digital security

Technology plays a large role in today’s society, almost to the point where I couldn’t imagine operating successfully in schooling, life or even work (I use technology to teach online Zumba classes since the campus fitness center was shut down due to COVID-19) without the use of technology. Although technology is a good helper, I was consistently told by my parents of the dangers technology had for my own security; being careful not to give out personal information, looking out for sketchy sites that might try to hack me and using trustworthy sites, although what would be deemed as trustworthy when all technology and everything on the internet, regardless of how protected something is, has the possibility of being hacked. 

Reading the two Mat Honan articles, How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking & How I Resurrected My Digital Life After an Epic Hacking, it was made clear that it is possible for anyone to be hacked, but the most alarming part is that he kept all his passwords for different accounts chained together with password manager which was meant to be able to be an easy solution to having access to passwords but was also meant to protect passwords as well, yet this device allowed hackers to access his accounts that were password protected. Not only do we give important information, like passwords, to password chains, but the majority of people also give information to many social media sites, like Facebook where many people put in their birthdays and previous/current jobs or places they’ve lived. This sharing of personal information is seen as good for your friends on these sites to see, but there are also many reasons that willingly giving this information without knowing everyone who would be able to see it or what it could be used for outside its intended purposes can hold negative consequences. Although some of the information we put on the internet or give to others is in our control, there are other people who have full access of information we might not want to share, such as the government. It is difficult to take a stand on whether government surveillance is good or bad, since them having our information is meant to protect us and our identities as people, yet it is also alarming that they have my information without my own control over it. 

No matter what, using technology has its risks but that won’t cause the people to stop. The best way is to either go entirely off the grid, but there are no promises this could protect you entirely, or to stay alert to hacking that might happen and be smart to either prevent it or know measures to take when/if it does happen.

website articles:

https://www.wired.com/2012/08/apple-amazon-mat-honan-hacking/

https://www.wired.com/2012/08/mat-honan-data-recovery/

geo-referencing

In this practicum, I took an older drawn map of the coast of Africa and placed it on top of a current map of Africa. The older map, was from 1774 (right in the middle of the Transatlantic Slave Trade) and showed a “correct” positioning of the Gold Coast of Africa, where there were many slave trade ports. This drawing wasn’t far off from the current map of Africa, except for a few ridges and cutoffs, but it seemed they have a very good idea of the Gold Coast, meaning that it was a very busy and high demand area. I am still looking for ways to incorporate this tool into my final project, but I will be using maps either way for my final project.

(the warped map is only a screenshot)

I obtained the map from the David Rumsey Map Collection

warped map
Photo of original map

spatial analysis 1

The map shows where the highest levels of produced cultivation are within the states that were affected by the Dust Bowl; the dates include 1900, 1920 and 1940. Looking at the map, the areas with the darker blue are the areas with the highest total cultivation, and in opposition, the areas with the darker brown contain the lowest. The red circles show the areas where the Dust Bowl occurred (in 1940, 38, & 35). Using this information it shows that areas with higher total cultivation of land were not as affected as the areas with the lowest. Since a lot of the dust in the Dust Bowl came from top soil in fields being torn up from the ground, it would be the obvious assumption that areas with high cultivation would be the most affected, but the map proves otherwise (but we would need more specific details about the farms for further reasoning of why areas with lesser cultivation are mainly affected).

Some geospatial questions I might explore for my final project would be questions asking about exportation and importation ports for slaves. Seeing where the majority of slaves were bought/captured on the Gold Coast in Africa for the slave trade and then finding the areas with the majority of these slaves were brought to for colonizers to purchase for individual purposes. Showing the colonies with the highest importation of slaves rate might show a specific relationship to the dominant country in the slave trade over time. 

voyant practicum: exercise examples

Based off the words before and after the word ‘freedom’, it seems that freedom was a luxury and a dream for many people. To my knowledge, I’m not really sure if there is a negative or positive meaning to this word, but it does seem to be something you can get by escaping or buying, as well as something that can be taken away if you are presumed to be a runaway slave. The main context behind the word ‘freedom’ is time, as in the long periods of time (years and years) of slavery that was experience before reaching freedom; therefore, ‘freedom’ is more seen in the struggle for freedom. 

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When comparing the words ‘slave’, ’free’ and ‘white’, it’s show that the word ‘man’ is only connected to the words ‘white’ and ‘free’ and the word ‘slave’ is connected to the words ‘trade’ and ‘master’; this gives an underlying message that you could only be considered an individual human being (a man) if you were white or free from slavery and slaves were considered as solely an object for trade. Looking at the word ‘slavery’, one of the more prominent words it’s connected to is ‘society’ showing the importance of slavery in society. 

