Reflective Post 4

Revisiting DH

It’s hard to believe how quickly this summer went by. Over the course of Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship 2021, we as a cohort and community have explored the digital humanities through group discussion and lived experience. A summer’s worth of work has reinforced that digital humanities is truly what we make of it.

In my first reflection post, I explored Amanda Visconti’s definition of DH in A Digital Humanities What, Why, & How (DLF eResearch Network Talk): “Research, teaching, & learning about literature, history, the arts… (the humanities) in digital ways (building & using software, websites, datasets…).” This definition still feels like the perfect “elevator pitch” overview for those who are confused on the terminology associated with DH. The variety of ideas and digital tools found within each of our cohort’s individual research projects demonstrates just how different DH can be or mean to those in this community.

As I mentioned previously in my first post, there are five main values of digital humanities which Lisa Spiro spoke about in her book chapter “This is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities.” These five values are: Openness, Collaboration, Collegiality/Connectedness, Diversity, and Experimentation. All these values were meaningful to me throughout my work this summer. However, the value of experimentation most closely guided me when I approached my individual research project. I encouraged myself to integrate different tools, look at sources from multiple angles, and analyze how my website would be navigated and understood.

I went into this summer ready to dive into my research project. I was sure of my abilities to learn the tools of the trade. I initially understood digital humanities as another academic discipline; one that had a recognized definition and correct practices associated with it. I can’t adequately describe how thankful I am to have that preconceived notion shattered. I have come to know DH as an ever-evolving opportunity for thoughtful work available to everyone with the means and ways to contribute to it. That said, access to the internet and technology will always be a challenge connected to the inclusivity of DH.

As a DSSF cohort, we have had the opportunity to explore what DH means to each of us, through engaging in it every day. My exploration has taught me to experiment, and to challenge how I create effective research. My understanding of DH has changed over the course of the fellowship as my interactions with it have changed. Furthermore, how I approached constructing a data visualization differed after discussing the importance of user experience. I learned not only how to present my research so that it would be most effective, but also why I should do so. Eight weeks of exposure leaves me feeling that I’ve only touched the surface of what DH has to offer. I end my experience with DSSF 2021 feeling more curious about what the digital humanities are and mean than I did starting out. While I certainly feel more knowledgeable about what DH can do for individual researchers, and how to create and present the research I have done in the realm of DH, I understand that my experience is only one small part of the greater mosaic that is DH. But after all, isn’t that the point?

This post was written by Ben Johnson, Gettysburg College Class of 2022, and member of the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship Cohort 2021.

Reflective Post 3

Reflection #3

The Expansion of Knowledge

Anyone can create knowledge. Knowledge is multi-dimensional. The advent of technology not only fostered more transmission of knowledge, it also allowed more individuals to “create” it. This reflection will seek to answer Burdick, Drucker, Lunenfeld, Presnet, and Schnapp’s question found in Chapter 3 of Digital Humanities: “Who can create knowledge, who monitors it, who authorizes it, who disseminates it, whom does it influence and to what effect?

The digital humanities offer a unique access to knowledge and information that had not existed decades and centuries earlier. In popular academic disciplines in the humanities such as history, literature, and philosophy, well-known scholars had the power to control knowledge in their respective fields. With such a localized control of knowledge, the humanities as they existed before the explosion of computer technology focused on scholars and knowledge centers such as universities. The time, resources, and skill required to become a knowledge “creator” generally prevented everyday individuals from being able to create widely available knowledge. This extended to the arts as well, most readily seen in the renaissance period of Europe. As far back as Ancient Greece and Rome, philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato dominated their field for thousands of years. With time came the printing press, which made knowledge much more accessible to people who had to work the land for their living. The rise of technology has in turn made knowledge more available and its creation more tangible for a wide variety of individuals.

Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, circa 1665, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. This famous painting, known as the “Mona Lisa of the North,” represents how technology has led to greater exposure over time of individual creations.

Computers have become the ultimate tool for the access and creation of knowledge. Anyone who owns a computer can use it to quickly research any wealth of topics, whereas compiling research in decades prior entailed going to a library. Additionally, individuals can use their computers to create knowledge on social media, blog posts, and through website building. I believe that time has proven that knowledge is still monitored, authorized, and disseminated by those individuals and institutions that most readily produce it and support it. The work of a noted historian of the 18th century on the material culture of that time will more likely be supported and disseminated over that of a blog post from a middle school student on that same topic.

