The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and also the way we interact with each other. The first COVID case was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan Province, China. From that first pivotal moment to just five months forward, the virus has spread to all the continents in the world except Antarctica with millions of cases worldwide. A lot of things happened in those months. Countries took actions that defined their response positively or negatively and schools were shut down around the world. The summer Olympics were cancelled and the term “social-distancing” entered our vocabulary. These are only a little of the things that have happened.
Our Digital Humanities class created a timeline of COVID-19 events with each class member coming up with six different moments. Each occasion was linked to an article and image thus creating an intriguing record. We created the timeline using the tool, Timeline JS from Knightlab, and the results were interesting and thought provoking. As college students, the timeline reflects a lot of events that have happened at our school and how the pandemic has affected our lives individually. From canceling in-person classes and moving to online learning to making Commencement and the Senior Research Symposium virtual events, the timeline has captured these moments. In a chronological fashion, we got to see the backdrop of some of these crucial decisions against the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, we see how on 11 March, the WHO classified COVID as a pandemic and how on 17 March, the college cancelled all in-person classes. The project reveals the interlinks and allows us to view Also, news from all around the world is contained in the timeline, which provides more perspectives. For example, I got to see news from countries in Southern Africa reflected in the timeline. I feel like that added a new layer to the project.
I think our timeline differs from all the other different timelines such as the WHO website, news websites or the Devex timeline in that: ours is more visually stimulating and reads like an album. Though, there is text contained in our timeline, it sorts of acts like a snapshot; revealing the date and headliner text as you take in the picture. On the other hand, different timelines feature dates and are typically text-heavy—as they should, to provide a lot of information. I think the timeline is important because it helps to provide material for introspection or reflection on the outbreak and how it has shaped decisions regarding our everyday life.
Digital Humanities involves the intersection of humanities and tech and the processing or analysis of humanities data using digital tools. We have used many collaborative tools this semester and through that we have been able to gain multiple perspectives from our classmates. I think of our low barrier tool project and recognize this trend also. For example, in Prism, users were able to highlight text and form their own interpretations and view the complete analysis. Similarly, through the Timeline Project, we used a collaborative tool together as a class and have successfully curated humanities data that stood out to us and processed it in a way that is sensible as a whole and seeks to serve a purpose.