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By distinguishing between two different types of documents, it shows that the words ‘god’ and ‘church’ have a strong connection and looking closely at one document entitled Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, it is apparent that the majority of churches had a prejudice against freed slaves, forcing them to form their own congregations.

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voyant practicum: own project examples

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Looking at the word map first, it appeared strange to me that the word ‘honourable’ was one that was used often, when talking about the slave trade, but I looked further to the words surrounding “honourable’ and it came from the document entailing why parliament should abolish the slave trade. Many of the sentences show that the word ‘honourable’ is being used as a way to encourage the abolition of the slave trade, as once they do, honourable is how they would be depicted since they were honoring the lives of the slaves on board these ships. Then – looking into a document that explained the Middle Passage – when I typed in the word ‘slave’ to the links tool it was connected to the word ‘number’, given the impression that numbers of slaves onboard ships was important, due to spacing as well as monetary gain. For additional documents, I might want to find more specific details of the ships cargo and more documents during the abolition period, to see the multitude of words used during a period where the world was divided by one decision.

text mining, topic modeling and visualization

There are many different ways to enhance a digital humanities research project and find new information within the project, and the use of text mining, topic modeling and visualization can give further insight into a project. Text mining plays an important role in digital humanities research because it allows people to see the correlations between words that might have a connection to the same topic and, like google Ngram, it can give specific years showing when the word was used often. This type of gathering data gives insight into the connection between relevancy of words over time. While text mining might not be something I entirely use for my own project, topic modeling, another form of gathering data might be a more useful component to my project.

Topic modeling, as Cameron Blevins explained in the the article about Martha Ballard’s diary, is a way of finding words that consistently appear together within text and group them together in hopes that you might find relevancy in words that might not be normally emphasized as important in our eyes. This could definitely prove beneficial to my project since a lot of the language used in the primary documents is not found as often in “modern-day”. Not only will this help my understanding of certain words, but this could also be useful during the time when participating in the slave trade became illegal, yet many still contributed and sailed ships holding slaves. It is very possible that in order to disguise the actual reasons for sailing or the “type” of cargo onboard the ship, captains or the crew might have used different words in writings to send the message of what they were doing without being caught or arrested. Topic modeling may be able to find this possibility in primary documents to add a whole new dimension to my project. Then with word clouds, there can be a visual representation of the most essential parts of the Middle Passage and the slave trade. 

more resources!!

Cohn, Raymond L. “Deaths of Slaves in the Middle Passage.” The Journal of Economic History 45, no. 3 (1985): 685-92. Accessed February 29, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/2121762

description: This journal article examines the differences in change over time of the mortality rate of slaves on ships transporting slaves. It explains that the majority of mortality rates declined the longer transatlantic slave trade continued, with the lowest rates during 1790 to 1830, but then increasing after 1830. It further details that there may have been incentives for captains of these ships during the mentioned time period to lower the number of deaths on their reports, as well as take other precautions to prevent more deaths during the Middle Passage. Ultimately, it states that the mortality rate declined. 

Cugoano, Ottobah. Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery. London: s.n., 1787 (reprint, London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1969). From Children and Youth in History, Children in the Slave Trade, annotated by Colleen A. Vasconcellos. http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/items/show/141?section=primarysources&source=153 (accessed February 29, 2020).

description: This primary source from a man sold into slavery while he was a child describes the type of treatment aboard the slave ships. It explains the differences in the treatments of men and women, as well as the reactions to the conditions while on the ship. 

Eltis, David. “Mortality and Voyage Length in the Middle Passage: New Evidence from the Nineteenth Century.” The Journal of Economic History 44, no. 2 (1984): 301-08. Accessed February 29, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/2120707

description: This article opposes the Cohn article and claims that mortality rates during the Middle Passage only increased during the time period. The article measures mortality rates by comparing multiple factors: different regions, duration of voyage and the amount of slaves being transported. 

Falconbridge, Alexander. An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa. London: 1792. From Digital Public Library of America, The Transatlantic Slave Trade. https://dp.la/primary-source-sets/the-transatlantic-slave-trade/sources/316 (accessed February 29, 2020).

description: This primary source discusses the interactions and process of purchasing kidnapped people from Africa to be put into the slave trade. It explains that the traders in Africa delivered men, women, and children to the “fairs” on the coasts for these large countries to see. It also gives examples how the fair were maintained; how they prevented theses kidnapped people from escaping and the type of actions taking place. 

“Folk art model of a slave ship on stand”. National Museum of African American History and Culture. Smithsonian Institute https://www.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2013.196.1abc

description: This model of a slave ship also contributes to the conditions on board the ship. It displays the way the slaves had to position themselves while in the cargo hold of the ship; mainly laying down, shoulder to shoulder because of the lack of space. 

