All posts by mgolding

Crowdsourcing Blog

In order for crowdsourcing project to be successful, it requires honest and productive collaboration amongst its users. Crowdsourcing offers the opportunity for people to freely update a project in order to theoretically improve the lives of those the project was created for. Therefore, one of the benefits of a crowdsourcing project is that multitudes of people are constantly contributing and updating a site. For instance, Mapswipe has its users help locate where people live in underdeveloped parts of the world, like Madagascar. This site allows for there to be cross-referencing between users because if users are given the same map and their “clicks” match up, it is more likely that people are in fact living in those respective locations. If there is a humanitarian crisis, rescue teams are able to know where the people in need are located. One of the drawbacks of crowdsourcing however, is the difficulty in incentivizing users to contribute to the site. It is incredibly difficult to get people to work for free. Also, the amount of people that have extra time to give to free work are only those people that are financially stable in the developed world. Mapswipe succeeds at incentivizing users because not only is the App designed like a game, but it also panders to the humane side of its users. In other words, users can feel good about “playing a game”, while also potentially saving people’s’ lives. One of the other drawbacks is the possibility that people will purposefully contribute false information. In a time where internet trolling is so popular, it is easy for people to undo much of the hard work that is accomplished on crowdsourcing projects.

Harris Pollack & Matt Golding

Midterm: Women Writers Project

Describe and evaluate the significance of the scholarship for the humanities.

This project exemplifies the importance of early writings that contributed to to the development of modern literature, but with a sole emphasis on contributions made by women. This type of site will always be imperative for as long as the fight for gender equality continues. Even after gender equality is achieved (hopefully), this digital humanities project will continue to be relevant because it highlights notable contributions to literature dating all the way back to the 16th century. Distinguished universities like Brown and Northeastern are continuing to show the importance of the humanities by funding projects like this.  This project also receives funding from the National Endowment of Humanities. The aforementioned universities continue to value the humanities not only because of their academic value, but also the value in what can be learned outside of the academic setting. This site also provides workshops in TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) and other data seminars, which speak to the direction in which the humanities are going. With the rapid increase and constant change in technology, developing these tools are important for the future.

How does the project push forward (or fail to push forward) the state of knowledge of a discipline?

On the homepage of the Women Writers Project, viewers immediately learn about the site’s purpose, “Our goal is to bring texts by pre-Victorian women writers out of the archive and make them accessible to a wide audience of teachers, students, scholars, and the general reader. We support research on women’s writing, text encoding, and the role of electronic texts in teaching and scholarship.” The site achieves both of its goals because it archived nearly 400 texts spanning three centuries in the pre-Victorian era, all of which were written by women. Viewers can readily learn about the history and further development of literature while also subsequently learning about parts of women’s history. It also pushed forward the knowledge of coding and other crucial aspects of the digital humanities because as it was previously mentioned, the site offers seminars and workshops. Women Writers Project certainly succeeds at teaching its viewers about the technology behind the site and the texts it provides.

Can you identify the project’s primary research question? What is it? A series of questions?

While the site is dedicated to the digitally archiving women’s writing between the 16th and 19th centuries, there is also an obvious emphasis on the use of text encoding and the presence of using electronic texts in the humanities. Therefore, it can be surmised that the Women Writers Project looks to answer two primary research questions, along with smaller questions that relate back to the two main points. The first question that is being answered is, “Why is it important the public has access to early women’s’ writings?” Some residual questions that pertain to this question are, “How have these texts affected more modern literature? Why is it important for this site to recognize only female writers?” The second essential question that is being answered is, “Why is it important to not only adapt to the growing popularity of digital humanities, but also learn how to encode text and properly utilize electronic texts?” Offshoot questions for this question are, “Why use pre-Victorian women’s writing to teach people TEI and other digital humanities tools? Is this type of scholarship becoming more universal?”

Describe and evaluate the project’s design and interface. Evaluate the interactivity and modes of navigation of the project.

