Author Archives: Margael St Juste

Heritage Reconstructed Group Update

At Heritage Reconstructed we are now solidly in the implementation stage of our project. We now have a static landing page that our project developers continue to build on every week. By building our own static page separately from the database hosted by, our team has been able to experiment with using HTML to build pages from scratch. This week especially, other members of our team who are not developers have been able to participate in those HTML discussions and learn from our developers now that we have the pages up to walk through.

Our team has done a good job creating links between different parts of our project. As you can see in the picture below, when you access our landing page, you can see our twitter feed on the right side of the page updating every time a new post is made. Then at the top of the page you can access a link to the database.

screencap of Heritage Reconstructed landing page

The focus of this week was primarily to get some of our archeological sites up to the database therefore a lot of our efforts were concentrated on evaluating the data for the sites in peril and also finding the right presentation format for the database itself. In response to the data we gathered, we made the choice to limit our selection to archeological sites and made the distinction from natural sites in peril. As Marcela explained in last week’s update, a number of the 53 sites in peril as classified by UNESCO World Heritage do not currently have digital reconstructions. If they do have them, they are not publicly accessible. The lack of virtual reconstructions in our category of interest was always a question lingering over our project. What if we couldn’t get access to the data we needed? While we always posed these questions  to our team and understood the challenges of gathering this data, this week has really pushed our research in evaluating the sites we do have, especially in setting the criteria for what it means to be in peril.  Initially we focused on war, political unrest and environmental factors, however  heavily trafficked tourism is now also considered a peril.

There are many moving parts to building the database. On the back end, our team continues to work on the developer interface to build the layout of the database. Since we didn’t have to build it from scratch, we used certain features available through Omeka such as the theme and the Dublin core. We discussed the best ways to display the items such as YouTube Videos and 3D reconstructions in Omeka. Once we figured out the best way to do so, we started a csv spreadsheet for the data objects and text that we import directly into Omeka.

We has recently uploaded our first batch of 9 archeological sites into the database. We started with many of the well-know archeological sites such as the Roman Colosseum and the Second Temple of Jerusalem but will expand into other lesser known sites in peril. In terms of the presentation, users can easily navigate through each archeological reconstruction by clicking on the name and opening a separate page containing all the tags and descriptive details about the site as well as the embedded or linked digital reconstruction. As we go through the data, we will be putting up more and more sites and improving where we can on the user experience.

screencap of heritage Reconstructed database

So far we have remained on schedule with our tasks thanks to our constant check-ins. From the beginning we established a good system of task delivery and communication through basecamp and google drive. One thing we’re thinking about, as Micki suggested is to find a way to visualized what is absent in terms of the sites in peril that do not have digital reconstructions.




The key to our social media strategy was identifying our primary audience. We are building a database to hold VR and digital reconstructions of sites and structures in peril. We knew that our topic was micro-targeting a very important issue where the primary audience was limited to people who already work in VR and digital reconstruction as well as people who are actively concerned about the environmental threat to archeological and natural structures. So the initial step of our outreach efforts was simply to find the online community where these groups of people engaged with one another. The most widely used platform for this type of  public academic engagement was twitter. So we created an email to register for a twitter account. The email will also serve inquiries and subscriptions from our website. This allowed us to discover a lot about the communities that will be the primary audience for our project and to think ahead about which institutional need our project fulfills in those spaces.

Social media strategy 

Our social media strategy is to engage with the 3D and Virtual reconstruction community and the environmental conversation community of scholars already on twitter by interacting with their work through likes, retweets and comments on a regular weekly basis. We want to make sure we are on top of news, discussions, and breakthroughs where a lot of conversation is being generated. We also generate conversation through new posts and add minor comments based on new articles that come into our inbox from the google alerts we set up. We regularly update our audience on our project. We also make strategic use of hashtags to bring people in the search tags to our page. We will also create a small marketing blurb to post about our projects on relevant facebook groups that will identify as the project nears completion.


Email strategy

Our email strategy is to organize a list of email addresses of public digital scholars and people working in the field of our projects into a sizable list.  We will gather these email addresses from academic communities that we have access to as well as public Linkedin and Twitter profiles. By the end of this week, we will have a draft email introducing our project that we will share with these members.We will have an automatic response email that links inquirers to our social media page where we update our project’s milestones.

Communication and Website

People will be able to reach out to us directly on twitter where our email address is listed and through our website where there will be a contact page that allows the public to ask questions and submit other requests. Our Website will also contain an about page that introduces our team members and gives specific details about the goal of our project. In addition our twitter feed will appear on the side of our site to allow people to follow us on twitter after they visit our site. The public will also be able to subscribe to our site to receive email updating them about the project.

We will also create a promotional  flyer with relevant information about our project to attach to email or give out in person.

