Introduction to Digital Humanities

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

Category: Blog Post

Palladio and “Demystifying Networking”

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 11.53.56 PMSince the last post our digital humanities class has been continuously using Palladio, a program that Stanford’s Humanities and Design Lab created. The program helps to show connections between a location, group of people, and other types of data (pictures, name, etc). The data picture in Figure 1 shows the links between birthplace and coordinates. If you look carefully, 43.716667, 7.416667 is in the center of the Figure 1. One of the points connected to the aforementioned coordinate is Monaco. Monaco then connects to a base point which splits into 9 different links; one of those links is Minsk, which connects to the coordinates 53.9, 27.566667.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.03.02 AMFigure 2 shows the connection between birthplaces and places of death. Figure 2 shows Paris and Monaco as the main places of birth. However, there are other individuals who were born in other places likes Davenport, Cincinnati, and London. Unlike the birthplaces, the death places are scattered and includes Yorkshire, Yonne, and Germany. This shows that individuals born in places like Paris and Monaco spread out to other places before their time came to an end. Similar to Scott Weingart’s article, “Demystifying Networking,” Palladio is like a network where the links shows the way each person is connected and mutually dependent on each other.

Palladio, the Hawaiian Culture, and a User that Needs Help

In class we have been focusing on Palladio, Stanford’s Humanities and Design Lab’s web-based visualization program. What we have discovered since first using the program is while the program provides technical glitches like AntConc, another free software, the values of this product is important. We use “structured data” to show connections with various locations and times, which can be used to show a relationship among these attributes. For example, if I had the structured data, I would be able to use this program to show the migration of the Kānaka Maoli, indigenous Hawaiians, throughout the Polynesian Triangle. I would even be able to use this program to show the route Captain James Cook used to travel to Kealakekua Bay in Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 1.06.33 AMWhen I first upload the document onto Palladio, my screen shows that there are no points on my map. After playing around with the program and reviewing the “Getting started with Palladio” document for about 30-minutes I decided to take a break from the assignment and return to it in several hours.

When I return to the assignment I retrace my steps from the previous class (again). This time, after calling in for some help from a classmate, I am able to retrieve some data points. The data points represents a location where each photograph was taken. If you zoom up closely on each point it provides a location. Based on the tiles the user uses, detailed graphics are shown. For example, a user can select land, buildings and areas, streets, terrain, satellite, and custom tiles. Personally, with the dataset given to us, I believe the building and areas option is useful because the data points are across a broad area – not zoomed in on a specific town where the streets option can be selected.

Geothermal_heat_map_USI compared the data points map to a heat map that was on Wikipedia. (The heat map is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and is a work that is classified under public domain.) Comparing the heat map to the data points map above, the map does not provide graphic options. The map is outlined in black and provides 5 colors that range between a certain watt. Technically, the entire map is a data point because the milliwatt per square meter ranges anywhere from below 40 to above 100.

I would love to use Palladio for my Cross Cultural Training class. Being able to create a “structured data” set and tie it into my research country (New Zealand) and seeing travel patterns would be amazing. Or even being able to use this program and create a dataset to document the migration routes the Kānaka Maoli took to travel to Hawai‘i would be fun. Adding bits of history, photographs, and other valuable documentations would help to improve cultural competency on my own culture.

A Map Is Not a Picture: With Advancements in Technology the Simple Stuff is Taken for Granted

The title of the reading says it all – “A Map Is Not a Picture.” For example, if you were to compare a map of the old world to a map of the new world, a stark contrast that would be notice could include details of each country and how boarders change overtime. Now take that still image of the new world and compare it to software products and applications like Google Earth – or even Google Maps. Through satellite technology a user can view the entire world or galaxy and then zoom in to see streets. What we take for granted nowadays is the advancement of technology. We expect any maps to provide the rich details that Goole Maps and GPS devices provides us.

However, what the author focuses on throughout the reading is that (again) maps are not pictures. Magazine companies like Vouge and GQ, for example, photoshops their covers of celebrities while advertisers brushes up on their models to provide the “perfect image” to consumers. You can’t do that with map – but yet it’s being done.

Map Of The World 1641 Hendrik Hondius (Dutch) Newberry Library, Chicago

Map Of The World 1641 Hendrik Hondius (Dutch) Newberry Library, Chicago

The reason why I say you cannot photoshop or brush-up a map is that you will distort the image, which could provide false information. However, nowadays we take the world, which is in the shape of a globe, and flatten it out on paper for the common user to use. We see world maps on posters, driving maps without any shape (other than flat), and digital maps that shapes the area you are focusing on and provide it on a flat digital surface. Sometimes the “flattening” of maps can distort the distance and terrain of an area. Referring to the picture of the old world versus the new world map, the 1641 screenshot of both worlds shows the landscapes distorted. One example would be Latin America. If you look on the left hand side, the country is shaped differently than what it actually is.

Response to Johanna Drucker’s “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display”

Johanna Drucker’s “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display” notes of how digital humanists adopted visualization tools to their work. Trucker’s article touches upon a previous reading in which the title of the article says it all: “The Digital Humanities is Not About Building, It’s About Sharing.” This concept is seen through the close relationship capta and data share in order to through the borrowed methods of other disciplinary fields: natural and social science.