The Women Writers Project is simply designed but still maintains a sense of aesthetic appeal to the user. The easy navigation of the site allows users to not get overwhelmed by the substantial amount of accessible information. In other words, this site is filled with information between the hundreds of pre-Victorian texts and the information pertaining to encoding and other technological ideas. The layout properly separates all materials into respective categories that can be found in a banner across the top of the home page. Similar to the navigability, the interactivity of the Women Writers Project exemplifies the successful functionality of the site. Users are able to work with a timeline that allows them to isolate specific texts based on the date they selected. Furthermore, the website provides definitions, links, templates, and other resources for those who want to learn more about text encoding. The one complaint we had is the lack of visuals on the website. While it is understandable that this site is to teach its users about women’s texts and text encoding, it would be helpful and more enjoyable if there was a better balance between text and visuals.

What technologies does the project employ (both front-end and back-end) and how does the scholarship make use of these technologies?

The Women Writers Online collection used XML with documented Text Encoding Initiative extensions to build the database for encoding the transcriptions of women writers. The XML documents are easily extendible and have a clear coding structure. This allows easy implementations of a search panel, filters of different tags and  modifying the electronic texts. Since the nature of XML as a coding language does not require strict coding manners, the encoding can be easily maintained by several different programmers. This interface with a search pane, a results pane and a text pane provides users with the fluent experience of searching, filtering and reading at the same time.

What do you consider to be the successes and failures of the project?

Two main purposes of a project are to answer its research questions and to delivery the results efficiently. The Women Writers Project archived the texts by women writers between the 16th and 19th centuries electronically and made it easily accessible to users online. Compared with the information we can get from the whole site of the Women Writers Project, the Women Writers Online textbase is just a single page from the drop down menu of the homepage. The site has a easy and clear navigation and has also shown an emphasis on education purpose. Although using pure text to deliver the information may limit the degree of creativity, it seems to be the most efficient way for users to search for the resource they need. One subtle improvement could be that to let users personalize the color, background and size of borders of the text they read.

Consider the role of the project director (listed in parentheses). What influence does the project director have on the project’s success (or failure)?

Julia Flanders is currently a professor of the practice in English and the director of Digital Scholarship Group at Northeastern University.  The Women Writers Project matches her personal research interests on “data modeling, text scholarship, and humanities data curations” according to her page of Northeastern University library. This digital humanity project not just does the electronic encoding of a textbase, but also spreads the knowledge of new technology and expands to push forward the development of scholarly text encoding. Since the project is funded by university, it will certainly have an emphasis on educational purposes. Professor Julia Flanders also holds the workshops of learning TEI and other modern text encoding techniques. The education background of Digital Scholarship Group at Northeastern could also increase the credibility of the archives.

Consider using your rubric and applying whatever form of evaluation from that assignment that might work best with the project you are examining.

Contents: The Women Writers Project has clear research questions. Contents are closely related to the research questions and are reasonably catalogued with a navigation bar and drop-down lists. Citations and contact information are provided as links and at the footer location of the site.

Visualizations and Organizations: The main contents of the site are large amount of pure texts. The whole site is lack of using of images maybe because of the nature of the textbase project. However, it may provide users with better experiences if the project could make use of multimedia. Although the site covers a wide range of topics, the sections are clearly defined with individual navigation page. it does a good job on showing the connections between different topics on the site using relative article links and navigation pages. In general, the project is easily navigated, interactive and well-organized.

Accessibility and Extensibility: Technology used for text encoding is easy to maintain and extend. Provide users with a specific and clear guide about how to report an error in a text. The website is up-to-date and is still positively maintained and extended by the project directors.

Contribution and Academic importance: The Women Writers Project does an excellent job on showing the contributions by women writers to the general readers and pushing forward the education of modern text encoding techniques.
Ramsay, Stephen. “Databases.” In A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

https://www.northeastern.edu/cssh/faculty/julia-flanders

Chenchen Zhao & Matt Golding

Lab 3- Caribbean Cholera

  1. What are the spatial arguments being made?
    1. Swarthmore

The blacklib1969.swarthmore.edu website utilizes Google Maps and layers a historical time for Swarthmore College, on its campus. The site requires its users to continually click inside of a magnifying glass that hovers over a part of the map until they are zoomed in enough on the Swarthmore campus. Once the users have zoomed in sufficiently, clickable red indicators appear on the screen, which allow the users to read about what occurred at Swarthmore in January of 1969. Users can then read chronologically about the Black students’ sit-in in the admissions office in their fight towards racial equality throughout their university. The point of this website is to layer primary and secondary sources, from this event in time, over a current map. This speaks to the racial issues that happened nearly 50 years ago that are still clearly happening now.

