Reflection 2- Narrative of Electronic Music Synthesis

Reflection 2- Narrative of Electronic Music Synthesis

After researching many different forms of electronic music synthesis, I have realized that it would be impractical to include all of my findings in a catch-all timeline as I wanted to before. One large timeline with all of the researchable types of synthesis would be a huge undertaking. With the amount of odd and/or underused forms of synthesis a timeline like this would have with scattered pieces of anecdotal information and would be lacking an easily accessible “story arch.” Instead, I have decided that it will be more feasible and effective to chose a few types of synthesis that have made significant impacts in music and music industry. I will use a scalar book to portray each different type of synthesis in an interactive semi-linear narrative with each form of synthesis as a chapter, containing a digital representation/ explanatory model explaining how this form of synthesis works, a composition demonstrating the sonic character of that form of synthesis, and an interactive timeline highlighting key historical points in music pieces and music industry.

I have had difficulty choosing some of the forms of synthesis to represent in my narrative. Because I will be constructing a narrative of synthesis that is inherently incomplete, I must be very careful in choosing which forms of synthesis to include so that they represent reality as nearly as possible. I have already identified most of the types I will use because they are clearly seminal to this narrative and easily distinguishable: Analog Subtractive synthesis, Frequency Modulation synthesis, Sample-based synthesis, and Physical Modeling synthesis. However, I have a general confusion about the distinctions between Digital Waveguide synthesis, Advanced Vector synthesis (Wavestation synthesis), and Wavetable synthesis that I need to reconcile. These forms are not only similar in name but also in the sounds they create and the basic technological principles at work. Digital Waveguide synthesis seems to be closely tied to Physical Modeling synthesis, while Wavetable synthesis is a real-time form of Additive synthesis in effect. I am still trying to find the proper terminology to represent the essence of these technologies in one simplified section.

I have discovered a general trend in the most popular forms of synthesis in my research. Each popular form of synthesis became popular largely because it could create new and more realistic sounds than its predecessor. The trend is true for the progression from Analog, to FM, to Sample-based, to Physical Modeling. While electronic musicians have been known to rush to the “next-big-thing,” in recent years there has been a huge industry shift catering to the widespread nostalgia for “that classic analog sound.” The most technologically advanced form of synthesis, Physical Modeling synthesis, is used to replicate the sound of analog synthesizers in ever-increasing detail in both hardware and software synthesizers called Virtual Analog synthesizers. With the release of the Yamaha Montage and Korg Volca FM this year, the market is also moving to cater to the growing nostalgia for the FM sound that dominated the 1980s.

Older forms of synthesis such as analog or FM do not exist compartmentalized into different periods of time. Writing about synthesizers as if they exist in one singular form in one era is similar to writing in the ethnographic present in anthropology. These older technologies are integral to the current state of the music industry. Companies and musicians alike are actively searching to replicate the classic sounds of previous eras and innovate upon these technologies. I have chosen to represent each popular form of synthesis in chapters to create an easily accessible and comprehendible narrative of the progression of synthesis but this could create the illusion of each form of synthesis compartmentalized to an era. I will use the interactive timeline in each chapter to show the different incarnations and innovations of each form of synthesis up to the present in order to dispel this illusion.

Reflection 2–Supreme Court Project

As the due date for this project comes close, and every article I read opens up new avenues for research, I feel overwhelmed with amount of reading I have to do. However, while I still need to do more research, I think I have created a good outline for my project, and established the different avenues of research I need to look into. As I read more and more scholarly articles and books, I am noticing tangible steps forward in my familiarity with the names of prominent scholars and theories. These improvements in my fluidity with scholarly language encourage me to read more, and make my reading list seem less overwhelming. Overall, I think these first couple weeks—familiarizing myself with the literature and designing the project—will be the most challenging.

I look forward to building my research tools and coding. I hope to start doing that after I create a solid theoretical basis for my research and write a literature review. Of course, there will stumbling blocks along the way, but I think this process will be—for the most part—enjoyable, since it will combine a lot of my different interdisciplinary interests. It will also allow me to build skills I want to develop to produce the best project possible.

But for now—with the goal of focusing more on the tools needed to build my project in the future—I feel the need to keep reading as much of the literature as possible. While I will look into what tools I will use as part of my research process, the project’s final design will not come until later.

Reflection two

In the past week, my project has finally been taking shape into something where all the parts seem to be falling into place. By choosing my focus to be student activism as seen through The Lafayette, I have found purpose and academic placement for my project. I have spent my first week doing a number of productive things. I have found a lot of excellent primary and secondary sources about student activism in the US and at Lafayette, which has led to me narrowing down the years I plan on using.

After meeting with Diane Shaw, I also have some great resources on my hand. I have good primary/secondary sources about my topic in the context of Lafayette. Additionally, the index about the Lafayette and social-issue related articles is going to be extremely useful and gives me more time to focus on the rest of the project. From this point on, I have some clear-cut work to do. I will continue to do background research, particularly finding article on the modern state of student activism. I also want to make edits to the already created index to adjust it to what I want to focus on, and also to go through and double check the articles they included. I also will be making a modern index. I also discovered a cool tool call Cytoscape which looks like it will lend itself nicely to the type of topic modeling I want to do. However, I definitely need to mess around with it more and I anticipate that it will take some time to get it to do what I want. Overall, things are going well and I feel more secure in what I am doing and what my next steps should be.

