What the %!@* are emojis?!

Automatically, when you read that title I am sure you filled in %!@* with your own thoughts, but what I really meant was “heck”. It is interesting to see how we have programmed our brains into reading symbols.

What the heck are emojis, and how do they fit into this medieval history class? Well, in the next 400 words or so,  I hope to bring some insight into this thought.

For me, transcribing my manuscript was extremely difficult. What I found even more frustrating was that we have endless resources online that could have assisted me (such as Latin abbreviations, alphabets and even guides on how manuscripts were written). Even with this resources, I was at a loss because I was not even sure what I was searching for. This got me thinking about emojis, and the language that we use every day. Are we documenting the meanings that we transcribe to emojis, and is that information even important enough for someone to consider documenting?

Let’s play a game. Take a look at these emojis and in the comments, leave your guesses to what movies you think that have been described in these emoji scenes. For us, this might be easy (or not). Imagine, however, in a hundred years (or longer), someone else trying to transcribe the meaning of the emojis. We have given emojis new meanings (the peach, and eggplant are just two examples of emojis that have new innuendos – not in this image, but in the context of texting now).

For example, the first one is the movie “Sex and the City” Image from: https://www.memecenter.com/fun/3287083/guess-the-emoji-movie

This is important to consider because our use of language reveals how our society reflects language. I would argue that we do not value language as much as those in medieval times did (or so I think that they did). We tend to skip words, ignore punctuation and add in images as often as we can. We limit ourselves to 240 characters or an Instagram caption. I do not think that we master linguists (honestly, I have no idea if linguists is a word and I think that proves my point), have decided that we can get our point across in as few words as possible, but rather I think we have become – lazy.

Emojis, can do the work for us. Just as abbreviations did the work for the monks who transcribed manuscript on manuscript. I think, their abbreviations were justified as they were probably sore from writing for hours as a day, versus us, taking one minutes (probably less) to send out a tweet.  It is important for us to examine how we use language in relation to how medieval manuscript transcribers used language. When we make parallels in our work, we will soon begin to understand their work better. I do not think that we are going to be finding any emojis in manuscripts any time soon, however, perhaps the emoji is the modern abbreviation (even more advanced than lol or rofl).

For your enjoyment, I have included a few emoji idioms to see if we can decipher what they say… Now we know how students in 3018 will feel deciphering our texts (if we live past clime change of course).

First one, “Hot Potato” Image from: https://www.sporcle.com/games/chaosBEE/idiom-emoji

Preparation for Leading a Seminar

This week I got to dabble in the art of “leading a seminar”. Perhaps in the medieval times we would have had wine to enhance this conversation… (I actually know quite little about medieval history so if that is inaccurate I apologize – this perhaps will be my tragic flaw but only time will reveal that). My knowledge does however extend to seminar leading and Github.

This week we looked at open source notebooks, their implications, barriers and how we can directly apply this to our class. I decided to put together some tips for others leading a seminar on things that I did that I found useful and useless.


– Do the readings twice. Read them the first time to make notes and raise questions (as if you were not leading the seminar). The second time around, read them and think about what material left you with unanswered questions. Or think about how to relate the article to that week’s discussion.
– Review the readings once again prior to the lecture. I did the readings a week in advance and had to review them the morning of to make sure I remembered everything.
– Take notes on Hypothesis. Hypothesis (although can be horrible) has it perks – my personal favourite is that I will never lose my notes. As well when others are doing the readings they can see what you are thinking about. As well, if you highlight the important parts then people are more likely to read those sections.
– Create your broad questions for discussion and post those. Then on your own time, make questions that are “lead-offs’. These are questions for when nobody responds, you can ask this question and perhaps it will trigger their minds to think about the topic differently.
– Answer your own questions. Not everybody will be talkative so make sure to bring your own ideas to the table.