Project Gemini over Baja California

The neatline.dclure.org website similarly utilizes Google Maps but focuses in on the Baja strip of Mexico. There is a highlighted square that hovers over the southern part of the strip and it appears to be a zoomed in photo from the vantage point of the Gemini Ship. Upon clicking on the highlighted squares, the page directs its users to a text box on the left side of the screen that describes what the users are looking at. As the website mentions, it uses contrasting mapboxes to not only highlight what the two Gemini missions captured, but specifically highlight the similarities and differences between the two missions.

Features, display techniques, or visualizations

Swarthmore

 

When web page first loads, you see three main things: a satellite map with no labels, a big magnifying glass symbol right in the center of the screen, and an interrogation mark above the magnifying class. There are a number of tools at the top left corner that allow you to move in different directions and to zoom in and out.

Because nothing is labeled, you have to explore the site to figure out how to navigate it. As you zoom in, you see more things appearing on the screen. These new objects are all encircled within the big magnifying glass that appeared from the start, and include a smaller magnifying class, an arrow, and a set of lines and dots. In order to obtain textual information, you have to click on the symbols. This setup seems strange at first, but after a little bit of exploration you can see why it was designed that way: the big magnifying class gives you the general idea and the context of what happened. Then as you zoom in, every new object that appears gives you the progression, in chronological order, of the events. Some of the text boxes include hyperlinks that show you relevant information such as photographs, maps, news articles, official documents, and letters.

Project Gemini over Baja California

 

The site consists of a text box (located on the left side and occupying about ¼ of the screen) and a map. The map is not very conventional, since it is trying to depict three things at the same time: modern satellite imagery of Baja California, and two pictures of the same place taken, respectively, in 1965 (by the Gemini 5 mission) and in 1966 (by the Gemini 11 mission).

The map offers a zoom option, but it does not allow you to zoom out completely. The most complete image it shows is that of the Americas, but you cannot see any other continents.

The two images taken by the Gemini missions are not superimposed on the map, but instead, they are shown right next to it. This can be confusing at first, especially because there are arrows connecting the maps that are not entirely intuitive and the two images differ in size.

The text uses hyperlinks. The hyperlinks are clearly highlighted and are used mainly for webpages, places, objects, and relevant information. In the case of the webpages (Netline and Mapbox), it redirects you to the respective site; in the case of the places, objects, and relevant information, it shows you arrows so you know where in the maps they are located, and it also zooms in to show you the place or object in more detail. The hyperlinks work in the opposite way too, as in you can also click on certain things on the map, and it will highlight the name of the place or object in the text.

  1. What might you have done differently to strengthen the argument?
    1. Swarthmore

To enhance the argument, the creators of the Swarthmore map could have done a few things differently. When first accessing the map, the user sees only a question mark and a circle, which makes it hard to understand at first. Additionally, once zoomed in enough to see the actual contents, there is no context or indication as to the significance of any of the locations or the mapped lines. Further, the map they are using shows how Swarthmore currently looks, not how it looks in the 1960s. They do include an older map, but it is hard to navigate and difficult to see. When attempting to zoom in to increase the quality of the image, it zooms in too far.

Project Gemini over Baja California

 

This map is far more effective than the Swarthmore map. Although there is a lot to take in at first, the site guides the user through the map through the narrative on the left side of the screen. They link the map to key words and events mentioned in the short write-up. To help the argument, the creators of the map could have changed the orientation of at least the photo for Gemini 5. If they flipped the image over it would be much more clear how it corresponds to the base layer of the map.

 Compare and contrast the two projects/sites

What are the two spatial arguments being made?

