Week 14: Submission

NM3213 Final Project: Filtering Instagram

Please refer to prototype link here: https://invis.io/K399G78SF

Please refer to prototype presentation in Google Slides here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1RR1M9PfZi7NmZzNDFNRkZ1Qmc

1. Introduction

Named as ‘Filtering Instagram’, this project is an interactive webpage with a moving crossword puzzle in the home page that highlights the crowd wisdom adopted across different countries/cultures in terms of aesthetic styles in photographic editing. It also encourages users to create a short, non-linear still image film made up of images with the same filter. Users will be able to adopt a simple ‘drag-and-drop’ function at the Create tab to create their own narrations out of those visuals available.

The concept from this project stems from the increasing reliance on the social media platform, Instagram, for social currency. In today’s social networks, it is appalling to believe that Instagram, an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service can hold such gravitas in our society – with 400 million active users as of April 2016, (Chaffey, 2016). This project seeks to rethink how Instagram is, or can be used as a form of social performance to display identities and statuses by observing the various kinds of filters used in different photo categories and/or users across different geographical regions. Future developments involve placing the photos in a broader context of photography, investigating how photos uploaded to Instagram differ in terms of its aesthetic styles in different geographical regions. Any plausible patterns and/or phenomenon should be viewed in context with the history of photography, and the increasing rise of technological developments that have led to easy availability of image editors and/or manipulators.

2. Literature Review

2.1 About Instagram

Instagram, a mobile photo (and video) sharing, social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and/or videos before sharing them either publicly or privately on the application, has quickly emerged as a popular medium among young adults in recent years. Its ability to connect through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr, provides users an instantaneous way to capture and share their life moments with friends. Users can choose to manipulate their photos with in-app editing tools which include numerous different colour filters that are superimposed on the photos.

From a study conducted, it was revealed that the Instagram photos can be roughly classified into eight different types of categories based on their content. The categories are namely self-portraits (i.e. selfies), friends, activities, captioned photos (i.e. pictures with embedded text), food, gadgets, fashion, and pets (Hu, Manikonda & Kambhampati, 2014). Intended for sharing photos on-the-go with the increasing smartphone use, features expanded into allowing users apply different manipulation tools before posting; add captions, hashtags using the ‘#’ symbol to describe the media, and tag or mention other users by using the ‘@’ symbol. With 40 billion photos shared thus far, the average number of Instagram posts per day per user profile is estimated to be 2.69 posts per day (Smith, 2016). These statistics highlighted the significance of this project, as well as the presence of a readily-available database to be tapped on. Having deep understanding of Instagram allows a deep understanding about social, cultural, and environmental insights about people’s activities – understood through the lens of their photos. As compared to other text-based communication platform, the level of intuitiveness is higher since different interpretations of similar issues by individuals can be explored and discovered.

2.2 Instagram as Database

Being a visual-locative social medium, Instagram serves as a huge database with users producing data daily as they navigate their daily lives, documenting every key moment by capturing them and posting online. Defined by Ramsay (2004), database is a system that allows for the efficient storage and retrieval of information. As such, Instagram lends itself as an unparalleled data source that can be explored to discover socio-spatial patterns and divisions across different geographical regions. It allows individuals at-large to collaborate and make use of the information in ways that disregard institutional boundaries. Also, mentioned in the article, where complications arise with the issue of organization and efficient retrieval of data due to the need to facilitate interaction with multiple end user and allow for dynamic insertion and deletion of information, Instagram’s classification was facilitated with the use of hashtags.

Photos have limited power in how they would be interpreted – which explains the need for contextual information relayed through captions and/or from user profiles posting them. Users attribute specific tags to their photos in their captions which allow their photos to be categorized under the community-generated classifications. Aimed at cataloguing photos under various themes for more lasting impact, hashtags help to describe the image with a limited number of words, enable users to easily locate other similar photos taken, and thus makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage the information resource. This is in line with the purpose of metadata, as asserted by the National Information Standards Organization (2004), where it is commonly used for any formal scheme of resource description – in the case of Instagram, it falls under its caption. Allowing for easy search of innumerable photo categories and/or posts by relevant criteria, this feature also enables the recognition of (underlying) photo content by providing the context. For instance, a hashtag can also serve as a symbol of a community membership that breaks down the virtual barriers between users (Yang, Sun, Zhang, & Mei, 2012).

2.3 Posting as a form of Social Performance

In Manovich’s paper titled “Subjects and Styles in Instagram Photography (Part 1)” (2016), Martin Hart described social network photography as “visual publicization of ordinary life in a ubiquitous photograph” and that they are just “strategic imagery” aimed to persuade or promote a certain social performance. This idea also translates into identity formation when the pictures (i.e. data) available, shared by users themselves, can be used to identify distinct groups of users, shed light on plausible segmentation and social statuses. However, point to note that the information portrayed despite being up-to-date, may not be the most comprehensive, or simply reflecting the activities since Instagram users can selectively represent their worldviews by displaying pictures they deem fit and suited for circulation. Additionally, individuals across different geographical regions may understand and use the Instagram medium differently. Often so, the subjects taken and photographic styles in the photos, are strongly influenced by the social, cultural, and aesthetic values of a given location and/or demographics.

Likewise, proclaimed by Manovich, the analysis of Instagram content as social performance in term of its visual aesthetics is crucial as different meanings may be conveyed depending on how they are being photographed. With different interpretations, they may either look like random things in a background, or subjects in a sophisticated, purposely-styled composition. For meaningful findings, analysis of the visual aesthetics alone cannot rely plainly on the subjects, but along with the user’s intentions and other contextual information (as mentioned before). For example, a photo with an unbalanced composition may perhaps be unintentional, signalling a careless photographer, or represent the work of an abstract Instagram author making a very conscious decision on the aesthetics portrayed.

Individuals are exposed to thousands of images every day through advertising, and then Instagram on top of that – how is one not feeling discomfort? This is because individuals are not seeing every one of those images, but rather image types. Users are enjoying the variation between types instead of seeing a full image each time (Manovich, n.d. as cited in Thomsen, 2016). Bearing that in mind, individuals’ daily encounter with large amounts of data creates a new “data subjectivity” – each with its own unique blend of imagination. The concept of ‘soft cinema’ looks at novel ways of visualizing this subjectivity. In short, ‘soft cinema’ emerges from contemporary patterns of production and/or consumption based on the digital age and seeks to explore the convergence of database and narrative. Since the formation of self-identities have been continually scattered across multiple databases (i.e. representing the cross-platform social media mediums adopted), ‘soft cinema’ symbolized a more revealing metaphor for understanding contemporary identity rather than a traditional, linear, chronological form (Anderson, 2006).

