Jenny Reeder

Images, Imagined Images, and Images of Imagination
March 20, 2007, 1:07 pm
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For my image assignment, I decided to take everything from one large poster created in 1883. I really like this image–there is a lot of depth and possibility. However, the more I played with it, the more I wonder if I’ve really improved things or not. I love what Katrin Eisman suggested: work for 20 minutes, then take a break. I think this is crucial–my neck throbs and my eyes ache and I am anxious to hurry and be done with it all, so I end up making rash movements. I think my favorite part of Photoshop is the history–I can delete line by line. It’s grand.

I must say that I’m not sold on colorizing. I was intrigued by Steve’s comment and I wonder if we try to do too much once we start playing with Photoshop tools. Reality starts to fade away and everything turns to imagination. It’s fun, but I’m just not sure about the finished project. It’s certainly a matter of my own creation; I suppose I’m still coming to terms with how history is actually done.

I’m definitely still working on my site. Here’s a sneak preview.

Design that’s Professional, Worn, and Wicked
March 5, 2007, 1:34 pm
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I am intrigued with the ability of Photoshop to manipulate images, and yet I continue to question the authenticity of image manipulation on a couple of different levels.  In class Professor Petrik mentioned three reasons for image use: Archival, Illustrative History, and Decorative Design. Each purpose is important–digital preservation, visual historical analysis, and incredible design. In this class we will probably not cover digital preservation. In my MA program, though, I had a preservation class as part of my certificate in archival management. Thought I appreciate the use of images in different ways and I understand and celebrate the strength of visual history, I tend to fear the power of image manipulation. I wonder if images should be manipulated for historical evidence–certainly for design. I think Mark Stevens raises some important questions along this line, to which I have responded.

Our reading for this week illustrates several different ways to manipulate images. I enjoyed reading about Greg Story’s ideas expanding design to include historic shapes–signs, logos, and mastheads. And I thought Dave Rau and Josh Bertrand had valuable input with efforts to mimic the real world–“tasty splotches, drips, folds, splats, stains, rips, and tears.”

Cameron Moll’s blog Wornamental, Thornamental opens up a whole new strategy: instead of cleaning things up in an image, he seems to be encouraging the historical feel by wearing things down. Tools such as grunge brushes, ragged edges, and pixelation all add in this wearing down process.

So where’s the balance between a clean, finished, professional look and an authentic historic ambiance? I have  a feeling that it comes with experience and clean coding, as discussed in Petrik’s essay. And I heartily agree with Laura–that it takes playing around with images and the techniques rather than just reading about them. Any other ideas?

Somewhere Over the Rainbow… Choosing Colors
February 24, 2007, 3:00 pm
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I have a quilt hanging on my wall that my great grandmother made back on the day on her farm in southeastern Arizona. It’s got a pink background and intricate blocks made in a variety of bright colors: tourquoise, brown, yelow, blue, green. In an effort to return to my roots and reawaken my own love for quilting, I decided to make my own quilt using my great grandmother’s colors but my own pattern. I took a picture of the quilt to a fabric store and mixed and matched a whole bunch of calicos and stripes and plaids until I came up with a combination that was half-way between my own taste and the somewhat bright and 1940s taste of my great grandmother.  They are nothing I would have ever chosen on my own, but as I look at the blocks, I see a strong play with color and texture.

I am intrigued with the work of color. I know what I like and what I don’t like, but I am still learning about how to actually design an appropriate palette. I like what Luke Wroblewski said about the power of color to change mood and alter opinion. I love how the color choice can distinguish my website, guide users to accessible interaction, and engage use.  I have a couple of ideas about how I can use a whole palette of color for my homepage, then focus on one of those colors for each of my different areas.

The Sherwin Williams page raised another question: can color actually communicate a time period? I believe it can, but I don’t know how accurate they are with their periods. I remember visiting a historic site of a Mormon home built in the 1820s. The tour included an explanation of a recent restoration effort: they discovered the original colors were much brighter and more vivid than previously anticipated. The family, while farmers, were quite wealthy, and the amount of their wealth was displayed in the thickness of color in the paint (less wealthy people watered down their paint). At any rate, there was one room that was bright orange–the tour guide said it was the same color as the surrounding trees in the fall. So my real question is: what colors come from which time periods?

