History Commons Groups

August 13, 2012

Books We Read….

Filed under: Books We Read — Max @ 11:06 am

I’m currently finishing Michael Goldin’s Red Cloud at Dawn, a fascinating examination of the USSR’s development of its first nuclear bomb (Joe-1) and the political aftermath. At some point, when some of the projects I’m working on are wrapped up, I intend to use some of the material from the book in the US International Relations project. It won’t make for a lot of entries, unlike, say, Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes, which I think could be the basis of an entire project, but it will add depth and breadth to the project.

Coming up on the reading list is Jason Leopold’s The Other Abu Zubaidah, which he was kind enough to donate to the History Commons in Kindle form. Leopold provides key contextual information on Zubaida that needs to be in the HC databanks.

What are you reading? Anything that might add information to the HC projects?

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August 10, 2012

Welcome back, Kevin!

Filed under: Books We Read,community — Max @ 12:07 am
Tags:

Admin Kevin Fenton, the author of Disconnecting the Dots, is back from a well-deserved vacation. Just a quick shoutout to say we’re glad to have him back. 🙂

August 5, 2012

Survey Results

Filed under: community — Max @ 5:27 pm

The results of the first History Commons survey (well, the first in two years) are in. Thanks to everyone who participated!

It was a very short, targeted survey about user participation. Here is the link to the results. (More equally short and targeted surveys are in the works, though we promise not to overwhelm you with survey after survey.)

As with all surveys, the responses prompt an entirely new array of questions

Poll Results:

Future surveys may ask questions based on the results of this poll. Some of the ones that come to mind are:

  • How can the History Commons attract more contributors?
  • How can it expand its perception from “just” a historical site to one that covers more current information? One suggestion that came up in discussion among the admins was the creation of a “quick response team” of contributors to handle current or “breaking” events or issues.
  • Are there timelines/projects that would attract more interest? What are some suggestions for new projects? We want to expand our coverage, and have a page of ideas for new and/or expanded projects.

We have a lot of good ideas about improving the user interface and the application, so we probably won’t be asking about that in the next couple of surveys. We’re more interested in finding ways to make these improvements happen (i.e. funding!).

Comments

Several comments focused on updating HC for social media and mobile platforms. We definitely, definitely need to focus on making HC more mobile-friendly; that’s part of improving the user interface. We’re not sure what this means: “History Commons might consider the ‘link’ metaphor/technology widely used in social media as a beginner’s level for those who want to take active part in it the first time.” If someone could expand on that idea, we’d love to hear it.

Any suggestions on showing off our credentials in a more effective way?

Making it Happen

As is the case with so many things, all of these improvements and expansions require financial and volunteer support. If you think History Commons is worth the effort, please consider making a financial donation, or (even better in some respects), please consider doing some writing, researching, and/or editing for the Commons.

Thanks!

New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Hijacking Exercises, Air Force One’s Movements, Laura Bush on Sept. 11, and More


A large number of entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, most off which provide new details about the events of the day of September 11, 2001.

One new timeline entry describes a training exercise based on the scenario of a possible terrorist attack that was run on the morning of September 11 by the US Coast Guard in Tampa Bay, Florida, quite close to Sarasota, where the president was at the time. Another entry deals with a meeting scheduled to take place at the Pentagon that morning, regarding a planned “disaster exercise” at the nearby Navy Annex building.

An entry reveals that a number of FBI agents had, for reasons that are unknown, already arrived at the Navy Annex when the Pentagon was hit. Later on, the Navy set up a new command center at the Navy Annex, after its original command center was destroyed in the Pentagon attack.

Several entries describe the futile attempts of intelligence officers at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) to obtain information about the first hijacking. After learning of the hijacking, a NEADS intelligence officer called the FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center and the National Military Joint Intelligence Center at the Pentagon, but neither of them could provide any information. Searches on the SIPRNET–the US military Internet system–also revealed nothing. Furthermore, the threat briefing at NEADS that morning had included no indication of an increase in the terrorist threat level.

Some NEADS personnel have said they were monitoring Flight 93 long before the time at which the 9/11 Commission concluded the military was first alerted to this hijacked aircraft. Also, a commander at NEADS complained that an officer from the NEADS battle cab had come down to the operations floor, where he had been “circumventing my system.” What is more, NEADS personnel only learned that the president’s plane, Air Force One, was airborne about half an hour after it took off from Sarasota.