Reflection 2

My personal and intellectual curiosity for this topic has been a strong source of motivation in keeping up with my research. There are numerous ways in which I can approach this project, and finally finding some direction by choosing a timeline has made me feel more confident in facing the upcoming weeks. In this past week I have come across tons of valuable information that is helping me turn my ideas into an actual website. Another big source of inspiration is that my research will not stop after the program is over as I plan to use this information towards a larger project about Yemeni diaspora in the Indian Ocean. For the larger project my argument will be more concerning ideas of identity and home rather than globalization, but nonetheless learning the history behind the contemporary Yemeni diaspora has been extremely useful.

The Project Review assignment was also a useful experience. Seeing different ways in which Digital Humanists organized their information and utilized different tools has made me think less about the research content and more about how I plan to convey the information. While both are important, I feel that the visual data–especially the mapping–is more important than the textual information I have been compiling. While the software I am using for my site looks sort of bland, I have been trying to be realistic given the short amount of time we have left. For the next upcoming weeks, I will most likely have to make more sacrifices for the sake of time, but I don’t plan on letting that get in the way of creating a great project.

Monumental Reflection, 2

 

“Monuments are for the living, not for the dead.”

-Frank Wedekind

 As the second week of this journey draws near, a new question emerges on the horizon. Did the Communist regime start establishing ideological monuments within and beyond USSR borders gradually, or all at once? After today’s DH meeting, the more I think about it, the more appealing it is strive to achieve a project in which the map can track the establishment of monuments throughout the years. However, the tools utilization and coding aspects of the project will be a daunting task.

 With every new day, I am reminded of the short time that I have to work on something that is of a larger scale. On the one side, my research is not done and I have not yet created a dataset. On the other hand, I also have not chosen what tools I want to use and I have not learned how to use them. And finally, I have yet to choose the platform that I will build my project on. All these things I plan to (meaning, personally feel like I need to) sort out by the end of Week Two. On a brighter side, my research question, thesis and outline have been formulated!

It feels as though I have spent a lot of my free time on achieving personal goals that I had set for this summer (reading books and learning languages, mainly), yet I have not dedicated enough time to do the required research on the subject. That being said, I need to step my game up, so from this moment onward, I need to prioritize. Needless to say, DH is on the top of my list right now!

Last night, an Art History professor emailed me links to some useful books – tonight, I will give them a look, and I will start building from scratch.

Research Elements – Jillian Fahy

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.

DRAFT

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.

Literature Review

-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

Methodology

-What projects/resources inspired my project

-How did I design my project

-What decisions and tools changed along the way

Analysis

-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

Conclusion

-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.

Intro:

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.

Reflection 2 – Inspiration and Focus

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.

 

Joseph’s Reflection

If an individual author’s works are to be understood or an author written about, one must understand what he has conveyed over the long durée of his/her work.This study will demonstrate the benefit of close textual analysis of the entire poetic works from the compendium of William Butler Yeats. William Butler Yeats is ripe for this form of study given his prolific writing and long writing career. William Butler Yeats’ early works have been subject to harsh criticism, such that T.S. Eliot said that there is, “a line here or there, that a sense of a unique personality can be detected which makes one sit up in excitement and eagerness to learn more about the author’s mind and feelings,” and that his early works were mainly Romantic-esque.

The Goal is to see how the author is self-influenced, that although William Butler Yeats may be unoriginal in his images, originality is not the definition of poetic success. As Victor Shklovsky states, “poets are much more concerned with arranging images than with creating them.” Furthermore, canonization and language creation are regulated by collective thought, that is to say, no individual can canonize his/her work or create his/her own word, without collective approval. Yeats recognized this when he himself said that he wanted his works set for examination across a country.

An author is a part of the critical cycle- understanding the “being” that is the author is essential. Recognizing the multi-dimensionality of human existence, an author cannot be a unitary or stagnant being. Furthermore, a textual analysis of the entireity of a poets’ works may reveal developments and what Charles Mauron calls Des Metaphores Obscendantes. The goal will be to show self-influence and recurring language, images, and themes in the compendium of works.

At the current moment, I am stuck between using software to analyze all of Yeats poetry, or select sections by years. Furthermore, I may want to run the same form of textual analysis on T.S. Eliot’s works.

Poetry is a divine form of expression to me. To me, it is the most intimate and beautiful conveyance of a message. The definition of poetry has been conceived as an appeal to the ear in the purely aesthetic theories of Aristotle and G.W. Lessing to William Wordsworth’s definition of a “spontaneous overflow of emotion recollected in tranquility,” to being defined in deconstructionist theories as a text which is ambiguous and unreadable. Furthermore it is important to realize as Richard Ellman points out that, “A Poem, even when it begins with an actual experience, distorts, heightens, simplifies, and transmutes, so that we can say only with many qualifications that a given experience inspired a particular verse.”

The tools that I use, will have the effect of combing the texts for the frequency of words, certain pronouns, and language patterns. The hope is that general patterns can be described and that certain images and words will reoccur to a level to consider them to be obessions to the author.

I want to bring back the days of TEXt-BASED analysis and remind Literary Critics, that the Canon is RIPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One need not put on a theoretical lens, or add anything to the compediusm of authors, to say or find something original.

2016 Project Reviews

Find three digital projects that are similar to yours in either method or content. Provide a link, a summary, and both positives and negatives. What did you learn from using or visiting this site that might be helpful in your own project?

In your research, make sure to look at the *about* page if they have one; many digital projects aim to be transparent about their processes.

