Tuesday 27th September 2022

How IDS Students Coded Their Way Through History

What is Bettina Fabos Up To?

Bettina Fabos is active faculty member within the Visualization bundle in the Interactive Digital Studies major. She recently decided to take a break from the IDS program to focus on two projects. One of them, is called Proud and Torn: How My Family Survived Hungarian History. It is a look into her family’s history from Hungary. Within the project, there is an interactive timeline throughout Hungarian history with spectacular animation and GIFs.

About Proud and Torn

As explained above the project is based around the Fabos family and their history in Hungary, more specifically her father and Aunt. Her father, Gyula, and her aunt, Ari, grew up in a little town in western Hungary named, Marcali (MARTZ-AH-LEE). They were near the largest freshwater European lake. In the summer, they would spend time with family playing in the lake. Fabos says that what makes this project so wonderful, is the fact that it showcases everyday people and how their lives were impacted by world leaders.

The 7-member Proud and Torn team (Fabos, former IDS students Dana Potter, Jacob Espenscheid, and Isaac Campbell, current IDS student Collin Cahill, and two outside historians) are in the final stages of the project and poised to submit it for competitions and awards (including the The Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History and awwwards.com). This is a site worth seeing if you are interested in coding, website design, Hungary, or just want to see what Bettina has been working on!

The Team

Bettina knew she would need to recruit some of the best students she knew. She rounded up a solid team to help her make her desired interactive journey through history. They have now worked for several years on the project and hope to bring light to the site in it’s finality.

Isaac Campbell- Animation

Collin Cahill- Coding and user experience

Jacob Espenscheid- General coding

Dana Potter- Design

Leslie Waters and Kristina Poznan- Historical editing and advising

And, of course, Bettina Fabos wrote, produced, and created this project.

This site has some of the most modern and complicated coding and animation I have ever seen, especially for a non profit project. The team worked tirelessly to perfect every detail. They even managed to turn Bettina’s handwriting into it’s own font. Many of the pages feature still images made into animations. Collin Cahill gained extensive knowledge of SVG’s that became essential to the fine details that brings Proud and Torn to life. They even went to great lengths to have the scrolling format go from vertical to horizontal once the page got to the time line. This group of individuals should not be anything less than proud to be involved in the Proud and Torn project.

Hungary Trip

The team was lucky enough to be able to travel to Hungary this past summer to see the country they grew to know so much about. Fabos pursued the help of the University of Northern Iowa for grant money to be able to take the only team member who was still a student, Collin Cahill. She was granted $1,500.

The group was chosen to speak at a conference about the historical project on Bettina’s family. There, Fabos was reunited with her aunt, who is featured in the project many times. Many artists and historians attended the conference. The group was even featured in a famous Hungarian independent filmmaker’s most recent endeavor. Not all of the trip was spent on learning the history though. The team ventured to a local vineyard and spent some time relaxing in thermal baths and enjoying the scenery!



Spotlight: Collin Cahill

Collin Cahill is currently a senior at the University of Northern Iowa. His majors are Interactive Digital Studies and Computer Science. His bundles include Computation and Advertising. Collin’s contributions to this project became more of a necessity as he became involved. Fabos raves about the progress he achieved through working with the animation and coding. He received the coveted internship at Visual Logic for user experience programming, and then switched over to Banno, where he is currently a part-time employee.

He is set to graduate this coming December with a vast portfolio to his name. We wish him well in his future endeavors and are honored to be claiming him as one of our own in the Interactive Digital Studies program here at UNI.

Cahill is accompanying Fabos to present Proud and Torn at a large history conference in Chicago in mid-November. He will then will represent the team in Portugal November 12-16 at the International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling- first international recognition given to the project. Fabos says, “My goal is to reward these students in ways they would not expect.” I am sure Collin was not expecting a trip to Portugal, but definitely deserves the opportunity!

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