Introduction to Digital Humanities

RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

Author: b_raidoo

Brubeck 1958

The Team- Brandon Raidoo & Jamie Martinez

The Project- Brubeck’s Jazz Tour

The Project that Jamie and I undertook was to exam the travels of Dave Brubeck on his famous 1958 Jazz tour. We endeavoured to answer some research questions. Through a combined effort of sorting through the Holt-Atherton Special Collections at the University of the Pacific we were able to look at all the information. One of our biggest questions was how was Brubeck perceived where he went. Through the use voyant we were able to look at the key words used to describe Brubeck and his Band. The second major questions was where was he travelling in the countries he visited along with what countries did he visit. To answer this question we created a google map through google fusion tables after painstakingly entering about 100 data points to be analysed. To find out what were the key words were that described Brubeck, to read some wonderful transcriptions of what was written about him, or to take the journey that Brubeck did on his jazz tour go on ahead to the site cited above.

Visualizations as method of misrepresentation

To begin, I will say contrary to the title of this post I do personally really enjoy using and seeing the use of visual mapping tools. I personally feel being able to see things through a mapping format has a much greater impact, rather than just reading it through standard text. That being said, as Weingart points out expressly there as some innate disadvantages of using visual mapping. The most pivotal being the lack of all meta data, this is reinforced in the reading on Paul Revere (also funny since paul revere didn’t complete the fabled ride). In class we looked at data relating to WW2 Jews who were recipients of help from people, seeing how a plethora of connections existed. Now going to Palladio and entering the data appropriately, first by entering the people and assigned attributes, then relating them to one another through there relations, something really interesting happens, you get to see a map recipients and the givers that helped them through the use of a data map   You can see in the map that it is the Neumans receiving help from several people.Sorted Data

Now this is a testament to the usefulness of data network mapping. That being said, when the data is looked at from how the givers were related to their fellow givers, this is what shows up. This would indicate that they don’t know each other in anyway other than through the recipients. However, in all reality this probably due to a lack of meta data as mentioned before, leading to a misrepresentation of the population by not showing all the connections due to a lack of information.Unrelated Data Giver

Moving away from a Flat Earth

The digitization of maps is an incredibly important part of human progress in a way. Digitization of maps allow for several important things to happen globally. First and foremost it allows for people globally to look critically at maps for size, topography, and perhaps most importantly geopolitical borders. This leads to open debates globally which does not exist in the two dimensional standard of current map making. Notice the fact that print maps are two dimensional is very important. The two dimensional map standard is very important in print maps as it leaves much to be desired in terms of expressing all that a map can. Although at this point it would make a lot of sense to look at current maps and how digital maps are different than print maps. However, it is important to note that this type of comparison would result in two static images being spoken about as I could not show the working and benefit of digitization through static images as it’s benefits are that it is interactive. Instead I think it more important to show howModern Map maps can be useful in expressing ideas but can be limited when in print to accuracy. The map to the right is a map that shows slave trade from 1650 to 1860. It goes over how people were moved around the new world from Africa along with how some were brought to Europe. However, if one was to look at a map from the time period, we’ll use a maMap ancientp from 1600 in this case, located on the left. It is clear that the information available at that time was limited severally which would have lowered accuracy when speaking about it at that time.

Why all data has to be capta

In the article by Drucker, she expresses how in the humanities all data gathered is capta. Or rather as she puts it data that is construed and sort out for a purpose. That by seeking answers using data in the humanities, one automatically construes the information to essentially fit the model. She goes on to express how this needs to be clearly identified to show “ambiguity and complexity”. This is where I find an issue with the argument. Although I would submit that there is often a potential for more exogenous factors that effect data sets in the humanities than in other disciplines, all data intrinsically has the same basic problem of being sought rather than gathered. This is in contrast to the authors belief, but in reality, in order for data to be gathered, it needs to be wanted. A great example of this can be found when looking at social media companies gathering data on its users. All free to use social media companies, gather specific information from their clients in order to sell to third parties in order to gain revenue. In that they are separating the population, much in the same way humanitarians do, in order to market and sell the most pertinent information that they can. However, the same problems arise in this sorting as exist in humanitarian work, thus I see defining capta as a separate entity unneeded artificial separation of disciplines. To add one closing thought, earlier in the semester, this class spoke about a software that was used by a company to distinguish faces, and it did not recognise black people, this was not the fault of the software, rather it was the way in which it was programmed. The same issues that exist in data gathering are uniform.