Caribbean Cholera

 

The caribbeancholera.org website layers a historical timeline over a Google Map that is zoomed in on the Caribbean. The timeline is of the 19th century and when you move throughout the timeline, different markers appear over different locations in the Caribbean. A red marker indicates there was a Cholera outbreak, a blue marker indicates there was a hurricane, a green marker indicates a tropical storm occurrence, and a yellow marker indicates a news article being published at this time about the respective location. The About page on this website does not explain the reasoning behind the creation of this site. Based on what one can deduce on their own from exploring the functionality of this website, it appears that this site was made to keep people informed about disease outbreaks and natural disasters that happened in the Caribbean during the 19th century.

Beijing of Dreams

 

The beijingofdreams.com/ website utilizes an interactive drawn map of Beijing. There are different architectural landmarks that are highlighted in red, which users are able to click on and the site redirects users to a page filled with photos of and around the respective landmark. The Homepage describes this website’s purpose as, “a website which shows the lost ‘Beijing of Dreams’, using old photos surviving from the time when Beijing was the greatest walled capital city anywhere in the world. We have concentrated at first upon showing the vast walls and gates of Beijing, all but a few traces of which are gone now”. The interactive map is evidently less technologically advanced than Google Maps, therefore at first glance the site does not seem appealing. In other words, a drawn map does not look as professional as a map that Google provides. However, the old photos that are on the site provide legitimacy because they are all primary sources.

What features, display techniques, or visualizations advance these spatial arguments?

Caribbean Cholera

 

The 19th Century Caribbean Cholera webpage is interactive and, for the most part, intuitive. The page displays an interactive chronological timeline, and an interactive map where you can zoom in and out and click on small items that provide additional information. The items, which are color coded, can show four different things: cholera outbreaks, hurricanes, tropical storms, and news articles. There is also a sidebar to the right that explains how to use the site. The chronological timeline and the map are linked, so as you move along the former, new items (the ones relevant to the time period your timeline covers) start appearing on the map. The interaction between the timeline and the map is very helpful to see the time and spatial progression of the events. In fact, the timeline allows you to click on every occurrence, and as you do so, the map will change to the location where that happened, and will show you the relevant information on it. The site is supposed to show not only the 19th century Caribbean Cholera Detail Map, but also a Zoom on 1833 Havana. However, the latter never loaded.

Beijing of Dreams

 

The site does a good job matching its design with its theme. The homepage depicts alternating pictures of Old Beijing, and explains the intention of the site. The page is very intuitive and employs a number of tools to advance its spatial arguments: an interactive map, pictures of Old Beijing, and the scanned picture of an original, old, hand-painted map on which the interactive map was based (which gives credibility to the latter). The interactive map displays a good balance between readability and labeling, and allows the user to click on certain icons to view pictures of that area. The page uses a simple yet effective color-coding: the background is black, the text and drawings are in white, and the hyperlinked icons are in red. The pictures are categorized into three albums: gates, miscellaneous, and walls and corners. The user is also able to see the entire collection of pictures in a single album. The scanned old map has a really good quality, and provides English transcriptions of the original Chinese text.

What might have you done differently to strengthen the arguments?

Caribbean Cholera

 

The one thing the map does well is depict changes over time. Users can see how the outbreaks spread throughout the caribbean by scrolling through the timeline and looking at the pins that pop up. Other than that, the spatial argument is lacking due to a number of flaws. One of the weakness includes the functionality of the web page and map itself. Scrolling through the timeline is harder than it should be, and the different tabs and links do not work. Additionally, other than the few news stories, the site offers little information about what the map shows.If the about tab functioned probably it would help solve this issue, but the links for all the information the user would need don’t work.

Beijing Map

 

The Beijing map makes a fairly strong spatial argument. The site functions well and is easily understood. Just about everything works as it should with a clean display. The different icons on the map give the users a good idea about the layout of the city. The only issue is that a few of the icons either lead to an error screen, or have no images associated with them. Other than that, the only thing that would help the argument would be a clearer description of the significance of each of the objects.

