Path Towards Peace: History 390 Final Project – Katie Horn

Analysis of Major Peace Talks Between Israel and Palestine (1993-2003)

The Arab-Israeli Conflict has a history as long as it is complicated. Many different factors have played a role in promoting cooperation, as well as polluting any advancement towards a permanent solution. To what degree, however, have the very talks themselves been the preventer of peace? This project will analyze five of the major peace talks that have taken place between Israel and the representatives of Palestine, specifically focusing on their discussion of cooperation and peace, as well as actions taken towards a liveable and sustainable solution.  

Note: These specific peace talks were chosen based upon their perception in both the media, as well as history, as being some of the most ‘influential’ in advancing the path towards peace and a final solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

(To operate Prezi, use left and right arrow keys to move freely through the presentation) 

A New Beginning? The Path of the 1990s 

“Oslo Accords: A Secret Path to Peace” 

Slides #3 to #17 cover the peace talks most commonly referred to as the Oslo Accords (broken into two separate discussions in the Prezi, combined in one discussion here) historically documented as Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements). As slide #3 indicates, the Oslo Accord I was the first of the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993 in Washington, D.C. Present at the signing of the document that correlated with the Oslo Accord I peace discussions were American President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yassar Arafat. In analyzing the written document unfolding the secret peace talk, I made use of the word graphing tool Voyant & Wordle. My goal with this visualization was to highlight the words most used throughout the whole document. In order to make the data more applicable and relevant, I created a specialized ‘Edit Stop Word’ list, which eliminated the commonly found words, such as articles and conjunctions, as well as words which would occur frequently in an official document (such as article, section, as well as others). What resulted was the following Wordle word visualization (depicted on slide #4):

Oslo Accord I (1993)

Oslo Accord II (1996)

As can be expected, some of the largest words (prior to me removing them) were the names of the territories involved, including West Bank, Gaza, Palestine. What was initially interesting to me was that Israel was much smaller in the chart in comparison to its counterpart in the talks (Palestine). During this peace discussion, however, the territories most focused on were those traditionally under Palestinian control, West Bank and Gaza. This would explain the vast difference in size. After this initial, ‘first glance’ view of the chart, I used the more detailed word charting and frequency tools offered on Voyant to create my own chart of the four most frequently used words and the four least frequently used words. In creating this chart, I was overwhelmed at first with the sheer size of the word list given to me by Voyant. There were many words on both sides of the spectrum, and taking the four greatest or least used words would have provided no real analytical data, nor would my chart have been very useful, as most of the top or bottom four words had the same exact frequency. Having decided that this route was not the best for my personal uses, I decided to chose the top four and bottom four words that in some way, either connotatively or denotatively, related to peace or collaboration. With this in mind, I went through the frequency chart again, this time with much better results. Depicted below is the final chart for the top frequency words of the Oslo Accord I document (depicted on slide #5):

Document Frequency - Top Four Words

As shown above, I chose to use a pie chart to relay my data. The reason for this choice was to show visually which words dominated the document, and to what degree. The words that I chose for this chart I listed to the right, and are color-coded to the section of the pie chart that represents them. In addition to this, I also included the number of occurrences for each word.  To get a better idea of the significance of these words and their frequency in the document, the highest number of occurrences for any word was 38, just 8 more times than the highest frequency word charted above. Also important to note is the length of this document, which was fairly substantial at seventeen articles and four annexes (or additions). The reasoning behind this chart was to create a visual piece of data that recorded how often words associate with peace and collaboration were included. This piece of information, along with the next chart to be explained, will help to track the use of like-minded words throughout the remaining four documents to be analyzed.

The next chart that I made was the bottom four frequently used words. In creating this chart, I had the same things in mind as I did for the top frequently used words. Because I wanted to not just chart how often peace-related words occurred, but how infrequently they occurred, I used the same Voyant tool to go through the data for frequency, this time focusing on the lower frequency words. As can be expected, there were many that were used infrequently, but not for reasons that would lent themselves to being analyzed (such as ‘article’ or ‘purpose’). So, just as with the previous chart, I went through the lowest frequency words searching for ones that had to do with peace or collaboration. Below is the final chart for the lowest frequency words for the Oslo Accord I (depicted on slide #6):

Document Frequency - Top Four Words

Keeping with the previous data, I again placed the information I gathered into a pie chart for visual analysis. As with the previous chart, I focused on those words that either directly or indirectly related to peace and/or collaboration. The words that I found are depicted in the chart to the right, and are color-coded to correspond to their respectful representations. In addition to this, I again included the number of times these words occurred throughout the whole document. Again, it is important to note that the highest frequency word occurred 38 times, giving a bit of a frame of reference for these words, which only occurred a handful of times.

As well as giving an analysis of the words of the document, I also wanted to include a visualization of the geographical impact of each peace talk discussed. In this specific peace talk, as with others to follow, the areas of West Bank and Gaza were the main interest in terms of territory division. In order to show the territorial changes made after the first half of the Oslo Accords was enacted, I used Google Earth to overlay an historical map depicting the changes made to the areas of West Bank and Gaza. Depicted below is the mapped overlay of Gaza Strip (slide #8):

Also included on slide #9 is a close up image of slide #8, showing the specific Israeli settlements:

As indicated in the textual explanation on the Prezi presentation, this image overlay includes the Armistice Line of 1950, depicted in red, which runs along the west boarder of Gaza. This line was not altered during the Oslo Accord talks. Also included on this overlay are the Israeli settlements, both previously existing and those created after 1993 at the close of the first Oslo Accord peace talks. The main purpose behind including this map was for the visual data of settlements and markings of territorial lines to act as a guide or comparison for the maps to follow, in which changes in both settlements and territorial lines will occur.

