As I reflect back on this process I feel nostalgic, but also excited for the future. I learned so many valuable things not only about my topic, but myself through this journey. I was challenged but I overcame, I was nervous but I persevered, and I was lost but then I found myself. Originally, when I was deciding on whether or not to apply to this internship I felt confused about digital humanities and was unsure if my topic and my science background could even be enveloped by this world. Nonetheless, here I am. I am moving forward and have worked hard on my project and dove head first into the world of digital humanities and it was an experience that I truly will hold dear to me. Looking back to where I began I was initially very nervous coming into this experience. I felt great anxiety because I am a science minded individual and for me I felt out of place surrounded by humanity majors. Many of my peers and the staff we worked with were well versed in not only beautiful and unique languages and cultures, but also spoke with such fluidity and elegance on their topics or specialties. This to me was intimidating at first. However, as the weeks went by and my project developed and became more clear I began to gain confidence. I was challenged by the technology I had to use, but I practiced and played around with the software until I could finally get it to perform the way I wanted. I was nervous that people would not like my project because it was science based, and everyone else’s was more humanities based. I became lost several times along the way, but eventually managed to regain my course with some soul searching, web browsing and a little help from my mentors (Sarah and Doc R). As this journey comes to a close I know it is not really the end, but actually the beginning. The beginning of my journey onward, out into the real world with a big problem to face. Tackling environmental issues is not an easy task and can become extremely depressing when things just seem to keep going from bad to worse. However, the skills I have learned in this course have added a whole new dimension to me as a future scientist and also, they have opened up new possibilities with how I can challenge and take on environmental problems. I began this journey googling endlessly what digital humanities actually meant and could not find an answer. I now know that digital humanities does not have just one answer, and does not simply encompass one field. It is a diverse, intriguing and welcoming community and the term can only be defined by each individual digital humanist and what it means to them.
This past week has been extremely chaotic and overwhelming for me with my project. I bounced all over the place on ideas, and toyed with drastically changing my topic. However, the dust has finally settled and a clear vision of how I want to proceed has emerged. The setbacks I faced the past week were due to my thesis and research question not being clear enough. I realize now that I struggled with this so much because I wanted to solve and research all the problems instead of narrowing in on a more clear and concise focus. My new research question focuses in on the specific factors listed under “threats” on the IUCN red list for each of the top 5 countries with the most endangered species. Under this category I can then evaluate which of the top 2 factors are similar within Ecuador, United States, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Mexico. I am fascinated that these countries are the top 5 countries with the highest number of endangered species but more so I am shocked that the United States is within this group. It is the only developed country within the top 5. The other countries are developing nations and therefore I am not too surprised that they are experiencing a large loss of biodiversity. But the United States allocates a lot of money towards awareness and conservation for endangered species. So why are we so high on the list? Have we already caused so much irreparable damage that the programs and laws we have enacted have not even made a dent in helping our species? I find this to be fascinating when looking at it in comparison to the other countries. Ecuador did not surprise me too much because it is home to the Galapagos which contain one of the most threatened ecosystems within the world right now. I really am excited to delve deeper into these countries culture and examine the reasons why they have so many species listed. I have found many amazing articles that I need to go through more thoroughly to pull out more information and begin to analyze it. Hooray to finally forging ahead…!
I have been increasingly frustrated with using google maps. The more I try to do with it the more I feel it is not going to be the path I want to take for my project. I have begun working with Tableau and using that to generate maps. I really like tableau although it is also challenging to use. At least with tableau I am satisfied with the way the map is starting to look. I have input data for endangered species from 2008 and 2015 for all countries and islands. Now when you scroll over the countries it displays this information with the percent increase for the number of endangered species. I am currently working on trying to figure out how to create different colors for the percent increase for each country. I want to code the map based on which countries are experiencing the most species under threat. So I am currently working on trying to figure out the best way to do that. In addition to that I want to create a graph that interacts with the map. Tableau allows you to do this but I am having difficulty so far generating one. I plan to keep reviewing the instructional videos to figure out how to create a graph the way I want it. The only other challenge I am facing is having too much information and narrowing it all down to be more concise. I am trying to include a human factor to show why all of my data has increased over the past 7 years so I am thinking of incorporating not only human population, but maybe deforestation and pollution/emissions data as well.
Research Question – May 26
For my research project I will be looking to investigate the areas in the U.S. that are seeing increased numbers of extinct or endangered species and trying to evaluate the causes of these extinctions. I am questioning whether or not humans can be blamed for the current sixth extinction period that we are going through now. Therefore, I will be investigating what human structures (housing developments, factories, power plants, etc) are in the surrounding area of these critically endangered and threatened areas to see if there is a correlation between the two. The scope of my research is very broad and going forward I know that I will have to scale it down to be more direct as I delve deeper into the topic.
Working Thesis and Outline Draft – May 31
Thesis: As a result of the encroachment and invasion of humans on the natural environment, through the construction of roadways, the demolition of natural areas for buildings, and the expulsion of toxic pollutants into our atmosphere, land and waterways, the world today is currently facing the next great sixth extinction period.
Introduction and Thesis
-Background information on endangered species and extinction
-Endangered species numbers and statistics for America
-Human induced climate change and other human caused problems
-What do I hope to accomplish with this project
-Thesis: As a result of the encroachment and invasion of humans on the natural environment, through the construction of roadways, the demolition of natural areas for buildings and the expulsion of toxic pollutants into our atmosphere, land and waterways, the world today is currently facing the next great sixth extinction period.
