From Paper to Plastic-3D Printing Mummies

The world of 3D printing seems to be opening a whole world of possibilities. Printing something from your computer on plastic is a cheap and easy way to see your ideas come to life. Is there a part of a machine you need to test? Why bother building it of metal when a plastic resin will do. Need to use an artifact from the past, but it’s too fragile for handling? 3D print it! Need to make a full size mummy? 3D-WWWWWHAT?

Indeed the world of 3D printing has become strange. No longer are people’s imagination restricted to 3D printing an intimate object, but people are considering printing copies of body parts. It reminds me of the scene in Big Bang Theory where Howard buys a 3D printer and his wife get’s so mad she threatens that he’ll need to print a woman’s body because that’s the only one he’d be touching. And while I found that scene extremely comical, I didn’t think people would be serious, I mean who wants to 3D print a body?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2fZdlh1OMk” title=”Big Bang Theory 3D Printer” target=”_blank”>

And then I saw National Geographic’s article about the 3D print of King Tut, and I thought, “Huh. I don’t know how to feel about this.” For me I suppose 3D printing demonstrates amazing potential for the future. We can build things that don’t exist anymore, or duplicate artifacts that are too fragile to handle. We can build prototypes without wasting expensive materials and resources. But 3D printing mummies has cause me to think, where do we draw the line?

Yes it’s fun to jest about printing another person, but it’s different to actually do it. It reminds me of a debate we had in my public history class about how to respect the dead. Is it right for us to 3D print the body of a young boy when he can’t consent to it? In the case of some cultures the dead body is sacred, and it makes me wonder if these cultures would consider making a plastic copy of themselves disrespectful. In Egyptian culture specifically, the body was sacred. The physical body needed to be intact to proceed to the afterlife with their belongings. By copying the body are we making the process of going into the afterlife ‘less sacred’? Would we need to 3D print all the artifacts to rectify this? There may be something wrong with taking someone who wasn’t aware of this technology and creating a new plastic version of themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the ingenuity of this process. King Tut is one of the world’s most famous mummies, and with a 3D copy or two we can examine different parts of his body without having to touch him, or we can send the copy as part of a travelling exhibit. Surely that would be beneficial as travel also takes a toll on these artifacts. If it works for him that opens up the possibility of doing it with other mummies. And because these bodies are made of plastic, it would mean less care by the institutions that have the copies. In a way it could save a museum money to have a copy because it would still be an attraction, but all the special equipment for temperature control and extra security wouldn’t be needed. Having a 3D copy could even make money. But it doesn’t negate the issue. Just because we have that technology, does it mean we should use it?

I  am forever the skeptic of technology. While I think 3D printing has amazing capabilities, I’m not sure it’s right for everything, like printing a body. However, for anyone interested check out the link below that shows the process of 3D printing King Tut’s body:

http://www.materialise.com/cases/king-tut-revealed-through-an-accurate-3d-replica

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Project 2-Launching a Website

In my first project I outlined a desire to see my Kingsmill’s timeline become part of a webpage. Unfortunately, due to some set backs I decided that creating a website around my timeline was not feasible. Thus I decided to examine what I knew, and for me that was churches and London. Luckily for me this weird combination works as there are a plethora of historical churches in the London region.

Thus for assignment #2 I am building a website that examines some of the oldest churches in the city of London. The reason that I need to distinguish the words some and oldest, are because London, Ontario has a lot of churches. For my website I narrowed it down to four major religious groups: Anglican, Roman Catholic, United, and Baptist. I decided to focus on these groups because many of these religious groups have been in London since its inception, and their oldest churches are often well kept and designated by the city of London as historical sites.

For my project I decided to use Wix. I have decided to use Wix for a number of reasons. Primarily I chose it because it was recommended by a number of other students, and it allows me to create a website with minimal digital experience. While Wix does not allow for as much freedom as something like Adobe Muse, I have found it sufficient for what I am attempting to do, and it is a relatively coherent program. I think I would recommend it to anyone who is new to website creation and wants a program that they can jump right in without a lot of prep work.

