Category Archives: Uncategorized

Personal History

One month ago I was given the opportunity I have not had in seventeen year, visit my home province of Alberta. During these years though my family has travelled back and forth to visit. While I did have some feelings of envy during these times, it was simply unrealistic until now for me to fly there for multiple reasons.

However, thanks to my new found independence I took it upon myself to organize a trip to get out there once again. What I discovered during this trip is that my feelings of nostalgia for the region were way stronger than I ever expected. The moment my plane landed in Calgary I found myself filled with tingles of excitement. Over the course of the trip there were two things in particular that stuck out to me. First, my fond memories of being around aunts, uncles and cousins. And second how amazing it is to be able to be surrounded by such natural beasts that we fondly refer to as the Rocky Mountains.

As I write this I can remember how being back in the house of my aunt and uncle brought back so many fond memories of my childhood. For instance having the children of my cousin running around the house chaotically reminded me of when it was me doing the yelling and screaming. This time though I was seated at the adult table which at first I must admit felt as though it had to be a mistake!

Later on during this trip I took a day trip to the heart of the Rockies in Banff. As I approached them my skin began to tingle with excitement. After living in Ontario for so long and around its geography you really forget how remarkable they are. Memories of driving towards them every weekend for skiing with my family brought back so much positive energy.

This is exactly what inspired me to write this entry. I felt so lucky to be back in those surroundings that it reminded me of why I love history in the first place. I love history because I always enjoy looking back on my own personal history and learning how I got to where I am today. I may not have realized that I want to study history when I first entered university but this trip confirmed to me that I am on the correct path and I am looking forward to this next stage of my life.

Under the Wire!

After great deal of stress I can safely say that my graduate school application has been filed. Over the majority of late November, early December and the holidays I slowly gathered my materials and sorted through this arduous process. While it was stressful it was very helpful to have the full support of the History Department.

It is not surprising the amount of forms and papers that must be submitted during the process. What is surprising though is how complicated submitting the actual application is. At first glance it appears as though you just get your papers ready and then upload them all in one place. Then again, it could have just been my naive brain tricking me (yet again). Nevertheless, with a little over a week before the deadline I found myself in an absolute panic over learning where to actually upload the files and find out where I actually send the application fee. Again though, thanks to the great help of the department I was able to find answers.

In addition I met with the department’s current Graduate Studies Chair, Dr Lipsett-Rivera and Dr Graham to discuss my application. During this meeting I heard some very promising news that my lower grades from my earlier years (which were caused by lack of accommodation) will not hurt me as much so long as there is a general upward trend in my later years. This of course is no promise that I will get in to the program, but it was a relief to know that it is understood why those grades are where they are. Another interesting thing that came out of that meeting was a discussion over what possible TA roles I could see myself fulfilling.

To be honest being a TA has been on my mind over the past few years. At first I was a little hesitant as it seemed to be a daunting task to undertake on top of taking classes. However, over the later years of my undergrad, and now this year, I have gotten better and better at managing my time. Therefore I feel confident that I could take on a challenge like that. So during the meeting we agreed that I would be able to do such things as run tutorial groups, mark papers on the computer, or under Dr Graham’s suggestion run online forums.

So after a great deal of stress leading up to the later part of this week, I was able to successfully submit my application on the day of the deadline to qualify for funding. Now comes the hard part of waiting…

Revving Up To Apply To Grad School

This year has been filled with new adventures. Whether it be living on my own, taking a graduate level seminar, or even most recently taking a spontaneous trip to Toronto. All of these experiences have helped me learn to grab the bull by the horn and take advantage of every opportunity presented to me. What I cannot forget  is my major purpose for the year, which is to solidly transition into an independent life and apply for graduate school.

The former was my major focus of the first part of the year as I learned to adapt to living on campus and looking after my own needs. After twenty seven years of being able to depend on a parent or attendant to help me with those needs, it was (as embarrassing as it sounds) quite the challenge to get used to.

The latter though has been my most recent focus as November is upon us and graduate application deadlines are on the near horizon. At the same time however, I am also learning (there’s that word again) to manage my classwork, in this case finish a final paper.

The difficulty for me going into this project was to find a subject I felt passionate enough about to write a strong paper on. Being a graduate level class, my classmates and I were encouraged to relate our papers to our major thesis or MRE topics. However, since I am not yet in a graduate program I am not entirely certain about what my thesis is (or could be) about.

This thought was quite intimidating at first although after a recent discussion with my current professor, he helped me work out the idea that I could use this paper as a jump-start for my research proposal in my grad school application. Therefore, I have chosen to write this paper on how a historian does not need to depend upon the book as a physical entity for sources in order to be a successful historian.

In order to do so I am hoping to draw upon sources from my thesis last year as well as some new ones on historians who have utilized oral histories as well as historical film for their major sources. Wish me luck…

Projecting the Warning Signs

Seeing as it now is October 1st, I thought that I should take some time to reflect upon my experiences thus far with my new living situation. As an individual who faces daily challenges with even the simplest of physical tasks I thought that adapting to this new lifestyle would take much longer to become accustomed to. However, thanks to the excellent help of the Attendant Services program here at Carleton University as well as friends and family it has essentially seemed seamless.