 

Mila Temnyalova

Windows on War is a digital archive of Soviet propaganda posters in the period 1943-1945. Created by Nottingham University, it is a unique project in the UK, but it is also one of the largest digital Soviet collections internationally. It aims to create an online version of the 2008-2009 Lakeside “Windows on War” exhibition, and to extend the importance of conserving and digitalizing posters.

The homepage gives background information about the University’s project, emphasizing on the vividness of the colors and the opportunity to zoom into the posters. It presents the user with 6 possible pages (The Homefront, The Enemy, The Story, Artists, Writers, All Posters,  About) to view. The three most relevant pages (The Homefront, The Enemy and The Story) have their own blurbs on the homepage, giving the user some idea what the page will contain. I found the idea of having information for only these three pages very convenient, since they were big enough to fill the homepage without making it clunky. Additionally, the rest of the pages are self-explanatory and do not require an explanation blurb.

Once the user chooses a page, there is visual and textual data available. The pages are on a horizontal scrolling basis, rather than a vertical one, which makes it more visually appealing, but less convenient. Even when the cursor goes left without clicking the scroll button, the page itself scrolls in the same direction, which can be hassle. However, I enjoyed the fact that there were also sub-pages: instead of scrolling, the user can click and immediately be transported to that part of the page. If the user chooses to scroll, the sub-page title is colored in red to give the user an idea of what he is viewing.

My favorite part of the website is the “All Posters” page because it uses the conventional vertical scrolling method. Additionally, content-wise it is very easy for users to a pick a particular posters, and click on it to zoom in. This zoom function also reveals sub-menus, which contains Commentary, Facts, Artist, Context, and more — a very useful tool.

The whole project is based on the work of a multidisciplinary team composed of the University’s IT Service, Manuscripts & Special Collections, and Department of Russian and Eastern European Studies. Overall, it is a brilliant idea because it makes a physically temporary exhibition digitally timeless: a definite expansion of access. However, I feel like the fact it is actually a digitalization of a specific exhibition should have been in the “About” page, as opposed to being hidden in a one of the last sub-pages of “The Story” tab.

 

Abstractualized is a blog by Seth Bernstein featuring digital projects in Russian and Eurasian studies. The author himself is a historian working on Soviet History and its relation to contemporary issues in Russian society. He is interesting in using computers to enhance telling the stories.  

The project includes posts on GIS and mapping, data mining, network analysis and social media. A recent post includes a visualization of Soviet air travel networks from the summer of 1948. Other posts include a (guest) post about Deaf Space in Moscow, Mapping of the Gulag over time, and a Database of Soviet POWs of WWII.

What I found particularly interesting about this blog was the presence of a guest post, which speaks about the accessibility and level of collaboration. Additionally, some of the posts (such as mapping of the Gulag) are preceded by a How-To tutorial. It seems like a very hands-on site which gives background information on how these databases have been constructed and presented. Thus, it is very convenient and useful for beginners who are new to DH and wish to create similar content.

For the Database of POWs, the author of this project is not the one who has created the database: instead, he has taken the database from the Russian government’s OBD-Memorial, a database of Soviet soldiers who died during the war. What’s interesting is that the author of Abstractualized takes this dataset and critiques it: especially the fact that it’s indeterminable who counts as a prisoner of war and who doesn’t.

This DH project emphasizes on mapping as crucial, utilizing Google Maps, Open Layers, QGIS and other similar tools. Overall, I found this website a good example of what DH stands for: collaboration, constructive critique, and utilization of digital tools to expand access to information.

 

Harvard’s Eurasia website is the product of a year-long bi-weekly interdisciplinary seminar on the production, representation, and significance of cultural space, held during the 2014-2015 academic year at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. The collaborative workspace and the final projects carried out by members of the seminar are available. There are collections of group projects using Omeka, a Neatline exhibits, and an assortment of approaches to narrating the final projects.

The homepage has several pages that the user can choose from: the one that stands out to me is the Projects/Mapping one. As it turns out, this is a large-scale digital humanities production that encompasses a range of mappings and themes centered around the Eastern Bloc. The maps and the accompanying textual information are very useful, however, I feel that the site is lacking organization in the sense that some of the information could be transferred to the otherwise bare individual project homepage, rather than project sub-page. From a design point of view, the repeatedly occurring bareness of the project/mapping homepage gives off the impression of incompleteness, which could be easily fixed. 

What I really like is the depth of these maps. For instance, in the project relating to Russia’s European Colonies, the interactive map has countless ways of being viewed. The map itself can be terrain, roadmap, watercolor, etc, but the content is also highly diverse and change-able. One is able to receive visual information from the map by different categories and at different levels: region, province, country. Through different color cues, the emigre states are able to be listed either by year or by type. The roads that Vladimir Medem travelled are also mapped through lines, with the color of the line growing darker as the years progress. Overall, this brings a lot of information to the table through the tool WorldMap: developed by the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. It is interesting that the website is utilizing the tools that the university has created, as opposed to readily available tools.

Caroline Nawrocki

Viral Texts looks at new stories, fiction, and poetry in 19th century newspapers that went “viral”–meaning they appeared in multiple newspapers around the United States. The purpose of the project is to look at what qualities caused these newspaper clips to be reprinted. It also examines how a breadth of ideas (political, religious,economic, scientific, etc.)  are circulated among the public.

To find the viral texts, the researchers used their own algorithms to work with OCR, or optical character recognition. The presentation of the data took multiple forms. First, they have a database where you can search by newspaper, state, and topics to find reprint groupings. They also have an interactive exhibit highlighting one of their favorite “viral texts.” They have a visualization as well that maps all of the connections between 19th century newspaper in their research. 

