Digital Security

After reading the articles on cybersecurity, I realized how little security I have in my digital life.  Most of my passwords reflect the common mistakes people make when creating passwords. I have 3-4 go-to passwords that I use across multiple accounts, none of which are very imaginative. Further, I use the same email for almost all of my digital accounts. According to a study in 2007, the average Web user maintains 25 separate accounts but uses about 6.5 passwords to protect them (Goodin, 2012). Therefore, once a hacker has information or login credentials from one site, they can compromise several other accounts as well. Now with the latest password hacking technology, hackers have an intimate understanding of how people choose passwords. Algorithms are used to hack faster and more accurately once you fit a particular profile.

So, what can I do to protect myself? Apparently, the most important thing to do is have different passwords that are unique to each site. I plan on using 1Password or PasswordSafe to generate a secure password for all of my accounts. That way, I can use those sources to store them in a cryptographically protected file that can be unlocked with a master password.

While the probability that a hacker can easily access my account due to my weak passwords is unsettling, what’s more troubling is the amount of information that people and corporations have access to about me. My google account is linked to almost every aspect of my digital presence. My apple ID tracks my location, my photos, and literally, my face to sign in. These corporations know what I buy, where I live, and my banking information. They know about my health problems, my insecurities, and future goals and aspirations. They know who my friends, family, and my larger network are. They also know every single thing I look up online.

So essentially, it’s like they are in my head. It isn’t uncommon to see advertisements for things that I had searched for days prior. What’s worse is when advertisements appear that I had merely thought about, without conducting an internet search. It begs the question of free will, and if we actually have a say in the things we “choose” to consume. Be it information or material goods, the things we consume are likely the work of algorithms, which have substantial ethical implications. For instance, if I use WebMD while browsing on chrome, will that information be sent to health insurance companies? It is possible that my premium could be affected. How am I to be sure if I don’t read the terms and conditions? Even if I do read the terms and conditions, what is the likelihood that I’d understand what I’m agreeing to?

If hackers, political parties, or the government can accurately predict my behavior, then they have the ability to control it. Therefore, I need to be more mindful and think critically of the things I consume. Like, am I actually hungry or is it a coincidence that it’s around lunchtime, I’m in the vicinity of a McDonalds, and an advertisement for a big mac pops up in my Instagram feed.

Immigration Visualizations

During the Progressive Era, almost every aspect of American life had changed (Daniels, 2004). However, from the periods of 1860-1920, the population of immigrants in the United States remained relatively stable (Daniels, 2004). Interestingly, this is the same period where we begin to see the “golden door of opportunity” (a reference to Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”) start to close with the advent of a new wave of immigrant exclusionary acts.

According to Roger Daniels in, Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy Since 1882, the best way to look at the patterns in immigration history in the United States is to look at the percentage of foreign-born residents from census data (Daniels, 2004). As illustrated in the scatterplot below, the immigrant population slowly declined then dropped between 1931-1971, due to the depression, war, and anti-immigration policies which limited the number of immigrants coming to the country. In fact, fewer immigrants arrived during this time than the first decade of 1900-1910. The significant drop in 1970 is primarily the result of an increase in mortality of immigrants because so few immigrated in the following decades.  Therefore, the visualization supports Daniel’s argument that the notion of America receiving an unprecedented influx of immigrants, is simply false.

For this assignment, I used census data provided to create a series of visualizations that reflect patterns of immigration in 1890 & 1920. The first bar chart was designed to answer the question, what does the gender distribution look like for first-generation immigrants in 1890? The second bar chart expands upon gender distribution, by looking at how it changed over time (1890 & 1920). The two pie charts can be used comparatively to look at the population distribution by nativity, gender, and race in 1890 and 1920.  Unfortunately, I had a difficult time with plot.ly.  I would have liked to plot distributions of populations over time but ran into trouble when I attempted to combine grids.  However, looking at the examples of charts and graphs on plot.ly’s website, I can see how it can be a useful tool for historians.