Hypercities vs. Neatline

Major differences: Upon first glance of both websites, it is evident how drastically different these websites are. Hypercities is full of images, while cnx.org is full of text. Hypercities is much more of an appealing and seemingly interactive site because of the clickable pictures, whereas cnx.org appears to be more daunting. In the Hypercities website, users can hover over each photo and a short blurb appears explaining the different sites it leads users to. The cnx.org website fully explains what the site entails and has screen shots of the different sites that it has to offer. Between the two websites, I would choose the former site because it is much more interactive and user friendly. Furthermore, it gives users enough information without overloading them with too much information to the point where users give up and leave the website.

RomeLab

This website teaches its users about the Roman Forum and allows them to navigate in first person. There are different updates and modifications that allow users to try different versions of the digital Roman Forum. I find the citation page to be the most interactive because it allows users to click on the different buildings and learn their history. It makes learning about the Roman Forum easy to swallow.

Romelab allows first-person exploration of a virtual reproduction of the historical city of Rome. The interface differs greatly from much of the geospatial work seen to this point. Many digital maps are restricted because of the difficulty with showing movement and using 2D images or icons to demonstrate important buildings and objects. With Romelab, the 3D landscape allows the user to move freely and appreciate the buildings and architecture of the Roman Forum as if they were there in ancient times.

– Brett Mele, Isabella Bossa, Matt Golding

Writing Assignment 2- Airbnb: The Ultimate Crowdsourcing Website

https://www.airbnb.com/

Airbnb is an App/website that allows strangers to rent their homes out to other strangers as vacation rentals. Regardless of which end of the transaction one is on,  users of Airbnb share an implicit sense of trust and I believe this is a result of the crowdsourcing dynamic this website relies on. Merriam-Webster defines crowdsourcing as “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content, by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers”. As someone who has used Airbnb a multitude of times, I can confidently confirm that this App exemplifies crowdsourcing because it relies and requires contributions from all of its users.

When someone wants to rent out their property through Airbnb, the site requires the host to post pictures from the inside and the outside. The host is also required to provide the number of rooms, amenities offered, and all of the other details a typical hotel would provide. After someone rents the property, that guest is also required to fill out a detailed survey. Throughout the survey, the guest answers questions regarding the accuracy of the host’s descriptions, their overall experience, and ultimately give the host and their property a rating out of five stars. Similarly, the host is required to write a review on how the guest left the property and whether or not they were clean, caused any damages, other general reviews, and the host also gives a rating out of five stars. The more someone uses Airbnb, the more reviews they will receive. With more reviews, other users can get a sense of which hosts and which guests are trustworthy and ideal to do business with. Furthermore, it naturally weeds out those who are dishonest hosts and bad guests.

Airbnb is a successful crowdsourcing site because its users are not only constantly contributing and updating the site but also the average user is not employed by Airbnb (it is fair to assume that some employees use this website, however for the sake of this argument, the overwhelming majority of users are not employed by the site). Last year, Airbnb boasted 100 million users, which evidently speaks to the effectiveness of its crowdsourcing (Expanded Ramblings). Furthermore, this website is exclusively digital, seeing as it can only be accessed via computer, smartphone, or tablet. This site is successful and reaps the benefits of crowdsourcing because everyday people are the ones using it; this concept makes the website more trustworthy because users can relate to one another. Airbnb has created a community that relies on its users to be the spokespeople for their own experiences, which can be easily translated into any other experience.  As it has been said before, this is a successful crowdsourcing site because while everyone inherently has their best interests in mind, they subsequently are looking out for all of the other users. Therefore, every update by each user is new data that contributes to the efficacy of this site.

Sources:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crowdsourcing

67 Amazing Airbnb Statistics and Facts (December 2016)

Digital Humanities Project Evaluation- 9/11 Archive

We evaluated the 9/11 Archive website by answering the 2 main questions from the PDF posted on Blackboard and addressing the 9 main points in the Presner article.

What is the difference between a website and a Digital Humanities Project?

Websites, on a broad spectrum, are general information pages for a certain topic. They are often created by one or a few people, are not always credible and often forgotten after a few years due to lack of updating. A digital humanities project is extremely credible with collaborative work from multiple individuals in different fields. Many of the contributors are graduate students or professors, specialists in their fields, or technicians to work on the actual digital archive. Due to the recent and continuing growth in popularity, a DH project has relatively more funding and access to thousands of documents and other materials. DH projects are, in general, more in depth and have a more credible data pool.