To also give a guideline as to the changes that will occur over time in the area of West Bank, I included a Google Earth image of that territory as well. As before, I included an image overlay of a map dated December 1993, the same date as the Gaza overlay map, to depict the reality of territorial lines and settlements existing at the close of the first set of Oslo Accord talks. Depicted below is the mapped overlay of the West Bank (slide #9):

Also included on slide #11 is a close up image of slide #10, specifically the densely population Jerusalem area, showing the specific Israeli settlements:

View Google Earth Presentation Here (To start the presentation, click the link given on the browser that appears and open the file downloaded to your computer – if presented with an option, open with Google Earth). This gives a close up tour of the two map overlays, looking at specific areas of high settlement population.


Take Two: A New Millennium for Peace 

“The Unraveling of Oslo” 

The next set of slides (#20 – #27) analyze the data from the Camp David Summit of 2000. As slide #21 states, the Camp David Summit was meant to be a continuation of the Oslo Accords, at the prompting of U.S. President Bill Clinton. Prior to the start of the Summit, the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, and was replaced by Ehud Barak. Another complication for the Summit was the lack of confidence on the part of then PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Arafat was convinced that the Summit was being convened too early, as the Oslo Interim process had failed to fulfil either Israeli or Palestinian expectations. Despite these reservations, the Summit convened on July 11th and ended Juy 25th without an agreement. Instead, a Trilateral Statement was issued, which defined the agreed principles to guide future agreements between the two parties. It is this statement that comprises the whole of the Camp David Summit documentation, which is used to compose the word charts in slide #22-24. It is important to note that the Summit talks were based upon an all-or-nothing approach, where all parties had to agree to every part of a proposal to make it legitimate. A far different approach than was taken in the Oslo Accords, the talks were an international disaster, which is reflected to a degree in the data from the word diagram and charts.

With the word diagram, shown on slide #22, I again created an ‘Edit Stop Word’ list, which included common words in English, as well as terms that would most likely appear in a peace document, such as shall, article, and others. This created a word diagram that showed a large portion of peace-related words, including negotiations, peace, agree, and achieve. However, upon closer inspection, the relative size of these words is due to the size of the document, rather than their excessive use in the document. In comparison to the word diagram from both the Oslo Accord I and the Oslo Accord Interim Agreement, this diagram fewer occurrences of peace-related words, by a degree of more than half. In addition to this, new words with a negative charge or connotation were added in this document as opposed to the previous documents. These words include pressure, intimidation, and prejudge. In relation to the larger words presented on the diagram, these words had a frequency with only a small percentage of difference, meaning that the words presented as larger in the diagram were often discussed almost as much as those presented as smaller.

The specific word pie charts created from this information display similar findings. The first pie chart, located on slide #23, shows the most frequently occurring words in the document:

Immediately in comparison to the graphs from the two Oslo Accord documents, there is a huge difference seen in the number of occurrences of peace-related words. If you recall from earlier in the presentation, occurrences of these types of words were charted at a frequency between 20 and 30 on average. While this in part has to do with the length of the document, as discussed previously, it also alludes to the lack of real content in these talks. Given that the discussions ended without any real resolution, its fairly easy to conclude that the Trilateral statement made little headway in terms of real progress. Also, the words that had the highest frequency here are used to discuss what actually took place in the talks, not what the two parties hope will come to pass, or what each party is working towards, as was the case with the Oslo Accords. This also fits, as the Trilateral statement was more a set of guidelines to future peace talks, rather than any movement towards peace, as was it’s original intent.

In addition to charting the higher frequency words, I also charted the lower frequency words, following the same format as previously used with the Oslo Accords. This chart is displayed on slide #24:

 As was the case with the previous chart, the frequencies here are also less than was seen in the Oslo Accords. Whereas the lower frequencies started around 7 to 5 in the Oslo Accord charts, the frequencies here with peace-related words started at 3 and continued downward. What came as the largest surprise to me in compiling the list of lower frequency words was the amount of words gathered that had previously held a higher frequency in the Oslo Accord Charts. Two words in particular from this chart that occurred at a much lower rate than expected were compromise and flexibility. In the previous Oslo Accord charts, these words, or in some cases their synonyms, were among the higher ranked frequencies, some with numbers as high as thirty. Now, just four years later, they had almost completely vanished from discussions.

Following the same format as before, I also mapped out the territory lines from the year 2000, specifically after the Camp David Summit ended, to get a better picture of the physical changes, if any, the Summit had. The first map pictured is of the West Bank area (displayed on slide #26):

 In this map, as explained in slide #25, the areas of Palestinian locality are represented by the light green areas, the areas of Israeli long term lease are in dark green, the areas of Israeli locality are represented by light blue, and the areas of Israeli annexation are in dark blue. Before analyzing this map in relation to the Oslo Accord maps, its important to understand what was asked for by Chairman Yasser Arafat, what was offered by the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and what was actually done territorially. In the discussions at the Summit, Arafat indicated that Palestine wanted either full control over all of West Bank and Gaza or a one to one land trade with Israel. However, Barak offered to form a Palestinian state comprised of 73% of West Bank (27% less than what was desired) and all of Gaza, a territory considered less of a focus for Israel. This would mean that Israel would have to withdraw from 63 formed settlements in West Bank. Taking this map in comparison to the Oslo Accord maps, it is clear that the number of Israeli settlements (indicated by the areas in light blue) did not diminish, but rather stayed consistent and even grew in certain areas of West Bank (as compared to the blue dots and/or triangles that represent the settlements in the Oslo maps).