The data source is the Library of Congress’s “Chronicling America” online newspaper archive. This project is important because it connects the modern concept of viralness to a larger historical context. Much like people today are interested in what makes content go viral, this project looks at what made content viral in Antebellum America. This project also contributes to the study of culture in Antebellum America, since the reprinted content often reflected cultural views of the readership. It also creates an “in” into the mass of data that is the “Chronicling America” newspaper database.

The published works that have stemmed from this research project present the project as highly successful and interesting; however, the data presentation is rather confusing for the reader. The interactive exhibit was very cool visually, but only looked at one viral text. The database’s search functions did not yield comprehensive results for me–despite saying you could search by topic, all the topics I clicked on yielded no results, so clearly the database is not finished. The coolest aspect was how they mapped the connections between newspapers. However, I wish there was more upfront information on their methodology involving how they created that. However, their published research and the things they mention in writing show they are successful in their own goals.

The project is also well maintained, and is still branching out. The researchers plan on expanding this to the United Kingdom and Australia as well as reprinting across languages, in particular German. The project is supported by NEH, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Northeastern University Research Office.

Positive takeaways: you can include multiple cool ways of visualizing data to show different aspects of the project; text mining newspapers through a database is pretty common; connecting modern phenomena to history yields really interesting results.

Negative takeaways: Despite how fluid and well-done your research is in journals, etc., if your websites are not fully functioning or explain that gets lost on your audience, and makes it less accessible to the public and mostly accessible to an academic/scholarly audience.

***

Media Portrays of Religion and the Secular Sacred looks at how the British media covers topics of religion in newspaper and on television as compared to a similar project done in 1982-83 about the same topic. The researchers aim to look at the reception of religion in Britain and the relationship between the media and religion both modern and historical.

Software such as SPSS, NVivo 7, and Word were used for quantitative and qualitative research through content analysis. The data sources were the previous research project, and the newspapers used in that research project. These newspapers, in addition to major British TV news sources were where the data on religion was collected from in the 08-09 study.

As the research context states, much research attention has been given to how race is discussed in the media, but not so much religion–which is also very important to examine, especially with how politicized religion is in the current day. It also builds on a previously conducted study.

Unfortunately, the researchers did not publish their data in DH ways, but instead published a book that I did find on the Lafayette catalog. However, despite being found on DH commons, this project does not feel truly “DH” to me because the representation of data was less accessible than I would have liked it to be. Of course, DH does not have to mean the final presentation of the data is done digitally, but I think it definitely could have lent itself to a project like this one. The project was sponsored by the University of Leeds.

Positives takeaways: Instead of doing a wide scope of years to compare, it is entirely possible to create a project that is based on comparisons of two time periods to look at a certain issue as represented by the media–a more manageable process.

Negatives takeaways: If you do not have an online source to look at your data, it makes your research less accessible, especially since a college library was necessary to have access to their e-book they published.

***

The main purpose of Mapping Texts according to the researchers is to find ways to detect patterns in huge databases of information, particularly large databases of newspapers. First, they examined the quality of the digitization process of their sample of ~250,000 newspaper pages. Then, they used text mining to find language patterns in the ~250,000 pages they were working with. The tools used are text mining through OCR and visualization through maps and timelines.

The data source for this project is the Chronicling America newspaper database (as used in the Viral Texts project), specifically newspapers from Texas digitized by the Texas Digital Newspaper Program. This project contributed methodology to the Digital Humanities world. The first visualization mapped the quality of the body of the newspapers by determining how many words were recognizable by their software as projected onto a map of Texas on a scale of bad to good. The second visualization looked at the type of language that was the most frequent in the pages they looked at.

The project is fairly well-maintained through Stanford, UNT, and NEH.

Positive takeaways: Using a large newspaper database and using more specific research material almost replicates what I intend to do. The new methodology can be applied to newspaper databases outside the Chronicling America one. I also found that the two visualizations were interesting because it breaks away from the typical “two variable” research process. The notion of testing out the quality of the digitization is also something that could be important as well because the language results will differ depending on how good the digitization is. 

Negative takeaways: I found that aspects of the visualization distracted from the purpose of them. It took me a bit of time to figure out what I was looking at since the large circles on the map were misleading, as was the timeline. It goes to show how clean and streamlined a visual project needs to be to make it truly accessible.

 

William Gordon

Scholars Michael Evans, Wayne McIntosh, Jimmy Lin and Cynthia Cates used computational tools to perform large scale content analysis of amicus curiae briefs in two affirmative action cases in the 2007 study “Recounting the Courts? Applying Automated Content Analysis to Enhance Empirical Legal Research.” In order to find the best way to analyze the data, they test two different methods of textual analysis, a Naïve Bayes classifier and Wordscores. The researchers’ goals were to prove that textual analysis is an effective way to analyze legal texts and find the best method to do so. To do so, they tested whether or not these text analysis methods could determine if these amicus curiae briefs were liberal or conservative by looking at specific word choices in the documents. Then, they tested them against the positions clearly stated in the briefs. They found both methods were, in general, equally effective.

Afterward, they looked for patterns in word choice used by liberal and conservative texts. Based on words used, according to their findings, liberal briefs focus on the societal implications of the Court’s decision, while conservative briefs “reflect an abstract focus on legal-constitutional justifications of, and limits on, administrative procedure; the epistemological status of social science research; and individualistic conceptions of justice.”