New entries describe in detail the actions of Laura Bush, the first lady, on September 11. Laura Bush learned of the first crash in New York as she was about to leave the White House and go to Capitol Hill, to attend a hearing there. When her limousine drove off from the White House, she was unaware that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center minutes earlier. She only learned of this second crash just before she reached Capitol Hill.

When she arrived on Capitol Hill, Laura Bush initially spent time with Senator Edward Kennedy in his office. However, her arrival apparently did not lead to any increase in the level of security. She was even allowed to make an appearance before the press, which was shown live on television. But a reporter who attended the appearance was subsequently warned to stay away from the windows of the building, because it was thought that a suspicious aircraft was heading in their direction.

Following the public appearance, Laura Bush and her staff headed to the office of Senator Judd Gregg, on a lower floor of the building. After they waited there for a short time, the Secret Service emergency response team arrived and escorted them out of the building. Laura Bush and her entourage were then driven to the Secret Service headquarters, but they were significantly slowed by the heavy traffic and reportedly arrived about 45 minutes after leaving Capitol Hill.

At the Secret Service headquarters, Laura Bush spoke over the phone with her daughters and her mother. During the afternoon, her Secret Service agents told her to be prepared to leave Washington for several days. Later on, some of her staffers briefly returned to the White House before heading home. Then, after it was learned that the president would be returning to Washington that day, it was decided that the first lady could go back to the White House and so she was driven there early in the evening. When the president subsequently arrived at the White House, he was reunited with his wife there.

Several timeline entries deal with the movements of Air Force One after it left Sarasota with the president on board. The director of the White House Military Office received a call from the White House Situation Room advising him not to bring the president back to Washington, DC. The pilot of Air Force One and some of the president’s staffers then agreed that they should head to somewhere other than Washington. Shortly after taking off, the plane therefore changed course and flew west. At around 10:20 a.m., Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana was identified as a suitable destination for the plane, although a few accounts have claimed that Air Force One headed toward Barksdale about 25 minutes later.

At 10:37 a.m., President Bush was notified that his wife and daughters had been taken to safe locations, although Bush’s daughters reportedly only reached “secure locations” just before 11:00 a.m. At 10:41 a.m., Vice President Dick Cheney called the president and advised him against returning to Washington. Then, as Air Force One approached Barksdale, the president talked over the phone with his wife for the first time that morning.

A few new entries describe events before 9/11, and cover various training exercises. These include a Federal Aviation Administration exercise that was based around a simulated plane hijacking and an FBI exercise, also based around a hijacking, held at Washington Dulles International Airport–the airport from which one of the hijacked planes took off on September 11. Another entry describes the arrival of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives in New York the day before 9/11, ready for a training exercise called “Tripod” that was set to take place on September 12. However, the first FEMA urban search and rescue teams to reach New York following the terrorist attacks only arrived at around 10:30 p.m. on September 11.

History Commons is still seeking funds to help it continue as a leading informational source for the 21st century. Please click here if you would like to make a donation.

August 4, 2012

Musings on the New Campaign Finance Material

Filed under: Civil Liberties,US Elections — Max @ 10:51 pm

There are two categories under US Civil Liberties that are about to get a huge influx of new material: Voting Rights/Campaign Finance and Election, Voting Laws and Issues. There is, as one would imagine, a lot of overlap between the two.

I’m doing much of the work on them, and I have to say, in an entirely nonpartisan, observational kind of way: there is a Godawful amount of corruption and untoward influence being wielded on American politics because of the post-Citizens United changes. History Commons does something better (I believe) than most other information outlets does: by providing the information in a chronological context, and “mashing up” information from literally hundreds of disparate and sometimes contradictory stories, a much broader and deeper perception of a larger issue can be created. It is definitely happening here.

Look for a strong influx of entries in the coming weeks.

August 1, 2012

Please take this new survey…it’s only 2 questions

Filed under: community,Uncategorized — Max @ 10:21 pm

It takes less time to take this survey than it does to slug down a Red Bull, and the information you give us will be tremendously helpful for helping us improve our content and our functionality. Thanks, and please pass this along!

Click the “Take Our Survey!” phrase below to open the survey in a popup. If your browser blocks this kind of popup, the survey can also be accessed here: History Commons Survey

All results will be noted and discussed in a followup post. Thanks again.

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