The influence of knowledge can be measured through understanding its consumer. Human beings generally use knowledge to form their perception of the world around them, and how they want to navigate it. My experiences in both a traditional humanities setting, and my more recent dive into the digital humanities has reinforced that the internet provides the entire world with a vast expansion of accessibility to knowledge, and provides more people with the ability to create it. Nevertheless, how it is disseminated and how it influences individuals largely depends on how we collectively deem creations of knowledge as important. More knowledge brings more perspectives which adequately represent the diversity of people and cultures that makes up our world. This expansion should be appreciated because of its vital effect on challenging what we believe is true. The digital humanities prove how the expansion of knowledge is undoubtedly tied to technology and innovation.

This post was created by Ben Johnson, Gettysburg College Class of 2022, and member of the student cohort for DSSF 2021.



My website, “The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants,” was created using WordPress. The website itself features four pages: “Home,” “U.S. History of Reactionary Politics,” “U.S. Veteran Activity at the U.S. Capitol,” and “About.” I have implemented two digital tools thus far: TimelineJS and ArcGIS. The timeline I created conceptualizes historical events which involve veteran usage of reactionary politics in U.S. History. Using ArcGIS, I created a map visualization which plots where the 60 veterans who were charged by the government for their role in rioting at the Capitol building were from. Below is the link to my website as it stands:

The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants (

This post was created by Ben Johnson, Gettysburg College Class of 2022 and member of the DSSF Summer Cohort of 2021.

Reflective Post 2

Collaboration and Experimentation

The DSSF cohort for 2021 tackled a challenging topic for our microproject. We tried to outline and visualize the wartime experiences of a serviceman in different theaters of World War II. As a unit, we demonstrated the values of collaboration and experimentation which Lisa Spiro outlined in her book chapter “This is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities.” In what certainly felt like a quick turnaround, our group learned how to use digital tools to tell a story effectively. Through dividing up the work on different sub-sections of Albert Chance’s service by theater, we efficiently utilized our time by delegating the work. After reviewing Albert Chance’s digitized source material on the Musselman Library website, our group decided to experiment with different visual tools such as Voyant Tools, StoryMapJS, and TimelineJS. Our experience has taught me to seek help when I need it, trust in my ideas, and to work to my strengths.

         Our group collaborated honestly and successfully throughout the entire microproject experience. Balancing the ideas of six individuals who had different areas of academic expertise is by itself a formidable challenge. We overcame this test by being sincere in our thoughts and trustful of those of the others in our group. We valued collaboration, and our microproject demonstrates our general wiliness to balance our thoughts with others in the group. I felt heard and believe that others would say the same thing. We pushed each other to see different perspectives, and frequently asked for feedback to ensure that our individual efforts were strengthened by the input of others. By collaborating, our group succeeded in creating a microproject that would be impactful because it was produced by different perspectives.

         Although we created a general wireframe for our project in the beginning stages, we had to adapt to our collaboration of ideas and the realistic expectations of what we would be able to accomplish in a couple weeks. This experimentation ensured that what our group created through collaboration would be effective. After experimenting with visualization tools such as TimelineJS and StoryMapJS, we decided which tool would be useful in each theater Albert Chance served in. This process of experimentation enabled our group to present a narrative which was backed by strong visualizations. By being honest with ourselves and dividing up the work, we allowed our group to experiment purposefully to create our microproject.

         I came into the DSSF cohort ready to set off into my own digital humanities project. I was sure of my concept, and confident in my abilities to pick up digital tools on the fly. Working as a cohort taught me to ask for help from those who better understand digital tools, and to absorb the ideas of others to strengthen my own. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish, and grateful for the patience and abilities of my fellow group members. Our collaboration and experimentation made our microproject successful because it was the creation of many hands. Looking forward to my own project, I am left with the reminder that digital humanities is about community. I look forward to implementing the perspectives of those in this community to strengthen my own project.

This post was written by Ben Johnson, Gettysburg College Class of 2022 and member of the DSSF cohort for 2021.



To construct my wireframe, I decided to go back to the basics of pen and paper. The purpose of my wireframe was to organize my ideas, tools, and website into an easily-understood medium. By the time I am ultimately done with the project, I want my data and visualizations to reflect clarity. I will utilize WordPress to create my website, and I will divide my website into the following pages: Introduction (to be renamed later), Theme 1 (to be renamed later), Theme 2 (to be renamed later), and the About page. The following four images outline my four respective pages.

This wireframe was created by Ben Johnson, Gettysburg College Class of 2022 and member of the DSSF 2021 Summer Cohort.

Project Charter

Project Charter

Project Name

  • “The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants.”