The study, published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, is meant for scholars, not the general public. Understanding it is designed for that audience, I plan to avoid as much as possible the language used by Evans, McIntosh, Lin and Cates, which at times can be dense. Instead, my project will be accessible for a general audience.

The graphics and datasets in this study are also not easily accessible to readers, perhaps another result of the medium and audience for which it was published. I would like my project to be published on a website, and have more accessible graphics—potentially even interactive ones. I think this would provide a better way to display that data, make it more interesting and make my results easily explainable.

Conservative amicus curiae briefs for Regents of the University of California v. Bakke and Grutter/Gratz v. Bollinger, the two affirmative action cases the researchers look at, are limited. There are only 15 conservative briefs for Bakke and 19 conservative briefs for Bollinger. In total, Bakke only has 57 briefs and Bollinger has 93 briefs. According to digital and public historian Megan R. Brett, topic modeling (another type of textual analysis, similar to the technique the authors of this study used, but organizes words in “topics” or groups, and does not focus on individual words) requires hundreds, if not a thousand, texts at minimum. Naturally, the authors of this 2007 study were limited by the tools at their disposal, but I would like my project to have a larger sample size.

Still, there are some aspects to this study that I would like to use in my own project. This study uses methods that allow the researchers to go beyond surface-level analysis and paint a larger picture with their data. At its most basic level, Evans, McIntosh, Lin and Cates demonstrate that computational macroanalysis is an effective way to look at legal texts. I can see some aspects of my project building upon their research, using textual analysis to look at what the different word choices of justices in their decisions say about their beliefs on a specific line of precedents. The data they present in the article is extremely valuable and, presented in a different way, can be accessible to the public. I plan to use their methods, questions asked, data and suggestions for future research as a model for my own project.

***

Although the diary of a midwife in the late 1700s and early 1800s does not quite relate to my project on a textual analysis of Supreme Court opinions, digital historian Cameron Blevins’s project on topic modeling Martha Ballard’s diary does. Belvins’s goal, basically, is to look for different themes discussed in Ballard’s diary using topic analysis. Then, he writes about different conclusions he has drawn from analyzing the text. Because it is on his personal site, the individual project itself is different to navigate. But, overall, it is well-designed and its charts and graphics effectively illustrate the data.

I picked this project to review because of the tools used and the design of the site. I like the graphs and charts, along with the ability to comment and ask question of the author on the page. This design aspect is something I would like to use in my own project, along with the tools Belvins used. MALLET, a Java-based software package that allows the user to perform topic-analysis, looks like a tool I could learn fairly easily since I already know Java. Moreover, it will allow me to have more control over topic analysis compared to similar tools.

So, even though the topic itself does not relate to my research, Belvins’s large scale topic analysis of texts and his presentation of the data is something I would like to imitate in my own project. Of course, I may add more elements, like interactive graphs and charts. Still, I see Belvins’s project as a good model for my own.

***

The Supreme Court Database is a collection of data about Supreme Court decisions from 1791 to 2014, which cites and organizes the information in different ways for the user. The list of cases can be downloaded in zip files containing CSV files with either case centered data or justice centered data, which includes specific information about how the justices voted and who wrote the majority opinion, etc. Each of these different types can be organized in ways, including by issue or docket number.

According to the website’s “About” section, the database was started by Professor of Political Science at Michigan University Harold J. Spaeth, a prominent Supreme Court scholar when he received funding for the project from the National Science Foundation. The goal of the site, as the title suggests, is to create a database of information on roughly 50 years of Supreme Court decisions for academics, journalists and others who may be interested. Spaeth is still involved in the project, along with five other professors. Support also comes from the National Science Foundation, HeinOnline and the Center for Empirical Research in Law, which has more projects like this one.

Even though my project will not be a database of Supreme Court opinions, this project’s design to be useful to all those interested in Court opinions—not just scholars—is something I would like to put in my own project. Also, the site’s information is open source, and even includes open source code to organize the data in different ways. Being transparent about methodology is something I plan to include in my project, and this website is a good example of it.

However, one drawback to the project is that some of the ways in which the data is coded is complicated. In fact, there is a 132-page downloadable code book from the website to learn how to interpret the dataset. The website also only contains surface level information about the cases, but not the written opinions themselves. In my project, I will be looking at the texts of the cases and attempting to glean more analytical depth from the cases I use as my dataset. Nevertheless, looking at the texts of decisions, of course, is not the Supreme Court Database’s goal, and will be a good place for me to start when I begin looking for the cases I want to analyze.

Tawfiq Alhamedi

Jedidiah Hotchkiss and The Battle of Chancellorsville

The purpose of this project is to showcase the Battle of Chancellorsville, a major battle of the American Civil War. The creator of this interactive map intended to chronologically trace the strategic movements taken in the battle. He does so by utilizing original maps drawn by Jedidiah Hotchkiss, a well-known cartographer of the Civil War whose maps were used by Confederate generals Robert Lee and Thomas Jackson. Moreover, he uses Neatline, “a geotemporal exhibit-builder that allows you to create beautiful, complex maps, image annotations, and narrative sequences…” in order to georeference Hotchkiss’ map, which is supplemented with a timeline on the top of the page and an overview of information on the right side of the screen.

The overview of information on the side of the site is particularly useful as it is divided by the date and time for each event. When each date is clicked, the map shifts to the particular place on the map where the event took place. This is a helpful addition to the numerals, which can also be clicked on but at a first glance seems somewhat convoluted with all the arrows and lines. It would be more helpful if there were some sort of map key, which explained the difference between a dot, line, and polygon.