The scatterplot used census data from Table 11 in Daniel’s text. Reading information straight from a grid or table is difficult to comprehend. By creating the scatterplot, I was able to better understand the trend in US immigrant population.   The visualizations serve as an excellent tool for processing information.  Thus, historians can use visualizations to either supplement, strengthen, or even replace text.

Overall, the charts illustrate the relative stability of immigrant populations during this period (as supported by Daniel’s text). While there’s little change in the immigrant population from 1890-1920, Daniels argues what changes is our attitudes regarding immigration and immigrants. The US developed a “dualistic” attitude about immigration. On the one hand, we embrace our country’s rich immigrant history, yet we reject our immigrant present on the other.  While (some) of our founding father’s protected immigration and saw its value in many different ways, many American’s held nativist feelings toward certain groups. This tension led to a contradiction in not wanting the “other” and realizing the need for cheap labor.  Therefore, the first pieces of anti-immigrant legislation were established for political reasons, rather than restrict immigration.

However, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act initiated an era of steadily increasing immigration restriction, which had severe implications, such as the creation of “illegal aliens” and racial profiling. Later, the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act set quotas for the number of immigrants from each country.  This act ultimately arranged the world into a hierarchy of desirable/undesirable positions.  Unfortunately, anti-immigrant sentiment is still very relevant today, and often rely on age-old nativist arguments like, “bad habits,” “clannish,” “doesn’t speak English,” or “going to take over.”  Therefore, the targets will change, but the complaints remain the same.

 

Text Mining

During the Progressive Era, American cities were deteriorating due to rapid industrialization and the excess of capitalism.  The air was over polluted, the streets were dilapidated due to poor infrastructure, and the exhausted (or nonexistent) sewage and garbage systems were failing.  Many lived in unsafe and unsanitary living conditions and public schools were overcrowded and underfunded.  On top of this, political tensions were rising as classes became visibly stratified. Basically, this was the result of decentralized city services,  with limited government control.

While the disorder of the city was uncontested and almost all reformers wanted some sort of restructuring, male and female reformers had differing agendas for city reform (Flanagan, 1990). According to Flanagan, the arguments for reform boiled down to three main points: how to collect and dispose of waste, how to restructure and run public education, and how to regulate police power within the city.  From these three arguments, men and women municipal reform organizations formulated different philosophies of “the good city.”

To investigate the differences in attitudes and visions toward city reform, I used Voyant’s text mining software to take a close look at, “The American City.”  After removing several obvious terms such as “American” or “cities,” certain themes emerged that were present in Flanagan’s article. Particularly, themes relating to city development such as water, street/road, community, municipal, school, cost, and business.

Upon creating the word cloud, I decided to compare it with “The Woman Citizen” to see differences in word frequency.  Here, the emergent themes depicted civic themes such as women’s suffrage, government, national, associations, and war, to name a few.

Unsurprisingly, the two different publications offer differing representations or, “visions” of reform. As mentioned in Flanagan’s article, “The American City” word cloud represents a need to restructure and/or protect existing enterprises and business affairs of the city.  City development was looked upon as an arena for business ventures.  Closely reading the publication itself, there are countless articles, case studies, and advertisements which are business-oriented and appeal to improvement efforts.  Interestingly, much of the content focuses on the push for the beautification of the city or town to increase aesthetic appeal. Likely, this aimed to expand business prospects on multiple levels. First by employing businesses to carry out the tasks, and second, to use the ‘newness’ to attract more businesses to the ‘successful’ community.

In “The Woman Citizen” word cloud, more structural and centralized themes emerge, for example, ‘government.’  This reflects their vision to solve underlying structural issues in order for society to prosper.  According to Flanagan, they believed that “municipal problems required solutions that guaranteed the well-being of everyone within the city, regardless of their immediate implications for business” (p. 1044).  Whereas, the men’s clubs believed immediate solutions that benefit primarily one class, will ultimately trickle down and benefit the whole. Further, a lot of negative language was used around “centralized” concepts.  For example, an article focusing on farmer cooperation in “The American City” called upon farmers to organize, unite, and cooperate, to hold their own against highly organized, central interests who are vulnerable to corruption.

