Luna’s Introduction (#3)

(Alright people, let’s do this one last time.)

Hi! My name is Luna Yee and I’m now a senior Computer Science and Linguistics major planning to graduate after Winter term. This is my third year as a Digital Humanities Associate (DHA). I’ve been involved with a fair few of our group’s projects at this point, as well as support for a number of DH-involved classes. I’ve also been involved with the DH-adjacent Dakota Language Project through my linguistics work—check it out!

One reason I find DHA work rewarding is that it lets me engage as a user for digital tools. Academically, I tend to work on the development side—that is, with programming and design. By participating in like technologies as a user, support resource—and even sometimes a correspondent with the developers—I feel that I’ve gotten a good deal of practical perspective on the struggles of user experience and the design lifecycle. I expect this experience to translate positively into my professional work—and more immediately, into my CS comps.

Outside of academic and professional pursuits, I sleep enjoy reading fiction and fiddling around with creative writing. In the past few years, I’ve expanded to other fiction media and developed a taste for those as well, but a nice novel still wins in my book (ha). I’m also a member of the Aikido Club on campus, which serves as a nice enforced structured break from work—especially in the age of Zoom fatigue.

You can also see the (more formal) introduction at Digital Humanities @Carleton College page.

Marcella Lees Bio

Hello all! My name is Marcella (she/her/hers) and I’m a senior History major with minors in Creative Writing and MARS. This is my first year working as a DHA and I’m really excited to continue expanding on skills I’ve learned in classes and become familiar with new technologies as I try to integrate my love for the humanities into the modern, digital era. In my free time I am president of an a cappella group, I play D&D with my friends, and I like to go on adventures or just watch movies with the people who are important to me. I’m excited to work with you all this year!

Frank’s Introduction

Hello! My name is Frank (He/Him) and I am a Junior Economics major. I live in Minneapolis, MN, and am studying remotely from home this term. I am very excited to work with everyone and get to know you all. I enjoy watching sports, listening to music, exercising, and playing video games.

Miyuki’s Introduction

Hello! My name is Miyuki (she/her) and I am a junior History major and Philosophy minor from Tokyo, Japan. This is going to be my second year as a Digital Humanities Associate, and I’m excited to work on more DH projects!

As a History major with a strong interest in Public History, I have taken several history courses with digital projects at Carleton, and I’m passionate about thinking how technology can foster humanities. In the last year, I worked on projects using mainly WordPress and Omeka, so I’m hoping to tackle other tools to develop my DH skills this year.

In my spare time, I love creating art, taking photos, and strolling in the Arb.

Karah’s Intro

Hi! My name is Karah (she/her) and I am excited to start working with you all. I am a senior Environmental Studies and Dance double major. I am from Rapid City, SD, but I am studying remotely from Boulder, CO this term. I love dogs, hiking, and I play the violin.

Grace’s introduction

Hi everyone! My name is Grace (she/hers) and I am a senior History major and Digital Arts & Humanities minor from New Jersey. I am thrilled to be returning for my third year as a Digital Humanities Associate and I look forward to further developing my DH skills.

Although I’m a History major, I’ve had an interest in technology for as long as I can remember. For me, the digital humanities is the perfect way to combine both of my passions and I love seeing how STEM can transform and aid humanities-based research. I’ve been able to apply my interests working on a variety of DH projects, including a video game on the Boston Massacre and a quantitative textual analysis of medieval English chronicles.

In my free time, I love reading, watching movies with my roommates, and playing video games. Asides from being a DHA, I am President of Carleton’s Ghost Club and work in the Off-Campus Studies Office.

Updates for 2019 fall term: Creating a WordPress site and Updating the Carleton DHA page

During the fall term 2019, I’ve been working on the WordPress site and updating the Carleton DHA page.

In the former project, collaborating with professors from the Classics Department, I created CHIANTI site, a WordPress site. To add and organize various contents, I used several plugins: Elementor to organize the content pages, Shortcodes and List category posts to order posts sorted by categories on a page, Document Embedder to convert language learning sources to be downloadable, Smart Slider to use a video carousel on the student portal page, and Pods Admin to create a submission form for faculties.

chianti site
French page for the instructors (The var on the left shows the code for showing posts sorted by tags)

In the course of arranging and refining the site, I realized some tips which would be helpful when creating websites at another time. I’ll write them down for future use.

