20 February 2017
Unit 1: Dangerous Knowledge Discoveries
The Dangerous Knowledge unit introduced the class to the digital humanities, a growing field with a need for expansion. The Kit Marlowe Project will create an open source platform for old writings to be further analyzed, researched, and discussed for all students and literary minds to use. Hundreds of questions were asked during our initial takes at ographies, citations, mapping, and discussion board posts. However, what made this first unit-experience different from many other classes, was that the answers to some questions were not known because every person was pioneer on this expedition. As the entire class worked together to help build the project, we were all learning something new and creating something from scratch.
A major focus of our first unit was creating and editing consistent citations for all the information present on the website. This was a critical component of our work because the project is open sourced. Since the information was pulled from all public sources, it was necessary to make sure everything was cited correctly so the original publication of the work could be found easily for people accessing the project as well as give correct credit to the original authors. Though the editing activities were tedious and lengthy, they were necessary. When citations are done correctly, the accurate citation is very useful for not only the readers, but also the creators. A correct citation allows for readers to investigate the author of a source to learn more, or to read more articles from the same journal. A correct citation allows for editors to keep their work consistent, accurate, and professional. The activities gave me a greater appreciation for the citation process and made me realize how valuable and critical citations are for all types of writing and projects.
My group was responsible for editing 36 citations. Several of the citations were duplicates or of irrelevant information, such as a review of an article, when the original article had already been cited. Through the diligent work of our group, we were able to organize the citations of K-M down to 20 authors, organized by author last name and all accurately completed. The number one thing I took away from these edits was that citations should be done correctly in the first place. Not only does this save time, but it also allows future work to happen more smoothly. It would take someone the same amount of time to throw together a sloppy citation as it would to put together a correct citation. It also makes going back to source later easier because all the information and links will already be correct and active. Citation skills are necessary and valuable for every student and writer, especially for students who are growing up in an ever-growing digital age where nearly everything requires a citation.
Even though it did not feel like were doing a lot of first-hand research, the research we did with the ographies and maps was critical to the completion of the project. Accuracy of your information is very important, especially in this context. The project is a learning tool for everyone to use, and it would be both embarrassing and stupid to pass along information to people that was wrong. In addition to accuracy, the source from which the information is coming from matters. There are millions of digital sources, but only a percentage of them are both reputable and opensource. This is where our critical research skills came in handy. Finding sources for the ographies that were both scholarly and open source was extremely difficult for some subjects. However, finding these specific sources was necessary for the essence of the ographies. Consistent quality across examples is also very important. Making sure each ography was up to the same high-quality standard of every other one was a priority for my group. This makes the entire ography section look presentable and reputable, but also provides the most amount of accurate and necessary information to the readers and users. It was also necessary to be able to tell which pieces of information were significant enough to keep and put time into to research. Some ographies were not necessary and some encyclopedia entries did not have enough information to be relevant and had to be deleted.
To me, the most important learning objective for this unit was “recognize how digital humanities courses like ours contribute to cultural preservation and open-source knowledge bases” because that is the essence of the course and encompasses all the other learning objectives under a large umbrella. Not only does this learning objective cover everything we have worked on so far, but it also applies to other disciplines and other areas of literature. This same learning objective can be applied to future classes and projects for all students. In general, I feel like I met all the learning objectives. My research skills were expanded into a set of research that I did not know existed. My appreciation and critical understanding of citations expanded. I was accurately able to find information on open source resources to contribute to the ographies and write in a new media style. Though some of these learning objectives were familiar to me from Literary Evolutions, I still think I was able to expand upon what I previously learned and engage my learning in new ways with a focus on the digital humanities and to the greater creation of the Kit Marlowe Project.