This “us vs. them” attitude appeared quite often throughout this publication.  So, I attempted to look at frequency trends to uncover attitudes that were held with regard to city reform.  In the trend visualizations below, I charted cost, improvement, and municipal.  I found an interesting relationship between positive terms such as “improvement” and “good” with “municipal.”  In several places, it looks as if when municipal is used less frequently, words like improvement and good is used more frequently.  Further, it appears that the frequency of ‘cost’ somewhat correlates with ‘municipal.’  This could suggest the type of conversations that occurred as a result of municipal changes.  It’s also interesting to note the use “improvement” tends to drop when “municipal” peaks.    

Again, this trend graph illustrates the themes of men’s municipal reform organizations from Flanagan’s article.  They tend to emphasize concrete or immediate solutions to issues surrounding “water” and “streets” followed by “business” and “education,” with the least emphasis on “welfare.”

Below, I included “immigrant” to see how it corresponded with “business.”  This chart shows a significant drop in the use of “business” and “health” with the rise of “immigrant” in October.  In November, “business, health, and improve” jumps again.  This warrants a closer look at what events happened in October of 1915.  However, it is important to note that upon closer examination, what is shown in the graph doesn’t always accurately predict what is written in the text.

Overall, the data representations in Voyant are an incredibly useful tool for digital historians.  It was interesting to see many of Flanagan’s points visibly take shape.  I’m most interested in comparing the two sources through further exploration in Voyant to confirm Flanagan’s explanation of why these differences exist between men and women reform organizations.  For example, I found many advertisements in “The American City” for exterior home improvement or advertisements for larger businesses in general.  Flanagan argues the business-oriented men saw problems through the lens of profit and efficacy (hence, these types of advertisements). Perhaps a closer look at “The Woman Citizen” would show advertisements that reflect the daily experiences of women.  Further, as depicted in “The Women Citizen” word cloud, the emphasis on government and civic themes indicates a realization of the power the government had in their lives.  Thus, they were very aware of the metaphor of “municipal housekeeping,” as it asserted their position in the political sphere while preventing opposition.

References

Flanagan, M. A. (1990). Gender and Urban Political Reform: The City Club and the Woman’s City Club of Chicago in the Progressive Era. The American Historical Review, 95(4), 1032–1050. https://doi.org/10.2307/2163477

Mapping

 

For this assignment, I mapped destinations listed in “The Negro Motorist Green-Book: 1940,” and the destinations featured in Savannah’s Black Heritage travel brochure from 2018. By applying both layers to the same map, I was able to contextualize Black tourism over time.

According to the 1940 Green-Book, most of the destinations are clustered along the West side of the city. The list of destinations includes a tourist camp, restaurant, service station, drug store, tailor, historical sites (a church and a Native American excavation site), two beauty parlors and a beauty school. Based on their locations, you can see pockets of Black communities, however, they are relatively spread apart.

Many of the destinations were located on, or to the left of present-day MLK street (at the time, West Broad Street) until most were torn down by the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority (SRDA) in preparation for the construction of Interstate 16.  I was able to locate a few of the destinations using the “West Broad Street Appraisals” from 1958, from the Digital Library of Georgia.  (https://dlg.usg.edu/record/gsg_3205-040_3205-040-folder1) It appears that West Broad Street could have served as a major physical and racial barrier.

Similarly, the destinations listed in the 2018 Black Heritage Brochure are located near the 1940 locations. However, many locations are mirrored on the East side of the city. They include additional historical sites, museums, monuments, restaurants, cultural tourist attractions, and even contemporary historical sites. The tourist attractions, like the Gospel & Gullah Geechee River Tour, are located in a heavy tourist area, and historic business district. While many of the contemporary historic sites (like museums and restaurants) fall into historically Black locations. It would be interesting to see an additional layer of total tourist attractions, to see possible trends in tourist segregation.   

Looking at both sets of data, you can see that the center of the city and southeast regions of the city are completely empty, suggesting significant racial segregation. The racial geography of the city is further illustrated with a comparison of a redlining map from 1930. According to the map, the prominent Black neighborhood of Yamacaw unmistakably falls in the “hazardous” zone. All of the destinations from 1940 fall in the “hazardous” or “definitely declining” categories. It was interesting to compare the 2018 destinations to the redlining map, as they are located in the small pockets of “definitely declining” and “hazardous” zones. Or, they are located in a “still desirable” zone. Whereas, the empty space represented on the map accounts for the “best” zones.   