2.4 Aesthetics Issues of Instagram: Filters

After exploring the idea of social performance and identity through Instagram, there is a need to understand the aesthetics of the platform itself. Photographs posted are presented as a continuous stream of images from numerous users based on one’s following (i.e. newsfeed). Under an individual’s account, they are visualized in the form of a gallery. When a guest first enters the gallery, he/she can see six side-by-side images in square grid – getting an overview of the user’s photographic style and an understanding of the type of content he/she is specialized in posting (i.e. under which major themes). To be able to signal their “identities” in different genres, users adopt different Instagram grids to suit their theme. And it is with filters, people can manipulate how their photo grid will look like, to ensure a cohesive aesthetic look. Filters being one of the pre-attentive aesthetic attributes that a user will notice first, it is with this certain recognizable way of expression that forms part of the contemporary visual culture to strategically present imagery in a form of social performance. This explains the need for “cohesiveness” and consistency in Instagram editing style to allow the feed flow naturally.

instagram-styles

Refer to link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/culturevis/27064111290/sizes/l.

According to a study from Yahoo Labs, researchers analysed 7.6 million photos and came to the discovery that “filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on” (Mchugh, 2015). The same study also revealed that 76% of photos has undergone image processing and out of the remaining 24%, it includes pictures which has been edited out of Instagram and thus did not adopt the native filters. Not only that, results show that individuals are more attracted to images with higher contrast and corrected exposure, and find a warmer temperature more appealing than a cooler one. By adding hues, grain, contrast and so on, including filters and/or other manipulation tools, it can evoke a different ‘feel’, thus changing the message communicated by the picture. For instance, by adding filters like ‘1979, a different time period may be suggested from the colour hues overlaid on the picture. This results in a multi-temporal image that can suggest different temporal references where each can tell a different narrative on its own when placed in different context.

The motivation behind adding photo filters are clear – to alter the feel and meanings of the photos that will in turn represent a false reality. However, such distortion appears to be acceptable by users with the increasing popularity of users making use of filters, coupled with the proliferation of external filter-adding applications like VSCO, RNI Films and so on. Recently, there was even an app, named Prisma, that popularized the art filter craze by allowing photos to turn into artworks by superimposing styles of renowned artists, famous ornaments, and patterns.

Such is what Fernandez (2014) calls the “new old” phenomenon – where socially recognized styles are applied to the photos create a vintage look to images by playing with the colour, or fading certain areas, and are manipulated to fit modern aesthetics. She also quoted Fredric Jameson’s (1991) “nostalgia for the present”, arguing that postmodernity is not concerned with historic elements but rather imitates a version of the past to control the present consumer culture. Photo filters create a hyperreal representation of the world since the photos may not have any basis in reality, but nonetheless posted online anyway and made to believe they represent reality itself. This reflects the symbolism of postmodernism since it becomes “more real than the real” (Sturken, 2001) and having such impression of history adds to the significance, which perhaps explains the reason pictures with a more saturated note (e.g. sepia) are not receptive to ‘likes’ (Tossell, 2012).

Following that, this project aims to investigate if the Instagram photo filtering or visual editing culture is disparate or unique across different subject themes. Additionally, how can the findings uncover trends between different cultures considering social influencers are advertising and sharing the types of editing styles they use for their pictures. In answer to that, there had already been a branding research done in 2016 to uncover ‘the most popular Instagram filters from around the world’ that highlights the different cultural analytics in data visualization aesthetics. The findings also revealed the most-used filters for various types of subject themes. It will be illuminating to see their findings, refer to the link here: https://designschool.canva.com/blog/popular-instagram-filters/.

2.5 Related Work

In this section, related work done by different artists and corporations will be looked at to draw plausible inspiration for the final idea conceptualization.

Firstly, Lev Manovich, Nadav Hochman and Jay Chow’s project titled Phototrails was chosen since it aimed to explore social media’s visual data and gather plausible insights from the massive amounts of user-generated content. It is an urban representation of cities by people who capture and share photos on social networks that highlighted the patterns based on geographical difference and activity levels – focusing on spatial and temporal dimensions. Ultimately, high resolution visualizations were created with custom software using 2.3 million Instagram photos from 13 global cities showing the temporal changes in the photos, locations, and visual characteristics which can uncover social, cultural, and political insights about people’s activity around the world. The project being part of an emerging field of cultural analytics, used computational methods for the analysis for the massive cultural datasets and flows. I was able to draw inspiration from this project – especially how they analyse each photo closely, down to even their metadata, so as to read the “stories” made up by the users’ sequences of photos.

phototrails.png

Secondly, Metagramme, a side project by T2D agency, was created to explore the patterns that can be created or emerged by combining visual data over time. It is an interactive website that extracts 36 or 64 of recent Instagram photos and combines them into a single image which will result in a colourful digital amalgam that is part photography and part abstract art as the averaging of photos creates a composite image that yields a blurry effect. Also, adopting the idea of data categorization with hashtags, the website can also pull information from specific hashtags to show what a blend of 64 photos of a specific subject looks like. I like the idea of how Metagramme is essentially using data to create a visualization, but not for practical uses, rather, it is to create something beautiful. I also draw inspiration from their concept of representing emotions like “love” or “sadness”, which can be challenging – but the creation of the abstract art helps explore how different people conceptualize a specific issue, or represent them over time. Refer to their webpage here: https://metagram.me/,

Thirdly, another collaborative work by Manovich, he aimed to discuss with Tifentale the construction of popular photographic self-representation in digital visual culture. It analysed 3,200 selfies shared via Instagram from five global cities namely Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York and Sao Paulo. Albeit the focus point of this project ties down to a specific type of imagery produced, I felt that it ties in with the cultural differences that can be attributed based on different representations for social performances across cultures. This project made use of image analysis as well, to place the selfie into a broader context, and hence argue that this is a new sub-genre of photography that differs or possibly evolves from traditional self-portraiture. The result also showed how the methods of self-portraiture change over time with technology and the rise of smart phones – similar to what I would want to bring across about the point of photo editing.

selfie 1.png

selfie 2.png

Lastly, mentioned under the segment for ‘Posting as a form of social performance’, I also seek to explore the idea of social media database since Instagram can be a platform for massive amounts of user generated content. Such media elements from the database can used by various users of different perceptions to construct a potentially unlimited number of narrative films. This is taken reference from Soft Cinema where it makes use of a mode of dynamic, real-time image assembly, executes a series of choices, guided by carefully designed parameters and rules (algorithms), in order to deliver a narrative experience that varies each time it is played. The result is a kind of “ambient narrative” in which narrative meaning and aesthetic coherence must be discerned or constructed by the viewer.

3. Proposed Idea

3.1 Process of Devising

Bearing the research done and influences in mind, my initial research questions were as follows:

A. How does Instagram shape photographic art, especially with the proliferation of smartphone photography (i.e. iphonegraphy)?

B. How do the visual characteristics of pictures differ across different users posting about different genres/issues?

C. What is the potential of social impact with the use of Instagram?

However, feedback received for this initial pitch was that there was no specific focus and my research questions were not hypothesis I was trying to prove, but assumptions, since there was no literature to back them up.