In spite of this fact though, I still must be wary of early warning signs of exhaustion so that I can be sure to avoid major setbacks such as serious illness as I know I am at a higher risk of coming down with. Thanks to the great tunnels here at Carleton I have managed to avoid any unfortunate weather on my way to and from class. Seeing as it still early in the fall though I have made a point of getting as much fresh air when it has been reasonable for me to do so.

After two weeks of classes, and at the time I was only taking two, I could tell that they both would be too demanding for me to juggle at the same time. This is not to say that I was not enjoying them both but due to the amount of reading and work that they were both requiring of me, I knew that I would be unable to complete all of the assigned tasks to my fullest potential. Following the first completed task of my History of Food and Drink In Early Modern Europe, it was clear that I had not been able to give myself enough time to prepare. I am by no means pleading innocent in this as one of the reasons for this is most likely that I am still learning how best to divide time equally between social time and my studies. Even so, I could tell when I did the workload would be too much.

I therefore had to make a choice between the two classes. While the History of Food and Drink In Early Modern Europe was an interesting class, but I decided to stick with Historiography of Canada Part 1. Despite them both being interesting topics this was an easy choice for me as I am wanting to focus this year on learning what graduate level classes are like.

Thus far, this has been a great decision for me as I have already completed my first major task of the semester by leading the discussion on last week’s readings through analysis and coming up with questions to discuss. I must say it was nerve racking doing this for the first time at this next level of education but wet fantastically well. I found it even easier at this level as students who are studying along with you are wanting to be engaged, so it almost eliminates awkward silences from the audience completely. I would just ask a question and the conversation would naturally flow from there.

Now that that assignment is completed I can go on to do regular readings but also start to slowly on my end of year term paper on defining what post colonialism is. I am planning on approaching it from a compare and contrast perspective so I can hopefully get a better idea of how post colonialist writers differentiate themselves. The other great thing about this decision to drop down to one class is while I am managing my workload I do still have time for some social time.

This is a very important thing as one of the main reasons for me moving out and into residence is so that I can do just that. Up until this point it has worked out great. Firstly, I have been doing more regular social events like getting together for beers at the campus pub with my roommate. But I have been also pushed outside my comfort zone by the people around me like my girl friend and family to do things like navigate OC Transpo on my own and walk (ok roll) home from Lansdowne on my own.

The things that I have done in just the first month on my own have been so exciting! I cannot wait to see what October has in store…

Taking the Next “Step”

For most university students, moving out and gaining more independence at residence occurs at a natural rate after high school. For someone like myself though, moving out and away from that high level of support can be a major step that takes that much more time to prepare for. In fact, my situation led me to not only wait a couple years but until after my first degree!

This was not only surprising to some of my friends, who despite being disabled like me moved in to residence in their first year, was surprising to me. However, it was surprising to me not for the fact that I waited until after my undergraduate degree (because to me it never felt right at the time) but because I never felt as though I would move at all.

This is because when I was growing up I always had the feeling that I would be living with my parents for the rest of my life. Ideas like this came to me in a multiple of ways, for the most part though it was because I felt comfortable where I was with my family and couldn’t imagine the frustrations that arise as an adult living with your parents. On top of it all when my parents separated it became quite apparent to me that I would need to become comfortable with some other living situation in the near future.

What I did not know then was that the “near future” was a lot nearer than I could ever imagine. Just last February for instance I was in my kitchen having a casual conversation with my mom that led me to take the first step towards stepping (ok rolling) out on my own. The Carleton University Attendent Services Program suddenly seemed to be the perfect fit for me as it offered me the independence I was desiring and continue my academic career at the same time.

It has now been one week of living here and my experiences have been nothing but positive. I have been surrounded by positive energy and familiar faces that have made me feel excited about trying out a new living situation in a familiar environment. Just one week in it has led me to do more things independently than ever before including shocking my sister by bumping into her at a packed crowd getting geared up for an AC/DC concert. If this is just what I have been able to do in week one, I am eager to find out the rest of the year has in store.

Thesis Update 2000: Paradigm Shift

Hurdle number two has now been tackled! Two thousand words in and “The Evolution of the Digitization of History: Making History Accessible” is beginning to look like a thesis. To this point I have lightly touched on the incunabula and have begun to discuss the e-book. For the most part though I have been writing about how as well as why evolutions of different technologies happen.

The most helpful source in doing so has been John Lutz’s “Riding the Horseless Carriage to the Computer Revolution: Teaching History in the Twenty-First Century”. In it Lutz speaks about how when technological revolutions occur, it is not the invention itself that causes the revolution. Instead, it is the idea that brings about a paradigm shift.

Such a paradigm shift is exactly the focus of my paper. Why and how did the physicality of the incunabula develop? Why does the e-book try so hard to emulate the physicality of the book? More of these answers are being discovered everyday of this project. Lets see what is discovered next…

Calculating Affordances

Now has come the time to actually place all of my ideas down into words that somehow work together to prove my thesis. When I went to go about gathering all my newly researched information though I came upon an unexpected bump in the road. Despite spending a great deal of time on researching I found myself struggling to format my ideas in a way that made sense.

