David Patrick McKenzie

Digital Public Historian

Draft: Project #1

See the attachment. Fellow students and Sharon: I’ve left the criteria in for now–hence why the narrative extends beyond six pages. I plan to remove for the final. Will look forward to your comments!

NEH-ODH grant draft

3 Comments

  1. I’m #5.
    I feel some of the narrative is too repetitive. Should I streamline some of it–for example, should I have a listing of what each page will have?

    I also feel the statement of innovation and the abstract are a bit weak.

    More questions but class just ended so be on the lookout for another comment. 🙂

  2. Do the “wireframes” in the appendix make sense, particularly when paired with the narrative? Should parts of them be called out?

    Should I incorporate examples into the narrative, e.g., “for example, if a user wants to know about Juan Almonte’s interactions with the United States, he/she can click on…”?

    I had some trouble with putting together the team. Need to do a bit more research into that–who all would be on the team.

    Please critique away!

  3. Overall this seems like a great project. I just finished reading two books on Texas with Prof. Bottoms, so reading your proposal fits right in! Okay, here goes.

    Your abstract could be stronger with a little more background on the subject. What kind of visitors are you looking at? What sorts of sources did they leave? You mention there will be secondary source interpretation and that relations between the U.S. and Mexico deteriorated during your timespan, so maybe use those to suggest what your overall historical thesis is for the site and its sources. (You do this at the beginning of your narrative, but an added sentence in the abstract would be good.)

    Your statement of humanities significance looks good. The statement of innovation could be tweaked a little to really emphasize access to sources themselves, then how those sources can be searched. We should clarify this in class, but I’m not sure you need to mention Omeka in your abstract and statement of innovation. It can come later, but for now it’s unnecessary jargon. Maybe just mention you’ll be creating a digital archive.

    I like your outline of the specific ways users will be able to access sources. I think you might want to consider clarifying your use of the word “journey” though. I think of journeys more as verbs, but you are talking about set travel paths that many different people took. You take a journey along a route/trail/road.

    I think it might be good to switch the order of your narrative so that you talk about the sources themselves first, then go into how they will be searched. I’m still interested in hearing what kinds of sources these are, and who wrote them. Are they wealthy merchants writing in personal journals? Government officials sending reports back to their superiors? (Okay, you do this a little in the section on the history of the project, but it could be moved up. And I know I didn’t include this in mine either, because I don’t know the answer, but do you have an idea of how many primary sources you would have?)

    Regarding your question about including specific examples in the narrative, I think you could and it would be good, but your appendices also help. So you could integrate specific examples into the narrative but either way it comes across in the end.

    Your rationale for using Omeka could be tightened up a little. Not only does this section allow you to not mention it so much in the narrative above, but your last sentence/paragraph can easily be incorporated into the first paragraph (the bit about Omeka being an open-source product of CHNM). Similarly, your last paragraph in the environmental scan section repeats what you’ve already said in your humanities statement.

    Under your work plan, can you say something about who will do the work? (I know this is odd for a theoretical project, but presumably it wouldn’t just be you with initial input from your advisory committee.) How will you find sources? Who will do translations?

    Your wireframes look pretty good and help flesh out how the site will work. I’m still a little confused on the journeys part. I was thinking you meant routes, but now maybe you really do mean individual trips. That would suggest to me that all of the primary sources would fall under a specific journey. As in, a journey (say Santa Anna to Washington) is a whole collection, with primary sources written during or related to that journey inside. Does that make sense? Is that what you’re going for? Would that focus change your overall organization? I’m seeing (in my head) a flow chart with each journey at the top, then the sources from it below, and below that the different places, people, timelines, etc.

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