Hawkins, Joesph. A History of a Voyage to the Coast of Africa, and Travels into the Interior of that Country, pp. 140-49. London: F. Cass, 1970 reprint of 1797 ed. From Smithsonian Institute of American History, Oral Histories. https://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater/oral_histories/life_at_sea/hawkins.htm (accessed February 29, 2020).

description: This transcription of a primary document describes the actions of getting recently bought slaves onto the slave ship to be brought to a colony. It gives details about the type of restraints used on the slaves and the difficulties that came with boarding slaves onto the ship. It also explains how quickly disease affected those on the ship.

“Shackles, Before 1860”. National Museum of African American History and Culture. Smithsonian Institute. https://www.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2008.10.4

description: This image displays the shackles used to restrain many slaves while being transported on the ships. It displays another form of treatment of the slaves because the shackles were meant to cause discomfort and therefore restrain and hinder the movement of the slaves who are wearing these.

Sheridan, Richard B. “The Guinea Surgeons on the Middle Passage: The Provision of Medical Services in the British Slave Trade.” The International Journal of African Historical Studies 14, no. 4 (1981): 601-25. Accessed February 29, 2020. doi:10.2307/218228 https://www-jstor-org.cuhsl.creighton.edu/stable/218228? description: This article talks about the medical Guinea doctors that were onboard the slave ships and worked with treating the medical problems and diseases among the slaves piled into the cargo hold of the ships. 

Siegel, Michael. “The Illegal Slave Trade to the United States, 1808-1860.” 2005. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/870b71b9-0ae5-b9a1-e040-e00a18062301 (accessed March 1, 2020).

description: This picture displays the route of illegal slave smuggling while many countries were abolishing the slave trade. It shows the main ports that these slaves were being transported to, as well as the regions in Africa were the slaves were taken from. 

“The Portuguese slaver Diligenté captured by H.M. Sloop Pearl with 600 Slaves on  board, taken in charge to Nassau.” By Lieutenant Henry Samuel Hawker. National Museum of African American History and Culture. Smithsonian Institute. https://www.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2010.21.2ab

description: This painting contributes to the overpopulated conditions on slave ships. It shows multiple slaves hunched over and crammed next to each other on a small ship, that most likely couldn’t have held that many. 

primary sources and secondary sources for final project

The Middle Passage contains many accounts of what went on, not only on the ships, but also through the interworking of people involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The first primary source I found was Olaudah Equiano’s (a slave who was able to buy his freedom and write about his experience) description of the Middle Passage.[1] He writes about the excruciating conditions aboard the slave ships: how crowded and small they were and the feeling of suffocation brought on by the over-populated ships. He provides such detail that it is not hard to create a mental image of the scene he describes, along with being able to understand and feel the pain and suffering brought on by the inhumane treatment on board. Two more primary sources that I found also relate to the size of the ships created for transporting slaves. The first is an illustration of the slaves in the cargo hold.[2] It displays an image of the slaves aboard the ship sitting very close to each other and that have to sit because the hold they were placed in is smaller than the size of standing human being. The second source relating to the size of the ship is a letter written providing the building measurements for a ship.[3] In the letter, the ship as a whole was asked to be built to a very high quality, being 60 feet by 30 feet, but the cargo hold was asked to be made quite small in height so that there would be more room up top and in the cabins. Both of these primary sources give additional examples of the lack of care put into the holding of slaves on the ships, as well as the terrible conditions experienced. The last two primary sources I found are a diagram of the slave ship named Vigilante and instructions given to the Captain of one of the slave ships. In the diagram, it displays a large ship with spacious quarters for the captain and workers on the ship, but underneath it displays the holding quarters for the slaves.[4] There are some slaves laying down and some sitting in a crouched position; the image also demonstrates the various shackles that the slaves might have been wearing during their voyage. Overall it demonstrates the unbearably cramped space provided. The final primary source, “Instructions to Captain Samuel Kempthorne”, frames the mindset of those responsible for transporting slaves.[5] The instructions ask Captain Kempthorne to keep a log of all the slaves that die during their time on the ship, but also ensure him that even if some slaves die, he will not lose any money and will not receive a large penalty. This shows that all the organizers of the slave trade did not care whether slaves died or not and did not fear the consequences, unless it would cause them to lose large amounts of money. All these primary sources emphasize the idea that the Middle Passage brought only terrible experiences and inhumane conditions. 


