Blog post #6

Cecilia discussed with us the different aspects of various digital humanities projects, and their strengths and weaknesses. We also discussed gender roles in the digital humanities field, and talked about how many people exhibit different behavior online than they would in a face-to-face conversation. I thought that going through the three different digital humanities projects and actually talking about specific aspects of each project that either strengthens or weakens it. The “Black Liberation 1969” project is very similar to how we envision our final project looking. It utilizes a timeline, as well as “collections”, both of which we intend to use. This project will likely serve as a model for our project. We also discussed some organizational issues in the “African Diaspora blog. In discussing these various projects, Cecilia she does not have an exact definition for a digital humanities, although she does believe that a digital humanities project must make an argument rather than simply present data.

Cecilia also discussed gender differences in the digital humanities field. Since education in technology has masculine implications in society, digital humanities is often geared toward men simply because more men have training in technology than do women. In my opinion, this is one reason of many that we need to push more girls toward education in STEM fields. Cecilia also asked us to consider where and how our devices such as computers and iphones are produced, and how that affects our perception of digital humanities. I had never really thought about how my devices were made, but it certainly does make me question the validity of technology as a whole. As a society, we typically envision that technology is indestructible, but seldom think about how many of our devices are made illegally. Finally, we discussed how people often act differently online than they would in real life. This also takes some validity away from DH for me, since I would not consider arguments that people would make online but not in person to be valid. I found this discussion to be the most interesting part of the conversation, since many discuss technology’s affect on communication in the context of social interaction, but not in the context of Academia. If we had more time with Cecilia, I would ask her if she has experienced people in Academia who act differently online than they would in person, and if she thinks that their online presence remains valid.

Blog Post #5

I thought the part about how the scholars decided to keep the design for “Kindred Britain” very simple is both interesting and relevant to our project. I am generally very interested in graphic design and spatial layout, so I like to see the thought behind the aesthetic design of things. I thought their reasoning was very sound, in that it is easiest for the eye to follow simple designs. They did not want a complicated aesthetic design to detract from the information, which is also very complicated. This is why they used a monotone color scheme and circles rather than bright colors or a more intricate shape. I think keeping the graphic design, color scheme, and design of our project simple would be beneficial, since we will likely have a lot of potentially confusing information. We do not want the design to detract from the information, or confuse the viewer.

 

 

Furthermore, I like how the author deciphered between explanatory and exploratory tools. This goes hand in hand with what Professor Eastwood said about descriptive vs. inferential statistics. “Kindred Britain” not only presents the data in an organized and systematic way, but also analyzes it and tells stories about it. Most social networking projects are only able to incorporate either exploratory or explanatory tools, but Kindred Britain exhibits both. I think our project will also be able to incorporate descriptive and inferential statistics, as well as explanatory and exploratory tools. We will present the data in an organized way and make sense of it, but also be able to analyze it and tell stories about it by explaining the context in which each letter was written, and showing the article that each author wrote. Based on what this author had to say, I think this will be a huge strength for our project.

 

Before Professor Eastwood spoke to our class, I was not aware that social network graphs could have different weights or signs. This is applicable to our project, because Tom Carter inevitably had more correspondence with some authors than others, which would affect the weight of the edge. Furthermore, many of Tom Carter’s letters were unanswered, which would affect the sign of the relationship. Adding sign and weight adds an extra element of precision to the social network graph. I think it would be most interesting to replicate figure #14, which looks like the social network graphs that Professor Eastwood showed us, and the research profiles at King’s College. It is the most basic social network graph, and lays out individual connections between people. This would allow us to see the people with the highest degree centrality, and also identify different communities. This graph is an example of an explanatory tool, since it does not analyze the data, it simply organizes it.

Final Project Charter

Goal: Create a timeline of the Shenandoah Literary Magazine for the years that Tom Carter was involved in the editing process that includes the people who contributed to the Magazine with whom he had written correspondence, and explore the influence that Ezra Pound may have had on these connections.

