Final Timeline Project

Creating this timeline has been an interesting experience. I have had to reconsider my content as I’ve gone along in several ways. First and foremost, I decided to shift my emphasis more toward the crimes that Karadžić committed instead of focusing mainly on the trial. One of my earlier goals had been to include active documents in the timeline that the viewer could scroll through, effectively allowing them to read through the trial itself step by step. However, Timeline JS only offers official support for Document Cloud, which I found out that I couldn’t add documents to, as I wasn’t a journalist. I still managed to find some material related to the trial/Karadžić’s crimes on the site, but not nearly as many as I wanted. Fortunately, for the trial portion of the timeline, I was able to find some comprehensive videos of the proceedings. I also chose to refocus more on Karadžić’s crimes because I feel that a lot of background information is needed for viewers of the timeline to really appreciate the enormity of the Yugoslav Wars and to understand the many steps that led up to the genocide. Even though it didn’t turn out the way I initially expected, I still feel like this timeline could be useful for me in the future. In particular, if I ever end up teaching a class on genocide or human rights, I could use it as a classroom resource, or as an example for students to use when creating their own timelines about different events.

I’m also not quite sure why the first two slides have black backgrounds rather than white…I tinkered with it a little but I really don’t want to break it! So black they shall remain.

Pedagogy exercise, 3/28

If I were teaching an undergrad course that touched on some aspects of legal history, one exercise that I’d like to do would involve the Old Bailey Online archive that has been discussed several times in this class.

I would instruct the students to use the site’s search page to first investigate some of the punishments that prisoners were subjected to, historically. How are these similar/dissimilar from punishments that we’re familiar with today? Then, I’d ask them to choose one particular form of punishment, and investigate how often it was given and during what years. Is there a trend in the results (a punishment being gradually given less/more, a punishment given more to men than women or vice versa, one particular crime always being punished in a particular way)? What do those results imply about the changing way in which justice was perceived? Finally, I’d ask them to pick one case from the results and read it in detail. What differences are there between what can be read in the record and what sort of ideals/practices have been learned about in class? Is the verdict “fair,” by modern standards? Do you think it was/wasn’t a just verdict within the context of its original time period?

I think it would be a valuable exercise in two ways. First, it would be a great way to introduce students to using a database and looking for trends in search results. Second, it would allow students to interact with actual legal documents and to attempt to read them for more than just their surface content.

3/21 — Project Update

Background work on the project continues apace: here are the sources I’m using thus far.

For contextual citations outside of the court documents, I’m using two books–Endgame by David Rohde (on the Srebrenica massacre and events surrounding it) and Misha Glenny’s The Balkans (a general history of the region). Neither of these books are typical scholarly monographs–they’re written for a more general audience. But they have the information that I want to cite to in them, and they’re already on my bookshelf and marked up for easy searching.

The bulk of my material will come from the ICTY court records, which can be found here. Aside from offering testimony I’ll reference, they also provide video and audio of the proceedings, which I’ll definitely be incorporating into my timeline.

I’m still at the collection/assembly phase — a little behind due to illness — but things are going mostly smoothly.

Readings for 3/14

Notes on A Mid-Republican House from Gabii

This was a pretty interesting project. An an excellent use for 3D visualization/technology–it allowed me to get a better sense of what archaeologists do and how they draw conclusions from evidence, aside from putting on display an archaeological site that otherwise wouldn’t be open to the public, so to speak.

That’s what struck me the most about the 3D projects as a whole that we’ve looked at: they make history much more accessible to populations who otherwise would not have the ability to visit a site in person or who need assistive technology to have real access to a site. There are ethical issues with digitizing cultural artifacts (discussed below), but interactive sites such as this one keep artifacts in context (to a certain extent) and allow viewers to learn more about the site than they would have been able to just from viewing it.