– Making more than 5 broad questions. More often than not, you will find yourselves deep into conversation therefore creating more questions than necessary isn’t always the best. (I mean the ones you post, not the specific lead-off ones).
– Doing all the work. You want to make sure that you are not the only doing the readings for the week. You are definitely leading the seminar and making sure there are no silences but you want to make sure everyone isn’t piggybacking off of you. After all, we are working as a team.

I personally really enjoyed leading a seminar. I tried to ask questions that I knew would A) stir the pot and get discussion going and B) that would get people thinking. A lot of the questions that I asked were designed to have many different view points and answers. I wanted to make sure that I was limiting my own bias and allowing people to have a space for their own opinions. I think a topic like open source notebooks is hard because there are not really any right or wrong answers to this topic. It is still something that we are learning about even now. It will be definitely interesting to see how are topics evolve as we get further into our own projects and into the class.

Preparing for Week 4

This week we are looking at Github and the implications of creating an Open Notebook on the World Wide Web!  Here are some questions/ideas to consider when looking at this week’s readings.

1) What barriers are there to an open source notebook? Consider a collogue or academic that does not want their work to be shared? What implications does this have? Consider Ian Milligan’s article and this idea of, “it’s our data, we collected it, and if somebody else wants the data, they should collect it themselves.”. What about the articles from WIRED and how do they relate to the creation of barriers?

2) In a world such as ours with the explosion of social media and online presence, how must we consider moving forward with online collaboration? Much like the idea that we cannot live without Facebook, Twitter or Instagram will we eventually not be able to live in an academic world without online collaboration?

3) Is this view by Caleb McDaniel too optimistic, “The truth is that we often don’t realize the value of what we have until someone else sees it. By inviting others to see our work in progress, we also open new avenues of interpretation, uncover new linkages between things we would otherwise have persisted in seeing as unconnected, and create new opportunities for collaboration with fellow travelers. These things might still happen through the sharing of our notebooks after publication, but imagine how our publications might be enriched and improved if we lifted our gems to the sunlight before we decided which ones to set and which ones to discard?” Do you think that others (in the academic sphere) have similar views? If not, why do you think this is?

4) These articles ask us to imagine Github used in a wide spread context amongst the world of Education. Considering the challenges that we have faced in class (and during our own time), do you think that Github will become wide spread? What are some tools that could assist the push of Digitizing History?

Final Food for Thought!

Digitizing history can add many values to our work as historians but consider the previous power outage. What will happen to our work if something happens to the internet? Further more, what will happen to our pre-existing institutions, if we move towards total internet collaboration and hosting (i.e the library and archives)?

Happy Reading!

Getting to know Trina

Trina Etmanskie

Aspiring teacher, current student.

My name is Trina and I am one of the students currently working on digitizing Medieval Manuscripts! This semester I have found myself discovering what lies behind the words in this manuscript. 

I am working towards finishing my undergraduate degree with hopes in starting a Bachelor of Education in September 2019. I am interested in learning new skills and techniques that I could apply to a classroom setting. My goal is to become an elementary school teacher in Ontario. My hope is that I can apply new, technological ways of research into the classroom even for those at a young age.

My academic interests are public history, understanding digital history as a tool for storytelling and introducing technology into the history classroom. My goal is to gain a knowledge base that will allow me to further my interest in education reform as well as utilize tools of digital history to inform and teach new, young learners. History is not of the past but of the present! With the correct tools, the young minds of tomorrow can truly grasp and understand the past in new lights.

My main area of study in my academics lays in the sphere of public history. It is interesting to begin to understand how we have displayed history in the public eyes. Although we can all view history (as it happens around us every moment) there are few moments that are preserved. Why do we choose these moments? And how do we preserve them? Further more, what does the way in which we preserve these moments say about us as a society?

I have knowledge using:



Languages such as Markdown and basic Javascript

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

Follow me along this academic journey as I work towards the task of discovering what medieval folio I have stumbled upon! I will be posting on Twitter and my blog with up to date information along this digital journey.

Twitter: @TEtmanskie

Here’s me!
Follow our Twitter to stay up to date with our journey: https://twitter.com/MdvlBook