Posts Tagged ‘tintic mining district’

This blog has reached a milestone over the last week. Over 15,000 people have visited this blog since it was begun in Oct., 2008. Since my fellowship in Philadelphia last summer, the viewership has risen greatly, and I’ve been averaging over 1500 visitors per month with 2600 in March as my top month. I don’t know how that compares to other blogs out there, especially on such an esoteric topic as the origins and uses of the chemical elements, but it represents to me that my purposes in creating this blog are being fulfilled – people are finding out about the Elements Unearthed project and are hopefully learning about the elements (although this is impossible to assess using just the WordPress stats).

Monthly Blog Stats

Stats for The Elements Unearthed blog

I can’t track demographics about the age or interests of the visitors except by looking at the most common search terms they’re using. Some of the time the searches bring people here accidentally – for example, they might be looking up how to build a water turbine and find my post on the water turbines used at the Du Pont Gunpowder Factory in Delaware. I don’t have any instructions that would be useful for them, and their purpose wasn’t to find out about how gunpowder was made, but here they are. A rough estimate is that about two-thirds to three-fourths of the people coming to this blog are doing so because of legitimate searches involving chemistry, the elements, or the history of science or mining. I hope that I have provided the information they need.

I get a few searches every day about the Tintic Mining District around Eureka, Utah. This is probably because not many other sources exist. Some of the comments written show that some of these visitors had relatives that worked there (so do I – one of my great grandfathers died as a result of injuries received as a miner in the town of Diamond, part of the Tintic District). This lets me know that I need to soon do the episodes on the Tintic District. Now that the weather is (mostly) getting better, I hope to take one final trip to the area around Mammoth, Diamond, and Silver City to complete the photos and video I’ll need. My plan this summer is to visit a mining area at least twice per month. Then, if I have a school team that wants to do that area, we’ll have much of what we need all ready to go for the 2010-2011 school year.

Search engine terms

Recent search engine terms which brought visitors here

Ultimately, it’s the videos that this site is about. If you want to play them on YouTube, you can simply look up “davidvblack channel” in the YouTube search engine and all 23 of my videos (including the Business Profile Videos and my animation demo reel) are there. This blog’s purpose is to promote the videos and talk them up, giving some background into their creation. Once I have three topics done (the next topic after beryllium will be glass blowing), I will set up a dedicated website and upload the videos to iTunes, which will provide another location in addition to their existence here on this blog and on YouTube. There are some drawbacks to this blog as the primary source of the videos: since WordPress converts the video to FLV format, these videos won’t work on an iPod, iPhone, or iPad (I went to the local Mac store recently and tried out an iPad. The videos, being Flash based, won’t play). So I need a site like iTunes that can work for the Apple crowd as well (my kind of people).

Here are some stats on how the videos are doing: The episodes that have been finished so far have been the two parts of the Periodic Table featuring my interview with Dr. Eric Scerri of UCLA and the first half of the episode on beryllium.  On this blog site, the periodic table videos have been played over 370 times, and on YouTube they have been played over 1100 times. This isn’t to say that they have been played all the way through; the average play is about three minutes (which is why I try to keep my Business Profile Videos to three minutes or less).  They were uploaded about two months ago, so they’ve seen about 1500 plays or about 4500 minutes of viewing so far. I’m pleased with that. The beryllium video (which covers the uses, sources, and geology) has been viewed 82 times here and 27 times on YouTube since it was posted about two weeks ago. Considering it is a more limited topic, I feel that is a good start as well.

Even more surprising, to me, is that the Periodic Table videos have been close-captioned into Portuguese by Luis Brudna and have been viewed over 2200 times – twice as much as they have been viewed in English. Here is the link to the Portuguese versions: http://www.youtube.com/tabelaperiodicaorg#p/u/3/5lV6BIkAhvQ for the first of the four parts or http://www.youtube.com/tabelaperiodicaorg#g/u for the YouTube channel. The Beryllium Part 1 video has been translated on Vimeo at: http://vimeo.com/11555398. You can visit Dr. Brudna’s website at: http://www.tabelaperiodica.org.

YouTube Periodic Table videos

Periodic Table Videos on my YouTube channel

Now it might seem that I’m just into an ego trip, obsessing over these stats, seeing who is referring to this blog from their site, who is putting links to these videos on their sites, etc. It’s like typing your name into a Google search to see if you really exist (I don’t show up until something like Page 19 of the search results . . . there are a lot of other David Blacks out there). But I do have a reason for tracking how this blog and the videos are doing: I hope to be able to show the reach of this project to potential funding sources. Since NSF turned me down this year, I’ll have to go begging hat in hand from other sources, and being able to show how many people are finding and using this blog and viewing the videos will be essential for a successful pitch.

