Week 2 Wrap Up

I'm here this week. Get jealous.
I’m here this week. Get jealous. Photo from www.housing.uvic.ca.

Here we are, the end of week two! I’m at the University of Victoria, attending the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. It’s gorgeous here! But that aside, how did you do with your goals, and what do you hope to accomplish in the coming week? Let us know in the comments!

A few things:

Sarah and Ryan: did you see this call for papers?

On the subject of tools for mindmapping, ProfHacker has a post today on hacking Prezi for different uses, including to make thought or concept diagrams. Anybody experienced with Prezi see its utility there? I’m not, but I can see how the iterative function would be useful to differentiate among claims, sub claims, and bits of evidence.


11 thoughts on “Week 2 Wrap Up

  1. I was feeling sad because I didn’t make much progress on the newspaper front (so tired of it!!). I felt beaten down after some not so winning news about a closed, unprocessed collection that I fantasized would be open just for me.
    On the bright side, I came up with my article argument while explaining my research to my dad, and I did some planning and contacting for my research trip. So I could live with myself (I was feeling really bad about an off week), I wrote my Women’s History syllabus. My summer class is a go (yay!) and it felt so good to do my favorite form of writing. I know I’m supposed to love having this free time for research but I am finding that I hate not having a class to work on. If we’re talking about favorite forms of writing, mine are: syllabi, historiography, lecture / classroom activities, and then research writing, which makes me insane.

  2. NARA II was useful/exhausting/overwhelming/productive. In four days, I got through one of three important record groups and was often reminded of the following:
    1) Thank goodness my dissertation is not an agency history – so sick of blue onion-skin carbon copies!
    2) Turboscan is freaking awesome! My iPhone is awesome! Technology is awesome!
    3) NARA II isn’t actually that bad, at least for what I’m looking at. And their facility is lovely!
    4) I need a chiropractor! Exclamation points!
    I have a lot of processing to do, especially because Day 4 turned into “hurry up and scan everything” sort of blitz. This week I hope to start going through the scans with some sort of TBD strategy. Vague, I know. My head is still sort of spinning.

    I’m heading to Kansas and Missouri on the 23rd. I still need to do some prep work and touch base with the DDE Library archivist again, but the NARA trip helped me get a better sense for what I’m looking for.

    Other thoughts:
    Yes, I used Pomodoros in the archives. Having 14 stars by the end of the day made me feel less proud and more exhausted, but my achy hip, tiny bladder, and short attention span benefited enormously from the break intervals. All in all, thumbs up.
    I did see that call for papers about Cold War photography. I’m toying with a couple of paper topics, the clearest of which is based on a piece I wrote in Dr. Biddick’s Methods class about archival accessibility and historical narrative. But that submission should probably get shelved until July.

    • My strategy is to replicate the structure of the archives in my file system, so that I always know where I found something. My Finder window looks something like this:

      As I go through sorting everything, I make bare bones Zotero entries that I’ll come back and flesh out later. I like that I can add tags and link among files from a quick skim, making it easier to find things later. If I sense that a document is really important, I’ll spend more time with the tagging so that something is easier to find later. Here’s what my Zotero window looks like:

      I know some of you use different organization methods–Matt in particular, from the dissertation colloquium. How do y’all organize your shtuff?

  3. I just finished my final pomodoro for Saturday/the week, and I’m happy to report that I met my daily goals. I’m in Victoria for one more day, leaving Monday morning because I have to get back to Columbus to start teaching on Tuesday. DHSI has been both energizing and exhausting–energizing because of all the cool and important work people are doing, and because of the potential that I see for digital methods in my own work, and exhausting because of the sheer number of things to do and see. I’m finalizing and fine-tuning my syllabus during my down time here, and tonight I decided (maybe in folly–we’ll see) to incorporate Twitter into my summer class. I’m not going to have a Twitter backchannel going at all times, but I’m going to require students to tweet a certain number of times (five, actually) each week as part of their participation grade. I may also have them live-tweet an in-class film viewing. Other people have done this and reported great results, so why not?

    My goals for the coming week are simple: at least eight pomodoros a day, Monday through Saturday, and four of those have to be devoted to my next chapter revision. In order to not let teaching consume all of my time, I’ll at least have those two hours of solid writing time devoted to meeting my next chapter deadline. For this week, I also want to finish going through a DropBox folder of materials that I have for my unwritten chapter, move all of my newspaper sources for that chapter into Zotero, and do a second pass through the newspaper databases to make sure that I have everything. Next week I’ll start using the Wayback Machine to go through archived versions of the Balm in Gilead homepage, but I want to have my more traditional sources all together first.