Project Owner

  • Ben Johnson

Project Summary

  • Even in an increasingly digital age where much is recorded, there are few events which will undoubtedly transcend time and remain forever in our collective consciousness as U.S. citizens. One such event was the raid of the U.S. Capitol building which occurred on January 6th, 2021. This project will conceptualize the events of January 6th, 2021, within the framework of the relationship between reactionary politics and veterans. A core research question that I will seek to answer through primary and secondary source research, digital timelines, storytelling, and text analysis is: What drives individuals who promise to preserve and protect the U.S. Constitution to change course and challenge the legitimacy of their government once they leave the service? This project will uncover the importance and consequences of veteran political activity, and what compels these individuals to take such action. I will briefly explore the history of such activity in the United States and complicate our understanding of why these veterans take such a dramatic step.


  • WordPress/Scalar
  • Timeline JS  
  • StoryMapJS/ArcGIS
  • Primary and secondary sources
  • Maps 
  • Images such as photographs and prints 
  • Government documents on the January 6th raid of the U.S. Capitol 


Week 1 (6/7 – 6/11)  Meet with mentor to discuss plans for the summer. Continue to compile resources for the project. Explore digital tools which I will plan to utilize.  Week 2 (6/14 – 6/18)  Project charter due. Consolidate sources which explore the January 6th U.S. Capitol raid in detail.  Meet with mentor to discuss progress and steps to take.  
Week 3 (6/21 – 6/25)  Wireframes due. Meet with mentor to discuss the digital tools that I will implement. Week 4 (6/28 – 7/1)  Have a competent understanding of the digital tools to be utilized. Continue to gather the sources I will use in the project. Meet with mentor to discuss next steps.    
Week 5 (7/6 – 7/9)  Visualization due. Work on completing timeline and map(s) for my website. Meet with mentor to discuss the layout of my website as well as the progress of my work using the digital tools.    Week 6 (7/12 – 7/16)  First project draft due. Meet with mentor to discuss improvements on my first draft. Apply the improvements and be prepared to do final edits.    
Week 7 (7/19 – 7/23)  Final project draft due. Meet with mentor to discuss final steps.    Week 8 (7/26-7/30)  Presentation due. Meet with mentor to discuss the successes and failures of my project.  

End of Life/Future Plans

  • This website will serve as a vital resource for my Individual Studies Major capstone project, which will be completed during the fall semester of 2021. I will utilize the sources I have already gathered and the website itself to enable me to integrate the digital humanities into my capstone project.
  • I will market my abilities to do independent research in the digital humanities to future employers to both prove my research capabilities and my technical proficiency.
Reflective Post 1

What is Digital Humanities?

What Does Digital Humanities Mean to Me?

When one thinks of the “humanities,” it typically conjures up thoughts of academic disciplines like English, History, and Philosophy. Oftentimes, those same thoughts are associated with books, libraries, and essays or papers on all sorts of topics. Even though I have grown up in an increasingly digital age, my own understanding of the humanities is tied to those same broad notions of the humanities as separate from the digital realm. Admittedly, I have found relief in learning primarily through reading books, rather than having to learn how to code or other technical skills required in different fields of study. What I have learned from brief run-ins with technology during my academic journey is how useful it can be to research or to accessibly store resources. Perhaps that is where I first discovered the world of digital humanities, and how I realized its applicability for promoting the humanities.

As Amanda Visconti writes in A Digital Humanities What, Why, & How (DLF eResearch Network Talk), the term “digital humanities” is overly defined. Visconti provides this image to define digital humanities generally:

To Visconti, digital humanities is as much about applying digital tools to research, teaching, and learning about the humanities as it is to applying humanities practices to the digital realm. So where does this leave those of us who barely understand the digital world as it is?

There is beauty and simplicity to be found in learning straight out of a book, or by taking notes from a professor’s lecture. To many different generations of people, technology is a foreign world that is difficult to navigate. But to others, it represents the promise of change and the evolution of human progress. But where can the middle ground be found? Digital humanities is one such bridge. It combines research from a wealth of topics that would most likely be confined to papers and essays that few would read outside of academic circles, with the accessibility and speed of the internet. I have become so comfortable with the minutia of the humanities; how to engage in historiography and use proper citation. To become equipped to succeed in this broad academic field of study, I had to learn the “language” of the humanities. For that very same reason, I first approached the digital world with apprehension. Digital humanities has another academic language, one that is defined by the collaboration between two different worlds which together form an extremely useful tool.

There are five main values of digital humanities, which are described in detail in Lisa Spiro’s book chapter “This is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities.” These five values are: Openness, Collaboration, Collegiality/Connectedness, Diversity, and Experimentation. Understanding these values is key towards utilizing digital humanities to its fullest extent possible. While each value may mean something different to every person, the pursuit of them in digital humanities makes our work more comprehensive. What I have learned so far about digital humanities is that it is ever-evolving, and as much about the end product as it is the process.

Written by B. Johnson, Student at Gettysburg College and part of the DSSF Cohort for the Summer of 2021.