All of the services fall on the city’s periphery, which seems systematic and purposeful.  From photos in the appraisals and google maps, you can also see disparities in housing or building construction.  Most of the Black heritage sites are made from wood, whereas buildings outside of these pockets have brick foundations. Today, and, in the photos from the appraisals, wood houses appear to decay. Which further illustrates wealth inequality in geographic space.

 

Suffrage Database

Women’s Suffrage in the News

For our database, we decided to focus on the strategies and characteristics of women’s suffrage demonstrations across geographic space. Each group member was responsible for searching events which occurred in the Northeast, Southeast (the mid-Atlantic), Midwest, and West coast regions in the United States. We built our database across three sheets: Event_ID, Organization_ID, and Source_ID. In the Event_ID tab, we included the type, start date, city, state, region, number of people involved, length, number of arrests, and male participation. We recorded organizations involved with the events in Organization_ID, as well as the primary sources that document each event in the Source_ID tab. We decided to cover geographic, descriptive, and participant characteristics so we could ask a variety of tailored questions, and identify broader patterns and trends across suffrage activism.

My overall question of the database is, how do strategies of public demonstration differ geographically? I found the mid-Atlantic region to have the most picketing events, presumably because of Washington D.C. The Northeast had the greatest variety of events, likely due to the number of large cities within its vicinity. This region also held the highest number of parades and mass meetings which included large turnouts. The events that took place in the Midwest region is characterized by bazaars, fairs, conventions, and campaigning and fundraising efforts. Lastly, the West held protests, rallies, and riots. However, there are only three entries. Therefore, the representation may not be accurate.

Filters were used to look at relationships between event characteristics such as arrests, male participants, organization, and regions. Findings according to this database include:

  • Arrests occurred mainly at protests and picketing events in the mid-Atlantic region. The majority of events with arrests had all-women participation, only one event with male involvement. There were no arrests in events at conventions and other peaceful gatherings. Therefore, there could be a relationship between male participation, event type, and arrest outcome.
  • Male participation was highest in the Northeast, specifically in Massachusetts, followed by the mid-Atlantic region, and the Midwest. They most often participated in events with large numbers, such as parades, mass meetings, and conventions. Male participation also followed a trend on the timeline. From their lowest involvement in the early stages to highest activity from 1913-1915, until their attendance dropped by 1916.
  • In addition to protests and picketing events, women-heavy participation occurred in events that involved educational and/or activist efforts, such as, booths at the suffrage bazaar to raise awareness.

Overall, the experience of creating a database was interesting! They are incredibly useful for historians to pick up on trends and patterns on a large scale of data. The benefits of using a database include the ability to ask both broad and specific questions from the same dataset. I learned how difficult it could be to build a database. Particularly with the decisions behind entering data. For example, at one event (the suffrage bazaar) several smaller events occurred within the larger event. Therefore, if I enter them separately from the bazaar, it doesn’t accurately reflect the information. If I umbrella the information under the larger event, I lose the details of the smaller events.

 

Secondary Sources

Women played an important role in shaping the field of social science research. Yet, their contributions are largely left out of the narrative.  In Mary Ann Dzuback’s article, Women Scholars, Social Science Expertise, and the State in the United States (2009), Dzuback sheds light on some of these lost narratives and examines several women’s paths to pursue research, establish professional authority, and ultimately influence public policy during the Progressive Era.  The breadth of their work spanned from child welfare, immigration, to labor conditions. They studied impoverished, vulnerable, and oppressed populations on local and regional levels to better understand the problems within the larger social and economic context.  Backed by scientific methodology, these studies earned them a new form of intellectual power that was based on academic merit. Comparable to their male counterpart’s professional culture of expertise, Dzuback argues, this newly acquired intellectual power gave them authority in shaping the modern state.