Going down the Rabbit hole

The readings provided for this week provide views on the usefulness and limitations of online sources, as reprints of the original source material. Amy Earhart speaks about the importance of race and gender in the humanities, and how the digitization allows for a wider access of their information hypothetically. So long as the programming does not exclude the minority groups it can serve to preserve and share different cultures.

TheAhmed Baba Institute archive from the Ahmed Baba institute is evidence of this preservation of cultural history. An interesting note about the institute which has a South African backing(hence my liking it), it preserves and goes over some Islamic texts. Other than translating and uploading some texts for people to see, it is especially interesting to me personally, as a historian, most Greek writing and what we know about ancient Greeks and Romans comes from the writings of Islamic Scholars. Which is an example of how humanities serves to preserve different cultures, in this case even more than just the intended group.

McGann, writes about the importance of understanding the limitations of digital archives. As a student currently doing my senior capstone here at pacific I can speak first hand to the limitations to using only online digital collections. These collections in reality are just the first step for a researcher. It shows them if the archive will have sources they may potentially want to udavid_socratesse. The best example of this I think can be seen in a museum example. The image here is the “Death of Socrates” a famous painting in the MET. It is by far one of my favourite pieces of art but the digital image of it is nothing in comparison to being in front of it. So as the title of this post goes, the digital archives serve really as the Rabbit hole. It is an opening into expanding ones field of view so that a  person can focus in on that which interests them and speaks to them. As such is works as a tool, to aid in the spread of ideas and knowledge for society as a whole. Well society that has open internet access and is able to access files, but that is a different topic.

Life and Data

Metadata is not a new field by any stretch of the imagination. A standard history or economic paper will include a historiography which includes past writing on your topic of research. Most times a researcher will include an analysis of these former texts thus creating metadata.

In the current day the ability to create metadata is incredibly easy via tools available due to the digital age. This includes the making of algorithms to sort data or the use of programmes such as excel to simply sort data.

The importance of metadata is important for two key reasons. One it allows researchers to sort data and allows for empirical studies on data. The second and more addressed in the readings use, is a company being able to decipher preferences of its consumers. Although some may see this as an encroachment into ones personal life, the fact of the matter is that it allows for a more personalized consumer experience. This allows for a more efficient use of a consumers time, while also increasing the profit margins of any company making a customized experience through the use of metadata.

Digital Humanities through the eyes of an Economist

First and foremost, my experience with technology specifically computers has always been marvelous. I have been around them since I was a small boy in Africa, and to this day ever strive to gain a greater understanding of them as a tool for the workplace and leisurely activity. From a young age, I was on the computer playing games, such as the old toy story game, which was a great time in my youth. Fast forwarding to when I was a teen, I started building my own computers and learning basic coding. Really it was more out of boredom, but it gave me a greater understanding of what the different parts did and how they operated. This allowed me to make custom parts and keyboards, which relates back to the reading, in that I was able to make things that which assisted me in my endeavours as they were made for my explicit use. One such thing was a keyboard I made from old typewriter keys and an ergonomic polymer which allowed me to be able to type without extra strain.

The importance of that goes into the question accessibility and ease of use. One of the main arguments was for a universal system that is easier to use overall, and is cross platform compatible. This is the thinking that comes out from an academic position, however, it is an argument that realistically speaking is unachievable and not practical. Arguably, advancement happens based off incentive, it is the reason why patents last for 20 years, so that people will create things and be able to profit from them. Software operates off the same principle, there needs to be a monetary incentive for their to be a real advancement in the industry.