I don’t want to give a lot away as I have not published my website yet. There’s still a lot of work to do, but so far I’ve created the basic structure and established most of the context. I have organized my website into 5 main sections: London, Ontario and Faith, Anglican Church, Baptist Church, Roman Catholic Church, and United Church. These main pages are visible at the top of the page.

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Each of the main pages drops down to reveal different pages. For each of the religious denominations there are three to four different churches that viewers can sort through. Each church selected are representative of religious, architectural, or cultural history. Each main page will have a mini introduction to the faith and its impact on the London region. Information for these pages has been obtained through their diocese websites or published works. An example of this is present on my Roman Catholic page where there is a mini history of Roman Catholicism in London.
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Each page follows a similar format with a small write up on the history of the church and photos of the building. Some of the photos will be contemporary shots, others will be collected from the archives or from religious publications. On each page there will be a link to the church’s own website to allow visitors to access further information.

Wix has also allowed me to add some interesting features. On the top of the page I have included a social media kit. The kit has buttons for some major social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest. Also, Wix allows me to add different media into the site. So far I have added a Youtube link to one of the pages, and am looking at adding more links. The site also allows you to embed your own timelines, or create slideshows with their template. I have been working with Wix slideshows and think it will add something to certain pages where there is lots of visual material.

I am interested to see how this website turns out. So far it seems to be ok and I haven’t run into any major problems. I’ll keep this blog updated with future trials, as there are bound to be issues, and keep it updated for when my site goes live. Until then fingers crossed!

Maybe a Desire for Efficiency is making us Stupid

Barack Obama

I cannot tell if I’m an unfailing optimist, or if it’s all the Halloween candy talking, but while I respect and recognize the issues Nicholas Carr brings up in his article Is Google Making Us Stupid?, I have to disagree. I don’t necessarily think computers are making us stupid, I think that humans desire to be more efficient is making us stupid.
Carr proposes that our reliance on machines and technology like the Internet has succeeded in diverting our attention in so many ways that we are slowly losing intellectual ability. He uses examples of reading as one. He argues that it is now more difficult to sit down and read long books and articles without becoming distracted by something else.
I have to admit, part of what Carr says its true. Sometimes there is nothing worse than reading a long article, especially when it refuses to make its point clear. For me, I personally get frustrated with reading text heavy comics. In my opinion something like a comic should be more visual, and text bubbles that seem endless are the worst and don’t entice me. While I sometimes get distracted more easily by different things on the computer, and while I occasionally lack the desire to finish an article, I do not think I could blame the whole process on technology.
What I think Carr underestimates in his article is the human element. He claims that it is the bombardment of media, and the distractions that technology causes for us to be unable to focus. Maybe some of that is true, but could it also be that what we are supposed to focus on is just uninteresting? As a university student I have to read a lot, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in readings. Most days are pretty good, I can actually survive the readings because there is something that I find amazing. Other days the articles I have to read are not stimulating, and that’s when I decided to count how many pages I have left, or go on Facebook, or play 50 games of Angry Birds. Whatever. At that point looking at the amount of reading you have left to do in paper or online becomes frustrating. It is at that point that I only want the headline.
But where did I get this notion of grabbing the headline? I would argue that since the sixth grade I have been taught to read critically and only grab what’s important. I remember teachers telling us in school when we did research that we didn’t necessarily need to read the whole book “only the important parts”. I don’t know what qualifies people to judge what’s important, but it doesn’t matter. The point is, is that in our quest to do research, write, and hand in homework or assignments on time, we were taught to read efficiently. We are taught to only “grab the headlines”. In my experience this thinking came before my frequent access to technology.
I would argue that this thinking is facilitated more by technology than it was before, but is not the sole cause for making our minds lazy. People not wanting to read lengthy and boring articles is not new! Now computers are just making it easier to get what we want and skip the useless junk. Instead of having to physically go to a library and look through an entire book or go to each page listed in the index, I can Google what I want. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’m lazy, just more efficient, something that I’ve been taught to be from an early age.
I feel that it is our society’s pressure to do things quickly is really the base for distraction and a “go go go” mentality. I just think that maybe the advent of technology is making us realize that our thinking is different. I don’t think technology is going to stop people from reading books, nor do I think it will make lengthy readings obsolete. I think technology is going to change how different readings are marketed. May be it will encourage writers to make their points clearer or more interesting from the onset to actually engage instead of having us lost in readings.