When it comes to capta versus data, Drucker seems to explain the two terms as separate concepts even though the two share some form of discipline. Data is reconstructed into capta and helps to represent the reconfiguration that the former goes through in order to evolve into the latter. Capta is taken as an active object while data is is assumed to be an object given and capable of being reordered and observed. I believe that Drucker is focusing on the transformation data is able to go through when he touches upon data versus capta.

When Drucker says we must focus on the representation of knowledge, we must focus on the ever-changing forms of knowledge we experience overtime. Take, for example, education in the late 1800s and today – we have experience changes not only in the educational system but also in equality and the implementation of technology. While women was restricted from an equal education, steps have been taken for them to become more involved in schools and be provided a fair education. Technology has also been updated to provide extension courses and the use of websites for class.

However, getting back on topic, digital visualization (history and knowledge) is constantly changing forms and we need to find a way how to adapt to it.

“[Omeka] is Not about Building, It’s about Sharing”

Omeka InformationSearching for items to add to Omeka seemed like a daunting task. There were some material that looked great. However, those materials could not be used because the copyright information seemed ambiguous or other classmates were using the same information. Nevertheless, after finding the material needed – with the proper copyright material – this is where the fun seemed to start. I will admit the next steps were a hard and strenuous process but it proves beneficial for future projects.

Omeka InformationFirst, we had to upload our material and fill out the basic information (title, subject, description, copyright information, etc) before uploading it to a collection. To be honest, the first time doing this assignment I was excited because I was able to find an artwork that needed its own collection – “Medieval and Byzantine Art.”

After creating a new collection for the artwork, we worked with our groups to build an exhibit. This goes to Sample’s article, “The Digital Humanities is Not About Building, It’s About Sharing.” We “shared” or used the works that was uploaded by our peers in order to create the exhibits. This not only saved time but helped us to create a a total of eight exhibits that was based on a collaborative work.

What I learned from putting together an exhibit is that the materials we used are a share resource. While we are using other peoples work – whether it is on Omeka or another online tool – it is vital to check the copyright information. Some resources provides material content to be used for educational purposes. However, those material contents cannot be altered in any way, shape, or form.

Also, the classification of metadata helped me to lay the foundation for my next project for another class. If Omeka is a free resource, I would love to use it for my Cross Cultural Training class. Being able to do research on my country through online resources like this is beneficial. Comparing Omeka to WordPress, having a website that helps guide you to put all of the information together is very helpful.

Digital Humanities with the Strategic Planning Committee and the University Library Dean Committee

Pacific is entering a new period in which technology is playing an influential role both in and out of the classroom. For instance, as a member on the Strategic Planning Committee, we recently revisited the Key Strategic Indicators (KSI) to determine student success. For each goal made by the committee and the Council of Deans, there are no more than three KSIs to support the goal. Existing measures are used when appropriate for the committee to analyze and reduce data to a manageable number.

What does this have to do with the reading? Action item “1.3 Embrace New Technologies, Innovative Learning Models” correlates – to a degree – with Jerome McGann’s scholarly review essay, “Radiant Textuality.”

Hypertext is repeatedly used throughout the essay as a new concept. Considering McGann’s article was published in 1996, the idea of linking text or materials to related information, graphics, or sites seemed daunting. However, fast forward 19 years into the future and it’s simple. Shortcuts were establish for any individual interested in creating a hypertext to do so. For example, if I wanted to “hypertext” McGann essay, “Radiant Textuality,” I would just need to highlight the selected area, click on the link icon, and then insert the link.

The article also relates the topic to libraries. Computerization in humanities has been mainly located and associated with libraries. As a member of the University Library Search Committee, the digital humanities and creating a library that caters to print text and the digital era were frequently discussed. The library is considered the church of learning, with the reference desk and its personnel viewed as the high priest by scholars. The article debates whether or not computerizing data is prudent or keeping printed copies of materials. Again, we are in the 21st century and with challenges such as Action Item 1.3 and Pacific 2020, encouraging us to pursue technology as an innovative learning model seems difficult; how much should we innovate and what types of texts or printed material should we keep in the library?

However, if the new library dean decides to digitalize most – if not all – of the library resources, a problem that would arise is access to materials. Amy Earhart’s article, “Can Information Be Unfettered? Race and the New Digital Humanities Canon,” notes of the push for free access to materials in a digitalizing world. In addition, Earhart notes that the digital humanities deemphasized theoretical appraisal of the digital utilizing cultural studies framework.

Does this mean digital humanities will be harming academia? Or, in other words, does the implementation of digital humanities restrict learning or producing work?

Referring to my committee work with the Strategic Planning Committee, Action Item 1.3 encourages hybrid teaching model/online programs and faculty and students presentation on work related to technology and learning model. However, using existing data the University have:

  • A definition such as hybrid does not exist – so along with the data; and
  • Data was not collected from faculty and students and no definition was established on what constitutes a conference versus training versus seminar.

Despite the lack of available data and information I provided, I still believe digital humanities encourages learning and producing work. The accessibility to data, information, and charts – as well as the use of hyperlinks – provides easy access to further information and supporting data.