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Midterm: Virtual Paul’s Cross Project

Ursula Castiblanco and Alexander Cadet

DH Evaluation of Virtual Paul’s Cross Project

Significance of the scholarship for the humanities:

The virtual project traces the social interaction and experience at the St. Paul’s Cathedral. The project’s extensive detail covers the events, worship, and the people that interacted with the Cathedral over time. Although this project is informative, it does not improve the viewers knowledge in the humanities. The project is a historical page that uses technology to further improve the visualization of the viewer but lacks the connection to how it benefits humanities scholars.

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

The producers of this project made an attempt to merge technology and religion but were unsuccessful in improving and pushing knowledge of religion forward. One main issue with this project is that it targets such a small audience; 1. religion is less popular than ever 2. One must have a reason for researching St. Paul’s Cathedral in early modern London. The project fails to educate and promote knowledge because it is also tailored toward experts in the field of religion who are already educated on St. Paul’s Cathedral and experts in religion.

Can you identify the project’s primary research question?

How did people use the cathedral over time? How did people use certain spaces in and around the cathedral? Who were the people that came to the service and provide the service? What happened at these events? What was the environment around St. Paul’s Cathedral? How can the sermon at the cathedral be recreated using digital and technological techniques?

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

The project/ website is mainly hypertext. The website is text, images, and links. Thus, there is minimal interactivity. The project could have been stronger if there was a 3D model interface that the user could interact with.

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

The project was built by various computer-based visualization models. The project does not disclose specifics software but it is evident they used 3D modeling, video-editing, scanning, and mapping software.

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

The visualizations, in general, are detailed and clear. The technology used to create the models helped develop a clear and concise image in the head of the viewer. However, the production team failed when they uploaded too many visuals that all looked the same. The videos are often too long and many don’t have any sound/text and are difficult to get through because of the slow pace.

With that said, the videos that do have sound are well done. There are eight different locations that one can choose to hear the sermon from with four choices of numbers of people in attendance. The sermon is well simulated with dogs barking in the background, horses trotting past, and other real-life distractions. The test of audibility page is a success.

One general failure of the project is the lack of significance to the general public. This page will never have significant popularity because it does not appeal to enough of the population. It is interesting to experts performing fieldwork of this kind, but those numbers are slim.

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

“The Virtual Paul’s Cross Project is the result of a great deal of work by an exceptionally talented, dedicated, creative, and hard-working group of people.” In other terms, though John Wall is the director, the majority of the project was developed by a team. Therefore, it was the team’s collective influence that made this project uninteresting. The project and the team could have made the a virtual world that was accessible to the public instead of screenshots. Overall, the project is narrowly focused and can be considered unappealing to the non-expert. John Wall and the team could have made this project more inclusive. More specifically, the project poses very few new questions, implications, or interest to relate current questions in religion to this project.

Rubric Points:

  1. Maintenance / sustainability: The website is not transparent on whether the website is being updated. Though the project seems complete, there are no date tags that show maintenance.
  2. Navigation: This page is generally easy to navigate. There are main tabs that include detailed information within. The page comes up on Google as one of the top 3 searches.
  3. Value/contribution/academic importance: There is little academic importance to the general population today, as well as scholars of today. The information presented seems legitimate and is very in depth, but does not contribute to any education issues that are being addressed today. It does, however, provide an understanding for digitalization of the past, which can be important in other scenarios such as crime scene investigation such as the digitization of the Trayvon Martin shooting or Auschwitz.
  4. Credibility/ Funding: Though the project is funded by various institutions, a DH Award winner, and backed by the NC State Library, there is evident room for assumption by the developers. For example there is no record of crowd size, their response, the weather, the sounds, and etc. Therefore, the assumptions made by the production team could lead to inaccuracies
  5. Does it raise other questions/ potential growth: This project could be more useful if it were to study more cathedrals to compare and contrast the differences in sermen techniques and how societies and religion are different in early modern culture and different countries.
  6. Organization: This project is well organized. It is focused around one sermon in London. The project has an overview with some background information, a description of the churchyard, the preacher, sermon, occasion, and the acoustics.
  7. Interactivity: There are some interactive aspect of the project such as the test of audibility.