Kingsmill’s Timeline

For my “Doors Open Ontario” Digital History assignment, I decided to examine Kingsmill’s Department Store here in London, Ontario. Kingsmills was part of London for 149 years. It was opened in 1865 by T.F. Kingsmill and was family run for five generations. The last owner and operator Fred Kingsmill, closed the company this year and the building was sold to Fanshawe College. As mentioned in previous posts, I have a personal connection to this store which motivated me to examine a building that is no longer part of the downtown landscape.

I chose to look at the exterior of the building. Kingsmill’s exterior is unique in the downtown core. For a while the Dundas Street side was ultra modern compared to other buildings. More recently the downtown has embraced modern architecture, and not it looks as if it fits. The Carling Street entrance by contrast is not as modern, retaining the red brick exterior which blended in with the rest of the landscape.

I began by doing some general research into the Kingsmill family and the foundation of the company. The London Public Library’s main branch downtown had some information in the London Room about the company. A variety of publications on downtown London mentioned the same brief history of the company. It was founded by Irish immigrant Thomas Frazer Kingsmill, originally as a dry goods store, eventually expanding to encompass a variety of different departments. It existed as one of Canada’s oldest family owned businesses. I conducted further research in the London Library Archives which yielded a variety of articles published in the past 20 years on the company and its recent closure. Results were generally the same at Western’s archives where there was little written or visual information.

In speaking to librarians and archivist at both the public library and campus library and archives I found that the Kingsmill family had not donated their materials to any archive as of yet. I then needed to turn to online sources in attempts to gain information. The first place I looked was Google to see if Kingsmill’s had a webpage. The company still has an active site, with contact information. I proceeded to contact them through the links provided. I next turned to online social media. I looked into Facebook and emailed both the Kingsmill’s online Facebook page and the Vintage London Facebook page for details and aid. Unfortunately, everything that went wrong did. I did not get a response from anyone until much later, and therefore had to rely on media that was publicly available and was not protected by copyright for my project.

To create a visual representation of the Kingsmill building and the changes over its 149 year history, I decided to use an online program called Timeline JS. This program allows for users to create an online timeline and upload it to their respective sites. I had never used this site before, and was a little leery of the program. It seemed relatively simply, so I tried it. I did find it to be a comprehensive project once I watched tutorials and played around with google spreadsheets. Using google spreadsheets was essential to making the program work, and after quite a bit of editing I had the barebones for my timeline.

The real problem has been trying to post the final project to this blog. I am not technologically savvy, and unfortunately for me the Timeline JS tutorials I looked up did not provide any insight on how to post the timeline to this blog. Needless to say, I have been having a hell of a time. I think this will work, fingers crossed that everyone will be able to see my handy work!<a href="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0AumWzjCXkKyydEZGY2lqZmZiSGpQTWJaUEY4QTFGX3c&font=Bevan-PotanoSans&maptype=toner&lang=en&height=650” target=”_blank”>

Kingsmill’s and My Family

Researching for my Doors Open Digital History project has led me to some very interesting places. I primarily chose to do my project on the department store because of my connection to it.

