Enhancing Research at Texas State

Historical account of early Texas gains new exposure through University Libraries digitization project

Researchers across the globe can now interact with history through a state-of-the-art, online exhibition that showcases a Texas State University treasure. The new website celebrates La relación, a book written by Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca originally published in 1542. The website, exhibits.library.txstate.edu/cabeza, was launched in July 2018 – the culmination of a University Libraries’ team effort to re-digitize Texas State’s rare copy of the 1555 revised edition of the book and create a multi-media informational exhibition. The effort will help historians and scholars research the trailblazing work from anywhere in the world.

“We first digitized the university’s copy of La relación and made it available online 15 years ago, and it has been by far the most accessed resource in our Southwestern Writers Collection,” said Joan Heath, associate vice president and university librarian. “With the advances in digitization technology, we felt it was important to use the state-of-the-art technology and digitization experts here at the library to redo that work and provide an even better online exhibition for scholars, historians, and interested individuals around the world to access.”

La relación tells the story of Cabeza de Vaca and three companions who shipwreck along the Texas coast in 1528. It documents their travels through Texas and into the greater southwest and Mexico, including their encounters with various Native American tribes. The book, which serves as the foundational piece of The Wittliff Collections, was donated to Texas State through the generosity of Bill and Sally Wittliff and an anonymous donor in 1989.

Cabeza de Vaca’s account is of great anthropological and historical importance. In Texas alone, he identifies 23 Native American groups, describing in detail their clothes, languages, eating habits, rituals, homes and migrations. This has made the work very important to middle and high school Texas History classes which often used the previously published website in their curriculum.

“We know teachers have found this work to be invaluable in teaching students about the early inhabitants of Texas,” said The Wittliff Collections Director Dr. David Coleman. “Students find the adventurous aspects of the story to be interesting. This new website format is even more engaging and appealing.”

Coleman and The Wittliff Collections’ curator Steve Davis served on the project team that created the website content. University Libraries Digital and Web Services staff Dr. Ray Uzwyshyn, Todd Peters, Jason Long, Jeremy Moore and Erin Mazzei, and students Grayson Ellsworth and Oscar Martinez utilized new technology known as IIIF, or International Image Interoperability Framework, to provide enhanced image access with faster delivery and manipulation abilities for detail inspection, zooming and panning of
images.

“When people visit the website, it’s almost like they are holding that book in their hands,” said Davis. “I’m particularly excited about this opportunity for us to pay proper homage to Cabeza de Vaca and his extraordinary work.”

The website includes page-by-page images of the book with an English translation next to each page, so people can read the story as written and translated. Dr. Frank de la Teja, a Regents and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus from Texas State University, provides video commentary to help highlight facets of the story and relate the historical significance of Cabeza de Vaca’s journey and experiences. In addition, there is a collection of artwork depicting the journey that links to teaching guides and other resources for further study.

“Having this document in its collections tells the world that Texas State University is serious about being a world-class humanities research institution,” said de la Teja. “It’s vital that we have websites like this one that so eloquently and so artistically represent something that is a real jewel for the university and even for the state and the country.”

By Debbie Pitts

The future of technology

At SXSW this year, there were plenty of technology innovations on display, and we thought we’d share them with Bobcats. From robot puppies to robots using artificial intelligence to learn and invent their own language, it was apparent technology has come a long way!

Virtual reality technology

Imagine being able to learn about Mars as if you were there. At Hewlett-Packard’s Mars Home Planet space, people sat in unique pod-like chairs for an immersive experience. With headsets on they were taken through a story of what life might be like for a new person living on the red planet, if it were inhabited by a million people. The technology used to create the life-like experience was an integration of motion, haptics, spatial sound, and virtual reality.

Robot puppies

If you’re allergic to dogs but have always wanted one, you may have a new hypoallergenic option. Sony’s Aibo robotic pet gives lifelike expressions and a variety of dynamic movements to bring it to life. Aibo uses cameras, microphones, and speakers to listen and interact with you. It can also do tricks like begging and rolling over for belly rubs!

Artificial intelligence and language learning

Das Fremde was an installation at the Sony House, where robots used artificial intelligence to invent their own language and culture in real time. They appeared to follow visitors with their webcam-like eyes and made sounds similar to human language and animal calls. The robots attempted to imitate humans as people interacted with them.

The AI Gamer

If robots can invent languages, they can learn to play games too! At the SXSW Trade Show, a little robot used artificial intelligence to play the game, Super XEVIOUS. Like human gamers, it learned while it played to try to clear each stage.

The Breakfast Robot

Those who aren’t morning people or those who would like to save some extra time on their routine, may not need to worry about breakfast anymore. Connected Robotics displayed a robot, Loraine, at the SXSW Trade Show who can be scheduled to make that morning meal for you.

It is exciting to see where the future of technology is headed. But concepts like these are being developed even now by Texas State students and faculty researchers, who also displayed their innovations at SXSW. Which technologies are you most excited about?

The 2018 IT Division Almanac is here

2018 IT Division Almanac front page

The 2017-2018 edition of our Division of Information Technology Almanac is online!

The Almanac is packed with stories about the work the division does to make Texas State University great, such as the our website rodeos that helped make better websites across Texas State, opening of the new IT Assistance Center help desk at the Round Rock Campus, and creation of the new Texas Music pillar at The Wittliff Collections.

The people in our division work extremely hard to provide the university community with effective, reliable, and secure technology and library services, and we wanted to share these successes with you. Read the new Almanac today!

DOIT Oculus Go VR Giveaway Rules

The Division of Information Technology will be in Alkek Library today, Dec. 5, from 2:30 to 5 p.m., giving students a chance to take a break from studying and experiment with virtual reality. Join us and try out the Oculus Go!

We will also be giving away one 64GB Oculus Go VR headset to a student at Texas State University. All students, except those employed by the Division of Information Technology (DOIT), are eligible to enter, assuming the requirements for a valid entry are met.

In order to constitute a valid entry, all entrants must:

  • Be a current student of Texas State University
  • Must follow at least one of the TXST DOIT social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram)
  • Must take one action on any of the following:
    • Twitter: Retweet the pinned contest entry post on Dec. 5, which says if you wish to enter via Twitter to give @txst_doit a follow and retweet the post
    • Facebook: Like the pinned contest entry post on Dec. 5, which says if you wish to enter via Facebook to give the “TXST Division of I.T.” page a like and like the post
    • Instagram: Like the contest entry post on Dec. 5, which says if you wish to enter via Instagram to give @txst_doit a follow and like the post
  • Must be a follower of our social media channel on the platform you choose to take action on the contest entry post.
  • Must enter no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.

 

Winner selection

The winner of the giveaway will be selected by a random drawing which will be completed electronically. Winner will be notified by an announcement on the DOIT social media Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram channels on Friday, Dec. 7. The announcement will specifically mention the username associated with the winning account. It is the responsibility of the winner to contact DOIT within 48 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be chosen. Winners will be required to accept their prize in person and take a photo with the DOIT team to be used on the division’s social media channels.

Additional giveaway notes

  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook.