Thanks to both groups for the informative presentations in class today. Now that we all know a little bit more about where each part of the project stands, we need to make some rapid decisions about what we want our final product to look like by the end of classes.
As I mentioned in class, that means we need to answer the following questions:
What is our objective in the final product? To defend a historical thesis about runaway slave ads? To demonstrate how particular digital methods work? To show how an argument that might ordinarily be made in narrative form can also be made through different kinds of visualization? Some of each?
Relatedly, who is our audience? Are we interested in talking primarily to other groups interested in digital methods? Or primarily other historians of runaway slave ads? Ideally, we are talking to both, but as with the objective above, we can focus our efforts (and answer the next question) if we have a primary audience in mind.
How should the final product be structured? Originally we planned to have each group write an essay, which would be paired with a third standalone "close reading" essay. But it sounds like both groups today thought it made more sense to incorporate insights from the close reading directly into the discussion of digital findings. That could mean just doing one essay per group. Or we could think of a different structure altogether: perhaps something more like a showcase where we display several visualizations (think of this page as an example) that then have a brief description of the argument or significance of the visualization when they are clicked. Another model might be Miriam Posner’s How Did They Make That? post, where we include a brief discussion along with each visualization of how it was made.
I would like you to leave your own thoughts related to these questions in the comments, ideally by Friday morning so that we can have a sense of people’s ideas by class time. Coming to some final conclusions about these questions can structure our plan for the final week and also give us benchmarks against which to measure our final product for the final paper described on the syllabus.
In the meantime, it sounds like no matter what we decide about how to present the final product, both groups had next steps they were going to work on that you can proceed with between now and our next meeting. And don’t forget to comment below!