My mom worked at Kingsmill’s when I was young and I remember her and my dad taking us to see the store. I remember all the staff ladies who used to pinch our cheeks and show us all the new cool toys they brought in, or the people who used to run the antique elevator.I also fondly remember the Christmas displays in the store’s windows. They often made them up to look old fashioned. It always reminded me of something straight out of Miracle on 34th Street. The best was during the Santa Claus Parade you could sit right outside Kingsmill’s to watch the modern Christmas celebrations with some of the older ones. I loved every second of it.

Kingsmill's at Christmas

Kingsmill’s at Christmas

I have memories of November Night, the day my mom and the other sales associates would open the store to frequent customers. One of the ladies would inevitably make something from the Kingsmill’s Cookbook that was published in the 1990’s for staff parties and whatnot.

My mom's copy of the Kingsmill's 125th Anniversary Cookbook that the staff contributed to.

My mom’s copy of the Kingsmill’s 125th Anniversary Cookbook that the staff contributed to.

I remember the kids section used to have a table of colouring books, and I remember once asking my mom to play hide-and-seek and accidentally making the store go into a Code Adam because they couldn’t find me. Needless to say it wasn’t one of my proudest moments. Regardless, Kingsmill’s had a variety of memories attached to it for me personally and so I was excited to do this project.

Researching however, has not been easy. Because the store closed so recently there are limited materials available, and many materials are still protected by copyright. As I was digging I realized that personal connections made research fun. I found the Kingsmill’s Facebook page and was looking at old staff photos to see if I recognized anyone, and low and behold I found a picture of my mom from the 1980’s!

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I think this was one of the best discoveries I made during my research. I remember my mom working here obviously, but this was before my time, and it was interesting to see. When I showed this to my mom she was stunned. She remembers the photo being taken. It was of her and one of the sales representatives for the mohair blankets that they sold and shipped globally. She never knew what happened to the photo and didn’t realize it had been posted on the internet for some time. Old employees who were on Facebook had commented on the photo as well. It was an interesting way that the digital world crossed over to my personal life. An old photo that I may not have seen otherwise was posted to a social media site that I frequent, and showed a connection with some of my mom’s old coworkers. It was one of the best discoveries I made during my research.

The digital world and digital research has a huge impact on the personal memories of people everywhere. No longer are your memories so personal, they can become public memory. People can look at the photos you took, or look at things you remember and feel connected too. It’s certainly interesting and can be helpful when people are looking into visual research, something I had never considered before this project.

How Dundas Street has Changed. The History of Kingsmill’s in Pictures

Hi everyone!

Today’s blog post is going to be about my 9808A Digital History project. For this upcoming project I need to chose a building or landscape and incorporate digital methods to show how the area has changed over time.

Kingsmill's at 130 Dundas Street as of 2014

Kingsmill’s at 130 Dundas Street as of 2014

I have decided to examine one of my favourite buildings here in downtown London, Kingsmill’s Department Store. Kingsmill’s was one of London’s oldest stores, and recently closed its doors after over 100 years in business. This was a significant building to the London community, and to me for sentimental reasons, which is why I choose to select it for my project.

A Brief History of Kingsmill’s Department Store

Kingsmill’s was started in 1865 in London by Thomas Frazer Kingsmill. It was originally a dry goods general store that served the downtown community. Later it would also include an imported goods section, and later a furniture and housewares section.

Store Exterior 001.JPG

The physically building of Kingsmill’s has changed over its history as a business. It has always been located on Dundas Street in London, its current address is 130 Dundas Street, though its building also backs onto Carling Street. At its opening the building did not include the Carling Street entrance, and the building itself was only 13 feet wide by 100 feet deep in the 1870’s.

The outside of the building in the 1870’s-1880’s was perfect for the downtown London streetscape. It fit in well with the other buildings and featured commodities like an iron veranda for its patrons to tie up their horses. These railings were later removed in when the facade was redone.