-Study on endangered species
-Analysis of the research/project
-Study/research/project on human induced climate change/ human caused problems
-Analysis of the human impact and discussion of the factors that may affect nature
-What projects/resources inspired my project
-How did I design my project
-What decisions and tools changed along the way
-Discussion and summation of the project
-What challenges did I face and how did I alter my project to overcome these challenges
-If I could redo or change anything now looking back, what would I change
-Final concluding remarks
-What is the big take away message
-My journey embarking as a DHSS student
Thesis and Introduction- July 7
Thesis: Ecuador, The United States, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mexico are the top 5 countries in the world with the largest number of endangered species as a result of the encroachment and invasion of humans on the natural environment, through the demolition of natural areas for buildings and farming and the expulsion of toxic pollutants into our atmosphere, land and waterways.
The earth is home to millions of unique species that are vital to the survival of not only mankind, but the entire world ecosystem. If certain species were eradicated the balance within the natural world would waver and we would face catastrophic food chain collapses. If this occurred we would experience massive waves of starvation, disease, and even death. Therefore the current sixth extinction period which we are facing is not something to be taken lightly. If something as simple as the extinction of one organism could shift the entire balance of a food chain, then measures must be taken in order to prevent such a calamity. Due to the rapid industrialization and technological revolution across the globe, we have forgotten to consider the repercussions this could have on the earth’s organisms. As the human world has begun to expand and advance we have increased our carbon footprints by expelling enormous volumes of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. We have disregarded our earth’s waterways by dumping toxic pollutants into rivers and oceans and we have cut down entire forests to build houses, roadways, farms, and factories. All of these things have become necessary because of the sheer number of humans that now have to be supported by just this one earth. There is a theory that the earth has a carrying capacity, a limit as to how many people it can support, feed, shelter, and provide for. This carrying capacity will be tested in the coming decades and centuries but not without humans further degrading and polluting the earth more in order to keep pushing the limits of how many people it will support. Within this push to support as many people as possible and for the less industrialized countries to continue to advance our earth has been taken advantage of. We are now entering into a period that could forever change the world as we know it because we are now on the brink of the sixth extinction period. In the history of the earth there have been five past periods where massive numbers of organisms, if not almost all, died off or were killed off due to some factor. In the past it has been related to weather changes, or natural disasters such as extreme weather events or giant meteors. However, his sixth extinction period is very different from the others because it has been initiated by the human interaction with the earth. It is interesting to examine the human induced factors that have brought about the endangerment of species across the globe due to the varying numbers of threatened species within each country. Although each country is unique in its topography and climate we can still makes connections and draw conclusions as to why certain countries contain higher numbers of endangered species than others. Ecuador, The United States, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mexico are the top 5 countries in the world with the largest number of endangered species as a result of the encroachment and invasion of humans on the natural environment, through the demolition of natural areas for buildings and farming and the expulsion of toxic pollutants into our atmosphere, land and waterways.
After the project review assignment I have definitely acquired more inspiration for my project design. Looking at other peoples maps and websites has been extremely helpful. When I see a certain tool or feature that I like I envision how I can use it and mold it for my own project. It is extremely helpful to see how other scholars have laid out their project design to assess my likes an dislikes. It is also beneficial to see not only the flaws and advantages to their design but also to see what tools they have used to generate their projects. Finding the right tool to use to create my website and interactive map are the most intimidating challenges I am facing so far. Like I had mentioned in class I am worried to choose the wrong map tool and get far into it and then realize it is not as versatile as I thought. So far I have not found a mapping tool that encompasses all of the features I would like to use in my endangered species map. I really would love to have layers, bullets, pictures, and different filters on a map that does not have too much extra stuff. I think another challenge I am facing is how I can incorporate all the information I would like to without over cluttering the map. On other projects I have looked at I have found their maps to contain too much information and they become tedious to use. I really am going to focus on making my map user friendly and not overdoing it by having too many filters, etc. I have scheduled a meeting with Professor Rothenberger in the biology department who is the conservationist who inspired me to choose this topic and she is very excited to help me and give me some more resources and ideas and more of a clearer focus. I am hoping that this will help solidify some of my ideas and inspire even some new ideas that I have not thought of yet.
I want to embark on this project because I felt really inspired this past fall after taking Professor Rothenberger’s Conservation Biology class. We discussed anthropogenic factors that have led to species extinction and species endangerment and I became really invested in wanting to do something unique with my new passion for this topic. I tried to find a webpage that was interactive and educational but failed to find one. I believe that this topic could really benefit from an interactive graph because seeing the damage humans have done visually instead of just in textual form will be extremely impactful. It is hard to comprehend the level of damage that humans have caused and the number of organisms that have been affected by the human world. Something so simple as brushing ones teeth can impact an entire watershed due to microbeads in cosmetic products. Leaving lights on and overusing temperature control systems fuels climate change, which can wipe out entire populations within only a few years. One oil spill can kill millions of organisms and cause long-term damage on an ecosystem. The addition of a factory or housing development to an area can wipe out dozens of species due to habitat destruction and fragmentation. These simple but impactful everyday things that happen because of humans is the reason why I want to explore this impact on a deeper level and try to create an interactive webpage that I can share with others to hopefully inspire them to become passionate about conservation too. This summer I expect to delve into a topic that I am extremely passionate about to engage with it on a deeper level and to hopefully be able to share it with others to influence them in a positive way. Throughout this project I really would like to focus on critically endangered species as well as species that have already gone extinct. In the news it is common to hear about exotic animals from foreign countries that have become endangered or extinct but I find that the smaller less noticeable animals fall by the wayside. I expect this project to be challenging because it will be extremely time intensive sorting through information regarding all the endangered species, considering there are thousands. I plan to invest as much time as possible into gathering good data from reliable sources and I also have set up a meeting with Professor Rothenberger in the biology department so that she can take a look at some of my ideas and give me any insight she may have since she is well versed in this topic. Overall, I am really excited to start my project and I am excited to see what it evolves into.