Archive for September, 2011

Cuneiform Texts

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

For the first project, I chose to make myself uncomfortable. I had never researched cuneiform text before. I had no idea where to even start. Luckily, the University of Mary Washington Library had several sources on cuneiform texts. Only archaeologists wrote a few. A historian and a computer programmer wrote the other two. I attempted to prove a fact postulated in a text read in class that stated a linkage between computer programming and cuneiform text. I failed. Even the computer scientist’s writing failed to provide pictures or sources of cuneiform tablets to reinforce and back up his statements. I changed the focus of my project based upon the sources in hand. The books and articles I had discussed the progression of language from pictograms to cuneiform, or pictures to text. When I attempted to make pictograms, I could see the conscious decisions made by the scribe class to progress towards a more text and syllable driven language. It is hard to think about a shift of pictures representing ideas to those ideas becoming sounds and basic letters, but that is exactly what happened. At first, scribes to account for tithes to the religious temples used the pictures. Later on, cuneiform began to be used to write histories, laws, and lineages. Scribes into cuneiform wrote the Code of Hammurabi. I would only have been able to understand the progression by actually practicing the creation of the tablets. Try it some time.


Epic Tweets

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

This article dropped yesterday and lists the top tweets and their historical context. The tweets include those that helped start the Arab spring revolts. Articles like this may show how historians will do their work in the future. Skimming and text mining social media posts for first-hand accounts of historical events. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Ben Franklin had live tweeted the Continental Congresses? Or if there had been a Facebook group “Roanoke’s Colony: Surf All Day, Get Killed All Night?” This change in technology and communication shows that there needs to be a shift in education of history. Student in history need to understand how to evaluate any kind of source and how to contextualize technology within the larger historical framework.

Microsoft Surface: Could it be the game changer?

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

In 2007, the first Microsoft Surface was released. Surface can respond to 52 different touch points, which allows for multiple users to interact with the device. Code named Milan, it was originally intended for the DoD and commercial enterprises. One cannot help but think about the uses by everyday individuals on an everyday basis. The second version of Microsoft Surface is about to be released as a prototype. If this technology were to move on to BestBuy or Target shelves, what would be the impact? Seamus Bellamy of MaximumPC believes that its impact will be similar to the first PC’s or the iPad. In scope or use, this is correct, but in functionality and where it fits within a user’s typical day, the surface will be completely different. You won’t be able to drag the Surface on to the subway or metro, but you will be able to have game night with your kids. In the morning, you can read a newspaper on it, while your kids read the funnies or children’s e-books. You may be able to even shop for groceries or check stocks on the surface. What do you think the Surface would be used for?

Youtube Founders start new Journey

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Today, the New York Times ran an arcticle. In it, two of Youtube’s founders, Chady Hurley and Steve Chen, announced that they will be working on revamping the site Delicious. Yahoo owns Delicious, but wants to sell it off or just shut it down. Chen and Hurley beleive that with information overload, Delcious could finally become useful to a greater audience. Another part of their reasoning struck me as something that may be useful in our later discussions in class. Read this quote: “But Mr. Chen said the team also “liked the idea of saving one of the original Web 2.0 companies that started the social sharing movement on the Web.” He added: “There was some sense of history. We were genuinely sad that it would be shut down.” There is a sense of history amongst these sites. Is this sense of history similar to an old house, to an artifact, or to an old book? It seems that events happen much faster than they did a couple hundred years ago (I.e. the Hundred Years War). For a house to be placed on the National Register for Historic Places, it has to be at least 25 years old, and that is pushing it. Now, a site like Delicious is historic and has historic value, when it was just founded in 2003.

What do you think? Is Delicious historic? How do comments like this aid in our discussions of the Digital Age?

Example and Thoughts on Inforgraphics: A Resource for Classmates

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

I found this Infographic that compares and contrasts the internet of 1996 vs. 2011. It will seve as an example of how to represent information, statistics, and images in a way that is informative and visually based. Notice the use of graphical representations to represent numbers of people, and also note the use of scales. The scales are visible, but they are designed to be compatible within the design scheme as a whole.