By 1903 Kingsmill’s was one of the largest retail stores in London with over four departments and 225 employees. in 1911 the store burned down and had to be rebuilt. It was at this time that it was rebuilt in red brick and expanded onto Carling Street. The red brick is still visible on that side of the street.

imgresIt was again burned down in 1932 destroying much of the red brick. The building was this time redone by famous London builder O. Roy Moore who created the art deco facade that is still visible. It was also during this rebuild that the octagonal windows were added. The window features became a prominent display feature for some of their more impressive retail goods and beautiful Christmas displays.

In 2014 Kingsmill’s announced its closing. Tragically after over a century of business the Kingsmill family decided it was time to close its doors, and the building was purchased by Fanshawe College for a new downtown campus. Construction has not yet started on this building, but it will be transformed likely within the next two years.

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My Project and Plan

In its 149 years as a store Kingsmill’s has undergone some dramatic changes, especially in its facade. While the owners of Kingsmill’s attempted to keep much of its interior, including its employee operated elevators, and tin ceilings the same, its exterior has changed with the times. Thus for my project I have decided to do a photographic timeline of Kingsmill’s exterior, both on the Dundas Street facing side, and the Carling Street facing side.

For this project I will be using a digital application called Timeline JS. Timeline JS allows me to make a list of photos and videos, and implement them into a structured chronology. As I edit, I can add text describing what the photos are, when they are from, and a little bit about the history. This part of the application will be very useful as it will allow me to discuss why some of the changes occurred, and can create a history of this building in a concise manner.

My first step has been to find some materials for this project. I have visited the London Public Library’s London Room and uncovered some interesting sources for Kingsmill’s including walk tour publications, and articles in the London Free Press.

My second step has been to contact the company and other historical enthusiasts in the London community for more photos of the region. I hope here that the company will allow me to examine photos that are not accessible through library archives.

My third step is to scan and upload as many photos as I can, and lay them out chronologically. I am currently interested to see if I will be able to get more information for the Carling Street side, as it is the Dundas side that is published in most articles. If I can find considerable photos from the Carling side I may include them with the other images.

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My fourth step would be to play around more with Timeline JS and discover how I can better use the program to create a visually pleasing and comprehensive timeline of this store.

I hope that there will be enough images and perhaps videos to make this an intriguing project worthy of true London landmark.

The Power of Pictures

Hello interested people,

This is just a random post about something I saw today and prompted me to write out what I was thinking.

A few weeks ago in our Digital History class there was a discussion about the power of images. The Internet has made photos accessible to people worldwide, and there was the thought that if we are bombarded with so many images, do powerful ones get lost or lose meaning?

For me I don’t think images lose meaning just because there are a lot of pictures. If anything I think it makes them stand out because they invoke powerful feelings that images that we see on Facebook or Twitter often do not. I find I don’t often look at pictures people post or memes and really feel a strong reaction or gain a lasting impression. Even in newspapers, I sometimes see a thought provoking picture or something that is very well shot, and those stick with me, but I find London’s newspaper lacking in powerful imagery and I have to look elsewhere.

What prompted this post and thought for the day was something that interestingly enough popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. Someone had posted a link to 75 Iconic Photos Will Define the 21st Century So Far.

http://news.distractify.com/mark-pygas/pictures-taken-in-past-10-years/?v=1

Naturally, I scrolled through and realized just how provoking these photos really were. From marathon runners aiding other runners, to images of war, glimpses of space, etc., these images are powerful. I think many of the photos are not powerful because of the way they were photographed, but because of what they photographed. Some of these images defiantly were not shot with the latest cameras, or with the perfect lighting, or with an Instagram filter, but what they captured was oddly real and sometimes emotionally raw. For me I think that is often more powerful than a beautiful set up and can stand out more than a thousand other photos of the same event.

I can’t personally say that all of the images on here are the most iconic photos of the 21st century so far, but I think some are good contenders. Even if the images listed do not mark our century so far, they do mark emotions and they are powerful to someone.