Hence, drawing from my literature review, I pivoted and devised a new set of research questions focusing on the Instagram filters used. I aim to find out:

A. How are the visual characteristics of pictures different across different user groups of different themes?

B. What is the potential of Instagram database visualization and storytelling?

These research questions serve to explain some of the underlying theoretical concepts highlighted from the literature review. For instance, aesthetics issues of data visualization can be uncovered through the conscious choice of users to use specific filters over the others to form the pre-attentive attributes of the imagery. It was also aimed to uncover the potential of the database, in the form of a social network, to see how researchers can work with the massive amounts of user-generated content to develop valuable insights with regards to digital humanities, rather than just for corporate use. Lastly, since the overarching theme of the paper talks about Instagram posting as a form of social performance and the use of photo filters are a form of representation of users’ own interpretation of reality, the last research questions seeks to uncover the potential of storytelling by converging the Instagram database together with non-linear forms of narrative with the various captions and hashtags that users have posted.

3.2 User Experience

experience-flow

Refer to the user experience task flow diagram as shown above.

Essentially, it will be an interactive webpage with a crossword puzzle made up of photos of different genres and/or subject themes. This is to symbolize the documentation of lives with photo sharing as a fundamental public act, with users organizing themselves in different communities around photographic styles/subjects. Users can zoom in to photos of the same genre being grouped together to see the various filters used and other meta data like the other editing configuration. Being able to zoom in to view the aesthetic effects allow users to comprehend the cognitive and emotive styles conveyed and how they fit into the broader trajectories of visual culture.

Additionally, there is another key feature of the web page where users can decide to create their own narratives. In that page, the gallery feed available for users will be all the same filters. Users can use the simple drag-and-drop function to form short films making up of images with the same filters. After which, they can choose to edit the current captions and/or add their own to ensure the narrative flow. This is to symbolize the various conceptions individuals have of the same worldview and it will be interesting to note the infinite amount of arrangements the photos can be re-arranged to create narratives to convey different meanings. With existing data from the database and digital archives (which consists of not just the primary data, but also other experiences users want to convey via the pictures), there is plenty room for development in terms of data visualization to narrate their stories. After creating their own short still-image film, users can also share to various social media networks.

4. Limitations and Future Developments

Instagram, like all other major social networks, possesses an API that allows anyone to download some of its pictures and selected associated data. An individual can choose to download images by location, by tags, or by specific usernames. For each image, metadata that can be retrieved include its tags, description (i.e. caption), date/time stamp, geo coordinates, username, list of users who had liked the image, and comments. There is a challenge in visualizing such high-dimensional data considering the various possible readability and interpretations. Categorising them is also one of the difficulties faced in this project which thus highlights the importance of setting parameters. Not only that limitations to execute this project also involves the technical specifications of it. Considering the profusion of visual data being captured by Instagram, such big data requires specialized technical skills to collect and analyse. To create the interactive webpage alone with the moving visuals requires programming skills which sadly, was not the focus of this module. Hence, for future developments, there is a need to consider this as well.

Future developments can also perhaps be considering data from external photo editing applications like VSCO, Snapseed, Photoshop and so on. Additionally, instead of developing own narratives, users can generate mood boards with fitting filters according to how they are feeling so they (or others) can refer to them for inspiration. This ties in with Metagramme’s notion of conceptualizing intangible tags like emotions. Further development can also be made by including text analysis to include the users’ initial emotions and rationale for posting the posts they did and creators can incorporate that into their narrative writing on the web.

References

Anderson, S. (2006). Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database (Review). The Moving Image. Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2006, pp 136-139. Minnesota: MIT Press

Chaffey, D. (2016). Global social media research summary 2016. Retrieved from http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/.

Fernandez, N. (2014). Filtered Realities: Instagram, Photo Filters, and Postmodern Images. Retrieved from http://www.itaintnecessarilyso.org/articles/2014/08/22/filtered-realities-instagram-photo-filters-and-postmodern-images.

Hu, Y., Manikonda, L., & Kambhampati, S. (2014). What We Instagram: A First Analysis of Instagram Photo Content and User Types. Retrieved from https://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM14/paper/viewFile/8118/8087

Jameson, Fredric. 1991. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

Manovich, L. (2016). Subjects and Styles in Instagram Photography (Part 1). Retrieved from http://manovich.net/content/04-projects/090-subjects-and-styles-in-instagram-photography-part-1/lm_instagram_article_part_1_final.pdf.

McHugh, M. (2015). Turns Out There Are A Lot of Academics Studying Photo Filters. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2015/05/instagram-filters/.

National Information Standards Organization, “What is Metadata?” (Bethesda, MD: NISO Press, 2004)

Smith, C. (2016). 180 Amazing Instagram Statistics. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/important-instagram-stats/7/.

Stephen Ramsay, “Databases,” in Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Professional, 2004)

Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. 2001. Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thomsen, M. (2016). What’s Instagram Doing to Us? Retrieved from http://www.complex.com/life/2016/03/lev-manovich-interview-instagram-project.

Tossell, I. (2012). The Curious Appeal of the Instagram Filter. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/digital-culture/the-curious-appeal-of-the-instagram-filter/article4179844/.

Yang, L., Sun, T., Zhang, M., M, Q. (2012). We Know What @You #Tag: Does the Dual Role Affect Hashtag Adoption? WWW 2012 – Session: Behavioural Analysis and Content Categorization in Social Media. Vol. April 16-20, pp 261-270.

Week 12: Final Project 2nd Draft

After considering the feedback gathered last week from Alexis, here is my refined project brief. To ensure that changes can still be made, point forms will be listed first before I can work more in detailed on them:

Introduction/Background

I will be answering the following questions:

What is this project about?

What is the underlying concept behind this project?

Purpose/Key Questions to Answer

  • Specifically, which filters used drive up engagement on Instagram? How are they different across different countries/cultures?
  • How are the visual characteristics of pictures differ across different users posting about different genres/issues?
  • How are the findings related to cognitive and aesthetics issues of data visualization?

Topics/theories that this project will touch on include: data mining, metadata, aesthetics of data visualization

Literature Review

To support the previous research questions, here are the following points to be researched on

  • Types of filters available in Instagram
  • What are the other kinds of editing tools/filters used for posts in Instagram?  e.g. VSCO cam
  • What are the filters most widely used across the world? Consider which area has the highest concentration of Instagram users.
  • Using a sample unit to analyze, find out the kinds of information that can be derived from this sample and figure out how collection and measurement of data can be done.
  • In relations to aesthetic issues, specifically colour hues, how is the use of different filters aid in the increased/decreased engagement level? How can this be deduced in data visualization?