What is the Research Question this site offers?

How can we remember the events that occurred on 9/11/2001 in an effort to remain respectful to the deceased and their loved ones? How can we preserve this material and create a permanent record of the event?

“The Archive is also using these events as a way of assessing how history is being recorded and preserved in the twenty-first century and as an opportunity to develop free software tools to help historians to do a better job of collecting, preserving, and writing history in the new century.” – This quote is taken from the about page. This is a ubiquitous goal for all Digital Humanities projects and it is fascinating that they specifically outline this idea.

Below is another quote from the homepage:

“Our goal is to create a permanent record of the events of September 11, 2001. To these ends the Archive has partnered with the Library of Congress, which in September 2003 accepted a copy of the Archive into its permanent collections – an event that both ensured the Archive’s long-term preservation and marked the Library’s first major digital acquisition.” 

Fundamentals for Review:

  1. First result on a google search out of more than 25 million search results.
  2. Easy to find way through website including tabs to guide viewer to desired page. Tabs include “items, collections, about, news, FAQs, partners, staff and contribution”.
  3. All links are working correctly as well as visuals. Individual links connected to pages to provide additional information to the viewer.
  4. The archive is sponsored by Omeka, an open content management system for digital archival collections. Requires some plug-ins but mainly very accessible.

Crediting:

There is a tab labelled “partners” where all sponsors and companies that have collaborated are mentioned. There is a paragraph explaining the role played by each company and the logo to the left side. Each logo is easily recognizable and and large enough to see. Some of the larger sponsors and collaboration partners are American Red Cross, Seagate, and the Library of Congress.

Intellectual Rigor:

This archive is intellectually rigorous with over 3,500 pages, consisting of 20 letters on each page- all first or second hand accounts from that day. Other tabs include audio, art pieces, maps, emails, links to other websites with further information, news articles, letters and personal stories. As primary and secondary sources, these pieces are obviously credible and informative.

Crossing Research, Teaching, and Service:

  1. This project is designed to inform the public about the events that occurred on the day of the attack on not only the twin towers, but also the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. It is also designed to remember and bring positivity to the lives of those who are no longer with us. The archive works to include more text than video to ensure that there are real-life stories are told as opposed to videos about the events.
  2. In this way, the efforts of the producers of the archive are respecting the deceased and their families by allowing the deceased to tell their story.
  3. This archive contributes to the education of others by bringing to light material such as letters and other paper materials that are difficult to go through and organize without the help of the archive and its collaborators. Today, many resort to videos and documentaries because letters and files are hard to maneuver. The archive does the dirty work for the audience by sorting for them.

Peer Review:

The project has been given grants by multiple credible sources such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, National Park Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Impact:

This project was acquired by Library of Congress, sponsored by National Park Service, National Endowment of the Humanities, and Red Cross. It collaborates with the Smithsonian Institute, people’s real life accounts, etc. The point of this is for people to, in a way, “experience” what happened and to never forget it.

Approximating Equivalencies:

In addition to collaborating with the Library of Congress, this website is sponsored by the National Park Service, National Endowment of the Humanities, and Red Cross, so it has the funds to be a high-quality site. The wide-range of data between letters, videos, audio, artwork, photography, personal accounts, collections from the Smithsonian Institute, etc. all contribute to this website being a primary and secondary source.

Development Cycles, Sustainability, and Ethics:

This is clearly reviewed by some overarching power because it is the Library of Congress’s first major digital acquisition. In other words, it must have gone through an extensive review process before the Library of Congress acquired it. The site also clearly states that the original contributors of the data and materials own the respective copyrights and so the site cannot release any rights to any user or visitor.

Experimentation and Risk Taking:

This website/project fulfills this aspect because it was reviewed and adopted by the Library of Congress in 2003. In 2011, the website received a “Saving America’s Treasures Grant” from the National Park Service and National Endowment of the Humanities. The Archive was then switched over Omeka software and the website was relaunched on a more stable platform. The engineers behind this website are evidently open to updating and improving this site.

