Tag: Digital Humanities (Page 1 of 6)

Time for R

Here at OU, there are at least 4 or 5 that teach introductory R. You can take a statistics class, an economics class, a biological stats class, or a class just on R as a programming language. R has become one of the most commonly used languages for computational stats and data visualization, so it’s not surprising to see it pop up in a number of different departments. However, it has not yet made its way into the humanities.

For those of us in the humanities then, I wanted to pull together a few online resources that can help you get started.

My favorite introduction is TryR from Code School. This pirate themed introduction is great for people with little coding experience. It walks you through basic expressions, variables, arrays, loops, and graphing in a lightly gamified, campy platform.

Screen Shot of the Try R platform from Chapter 1

In a recent blog post, Jesse Sadler from UCLA, offered a more targeted  ‘Introduction to Network Analysis using R.’ Jesse does a great job of explaining  how nodes and edges come together in network graphs and how various R libraries make it relatively easy to produce these graphs. Jesse’s research involves mapping the correspondence of the 16th-century Dutch merchant, Daniel van der Meulen, which serves as a great example of the promise of R for DH research.

Screen Shot of Jesse Sadler's network graphing research projectLincoln Mullen is currently composing an open textbook called Computational Historical Thinking which uses and teaches R.  The resources he’s already assembled are fantastic, and his book serves as an excellent example of open-writing and review.

Screen Shot of Lincoln Mullen's Computational Historical Thinking Website

Less open but more complete, Matthew Jockers has produced a book and website with Springer called Text Analysis with R for Students of Literature. Taylor Arnold and Lauren Tilton also have a Springer book out called Humanities Data in R.

Last, but certainly not least, are the workshops provided by Software Carpentry. Here at OU and throughout the world. Software Carpentry provides two day workshops that introduce command line programming, versioning (usually with Git and GitHub) and R. These workshops are great because they work from a very introductory level and are meant to ease people into coding and data management. The group on OU’s campus is based out of the library and are particularly eager to help graduate students who are venturing into data analysis for the first time.

If you haven’t tried out R yet, take a minute to poke around at one of the resources above and thinking about how you already use maps, graphs, and tables in your work. Rather than hand-drawing your next map or searching for something to represent a network graph, take the same time to learn a new skill.

Visualizing Connections in the Sea of Information

Between podcasts, newspapers, blogs, journals, books, and video, I have access to far more media than I could possibly consume. Rather than having to search for information, I swim through a vast sea of it. The labor comes in deciding what I want to think about right now and then charting a path through good information.

These pathways through information are big business. Google’s algorithms and personalization through data collection are built to provide a path. Amazon is not so much a store but a service to guide you through the vast array of products to discover the one widget you can’t live without. Now JSTOR, Gale, and the other academic warehouses are investing in algorithms and tools to guide you through their dark waters.

Lately, I’ve been collaborating on a project that builds a visual pathway through the thematic connections between blog posts, creating a map for this cluster of information. ‘Inhabiting the Anthropocene‘ is an interdisciplinary, group blog started here at the University of Oklahoma “in order to understand better how humans’ transform the Earth through their habitation of it, and to imagine how the processes and results of habitation might better contribute to the Earth’s habitability.”

Screen Shot of Inhabiting the Anthropocene

In 2015, this group pulled together a selection of their blog posts and tagged theme with information about the intellectual approaches and thematic content. The project leader, philosophy professor Zev Trachtenberg teamed up with James Adams (at that time an Emerging Technologies Librarian at the University of Oklahoma’s Bizzell Library & now a Data and Visualization Librarian at Dartmouth College) to develop a web app to visualize these connections. ‘Habitation in the Anthropocene: An Interdisciplinary Interaction‘ uses Cytoscape to produce seven graphs illustrating the connections between the blog posts. Selecting any one of these graphs triggers changes throughout the web apps’ three main frames. For each graph there is a description and legend. Within the graph, you can select any of the posts, represented as nodes to pull up the text of the original blog post and information about the author. You can also mouse over the graphs’ edges to pull up more information about the connections being represented.

Screen Shot of Habitation in the Anthropocene

My part in this project was very small. As Zev has been preparing publication of a journal article on the project, I helped him clean up the code and make sure the latest version was available on Github. I updated the Cytoscape library to a slightly more recent version and removed some of the deprecated functions and data from the javascript files. We also stood up a new URL for the site in OU Create.

I find this project exciting because it provides a visual grammar for the traditional humanist’s research strategy of crawling through footnotes. By adding thematic tags, we can transform the traditional bibliography into a map of a research field. We could take the tags and categories from larger sets of blog posts and drop them into similar visualizations. We could use text analysis to create thematic tags for a corpus of primary texts or use Hypothes.is to tag online readings. These curated paths can restore a sense of connectivity between writers and readers. This thematic visualization is one tool for restoring rational choice to the process of information consumption.