Lab #3

Cooper Halpern, Alex Straus, Ursula Castiblanco

Exercise 1:

This GIS manages, analyzes, and visually portrays spatial and temporal data pertaining to the events of the “Battle of Chancellorsville” in 1863. The virtual interface presents the user with annotated information in timeline and cartographical form. This GIS seeks to facilitate new perspectives and functionality for studying the distinct, sequential events of the “Battle of Chancellorsville” with pertinent, historical description and analysis. Through this interface, fuzzy data can find representation in this moldable, graphical interface. Primary information is eas

The GIS consists of a virtual 2D cartographical map, displaying spatial locations in three interactive layers: first, a base layer map of the world that has continuous, horizontal boundaries and multiple topographic styles; second, image overlays of a physical map in raster form  (3 options organized by date all of which can be turned on or off) on top of the base layer in its analogous location; and lastly, a layer of vector annotations that appear on top both the base and middle layers. These markings have left-click options that when activated display image and written information about the feature. These functions are immediately accessible and comfortably navigable. They allow the user to easily find information of various depth and easily change perspective to their content. They also allow for fuzzy data to be visualized.

There are also temporal features consisting of a time line placed horizontally across the top of the page. A sequence of events in list form is also set vertically along the right side of the page, which, when selected, bring the map view to the zoomed in location on the map. These features facilitates unobtrusive portrayal and easy navigation through discrete events that can be followed sequentially or at one’s desire.

This argument could have been strengthened by allowing user input, whether it be in comments, the creation of digital artifacts, or the uploading and downloading of sources and information. There could have been more in-depth visualization with different viewpoints than a 2D, cartographical map, even if it consists of different layers. I think the creator of this website could have added more features and gotten a little more creative with the possibilities of virtualization, however it upholds an intuitive structure that represents itself cleanly. The basics are there, however the boundaries remain unexplored.

Exercise 2:

The first project that we examined was about the 1969 Swarthmore College sit-in. Black students experiencing segregation demanded equal rights from the predominantly white staff, faculty, and students on campus. This project maps out their eight day sit-in in 1969 and how SASS students made efforts to diversify Swarthmore College using Neatline to benefit visualization. The map in the project is provided by Google Earth and has extremely high resolution imaging. It is also interactive so the viewer can fly around and click on different bullets that give descriptions. The map gives the viewer a feel for the campus. Links to further information include newspaper articles, letters, and images, however, many of them are difficult to read and need explanation and or a translation in legible text. It would be more effective for all documents and photographs to be presented in the one project tab to improve easy accessibility and retain the attention of the viewer.  Additionally, at first glance, the viewer wants to drag the magnifying glass around the large map but the glass is stationary. The project should begin with a zoomed in map of just the campus.

In the second exercise, we compared Hypercities to the Atlas of Early Printing. I could not tell what the spatial argument of hypercities is because when I try to launch hypercities I get an error. According to the UCLA website, the site was intended to provide a dense, multimedia representation of cities through the combination and collaboration of many projects and sources, particularly social media. The argument of the Atlas of Early Printing is that printing was born and evolved over time throughout Europe. The features of hypercities are limited since it does not run. You can view individual collections but they are not connected to each other any way and the way in which they are displayed is disjointed and obtuse. Alternatively, the Early Printing site is constructed as an interactive timeline, so you can look at the growth/amount of printing during a particular period of time. Also, you can click on each printing site (represented as a red dot) to learn about each specific location. The timeline can be animated which makes the growth over time even clearer. Hypercities would have had a stronger argument had the maintenance of the site continued, so that the site would work. The Atlas of Early Printing could have benefitted from a more elegant graphical approach to make the site more approachable but overall the site is well constructed and explained.

Overall, the most significant difference between Neatline and Hypercities is that one works and the other does not. Hypercities is broken and Neatline has a clear and interactive map with detailed explanations of the images. Neatline is not perfect, but it is certainly “better” because it is functional on a basic level.

Writing Assignment 2

I decided to research cultural analytics and how projects based on cultural analytics are helpful in understanding trends and patterns within certain populations. I began looking at the Los Angeles Times’ Mapping L.A.: Neighborhoods.

Change over time: There is a timeline that allows you to slide through with your mouse. It gives you an idea of how often crime rates occur. There are also monthly charts to analyze events over a large amount of time and weekly charts to analyze micro scale events.

Connections: This project can be used to connect other cities and their crime to school ratios and rankings. It can be used to determine reasonable ratios and develop target crime rates in order to make the neighborhoods safer for all. If projects like this are developed for all urban areas, good data will be developed and a plan can be put into place.

Patterns: Throughout LA, there are multiple areas, and smaller segments of each area. There are patterns and trends in crime rates to be specific. Because there is a scrollable timeline, I was able to analyze how the crime has increased or decreased over time. Although there were minor patterns, I did not see any major patterns in crime throughout time but I did see patterns in crimes in certain neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that had higher populations tended to have extremely higher rates of crime than those that had lower populations. Neighborhoods with more crime had school systems with lower rankings. At a larger scale, it is possible to see if crime trends have increased over a long amount of time.