In addition to the West Bank map representing post-Camp David territories, I also created a Google Earth overlay of Gaza Strip (displayed on slide #26):

As noted in the previous paragraph, the dark green areas represent what Barak was willing to annex to the Palestinians, and the light green the areas already populated by the Palestinians. In contrast to the West Bank geographical data, the Gaza strip data holds closer to what was offered by the Israelis.

To get a better grasp of the lack of removal of the Israeli settlements, here is a line graph to display the geographical information:

 As noted in the graph, the data points for the West Bank settlements rise from 1993 to 2000 at a rather sharp rate, increasing by approximately 100,000, rather than decreasing, as the Israeli offer indicated it would.

View Google Earth Presentation Here (To start the presentation, click the link given on the browser that appears and open the file downloaded to your computer – if presented with an option, open with Google Earth). This gives a close up tour of the two map overlays, looking at specific areas of high settlement population and the annexation plan proposed in the Camp David Summit.


Aid From the East: The New Millennium Continues 

“The Arab Peace Initiative”

As indicated in the presentation, the Arab Peace Initiative was an attempt at presenting a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict from the Arab world. The Initiative was prompted by Saudia Arabia from then Crown Prince King Abdullah, and was later agreed upon by the Arab League in 2002. This initiative, as with the previous peace talks, attempted to normalize relations betweent he entire Arab region and Israel. However, this plan also called for complete withdrawal from the occupied territories in both West Bank and Gaza, and a settlement of the Palestinian refugee crisis, based upon the U.N. Resolution 194.

This Initiative met both praise and criticism from both sides, the largest complaint being that the initiative was a ‘non-starter’ and would do little towards reaching a lasting peace (especially given that Israel was not included in the discussion). Greater than this complaint, however, was the refusal to accept the Initiative in its full by the Israeli government based upon the inclusion of the U.N. Resolution 194, which is the basis for the Palestinian refugee ‘right to return’. While Israel was not rejecting the inclusion of normalization between the two parties, the demands asked for by the Arab League were not accepted. Due to these criticisms as well as growing violence in the region, the Initiative was stalled until 2007. At its restarting, King Abdullah called for an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza, as well as the ability to establish a special committee, composed from members of the Arab League to work with the U.N. on achieving a lasting peace. Currently, the special committee to the U.N, which is comprised of representatives from Egypt and Jordan, began talks in 2009 to amend the initial Arab Peace Initiative that would demilitarize the future Palestinian state, as well as prevent the right of return to areas designated as Israeli territory. This plan has also been recognized by the Obama administration, who has encouraged Israel to accept.

Now that a brief summary of the Initiative has been given, what follows is an analysis of the data associated with it:

To start with, I created a word diagram of the Arab Peace Initiative document. The visual diagram (displayed on slide #30) is pictured below:

Following the same line of analysis as the previous peace talks, I created pie charts of the highest and lowest frequency words. Below is an image of the top frequency word chart (displayed on slide #31):

The words revealed in this chart are both revealing and provoking. In comparison to the document analysis from the Oslo Accords and the Camp David Summit, the Arab Peace Initiative is the first talk reviewed thus far that has the word ‘peace’ included in the top frequency list. In the instances that peace is discussed, the majority pertain to finding a comprehensive peace in the middle east, with the remainder, a small majority, referring to the title of the Initiative. In the previous top frequency charts, words relating to cooperation and working together have made the list, but peace has been elusive. The inclusion of the word ‘Israel’ in the top frequency was also interesting from an analysis point of view. In the previous peace talks, Israel has been an active participant in the discussions taking place, and while it has been included in the top frequency chart, its inclusion in this chart is interesting because Israel was not present for the discussion. In the instances where Israel is mentioned, the Arab Peace Initiative is calling Israel to agree to certain terms towards a lasting peace, as well as urging Israel to accept the Initiative. In previous peace talks, Israel has been present and their inclusion in the documents is in reference to the government of Israel as a title, as well as current actions, rather than what Israel is willing to concede to. The Arab Peace Initiative takes a turn away from this status quo, although Israel refused to recognize this step.

In addition to the top frequency chart, I also included a low frequency chart (located on slide #32), which is displayed below:

 The low frequency chart for this document was also very interesting. As with the Camp David document, the frequencies are lower than those seen in the Oslo Accords due to the shorter length of the document (only slightly longer than the Camp David Summit). Two words that I specifically found to be interesting were ‘international’ and ‘solution’. Looking first at ‘international’, the lower frequency in this document is interesting due to the former role that the international community played through the U.N. as regards involvement in the peace process. In this process, however, the main party involved in the Arab League, which is comprised of 22 Middle Eastern countries. This is not to say that the U.N was removed entirely (as seen in the brief overview, one of the goals of the Initiative was to create a special committee to work with the Security Council of the U.N.), but it did not have the same mediating role as seen previously.This lack of extreme presence in the talks also took a toll on the acceptance of the Initiative in the international community, and potentially played a role in the slow movement of the Initiative, which did not take action till four years after it was convened.

After analyzing the text itself, I also chose to take a look at the territorial impact, if any, the Arab Peace Initiative had on the areas of West Bank and Gaza. As explained earlier, one of  the Arab Peace Initiative’s main requests of Israel was to create a Palestinian state that reflected the 1967 territory lines. Reflected below is a Google Earth overlay image of the 1967 territorial divisions (displayed on slide #34):

In the map overlay above, the dark green areas, which comprise all of West Bank and Gaza (with the exception of Jerusalem), represent Palestinian territory. The white (or off-white) areas, including Jerusalem, represent Israeli territory. It is these territorial divides that the Arab Peace Initiative was desiring to return to in exchange for a normalization of relationships between Israel and the Arab world.