Omeka of One’s Own

One of the recurring concerns/complaints surrounding the Domain of One’s Own project is the inescapability of WordPress. Most students and faculty on OU Create and other Domains projects use WordPress sites, either for personal portfolios or class blogs. As a counterpoint, I wanted to feature a few of the Omeka sites that that have been built on OU Create in the past few months.

OmekaLogoLike WordPress, Omeka is a php based platform with a one-click installer in Reclaim Hosting environments. Unlike WordPress, Omeka is not built for blogging but rather for cataloguing. Omeka is particularly useful for collecting meta-data about documents, images, movies, baseball cards, or other media. It was originally developed and is still maintained by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Below are screenshots of several OU projects along with the creators’ descriptions of each. You can click on the image to go to the project’s site.

Water

The Carl Albert Center’s Local Digital History Lab is a project based initiative that focuses on preserving history and highlighting important policy issues in the state of Oklahoma. It combines the archival resources at the Center with materials and experiences donated by the public. The first series of lab events focus on the intersection between environment, extreme weather, and public policy in the state.

Each lab bolsters connections between archival collections and the communities they serve. The events also contextualize important issues by organizing community digitization events and making harvested materials available to the public online.

The site features archival materials made available by the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections, the City of Tulsa Engineering Services Department, and members of the public. It includes over 4,000 pages of digitized text, 255 photographs, 90 maps, and over 100 minutes of oral history.

New Deal

The United States changed rapidly during the 1930s in response to a series of economic, environmental, and social factors. The Great Depression transformed the relationship between the national government and its citizens. The physical landscape was also altered through massive public works projects and conservation initiations. Moreover, this was one of the richest periods of creative cultural activity the nation has seen.

Created by students at the University of Oklahoma, this site documents and explores the 1930s and its enduring legacies in Oklahoma. Please explore the digital exhibits and collection of photographs, documents, videos, and maps discovered and created during the research process.

Visit the About This Project Page to learn about the creation of the site.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 1.55.12 PM

One of the professors from the Making Modern America project, David Wrobel, has continued his use of Omeka in a follow up class on John Steinbeck’s literature. Working again with librarian extraordinaire Sarah Clayton, Dean Wrobel’s students are putting together exhibits examining the various facets of Steinbeck’s work from his travels, to his work on the War and his relationship with Oklahoma.

VITAL

Videos for Italian Teaching and Learning is a curated database of openly available videos. Daniela Busciglio and her collaborators are collecting and tagging videos to help students work on various grammatical and thematic concepts. By sharing these videos online, Daniela can share these resources with undergraduates at OU, and with learners of all levels and at all schools.

Women's Advocacy Network

In January 2017, 13 members of WAN’s Gulu subgroup worked with faculty and students from the University of Oklahoma to conduct a “Photovoice” project. Photovoice is a method that combines the power of photography with critical group reflection to interrogate everyday aspects of life.

The project began with each WAN participant creating individual photos intended to show elements of daily life, including both life-giving aspects, but also significant challenges. Many participants chose to recreate memories from life in captivity. Others focused on how they live now. After the individual photography, the participants used the photos to teach each other about their own perspectives and to discuss common themes and desires for change in northern Uganda. The exhibit presents photos from each participant along with her personal statement.

The goals of the both the project and this exhibit are twofold. First, the photographs are meant to teach the viewer about the participants’ lives, their concerns, and their desires for change.  Second, the project is intended as an opportunity for the participants to reflect on their priorities and WAN’s activities aimed at improving conditions for women in post-conflict northern Uganda.

Documentary Narrative

Focusing on the history of race and education in Oklahoma, students will utilize this platform to gather and discuss primary sources that inform the rich and complicated history of the state around schooling concerns. For students engaging in historical projects, it is essential to critically examine not only literature that informs our field, but similarly engage in research projects within classes that will put theory into practice. This course, Documentary and Narrative, examines problems and methods of non-empirical/non-experimental research in history of education.  Particular attention will be paid to qualitative methods that collect data from documents, from oral history interviews, and from observations and experiences in settings that utilize approaches related to case study and narrative inquiry techniques.  Use of primary and secondary sources, field notes, and case study applications are discussed along with the roles that the researcher plays in terms of generalization and interpretation. Similarly, this platform will facilitate conversations on ways to engage in historical research that informs the evolving technological changes we are witnessing today, as a vital conversation on the survival of the field.

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