Findings

(to answer the questions above)

Constructing the dataset

  • process of devising the sample set
  • including a sample data to analyze

References from other work

  • who else has done a project in the same segment?
  • engage the work of related artists (i.e. database narrative, Manovich’s work)

Proposed Interactive Webpage

Conceptualizing Process:

Taking reference from Metagramme (http://t2dsf.com/t2d/study/metagramme.html), I liked the idea of merging the various photos together to see an overall conceptualization of a certain idea based on individual photos posted.

From casual interviews conducted, it was revealed that users like to have a “consistent feed” – meaning the editing style and/or aesthetics of the gallery should remain constant. Refer to the following references of existing Instagrammers who are doing that: 

Bearing that in mind, my final project will be an interactive webpage for users to engage with. At the homepage, users will see the various photos categorized and arranged accordingly to their respective ‘genres’ and will be ‘moving’ taking into account the large amount of photos available.

Since the photos will most probably be in different editing styles considering the kind of ‘genres’ they belong to, when users zoom out to see the entire puzzle, they can see clearly the different visual characteristics.

I will like to include the ‘merge’ function found in the reference project shown. However, one major difference will be that pictures using the same filter will be grouped together and users can rearrange the various photos to create a short still image film. This allows individuals to unleash their creativity in terms

Task flow/User experience flow chart:

123.jpg

Theoretical lines of inquiry

  • discuss in relations to the digital humanities theories learnt
    • in terms of metadata (i.e. the information that can be used when creating a still image film with the photos of the same filter; consider the context)
    • in terms of data visualization (i.e. relational information, visualization display)
    • in terms of cognitive and aesthetics issues of data visualization (i.e. colour hues of filters that affect engagement level of photos?)

 

Week 11: Final Project Concept/Idea

There’s only 2-3 weeks left before our final project and I am REALLY panicking on how I can execute my final project. Thought I will share my idea out to receive open feedback/criticisms or even (best) insights on how I can go about doing it.

I drew my initial plan on a piece of paper for further clarity:

cvnc0n1usaexnvy-jpg-large

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Purpose/key questions to answer

 

  • How does Instagram shape photographic art, especially with the proliferation of smartphone photography (i.e. iphonegraphy)? How has it evolved?
  • How are the visual characteristics of pictures differ across different users posting about different genres/issues?
  • What is the potential of social impact with the use of Instagram?

 

Conceptualizing process

Taking reference from Metagramme (http://t2dsf.com/t2d/study/metagramme.html), I liked the idea of merging the various photos together to see an overall conceptualization of a certain idea based on individual photos posted.

From casual interviews conducted, it was revealed that users like to have a “consistent feed” – meaning the editing style and/or aesthetics of the gallery should remain constant. Refer to the following references of existing Instagrammers who are doing that: 

@orhganic from Singapore

Bearing that in mind, my final project will be an interactive webpage for users to engage with. At the homepage, users will see the various photos categorized and arranged accordingly to their respective ‘genres’ and will be ‘moving’ taking into account the large amount of photos available.

  • NTS: need to confirm if the categorization is done manually, or by the use of hashtags. Manual categorization if one user is selected to fill up the crossword art at one time; use of hashtags if it is random selection of top Instagrammers

Since the photos will most probably be in different editing styles considering the kind of ‘genres’ they belong to, when users zoom out to see the entire puzzle, they can see clearly the different visual characteristics.

I will like to include the ‘merge’ function found in the reference project shown. Similar to Metagramme, it is to see the overall conceptualization of a certain idea based on individual photos posted by merging the various photos together. However, one difference is that the merged pictures will form a pixel art – eventual image may be a picture that received the most likes/comments; but each pixel that makes this eventual picture is a different picture from the gallery. Refer to reference below:

To answer my research question, the other spaces available in the homepage-slash-overall-crossword, may be either dotted (to join plausible connections) or coloured to contain the ‘other’ pictures – showing the potential of using Instagram as a medium to highlight certain social issues.

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Well, to end off, here is a logic flow chart of what I expect my webpage to be like:

nm3223-logic-flow

The different colours highlight the different features explained above.

Please leave a comment either here or on Twitter @_hilarypang if you have any suggestions/critiques/questions! Appreciate them!

 

Tool Evaluation Assignment Pt. 3: Mapping Tools

Selected Mapping Tools:

CartoDB

Refer to link: https://carto.com/  

Introduction: Carto is an open web-based drag-and-drop analysis tool for users to discover and predict the key insights underlying the location data. Making use of widget-driven dashboards and unified workflows, it is also a scalable solution for advanced predictive and spatial analytics. The location data is also enriched with relevant datasets drawn from Caro’s own Data Observatory. Carto also enables visualization, dynamic filtering, and exploration of large location datasets through a complete collection of interactive widgets that can execute and accelerate analytic computations.

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce location-based applications that can be private or public via their sharing options on the dashboard. It is able to create dynamic maps that allows users to explore location-based trends. The tool allows users to plot their data points onto the map before visualizing the data for analysis. It is also able to create an animated map for temporal data representation. In short, Carto is able to create a web interface for users to manage data and create maps, enable a set of APIs to access data, request maps and create applications.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

My final project focuses more on the visual characteristics of imagery posted onto social media in today’s society. Hence, the initial choice for the tool to be used was simply to visualize the pictures posted on the gallery and then pick out the similarity in visual styles. As I continue to work on my idea, it started to explore other possibilities of comparing the various visual characteristics of photos and/or frequency of photos posted across different geographical regions which, in the case, Carto can be used to predict and discover such insights.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

Carto can be used to visualize information plotted onto maps in different ways and aggregated values for particular areas can then be calculated. Hence, for example, the mapping tool can answer questions like: what is the percentage of foreigners in Singapore, and where is the highest concentration of them across varying time periods?

In what format does this tool accept data?

Carto offers support for a broad range of data formats and file types, including point, line, polygon and raster import, as well as analysis and rendering. Additionally, it also supports file extensions like GeoJSON and GPX. For vector file formats that it accepts, they include: .csv, .tab, .shp, .kml, .kmz, .xls, .xlsx, .geojson, .gpx, .osm, .bz2, .ods. It also accepts raster files in the format of .tif.