Overall, this site is a useful reference for organizing data in a way that simplifies information on interactive maps that can at times be confusing. While pop ups are useful, they are more informative when placed in context by having a chronological overview information. This type of organization will highly be considered when forming my project.

Globalization of the United States, 1789-1861

This site traces the United States’ transition from being a newly independent and weak nation to ultimately becoming a global power at the dawn of the American Civil War. The site has both and interactive map and exhibit, which features a plethora of information about the multiple components of U.S. globalization, such as military expansion, economic trade, and religious expansion. The creators of this site utilize a series of 19th century maps to present a change in “geographical imaginaries” over time. The tabs at the topic of the site are easy to navigate, and there is plenty of information for users to fully understand the purpose and reach of this project.

The interactive map tab not only allows users to get to the map but also offers map instructions and sources for the various maps and data. At the top right corner of the map there is a checkbox for different data users can access; these include subheadings for diplomacy, military, missionary, commerce and immigration. Upon checking whichever box the user is interested in, they are to click the play button on the timeline to see the distribution of places where the data chosen applies. The number of pop ups increase while the timeline plays as though a slideshow, indicating the increase of globalization over the years.

Altogether, this site is thoroughly developed and was contributed to by various people. There is enough information and instructions for users to make sense of the purpose and uses for this site. The checkbox of data is particularly interesting for my project as Hadhrami social structure has stratification in identity groups; there are also varying purposes for migration, such as economic, religious, military, etc. This seems like a useful tool for me to organize the internal diversity of Hadhrami communities in a different way than merely putting up a block of text.

Mapping the Catalogue of Ships

The purpose of this site is to map the series of places mentioned in the second book of the Iliad, specifically in the Catalogue of Ships. By visually representing the places that are referenced in this catalogue by Homer, the creators of the site argue that these maps showcase Homer’s deep knowledge of Ancient Greek geography. The home page has a nice visual and adequate information for users to understand the aims of this project. The creators of the site also use Neatline as well to create the interactive map.

With lines of migration and pop ups for different locations, users get a clear picture of the different locations mentioned in the Catalogue of Ships. On the right side of the page, there is the original Greek writing of the Catalogue with highlights for the different locations mentioned. When each highlight is clicked from the Greek text, the map shifts to the precise location within Ancient Greece. While the original Greek text adds more authenticity to this project, it would be helpful if there was an English translation of the text as well.

Overall, the project fulfills its purpose and is an interesting supplement to this book of the Iliad. This site has presented another option of having text that may reference different locations of the Hadhrami diaspora, such as travel logs or colonial archives, and constructing my project in a way that gives users a visual representation of archival data in real-time with just a click.

 

Jillian Fahy

https://public.tableau.com/s/gallery/airbnb-prices-san-francisco

I am really interested in this project because of the interactive map they have created. This project looks at Airbnb rentals in San Francisco. One can zoom in and out and apply different filters to the map to quickly find what you are looking for. On the map it displays different Airbnb rental locations and when you click on a specific point a bubble pops up with information on the listing. This is something I would love to incorporate into my project and that is why I chose to review this project. The really cool thing about this map is that there are different filters that can be combined together for price range, area, bed type, cancellation policy and room type. I do not know if I will need multiple filters that can be applied together but it is still something to consider. I really like the map and popup bullets but I think a con would be that there are so many dots on the map that it is overwhelming. With my project I don’t want it to be too overwhelming so that people would then just give up on using it. Somehow there would need to be a balance that there wasn’t too many bullet points in one area. The other thing I wonder is how often it is updated. People are continually adding and taking down Airbnb so in order for this site to remain effective it will have to continually be updated. This website is from a project that sought to identify the positive effect that Airbnb was having on San Francisco’s economy. It also lists some statistics but does not state how they acquired those statistics.

https://public.tableau.com/s/gallery/prevalence-diabetes-world

I chose to examine this project because I really liked the way they color coded their map. Each country was a different color to represent the prevalence of Diabetes around the world. The other feature I liked was that when you scroll over a country a bubble would pop up giving all the numbers and statistics. Another cool feature was that you could click on the “color legend” on the side of the page and the map would then only display the countries that had that level. This made it very easy to see which areas were highest and which were lowest. You also had a choice of selecting which region to use with a drop down menu. One thing I found to be a pro for them was that when a specific area or country was selected on the right hand side the total number of reported cases would pop up. I liked that this appeared without having to be clicked on and I would really like to include that in my project somehow. This number changes based on how you scroll and what you click on and what filters have been applied. Underneath the map there are interactive graphs which sum up the findings. I enjoyed this feature and now would also like to include something like this to show the total findings of my research. A major downside of this project is that it only shows data from 2013 and they have not updated it each year. I think it would be a good idea for them to continue the data onward as we go forward in time to see if there is an increase or decrease. Thinking about this has made me question whether or not my data will be collected to focus solely on current extinctions and endangered species or past ones as well.

http://www.virtualfreedomtrailproject.org/

http://www.dhinitiative.org/projects/vftp

The Virtual Freedom Trail Project seeks to document liberation struggles in Tanzania and South Africa. Although the project is not complete they show some things they have begun working on and they also have started a website to give information. They plan to have maps depicting different parts of Africa and will have bullets that you can click on to get more information. I really like the start of their website, it is very clean and understandable. It is not cluttered with too many words or pictures. Within the maps portion it pops up with some information and several images that can be clicked on to be enlarged. These pictures relate to the specific topic and there are also two buttons within the popup that allow you to click for more information and also related people. I really like this feature, how it gives a brief summary and then if you are more interested you can click further to delve in deeper. With my project I could use this technique to give a brief summary and then I can use the buttons within the popup for the viewer to access more information and resources to help protect the species that was endangered. The only thing I dislike so far is the layout of their map. I believe that it looks cluttered because they used a map that had street names and roadways, etc. For their project this may be beneficial but for mine I will not need anything on my map besides the division of states within America. I would like to keep following this project as it progresses to see what they add to it.

