Early on in the term I spent a couple weeks working on class handouts for PSYC 384, providing examples for ways the students can reimagine the class’s usual final project to be a digital endeavor. When the class was in person, students would create games that demonstrate how prejudice works and ways to combat bias.
I had so much fun coming up with different ways of creating digital game boards and playing with online tools as we made examples for the PSYC class. I learned how to use Twine, a site where you can build choose-your-own-adventure stories. Marcella and I enjoyed writing a Twine story example about Star-Bellied Sneetches so that it would fit into the class theme of reducing prejudice. We were really able to play around and be creative with this project, which goes to show just how many possibilities the digital humanities can offer classroom settings and beyond.
I particularly enjoyed being a visitor in the PSYC 384 class because we were able to describe all the work we did and share the ideas we had come up with for games they could make. It was also great to simply see the faces of everyone who would be using the materials Marcella and I put together for the class. It’s the smaller things like this that I am appreciating this term.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I finished a week of Digital Humanities training and here is what I think of Digital Humanities now……
Digital Humanities is interdisciplinary and involves a variety of information and tools. Through the training, I found Digital Humanities more interesting and harder to grasp the whole concept of itself, and it keeps me thinking of its unlimited possibilities.
Finally, my hashtag for the training is……#packingforanewadventure. I’m excited about exploring the world of Digital Humanities!
We have a new cast and crew, but we’re ready to get #backtoit. With five new DHAs joining us this year, you can expect we’ll be involved with quite a few projects this year; please look forward to it! And since we’re ready, a Spongebob meme seems appropriate:
(After all, in the end, a good portion digital humanities is figuring out how to present data in a way that hides just how messy it actually is—or was.)
Hello! My name is Kunsang and I am a senior Math major. I am eager to be a DHA so I could develop my skills on various tools that digital humanities pertains to. I love learning new programming languages and algorithms but I’ve never quite ventured into the arts of digital humanities – this will be a fresh and an exciting experience! Over the summer, I worked as a sales development representative intern and the job required learning about various sales tools in a short period of time, in addition to data analysis and visualizations. I believe these skills will definitely prove to be helpful as a DHA.
Outside my class, I am in Carleton choir and sometimes join Synchrony dances for the good energy. I also love watching movies, playing chess, and doing yoga during my leisure hours!
Hello! I’m Alan. I am a senior psychology major at Carleton and this is my first year working as a DHA. I look forward to learning different methods and approaches that scholars take to tackle projects in digital humanities. I am also excited to learn about different ways to apply data and creative methods to scrape data when working in the realm of humanities.
Currently, I am working on a non-fiction essay film about herders in China and how their traditional lifestyle/relationship to the environment are changing as different technologies are introduced into their lives. I am also developing this into a larger project. I am trying to investigate the distance between personal identity and traditional culture of the younger generation, exploring how does the coming of age in the modern era influence our identities.