Users are also able to import data to Carto by downloading data from GME. Carto is also working with certified partners like AppGeo and HabitatSeven to create a migration tool to allow the smooth migration of data.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

Before the creation of a map, there is a need to locate external geospatial data and create new dataset. If the user does not have any data, it is possible to use Carto’s data library options. After which, the dataset needs to be uploaded using any of the Supported File Formats so that the connect dataset options is able to allow use to drag and drop a data file. After all the editing and customization to the datasets are done, a map can be created to visualize and style the information. Users can select to view the data in a map view in which data is rendered using default styles, and/or add more features to it. Users can also after visualize the map with any filters/styles added.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

Carto allows the users to interact with simple wizards to modify the style data on the map. However, if there is a need for customization, Carto exposes CartoCSS to users which is a more widely used map styling language that is immediately comfortable to those who are already familiar with CSS. If users possess the CSS knowledge, they will be able to be opened up for a wide range of new features to leverage for the maps, which includes better control of colour, scale, and positioning. That being said, it means in order to be able to unlock more features, users need to have basic understanding of the CSS programming knowledge.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

Yes, a programming expert who knows CSS.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

No. But if it is for a simple exercise using the basic editor with the datasets that are already available, I will say yes.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

Considering the tool’s ability to segment and zoom in to certain neighbourhood and/or regional areas, I can use this map to show the intensity of Instagram use across the continents. Not only that, filters can be added to show how the idea of aesthetics differ across different geographical region by using a sample image to see the origins of the likes. Additionally, the widgets available in the tool allows users to ask different context-based questions of a dataset. This allows the exploration of different cultural issues into the research.

Google Fusion Tables

Refer to link: https://support.google.com/fusiontables/answer/2571232

Introduction: Google Fusion Tables is a cloud-based data management system that was initially designed for organizations to make their data available online for online collaboration internally or externally. Being an experimental data visualization web application, it gathers, visualize and shares data tables.  

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

Google Fusion Tables is able to create visualizations like chart, map, network graph or even a custom layout.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

The unique selling point of this tool lies in its online collaboration ability. The tool allows the merging of two or three tables together to generate a single visualization which is useful if there is a need to measure several variables at once. Additionally, it allows the embedding of public data for a better visualization. Users can access the data anywhere online.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

Considering the different kinds of visualizations that are available on the tool, they can help answer different questions relating to the dataset. For instance, if a network graph is used, the intensity of the relationships between the nodes can be identified. If it comes in the form of a chart, aggregated figures can be figured out.

In what format does this tool accept data?

Users can upload their data files in various formats such as an Excel spreadsheet, or Comma Seperated Values. Users can upload data sets up to 100MB. Users are able to upload data tables from CSV files too, or even KML. Developers can use the Fusion Tables API to insert, update, delete and query data programmatically. Data can be exported as CSV or KML too. Otherwise, users can find public data on Google Tables easily via the web.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

There will be a need to present the data in an excel format or in a table form. Hence, there is a need to categorise the raw data into different sub headings or columns first.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

This tool was used during one of the week’s homework and is relatively easy for a beginning to use.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

Shouldn’t need an expert to help master this tool.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

This tool can be mastered in a short period of time.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

Tapping on the tool’s collaboration tool and possibility for real-time editing, this tool will be ideal for real-time reporting. For instance, the tool can be used to show the events that are happening right now on the various areas so individuals can access it and decide to go or not based on the popularity level. Event organizers are able to also use this visualization to evaluate the effectiveness of their event at real time.

Esri StoryMaps

Refer to link: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/en/

Introduction: Esri StoryMaps allows users to combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content to tell a compelling story by harnessing the power of maps and geography. Upon creation of a map, users can also share the map to the public. Basically, the tool makes use of ArcGIS, a geographic information system that connects people with maps, data and apps. This is made accessible to anyone, anywhere and anytime.

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce a story map which helps to better author a story. This tool also allows customization of maps if the user is proficient in coding. The various types story map apps include: a sequence of place-enabled photos/videos (Story Map Tour), a rich multimedia narrative (Story Map Journal and Story Map Cascade), a series of maps (Story Map Series – Tabbed Layout and Side Accordion Layout and Bulleted Layout), a dynamic collection of crowdsourced photos (Story Map Crowdsource), a curated set of places of interests (Story Map Shortlist), comparison of two maps (Story Map Swipe and SpyGlass), Story Map Basic and also custom templates.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool focuses on the narrative aspect of the data – how the data can be visualized in a manner to tell a story. It can either come in sequential place-based narrative (map tours), curated points-of-interest list and/or map comparisons as mentioned above. This tool is similar to the other tools evaluated – where the storytelling power of maps aims to bring together words, images, videos and data via one accessible platform.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool helps users to learn geographic content, develop spatial thinking skills while utilising real-world applications. Maps are most often used to expand the digital worlds to better narrate a story considering it is a visual representation of where events happen. Questions that might be answered with this map include: what are some of the iconic landmarks of Singapore and how has it changed over the years? What are some of the stories behind the conserved buildings in Singapore? These questions can be answered if the project is about the story of urban conservation in Singapore.

In what format does this tool accept data?

The tool is able to extract data from existing online mediums. However, the updated version does not allow the exporting of images from Facebook.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

Data, for instance photos/videos, are required to be changed to a landscape orientation and to be stored at a platform, maybe Flickr prior creating a story map. This is so that the application is able to access those media directly and automatically select the best image size, reads in the geotag information from the images to locate them on the map and use the other metadata with the media.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

While the actual creation of a story map requires some technical ability, Esri has designed the interface for non-technical audiences. The tool markets itself as not requiring any coding abilities, and that it is a powerful open-source application for beginners to use.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

No, shouldn’t be. Even if there is a need for simple HTML editing to customize certain font size etc, there are already online guides available on the web.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Yes, most probably.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

This tool can be used to reflect the heritage of Singapore. For instance, there are many places in Singapore undergoing or pending demolition and/or topocide. The loss of such cultural significance will definitely impede on the understanding of national identity for the future generations. That being said, this tool can be used to reflect the old and the new, allows users to see the gradual change of Singapore’s urban development across the years and also allows users to add their own personal experiences and/or narratives to the iconic landmarks.

Getting Started in the Digital Humanities

A very good insightful post for the introduction of Digital Humanities. I know it is already week 9, but no harm reading this up to prepare for your final project!

Digital Scholarship in the Humanities

Last week I presented at the Great Lakes College Association’s New Directions workshop on digital humanities (DH), where I tried to answer the question “Why the digital humanities?” But I discovered that an equally important question is “How do you do the digital humanities”?  Although participants seemed to be excited about the potential of digital humanities, some weren’t sure how to get started and where to go for support and training.

Building on the slides I presented at the workshop, I’d like to offer some ideas for how a newcomer might get acquainted with the community and dive into DH work. I should emphasize that many in the DH community are to some extent self-taught and/or gained their knowledge through work on projects rather than through formal training. In my view, what’s most important is being open-minded, experimental, and playful, as well as grounding your learning in a specific project…

View original post 2,290 more words

Tool Evaluation Assignment Pt. 2: Timeline Tools

Selected Timeline Tools:

1. MyHistro

Refer to link: http://www.myhistro.com/

Introduction: MyHistro is a geo-located interactive timeline with a social twist. Allowing the combination of maps and timelines, text, videos, and pictures can be added as well to create a dynamic timeline mashup. Timelines created can then be exported to a pdf file, or export into Google Earth format for offline storage, or embedded to websites for increased exposure.

