Category: DH (Page 1 of 5)

Omeka + HTML5Up

I have been working on a couple of Omeka sites this semester. I really like the Omeka system for its handling of meta data and the Neatline map extension for easy map creation. Omeka S just came out and looks fantastic, though I haven’t had a chance to build with it yet.

However, I do not like the Omeka themes. For a while I was using Denison as seen here. However, the theme mishandles the four images on the front page and the drop down menu has a tendency to malfunction.

I also tried Big Picture but abandoned it when I was unable to merge the beautiful Browse Collections page into the index page.

Ultimately I turned away from Omeka themes and instead used HTML5Up templates. I transitioned Dr. Daniela Busiciglio’s site that had been built with Denison from this:

to this (progettovitaliano.org):

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 of progettovitaliano.com

I’ve just finished transitioning another site that I built with Dr. Mirelsie Velazquez and her students from the Big Picture Omeka theme to this (http://docnarr.oucreate.com/):

Because Omeka’s API does not provide images, I was not able to load the images into these HTML based pages programmatically. Thus, these front pages will require a bit more maintenance in their HTML code than Omeka themes, which are controlled from the administrative GUI. However, I really like the flexibility that I get from stripping out the front page of the Omeka themes and replacing it with something that I can tweak to feature the best parts of the projects.

 

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.

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