As for the project interface itself, it was mostly well-designed, though it did take me a while to sort out that I could actually collapse the visualization at the top of the page to enlarge the space available for text. Although I played around some with the 3D viewer, I still found myself leaning more on the text for understanding rather than returning often to the viewer. I think that might be due more to habit on my part than anything else–when I try to understand something, I usually have an easier time doing it through text. The project in question is definitely well-suited to 3D visualization, however.

Notes on The Ethics of 3D-Printing Syria’s Cultural Heritage/Slick Replica of Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch Arrives in New York, Prompting Questions

 

These articles both raise some troubling issues, especially the second one. It’s one thing to extrapolate on how people might be likely to misconstrue or not appreciate a project’s significance, but it’s another to witness it by seeing people use the Arch as a photo backdrop rather than reflecting on what it is and why it was reproduced. From the way it was described by the individuals handling the exhibit, it really did come off more as an object for its own sake than a conscious reproduction of cultural heritage for an explicit purpose that was well conveyed to the public.

As it happened, there really was no context provided for the Arch when it was put on display (despite claims that there would have been, if not for the rain). I find that telling that, despite assertions to the contrary, some of the groups reproducing artifacts aren’t doing so in a responsible fashion. I also find it troubling that the 3D plans were withheld from the public, or that certain plans run the risk of being copyrighted and locked away from public use. The argument, I suppose, is that the plans/process are being copyrighted, not the artifact in question, but where is the line? The effect is the same–the artifact is no longer completely open to the public or accessible by the culture it was taken from.

Readings for 2/28

Image plot looks like it’s a pretty interesting program. From looking at the Time Magazine visualizations, I can see how it’d be useful to track changes over time in terms of publication standards and what sort of costs the magazine was willing to expend at any given time for color front pages. The predominance of individual faces also comes through really well on the visualization that takes a center cut from each issue’s cover. I could see using this to also make interesting visuals relating to comic books as well.

The collection of instructional posts on editing digital videos was also pretty interesting. The price point on tech really has come down a lot since when handheld recorders first came out. I don’t think I’ll ever be taking oral histories via audio or visual during the course of my degree, but this resource is nice for personal projects as well, should I ever need to stitch a video together or strip the audio from a file.

Readings for 2/21 + Updated Project Plan

Though my project does not involve maps in the traditional sense, I still find the intellectual background/conceptual framework involved in map making quite interesting. As someone who often both reads and writes fantasy fiction, creating new ways of conceptualizing space and transferring it to a consumable form for an audience is something that I’ve been preoccupied with for a long time. Most of my experience in map making is in the form of traditional media (pen and ink/etc.), but, who knows–with the wide-spread shift toward digital book formats, maybe one day digital fantasy novels will be able to include digital interactive maps that allow authors to create new and multidimensional ways of portraying their worlds to readers.

As such, one of the linked projects this week that I found most interesting was the HyperCities platform. I can see how this would especially be useful for mapping urban spaces–as infra/structures are built and rebuilt on top of one another, there is an urban geography at play that really deserves to be mapped in both time and space. What a great way to map the changes in a neighborhood over time, for example. The platform link is also a great example of the importance of data curation for digital projects–so many of the links are broken or images are missing, it was really disappointing not to be able to get a better sense of the interesting projects made with this tool.

The Brooklyn block-by-block project was also interesting, but in a way, I was expecting more out of it–I was expecting to be able to click on a building and see an image of it (either present-day or a historical collection) or get some kind of link to a story about that location rather than just having a very large, very detailed map that color coded all available buildings by date. I can see the purpose of this–it does, as the project states, allow you to see where development happened and where it didn’t–but it fell short of my expectations. This map does tell a story, in one way, but it’s not a story that I found to be particularly engaging. Maybe that says more about my preferences than it does about anything else, however.

Project update

In this week’s readings, I also found a link to Timeline JS, which I think is going to be the program/format that I use for my project instead of TimeMapper. The project that convinced me that this would be a better platform for me was the Bulger on Trial timeline that was linked on the Timeline JS homepage. This is exactly the sort of project that I want to be able to do–create an interactive timeline with links to all sorts of other media, like documents, video, and images.