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What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

MyHistro is able to create timelines embedded with text, video and pictures to create a compelling story. It is able to also combine maps and timelines into one presentation that can be saved into a PDF format. In short, myHistro combines timelines, photos, videos and blogs to create memories and tell stories. It helps to visualize the three dimensions of a story: where, when and how. Various applications can be not just for personal usage, but also for educational purposes if teachers want to engage the tool for a more in-depth exploration of a certain topic.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool allows the mapping of images to show the location in which a specific event takes place. The ‘co-authoring’, ‘people in this event’, ‘I was here too’ and ‘follow the story’ features all helped to build on the sociality and inter-connectivity of the tool. This could actually be a suitable tool for my final project by allowing a more elaborate story to be told. For instance, considering how most famous Instagrammers have been travelling around and not just posting pictures based in just Singapore, it will be interesting to post a timeline illustrating a “pre-famous” to “famous” period and see how the different visuals posted possess any difference.

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

Considering the application is able to map pictures to geographical information, metadata can be visualized on the Google maps instead of a simply location tag when we look at picture details. Questions that are able to be answered include:

  1. What is the movement pattern?
  2. How has the place changed over the years?
  3. How is culture different across different places?

In what format does this tool accept data?

MyHistro allows the importing of data from other websites in addition to the text/pictures/videos. As it is still focused on content creation, it does not allow the automatic transfer of other data from existing social networks just yet.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

As mentioned, since myHistro is very much focused on content creation, users will just need to upload their data and create their own timeline on the application.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

I do not think this tool will be difficult to master. It seems almost similar like a social blogging platform to tell their own stories.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

I don’t think there is a need to engage any outside expert for this.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Yes, for sure.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

I can make use of myHistro as a social tool to illustrate the timeline of a particular user and compare it with the other famous Instagrammers. I will be able to spot trends like “when this this particular user start gaining fame” or “which was the peak of this Instagrammer’s career” and so on. Not only that, if the Instagrammers I am analysing are travelling around, it will clearly show the changes in visual characteristics for the pictures mapped in different places. The difference in editing style may also change as time goes by.

2. TimelineJS

Refer to link: https://timeline.knightlab.com/

Introduction: TimelineJS is an open-source tool that enables anyone to build visually rich, interactive timelines. It allows timelines to be embedded into any local website, supports multimedia functionality, including social media posts, articles, and video. It is an easy to use platform by using an uploaded Google Spreadsheet (for basic users). Embed codes can be used on any website in any format: PC, tablet, and mobile. Even though the pros include the nice-looking (and easy) user interface, and supports Google API, the cons are that only Google spreadsheets are allowed and there is a slight lag time in loading real time features (e.g. tweets).

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What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

TimelineJS can be used to visualize any chronological progression in an interactive and informative way. Since it supports multimedia usage, it can also be used to show videos, text, pictures and even live social media feeds. Refer to the Mandela example shown above.

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

Similar to myHistro, this tool serves to show the chronological progression of a certain issue and illustrate the events that happened along a specific time period and/or place. Considering the problem statement, I will like to explore deeper into is with regards to the varying visual characteristics posted at different timing and/or place, this could be a suitable tool to illustrate that instead of image analysis application. However, one drawback though will be the lack of functions to compare the visual design properties of the pictures posted. This application is also superior because it allows the embedding of social media platforms that allow for real-time commentary.

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What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool can help to describe the events that occurred (or when it is happening with the live social media function) before another event, leading up to it, causing it, and also those that occurred right afterwards that were attributable to it.

In what format does this tool accept data?

This tool accepts data from a Google spreadsheet for basic users. Hence, the minimum requirement will be to have a Google Drive account for basic use. Advanced users can create timelines from JSON objects. TimelineJS is also great for pulling media from different sources. Users will just have to embed a link from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and/or SoundCloud and the tool will format it to fit perfectly.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

We will have to import and organize our data into a Google spreadsheet before uploading onto TimelineJS. It is relatively simple as users will just have to publish the data by embedding the Google link. We will first need to download the TimelineJS Google Spreadsheet template, input the data on it, make the spreadsheet public, publish to the web to generate the URL to embed in the HTML file. After all that is done, we can just easily copy/paste the web URL into the TimelineJS HTML file.

For advanced users on the other hand, data can be loaded in the form of JSON objects. There are also a variety of customization options available. For details on how to configure and customise a timeline, you may refer to this link: https://github.com/NUKnightLab/TimelineJS#config-options and/or https://www.gadgetdaily.xyz/compile-your-own-kernel-tutorial/.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

There is a range of difficulty for this tool. For basic users, this tool is very simple and flexible – users can churn out a timeline in a matter of minutes since creating one is as easy as filling in a Google spreadsheet. For advanced users on the other hand, there will be a need to know how to code JSON. This means knowledge on coding on Javascript and/or CSS system will be required.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

For basic use, there is no need for an outside expert. Unless there is requirement for customization, which in the case, a programmer who has knowledge on Javascript and/or CSS will be needed as coding is necessary to load the files, embed to web and configuring of the time line.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

Considering how for the final project there will be a need to  customize in order to tell a compelling story according to the narrative we have composed, I will say advanced usage of the application is necessary however there is insufficient time to learn how to code before the submission date.

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

I can use this tool to showcase a few handpicked Instagrammers of a specific genre and compare their timelines in terms of when did they become popular and which photo was their pivot. Additionally, I can use this tool to showcase their captions and/or stories and see live commentary whenever they post a new picture to compare the statistics and engagement level.

3. Neatline

Refer to link: http://neatline.org/demos/

Introduction: Neatline is a geotemporal exhibit-builder – essentially a tool that is able to create interactive editions of visual materials that include maps, paintings, photographs and so on. It allows users to include complex maps, image annotations and narrative sequences to allow them to be connected with a timeline that are usually ambiguous and complicated for readers to understand. It is usually expressed in terms of a single document or a whole archival or cultural heritage collection.

What kind of visualizations can this tool produce?

This tool can produce interactive stories that can be in a form of a single document, whole archival or cultural heritage collection. Series of sample visualizations can be referred to here: http://neatline.org/demos/. They are not limited to map-based visualizations (look at the Map tiles by Stamen Design; it is made up of a collection of letters).

How are this tool’s visualization capabilities distinct from the capabilities of other tools you’re considering for your project?

This tool enables the input of large collections of data into an exhibit. There are also multiple plugins available like NeatlineText (that connects words in Neatline exhibit), NeatlineSimile (that allows the addition of timeline widget), and NeatlineWaypoints (that allows users to be guided in a linear sequence).

What kinds of questions might this tool help us answer about our data?

This tool presents geospatial information as a collection of “records” plotted on a map, which can be connected into interactive exhibits to tell compelling stories and make arguments.

In what format does this tool accept data?