However, the voices of the women scholars were challenged by cultural barriers in society, as well as tensions within their own institutions.  According to Dzuback, women academics fought tirelessly to establish a separate identity from their successors in charitable organizations.  “Friendly visitors” from philanthropic organizations, used moral reasoning as a guide to provide social aid.  By contrast, women academics used surveys and developed tools of social research to methodically identify problems worth investigating.   Their findings exposed the underlying causes of social dysfunction, which they used to inform effective interventions and shape welfare policy.


Elaborating on the success of women researchers, historian Robyn Muncy explores the network of organizations and institutions powered by women during the Progressive Era, and their (largely unrecognized) continued legacy into the New Deal era.  In her dissertation, Creating a Female Dominion in American Reform, 1890-1935, Muncy argues this legacy was made possible by their efforts to professionalize their values, bureaucratize their methods, and to institutionalize their various organizations (1987).

The early voluntary movements empowered women to participate in the public sphere. From the early 1890’s, a growing body of ambitious women established a professional culture (the female dominion) by carving out new areas of work that wouldn’t be in direct competition of men with jobs.  Namely, working with vulnerable populations such as children, immigrants, and women.  Muncy argues their success and ambitions were allowed to grow as a result of two important factors.  First, they satisfied “the Victorian imperative for women to serve the children and the poor” (p.25).  Second, their clientele could not afford to pay for their services, therefore women professionals sought funding from wealthy benefactors (and later the government).  This particular position allowed women to advance their professional careers on the platform of service rather than profit, which diverged from the male professional ethos of charging for expertise.

Muncy describes the development of the dominion’s three distinct characteristics: “its femaleness, its monopoly over child welfare policy, and its commitment to public service” (4). At its height, the dominion established publicly funded bureaus (such as the Children’s Bureau) which received consistent financial support from the government.  However, the dominion reached a ceiling once it took on issues that were traditionally dominated by men, such as the medical industry.  The female dominion were generalist practitioners.  Meaning, they approached healthcare with a person-in-environment perspective and understood that structural problems, such as poverty, sanitation, and housing conditions, had a direct effect on health outcomes.  Breckinridge and Abbot explained the unique role of a social worker, which “operated at the center of a complicated web of professions and were inextricably bound to practitioners of law, medicine, and education” (168).  Men, however, held a much narrower definition to the same problem with a disease-model approach, which required the expertise of a professional to treat.  The clash of professional identities (women’s commitment to service, versus men’s commitment to commodifying expertise) within the public health services led to conflict, as the dominion’s shifting attention to public health was seen as a threat to many medical professional’s incomes.

On top of the conflict with the male-dominated medical industry, Muncy argues the dominion faced challenges brought on by the changing political climate.  Particularly, they received public pushback from fanatical opponents such as anti-feminists, state’s rights theorists, and red-baiters.  Losing the battle, Muncy claims many women downplayed their role as professional experts, to having special interests by virtue of being a woman.  This fallback confirmed cultural stereotypes that women could not be ‘scientific,’ but their abilities were guided by female intuition, which ultimately discredited their place in supporting the monopoly on public policy.

The fate of the dominion’s diminishing status was sealed as the Roosevelt administration introduced an influx of federal social welfare programs which simultaneously pushed women out.  Muncy argues, however imperfectly it played out, it was still considered a win for their progressive agenda.  The Social Security Act was drafted by Abbott and early members of the Children’s Bureau.  From the dominion, numerous women moved on to hold important roles in other areas of policymaking.  However, the dispersal of child welfare programs did dissolve the dominion’s monopoly.  In conclusion, Muncy argues that the female dominion was truly a “women’s rights movement in professional, bureaucratic, institutional guise” (191).  She argues that the female professions were not the result of a gendered, discriminatory grouping, but a strategic separatist feminist movement.  Though, this was unsustainable as many women abandoned the strategy in attempts to integrate themselves within the male professional world.


