The Bean and Me

So the teacher asked this of us this week: Complete blog reflection on Bean and your project: How does Bean’s chapter inform your thinking about elements of your planned project? On what resources are you drawing as you work on your project?

Bean, more formally known as John C. Bean, wrote a book entitled Engaging Ideas in 1996, and we were asked to read Chapter 5; Formal Writing Assignments and relate that to projects that we might do in our courses next year that integrate the digital. I read the chapter, as the good(ish) student that I am, and found it had little to do with my “field” of teaching. But since I am interested in challenging the notion of the objective in creation and learning, I reread the chapter with a different lens. In my course,The Painted Book,  my students will not only be creating original altered and handmade books, they will be engaged in the process of creating and writing a blog, and documenting through video and photographs, how their process developed.

What I gleaned from rereading Bean’s article were the fascinating, alternative and creative, ways one can approach writing assignments or reflective responses to subjects. I particularly like the teacher prompts that ask students to write a response in the form of a letter, or a poem, or to create a mini-play. I would like students to think in terms of the beginners mind and have them be able to explore the formation and development of ideas. In my assignments I would like students to not only create original works of art I would like them, like detectives, piece out and explain the train of thoughts or stepping stones that brought them from their original inspiration to finished product.  This teasing out of their process will be explained in their blog and the product will be their end goal.

Assignments for Digital Humanities with the Painted Book

Preamble: The course, The Painted Book, will be split into classes devoted to traditional altered book and bookmaking techniques with assignments focused on integrating digital elements. These following assignments will be integrated into regular class meetings and will be followed by art making, and exploration with book making.

Digital Assignment 1: Open Word Press Blog account. Respond in the form of a 1st blog post to Chapter 1 of text; Why Greatness Cannot be Planned, the Myth of the Objective by Kenneth Stanly and Joel Lehman.

Digital Assignment 2: Create Blog post in response to latest Why Art Matters and the article; Unteaching; The return of exploration in image making. Blog writing by Sarah Gorham

Digital Assignment 3: Idea Generation: Where do ideas come from and how do we follow them. Create a Visual Map of your life experiences as a guide to your project development. Seven degrees of Separation. How did you get here from where?

Digital Assignment 4: How did you get here & from where? Create a video or photographic log of how you created your Final Painted Book Project. This assignment may take several weeks and lots of editing. You will work with an Art Buddy from our class and help each other with video and documentation. Does sound play a role in your process? Is their music when you create- will you include this in your video or as a link on your page? Do you want to do a running commentary or will words and images suffice to explain how you got here?  Include your Visual Map somewhere in this Log.

Digital Assignment 5: Presentation of our Final Painted Book Projects.


Booker and Visualization Tools

In September 2012 Matthew Booker contributed his article, Visualizing San Francisco Bay’s Forgotten Past, to the Journal of Digital Humanities. He stated in his conclusion, “if we cannot even visualize what that past looked like, it becomes much more difficult to imagine its future.” Using the metaphor of “accretion” which is a geology term meant to describe the process of discovery through exposure of layers, or as the dictionary defines it as the process of growth or increase, typically by the gradual accumulation of additional layers or matter he explains how discovery comes through exposing the various layers to understand how something works.  Data visualization tools such as wordle, national archive photographs, the spatial history lab of Stanford, Booker provides text with visual images to elaborate his ideas about changes in San Franscisco Bay salt ponds over time.

This would be a tremendous asset to many undergraduate courses aiding students to clearly demonstrate their research, or writing, or creative works in a more interesting an approachable way. A couple of these could bring interesting methods to depict visual information in courses that I teach. I will need to do some further research to find visualization tools that specifically could be beneficial for my Altered Book projects, but two that are listed here could be the, and

PiktoChart was established in 2011 by a young couple in Malaysia. They now how a thriving business with over 3 million users and 40 employees. They offer a blog spot and other tools to develop visual their tag line is “All you will need to make information beautiful. Designing has never been easier.”  This could be great for a blog for my students and a user friendly site with tutorials for easy application. Non-profits and educational institutions can buy special packages such as.

Classroom PRO $120  for 4 months (30 accounts)

  • All templates
  • Image upload limit increased to 400mb
  • Hi-Res image exports
  • High quality PDF exports
  • Piktochart watermark removal
  • More privacy options
  • Integrated export platform

They are hiring looking for a

Candidate Happiness Officer (Recruitment)…LOVE IT!!

The other was I tried it and it is fun. I can see students using this for a page or two in their altered books. It is a fun way to bring a lot of text together in a different perhaps more stimulating way. But my criticism with this is that the words simple become a visual, and image, and lose their impact as part of a story where the content matters. The flow of the words in a paragraph become simplified to the basics.

An altered book site that I am investigating and am very excited about is:

More on this next week.




Organizing for the Masses

In reading the Palmer article entitled “Thematic Research Collections,” I was bored, but pleased. In undergraduate education this tool of collection could be a very useful source for collating and organization of broad thematic inquiry. This potential streamlining of sources and content would be an enviable aide to the process of finding information for a given topic. Perhaps one of the downfalls of this sort of prioritization and “creators select” materials is that the scope of the collection is faceted to the aims of the original creator. A positive is that, much like Wikipedia the sources and “collection” can be expanded by other contributors. This sort of one stop shop for information will certainly cut down on time spent in the library catalogue searching each avenue of information.

As a source for undergraduate research and scholarship I think these sorts of collection driven environments that take advantage of “contextual mass, interdisciplinary platforms, and activity support” will aide in supporting and enriching the varied directions of research in the humanities.


I spent my requisite 30 -45 minutes initially looking at and then was absorbed into other peoples websites and found myself intrigued with the variety of websites that were created on this platform. I think that the Omeka site has a lot of great information about how to assemble a successful website. I wanted desperately to check out this following website that is listed as one of the Showcase exhibits. Frustratingly the link was inactive.

Robert & Monnoyer: French Botanical Artists of the 17th Century from Dumbarton Oaks:

My second choice for studying was ALSO inactive, super frustrating!!

Museum On the Move,

My third choice

Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century

This site is great!! Still in the process but a good collection of resources for those studying or researching art at the end of the 20th century in NYC. I found of particular interest the links to the carious galleries and clubs. A very popular 19 and early 20th century activity was for artists and writers to meet weekly at a venue and paint, sketch, discuss and otherwise gather together to do things artsy. It was fascinating to have all this info in one location and very informative and provided openings for further inquiry.

The Women Writers Project website is a vast inclusive collection of resources for those who are interested or teaching courses in Women’s writing and history. The “goal is to bring texts by pre-Victorian women writers out of the archive and make them accessible to a wide audience of teachers, students, scholars, and the general reader.”  I looked through a few of the texts and was very excited to have access to them rather than having to dig thru archives myself. It is an excellent resource and initiative.