By itself, this map does not say very much about the effectiveness of the Initiative, only what was asked for. The map below, which shows the territorial divides as of 2007, when compared to the previous map, reveals the outcome of the Initiative (map displayed on slide #35):

 Using the same legend as the previous map, rather than diminishing their influence in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel only continued to expand, taking ver previously Palestinian-held territories. As is easily inferred, the Arab Peace Initiative did not receive anywhere near what they asked for. Consequently, the security and recognition promised to Israel in exchange by the Arab League has not been seen either, resulting in another missed opportunity for peace, as the Initiative has had little impact in the time since its convening ten years ago.

Mapping Out The Future: The Bush Administration 

“The Road Map For Peace” 

The final peace talk being analyzed in this presentation is the Roadmap for Peace, established in 2002 by then U.S. President George W. Bush. The Roadmap for Peace, similar to the Oslo Accords, was meant to be a framework for negotiations rather than a negotiation in itself. The Roadmap, in fact, became seen as a replacement for the failed Oslo Accords (which fell apart in 2000) by the international community. An important note that differentiates the Roadmap from the Oslo Accords is the needed establishment of the goal of a two-state solution prior to negotiations (meaning that both Israel and Palestine would have to recognize before entering talks the goal that each party be recognized as a sovereign state).

This framework was designed with the goal of a Palestinian state in mind, as well as the dismantling of Israeli settlements and the curbing of terrorist violence by Palestine. The Roadmap for Peace was created with three phases, ideally to be complete by 2005 (a timeline of three years):

  1. To end violence between Israel and Palestine, freeze Israeli settlement building in the 1967 Palestinian territories of Gaza, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and strengthening the Palestinian Authority as the government of Palestine
  2. The creation of a Palestinian state with temporary borders
  3. Finalizing permanent borders for a Palestinian state and unilateral recognition of the states of Israel and Palestine.
While the presented timeline for the Roadmap for Peace has long since ended, the framework still serves as a basis for negotiations currently.
Roadmap for Peace (2003)
To begin my analysis of the Roadmap for Peace, I again constructed a chart of the word diagram information, breaking the data down into the higher and lower frequency words. The first chart I analyzed was the high frequency chart (displayed on slide #39):
One of the interesting points to note with this chart is the introduction of the word ‘security’.  Previously, the word ‘security’ was not seen among the top frequency words, and was mostly used in cases of proper nouns, such as the U.N. Security Council. In this document, the word is used in the sense of security as an action or preventive measure. This shift in use can be best correlated with the change in actors, namely the introduction of President George W. Bush in replacement of former President Bill Clinton. A main part of the Roadmap plan was taken from a speech made by President Bush, who months later helped to establish the Department of Homeland Security in the United States. Security was a factor that played heavily in Bush’s term as president, and reflected in both his speeches and his actions. This is reflected in the Roadmap to Peace. Also, the word ‘security’ is, in a sense, charged, meaning that its existent denotes that violence is a key issue needed to be solved by means of defense and stability. Another word to note that I found to be interesting is ‘state’. In none of the other word charts does ‘state’ appear in among the top frequency words. In addition, the usage of the word in the Roadmap document refers most often to the creation of a state for Palestine, or running off of a two-state solution, rather than describing the ‘state’ of something or a pre-existing state. This is due in part to the prerequisite of creating a two-state solution, a requirement that no other peace talk analyzed before made. For many scholars and academics involved in this field, the movement toward the two-state solution marked a huge step towards peace and progress.
I also created a low word frequency chart (located on slide #40), similar to the previous peace talks discussed, which is displayed below:

Two words specifically within these data points that I found to be interesting were ‘settlements’ and ‘tolerance’. Turning first to ‘settlements’, its position among the lower frequency words within this document specifically was rather surprising. As noted earlier, one of the main stipulations for the implementation of the Roadmap framework was the dismantling of Israeli settlements in West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. While this is stated as an important first step to possible peace, the issue is only addressed directly four times within the document. Looking once more to the line graph of Israeli settlement building (found under the Oslo Accord section), this vital portion of the Roadmap framework was blatantly ignored in West Bank and Gaza, and was only slightly adhered to in East Jerusalem. This could be due, in small part, to a lack of emphasis within the framework of the vital importance of this point (coupled, obviously, with the conscious actions of the Israeli government). The term ‘tolerance’ was also a word that took a back seat in this document. One of the main reasons that this data point was so surprising to me was the new focus on a two-state solution. With this framework in mind, it would become extremely important for both Israel and Palestine to live in peace with one another and to act tolerantly towards each other. Aside from fighting over the same pieces of land, the two parties share different religions, cultures, and histories. These facts make it complicated at times to live respectfully with one another. Tolerance in this case especially is needed for peace to become a reality.

In order to analyze the territorial data related to the Roadmap for Peace, I created Google Earth overlay maps of the West Bank areas from 2003 and 2012. Below is the overlay image for the 2003 map of West Bank (located on slide #42):

In this map, the areas in beige are under Palestinian control, while the areas in green are under Israeli control. Also included in this map are areas shaded in red. These areas represent Israeli settlements that were currently being constructed in 2003, or were being lobbied for construction. As noted earlier, one of the conditions of the Roadmap for Peace was the immediate dismantling of Israeli settlements. These areas especially will be important in analyzing the second map.

The second map needed to properly analyze the lack of progress in the two-state solution is a map of current day West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem displayed below (located on slide #43):

 In this map, the dark green areas represent Palestinian territory, while the gray or white areas represent Israeli territory. Looking back to the previous map, it is clear to see that the Palestinian territory and shrunk substantially, being engulfed into Israeli territory. In addition to this, a majority of the red spaces in the previous map denoting settlement areas have now been deemed Israeli territory, meaning that their construction has been completed. Referring back to the Israeli settlement line graph included in the Oslo section, it is clear that Israeli settlement expansion, rather than halting, was actually expanded over the period of the Roadmap for Peace.