References

Dzuback, M. A. (2009). Women scholars, social science expertise, and the state in the United States. Women’s History Review, 18(1), 71–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/09612020802608140

Muncy, R. L. (1987). Creating a female dominion in American reform, 1890-1930 (Order No. 8723690). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global, (303594289). Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.mutex.gmu.edu/docview/303594289?accountid=14541

 

Primary Sources

In 1895, Jane Addams and Florence Kelley mapped out the social and demographic characteristics across a neighborhood in Chicago.  The Hull House Maps consist of two parallel drawings which span North to South from Polk to S. 12th Street, and East to West from Pacific Ave to State Street.  The buildings are numbered and divided into smaller living units, and the maps are color-coded by weekly household income and nationality, respectively.  Side by side, you can use the maps to highlight trends- such as, what types of groups live on the margins, and what does that tell us?  On the Wage map, you can see a high concentration of brothels that are wedged between two major railroads, across several freight houses and factories. Addams, known as the mother of the social work profession, pioneered the notion to look at social problems in the context of the environment, which makes these maps invaluable in deciding where, and how to provide effective social services.  It would be interesting to see where they developed certain projects in relation to the characteristics of these neighborhoods.

Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.), Addams, Jane, 1860-1935, Kelley, Florence, 1859-1932, (1895), Wage Map No. 1 Wage Map No. 2 Wage Map No. 3 Wage Map No. 4. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~306910~90076811

Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.), Addams, Jane, 1860-1935, Kelley, Florence, 1859-1932, (1895), Nationalities Map No. 1 Nationalities Map No. 2 Nationalities Map No. 3 Nationalities Map No. 4. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~306909~90076812

 

“The Warf and Woof of the Survey” is a brochure, advertising “The Survey,” which is a weekly publication dedicated to the social justice movement.  On the front, there are nine photographs and one graphic depicts several social issues such as children and infectious diseases, immigration, social welfare, and unsafe working conditions.  The backside of the brochure describes the mission of “The Survey,” a promotion which includes an additional subscription to the magazine of your choice for a discounted rate, and a few glowing reviews from prominent social reform figures.  I think this source gives us an idea of  how information was distributed to the public in order gain momentum to seek social change.  It’s also interesting to see the ‘business side’ of the social reform movement.

Survey Associates, Inc., (circa 1900 to circa 1909) The Warf and Woof of the Survey. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, https://idn.duke.edu/ark:/87924/r43n22479

 

 

Margaret Sanger advocates for the right of women to control their reproductive health.  She argues that disparities in health education leave women in working-class districts at a disadvantage.  She also pulls in statistics from studies conducted in Europe, which showed the staggering differences in birth rates across economic classes. Her quote, “The working class can use direct action by refusing to supply the labor market with children to be exploited, by refusing to populate the earth with slaves” (p.2)  is a direct call to action

The day book. (Chicago, Ill.), 27 April 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1916-04-27/ed-1/seq-2/>

 

In Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s publication, Lynch Law in Georgia Wells traveled throughout the south and investigated nine lynchings which had occurred within two months in Georgia.  Wells opens her book by ‘considering the facts,’ which is a reference to many Southern apologist’s go-to justification for lynchings, based off of false accusations of sexual assault. Her research would inform her anti-lynching campaign, a comprehensive body of evidence, including statistics of racial violence in the South.

Wells-Barnett, I. B., Le Vin, L. P., Daniel Murray Pamphlet Collection & Harry Houdini Collection. (1899) Lynch law in Georgia: a six-weeks’ record in the center of southern civilization, as faithfully chronicled by the “Atlanta journal” and the “Atlanta constitution”: also the full report of Louis P. Le Vin, the Chicago detective sent to investigate the burning of Samuel Hose, the torture and hanging of Elijah Strickland, the colored preacher, and the lynching of nine men for alleged arson. [Chicago: This pamphlet is circulated by Chicago colored citizens] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/91898209/.

 

In “The Woman that Toils” investigative journalist, Bessie Van Vorst goes undercover as a seamstress in a costume factory in Chicago. She exposes the harsh realities of tenement life and the uncomfortable divide between immigrant factory workers and rich American young women living in settlements.

Van Vorst, Bessie, (1903-01) The woman that toils. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15831coll7/id/84

 

 

In gathering these sources,  I realized the important role these women played contributing to the body of social sciences.  However, I found that their contributions are often left out of the narrative of social research.

