Blackberry crisp for dessert.

I’m back in the southerly regions now and looking forward to going home to Louisiana this summer to make that meal with my extended family. Thank you Mr. Chamberlain for sharing your storytelling and culinary skills with us in this Southern Foodies Guide.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Case Study: Alchemical Quest Rare Books Museum Interactive

alchem quest

In 2012, I managed development of a museum exhibit interactive called The Alchemical Quest, which supported an exhibit of rare books. The books originated during the golden age of alchemy, from the 16th and 17th centuries and were drawn from the collections of the Othmer Library of Chemical History. The report below documents the project team’s efforts to make these texts accessible and alive to visitors via touch projection technology.

Project Goals:

  • Reinforce the depth and complexity presented in the exhibition content
  • Implicitly reiterate the exhibition narratives while allowing for visitors to enjoy the imagery of the books through the interactive experience
  • Provide visitors with alternate means of experiencing the books in the exhibition
  • Foster curiosity and encourage deeper exploration of images and text
  • Demonstrate an example of an alchemical process in its entirety
  • Reflect the fantastical and practical balance found within the books

 

Case Study: Museum Interactive for The Alchemical Quest Exhibit by jkguin

 

 

20 years later, I finally understand what college media leadership taught me

 

current sauce teaser

 

My career is in digital media now, and I’m grateful for that. But my younger self romanticized the notion of being a newspaper journalist.  Almost 20 years later, the university student newspaper I edited is celebrating 100 years of publication and digitization of its archive. Its tradition may not be yet be gone with the wind, but is certainly being buffeted by modern reality. Here are my thoughts looking back on that time.]

As a painfully introverted Northwestern State University pre-forestry major in 1990, I made one of those classic freshman errors that changes the direction of one’s life forever. In my case, it was taking Intro to Mass Comm class as an elective, a move that derailed any dreams of making a career among trees and not people. Following one class, instructor Tom Whitehead declared I should be writing for the paper and that he was sending me to meet the Current Sauce editor in the journalism suite.

I couldn’t immediately think of an excuse not to, which destined me to spend the remainder of my college life working in the “J-Lab.” It was a indeed a laboratory where an experimental tradition of combined curiosity, tenacity and vision manifested in journalism that reflected ourselves as much as the world around us.

My time as editor-elect was when I first discovered my life’s purpose, though the emergence of social media a decade later that would finally give form to it. It was a time of dreaming about what my paper might be like, and exploring the wonder of historical perspective by looking back through the archives dating back to the earliest Current Sauce issues —identifying the best parts of its legacy, and evolving them with a new generation of writers and editors.

Our “experiments” were published on Tuesday morning, usually after a bleary all-nighter. Still we all anticipated noon, when we could savor a printed copy of our creation. The savoring slowly turned to stewing with each typo found leading up to 3 o’clock. For that was the appointed hour we assembled on that stickiest of all wickets—Media Writing Class, which began with the gang …er,.. group critique of the paper led by Dr. Sara Burroughs. If you are familiar with the character of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice, you have a sense of Dr. Burroughs.

Indeed, a weekly beating with a cricket bat would have been the quicker and less painful experience than those critiques. They examined every possible element of journalistic decision making that went into the issue—style, tone, grammar, placement, length and even design. The most thorough contributions came from classmates who had not (nor even cared to) write for the newspaper. The experience introduced me to the nuance of three critical career lessons:

  1. Fight fearlessly for the things that matter.
  2. Recognize a stalemate and change the conversation if you can.
  3. Take it on the chin when it’s due but always keep moving forward.

The beauty of the critiques is that they inspired more determination than defeat. If there was one thing wish I could have done better, it would have been to learn these lessons earlier in my college career and express much more gratitude for my co-editors both as people and as journalists capable of leading the paper in their own right. The talent, work ethic and diversity we had on staff that year was a source of endless conflict, but a profoundly rare gift.

We blew off steam like all proper journalism nerds—with more work. On publishing a tabloid “April Fools” insert along with the regular 12-page broadsheet, Tommy congratulated me on producing the most expensive issue of the Current Sauce ever. I congratulated him on witnessing publication of the Current Sauce’s finest edition ever. Around that time the editorial staff road tripped to Atlanta for the SSPJ conference where the Current Sauce was in competition for the first time. For all our bravado, no one was more shocked that us when we took home several awards, including an honorable mention for best overall newspaper.

We were fortunate to share one more unexpected and gratifying moment that meant more than an award. It was the end of the spring semester and the editorial staff were visibly worse for wear when we assembled for one of our last meetings. Suddenly, Dr. Burroughs appeared in the office—the first time I could recall seeing her in the suite. “This was an exceptional year for the paper,” she said. “Certainly, we’ve torn it to pieces every week, but I just wanted you all to know that.” With a wink she was off, like St. Nick.

Nearly 20 years later, I’ve worked in the digital media space in Center City Philadelphia, and am about to embark on a new adventure in Miami Beach. Two very different cultural environments than where I came from, yet I still find the lessons from that time enduring and influential. The cycles of experimentation and evolution, and the continual refinement finding one’s place in the world can be painful, but they are the ingredients of a legacy that spans generations.

As part of the celebration of the newspaper’s 100th year, Northwestern State University scanned every issue of the Current Sauce and recently put them on archive.org. Here’s the newspaper from my year as editor of “The Sauce.” What wonderful memories!

Case Study: Livestreamed Interactive Webcasts for Cultural Institutions

Drawing History: Telling the Stories of Science through Comics and Graphic Novels from ChemHeritage on Vimeo.

In 2013, as part of my work managing digital initiatives at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, I created a livestreamed program titled #HistChem to establish a deeper dialog with CHF’s audiences around topics of history, science and culture.

Among the program’s objectives:

  • Make the institution accessible by featuring its people, collections and research initiatives
  • Unify traditional & social media platforms
  • Spark compelling conversations about History & SciTech
  • Track effectiveness through metrics & social curation tools

A channel of the program’s episodes can be accessed here: https://vimeo.com/channels/789012

You can access the interim evaluation report with tips for other cultural institutions wishing to adopt livestreaming as well. View it below or by accessing this link: scribd.com/doc/232511146/Program-Report-Livestreaming-Engagement-Model-for-Cultural-Heritage

Program Report: Livestreaming Engagement Model for Cultural Heritage by jkguin

Laura Bang on classroom digital humanities projects at Villanova University

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This podcast features a conversation with Laura Bang. Laura works with Special and Digital Collections at Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library. She’s also active in the Philadelphia Digital Humanities community, which is where we often collaborate.

She’ll tell us about two digital humanities projects built by students at Villanova. One takes a look at the heritage of the small town of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. The other examines a historic manuscript from Peru. These projects are good examples of how simple ideas can preserve cultural identity … and help students learn those values while growing their digital skills.

Other links mentioned:

Voices of the Past on Twitter twitter.com/heritagevoices.

“Paging the Past” book reviews: http://www.voicesofthepast.org/tag/book-review/

Teaser photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/122638947@N08/13889171653