Learning Life Lessons with Phil

Working with Wikipedia has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

When we first talked about this assignment in class my thought was, “Oh, this will be a breeze”.  I love research and am totally invested in Ochs’ legacy. After completing this assignment, I can now acknowledge my lack of awareness around the work that goes into editing with Wikipedia and I have great respect for those persons that give up their free time to work on this collaborative project on a regular basis. They are committed individuals.

Here are a few thoughts on this experience.

  1. Help Is Available

I know nothing about online editing/coding/etc. Zilch, nada, zero. I am very pleased (and honestly a bit surprised) by my ability to learn features within the Wiki world. I created a basic page from scratch. I was able to create headers, link to categories and make a fancy infobox on the side of my page.  I was able to do so with the help of the comprehensive how-to sections from Wikipedia and the incredible power of YouTube.

  1. Quantity Leads to Quality

Working with an encyclopedia, you must use a good self-editing system when looking at adding new information. I read over 60 pages of academic text and searched many online resources for little nuggets of Phil Ochs gold. Ultimately, I was able to meet the requirement of 300-600 words, but it took some work to do so.  While at times it felt like I was never going to find anything of substance to add to my edits, the time I put in gave me a stronger grasp on Ochs and his impact. That experience will be beneficial for the final project.

  1. Learn Your Tools

For me, some of the most challenging aspects of this assignment revolve around the dashboard that we were using for edits and feedback. I am still not 100% certain I was using it correctly, and I never quite understood how to communicate within the workspace. If I could go back and do it again, I would set aside time to learn the system better.

  1. Snow Days Ruin Everything

Normally, I am thrilled to get an unexpected day out of class. Not this time. I was really looking forward to an in-class discussion about this process. I know I should have been better at adjusting my communication style to our online options of communication, and if I could do this assignment again, I would utilize those tools better.

In fact, my personal goal for the rest of the semester is to work at communicating more consistently in Slack.

Overall, I feel accomplished for finding information to add. I feel lucky to be learning these skills (even when it is hard and out of my comfort zone). I feel encouraged for stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel silly for not reaching out for more help. I feel excited about our trip to Woody Guthrie Center.

Accomplished, lucky, encouraged, silly and excited are emotions I can get behind.

The other feelings I have had during this process, including being exhausted, being mild to moderately confused, and feeling frustrated and embarrassed for not feeling confident in my online abilities have made this experience one that I am glad to leave behind but also one that I am grateful for.

Like I tell my Camp Fire kids, sometimes growing is uncomfortable, but the end goal is worth it.


Challenge Accepted

As someone who enjoys research (and often does it “Just for Fun”), I will say that this assignment was challenging to say the least. Phil Ochs’ legacy is evident in the realms of folk music and resistance. His influence can be seen from Pete Seeger to Tracy Chapman. Because of this, I feel that Phil’s information is easily accessible through Wikipedia. Finding new info that meets both the verifiability and notability aspects of this assignment was difficult.

I found a few texts through the Interlibrary Loan System at OSU-Tulsa. To be honest, they were life-savers, offering a few nuggets of information for me to work from.

The texts I am using for this assignment are:

JFK as Jesus: The Politics of Myth in Phil Och’s “Crucifixion” by Robert Niemi.

This essay was published by the Journal of American Culture in the summer of 1993 and deals with the correlation between Och’s song “Crucifixion” and the idea of martyrdom which dealt with the death of President Kennedy.

This article was able to provide me with a few clarifying statements for the Wiki page on “Crucifixion” (song).

“If Ya Wanna End War and Stuff, You Gotta Sing Loud”- A Survey of Vietnam-Related Protest Music by Ben H. Auslander

This text also came from the Journal of American Culture in 1981. Auslander focuses on important Vietnam protest music and call outs Och’s “Vietnam Talking Blues” as impactful due to its arrival early in the conflict.

**Both of the above texts were sourced through the ILL system at OSU-Tulsa.

Bi Signs and Wonders by Heidi Randen was published in 2000 by the Journal of Bisexuality. This text covers Robyn Ochs, niece of Phil Ochs and mentions Robyn’s connection with her uncle. I hope to use this text to find additional information for Robyn’s page. I was able to locate this work using Google Scholar.