An example of this is, whatever operating system you happen to be using on the computer or device you are reading this on. The system that operates what you are using probably cost millions of dollars to make, using research and development and doing testing on the software’s capability. So in turn the company that made it, are going to release it in such a way that they are the only ones that benefit from it, and it may lead you to buy more of their products so things are compatible, as it is the economically sound thing for a company to do. Now as people we would prefer if everything worked together, much like how the rest of the world hopes the United States will go the metric system sometime, however, neither are realistic goals.

What is and Why use Digital Humanities

Digital humanities is the studying of humanities through the use of computers and other digital sources. This definition of what the digital humanities is what leads one to the understanding of why study digital humanities. Many major points are brought up through the readings provided for this week. With both having a focus on how digital humanities is community based. Although the reading by Sample shows a division between the digital community as those who build the software and those who use and study it. The idea that digital communities do exist is a notion that solidifies the practice of using computers to aid in research as a legitimate educational source. However, it does pose some problems to the definition I synthesised. For Samples argument really simply is saying that the computer programming side is not part of digital humanities while the definition I gave has to include them as they make the digital part of the digital humanities.

Spiro further acknowledges this idea by speaking about the creation of a community set of values. In this it would appear Spiro is addressing the community as a whole, rather than one sect of the population. Although Spiro goes into how a code of ethics for digital humanities is not broad enough for what digital humanities covers, the argument presented seems to go against the real use of why to use digital humanities. Spiro’s thinking is that a set of values including things such as openness and being collegial would serve as base guidelines for the operation of the digital humanities community. However, in operating under a set of values such as this, it leaves much room for interpretation by different members of the community. The purpose of using digital humanities rather than conventional methods can really be isolated as a few key things. The use of digital technology allows for a wider array of information, ideas, methods to sort and analyse information. If the term values are used for this process then, why use digital humanities when everyone in the world could interpret what things such as being collegial or open differently? A code of ethics would seem more useful as with things such as the Hippocratic Oath or the Engineers Hippocratic Oath, both are uniform throughout the world. They have the simple idea of do no harm, yet medicinal and engineering practices around the world are still different, but all under an established uniform understandable guideline. Which allows a diverse set of views and beliefs to be used and shared, without as much of a possibility of misunderstanding due to different interpretations.

Group Alpha Force Awesome

The research method used in “Papers Of the Past” combined an empirical study with analysis of extraneous factors for the nations oldest newspapers. This methodology of using a combination of the empirical and theory based research would serve especially well when looking at the influence of public policy. One such example would be to look at the views held over a pipeline being built between Northern California and Southern California. A research question that could be posed is who is in support of the pipeline would be popular support within the state. Looking at data from newspapers such as the LA times and San Francisco chronicle, the differences in language shows a clear difference in who is in support of the project.

Now obviously to get an appropriate data a multitude of newspapers would have to be entered, but the differences in opinion based upon location indicate that the research method used from “Papers Of the Past” would serve to reach a more definite answer to the question.

 

-Brandon, Ashley, Dylan, and Jaime

The danger of the Voyant tool

Using this software I was able to sort through data and able to highlight key words. The benefit of which obviously comes from the ability to analyze patterns in text, and thus form certain hypothesis. However, there is an implicit danger in seeing correlations or lack there of within writing, as it could lead to a faulty hypothesis. As correlation does not imply causation, the use of the voyant tool as a means to find an explicit relation is obviously flawed as it takes the text entered out of context.

That being said the tool is still a very helpful tool. It allows for the sorting of data without a lot of work, and can highlight texts which could in theory have some relation. For that the tool is incredibly helpful. Though again it is important to note the tool can only do what it is asked and programmed to do, which is a essentially a text finder. Any relations found must be analyzed by an individual in order to ensure an optimal result.

Test

1

2

3