If any of you out there read this, I would appreciate your writing a comment on how you’ve found this blog, what needs (if any) it has met for you, how you’re using it, etc. Any information I can get on how effective this blog is which goes beyond the bare numbers will be very useful for me. Meanwhile, I’ve been very busy with some client videos that were on a tight deadline, but I have a lull now for a few days and I’m getting back to Part 2 of the beryllium episode (this section on the history of mining, refining, and hazards). I’ll get it posted within the next week or two, give or take the weather (I’m also trying to plant a vegetable garden, if the ground will ever dry out enough). Then I’ll start on the blown glass video, which already has the narration and much of the video editing complete from my students last year. I’ve gathered more photos and need to add them. It will be done in two parts as well: one on the history and process of blowing glass, the other on the science and hazards of glass blowing. I’m shooting for mid-June to have those done, and will set up the iTunes site then. That should be enough episodes complete to start pounding the pavement looking for funding.

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   Time is rushing forward and we are almost to the end of another school year at Mountainland Applied Technology College. Students in my Multimedia classes have been working daily to complete the alpha or “Director’s Cut” versions of their group video projects.

   Altogether, four projects will be completed within the next three weeks. These include projects titled: The Art and Science of Blown Glass (that group is currently creating their B-roll titles, images, and animations); The Art and Science of Stained Glass (this group is doing rough edit); High Pressure Alchemy: The Story of Synthetic Diamond (this group is capturing and editing the narrations); and The History of the Tintic Mining District (currently being captured and transcribed).

Eureka, Utah c. 1925

Eureka, Utah c. 1925

   This last project came about rather unexpectedly; the Tintic District is centered around the town of Eureka, Utah and was one of the richest mining areas in the West in the late 1800s. By 1960, the mines had closed and the town has since fallen on hard times. It is now designated as an EPA Superfund Site, and millions have been spent to cover up old tailings piles and replace contaminated soil.

   We had a team of students last year that filmed the area, but we didn’t have a good Subject Matter Expert that could tell the story. After driving through the town in early April, I saw that many of the historic buildings downtown are literally falling down and that this story needs to be told now rather than waiting for funding (my biggest challenge, besides having a full-time teaching job, is that I have no sponsorship as yet to support this project). I had one group of students that was going to do a project on pottery, but we hadn’t located a good site to visit. So I contacted June McNulty, who runs the Tintic Mining Museum in Eureka and arranged for him to be interviewed and to show us through the museum (which is only open by appointment) in an effort to preserve the history of this area before the reclamation efforts change things forever.

June McNulty in front of Eureka City Hall

June McNulty in front of Eureka City Hall

   On April 21 we took this team of students to Eureka and interviewed June and filmed the contents of the museum. Now I am going to be working on a final synthesis of two year’s worth of footage into two or more podcast episodes – one will tell the history of the mines, the other the history of the town and what life was/is like there, and perhaps a third will talk about the recent clean-up efforts and their impact on the town.

   The four projects will be completed by students and myself to an alpha test level by May 21, when we will have students from other classes at MATC watch the episodes and make comments and suggestions. At that point we will be too close to the end of the year for the students to do much more editing, so I will probably work on them over the summer to tighten the presentation/story and polish the images and audio.

Drawing of Iron Blossom Shaft 3

Drawing of Iron Blossom Shaft 3

   It will be a challenge getting this all done over the summer, since I will be in Philadelphia for three months researching background information and collecting images and photos on the history of chemistry in general at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, where I have been selected as a 2008-09 Fellow, sponsored by the Societe de Chimie Industrielle (American Section). This effort at CHF will result in at least two episodes as well, in addition to the four episodes this year and two from last year that I will be doing final edits on. My goal is to have 8-10 episodes completed and posted to this site and to iTunes and YouTube by the end of August. So far I have completed one episode on the rationale for this project. I will post that episode before leaving for Philadelphia (May 28) so that we can at least have a presence on iTunes and YouTube over the summer. I have been waiting until May 22 when I will be teaching the students how to compress and add metadata to podcasts; I’ll demonstrate how with this episode and take it all the way through posting and uploading to iTunes.

   Later today or tomorrow I will be adding a new post on how you, as an individual interested in this topic, can conduct similar research in your own community, or how you can participate to evaluate episodes or to provide sponsorship for this project.

June McNulty by mine hoist cage.

June McNulty by mine hoist cage.

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