Johnny Gossick

The Story of the Stuff
http://thestoryofthestuff.com

This project explores the spontaneous memorials after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 through a web documentary. It tracks the condolence “stuff” and examines the larger public responses to the tragedy.

The tools it uses are Scalar, WordPress, Vimeo, and Timeline JS. It uses these tools very effectively. The whole webpage is accessible with the scroll bar, but the tabs on the right side of the screen allow the user to jump to each chapter. This suggests that the material should be viewed linearly, however, it allows easy access to specific parts. Vimeo links are embedded for the actual video documentary in chapters. It has one in-depth timeline from Timeline JS that uses embedded media and text and is easy to scroll through. However, the text is awkwardly formatted because of lack of space in the box.

The project draws on interviews done by the author and news reports. It contributes a more interactive way to view a documentary, allowing the reader to view pieces out of series with supplementary materials for a deeper viewing experience. It is extremely well maintained; all links work perfectly. It is supported by a team at the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a grant from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Fractured Atlas.

I liked how the web documentary was presented linearly but gave users the option of reading it however they wanted. I think that I will treat each different style of synthesis like a chapter in this way. I disliked the format of Timeline JS that this project used, and I learned that if I use this tool, I must make sure that it is formatted properly.
‘A Shaky Truce’: Starkville Civil Rights Struggles, 1960-1980

Home

This project re-tells the story of America’s Civil Rights movement from the perspective of Starkville, Mississippi with oral history interviews, photos, newspapers, correspondences, interviewee’s personal collections and materials from the Mississippi State University Libraries’ archives.

The tools it uses are Google Maps, WordPress, Timeline JS, Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, and WordPress Plugins. The site is very deep. It is a typical website format and is divided into three main sections: the Place, the People, and the struggle. The site links for oral history interviews go to Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, which seems like a great way to organize the large amount of interviews they have done. In addition, there are numerous supplemental materials at the bottom of each page. It features an in-depth timeline from Timeline JS that contains all the important dates on the site. This timeline is much better formatted than the one from “Story of the Stuff.” The supplemental materials help to add to the textual narrative. The one thing that the site lacked was a conclusion section or a general section that helped the reader sum all that they had read. The project as a whole adds a great deal to the volume of oral history on the Civil Rights movement and helps to contextualize its place in a small town in Mississippi. It is ongoing and very well maintained, supported by a team at Mississippi State University and supported by grants from Institute of Museums and Library Services and Mississippi Humanities Council.

This project helps to contextualize the depth that some of these DH projects can be. I also like that it is growing and implements a sustainable architecture for growth because I hope to build upon my site in the future.
A Digital Pop-Up: Latino/a Mobility in California
http://dhcommons.org/projects/digital-pop-latinoa-mobility-california

This project is meant to document the work of an undergraduate class on Latina and Latino Mobility in 20th and their digital exhibit. It contains digital essays, a history blog, documentation of two exhibits, and student portfolios. It uses scalar, which is why I am looking into the site. The website is laid out very clearly, but somewhat unattractively. The table of context on the left side is helpful, but the “path” buttons are redundant because there is only one path and the references at the bottom of each page sometimes take up more screen space than the actual content. I did like how they linked words or word phrases to specific pages. The site is well maintained and is supported by a class of undergraduate students. I learned from this project that scalar is a very flexible tool, allowing you to route to anywhere in the webpage using any form of link and multiple pathways. However, I also learned that I will need to be very careful tying up the loose ends of the webpage’s aesthetic.

Analyzing Iran

(Abdul Manan)

Information is Beautiful

Website http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-middle-east-key-players-notable-relationships/

A website named “information is beautiful” specializes in creating visually appealing means to convey academically rigorous ideas, an effective technique I must say. One particular chart explaining the arcanely intermingled relationships between the various states and factions in the ongoing conflict in the middle east, may not directly be in line with my proposal, offers a refreshing visual idea that I could possibly use. This relationship web has an overall confusing appearance, much like reality, but as one pays a little more attention, the idea(s) begin to sync in. One can click at each point of the web to further learn about the general standing of that party in the conflict. Following the general profile, one is guided into another, smaller web that lists the specific relationships the party has in meaningful detail. The complexity of the issue is well captured by this technique.

Given the time and technical restrains attaining such level of intricate coding could prove to be a hindrance. Also, the intricacy of the entire project although important could be too overwhelming for a beginner in the subject.

Iran White Paper

Website : http://hyperstudio.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/US-Iran-whitepaper.pdf

http://hyperstudio.mit.edu/projects/us-iran/

The Iran White Paper is a database that converts and collects formal documents in digital formats that deal directly with Iran US relations. This project resembles my proposal, explaining Iranian political institutions that is, in its prospective form and content. The “US Iran Project Software,” is designed specifically to cater to the objective of creating a comprehensive repository of official documents for the reader to make a sense of. With different sections for documents (which include scanned copies of  partially redacted declassified documents, it looks quite appealing), speeches, ordinances, the software seems to be tailored for assessing relationships between two Governments. The project itself is accompanied by a scholarly academic paper that sets the context within which the reader is advised to view the entire undertaking.