  • Clarify the audience and objects of the website.
  • When you get stuck, google for the troubleshooting first. There is maybe somebody who is in the same situation and already asked similar questions.
  • Be careful about the consistency – theme colors, fonts, font sizes……
  • When you are not sure which plugin to use, see their review, download numbers, the latest update date.
  • If you create a website and then yield control over it to the third party, make sure to create a concise and easy to follow instructional document. (preferably with some screenshots as needed) This is actually a great way to keep information in one place, such as the theme colors and fonts.
  • Finally, although there is a lot more to mention, communicating with partners/clients is crucial to improve the website closer to what they expect.

Regarding updating the Carleton DHA page, with permission to access and edit the page, I mainly updated the DH members for this year and the past projects. Updating past projects especially required some important things to keep in mind: 1) Use visually eye-catching screenshots of the project, 2) Check the copyright of the image within the screenshots, 3) Avoid controversial contents/images publishing on the web, 4) Make sure that private information is hidden.

As you’ve seen, I spent most of the time working with WordPress. For the next term, I hope I’ll be working with other types of digital tools.

Mapping the Fifteenth-Century London Chronicles: Experimentation and Collaboration

One of the projects I’ve been working on this year has been a textual analysis of the fifteenth-century London Chronicles for an English professor’s research. The professor hoped to identify and isolate place names in the text (such as London Bridge, Sussex, etc.) and make a map of all the data. This is where the Digital Humanities team came in: what software and digital tools could we use to extract this data and display it in an insight way?

The first tool we examined was Voyant, an online textual analysis tool that creates data visualizations. We uploaded a PDF of the London Chronicles to Voyant and played around with the website to see how it worked and determine whether it was effective.

A screenshot of the London Chronicles data visualization in Voyant

While Voyant was great for analyzing macro data sets and getting a holistic view of the text, it was rather ineffective for gathering specific iterations of place names and appeared no better than manual close reading for this purpose. One of the other problems we encountered were the variations in medieval spelling; for example, Voyant created a separate category for “London” and “Londan” even if they referred to the same place.

We then turned to a different tool to help map our place names: Edinburgh Geoparser. Geoparser created a wonderful map of the place names. However, it was unable to quantify the number of times a place name appears or arrange the place names in order of frequency. Thus, it was great for visualizing the places but not ideal for textual analysis.

The map of the London Chronicles created by Edinburgh Geoparser
The map of the London Chronicles created by Edinburgh Geoparser

Finally, after testing these different softwares, we stumbled upon a Gazetteer of Early Modern Europe which contained a list of place names, their spelling variants, and their location. We collaborated with a member of the Data Squad, a local Carleton organization dedicated to organizing data, to produce a program that would cross-reference The London Chronicles PDF with an XML of this data. In this manner, we would be able to get a reliable count of place names in the text that included their spelling variants.

The Early Modern London Gazetteer

This process has taught me that Digital Humanities is a lot of trial and error. In doing this research, I’ve learned there might not be one perfect tool for a project, but combining different resources and collaborating with others allowed me to find an innovative solution. This experimentation and sharing of ideas and research is vital to the work we do as Digital Humanities Associates.

Exploring topics from different perspectives: #multifacetedapproach

I enjoyed my training as an DHA and am excited for the upcoming year. The interdisciplinary nature makes the field extremely broad, requiring us to take a #multifacetedapproach. I really enjoy this dynamic aspect about digital humanities. As a result, I made the following meme.

I am excited to learn more and expand my horizons further in my work as a DHA!

The End of the Beginning and #PreparingforInsightfulChallenges

I finished my first week of Digital Humanities training and it was really fascinating – the word that comes to mind is “insightful.” It was definitely not what I was expecting so far as I was expecting the focus to more be on concrete skills than discussion and mental exercises but this had no impact on my enjoyment of the training. From what I heard of how DH works, I decided upon this meme:

I am really excited and intrigued for what’s to come next and I am sure I will need to take on new skills and difficulties. These difficulties are bound to be fascinating and something I  learn from which is why my hashtag is #preparingforinsightfulchallenges.