3/23 | Civil War Soldiers: Postwar Lives

Summarize what your spreadsheet of your soldier’s pension records tell us about his postwar life. How does he compare to the soldier’s discussed in the readings: Did he move around the country or change occupations? Did he marry, divorce, have children? How long did it take him to receive a pension? Did he suffer from injuries and illness? How old was he when he died?

Something very prominent in our soldier’s pension records was his wife, Ida Robinson. They lived in a neighborhood in Cattaraugus County, New York. The pension record indicated that his wife was trying to receive money as his widow, but she had to have sufficient evidence that she was his wife and was living with him up until his death. It seemed like a very strenuous process because she had to provide multiple documents and get witnesses, but I assume that this process was very necessary because of the fact that when soldier’s died, women would try to receive their benefits from the government. Ida even brought a next door neighbor to the pension office to verify that she is actually the widow of Milon and lived with him up until his death in New York. He also suffered from a leg injury and had a broken fibula. These injuries did not immediately kill him, but they may have been a factor in why his death occurred early in his life. That is not completely certain from the records in his file.

3/21 | Open Source Software & Omeka

3/21: What do you think are the most important advantages and disadvantages of open source software? Do you use any open source software?

I believe that the beauty of open source software is that it can always be edited later. If the open source software is made available for anyone to view, share, or edit it, there is always room for new information to be implemented into it. This is especially important for historical information and timelines, because as time passes and changes are made to major laws, policies, etc., the information is not completely set in stone like other software may be. I believe that open source software doesn’t necessarily have a disadvantage, but I would say one of the potential drawbacks is the fact that the open source software is available to any and everyone. Because of that, you can release software to people and they are able to edit and tweak the software to their specific needs. Although that is an advantage for the person who is accessing the software because they can take out parts they don’t like and add parts they do, it leaves room for someone to completely alter the software that you made available to them and then they can even go as far as to resell the software that you created. They may believe that they have done nothing wrong because they tweaked your software and changed so much of it, but if they used you open source software as a base to create on top of that, they might be using your hard work for a lucrative means without crediting you at all. If you are not into the idea of open source software for the money though, then this is not much of a big deal to you. I don’t personally use any open source software, as I am not well-versed on technology and programming and would probably do more harm than good to the software if I got my hands on it. Although I wish I was good at tweaking certain software because I feel as though some software does not fit my needs as well or it requires more work to use it for the purpose that i want to use it for, and being able to tweak it to my needs would be a lifesaver. Maybe one day i’ll figure out how to be like that.

3/2 | Security, Sustainability & Preservation

 How secure are you online? How concerned are your privacy online? What digital media do you use and what do you back up, and to where?

I try to uphold a very secure presence online, which can be somewhat difficult if you use social media frequently because you don’t know which pages you should keep private and for how long (because some sites are not the same experience if your user profile is private). I find myself always wondering how much of what I post is accessible to everyone. I hear the horror stories of students who have been fired from jobs, suspended from schools, and even had their acceptance letters or scholarships taken away from them because of their social media accounts. That is why I try to keep all extreme obscene and profane postings off of my page. I refrain from falling into the trap of internet trolls and working myself up and saying things that I know I would regret. I don’t post controversial or racist opinions on social media, for one because I don’t normally think those things up, but also because I know it is very easy for people on social media to find those tweets and ring you over the coals for it. Even  if you are just responding to an image or video with your opinion, keep it as clean and free of prejudice or rude words as possible, as you never know who might be looking at your page and find those things offensive. And employers and schools do not want to be saddled with a student who has a high social media presence but for the wrong reasons.

I use a plethora of digital media. If I could put my daily uses into a pie chart, digital media would encompass roughly 65% of it. My favorite digital platforms for social media are Twitter and Instagram. I also use digital software like The Sims, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. for digital business. I use digital media sites like this one, Wix, Youtube. The best way for me to access all the digital media I use is through the applications on my phone. I have apps for all my social media, iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, all of my Adobe Apps. I even have money management apps on my phone to track my spending. Digital media has become a huge part of my daily life, and that is why i always try to back up my apps to my iCloud, and back up anything else through my computer so that way none of my most important files will ever get lost if my phone randomly decides to reset itself. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen anytime soon. Or ever.

2/29 | MetaData

Why does metadata matter?

Metadata in its most simplest definition is ‘data about data’. The data that Metadata is about is literally any kind of informational data. Whether it is a book, article, image, audio, any sort of file that can be classified as data, can be investigated even further. That sub information, is metadata.
Now your first question is probably ‘Why?” right? Why did historians decide to find out more information about the information that is searched daily? It sounds a little like busy work at first, until you understand what they are searching for in this data. The first thing that metadata looks for in data is ‘descriptive information and context’.

Descriptive information and context about the data is crucial in finding the most important parts in a file; metadata looks to find the summation of the file itself. It includes notes about the data, a description of what is in the data, and the subjects discussed in the data. Sometimes it will also have the format of the data, the file’s rights info, and even database where you found the data at.

The way metadata files the data makes it very easy on you when you are looking up a specific file. If you already have an idea of what file you are searching for, lets use a historical document as example: You can search for metadata that comes from the Library of Congress, what date the data might have been filed, if the data is a book or one single piece of information, the author, title, and if you have it, even the publisher.

This is amazing, and metadata matters for historians. It matters for them because with the way our history has evolved into a more digitized system, it becomes increasingly difficult for historians to find the exact files they are looking for.Everything gets clogged up with tags for social media purposes that there ends up being more false data than true. This can make the search for the truth very difficult, and can lead to a lot of extra work for the historian that is doing the particular research.