 

Objectives:

  • Make a DH project using the letters between Tom Carter and Ezra Pound, and old copies of Shenandoah.
  • Each group member fully learns how to use whatever technology we choose to help us accomplish this goal.
  • Actively learn from the process and have a positive attitude about what we are learning
  • Create a deliverable that will be useful to the W&L community in the future
  • Defining and completing a specific, feasible goal
  • Completing all assigned blog posts

 

Communication:

  • Maintain a Google doc to manage responsibilities
  • Clearly delegate equal tasks to each group member
  • Speak up and share ideas; or communicate about which tasks you are interested in
  • When in doubt, ask a group member first then the Professors
  • Speak up if you can’t complete something or are having a hard time

 

Accountability

  • Do the work you are assigned to do
  • Have a weekly to-do list with agreed-upon responsibilities and tasks

 

Differences of Opinion

  • Respect other peoples’ opinions
  • Realize that other people will have different opinions than you
  • Majority rules
  • Appeal to authority if everyone disagrees

 

Skills

  • Learn new technical skills
  • Learn project management skills and stick to the charter
  • Public writing skills

Blog Post #4

Jim discussed the role of digital resources and the DH community in his field of study, which is history. He also posed questions regarding the boundaries between traditional research projects, and digital humanities research projects. He made it clear that the digital humanities community itself has not yet defined where exactly the boundary lies, and many scholars are still working to define what exactly makes something a digital humanities project. Some would define it as anything that is produced with the help of a computer, including an excel sheet or word document. Some scholars suggest that a DH project is defined as something that is analyzed with the help of a computer. However, there is no definite answer as of now. The DH community continues to explore this question, especially given that nearly every piece of modern scholarship uses computers in some form. In an increasingly digital world, it may become more and more difficult to determine where the boundary is between digital humanities and traditional research. Jim also discussed the challenges of convincing more traditional scholars that digital resources can enhance their field of work rather than change it. It is highly understandable that people who have been studying history for many decades would be wary of drastic changes, although it becomes clear after further exploration that digital tools can greatly help the field of history rather than hurting it.

Jim exhibited multiple digital projects that he worked on with mapping using Omeka and Neatline. Neatline was developed by the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia, and seems like an incredibly useful tool. As Charlotte Roueche discussed, mapping is an integral part of digital humanities, and Neatline opens up many different mapping possibilities for DH scholars.I think it will be an incredibly useful tool for the Tom Carter/Ezra Pound project somewhere down the line. Neatline allows the project to incorporate old maps, which is especially interesting when studying the route of mail to many different parts of the country.

I thought Jim’s description of the connections between the digital aspects and the humanities aspects of his project was interesting. He described the collaborative process between himself and people who are experts in the field of technology. I am astounded by how much Jim was able to accomplish digitally given that he is a historian, and not a computer science scholar. I would love to know more about how Neatline was actually developed, and the process of creating such a powerful tool from coming up with the idea to actually implementing it.

Project Charter

DH 101 2015: Project Charter Draft

Emily Cook, Kimi Kennedy, Brandon Howes

 

Goal: Create a timeline of Tom Carter’s contacts during his time as editor of Shenandoah and interpret their influence on Shenandoah.

 

Objectives:

  • Make a DH project using the letters between Tom Carter and Ezra Pound, and old copies of Shenandoah.
  • Each group member fully learns how to use whatever technology we choose to help us accomplish this goal.
  • Actively learn from the process and have a positive attitude about what we are learning
  • Create a deliverable that will be useful to the W&L community in the future
  • Defining and completing a specific, feasible goal
  • Completing all assigned blog posts

 

Communication:

  • Maintain a Googledoc to manage responsibilities
  • Clearly delegate equal tasks to each group member
  • Speak up and share ideas; or communicate about which tasks you are interested in
  • When in doubt, ask a group member first then the Professors
  • Speak up if you can’t complete something or are having a hard time

 

Accountability

  • Do the work you are assigned to do
  • Have a weekly to-do list with agreed-upon responsibilities and tasks

 

Differences of Opinion

  • Respect other peoples’ opinions
  • Realize that other people will have different opinions than you
  • Majority rules
  • Appeal to authority if everyone disagrees

 

Skills

  • Learn new technical skills
  • Learn project management skills and stick to the charter
  • Public writing skills

 

Blog Post #3

I thought the most interesting part of our visit to UVA was meeting people who are professionals in the digital humanities field, and seeing the place they work in. I was also surprised by how multi-faceted and cross-curricular their approach to their work was, and how much each scholar knew about so may different subjects. Meeting the UVA scholars made it much clearer to me that digital humanities is just as much humanities as it is digital. The scholars were trained in various individual academic areas (History, English, Design, etc.) and were clearly extremely competent with technology, but also had excellent insights about the academic side of our project.

 

I also found it very useful to go through the potential possibilities for our project. The method that we used really helped me visualize and organize my thoughts about the project, and the scholars’ input was really interesting. The experience showed me that having input from people with a wide variety of academic training is invaluable, which also made me further realize how important it is to be educated in many different academic areas. Being able to speak as an expert in one particular area is important, as proven by the amount of expert-level insight each person in the Scholars’ Lab had to offer. However, being able to have an informed conversation about information outside of your academic field is also incredibly important.