All three of the above mentioned texts fit into Wikipedia’s verifiability standards because they are from distinguished journals and can be cited appropriately.

As my final resource for this week, I want to highlight Celebrating Phil Ochs. This resource has a comprehensive discography and information regarding Phil’s musical work. I was able to use this site to verify album and single information for “Vietnam Talking Blues” and its corresponding album, All the News That’s Fit to Sing.


Challenging My Ideas on Privacy

I’m not going to lie, I was not excited about starting this challenge. Not because I didn’t think it would be helpful. I knew it would be eye-opening, and I wanted to avoid it at all cost. After taking this challenge from Note to Self, I am happy to report that I am more knowledgeable of my digital footprint and set up with a few tools to make my online experience a bit more anonymous.

One of the first tasks I did for the challenge was Googling myself. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the second link when typing in “Amanda Lowe Tulsa, OK” yielded my election profile from my run for Board of Directors at Oklahomans for Equality. The image search has my photo as the top pick. Good thing I am an out and proud Queer, if I wasn’t I would be with a quick search.

The “Magic Sauce” tool was eye-opening. Not only was it a healthy reminder to update my likes on Facebook (Glee is still listed as a like, and I haven’t watched or cared about that show in 5 years), but it also was pretty accurate. It labeled me 31, Liberal, and a Lesbian. Not too far off, though I identify as Pansexual, not Lesbian. Here is a good resource from We are Family if you are confused about identities within the LGBTQIA+ community.

This challenge challenged my internet knowledge, feeling of privacy online, and affirmed my position as a member of “The Realist” category. If you want or need to expand your understanding of privacy in the digital age, do this challenge. Start today! Seriously, do it.

Leave It To The Librarians

As someone who loves the idea of working in some capacity with archives of marginalized groups of people, stumbling on the Digital Public Library of America was just what I was looking for, for this project.

The work displayed on this site began manifesting itself in the 1990s, but was not available to the public until around 2011. The Digital Public Library of America is the brainchild of librarians and academics from around the country. DPLA’s staff and board is diverse and full of educators. Their combined experiences make for a really cool, accessible and diverse resource. The group also promotes a value system that I can totally get down with, including a commitment to social justice work.

When I first entered the exhibitions page, I was surprised by the number of possibilities. I focused my attention on two of the exhibitions, Activism in the US and This Land Is Your Land: Parks and Public Spaces. I felt with our focus on Ochs, activism and a Woody Guthrie reference was the way to go.

While I was happy with the topics selected and the short synopsizes on the right side, there was not much actual content available to look through. With the newness of the actual resource, I’m sure it can only go up from here. Even with the small amount of images, I was so happy to see a focus on women and minority groups in the activism section.

All of that to say, I recommend this resource and will definitely to using it in the future!


“The Times They Are A-Changing”

I used to considered myself “technically challenged.” I’m the person that avoided anything that fell into the world of technology. I was scared. Scared I would break something. Scared I would make a fool of myself for the world to see. Because of that fear, I refused to learn.

Then, DirecTV happened to me. Not because I wanted it to, but because I needed a steady flexible job while going back to school. DirecTV hired a person with no technical skills to be a technical support person. (I have no idea what they were thinking.)

They taught me how to work with electronics and digital information. I can program remotes, walk some through setting up electronics associated with internet, TV and telephone. I learned how to navigate this unknown world.

While DirecTV was a terrible experience overall, I can thank them for giving me a foundation. One that moved me from digitally incompetent to a digital immigrant. While I haven’t always felt confident in the realm of digital, at least they threw me into it.

I am taking this class, because I want to learn how to effectively reach people in today’s society. I want to be able create a lasting brand for myself, as I begin to venture out into the professional world. I want to learn how to market myself, my research and my hobbies in an appropriate way.

I also hope to gain skills that will make me a premier candidate for working in the realm of social justice. I want to use these new skills to help out the organizations I feel passionate about.

As  Bob Dylan said in his song, “The Times They Are A-Changing”:

“Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.”


I want to lend a hand in the change that is coming, and digital literacy is an important component of that.


*This blog post was written as the first assignment for my Intro to Digital Humanities class at OSU-Tulsa. If you are interested in more info about American Studies, click here.