Category Archives: Digital History

Nailed it!: Reflecting on Interactive Exhibit Design and Nail Polish History

Finishing touches:

As I had hoped, without tweaking, the patch and the Makey Makey worked perfectly! So I moved on to create a stand that would make the project look a little more professional. I used cardboard and tape to make a stand and then painted it. I also built a little stand with the title “Nail Polish History” painted on it. After I let the paint dry, I conducted a few tests to ensure I didn’t undo a connection and took it upstairs to present at the interactive exhibit showcase. I reconnected everything and tested it again, just to be sure.

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What I wanted to do:

My original plan was to construct a controller using a webcam and the Max 6 program to recognize the colour of the user’s nail polish. This would allow the user to learn about nail polish history by matching their nail polish with the colour of a section in the nail polish patch in Max 6 that would teach you an interesting fact about nail polish.

What I ended up doing:

However, this idea proved too difficult in a short amount of time. The nail polish colour matching was far too complicated and therefore I ‘spectacularly failed’ that portion of the project. I did succeed in what I ended up creating. I decided to use the Makey Makey and connect with Max 6. Using the Makey Makey allowed me to still use the nail polish theme, but in a different yet fun way! I used brass fasteners as my conductive element. I strategically placed them where you would press if you were pressing a button on a controller that looked like a hand and placed another fastener at the base of the hand where your palm would normally sit. The fastener at the base acted as the ground for the Makey Makey. Using a patch my professor provided me, I added my content and added one more option in the patch for users to choose on the hand. It wasn’t as tricky as I had once assumed, thank goodness. I then used the help functions within Max 6 to figure out how to effectively use presentation mode. I succeeded and was able to present my project without any hitches to the class and the various guests.

Interactive Exhibit Showcase:

My project was well received by the class and guests. It was nice to see that even people who have much more experience in the field than I do, were impressed and interested in what I had achieved. I made sure to explain what I wanted to do originally and why I had to change it to the patrons. Below are some photos from the event:

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What I would have liked to have done differently:

I would have preferred that each video and photo show up on the screen by themselves. In the few minutes before our digital project showcase I didn’t have the time to fiddle with the patch in order to make this happen. But with some time and additions to the code, I probably could have made that happen.

I also would have preferred that my videos were a larger size and that they stopped playing when another part of the patch was triggered. The video size could have been remedied by changing the quality of the original saved video. The reason I chose mobile versions of the videos to begin with, was to ensure that I would not overload my computer and the software. I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible.

I would have liked to do more in-depth research into the history of nail polish and nail art. There is so much more to the art than what people think, so I believe it could be expanded on quite nicely. In particular I would have liked to delve into the history behind nail art as a business. I think it is fascinating that the nail art business is thriving and I want to know when it started and why. I would also like to know more about how the esthetician serves as a therapist in some cases.  Patrons tell them things they would not share with those close to them and I would like to know how that role is mentioned or not mentioned in school before the esthetician goes out into the workplace.

What I learned:

I now know that I CAN complete a digital exhibit and not completely fail! I also learned there is always so much more you can be doing and always someone that is going to be capable of so much more than you. You have to keep this in perspective because you know what you are capable of, and know that you are not as technically capable as other people may be. I really enjoyed taking on a project like this, even if I didn’t seem like I was enjoying it at the time. I am glad I had the opportunity to, in Ms. Frizzle’s famous words: “take chances, make mistakes and get messy!”

Ms Frizzle

A snag…

Since my last post, I have come to find out that my idea was far too lofty. That being said, my professor suggested I try using a MakeyMakey and a cardboard hand with painted nails as the controller for my Nail Polish History exhibit. I took his idea and ran with it!

I chose to use brass fasteners as the conductive part of the hand. They will allow me to connect with the MakeyMakey alligator clips and trigger a command on my Max 6 patch. This will show a video, text, and/or a photo related to nail polish history.

Check out my cardboard hand controller progress below:

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I thought that the hand looked rather boring so I decided to add something into my project that I love.. HENNA! I looked up some designs online and freehand drew them on the hand.

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TA DA! The almost finished product! Tomorrow I will meet with my professor and work on connecting the MakeyMakey and plugging in the content to the Max 6 patch.

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Interactive Exhibit Design: The History of Nail Polish and Nail Art

Aha! An idea has formed and I have an understanding of what I need to do to bring it to fruition!

My project will be an interactive history of nail polish! Who knew you could find information out there on nail polish history?! I hope to include sections on: Early Nail Art, North American Nail Art, The Business Side of Nail Polish and Nail Artistry, different Techniques, Types of Polish, and links to neat Nail Art Tutorials that people can do at home.

Using the program Max 6 and an external webcam, I will turn your fingernails into controllers for the interactive exhibit on the various aspects of nail polish history. The first step will be for you to paint your nails predetermined colours (5 or 6 depending on the number of headings I decide to go with). This will allow the webcam and Max 6 to recognize when you select different headings within the onscreen interactive display. You will have to match your fingernail to the colour of the heading you wish to open. When you are finished reading or watching video about the topic, you can use one of your nails to go back (colour to be determined).

As I work through the Max 6 Jitter tutorials I will update you on my progress. But for now, here is a rough drawing of what I want the presentation mode of my interactive nail polish history exhibit to look like.

