We initially compiled an annotated bibliography for the project with sources primarily from maritime journals covering topics such as naval history, war history, and limitations of maritime archaeology research methods. As our research progressed and we began to form the narrative of our research project, we eventually came to find that many of our initial sources did not align with the vision of the narrative. Our research narrative began coming together when we contacted Dave Swope who is responsible for maintaining the shipwreck database. Dave currently works at the New Jersey Maritime Museum, the institution responsible for creating the database we used for our research project. Talking to him gave us more direction for our narrative. In addition to the information Dave provided for us verbally, he also linked us to many relevant articles and scholarly sources from his peers. These sources helped form the foundation for our narrative. We decided to focus in on New Jersey’s role in World War II. From there, we branched out and found sources that highlighted various naval innovations that came about because of war. These sources also showed the impact that war has on civilian life.
The shipwreck database covered a comprehensive time period from the 1800s to the 2000s. As we began developing the direction of our research, we found that not all the categories in the database were relevant to our research and we only chose to focus primarily on the 20th century (particularly the World War II era). As a result, we used Google Sheets to create multiple data sets that would best suit each visualization and we cleaned the data within the data sets we created. From there, various visualizations were created to illustrate each main point of our narrative using software such as Tableau, Palladio, Knight Labs, and Esri. Each visualization focused on a subset of the data, such as the “lives lost” category for the visualization on casualties and “causes of loss” for the visualization on shipwreck causes. These visualizations are accompanied by relevant analysis to give significance to the results, as suggested in Burdick’s “From Humanities to Digital Humanities.” In Scott Weingart’s article, “Question and Data Driven History,” he stresses the importance of comparing data visualizations and giving it context so we compared the data visualizations internally. The insights we got from the comparisons helped us progress our narrative and come up with additional topics to explore in our dataset.
Our website was created using WordPress through Reclaim Hosting. We embedded the visualizations from Tableau, Esri, and Knight Labs to make our visualizations interactive to increase engagement with the website. We felt that a website that was more interactive would allow the viewer to process the information presented from our research project in a more effective manner. Through these interactive visualizations, viewers can click and hover on data points to discover more information accordingly. Entrance animations are used for the elements on most pages. These are intended to break up the text as to not overwhelm the viewer with information. As further stated in the Burdick reading, expressive forms now encompass a variety of media including animations that can enrich the user’s experience. We believed an overall minimalistic theme with a clear style was the best way to present our information. As our focus was historical, we structured each page of our narrative to streamline into the following page in a linear manner.
A special thank you to Dave Swope, the New Jersey Maritime Museum, Dustin O’Hara, and Professor Ashley Sanders Garcia for their extensive help with our research project.