Archive for February, 2012

James Farmer Progress

Monday, February 27th, 2012

For this week, our group finished the group contracts and continued pushing forward on our individual assignments. Michelle and I started looking through and uploading the video, but ran into some problems in the uploading process – the videos, even compressed down into small quicktime files, were too large for vimeo’s basic account. We tried uploading the video to youtube, and it uploaded successfully, but it couldn’t be played because the video was too long. There are ways to increase the video length you can upload on youtube, but I’m not sure at the moment how one goes about doing that. It seems to be offered at random by youtube itself…? Another thing we should look at is different file types. It seems to me that I should be able to compress the file down to the appropriate size, but I don’t know how. Clearly, google and experimentation will be necessary. As for the workload, Michelle and I are talking about splitting the work of uploading and subclipping by going to the media lab whenever we are free and uploading a video and while that’s processing sublipping it into key story parts. Those we can then use for making the trailer. It should be interesting to see what we can figure out!


Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

For our blog post this week, we were supposed to listen to a ted talk about Wikipedia and look at several historical Wikipedia pages. I greatly enjoyed the TED talk – while wikipedia is not a place to site, I have always found it an interesting place to start looking at material (potential primary sources, for example). It was fascinating hearing about how such a large website is run and monitored. While I think in many ways Wikipedia deserves all of the cautionary tales  surrounding it, I don’t think that means it  should never be used. Instead, I think that means people should think critically about the material they find on Wikipedia. One rarely finds articles that are so bad that they indicate something completely preposterous, like that Pocahontas and Mao were good friends. Rather, one has to look through the material cited and determine if you think the sources are both creditable and properly sited. In some ways, you could say that wikipedia requires that the viewer do what one is supposed to always do with historical documents.

The two articles that I ended up focusing on were the article on Casablanca the film and the article on the Franco-Muslim War. Both of these pages were extremely heavily hyperlinked and included many citations. The materials cited all seemed fairly legitimate, included a large and varied collection of subsections. The Casablanca article, for example, included categories on the plot, cast, and production, but also on things like initial response, lasting impact, and influence on other works.  The Franco-Mongol alliance article broke down how the relationship between the two countries worked, but also the many overtures and myths that contributed to the eventual alliance. Finally, the article discusses views from different historians and reasons for failure. Also, both had extensive revision history. Many of the most recent edits were fixing simple things, like typos or gramatical issues. Nothing appeared to be incorrect, and I was impressed by the sources both articles used. While neither article is something I would site in a paper, I would consider looking at the sources mentioned as a starting point for a research paper.

Building Contracts

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

For this week, much of my group’s focus has been on building our group contract. We have run into several (thankfully small) glitches, which affect our end goals. First of all, we thought we had the audio and video for all of the 13 lectures, but it looks like we have duplicates of several lectures. We are working on getting that sorted out, but it is slowing down our transcription and summary pace. Similarly, the audio and the video files we have are not linked together, so relinking them could prove to be a challenge. The video quality is also somewhat poor – we are not sure if we are going to try and recapture the footage or not, in an attempt to increase the video quality. It might not change the quality much at all, since all of the footage we have is on VHS tapes. But some of the video quality is very bad, and it might be worth trying on the off chance that’d it’d work.

As far as division of labor is concerned, it was actually very easy to work out who would do what. We all had pretty clear ideas of what we  wanted to do in our groups, and thankfully no one seemed to want to do the same thing! This made writing our contract much easier. While we will all going to help each other out as necessary, it was nice that everyone was interested in doing something different.

Google Map-Fu!

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

For this assignment, we were supposed to create a map in google maps and in google earth of a place of our choice. I chose to do a map in Paris, from the apartment my family and I stayed in several years ago, to the restaurant we went to the night we found out we were going to be stranded in Europe for Christmas. I did a jing webcast for ds106 a while back which tells the story in more detail, so if you are curious, go here.

I had little to no problem making a map of this walk, although the streets we walked to the restaurant didn’t show up on googlemaps, so I had to free-hand the line. But nevertheless, I found the process to be easy and user-friendly. Google Earth was slightly more complicated, but only marginally so. My computer is old, and so Google Earth had difficulty running on my machine, and I repeatedly received errors saying that GoogleEarth couldn’t properly connect to the internet. Nevertheless, I persevered, and successfully created a tour of the same walk.

Sadly, I don’t think either of these tools is very applicable to my groups project. While there are certainly ways to apply it (for example, showing on google maps were James Farmer’s lectures took place, or something) I don’t think they would add to our presentation of the material in any significant way. An interesting project (but for another group!) would be to create a map of all of the places James Farmer protested, or places he lived over te course of his life. I enjoyed playing around with google maps and google earth, and will definitely make use of them in the future, even if not for this group project.

Below, I have embedded a link to my googlemaps map.

View The Journey from the Frog et Rosbif to the Three Little Pigs in a larger map