 

-Ursula Castiblanco & Matt Golding

Writing Assignment 1: What is Digital Humanities

Due to the incessant growth and development of technology, Digital Humanities is/are gradually encompassing various disciplines.  As Lincoln Mullen wrote in, “Digital humanities is a spectrum now; or, we’re all digital humanists now” all humanities scholars use digital practices and concepts to one degree or another. Even though there were discussions in class that Digital Humanities cannot be explained that simply, I am leaning more towards that it can be. As I previously mentioned, the rapid growth in technology is primarily responsible for the boom in Digital Humanities and this can be seen in many of the projects and websites we have observed in class.

Between the New York World’s Fair project, the Chicago city layout website, and the various other sites that we explored, I believe that Digital Humanities can eventually be related to almost anything. If I had to associate a specific definition to Digital Humanities, I would say it is a growing academic field that incorporates and utilizes digital technologies and computational methods and applies them to the more traditional humanities like language, history, and other social sciences. I believe the incorporation of technology into the humanities has made the process of studying and learning about the humanities more thoughtful and thought-provoking. In other words, the addition of technology has inherently (and obviously) added a new complexity to the study of humanities.

As we have talked about in class and during the Cultural Analytics presentation, Digital Humanities is seemingly more simplified. However, the process behind creating such aforementioned digital humanities is very intricate. The behind-the-scenes work that is required to transfer information onto digital mediums is something that forces those doing the work to understand the information they are working with. In other words, it is not as if though the people creating these different digital humanities are mindlessly putting up this information; they are actively (re)creating this information to keep up with the way of the world. On the other end of the spectrum, where people are studying and researching digital humanities, people are similarly a part of a more thought-provoking experience. For example, throughout the beginning of this semester, we have repeatedly answered the question of, what is the importance of this and how does this help us understand it better? Digital Humanities forces everyone who is a part of it to think beyond what is just in front of them.

Lab 1- Cultural Analytics

The Stanford Literary Lab website was made to examine and track different patterns for different literary genres. The website also describes the projects as methods to track genre trends, societal trends, and even gender based trends, over the course of history. The Literary Lab Pamphlet discusses how five people are trying to create a computer program that identifies a genre without any human intervention. They believe that it can be accomplished but it is a very complicated process, just like most digital processes, as we have discussed in class.

The Visualizing Data website that displays the Chicago Planning Agency plan is successful because it uses high-quality images and videos and the website has an accessible and manageable interface. Furthermore, they use charts, graphs, and interactive programs that allow users to engage with the data and understand it in many different ways.

The Visualizing Data website that displays the grey colored charts is successful because when predominantly using the color grey, you are then able to highlight the most important information with any non-grey color. Furthermore, it is easy to distinguish different shades of grey, which create an easily understood reference for interpretation. Grey is also a good color to use because it can represent the data that is momentarily unselected; with this in mind, you can still show the data, without putting it at the forefront.

The Hyper History website is seemingly successful because while the organization of the data is clear, the way it is displayed is not. In other words, there are very clear categories of “People, History, Events, Maps” and “Science, Culture, Religion, Politics”. However, upon clicking on these categories it is very confusing to read the data because each tab has a different layout; there is not a uniform layout. Furthermore, the navigation of the website is not the most simple. In regards to the previous website, this website could definitely use more grey.

The Neoformix website is successful at depicting the characters in Les Miserables. Even though you do not get a sense of the plot from this website, you get a rough understanding of the personalities of certain characters, a better understanding of which characters are more important, and an understanding for themes and concepts throughout the novel. Furthermore, the use of grey throughout the entire background of the website allows the design of the page to highlight all of the necessary information they are trying to portray.

Under the Analyze Data tab, we found “Visual Understanding Environment”. This tool is useful in analyzing large amounts of data because it can integrate with multiple repositories to pull in, organize, and analyze data. In other words it has the capability of compiling and sorting incredible amounts of data. Under the Visualize Data tab, we found “myHistro”. This tool is useful in analyzing large amounts of data because researchers can simultaneously create timelines and maps. Furthermore, it allows users to “travel” through history by learning about various places and events while following a timeline. This tool also allows users to “travel” at their own pace, so it is very user friendly.

 

-Jean Beecher, Matt Golding