 

Brainstorming in the Scholars’ Lab also made me realize how important it is to define the scope of a project before you start. In a short hour-long session, we came up with many different possible route that the project could take, but it could take months or years to fully explore each option. Digital Humanities incorporates so many different technical and academic subjects that it allows scholars to process and investigate information in many different ways. When working on a project, people must clearly define how they are going to process the information that they have, and set an ultimate goal for the project before they even start. Otherwise, you could go down many different rabbit holes and ultimately accomplish nothing. Especially in a four-week course, we need to carefully define our ultimate goal. Research questions will help us define our ultimate goal, because it will serve as the thesis for the entire project. Once we decide on our research question, we really should not deviate from the question during this course.

Blog Post #2

Dr. Dionysios Stathakopoulos is a Professor of Byzantine Studies at King’s College in London. He works in the Centre for Hellenic Studies, which is the same department that Professor Charlotte Roueche. He only started working at Kings College in 2005, so his network of research is more limited than Professor Roueche’s. Upon reviewing the network of his research, I found that it shows connections between Dr. Stathakopoulos and people he has collaborated with both within King’s College and outside scholars, journals and books to which he has contributed, research projects he has worked on, and different institutions at which he has studied and worked. I also continually came upon the term “research group” (Dr. Stathakopoulos is a member of the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies Research Group). According to the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, A research group is defined as:

 

“a formally recognised grouping of established researchers with an agreed-upon Leader, who share common and complimentary research interests and who have similar needs with respect to research infrastructure. They would be able to share technical support staff and research equipment, may submit joint applications for postdoctoral fellows, share some research support staff, etc. They will normally be people who work on research projects that fall under an identifiable research theme or set of themes who occasionally collaborate on common research projects; and who co-supervise research students.”

 

Dr. Stathakopoulos’s network graph has 81 nodes. His research interests include wealth, poverty, and social stratification within the Byzantine Empire. He currently has 11 research students and staff, and worked with Dr. Charlotte Roueche on a research project called “Register Medicorum medil aevi” in 2010. I find it interesting that it does not show the connections between other King’s College professors, and the node that says King’s College. I also find it interesting how many different institutions at which he worked on his research project “Damned in Hell in Cretan Frescoes”. While this visual graph does not show every single connection that this researcher has with institutions, people, and projects, it is certainly a helpful visual that enhances the viewer’s understanding of this researcher’s work.

Blog Post #1

My understanding of the digital humanities field is that it is relatively undefined as of yet. Scholars in the field are still in the process of defining exactly what digital humanities is, and how society can use it and benefit from it. They seem to have been exceedingly successful in beginning to do so thus far. An integral part of the field of DH is curating and preserving physical objects by digitizing them. This will be very powerful to future and current generations because digitizing physical objects not only preserves them for many years, but also makes the knowledge that they contain more widely accessible. As Dr. Schnapp explains, the “laboratory” for digital humanities is in the library. The reasoning behind this sentiment is that a huge component of digital humanities involves physical books and papers.

Many academics are extremely skeptical of digitizing works that are so highly revered, as they believe that it removes the human element. However, Schnapps explains that most digital humanists do not discount the value of touching and holding the physical objects and books. However, digitizing these works re-arranges the physical works so that they are more accessible. Many scholars are unable to travel to the hundreds and thousands of libraries across the world that preserve physical writing, and many physical writings are not in the protective hands of librarians like the ones at W&L. Digitizing academic works also allows for collaboration. In previous times, people could only get input from people who they were in personal contact with, which is why many academics chose to work alone. However, using email, twitter, blogs like this one, and many other collaborative tools, people are much more able to collaborate their ideas. Furthermore, while DH allows us to quickly organize and make sense of massive amounts of data, human opinions, analysis, and interpretations continue to be crucial to all academics. Computers can organize data, but they are incapable of interpreting it unless a human programs it to do so.

Digital humanities open up many possibilities in the academic world. However, it also presents incredible possibilities for people who are outside the realm of academia. The disciplines within the humanities are so frequently studied because they are for the most part very interesting to a wide variety of people. This is why people choose to watch movies and read books about history, learn other languages, and go to museums. However, very few people are likely to pick up an academic literary work or journal that is outside of their discipline or line of work. Digital humanities make different academic works more accessible to non-academics. While some people think that digital humanities will ruin the humanities, digital humanities is actually saving the humanities for the most part by generating funds, publicity, and accessibility.