View Google Earth Presentation Here. (To start the presentation, click the link given on the browser that appears and open the file downloaded to your computer – if presented with an option, open with Google Earth). This gives a close up tour of the two map overlays, looking at specific areas of Palestinian and Israeli territories as proposed in the Roadmap for Peace.


From the maps and documents analyzed in this presentation, it is clear that no solution has been made as regards a permanent statehood solution. What has not always been as clear is what role the peace talks themselves have to play in this lack of progress. While the documents analyzed revealed that the focus was not always on statehood or cooperation, the talks themselves are not entirely to blame. Rather, it is the failed follow-up on the parts of the mediators and the participating parties themselves that have led to the stagnant pace of peace. Failure to abide by agreed frameworks and stipulations has, and will continue to, stall a lasting solution, regardless of the solutions presented or their support in the international community.

Security Preservation Plan 

Having completed my presentation, it is also important to provide a plan for the security and preservation of my work over time. The following are that ways in which I would provide for these aspects of my project:

Preservation –

  • Posting the project online: this could include creating my own website to host the information (which would involve having to secure a domain name, as well as choose which form I would like to create my site in – .edu, .com, etc). Because this would take more creation and maintenance on my part, I would choose instead to post my presentation on some sort of online journal or pre-existing educational or governmental website focused on the subject. One site that came to mind was Jadaliyya, which focuses specifically on the Middle East. Because this site also presents information in Arabic as well as English, I would have the potential to translate my presentation to expand my audience and provide for preservation for two audiences.
  • Consulting Better Resources: one aspect of this presentation that frustrated me was the lack of useful or detailed maps on my area of study. The maps found were, for the most part, simplistic or poorly pixilated. One aspect of preserving my project that I would look into is exploring further the academic community on this subject in search of a larger wealth of maps on the area. Also, with more time devoted to preservation, I could use map programs, such as Google Earth, to create my own maps that better reflect the data and research.
  • Maintaining Presentation Software: lastly, I would have to ensure that I kept up my Prezi presentation, which is linked to in this blog. Because I was new to Prezi and much of the information included in my presentation was media-based, it would be important for me to ensure over time that any problems I ran into during the creation of my Prezi were resolved and did not reoccur (as happened often in creating my presentation). Also, some of the information in this blog post is linked to other webpages and interactive visuals. I would need to ensure that these links stayed active over the course of my project’s use.
Security –
  • Citations: one aspect of security would be to ensure that I cited the sources used in the making of this presentation (which I have included below). This would ensure that those sites and authors that I gathered outside information from would be properly cited and receive credit for their findings. This would also protect me from any accusations of plagiarism or copyright infringement (should my work be used solely for educational purposes).
  • Publishing my Presentation: another aspect of security would be to publish my presentation in the form of an essay or written work that would accompany my presentation (such as this blog). By publishing this work in an academic journal, I would be able to ensure that information that is my own would be credited as such.
  • Passwords: a final aspect of security for my presentation would be to ensure that sources on the Internet that are linked with my presentation are password protected. This would include my Prezi account, as well as my blog account information. In order to best protect these sources, I would need to ensure that I changed my password every 3-6 months, and used a password that is comprised of characters that are not easily guessed by hackers.

Works Cited 

The following is a list of websites and/or documents used in the making of this presentation: 

Oslo Accord Sources


Camp David Summit Sources


Arab Peace Initiative Sources


Roadmap for Peace Sources


Scratch: Playing Around With Programming

This week I took a look at the program ‘Scratch’. As the Vimeo video showed, the Scratch program is similar in nature to the programming style used to create a number of online video games (check out this site for some examples, or just to procrastinate on school work).

I have to admit, using this program was for me, at first, a huge pain in the neck. I had messed around with the Blockly Demo: Maze program first, and found the layout and and interface very easy to follow. Below is my instructions (code) for rescuing the little Stick Man from the maze:

 Granted, my code was very simplistic and the maze not very difficult to figure out logically, so that may have something to do with the ease of using this program. However, for a program newbie like me, this was a great way to get introduced to it all.

In contrast, the Scratch program was a bit of a nightmare at first. What was most overwhelming for me was the vast number of commands to choose from:

 In this box are eight different sections for controlling the characters in the program (which, in themselves, were also very complex – you could choose to load pre-existing characters or even create new ones! I chose to experiment using my roommates face, she loved it). Clicking on the various programs brought up various options, these:

I have to say, many of these were fun to play with, but exhausting to try to get to work in the sequence. One that I tried listed under ‘Sensing’, was an option to ‘ask <insert question> and wait’. I proceeded to insert that into my string of commands, followed by a number of others. However, when I tried to play it, the sequence would always get stuck just after this command. After going through it a few times, the genius moment finally dawned on me; I had set it to wait, but never gave it a set amount of time. I tried to pair it with other commands that had a set time limit, but never was able to get it to work (the theme of my many attempts). Eventually, I was able to mess around with the background and include a few of the simpler movement and sound commands (the ‘meow’ was a favorite in my apartment). Overall, the Scratch program for me had much more content and potential to explore and grow in programming skills (potentially even creating stories and scenarios, as the video mentioned in the beginning alluded to).


Digital Archiving: Comparative Look at Digitized Historical Events

For this week’s discussion of digital history, we took a look at three seperate archives, all based upon recent U.S. historical events. Below is an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a number of the styles and techniques they had in common.