Review: The September 11 Digital Archive

The events that took place on September 11th, 2001 were pivotal in defining American society today.  The impact of the terrorist attacks was so significant, time is divided between pre-and-post-9/11.   Most people can remember exactly what they were doing on the morning of September 11th, partially because the attacks were a shared traumatic experience; Americans watched the events unfold live on television or within a few minutes of occurrence.  The vivid media coverage was inescapable, as footage was replayed over and over again for days and months following the attacks.  The September 11 Digital Archive is a public collection featuring electronic media produced in the wake of 9/11.  It provides a unique and diverse account of the 9/11 attacks by collecting, preserving, and presenting a diverse range of digital media related to the attacks. The Archive was created in 2002 by the American Social History Project and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. Initially funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Archive partnered with the Library of Congress to ensure long-term preservation in 2003.

The September 11 Digital Archive is changing the way history is being recorded and preserved in the twenty-first century by collecting first-hand accounts through emails, texts, and other electronic communications, digital artwork and photography, video and audio recordings, and a range of other types of digital content.  The site uses an exploratory framework which encourages the reader to navigate the content according to their interests.  This type of structure is suggested by the search bar on the main page, accompanied by a navigational menu for quick access to pages such as, ‘Collections’, ‘FAQs about 9/11’, and a ‘Contribute’ page, where readers can share their own experiences of 9/11.  The ‘Collections’ page provides the most structure when browsing the content.  Unfortunately, the sense of organization is lost beyond the title page.  Often, the links to content have vague names, no descriptions, and must be downloaded to view (without any indication of what will be downloaded, and no guarantee that it will open). Without any written or visual cues, it’s hard for a reader to stay engaged.  Therefore, finding quality content feels less intuitive and more up to chance.  However, once you do stumble upon the content, it provides fascinating insight across a range of dimensions regarding 9/11.

The Archive boasts more than 150,000 digital items.  To name a few noteworthy collections, the “Personal Accounts” collection contains reflections from individuals and organizations in the days following the attacks.  Here, you can find letters to heroes on Flight 93, personal 911 stories that were posted on web-based forums, reports from broadcast journalists and recorded oral histories of personal experiences.  You can also see how people communicated with one another by sifting through transcripts of text message and AIM conversations, or a chain of emails sent via Blackberry from a group of co-workers as they evacuated lower Manhattan.  For younger generations without a 9/11 story, these intimate records paint a vivid picture of what it was like to experience the event from multiple perspectives.  In the “Digital Media Projects,” you can find slideshows, image mash-ups, and websites that were created following the attacks.  This type of content demonstrates how the internet served as an important space for the public to cope with the tragedy.

Overall, The September 11 Digital Archive is a profoundly valuable resource which covers a significant piece of US history.  It offers a unique interpretation of 9/11 and its aftermath, by showcasing a diverse body of content from the standpoint of the American public.  However, issues of functionality and design should be addressed in order to increase accessibility and engage more readers.

Hello world!

Hello Classmates!  My name is Ellie, I’m a junior seeking a Bachelor of Social Work here at George Mason University.

I’ve spent the past 9 years moving around, working odd jobs, traveling new places, and dropping in and out of art school until I finally realized where my strengths were and which direction I wanted to take my life!

I work at a little furniture boutique and do freelance upholstery work on the side.  I also love to volunteer.  One of my favorite roles as a volunteer is co-facilitating a weekly group which addresses domestic abuse through prevention and treatment strategies.  Not only has it provided valuable work experience, but I greatly benefit from the material we teach in my personal life!   In my time off, I like to try new restaurants, catch up with friends, and spend time outside.

I decided to set up my blog as a ‘student blog’ rather than a personal one. At this particular point in my life, my role as a student is a major part of my identity.  I addressed the ‘about me’ section by discussing future school-related/career goals.  Therefore, I want my site to appear to be specific for this course, while portraying how I’m developing as a scholar.

I chose my main image because women were an integral part of early computing, yet today, women only represent a small minority in the field of computer science.  As someone who is pursuing a career in Social Work, I am especially interested in empowering vulnerable and oppressed populations.