Recapping Week 1

After months of planning and anticipation, DSSRF 2017 got off to a great start this past week. Our four fellows are full of energy, enthusiasm, and curiosity. One of the things that’s interesting about our cohort is that Tyler and Justin have some background in digital scholarship and digital humanities, while Rennie and Minglu are completely new to the field. Yet they’ve all already shown a willingness to engage in deep discussions with each other about their project ideas, making suggestions about different methods and tools that could be useful. One of my favorite examples of this came when Rennie was explaining his project idea, which involves analyzing player performance and overall team performance in the NHL during the 2016-17 season. He intends to use statistics and data visualization techniques in his project, but Justin also suggested the possibility of analyzing footage from games using video annotation software as another means of gathering data. These kinds of interactions happened many times over the course of the week, and the students have modeled honest, thoughtful feedback with each other.

Week 1 was a bit of a whirlwind in terms of content, and we challenged the students to think deeply about the advantages, challenges, and values of digital scholarship. We watched Miriam Posner’s excellent video, “How Did They Make That?”, which helped us gain a better understanding of how we move from a research question to applying digital tools and methods to answer that research question. And while we haven’t started our in-depth training with various tools yet, we asked students to find a tool (one we won’t be learning) that might apply to their research area and demonstrate it for the group.

  • Tyler showed us Lexos, a powerful tool for text cleaning and basic text analysis.
  • Rennie demoed RAWGraphs, an online suite of data visualization tools.
  • Minglu compared StoryMap JS and ESRI StoryMaps, both which allow for a combination of mapping and other elements.
  • Justin introduced us to ELAN, a multimedia annotation tool.

Finally, inspired by a reading of the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0, we gave our students 45 minutes on their own to write (as a group) their own digital scholarship manifesto. Their only prompt was these two questions: What are your goals for the summer as a cohort? How will you support one another in these goals? You can read what they wrote on the main page of this website. I don’t want to speak for Courtney, but I was deeply impressed with the thoughtfulness of their message, their commitment to supporting each other, and their openness to learning throughout the process. I think we can all learn something from their closing statement:

“We will fail. We will reject that failure carries negative connotations. We will succeed. We will disagree, and we will become stronger as a group because of this. We will gain knowledge in areas in which we have never before dabbled. Life is richest when we become good at many things, and there is no doubt our lives will be enriched through this program.”

And now we move on to Week 2, when we dive into the world of text analysis and TEI!

The DSSRF 2017 Cohort: Tyler Candelora ’19, Rennie Heza ’18, Minglu Xu ’20, and Justin Guzman ’19, with librarians Courtney Paddick and Carrie Pirmann. Photo courtesy of Ben Hoover.

Justin – Week 1

Working in a group setting with productive and honest people is helping me shape my project. Before this week I only had an idea of what I’d do for my research, but after talking with the group about what I had in mind really helped me gain a stronger understanding of my project. My project will be studying films and their screenplays that were released during periods of mass social activism, A few movements I had are the LGTBQ+ movement, the Civil Rights movement, and the Women’s Right’s movements. The argument I’m trying to make is that film can do more than entertain people, and that it can be used as a political and social device that either aids or harms the movement they were released during. From three periods of social activism I will gather about ten films and their screenplays each.  Lately, I’ve been thinking that I should gather more films and that ten isn’t enough. I’ve been trying to determine the scope of my project and there are only so many films I can actually watch. I met with John Hunter and he may have a way for me to analyze these films faster and more accurately. This way involves ripping the metadata off of a dvd, specifically the closed captioning which can give you a line and a timestamp of when it was said in the film. It also fins the image that’s on screen at the time. This makes it so I can spend more time gathering films and analyzing what I get in order to create a better argument because I’ll have more films to reference. John’s  way of gathering data from the dvd also finds the ten lines before the specific line you decide to choose and the ten lines after in order to provide context. I’ve also been toying with the idea of only doing one social movement with large collection of films. This movement being the LGBTQ+ movement. There aren’t many digital scholarship projects that address the history of the LGBTQ+ movement and cinema and cinema may have aided or hurt the movement. There are archives and projects that attempt to restore and preserve cinema and media, but not many that try to make arguments based on those collections. This makes me feel like my work is meaningful because there aren’t many projects like mine for people to access. I’d like for people to be able to search for films during a specific ranges of time such as ten years and understand what was being depicted in the media as  LGBTQ+.

While being able to structure my project in a better way thanks to our daily meetings I’ve been able to understand topics such as copyright and open source. My project shouldn’t run into any copyright issues as my use of the films are educational and informative. While going over fair use my project didn’t seem to fall under what didn’t constitute as fair use.

I have my project somewhat figured out, but it definitely needs work in how it’s being shaped before I actually begin gathering and analyzing data.

A Digital Scholarship Journey

As I begin another wonderful dive into the world of Digital Scholarship, I am incredibly happy to be working in part with the Digital Scholarship and Pedagogy department at Bucknell University as a summer research fellow. I was immediately intrigued with this research position because of my consistent work with digital projects and tools. The breadth of digital humanities is immense; projects can range from departments in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, etc. Also, considering digital humanities is becoming a more significant study, there are new developments and platforms for analysis that open up different research questions and interdisciplinary studies.

JFK Memorial

During the summer of 2016,  I conducted research on my hometown, in the Pennsylvania Coal Region. Particularly, I was studying the cultural significances of Shamokin and Coal Township by analyzing ten monuments. As a result, I created an interactive map of the monuments using the geo-spatial plugin Neatline with all of my metadata saved on Omeka. Also, I have worked with the Coal Collections research team, recently investigating the various immigrant groups in the anthracite coal regions of Pennsylvania during the Spring 2017 semester.