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Interactive Exhibit Design Idea 1: “Swing and Jazz: A Who’s Who Experience”

For the Interactive Exhibit Design Class, we are required to create an exhibit using interactive and digital techniques. Below is one of the ideas that has been slowly percolating in my brain. Lets hope I can succeed spectacularly, rather than fail spectacularly as I wade into this unknown technical territory!

Title: “Swing and Jazz: A Who’s Who Experience”

Plan:
The plan for this exhibit is to set up as if the person entering the exhibit is on a stage, like they are part of the show. They will sit down on the stool which will activate a welcome screen instructing the visitor to interact with the items around them. They will have the option to press a key on the keyboard, say something into the microphone, turn the page of a score, or press down a valve on the wind instruments (maybe just one instrument, or maybe a different person will be represented by a saxophone, trumpet or clarinet). When the person does one of the above described actions, part of a song that relates to a certain Jazz or Swing musician will begin to play which will lead into the biography of that musician being displayed upon the screen. The person can then choose to learn more about Jazz and Swing as a genre or play another instrument and learn about another musician. When finished they can leave, once they stand, there will be a Swing/Jazz song that plays them out of the exhibit with a screen that says goodbye or something that relates to the Jazz and Swing eras. I could have poster boards with instructions and an overview of the Jazz/Swing era at the entrance to the exhibit so that visitors would know what to do and would have a good understanding of the material before beginning the exhibit exercise.
Tools:
– multimedia Computer with Sensors, using Max since it was made by musicians anyway it would probably do the project justice. I would need a sensor for turning a page of the score, for sitting down and standing up from the stool, for pressing down on the valves for the wind instruments, for sensing vocals, for the keys on the keyboard (or maybe done without sensors on Max)
– a program built by me to control all of these ideas and ensure the correct video plays when an action is performed
-t.v. or computer screen to show video of history of swing and jazz eras, and specifics on certain influential musicians
– a music stand, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, stool, old microphone, and a keyboard
– a mannequin (or two if not expensive) to be the musicians, possibly holding multiple instruments, could also dress the mannequin up in period clothing for a performance (one female, one male) on either side of the keyboard
– fabric to create drapes to make it feel like the visitor is on stage, they would hang behind and on either side of the t.v./computer screen the visitor will be facing
Time Period:
– 1910-1970, focus more on the 1920s and 1930s
Purpose:
– Identify some key figures in the rise and popularity of Swing and Jazz music (for example: Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington)
– Identify and explain the origins of Swing and Jazz
– Identify and explain why Swing and Jazz originated from African-American roots
– Provide an interesting way to learn about music history rather than just reading it. Includes hands-on activities, music and text.

Idea number 2 coming soon…

In digital history this week, we were fortunate enough to learn from David Brown about an interesting Graph Database Management System called Sylva.

Even though I felt like this:

It was a very interesting system to test out. My only experience with entering data into a database for other people to use is at the Oxford Historical Society in Woodstock where I entered Probates of Will into an Excel spreadsheet. Excel isn’t the easiest to work with, sometimes your work disappears and you have to start again. During the brief, yet thorough, tutorial we were provided, David showed us how entering data into the system is rather straight forward and that it is laid out nicely in a visualization. Sylva uses points and edges to draw connections between the data which Carla Watson pointed out, was very similar to my favourite non-digital learning tool: mind-maps. They help you visually represent the content and use short phrases or words to help you remember what it is you are studying. Mind-maps link the information that is related and can easily be expanded to fit more. The Sylva database works a lot like that, by having never ending space for you to add more and more edges and individual points. It also allows you to link ideas in more than one direction if another link is necessary to make the connection. I’m glad that even my old high school study ideas of making mind-maps to connect pertinent information can still relate to the hi-tech big data world of Sylva.

I enjoyed the tutorial, even though it went a little over my head. I can’t wait until I become an expert at inputting data into Sylva and can show everyone my awesome visualizations!

Digital History & Research Success

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A few weeks ago in my Digital History class, we were fortunate enough to have guest speaker Mark Tovey come in and teach us a bit about how to digitally reconstruct historic buildings and locations. Specifically, I was excited to find out that the architectural plans that I found at the County of Oxford Archives pertaining to the old County of Oxford Jail would be of a HUGE benefit for me.

In the digital history class we are working on individual projects pertaining to historic buildings and/or sites. We are expected to use new digital formats and digitize the building the best we can. I have decided to create an interactive timeline using the program Capzles for the first half of the project. For the second I intend to learn how to use Sketch-Up through the numerous instructional Youtube videos that I have come across and then digitally reconstruct the building and create a virtual tour. A tall order I know, but I think that the jail is incredibly important as one of the Woodstock Court House Square buildings and through my research I have found newspaper articles pertaining to the “Save the Jail” campaign. The jail was slated for demolition but the people of Woodstock would not allow that to happen. I will go into detail about the “Save the Jail” campaign in my project.

In order to digitize my building I need the architectural drawings which I have access to at the County of Oxford Archives. I have found not only the elevation drawings, but also the plans for the ground, first, and second floors. I also have section drawings and aerial views which will make it easier to recreate the building inside and out. I will be able to import the drawings into Sketch-Up and then recreate the building according to the measurements and specifications on the drawings.

Below are a few of the drawings I have access to:

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