Event in history: There have been many major events of violence in Los Angeles areas. There are no specific events pinpointed in this project. It is mainly to evaluate trends in neighborhoods and the ratio between crime rates and school populations.

Cause and effect: More crime will most likely lead to the injuries of more people. More crime in school populated areas could lead to injuries and deaths of children. Areas with more crime also are indicative of lower ranked school systems.

Keywords: Neighborhood, Crime, Schools, Population, Timeline

Audience: I believe this project is extremely important for families looking to move into LA or people who are thinking about visiting California. It is also important for families currently living in these neighborhoods and whether they are safe and educational beneficial. This is also important for the local and federal governments. Gangs are a large issue, especially in LA. The ratio of schools to crimes is something that the government should be concerned about and should be making a conceded effort to prioritize safety where children will be out and about.

Readability and access: Very easy to understand and read. There are extremely specific color codes and dates to link events with time. There are also pie charts, rankings, and detailed descriptions with visuals. The LA Times are a reliable source and the link shows up as a top result in Google.


What is Digital Humanities?

Ursula Castiblanco

Digital humanities is a new area of study that was introduced as the age of technology began to excel with exponential growth. I came into class on the first day with no idea of what the study is. I now understand it to be a new way of learning the humanities while using technology to benefit the learning process as well as preserve it. There are a few problems with acceptance of the new study of digital humanities. Although technology is something we use to understand humanity, we abuse it and strictly quantify technological data instead analyzing the data to benefit humanity (Kramer 2012). Because technology is growing and developing at such a fast rate, humans use technology easily and often forget that knowledge is a process that leads to a product (Berry 2011). Often, I have this problem; I can Google a question and have it answered in less than one second. I take that answer for granted. To my understanding, the two words “digital” and “humanities” put together mean to learn how to use the digital to ones advantage in the educational world. Because of this, we are all digital humanists (Mullen 2010). By simply using a printer to print an article, one is a digital humanist (Mullen 2010). Although the study of digital humanities is new to some and scares others, it is an important part of the future. The digital humanities enrich historical material and resources using technologies far past our capabilities as humans (Popova). I love the thought of being a digital humanist. My generation of young adults, the millennials, have begun to master the digital age. We somehow stay on top of technological advancements, learn how to use every latest gadget and product, and we are extremely proficient in useful services such as Excel, Prezi, Word, Arc GIS and so many more. We contact people from the other side of the globe and have friends who live thousands of miles away. I am a digital humanist, as is everyone who uses technology (Mullen 2010). We should not stay away from Digital Humanities due to the fear of losing tradition (Svensson 2009). If we use this area of study to benefit humanity as a whole, we will be able to create, preserve and embrace history forever.


Berry, David M. Computational Turn: Thinking about the Digital Humanities . Vol. 12.  Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Accessed January 23, 2017.

Kramer, Michael J. “What Does Digital Humanities Bring to the Table?” Michael J. Kramer. September 25, 2012. Accessed January 23, 2017.

Mullen, Lincoln. “Digital humanities is a spectrum; or, we’re all digital humanists now.” The Backward Glance. April 29, 2010. Accessed January 23, 2017.

Popova, Maria. “Digital Humanities Spotlight: 7 Important Digitization Projects.” Brain Pickings. Accessed January 23, 2017.

Svensson, Patrik. “Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. 2009. Accessed January 23, 2017.

Volume 3 Number 3



DH Project Analysis

Project Researched: Salem Witch Trials Project

1. What kind of files, data, objects are being used in the project in question?
The Salem Witch Trial project used documents and transcriptions including court records, record books, personal letters, sermons and diaries. It also used historical maps, archival collections from public libraries and historical society, some contemporary books, and educational information.

2. What’s the project research question? Or, questions?
What are the main events of the witchcraft trials?
The goals of the project are the gain information about the trials and executions, as well as draw out a timeline map.

3. What tools are being used?  Created?
Arc GIS, a mapping program, was used in digitization of maps. Scanners were used to create electronic copies of documents and transcriptions. Online court records were also used as well as written texts such as books, letters, and diaries.

4. What methods are being undertaken?
Digitized the maps using timelines for visualization. Information inventory was taken and manuscripts were analyzed in order to piece together the timeline.

Chenchen Zhao and Ursula Castiblanco