Exploring this project also helped me settle more on the scope of my project. What I would like to do is a make a timeline of Karadzic trial at the ICTY which covers not only the trial, but the important dates referenced in the trial documentation–dates of massacres, the progress of the war in Bosnia, the peace process, etc. This will allow me to craft the most compelling story possible about the trial. The project conceptualized as such doesn’t have much relation at all to my (prospective) dissertation work, but it’s something that I find interesting, which is ultimately more important to me than the utility of the project to my academic goals. Then again, the alternative version of this project–a detailed timeline of the trial that maps all of the documents filed and testimony given in order to better show the “lifespan” of an international criminal trial, so to speak–didn’t have much to do with my (prospective) dissertation either.

Even though I’m interested in creating a story that I can share with others, it’s really limited to the time-span of this class–I don’t really have the sustained interest in the project needed to curate the data I use for it for any extended period of time. I’ll keep the project bibliography and whatever documents I decide to download from the ICTY’s site on-hand for future reference, along with the project url, but I will most likely just present the timeline on this WordPress and then lock it after the end of the semester.

With all this in mind, here’s my updated project timeline:

February 26-March 12: Explore the potential background info that I can use to put the trial in context. This means going through my existing bibliography of books and other media on the Balkan Wars to pick out the most compelling and relevant sources that I’ll use for this project. That this section includes Spring Break is important: a lot of my library is still packed away back at home, and I’ll want to be able to pull physical copies of the books I’ll use most heavily.  (I know ILL is a thing, but one less thing for me to forget to return on time is always a bonus.)

February 26-April 2: Sort through all the trial documents. It’s important that I start to do this process at the same time that I’m gathering my background information because I have to see what events in specific are referenced in the trial documents. I have a good idea of what events will be focused on, but I’d rather be certain before gathering a bunch of stuff for  some event that I know Karadzic was involved in but that was not covered extensively at his trial. I’m setting April 2nd as a hard date to stop combing through the documents. I know myself–I’ll just keep looking and thinking and digging until the night before the project is due if I let myself, which I won’t. I’ll have the documents selected by the second, and then make myself move forward with whatever I’ve found by that point so that I don’t run out of time and turn in a jumbled project.

March 12-21: Get project planning documentation done, with whatever that might entail.

March 26-30: Settle on which documents are the most important out of the ones that I have reviewed and make a pen-and-paper draft of what my timeline will look like with these documents serving as the core of the project. It’s important for me to do a physical draft of the project before doing the full-on digital version. I’m not very proficient at visualizing things on-screen–when I really want to tear a topic apart or come up with a really good outline, I have to do it with physical tools in physical space. I’m not saying that I tape documents and notes to a wall and connect them with pieces of string like a conspiracy theorist…but I sort of low-key do.

April 2-13: Transform my physical timeline into a digital one. This will mean transferring the blurbs I’ve written into the Google Sheet that Timeline JS runs off of and plugging in the links to video, images, etc. I’ve decided to give myself a hard limit of 30 slides (the Timeline JS site recommends 20, but I don’t think I could do an adequate job in that limited space…although, we’ll see, ultimately). So I’ll do five slides per day for six days, with the remaining three days to tweak the presentation/fix up my WordPress so I have a good page to put the timeline on.

April 18: If I could, I’d like to present on the 18th. That way, I have five more days of extra padding to work with the timeline presentation in case I need it. Obviously, I can push myself to finish the project two days earlier (by the 11th), if I get slated to present then…but the 18th really would be preferable. Neither first nor last is a good position to be in.