I agree with Jennifer Levasseur–the color tools offered by Professor Petrik are extremely helpful in our web design efforts. I would take it a step further–I think that rather than simply helping us to be non-abrasive, we can actually use color to control emotion and bring attention to our actual subject.

Type This
February 19, 2007, 9:03 pm
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In my quest for fonts, I actually found one titled “Type this.” I had no idea that I would find such a fascination with fonts. I could spend hours playing. Laura Veprek shared with me a great site with free fonts:, and I found the perfect calligraphy font for my site. I wanted to create a biography page, the first of many, hopefully, for my larger Mormon Women’s History site. My first page, which fulfills the type assignment, focuses on Eliza R. Snow. For the headline, I wanted to find a font that matched her own handwriting. I pulled out a photocopy of a holograph letter and matched a font almost immediately. I’ve been playing around with headers and pull quotes in her font, which obviously I’ve made into images because no computer is going to have this font. I’ve realized, though, that this font comes with difficulty–it’s hard to read. So I’ll improvise and use sparingly. Check out my efforts here: Eliza R. Snow.

Laura also shared a fabulous color blender site. I can put in two colors and the site will blend them with up to 10 colors in between. It’s beautiful–and great fun to play with shades.

I have to acknowledge a very helpful tutoring session from Jeremy Boggs. He is an amazing designer and had some great ideas. My favorite part, though, was seeing his type assignment for Clio 2. Just seeing his learning curve helped me to realize that I’m ok–that I can learn and practice and get the hang of this.

History Polyglot–How to Translate or Interpret in a Digital Age
February 10, 2007, 3:14 pm
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I am intrigued with Manan Ahmed’s discussion, The Polyglot Manifesto. He raises some important esoteric questions about identity, community responsibility, and public responsibility. But I am most intrigued with his ideas about historian as translator or interpreter. As I commented on Bill’s blog, I believe that digital history changes the way we do history. I think the connection between “past-ese” and “present-ese” is one that we cannot take too lightly. Can we really “toggle” between the two, to borrow Ahmed’s phrase?

I like to hope we can. And yet as I anticipate dealing with job searches and how I will figure out how my skills can match the needs of whatever department, I question how it will all add up. Does my ability to use digital media make me a better historian? Or am I learning how to appeal to the popular masses? Do the two connect? Does plodding through somewhat technical and foreign reading on CSS help me do or interpret history better, or does it help me present history better? I honestly think both skills are vital. And that is exactly why I am pushing and pulling along, trying to piece together the meaning of CSS and design. I have important history to do and I want to know how to present it.

Portfolio Website
February 7, 2007, 3:19 am
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Finally… with the help of my teams… here is the link to my web portfolio. I know you’re all waiting with baited breath…

I started in grand admiration of Jennifer Levasseur’s web portfolio, mainly because it was clean and seemed relatively simple (props to you, Jennifer). I followed her link, but then ended up changing obviously color, images, and text. With the help of Laura, we cleaned things up a bit.

I decided to make my portfolio a part of my larger website without the link between the two. I’m still working on the solid identity party, but I did want to make a connection with my spirit-mentor, Emmeline B. Wells, whose picture is in my header.

Annotations and the Complexity of Online History
February 5, 2007, 7:56 pm
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Last semester we discussed the power of hyperlinks, and I was thrilled at the possibility. I quickly realized, however, that while links are an inherent strength of the Web, scholarly footnotes prove problematic. Although Jenny Lyn Bader cites the power of “clickability,” I agreed with Misha that frenetic button-pushing can lead to attention deficit disorder. While the non-linear, individual-oriented user can control the direction of information-seeking, the scholar loses. Footnotes and hyperlinks are not the same. Rather, as Gertrude Himmelfarb noted, we lose accountability when we lose footnotes.

I’m intrigued by the different ideas of how to deal with scholarly footnotes. I think my favorite option by our own Professor Petrik is the popup. I love the concept of an explanation visibly available, right next to the text in question. I like the idea that I can control the popup according to my own interest–I read some; I leave some. I feel strongly about being able to print the document with the footnotes in place. I think the sidebar is tricky–some footnotes are extremely long and would take up a lot of sidebar.

It’s all about usability and accountability…