Therefore, I went to Dr Graham in search of some much needed advice. I told him I was struggling to figure out the differences between the physical book, or incunabula, and e-book. What he suggested was to come up with a list of affordances that each one offers to able bodied and disabled individuals to get my ideas flowing.

This was a fantastic idea! This has allowed me to better calculate the accessibility of format directly to each other by making a tables. These tables compared the physical benefit of utilizing a book for able bodied and disabled individuals for both the book and e-book. From this exercise I have been able to even broaden my perspective on physical affordances of both the physical book and the e-book. I have also discovered some surprising similarities and differences between each.

It will be interesting to see what I discover next in this project.

Speeding To A New Velocity

Taking notes and keeping track of them has always been difficult for me. Seeing as I cannot move them around on a table to see multiple pages at a time, I have had to train myself to remember my previous notes in order to put together a more solid argument. Thanks to Dr Graham though, this is no longer the case.

During our last meeting he introduced me to an application called Notational Velocity. This application helps you see your notes at one time on the computer without scrolling through pages of notes on other applications such as Microsoft Word or Pages. All you need to do is write a title of your note and Notational Velocity keeps track of the body of your notes so that as you are writing it will pull up previous notes that relate to your present note. It is very similar in other words, to grabbing different pages out of a binder of notes and moving them around to make more sense of them. This is so helpful in writing a paper because it is so much easier to formulate ideas with previous ones and make links between them.

Writing this project on the evolution of technology has been so great as it has opened my mind to so many different ways of doing things. I always knew that I would discover more information on the book and the different ways it has been produced, I did not anticipate new ways of going about my academic work though. This has been a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Discovering the E-Book

Ever since I was young I have been drawn to books. To this day I can remember myself looking at my parents’ bookshelf and seeing countless fascinating books that I told myself I would read one day. As I grew up and had more of a capacity to read such books, I found that my physical ability, rather than my capacity to read was holding me back. My mom still says to this day with a smile on her face, “You were my only kid that actually wanted to read, and you could not hold a book up!”.

Being the type of person that she is, my mom would never be satisfied until I was able to read for however long I wanted to without losing the strength to do so. In order to make this happen she tried a number of things. Even going so far as to purchase a brand new desk for me that was higher up so I would not need to look down to see my book. While this did solve that issue, I still had problems, as I could not reach my book when it was elevated in order to turn the pages.

From this point we managed to solve most issues by having a book holder sit on top of my elevated wedge on the tray of my wheelchair so that the book was elevated, fully open, and relatively easy to reach to turn pages. My mom made it even easier for me by suggesting that I use the eraser on a pencil to do so. From that point on I could read as often as I desired without too much trouble. This remained true for some time until I reached the next level in my academic career.

When I reached University I discovered that I would need to read at a much faster rate than I was ever able to while dealing with a physical book. Therefore I had to figure out a new method of reading all over again with the help of the Paul Menton Centre at Carleton University. This place was very helpful in showing me all of the different methods they had for giving me the information I needed in my text books. For example, I could even get my books printed in brail if I wanted! Instead though I chose audio books.

Learning how to read in a different way though is challenging enough as it is, let alone picking it up at a crucial time like the beginning of university. I found it incredibly difficult to take in the information as I was so used to reading with the words in front of me. Because of this, and also the fact that it took an extended period of time for my books to be transferred into such a format, my grades suffered. A couple years later I was told I could also have my books changed to PDFs so that I would receive them much faster. This suggestion completely altered my academic path.

From this point on I became interested in how technology such this is helping to make History, my course of study, more accessible to me. This is how I discovered the Digital Humanities with the help of Dr Graham after taking his class The Historian’s Craft. I am now writing my honours thesis on this subject. What I am hoping to accomplish through this process is to compare the development of the e-book, that has been such a fantastic creation for me as a disabled individual, to the incunabula, or early book. I would like to prove that the incunabula improved the way people received their information at that time just as much as the e-book has for me now.

Stay tuned for updates!

A White Board of Ideas

Today I had my first meeting with Dr Graham to discuss my upcoming thesis. During this meeting we first went over my guidelines and then proceeded to review my first assignment that I completed for this week, my initial timeline for the entire year. This was great as it led into discussing other assignments that I will be doing throughout the year such as a proposal.

During this discussion we began to think about my thesis as a whole and what it would be about and how to approach it. To keep our ideas straight, Dr Graham pulled out his white board and started scribbling things down. We began talking about many different things that I could touch on from the difference between digitization and digitalization (I had to pause from my shock that yes, obviously there is a difference). Other subjects included what digitization does to things, the relationship between accessibility and things among many others.

After all of this was said and done I have now come to the realization that my thesis is going to focus on the evolution digitization through six different technologies. These technologies are: early books (or incunabula), the telegraph, the telephone, radio, tv, and the internet. What I hope to accomplish from this is learn what their physicality is. More specifically, how their physicality to their accessibility for their audience.

Lets get cracking!