This tool accepts data in various forms like: georeferenced historical maps, manuscripts, high-resolution photographs and so on. They can be from an existing collection or users can create a new digital archive themselves. For plotting of information on the maps, the tool accepts “.jpg” files.

What would we need to do to our data in order to allow the tool to make use of it?

Users can input their data onto a base layer – selecting from either street map, or Google Streets/Phical/Hybrid/Satellite, Stamen Watercolor/Toner/Terrain. Choosing the base layer is crucial because it can tell a different narrative if chosen incorrectly. For instance, if the narrative is based on a current analysis of space, using the modern maps available will be more appropriate than using historical maps. Users will then need to plot their data on the maps while also adding visuals to direct the audience’s movement through the exhibit, telling a narrative along the way.

How difficult will this tool be to master?

This tool is designed for scholars, archivists, journalists and students. The range of difficult level through the provision of a flexible set of tools that can be adapted to meet the needs of a wide range of digital mapping projects. The plugin features extensive customization options, allowing creators to design a wide variety of user experiences. Examples include free form interactions, user-direction interactions, quasi-cinematic, and heavily mediated narratives. That being said for these customization to take place, it will be more difficult for the tool to be mastered. However, there are existing video tutorials to teach users and information provided on the installation, configuration and on the various technical aspects.

Will you need an outside expert to help us master this tool? If so, what kind of expert?

No, I don’t think so. The current tutorials available online should be sufficient enough unless customization options are required.

Taking into account the time needed to manipulate our data as well as the time needed to master the tool, could we produce a visualization with this tool in the time available to us?

No, if there will be a high level of customization

How do you think you can use this tool for a project?

This tool can be used to present collections of data and work together to illustrate any space and/or time-based narratives. An example could be the statistics of immigrants and/or foreigners entering Singapore since independence (and/or before independence). Movement patterns can also be analysed by including information of Singaporeans leaving the country. Such information can be used to see how Singapore is increasingly becoming a ‘melting pot’ and how the issue of xenophobia is increasingly becoming important.

 

Week 9 Homework: He Had His Reasons

Title: He Had His Reasons

Link: https://granta.com/he-had-his-reasons/

Characters/Nodes:

23

  1. Protagonist: Alan Hawe

Alan Hawe was the protagonist or key individual featured in the article after his murder-suicide that happened in 2016 that resulted in a tragic family tragedy.  His case was featured in the narrative as an example to highlight the social issues centred around mental illness as well as the plausibility of domestic abuse in the country.

  1. Protagonist’s wife: Clodagh

Clodagh Hawe, Alan’s wife, was murdered with a knife through her throat. She was vital in the article considering her name was not mentioned in the media post-killing and was simply subsumed within the story of her husband’s mental illness and suicide. A hashtag, #HerNameWasClodagh, was after that created and trended on the Irish Twitter to address such prejudices.

  1. Protagonist’s son 1: Liam
  2. Protagonist’s son 2: Niall
  3. Protagonist’s son 3: Ryan
  4. Unnamed neighbour who was interviewed in the Daily Mirror
  5. Unnamed friends
  6. Church (? Since they are a church-going family)
  7. Local national school (? Since Alan Hawe was the vice-president)
  8. GAA (Alan’s affliations)
  9. Teenage handball team (Alan’s affliations)
  10. Gardai (police force of Ireland)
  11. Irish Mirror commenter (opinion piece featuring the case as a study to reduce social stigma on mental illness)
  12. Dr Jacquelyn Campbell of John Hopkins University (who wrote his opinion on domestic abuse)
  13. Sally Rooney (writer on Irish Independent about suicide in Ireland post the murder-suicide case)
  14. Professor Ella Arensman, Director of Research at the National Suicide Research Foundation (who requested for an investigation after 24 other incidents had been happening since 2004)

Please refer to the network chart here: https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?docid=1z1gjq65UwsnrvrvbZxb8XUySjmNAE7CEZ0oAfiEq

Question: What, if anything, does this network graph illuminate about the characters’ connections?

It is able to clearly show the relationships of other parties in relations to the protagonists when I organize them based on ‘roles’ or ‘affiliated to’ with the characters. I segregate them based on three key groups: 1. the protagonist and the victims themselves, 2. public groups who are investigating, including various sources from the media who are covering the issue based on different angles and 3. the affiliations to the protagonists which contributed to the prejudices on the issues. Based on this categorization, the network graph was able to illuminate the key issues each party is associated with.

Question: What are its limitations?

There are overlapping nodes in different categories which was not illustrated in the graph. For example, the issues that was associated with Alan Hawe was not only about him committing a murder-suicide crime. However, it was with such controversy that sparked discussion for issues concerning prejudices with class, gender, social stigma that comes with mental illness, domestic abuse, marginalization of victims and so on. These issues were also covered and commented by different media groups and/or organizations which I simply categorized them under “media”. It would be better if the connections between the nodes could be further divided and elaborated to show the different stances on the issues – if they are sympathizing with Alan Hawe or not based on different reasons covered. Currently, the prejudices were mentioned without any depth. I also felt that the links showed currently are simply too direct, but what about those sub-characters who also played a part in influencing readers’ perspective in the narrative?

 

 

Week 7 In-Class Activity: Comments on 5 DH Projects

1. AEGARON (Ancient Egyptian Architecture Online)

Link: http://dai.aegaron.ucla.edu/

Question 1: What are these projects trying to do?

AEGARON is an online project which provides a globally accessible and open access publication of high-quality plans and architectural drawings of ancient Egyptian buildings. The information in the database is researched in detail, proving its credibility, collected from multiple sources, checked on-site and accounted for in extensive metadata. AEGARON is also constantly maintained and sustained by UCLA digital library.

As architectural drawings of buildings dating back to the Pharaonic period are often hard to find or not published adequately – showing an issue of databases face, it was difficult to get an overview of the built environment of the time. Hence this project was created to improve the present state of architectural representations by developing an open-access online archive of vetted plans.

Question 2: Are the projects doing something that a book or article couldn’t do? If so, what?

Yes I feel that information can be constantly updated in this project as compared to a static archived database like books. I appreciate how a selection of drawings is made, based on the quality of first hand information that it comprises. To prevent the potential distortion of the drawings, they are first scanned and loaded into AutoCAD for redrawing. Each building is also examined in detail so that information given can be transferred to a standardized visual language. With similar drawing conventions, it also allow the understanding of the buildings and details while facilitating comparisons with other buildings.

Additionally, each plan is accompanied by a critical apparatus (drawing log) which contains background information. This project is definitely more interactive than a book/article with its ability to be downloaded freely in various formats, so users can change them according to their learning preferences. It also comes with tutorials to teach users how to best read the readings, which standards had been developed and how to extract measurements.

Question 3: How would you classify each project (e.g. history, literature, philosophy..?)

I would classify this project under history and architecture. However, taking into consideration that the architecture was represented as accurately and similarly as possible, without limitation to or focus on any classical era of the Egyptian culture, I wouldn’t say this is a cultural piece.