[1] Equiano, Olaudah. Olaudah Equiano Describes the Middle Passage, 1789. In The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, written by Himself (London: 1790), 51-54. From Lumen Learning https://courses.lumenlearning.com/ushistory1os/chapter/primary-source-olaudah-equiano-describes-the-middle-passage-1789/  (accessed February 16, 2020).

[2] “View of chained African slaves in cargo hold of clave ship, measuring three feet and three inches high.” Illustration. From New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/cd25e5e0-2658-0132-a7fd-58d385a7b928 (accessed February 16, 2020).

[3] Manesty, Joseph. Letter to John Bannister, 1745. In Documents Illustrative of the Slave Trade to America, edited by Elizabeth Donnan. Washington, D.C., 1930-1933. From The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition: Yale University. https://glc.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/mpi/smallwood.pdf (accessed February 16, 2020).

[4] “Interior of Slave Ship, Vigilante.” Illustration. From New York Public Library Digital Collections. https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-4d67-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99 (accessed February 16, 2020)

[5] Instructions to Captain Samuel Kempthorne, 1686. In Documents Illustrative of the Slave Trade to America, edited by Elizabeth Donnan. Washington, D.C., 1930-1933. From Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition: Yale University https://glc.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/mpi/smallwood.pdf (accessed February 16, 2020).


The first secondary source I found was an excerpt in the African American Review journal. It gives an account of the slave trade from the view of someone in the Middle Passage. It portrays the message that these countries taking the people of Africa as slaves and transporting them, claimed to be a friend of the people of Africa before, but also commit these acts of horror towards them. It explains the confusion that these proclaimed Christian people are acting in an entirely different manner to what they preach and turning a blind eye to the injustice happening aboard their own property: their ships. It also tells the outcomes people taken as slaves were faced with. Seeing their options as either dying aboard the ship or looking at the Americas and seeing their life as one of grueling labor, that may lead to death as well. 

“The Slave Trade: View from the Middle Passage.” African American Review 28, no. 1 (spring 1994): 11-22.

The other secondary source I found was the book written by Marcus Rediker, The Slave Ship. This book gives basic information of the Middle Passage, including the routes of the ships and the treatment endured on the ship. The Slave Ship also pulls together personal accounts of the time onboard the ships by people of different predicaments, as well as different backgrounds. The book illustrates the multitude of experiences, the majority of which did not have a positive attitude, in the lives of the slaves subjected to the slave trade. 

Rediker, Marcus. The Slave Ship. Penguin Books, 2007.

ethics of digital humanities and digital history

Ethics can be viewed in various forms based on the person who is viewing them. Although some values are created solely by an individual’s own beliefs, there are some objective ethical principles to be upheld in the area of digital humanities and digital history. An important part of the ethics of digital humanities and history is integrity; especially in the area of digital humanities, the information shared by digital historians will be able to reach any person with access to the internet.  Therefore, digital historians (as well as all historian) have a responsibility to present factually sound data and not falsify or alter an information to either enhance their project or feed into their own bias. Integrity also plays into the idea of plagiarism, in which all original thoughts presented can be assumably from historian, but also include the acknowledgement of support of others’ work to produce their final project; either through citations of another’s work or mentioning the use of work to gain an better understanding. Ethics, especially in the scholarly sense, also entails making sure the work you present is detached from bias while in the process of gathering and putting together an idea. Digital historians need to check the validity of their own data and avoid offensive or disrespectful statements, or else they risk losing the credibility of the work and the credibility of theirselves as historians. The majority of being ethical in the digital humanities/history is to structure work with a scholarly conduct: factually correct, not one-sided (in terms of only looking for one-sided data) and presenting a resource for others to continue the growth of an idea. 

In terms of my digital humanities project on the Middle Passage and being that it is sensitive and heavy topic, it is important on my part to give great care to my process and respect the various and substantial history behind this topic, 

who owns the data?

“Ownership” over the internet is a very tricky concept. If something is on the internet, usually that means it is meant to be seen and shared by multiple people. To me, you may still own the originality of the product put on the internet, but once is it on there you lose the privilege of controlling where it gets used or shared. Therefore, I believe that whoever produced the content (from their own original ideas, not copying) owns the data on the internet. An issue for public and digital humanists is that ownership and copyright of data on the internet tends to be in favor of large, successful companies. Take into consideration the Mickey Mouse copyright article; it explained that the more Disney kept in with the legislators and worked for them, the more they would get to prolong their copyright on Mickey Mouse and other characters, so that it wouldn’t be released to public domain. This showed (in my opinion) that “ownership” over the internet mostly benefits people who are willing to pay for that right, making this a risk for others, as if one company no longer wanted something they own to be on the internet, they could easily take it off and in turn taking it away from people who might want to access it.