The April 16th Archive: Digital Archive of the Virginia Tech Tragedy

The first archive that I browsed through was the April 16th Archive, whose headline image is displayed above. As depicted above, this archive has collected images and texts related to the shootings at Virginia Tech. Below is a screen shot of the opening page of the archive:

For me personally, I felt the gray background of the webpage completely took over the space. Not only does the headline image only take up a third of the top of the page, the images displayed below it are lost in a sea of gray. While I think the designer was trying to go for a sobering color, I think it could have been done in a less all-consuming manner. Even adding in some of the school colors throughout the page would have been appropriate in my opinion (such as the box to the left of the image).

Going past the visual, I liked the way the information was broken up at the top. I was able to search through collections, get more information on the site, or return to the main page from any part of the archive. I specifically enjoyed the way the collection page was broken down into subsections, as shown below:

I was able to search through a variety of information (images, text, memorials) based upon victim, college, or special event). If I were a student doing research on the subject, I feel like I would be able to do a fairly decent job about capturing the reaction of those impacted by the tragedy, mostly in the form of images.

Another issue that I had with the page was its search method. When I went to the browse page, I was given the option of browsing by page or by tag. Because I didn’t see any sort of organization to the browsing by page, I chose to try the browsing by tag. This was possibly even more of a headache. The tags for the most part were extremely hard to read, and the enlargement of certain tags (most likely the most used) was distracting and seemed very odd visually. I would have preferred if they kept them all the same size and instead positioned them by most searched or used.

Overall, the layout of the archive was not visually appealing for me, and the search methods for the most part were not helpful. This archive definitely captures very moving and informing data, but for the purposes of real historical research, I would only be able to grasp the emotional rather than factual details, generally speaking.

Hurricane Digital Memory Bank

The next archive that I took a look at was the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. This archive looks at two hurricanes that impacted the U.S specifically – Katrina and Rita. This is an image of the opening page of the archive:

Compared to the last archive, I saw an immediate change in the way the designers used the physical space provided. Not only was the space of the page fully taken by the design, the sides of the page were colored in gray, matching the ‘hurricane-themed’ coloring of the page (blues, greens, etc.). I also enjoyed that the entire first page was not taken up by the producers of the archive explaining the reason for the webpage. The information was clearly visible on the opening page, and if I wanted to view the information I was able to do so, but I was not overwhelmed with it.

Also, I felt that this archive did a better job of organizing the information displayed. I was easily able to browse through different document types (video, images, text, etc.), and the use of tags was not distracting or overwhelming, as seen below:

The thumbnails of the searchable items was, in my mind, a great touch. Not only do I relate to things better in a visual way, when archiving events such as hurricanes and natural disasters, what impacts me the most or what I am most interested in seeing is the physical images of the data. Words, while important, can only go so far in informing me of a hurricane’s impact. This was an excellent touch that I think could have been very impactful in the April 16th Archive.

Another thing that I enjoyed about this archive was the amount of links it provided to other similar sites. I was able to link to archives done by the National Museum of American History and other reputable sources, which not only gave more credit to the legitimacy of the archive, but filled in any missing information I didn’t recieve from the Hurricane Memory Bank Archive. I would have liked to see more of this in the April 16th archive as well.

September 11th Digital Archive 

The last archive I looked through was the September 11th Archive, put together by many of the same designers of the Hurricane Memory Bank Archive. This definitely showed in the layout and overall design of the archive. Below is a screenshot of the opening page of the archive:

Again, I felt the colorscheme worked well for the purpose of the archive. I enjoyed that it wasn’t completely one color, that they placed a faded image of Ground Zero behind it. Also, by using a gray background instead of black, I felt that it stood out, at least for me personally, from the other 9/11 pages I have seen floating around on the web. One issue for me on the opening page was the awkward chunk of space on the right that only appears on this section of the archive. It looked to me like it was designed for a smaller display (and very well could have been, as it notes on the page that this is a beta version of a previous archive). Other than this small detail, I felt the initial page oriented me well for the archive.

Another attribute of this archive that I saw in the Hurricane Memory Bank was the easy to browse information. The site provided a number of ways for me to browse through the given information, including by type as well as by collection, as displayed below:

This made it much easier for me to search for exactly what type of information I wanted to see, and resembled many war and government-related archives I have seen in the past, which was a nice touch (albiet propbably unintentional). It made it easier for my mind to associate what I was viewing and what its purpose was. Also, I enjoyed that the color scheme seemed to stay the same throughout the archive, and matched well with the patriotic feel of the site.

Another portion of the site that I really liked was the 9/11 FAQS page. While the April 16th Archive covers more of the emotional side of the tragedy, I felt that this archive covered both the emotional and factual evidence of the tragedy well. For the purposes of historical research, I felt that this archive provided enough resources to cover both aspects of the event.


Ngram Viewer: Historical Jargon and the Journey of PC Language

My goal for this week’s practicum was to take a look at the way language has been used and changed historically to refer to both people groups and regions. Two prominent examples that came to mind were language uses for African Americans and the Middle East, the former representing the people group and the later representing the region.

Use of Discriminatory Language Towards African Americans

For the above diagram, I chose to compare three terms most commonly used to refer to the African American population in the U.S: Blacks, Negros, and African American. Through schooling and being raised in an anti-discrimination environment, I knew that the term ‘negro’ was and unfortunately still is a term used to refer to African Americans in a hateful way. I also knew that ‘blacks’ and ‘african american’ were terms that were used throughout history in an attempt to replace this hateful term. So, I decided to chart each of these terms into one graph to see when and by what degree these terms were exchanged for one another. The results weren’t very surprising. The use of the term ‘negro’ increased well above the term ‘blacks’ and especially ‘african americans’, peaking during the era of the Civil War, which was fought primarily over the issue of slavery. The term saw a major drop off until roughly 1875, when it went through an accordion-like rise and fall until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, where the term ‘blacks’ increased drastically. One element of this chart that did surprise me was the lack of movement in the use of the term ‘african american’. Even during the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, the term never gains much, or any, popularity. I’m not much of a historical guru, or a linguist at that, but I would venture a guess that my understanding of the term ‘african american’ as a replacement for the previous derogatory term was incorrect. Any other hypotheses would be greatly appreciated!