 

Updated Project Proposal

The focus of my project will be the trial of Radovan Karadzic by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Scope

I’ve chosen Karadzic for a few reasons. Methodologically speaking, his trial testimony and documents relevant to his trial are all fairly easy to get at, since the main trial ended in 2016 (though he filed an appeal, said appeal will be handled by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and thus doesn’t fall within the scope of the project). Speaking in terms of impact/importance, as the president of the Republika Srpska and head of its armed forces, he ordered the Srebrenica massacre, an action which was found to constitute genocide by the ICTY. This was not the only massacre he was found responsible for playing a critical role in, but is one of the more infamous of them.

Methodology

My goal is to create a timeline that both explains the trial mechanism and situates it within the context of the Balkan Wars and the genocide that occurred during it. Provisionally, I’d like to use TimeMapper to do this, though I sort of would like to find/use a timeline-making program with a bit more flexibility. What I’d really like to be able to do is have a basic timeline of the trial, and then have hyperlinks within the individual timeline entries that could take the viewer to separate pages with more in-depth analysis of the item being referenced. For example, in an entry that refers to the testimony given about the Srebrenica massacre, I’d like to be able to have “Srebrenica massacre” be a hyperlink that takes the viewer to another page where the massacre is explained more in-depth. Basically, I want to be able to provide both large-scale context and the smaller-scale details of what the procedure of an actual trial in an international criminal tribunal is like. I’m not sure yet from class readings/projects what would be the best program to use to do this.

In terms of reviewing the trial information itself, I honestly would rather review the documents manually than putting them through any kind of text mining program. I want to gain a real understanding of both the legal arguments made and the legal process: that means paying attention to documents that are purely procedural and that don’t contain a lot of deep information on Karadzic and his crimes. I’m not looking for trends over time or references to a single municipality where crimes occurred. In this sense, TimeMapper is useful even if I don’t find a way to link out to more in-depth sidebars on events/individuals. It can help me keep track of when motions needed to be filed and what order they needed to be filed in, among other things. Though I’m not extremely familiar with criminal procedure in the international sense, I’m well aware of how convoluted American federal criminal procedure is. Keeping things in order is crucial to getting a good understanding of why a defendant either was convicted or managed to escape culpability for a crime that there appeared to be ample evidence to prove.

Purpose

Though I wouldn’t mind having the project be a site that’s open for the public to use/view, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. I really have no desire/need to keep it private,  but I basically chose this subject for my own edification, even though it doesn’t directly relate to my dissertation. It’s interesting. It’s a thing I don’t know–there are some international law processes that I am really familiar with, but criminal court procedure is not one of them. Considering how influential the rulings of the ICTY have been in public discourse in the former Yugoslav republics, I think it would be beneficial for me to know the nuts and bolts of how the court operates.

Other comments

There seem to be two components to this project– the procedure of the trial and the content of the trial. The part of it that I’m invested in the most, I suppose, is the procedural half. I know/am familiar with the context/content of the trial; what I don’t know is the procedure. Would a timeline that had nothing on it but motions and filings removed of any context that was useful to anyone but me be “enough” of a project? That would basically reduce it to nothing but my personal notes on the trial. But is mapping the context/content of the trial unnecessary/extraneous to the assignment? I’m not really sure. I always associate making a project with making a product that’s valuable to someone other than myself and that’s polished and presentable, but maybe that’s not the case with this assignment? I suppose I need to clarify this for myself.

In-class activity 2/7

For the sake of the activity, I looked at the Jane Austen corpus provided by Voyant. Unsurprisingly, formal terms of address (mr/miss/mrs) were all in the top five terms used in the corpus. Mr was most common — which surprised me a bit, but not overly so, I just happen to associate Austen with her female protagonists — but the term was distributed in an interesting way. There were considerable spikes in the use of “mr” in relation to the other top terms in two novels in specific: Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I wonder why “mr” was so much more prevalent in these two novels? Is there any relationship between the use of “mr” and the popularity of the novel? I was wondering if the spike had something to do with the amount of the work that was focused on a relationship instead of other plot points. I’m unsure whether that conclusion would hold up at all–I’ve never actually read a full book by Austen! I just know that Pride and Prejudice is the one with Mr. Darcy.

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