internship

Digitizing the Past: My Time as a Digital Cultural Heritage Intern

By Grace Robbins, Office of Digital Research and Scholarship Intern, Fall 2019

 

During this semester I have been working as the Digital Cultural Heritage Intern in the Office of Digital Research and Scholarship. You might be wondering, what in the world is digital cultural heritage? It seems like a fancy title, but for what? Essentially the concept of digital cultural heritage is defined as preserving anything of cultural significance in a digital medium. Anything we preserve becomes part of a “heritage” to something, whether that be to an individual person or a whole culture. I was interested in working more with the intersection of digital humanities and archaeology after volunteering on the Cosa excavation in Italy directed by FSU. Archaeology is such a material driven, hands-on discipline (and science!), and it proves to be an effective tool to understanding–and interacting with–the past. However it generates so much data. Archaeologist Ethan Watrall writes, “The sheer volume and complexity of archaeological data is often difficult to communicate to non-archaeologists.” Furthermore, many discovered artifacts and architecture remain inaccessible to most of the general public. Thus, the goals in my internship revolved around understanding how digital platforms affect accessibility to these “heritages,” specifically in the contexts of archaeology and the humanities, so that scholarship is furthered for people in academia but also, hopefully, the general public.

I did most of my work with the Digital Cosa Project, which included uploading data from the Cosa hard drive onto DigiNole, FSU’s Digital Repository. My tasks confronted some organizational and technological challenges, however, as the large amount of data to be ingested meant rethinking the best way to organize the digital collection. We ended up switching plans from organizing by excavation year to organizing by type of file (artifacts, plans, maps, stratigraphic unit sheets, etc.). I also practiced coding, which most historians or archaeologists may not be familiar with. It begs the question, should these disciplines incorporate more digital education in the future? How useful would this be?

I also wanted to experiment with visual technology, including 3D applications such as 3D modeling and 3D printing.

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3D model of a trench from 2019 excavation season being built in Meshroom, a free and open source photogrammetry program.

I especially enjoyed learning about 3D printing because it ran simultaneous to the FSU Archaeology Club’s “Printing the Past” exhibit in Dirac, which displays one important way digital humanities can further archaeological knowledge: hands-on learning! I couldn’t have learned about ancient Rome better than when I was unearthing ancient material on the dig and providing such artifacts in the form of 3D printing for non-archaeologists to interact with bears pedagogical significance.

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Standing with the Cosa poster for the “Printing the Past” exhibit by the FSU Archaeology Club. I helped 3D model and 3D print the 3rd object from the left, an inscription found in the 2019 excavation season.

3D scanning was not as easy of a task, as new technology always comes with a learning curve, but in the future I want to continue working with this practice.

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3D scanning the Napoleon Bonaparte death mask in Special Collections.

In my time at the internship, I have broken down my understanding of digital humanities from a broad concept to a web of applications that further humanities and archaeological knowledge. I will continue to work in the internship next semester, and I hope to continue mastering 3D modeling and printing and am looking forward to developments in the Digital Cosa project as we finalize our plans for the Cosa digital collection. Most importantly, I am eager to experiment with more creative ways these digital applications can be used in academia and the general public that will enable us to be more “in touch” with the past.

 

Spring 2017: A User Experience Internship In Review

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It’s my final semester in the iSchool program, and I made it. I had a long journey from the start, including a brief hiatus, and yet I returned to finish with a passion – I even received the F. William Summers Award to prove my academic success. But perfect GPA aside, I’m most proud of my personal and professional development while remotely interning for the Office of Digital Research and Scholarship. The highlight was visiting FSU for the first time this semester and working in the office for a full week. Through meetings, workshops, and events, I learned even more and enjoyed interacting with the team in person. It was a fun and informative visit which I’d recommend any remote intern to do, if possible.

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A beautiful Tallahassee day at Strozier Library.

My Spring semester objective was to learn more about user experience (UX) and apply it by compiling a report for the office’s website redesign. To prepare for the process, I spent half of the semester reading journal articles, checking out books, and utilizing online sources such as LibUX, Usability.gov, and Lynda.com via FSU. The other half of the semester, I applied what UX principles I learned to consult the office on how to redesign their current website. With this project, I now have a foundation in UX and demonstrated the process through quantitative research, user personas, and visual design. It’ll be exciting to see what recommendations will be used and how it’ll impact existing and new users.

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Hitting the books on web and UX design to Depeche Mode.

Overall the yearly internship was somewhat unconventional since I worked remotely, but I was still able to understand the parts that make up a whole within digital scholarship. At this point I better comprehend how technology is changing research support and the research process as well. Although my time as an intern has ended, I’m looking forward to seeing what more the Office of DRS has to offer in the future – the new website included. I am grateful to have been introduced and involved with such a supportive and innovative community at FSU.

Thank you, Micah Vandegrift, for your leadership and mentorship, and the entire DRS team, for sharing your time and knowledge. With your guidance, I made it! 🎓

Fall 2016: A Digital Scholarship Internship in Review

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This past June I went to my first ALA conference seeking inspiration on what to do next. I had just put in my two weeks notice at a paraprofessional library job to focus on which final classes to pursue for my Master’s in Information. In between linked data and zine panels I met up with a classmate, Camille Thomas, who opened my mind to the idea of an internship with FSU’s Office of Digital Research and Scholarship. She spoke positively about her graduate assistantship experience and how I could apply myself in this new field. Right before the semester began, I met the DRS team for the internship interview via Hangouts, since I’m based in central Florida. Apparently Camille also recruited an intern for them the year before, and I’ve since joked that she should consider asking the office for referral bonuses because I signed up right away.

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