Stephanie Stillo’s presentation focused on the inner workings of historical artifacts. Inner workings meaning what the piece is actually composed of, primarily the chemicals used. This could be called “metadata,” meaning, data about data. Once the proper chemicals are named, her work can lead to the better preservation of documents and art works, since certain chemicals react a certain way due to natural contact from water or air. Her primary method was a process called hyperspectral imaging (HSI). Before she told us what HSI was, she stated that old paper documents were rare- meaning that the writings on parchment paper were often scraped off so that the parchment could be re-used. HSI helps discover what was scraped off, therefore the exact chemical workings of essentially everything that was/has ever been on the parchment. Her work is digital humanities because she uses HSI to discover chemicals in historical artifacts, which can also lead to the discovery of kinks in certain cultures.
By me, the most interesting aspect about the presentation was her ability to present. I cannot explain how awful it is to have a presenter that cannot demand the attention of every single audience member. Her presentation was insightful, well-planned, and generally interesting. Secondly, I found the whole idea of HSI interesting, since it had never occurred to me that parchment paper was re-used or the fact that we could better preserve historical artifacts simply by naming the chemical composition.
I wanted to ask her what the significance of her work was, but someone else did. She had not exactly concluded her presentation at that point, but she stated that it was to help better preserve historical artifacts. This is not a jab at the presenter, but I do not think I would like to take a course from Stillo if this would be the subject matter. I enjoyed her presentation, and if she were to teach a course that better fancied my palate, then I would readily sign up for her course- but just not this specific topic.