Author: Melissa Nelson (page 1 of 3)

Digital Archive Project: Declassified BW Report June 1945

As I have previously mentioned, I am currently researching, analyzing, and annotating documents for ALPHA Education’s Digital Archive Project as a volunteer. For this project, I was asked to discuss the content and broader historical context of each document.  Annotations are also expected to connect documents to APLHA Education’s mission, which is to foster awareness of Asia’s World War II history to further the values of justice, reconciliation, and peace. The following is a copy of my annotation for a declassified Biological Warfare (BW) Report written 28 June 1945 that investigates the Japanese use of BW in Changteh, Hunan Province, China. The attack, which took place on 4 November 1941, occured when a low flying Japanese bomber plane dropped plague infected grains of rice and particles under the veil of heavy fog.  This document was declassified by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on 14 August 2009.

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“Place Names Are Powerful”: Counter-Mapping Indigenous Spaces & Place Names

Colonialism & Erasure

Walking around the streets of Toronto, it is difficult to see traces of its long Indigenous history. As a direct result of colonialism, Indigenous ways of knowing and naming place were replaced with European knowledge systems. While Indigenous place names convey local knowledge about physical landscapes and their histories as a means for navigation, colonial place names in Canada are instead used to emphasize European monarchs, religions, prominent families, and meaningful locations in Europe.

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More Than Just A Meme: How To Make Animated GIFs

I came across a tweet by The Archivist that displays a time lapse GIF made from layered historical photographs of Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver. I found it very  interesting to watch as GIFs are typically used as memes to provide humour. However, as “flip books of the Internet,” GIFs can, and have, functioned beyond memes to illustrate tutorial directions, animate data to provide context, market products and ideas to consumers, or layer images to show movement or change. This GIF in particular constructs and deconstructs layers of cityscape images to engage viewers and encourage interest in the historical development of Vancouver.

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File Not Found: How To Create A Custom Error 404 Page

Why Should I Care About Error 404 Pages?

“Error 404” occurs when a visitor tries to access a page that no longer exists. Despite best efforts to redirect and specify links to web pages on your site, your visitors can still encounter the dreaded error message. This means that your 404 page can either enhance or compromise a visitor’s experience on your domain, depending on how it is designed. Taking the time to design a user-friendly error page can make the difference between increasing and decreasing your website traffic.

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“Internet History Is Fragile”: Archiving and Preserving The Web

“Once it’s on the internet, it’s there forever.” That is the popular sentiment. But what happens when web data has been altered or deleted, how do we access the original data? Recently, there was public outcry in response to the removal of several pages from the official White House website by the Trump administration. Pages on LGBTQ, civil rights, and climate changes were removed within moments of President Trump’s inauguration. This erasure was particularly alarming for many people because it indicated the new administration’s sentiment towards minorities and the environment. Many people also believed these pages were perminately deleted and its data could never be accessed again. However, these web pages were in fact migrated to an archived version of Obama’s administration website.  Even though the web data was migrated, its swift removal from the White House website reminded me that valuable information can easily be removed from public access. As users have the ability to alter and delete web data, data itself is rather fragile and transient.

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Annotating History: ALPHA Education’s Digital Archive Project

I recently started an important volunteer opportunity with an educational non-governmental organization (NGO) called ALPHA Education. ALPHA Education works to promote awareness of the events of World War II in Asia to foster reconciliation, dialogue, and cross-cultural understanding. In part, this is achieved through providing educational resources and lesson guides that can be used by teachers and students. To add to these resources, ALPHA Education recently launched their Digital Archive Project to transcribe and digitize a large collection of primary sources related to World War II atrocities in Asia. These sources take the form of documentary images, videos, official correspondences, interrogations, and personal testimonies. As a volunteer for this project, I have been tasked with researching, contextualizing, and annotating primary sources in the collection. This will serve as a general summary for the digital collection, which will provide an educational resource for individuals investigating the experiences of civilians, soldiers, and prisoners of war in World War II in Asia.

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Rethinking Social Media Use As Personal Archiving

I came across an article that made me rethink social media as merely a platform for sharing and searching information. Published by Cornell University, The Many Faces of Facebook: Experiencing Social Media as Performance, Exhibition, and Personal Archive argues that people experience Facebook through performing and reflecting on their life experiences and identity. It was found that users curating their personal collection of data on Facebook correspond to three different “regions” or goals: “performance region for managing recent data and impression management, an exhibition region for longer term presentation of self-image, and a personal region for archiving meaningful facets of life.”

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How To Add “Read More” Links On WordPress

Displaying your WordPress posts as excerpts rather than full text on your home and archive pages is valuable for improving load time, navigation, and web traffic. By using excerpts, you significantly decrease the home and archive pages load times, which allows users to quickly scroll through and select desired posts. As a result, this creates a more enjoyable experience for visitors, and entices readers to continue reading and stay on your site. Some WordPress themes offer excerpt functions that allow you to activate “read more” links from settings < reading < summary. However, these excerpts are auto-generated to display a default length of 55 words, which means that your preview sentences will be cut off with [...]. I have been looking for a way to display my post summaries on my home and archive pages with more flexibility to accommodate the structure of each post. Then, I came across an article by wpbeginner that explains how this can be done using one of the two built-in methods offered by WordPress.

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Why You Should Blog With Markdown

When creating blog content on WordPess, the constant process of stopping in order to highlight and edit your text, through the visual and text editors, can be a lengthy process. Markdown is a markup language that offers a quick and easy alternative to styling your WordPress posts, pages, and comments with plaintext formatting syntax. This means that you can add formats such as headers, lists, emphasis, blockquotes, links and images to a plain text using special characters such as brackets and asterisks. This offers bloggers a faster way to format their text without learning any complicated codes or shortcuts. If you would like to use code in your blog however, WordPress does support a variety of code languages. WordPress uses Markdown Extra, which supports features not available in standard Markdown, such as inline HTML, code blocks, and syntax highlighting. The changes and additions made by Markdown Extra also allows users to create definition lists, footnotes, and tables. These features can be particularly useful for bloggers who want an easy and efficient way to display or reference information. For instructions on how to render these features on WordPress, please review this quick Markdown reference and this Markdown syntax guide.

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Describing The Archive: Multicultural History Society Of Ontario

I am currently volunteering for the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO) as an archival assistant. The MHSO archives is currently going through their collection to create in depth archival descriptions to provide researchers with a broader selection of keywords when searching for areas of interest. As a volunteer, I was asked to asist in the development of archival descriptions by summarizing collections of ethnic publications in microfilm, which will then be used as the basis of for their final discriptions. I was instructed to arrange each summary into subject matters ranging from political events and notable people, to cultural events and religions. As of now, I have summarized the African Speaks and Black Liberation News publications which were dated between the 1960s-1970s. As these publications were directed towards the African Canadian community, I was interested in going through them to see how important events and individuals were being discussed within the Black community at that time.

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