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Chris Suh

“Perry in Japan”

http://dl.lib.brown.edu/testzone/perry/

For my project, I began renovating “Perry Visits Japan,” 2003 website documenting the first official contact between Japan and the United States. Ben Tyler of the Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship and I worked together to produce a new version of the website, “Perry in Japan” (for an explanation of why we changed the name, see the “About” section), which contains a lot more features than the original website. I personally took on three major tasks in the renovation process: 1) creating the metadata for the new Japanese scrolls owned by the Preservation Society of Newport County which are now in the Brown digital repository and on the new website; 2) converting all the student essays and several other text documents that were on the old website so that they could be transferred to the new one; 3) revising our initial vision of the new website. The website, as you can see, is still a work in progress. It will take a lot more time and effort. But at least, for now, the hard part is done. We’ve laid down the foundational template upon which the renovation can actually happen.

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  1. Susan Smulyan / Jun 8 2010 8:33 am

    Chris’ project shows both the collaborative nature of digital humanities and how websites are never finished. Websites should grow and change to attract new visitors and to better represent new thinking and new collaborators. Chris has worked on this project in several iterations (as a paid research assistant, as a contributor, and as a student project) and his changing roles and the huge amount of work he has done also represent something about the nature of building websites. “Perry In Japan” will feature new material that includes recently digitized scrolls that show the Perry voyage, essays by Japanese students to compare with essays by Brown students, and newly digitized nineteenth century accounts of the voyage but the new organization marks the most important change.

    Like several other students in the class, Chris undertook a more “meta” role, working as a compiler, organizer and collaborator, rather than the single author of a website (see Amy Atticks and Megan Townes’ “I Was There” Digital Repository Project” for another example). These projects tell us a lot about the nature of digital humanities and the importance of databases and organization as a form of analysis that such work calls forth.

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