Friday, November 4, 2016

Kristine Hildebrandt & Jessica DeSpain's Digital Motivations

Tablets showcasing East St. Louis postcards

Here's the brief story of how my friends/colleagues Kristine Hildebrandt and Jessica DeSpain unknowingly contributed to my exhibits using touchscreen tablets this past week.  The briefest story goes like this: Kristine and Jessica direct the IRIS Center (a digital humanities and social science space) on campus, so they are always motivating folks to do more technologically and digitally.

The longer brief story goes like this. Over a year ago, Jessica introduced me to the East St. Louis postcards in the Andrew J. Theising Collection located at Lovejoy Library. I've been fascinated by the postcards ever since.  Jessica and I then began having conversations about what educational projects we might do to showcase the postcards.

In the meantime, Kristine, Jessica, and I were carrying on our usual abbreviated meetings about digital studies and technology at SIUE and beyond. The meetings aren't really meetings, not official ones, and those non-meetings are always abbreviated because of teaching, grading, conflicting schedules, etc. Nonetheless, if you hang around Jessica and Kristine even for abbreviated non-meetings, you'll walk away with two feelings: 1.) They can finish each other's sentences. 2.) You aren't doing enough, certainly not as much as they do, on the digital/tech tip.

That second point -- not doing enough on the tech tip -- motivated me to push forward with new ideas on how to present bodies of data (in this case postcards) utilizing technology. The result this past week was a series of podcasts and visual galleries on tablets. I was also motivated last spring when funding opportunities became available. I did some brainstorming with Kristine and Jessica, and their ideas contributed to my ongoing thinking about engaging students with technology.

There is, I'm sure, a longer version of how we got to this point, but then, this story would no longer be as brief.

From MP3 Players to Touchscreen Tablets 

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