I wanted to continue my research in the Coal Region and using monuments as a medium for uncovering historical trends and cultural values. However, for my project during the summer of 2017, I want to add new additional digital tools and expand my scope past Shamokin and Coal Township. Since my previous research is easily able to be added too, I have currently decided to investigate monuments in surrounding Coal Region towns: Mount Carmel, Ashland, Kulpmont, Minersville, Frackville, etc. However, I have to narrow my scope to specific towns, most likely, Minersville and Mount Carmel. Recently, I wrote an academic essay theorizing why Shamokin, notable for coal production, did not have any monuments to miners. Thus, I am looking for monuments to miners in other coal region towns and analyzing their perceptions of miners.

The Hiker

After analyzing other monuments in the Coal Region, I would like to investigate monuments dedicated to miners cross-culturally, if possible. I would like to research miners in Chile’s mining districts and how they are perceived and, if they are, memorialized by the citizens.

While researching monuments to miners, I want to incorporate other depiction of miners too. For example, paintings, poetry, and photography, that reveal the sentiments of community members, whether they were criticisms or romantic representations of coal miners.

(I think adding audio components of citizens from the Coal Region explaining how they view[ed] coal miners would be helpful too)

I am excited to begin learning more visualization techniques, especially Gephi and Google Fusion Tables. I would like to add to my map on Neatline, but I do not want to repeat my previous research. I hope to have informative data visualizations and display all the information in a coherent fashion through Scalar or digital story maps. I have really enjoyed all the meetings and work our facilitators have put into this fellowship and my colleagues advice. I am eager to begin this in-depth project, but I know I need to better define my research question and narrow my scope.

An Introduction

Week 1 of the Digital Scholarship and Summer Research Fellows program has opened my eyes to the vast amount of information and tools out there available to us and once again reminded me of how much I don’t know. Besides gaining a better understanding of what Digital Scholarship is, this week has also helped me to narrow my research topic down to the increase in internet use in China.

When many of us think about internet use and access in China, the first thought that pops up is likely to be the restrictions that the Chinese government places on internet use and the inaccessibility of information that is deemed to be too sensitive for publishing. This impression of internet accessibility in China is not without reason, for China continues to block search engines like Google and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, what is less evident to people living outside of China is how the internet has drastically changed the country – business opportunities have swarmed towards e-commerce and online services, and people are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile phone apps like WeChat in their everyday lives.

On my last trip to Beijing recently, it was hard not to notice the rows of bright yellow bicycles lining roads everywhere. I then found out that these bicycles belong to a start-up company called ofo that created a bike-sharing system where people can simply go to their online app store and scan a QR code to unlock the bike at a minimal fee (charged by distance traveled). It has been an extremely successful project, and the company now owns over 3 million bikes across the country. This initiative could potentially drastically improve traffic conditions in the city in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner. Innovations like this one are constantly being introduced to people in the country, especially those living in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

I am intrigued by the extraordinary changes that have taken place in China over past decades and especially that past few years that were brought about by increased internet use. Hence, my project will focus on the economic and social impacts of China’s internet wave on different regions in the country. I hope that through this project, I will be able to better understand and map out the significant changes that have taken place over time. By first analyzing the differences in the speed of increase in Internet use in different cities or provinces, I will then examine the possible implications of these variations.

The presentation of this information is of course also extremely important. This past week, I have had the chance to experiment with various digital tools that could be useful in the presentation of my findings and explore possible ways in which I can take my project. Storymap and Timeline JS especially stands out to me and perhaps will allow me to display the information I have in a clear and concise manner. In the weeks to come, I am excited to learn more about the digital tools out there available to us and also look further into my research topic to come up with new ideas and directions in which I can take my project.

Week 1 Blog

Week 1 of the DSSRF program has been whirlwind of meeting Bucknell’s library staff, hashing out project ideas, and becoming familiar with the tools we will be using this summer. Though busy, the week has provided me strong reassurance that the DSSRF program is the great opportunity my academic advisor brought to my attention months ago. This February, while unsuccessfully trying to navigate the endless job boards, Mathematics Professor Nathan Ryan, my dedicated academic advisor, alerted me of the DSSRF program, highlighting the structured yet individualized research that could be done through this program.

To understand why this program is such a great fit for me, I must explain my intended area of reserach. I have long been interested in sports analytics. As a child, I memorized batting averages in baseball, save percentages for hockey goalies, and other seemingly useless numbers. It was only recently I realized this lifelong passion could blossom into a career. Given no other programs on Bucknell’s campus cater to this interest of mine, the DSSRF program is the perfect opportunity to get a taste of research while keeping my career goals in mind.

Through the application and interview process, I was hesitant to fully commit to a project idea. A successful eight weeks of research hinges on an intriguing, yet achievable research question. This pressure to land on the perfect research topic gnawed away at me in the weeks leading up to the program’s start. However, upon meeting with our program facilitators, Courtney Paddick and Carrie Pirrman, my nerves calmed. I was reminded that a research question is not set in stone. Projects adapt, researchers constantly strive to overcome whatever barriers they may face, and adjust as need be.

Throughout this week I have narrowed the project idea I initially brought to the application process. With the help of the program facilitators and the input of my fellow researchers, I now know that I want to create a visual data comparison of NHL teams, linking individual performance metrics with team success. In my opinion, the challenge is to present overwhelming amounts of data, to anyone, a hockey fan or otherwise, in an understandable format. This allows every viewer to understand the metrics driving the modern game of hockey. Though I am sure my project will change as the summer goes on, I am proud to have landed on an idea which I am confident will yield an interesting result. I owe great thanks to my advisor for bringing this wonderful opportunity to my attention, to my research peers for proposing project tweaks all week, and to the program facilitators for believing that this project had potential from the beginning. Though we’re only a week in,  I am confident this summer will prepare us well for whatever is to come.