Question 4: What do you like about these projects?

I like this project for its capability for me to refer to background information with regards to the Egyptian culture in the event I need some context to understand the history of the buildings.  I also like the various drawings that are depicted in multiple states. I feel this will provide various kinds of interpretations as a user. Also the additional files and features that the project includes to provide a more spatial perspective for the users are really useful to provide a more engaged sense of place for individuals.

Question 5: What do you dislike and how would you improve them?

I feel an audio element could be added to provide a more inclusive environment for the individual to be in. With the proliferation of 360 degree videos and/or use of virtual reality (VR) headsets, such technology can also be implemented in the project to allow for an immersive experience for users to engage in – while looking at the various visuals, individuals can also understand the history better by “being in it”.

2. Quantifying Kissinger

Link: http://blog.quantifyingkissinger.com/

Question 1: What are these projects trying to do?

“Quantifying Kissinger” is a computational analysis of Henry Kissinger’s correspondence from 1968 to 1977. After an interview with Nixon’s Domestic Affairs Assistar John Ehrlichman in 1982, which revealed that historians were engaged and charged for with listening and analyzing all of the administration’s correspondence, this project was created to exhibit an awareness of Digital Humanities in relations to history.

Question 2: Are the projects doing something that a book or article couldn’t do? If so, what?

This project allows visualizations in animated form to show changes in the various descriptive metadata from the ‘n-gram mapping’ done. Facing a common frustration which is scarcity of information in the past, historians are facing complications to historically situate and interpret Kissinger. However, in the present is the the opposite – which is the overwhelming load of information. This project deals with the struggle of understanding and managing ‘big data’, with new adaptation, development and employment of numerous tools/methods/interpretive frameworks to overcome such an issue to facilitate new historical interpretations.

Question 3: How would you classify each project (e.g. history, literature, philosophy..?)

I would classify this project to be history, considering the series of historical text analyses and data visualizations conducted on the DNSA (Digital National Security Archives)’s Kissinger ‘Memcons’ collection and ‘Telcons’ collection.

Question 4: What do you like about these projects?

I like how textual and sentiment analyses can be conducted to the project, providing a broad computational approach for data visualization. It allows for new quantitative avenues to explore a sophisticated challenge that diplomatic historians face – which is to assess and track the changes in influence and participation of individuals and/organizations in foreign policy making.

Question 5: What do you dislike and how would you improve them?

I feel the inconsistencies that come with the emotions expressed could be better analyzed via another method. Such subjectivity should not be a text-based analysis since it could be a sentiment for numerous other compelling interpretations and explanations.

3. Freedom’s Ring

Link: http://freedomsring.stanford.edu/?view=Speech
 

Question 1: What are these projects trying to do?

This project is Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech in animated format. In this project, users can compare the written and spoken speech, explore multimedia images, listen to movement activists and uncover the historical context. This project was created to appreciate the many people whose work and lives had contributed to Freedom’s Ring. With reference to many compelling graphics drawn, it serves to resonate with the audience through the key ideas expressed via the speech.

Question 2: Are the projects doing something that a book or article couldn’t do? If so, what?

The user can fully explore the speech via reading/listening, scrolling and tapping on various links to assess other information. Additionally, King’s improvisations and unused portions of King’s written remarks were included for better understanding. Graphic representations (in animated form) were also included to allow a better understanding. Additionally users can choose to fast forward/backward enabling reference of work atany point in time.

Question 3: How would you classify each project (e.g. history, literature, philosophy..?)

I would classify this project under history and political/social science.

Question 4: What do you like about these projects?

I like the interactivity and engagement of this project. I like the feature where I can choose to show either the spoken/written text and compare it with the actual text that was shared. Additionally, I like how as an user, I am often placed in appropriate contexts through the highlighted issues presented to me – made searchable via the index, categorized by themes.

Question 5: What do you dislike and how would you improve them?

I found the interface to be distracting in the beginning however as I continued, I found the graphics and the choice of text presentation to be fitting.

4. Voyages

Link: http://www.slavevoyages.org/
 

Question 1: What are these projects trying to do?

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has information on almost 36,000 slaving voyages that illustrated the forced journey for over 10 million Africans across the seas to Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Using the database, this project aims to trace back the names of the habitants in America and Europe back to their origins. The changes in names after migration/movement can also be discovered through such exploration. Different kinds of information on the voyages can also be searched (e.g. names) based on quantity with the data included.

Question 2: Are the projects doing something that a book or article couldn’t do? If so, what?

More accurately describe the historical event/phenomenon, with actual date and proof. It is a profound research, with much more refined details, that provides a well-rounded historical/anthropological experience. The interactive map in the database provides the ease of tracing the effect of this trade since it extends beyond many places in different continents. It also allows the documentation of the various course of the voyages, that detail the destinations, even deaths on slavers.

Question 3: How would you classify each project (e.g. history, literature, philosophy..?)

I would classify this as a historical project.

Question 4: What do you like about these projects?

Refresh one’s perspective of the world, as whole, through out history; adds detail to the understanding of humankind as a society, through observation of the transition of human civilization. I think this database helped to highlight the importance of slave trade during its days where many merchants/investors/ship captains made their fortune in the sale of human beings and how they made progression and living in different areas.

Question 5: What do you dislike and how would you improve them?

Nothing, although I hoped the database could also have included information on other areas where slavery could have/had occurred.

5. Kindred Britain

Link: http://kindred.stanford.edu/#

Question 1: What are these projects trying to do?

Kindred Britain assembles and visualizes records of nearly 30,000 individuals mainly (but not exclusively) British whom are extremely well-known in the nation’s culture. This project focuses on network analysis, highlighting the various affiliations and relationships shared via the correlations represented. Any person recorded can be connected to one or others via familial relationships of ancestry, descent, sibling hood, marriage. This project allows individuals to discover, experiment, speculate and play with the various nodes and connections available. It enables readers to trace back roots and understand more about the British past via the relationships these influential British shared.

Question 2: Are the projects doing something that a book or article couldn’t do? If so, what?

A static form of archive like books will not be able to allow a search function. Especially so in a database such as this with so many individuals involved, it will be difficult to refer and trace back the relationships if this database was in a paper form.

Question 3: How would you classify each project (e.g. history, literature, philosophy..?)

I would classify this project as social and/or cultural studies considering the various figures involved in British culture – mainly connected through family relationships of blood, marriage, or affiliation.

Question 4: What do you like about these projects?

I like the narrative and the potential narrative that connections/relationships between individuals can tell about their background, families and/or personal histories. It enables numerous angles to be explored through the sorting, shaping and visualizing powers of network analysis in contemporary software.

Question 5: What do you dislike and how would you improve them?

I thought more labeling could be done when exploring the various relationships different individuals shared. Side information can also be included to provide the narrative with more context.