With all its usefulness, the project falls short of exhibiting a comprehensive set of documents from Iranian polity. While one can fathom the limitations, maybe linguistic or that of credentials, lack of ample Iranian documents in the software is seriously limiting.

 

Kurdish Chart by the Atlantic Council

Website http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/mapping-the-kurds-an-interactive-chart

Compiled by Atlantic Council, a major think tank based in DC, this interactive chart maps the governing institutions of Kurdistan. Complex in its outlook, the chart comprehensively covers all working institutions of the Kurdish Government. This chart has incredible semblance to my conception of the outlook of my project. With short write ups about each institution, the chart establishes  a comprehensive, generic context of Kurdish political institutions. The format of the chart is pleasing to the eye and adequately complex for the brain. It is also diligently separated into the executive, legislative and judicial branches, with a separate page devoted to foreign policy.

Although the chart is comprehensive in the generic sense, it completely lacks an in depth assessment of the various institutions it represents. The impetus of my project is to delve into the details, which this project for one reason or another seldom does. I view this chart however as a starting point upon which I can capitalize to add more academic features to my project.

Joseph Bronzo

http://miltonrevealed.berkeley.edu/

Milton Revealed is an online database, which seeks to store images and visual data related to John Milton. This is basically a database of outside the text information and interpretations of Milton’s major works. Some of the positives of the site include it’s easy to navigate web page. This is best illustrated by easy to click icons, which bring up clips of the poems being dramatically acted. Furthermore, the sole focus on a single author is an exciting positive, which relates well to my project. However, this project does have some negatives. First, there is very limited actual analysis of the written word. Furthermore, the majority of the materials are biographical and extra-textual. Therfore in my perspective they are mere obfuscations of the important material- The ACTUAL WORK! Despite the negatives, it was good to see how a project about an author’s compendium of wroks, might be structured.

 

http://darknessvisible.christs.cam.ac.uk/index.html

Darkness Visible is another database dedicated to John Milton. However, unlike the Milton Revealed, it has a plethora of sections. This database is almost entirely dedicated to the Epic paradise lost. It has a discussion of the plot, characters, historic backdrop and the LANGUAGE! Now the language section is incredibly broad and is basically a summary with highlighted notes. Upon further review of the website, I find that it is designed to make Milton more consumable. This like Milton revealed is a website focused on taking the language and bringing it down to an everyday level. What I liked about this project is its ability to distil complex poetry down to palatable forms. What I might conceive of adding to my project is a small summary to poems, which I have analyzed in depth. Thus, this website was an exploration of an author, but lacked my methodological bend.

 

http://www.shawnaross.com/yeatsblog.html

 

Finally, I came across Yeats by Shawna Ross. This digital humanities project seeks to identify the dialectical forms used by Yeats in his poetry, such that there are multiple poets within one poem. Instead of using the philosophy of Hegel to color Yeats’ poems Ms. Ross went back to the poems themselves to and charted the amount of times Yeats’ poems exhibited self-quoting, Hypotheticals, 3rd persons, and many other things. I can find only one negative in the entirety of the study, which is that the textual analysis is not taken further than the actual findings. I believe this is extremely close to what my project would encompass, and if I could combine the Interface and interesting statements of Milton Revealed with Shawna Ross’s method, I believe I would have an incredibly strong project.

Reflection- Synthesizer Interactive Timeline

After reflecting on the feasibility of what I can achieve within six weeks with no prior coding knowledge, I have decided to limit my project, an interactive timeline of music technology, to explore elements of electronic music synthesis. I hope to create an interactive timeline with analog synthesizers, frequency modulation synthesizers, wave-table synthesizers, sample-based synthesizers, software synthesizers, and other significant types of synthesizers. Synthesizers can often be unintuitive to newcomers because, unlike acoustic instruments, their interfaces consist of high-technological components: knobs, patch cable inputs (in the case of modular synthesizers), buttons, and tiny screens with layers of menus. Many functions on synthesizers have technologically advanced labels that require prior electronics knowledge to understand the physical processes taking place to shape the sound, such as: Low-Pass Filter, Low Frequency Oscillator, and Envelope Generator. I hope to familiarize people who are unfamiliar with electronic music synthesizers by creating a timeline with interactive digital representations of different types of synthesizers, self-produced music samples that demonstrate the sonic character of each type of synthesizer, and information on the historical context of each type of synthesizer in musical works and music industry. The hardest part of this will be acquiring the coding knowledge needed to make these digital representations truly interactive. I want someone using my project to be able to use their mouse to flick a virtual switch, press a virtual button, or turn a virtual knob and witness a change in the sound created. I will need to educate myself through online materials on coding and digital media, but also ask for an expert’s advice. This element of my project will be challenging, but it is important to me because I have learned that experimentation is a crucial factor in learning to intuitively use synthesizers to make music. Creating music samples will be a much easier task because of my experience doing so, but I will have to become more familiar with some forms of synthesis that I have neglected in the past. Finally, I will need to address the cultural impact of different forms of synthesis. I will do this through adding text that describes the historical context of each different form of synthesis and adding links to outside media. By taking this three-pronged approach to my project, I hope to make this project truly interdisciplinary by developing and employing technical skills, music composition skills, and writing skills.