  4. This week, I organized all of my files from my Michigan research trip. In response to Dan’s question about organization, my new system looks almost identical to Dan’s finder window. I try to replicate the structure of the archives, but I don’t create individual pdf files for each document. I have about 20,000 pages (probably 3-4,000 documents), so I found it less time consuming to batch docs in the same manuscript box together in larger pdf files. Whenever I take a photo of a document, I have a 3×5 card with all of its information (record name, box number, folder name) in the shot in case I make a mistake when organizing stuff on my computer.

    Next week, my goal is to read studies from the 1940s and 1950s on admissions practices and standardized tests, so I can start writing a new opening chapter.

  5. Again in the vein of timeline apps, someone on H-Sci-Med-Tech recommended Mindnode as a tool for timelining and showing genealogical relationships; it falls into the mindmapping realm that we talked about earlier in the week. I dabbled in it a little bit maybe a year ago, and it has some nice features. It seems more customizable than Scapple, but it’s based in the cloud, which could be a problem if the parent company gets bought by Apple or Google or whoever. (Incidentally, that probably also makes the CHNM tool I posted earlier a preferable option, since CHNM is based at George Mason, and they’re very unlikely to be bought by Silicon Valley.) Scapple is also $5 cheaper, but doesn’t have an iPad option. Democracy of web tools!

  6. Not much progress this week due to AP History Exam grading. I did write some first lines to the second part of the essay. I also took notes on Tracy Davis’s _Stages of Emergency_ and Guy Oakes _The Imaginary War_. More next week and a blog update that is better than the last.

  7. I also had a difficult week two. I found myself distracted most of the week (likely because I’m waiting for feedback from my advisor on my chapter and find myself obsessively checking my email even though I know he always takes about 2 weeks to get back with comments). On a more positive note, I did just submit my encyclopedia essay, so yay for reaching part of my goal. I really didn’t work on the book review at all, which is unfortunate so that’s my goal for this week: I want it done.

    My other goal for this week is to organize some research (ideally all of my chapter 3 stuff). Like I mentioned in a previous comment, I use Evernote. I organize it very similarly to Dan and Matt in that I make folders that reflect the organization in the archive (I took a screen shot of this but could not figure out how to attach the image to the comment, oh well). I create a note for each source (i.e. letter, receipt, etc.) and if I don’t have time to take more detailed notes on it right away, I tag it with “not processed”. Right now I have a lot of “not processed” notes that I need to transcribe and re-tag accordingly. Another helpful thing I’ve been doing with “tags” is tagging each source with the chapter number once I’ve actually incorporated it into a draft. This way, I can pull up all those sources easily when revising and know which sources I haven’t yet incorporated.

    Also, Melanie, you are not insane (or we both are). Those are my favorite kinds of writing too and I think the other reason I’m having a hard time transitioning into summer writing is that I’m not teaching…

  8. My presentation went very well and got lots of good feedback; my training on the analysis program was boring but useful, as expected; I only made it through one-and-a-half interview transcripts. Sigh.

    This week, I have friends in town so I’m managing my expectations with how much work I can get done. So, I repeat my unachieved goal for last week of analyzing three additional interviews, and that’s it.

  9. I had a tough time this past week and accomplished just about nothing. I am the worst! But after devoting like 40 hours to searching for a new apartment and visiting 15-20 places, we decided just to stay where we are. So I guess that’s what I did last week. Wedding planning stuff also started to suck some time.

    I had promised to do some other things: Get organized, transcribe interviews, plan trip to Washington, assess progress from last semester and update committee. I am definitely going to DC on Friday for fun/work, so let’s see if I can’t make some progress on those plans this week. And this week I will transcribe, and I will remind my committee that I exist.

  10. Carly, please. When it comes to underwhelming oneself, I insist on being the worst. Ta-Nehisi Coates captures my problem fairly well:

    “The old adage is true — writing is rewriting. But it takes a kind of courage to confront your own awfulness (and you will be awful) and realize that, if you sleep on it, you can come back and bang at the thing some more, and it will be less awful. And then you sleep again, and bang even more, and you have something middling. Then you sleep some more, and bang, and you get something that is actually coherent. Hopefully when you are done you have a piece that reasonably approximates the music in your head. And some day, having done that for years, perhaps you will get something that is even better than the music in your head. Becoming a better writer means becoming a re-writer. But that first phase is so awful that most people don’t want any part.”

    I can’t seem to hear the music. I typed about 100 pages of notes in the past two weeks and was planning on turning that into a finished chapter before heading to SHAFR on June 19. I would like to believe that it’s not the amount of material (primary and secondary sources for a well-documented period) that prevents me from writing faster. It’s more worrying that I find the chapter I’m working on to be horrendously boring, yet essential for everything that follows. I would ask for advice, but I’m afraid the answer is simply to get it done. More on that next week…

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