 Use of Discriminatory Language Towards the Middle East 

Next, I decided to look at how regions have been referred to much the same way. This time I chose to use a topic that I was more familiar with: the Middle East. From this point, I chose three terms commonly used to refer to the region, the Orient, the Near East, and the Middle East. Again, these results were not very surprising to me as an educated viewer. Prior to the term ‘Near East’, the ‘Orient’ was a term used to refer to the region east of the European countries. Key in this use of the word ‘Orient’ was this idea of the ‘other’, or a group of people different from ones own people, and not in a positive sense. Many researchers and historians used the term in books and writings that viewed the region in a very negative light. Edward Said, a prominent scholar on the subject, wrote many books discussing just that. In an attempt to move away from the discriminatory term, the use of ‘Near East’ came into popular use among scholars and especially in universities. Classes became known as ‘Near East Studies’ rather than ‘Orient Studies’. This change, however, is dwarfed by the entrance of the term ‘Middle East’ starting in the 1940’s. One suggestion for this change could be the increased involvement the U.S. had in affairs in that part of the world, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A growing knowledge and familiarity with the region could well account for this change. Given this change, it is not surprising that both the ‘Orient’ and the ‘Near East’ began to die out and never rose again to such prominence.

From Babel to Knowledge: An Inside Look at Data Mining

(Sorry for the cheesy clip art, I couldn’t help myself…still shedding some of the engrained PowerPoint ‘skills’ I guess)

This week we took a look at Professor Cohen’s article on Data Mining, which can be linked to here. In his article, Professor Cohen discusses to main data mining ventures he has undertaken with regards to digital history.

Document Classification: Syllabus Finder 

The Syllabus Finder focuses on an aspect of data mining known as ‘keyword-in-context indexing’, or KWIC. This focus of data mining came about as a solution to the problem of finding similar documents, known as document classification. KWIC uses the concept of inverted indexing to generate a ‘dictionary of notions’ that group documents by key words, rather than topic, to collect sets of information that share similar traits, such as history syllabi. Professor Cohen used this tool to index online history syllabi, helping professors around the world to generate ideas and material for their potential courses. Some of the benefits of this type of indexing are that the results are more specific, bringing up more results than, say, Google or Yahoo would. I found the idea of paring this sort of tool with an API very interesting. While the tool is not perfect (9 out of 10 results are actually syllabi), this API tool would help to further eliminate that small margin of error.

Question Answering: H-Bot 

The ‘H-Bot‘ was the other tool Professor Cohen created and discussed in his article. As noted in the article, Question Answering (QA) is a far greater challenge than document classification in the data mining world, due to the greater strain on computer skills/techniques involved. Not only do the documents need to be found, the question being asked by a user must be properly dissected and understood by the program/computer. The H-Bot (an automated historical fact finder) is a tool that does just that. This tool in particular caught my attention for the potential role it could play in the future regarding ethical test taking. Its no surprise that some students will do whatever it takes to pass an exam, including cheating when they don’t grasp the material well. While the cheating of the past used to involve glancing over at a classmates paper, this tool has the potential to take the role of the student completely, answering the exam question by question for them. As the tool isn’t really open to the public in this way yet (according to the article), it wouldn’t take long for students to figure out this potential should the tool become open to the general public. This is definitely something that would have to be considered by professors as well as the H-Bot creators.


The Arab Spring: A Prezi Presentation

Powerpoint: A Familiar Kind of Torture

This week’s reading topic, namely PowerPoint, is something familiar to and detested by most every student today (if they aren’t living under a rock in hiding or protest). Edward Tufte, a Yale professor of graphic design and political science (among a number of other subjects) outlines a few of the many grievances against the slideware program. One argument Tufte brought up that resonated most with me was the lack of educational value and substance that goes into creating a PowerPoint presentation. Student’s spend days, even weeks, creating presentations that are based solely off of PowerPoint presentations that contain, perhaps, 80 words for every 6 slides. While I’m not one to jump on assigning essays and research papers instead of presentations, I have to wonder if students, myself included, really learn anything from presentations that are characterized by bulleted lists and eyesore color schemes.

An excellent example of this very point was created by Peter Norvig in his Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation. A humorous publication meant to poke fun at the mundane and downright awful uses PowerPoint has been put to, Norvig hits on many of the points made by Tufte.

 Of all the PowerPoint presentations I’ve been forced to sit through over my time as a student, this is possibly one of the most grotesque. The saddest part about these slides, however, is not that these colors were forced into one space, but that Norvig didn’t even have to create this himself. Yes, this horrid color combo was offered by the slideware program he used. Creators don’t even have to try and give their audience a headache, PowerPoint programs now do it for them.

 Another element Norvig included in his presentation that Tufte commented on in his article was the lack of word content. The slide above, chosen for no specific reason, gives a good example of what the other slides in the presentation looked like. The bullet points were short, lacking description, and did not follow much of a flow in terms of presentation quality. In addition, the use of punctuation (namely the exclamation points) was out of place and really not needed. We get it, you’re excited, but please, show it in your voice, not the slides.

On a side note, I decided to test out Tufte’s theory and see if 6 slides really do contain only 80 words. The count came out to 85, roughly, much less than I would have expected from 6 slides of supposed educational content.

Overall, I really enjoyed Norvig’s satirical creation, one powerpoint presentation I wasn’t bored to tears watching.

