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.