Search Engine Optimization

A technical aspect of our outreach is to optimize pages of our website for google’s ranking algorithm. I’ve previously worked with SEO when I did marketing for a jewelry company and I helped place close to 7000 pieces of jewelry online. Although I used proprietary software to optimize our pages. I think it is worth trying to play with the algorithm in hopes of reaching a secondary audience. It certainly can’t hurt to try. Backlinks are proven to be one of the most effective ways of increasing google ranking, other than keyword optimization. Part of our strategy must be finding scholars who may be willing to link to our website from their blogs and other online public accounts (facebook/twitter)

Margael’s bio

Margael St Juste is a digital humanities student at the CUNY graduate Center. She earned her undergraduate degree in History and a minor in Economics with honors. She completed her independent research thesis on the Hitler-Stalin Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 detailing the reciprocity of influence between the two regime leaders in the interim world war period. She also completed relevant projects on black identity, black scholarship, and middle east studies. In her current academic pursuit Margael is focusing on 20th and 21st century neocolonial systems and practices through the political paradigms of self-determination and sovereignty. Margael hopes to use digital tools and platforms to enrich scholarly conversation on these topics and to build technologies of access and visibility for other digital humanists with neocolonial barriers.

Margael is the outreach coordinator for the Heritage Reconstructed project which is dedicated to digital and virtual reconstruction of sites in peril. She is responsible for all external communication with academics and digital scholars, including those whose work are the foundation of our project. In addition, she promotes public conversation about the project on social media platforms as well as within digital humanities spaces. She is also responsible for optimizing pages for online search engines.

NYCDH Week – Tome Collaborative Course Publications

Friday morning, I attended the Tome Collaborative Course Publication workshop which was part of NYCDH week in New York City. The Workshop was led by Alexei Taylor, a digital creative and instructor at NYU.  Tome is a digital publication platform created for academic publishing which can be designated as a personal blog or a collaborative workspace for academic projects. Tome was built as an easier to use WordPress platform  and is often used by academics for publishing and course development.

For graduate and undergraduates, one of the biggest challenges they face from the pedagogical model is that often classroom projects are created without thinking about the potential audience beyond the classroom. This model incentives students working in isolation and only having a real academic interaction with the professor and not their peers. Another challenge is that students often don’t have a well-kept record of their academic accomplishments other than the course credit they receive. Alexei build tome with the student in mind. Tome really helps students think of themselves as public content creators, writers, and project builders. Students can use tome for assembling a personal portfolio of their work and use it as a collaborative platform for building a project with peers.  One of the projects that I was shown as an example was a creative writing course that was published as a digital anthology. Every student had their own page and their own page design but they were part of the same tome project which could be navigated from page to page.

Tome has many features that makes it very useful for people interested in publishing who may not have the skills to build their own platform. When you register for a tome account, you get a link to the front page which has a default minimal look with a small menu of a welcome page, a gallery, syllabus, and bibliography. You have the ability to delete any of the pages you don’t want through the back page. Tome assumes you may need certain pages for publishing.  Through the back page you have the ability to add users to your project, create new pages, add content, edit code to customize the look of your Tome, control your analytics, and many more features. Tome makes it very easy to annotate and cite your work, offering many ways to add endnotes, links, captions and descriptions for borrowed materials. In addition, there are many formatting tools to tailor your work to the look you want it to have.

As I was learning about Tome and all the different publishing features it has, I thought about the project I am currently a part of and how Tome could potentially be used to host our project. This is a new tool that I will definitely be sharing with my project team. It is super easy to learn and super easy to use.

Relevant Skills for Digital Project – Margael

I decided not to propose my DH project, so I am ready to be a collaborator on one of the project teams.

Research + Digitization: I have a disciplinary background in history, which has allowed me to work in traditional research methodologies. I’ve worked on research projects that have had strong historical underpinnings, such as looking at the geopolitical ramifications of Non -Aggression Pact of 1939 in Eastern Europe. I’ve worked on all types of colonial history and black identity projects. If your project requires digging into digital databases, archives, libraries, and cultural institutions to find particular source material, I can help. If you need to write through a historical lens, I can contribute those skills. However, I want to do more than contribute skills I already have. I want to learn new skills in research. I want to learn the tools of digitization, audio, visual, textual and otherwise. Digitization which is a process that DHers often use to reproduce materials and expand their accessibility to other researchers. I want to learn the fine skills of working with OCR to translate print material into machine readable material, which is enormously important to anyone working in the humanities, if you want to export that data to do any sort of computational text analysis. I want to learn how to organize a digital repository or archive.

Outreach + SEO: I’ve previously worked in digital marketing where I optimized upward of 7000 pieces of jewelry for a small business. We had a multi-pronged strategy through social media activity, digital advertising, and search engine optimization to get customers to our website. As a result, I have some skills optimizing pages through meta data, links, keywords, and creating social media attention for our products. Not only that, I also edited materials in Photoshop for our campaign and online placements. I definitely want to learn newer skills in online marketing to make sure our projects get the public reach it deserves.

Project management + Team leadership: I’ve certainly served as team leader and a team member. Most often, I opt to be a collaborator. If I feel that I know enough about how the project should work, I would be enthusiastically choose to be a project manager but I generally don’t like to take roles where I don’t have much expertise. It will certainly have to depend on the project.

Coding + Programming: one of the most important roles that will be part of every project is the programmer role. I have close to zero experience in that capacity. I would like to work closely whoever is in that role since my chief objective in taking this class is to learn more about coding in general.