Historical Chart: Map of the U.S. by Founding Date & Line Graph of Slaves Owned in Charles, MD

For this week’s assignment, I decided to create a chart that depicted the century in which each state was founded:

One of the downfalls of this map (or perhaps a downfall of me not being extremely familiar with Google Charts) is the lack of a legend to explain the coloring choices for this map. Given that information, I decided to include a short legend here –

  • Dark Green: States founded in the 20th Century
  • Medium Green: States founded in the 19th Century
  • Light Beige: States founded in the 18th Century
To create this chart, I went to Google Charts and choose the USA map from the list of given charts. This choice was a rather simple one, given that I wanted to depict information about the United States in a way that was visually appealing (probably influenced by the way I had seen it used in the Feltron reports). Once I picked the chart, I had to decide how I wanted to convey my given data. Because I wasn’t looking at very many data points (only three, really) I decided that a visual shading representation of the information would be a good approach. To represent this in the graph, I grouped the data points of each state according to which century they were founded in (i.e: data point ‘100’ was given to countries founded in the 20th century). By doing this, i created the difference in color shade that helped to visually group together the data points. While probably not the most scientific of approaches, it colored the map in a way that corresponded to the data that I wanted to convey.
If anyone knows of a way to create a legend on the map that I was using, please feel free to comment and let me know, I clearly wasn’t able to find it with my lack of technical prowess.

Also, here is the line graph depicting the number of slaves owned in Charles, MD from 1741-1809, using data pulled from Probing the Past:

Slaves Owned in Charles, MD from 1741-1809

Feltron Reports – TMI in a nice package

This week’s reading assignment, the Feltron reports, were not at all what I was expecting. I have to admit, when I heard what these were, I was expecting pages upon pages of excel sheets and boring charts and graphs of some pretty idiotic stuff. And while a few of the data sets are rather…interesting…the layout and presentation far exceeded my expectations. – 2005 Annual Report 

The first Feltron report that I looked at was the annual report for 2005, which can be accessed here. Among the various charts and graphs, Felton reported subjects like work vs. play, time spent abroad, and music and food preferences. The layout of Felton’s reports was very clear, colorful, and engaging. While a few of the graphs were a bit of an eyesore (such as the first graph charting work vs. play) and difficult to read, the data on the whole was presented in a very concise and playful way. Another aspect of this specific report that I enjoyed as a reader was the wide variety of charts used to display various information. Felton utilized maps, bar graphs, and pie charts in a way that explained his data very well. – 2009 Annual Report 

The second Feltron report I looked at was the annual report for 2009, which can be accessed here. After looking at Felton’s initial report, I was excited to see how he was able to expand and update his report just a few years later. Rather than improving upon his layout, however, I felt that Felton had taken quite a few steps back. The first thing that struck me was the size of the image on the screen. I’m not sure if this was the fault of Felton in posting the image file to the webpage, but the image size was far too large for the size of my browser screen. Now, instead of having two pages of data and charts displayed comfortably on the screen, I had to scroll back and forth and in some cases up and down the screen just to get a full picture of one graph or chart. Not exactly has accessible and clear as his earlier reports. Looking past the minor inconvenience of having to navigate my screen for one image, the graphs and charts themselves were not always the easiest to view or understand. One of the more difficult one’s to understand was the relationships graph.

 In this graph, Felton was charting the amount of people that answered what their specific relationship to Felton was. Ranging from drinking buddies to his ex-wife, Felton used a line graph to display the number of answers to each category, such as friend, family, work, etc. While the information was good and the line graph a good approach, in my opinion, I didn’t like this specific line graph. For me personally, having the lines displayed on either side of the middle line was confusing, although the different shading in between the lines helped a bit. Another part of the graph that was confusing was the lack of data points and information on the y-axis. Felton did display the months on the x-axis, which was slightly helpful in analyzing the data, the lack of measurements on the y-axis was confusing to say the least.

On the whole, however, I really enjoyed looking through Felton’s reports, as TMI as they were at times.

Historical Map Exercise – West Bank Settlements and Camps

For this week’s exercise, I created a map overlaying two separate maps, which can be found at the following two links:

Map of Israeli Settlements as of 1993 

Map of Palestinian Refugee Camps as of 2012 

 For this map, I was trying to compare the number and location of Israeli Settlements created as of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Refugee Camps created as a result up to the year 2012. The following images of the created map show the location of the camps with yellow push-pin icons and the settlements as blue dots.

 The image above is an arial-like view of the map, showing a broad view of the West Bank. 

 The above image is a close-up of the West Bank map displayed previously, showing more clearly the clusters of settlements and refugee camps. 

 The above image is a close up on the area of Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, three cities that are central for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. Comparing this image with the others, it is clear that the number of settlements increases, in some cases encircling or blocking off refugee camps from one another.  

For the process of creating this map, I first thought through what I wanted to display to my audience. I had initially decided on showing the increase of settlements from 1993 to 2012, but could not find any concrete data that would be well displayed on a map. I decided instead to show the correlation and comparison between the number of settlements and refugee camps.

Once I had decided what information I wanted to display on my map, I found a separate map that displayed each aspect of what I wanted to show (the links for which are shown above). I first used the image overlay tool to display the first image, showing the Israeli settlements in blue dots. After I positioned the map and adjusted the translucency of the image, I worked on overlaying the second image, which displayed the location and number of the refugee camps. After I finished overlaying the image, I saw that the contrast between the two images was not very clear, and the refugee camps and settlements did not stand apart from one another on the map. Searching around the Google Earth tools for a bit, I found a push-pin tool that allowed to to show the location of the refugee camps in a way that would make them stand out from the other icons displayed on the map, resulting in the map images displayed above.

Overall, the Google Earth program was fun to use and explore. and allowed me to create many of the maps that I have seen before on other websites. I look forward to using it in the future and developing more skills through this class.