By Taylor Markey

The African American History, Culture and Digital Humanities Initiative hosted its final module of its Digital Incubator Series April 30.

The session, titled “Narrating Your Story Using Outputs,” was the fourth and final “Social Movements” module of the series. However, the group emphasized that although it was their final module, they are still available as a resource and can be reached via email.

The “Social Movements” module “explores African American practices online by examining the use of communication technologies to facilitate and complicate relationships between localized action and national social movements,” according to the group’s website.

The sessions took place in the Hornbake Library MITH Conference Room.

Each session built off of one another, but anyone could come in at any point of the module to learn. All materials used during the sessions are available through the incubator section of the initiative’s website through a link to their course page on ELMS.

The course page also includes directions on how to download the software used, NVivo, through TERPware. NVivo is a “qualitative and mixed-methods data analysis tool,” according to its website.  

The session was presented by Melissa Brown, a graduate assistant for the African American History, Culture and Digital Humanities Initiative. She spoke on the different ways to visually display the data collected through charts and diagrams, using black feminism as an example shown in NVivo.

The frequencies come from the themes that are coded, Brown said. The use of NVivo can show the different classifications of people who tend to talk about a topic on social media in a specific way.

Brown explained how the comparison diagram could be used to show if there is an overlap between the way men and women talk about black feminism.

Ishan Dey, a senior marketing major, said he is taking a course titled “Black Discourse and Digital Media” and mentioned that this is one of the events that is a part of the class curriculum.  

“I think the cool thing about these events is that it’s showing how emerging technologies can kind of help us get a broader and more in-depth understanding of history that previous methods from other generations couldn’t get into,” Dey said.

This was the final session and incubator because the group’s three-year grant funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ends in December, the team’s post-doctoral associate, Jessica Lu, said.

“Money for any arts and humanities initiatives at universities nowadays are really hard to come by,” Lu said. “And so the whole purpose of the grant is that for three years we were going to have the money to do things that people normally don’t have the resources to do. We’re gonna offer as much as we can to the community, and hopefully do some work to then make sure that this work kind of lives on.”

Lu said for now they are unsure of what happens next, after the grant ends.

“What we would love is for there to be a permanent home for AADHum at the university,” Lu said.

Lu said she came on as a graduate assistant in January 2017, which is when the public programming began.

“I think our overall mission with the Digital Incubators — and in some ways they are kind of like the crux of our overall programming — is that they’re a way in which we can bring digital tools and digital skills to the campus community in hopefully an accessible format,” Lu said. “We offer the incubators for free and that’s important because a lot of these digital tools and software are expensive or the training to learn them is expensive.”

The initiative is co-directed by the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

Lu said instead of doing their “full-on schedule of programming,” they are holding a national conference in the fall titled “Intentionally Digital, Intentionally Black” from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Agrelo’s Pixabay account.

Taylor Markey is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at tmarkey@terpmail.umd.edu.

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