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In August, I participated in a radio show interview with Natalia Cecire and hosted by Karma R. Chávez and Anders Zanichkowsky about trigger warnings post-Halberslam. A few weeks later, Madison Mutual Drift published a transcript of the interview, along with two written responses by Dan S. Wang and Brigitte Fielder. I wanted to write some reflections I’ve had after this experience, so I thought I’d do it here.
One thing I’m learning from this whole experience is that what Catherine Prendergast calls “being disabled rhetorically” happens by refusing to address disability and its rhetorical productions on their own terms. Prendergast describes how having a mental illness affects one’s “rhetoricability”–when a rhetor is or is perceived as mentally ill, their rhetoricability is lessened and often negated. I’m struck how in the roundtable I participated in that disability was only tangentially discussed and not brought up in either of the written…
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If anyone wanted to see what the spreadsheet looked like for the TimelineJS project, I have made it accessible on my Google Drive.
With that, I end blogging with the LSC874 tag and begin my vacation from schoolwork.
So, Northwestern’s KnightLab has a lot of awesome tools, and I might as well get their logo tattooed over my heart, ’cause I sort of love them. StoryMapJS is a way to show a story in text and image while also displaying the relevant location on a map. As the story progresses, the map moves around and allows you to interact with the story differently. For this project, I used largely the same data as for TimeLineJS, using strategic copy/pasting. The result, as you’ll see, is somewhat different.
Unlike TimelineJS, this tool does not require use of a spreadsheet but rather is built in a manner resembling a presentation. Each event is a slide, and for every slide you have the option to manually place the geomarker or to search for a location and have it automatically placed accordingly. As I was mistakenly under the hopeful belief that I could import from Google Maps, I had already created a KML file of all the required locations. Entering them again (I’m beginning to see a theme with this project) was tedious, but pretty simple as the search field had a handy autocomplete feature and was spot on most of the time. It also helps that Rome is a pretty small city.
One of the main features I enjoyed using was the media selection feature, which is able to pull Flickr images from their page link without requiring a specific image URL. As Flickr makes finding such a URL very difficult, this feature saved me a lot of time and grief. No digging through the embed code for 50 jpgs to get the URL, no strategic screenshotting (which is dubious anyway), no hoping you have the right resolution… it does it for you.
When you create a StoryMapJS, it links to your Google account and saves the file on your Drive in a similar manner to TimelineJS, so you can stop and start back up again when you need to. I found this very useful as I had to switch browsers a few times to figure out which one was the best (Firefox, shocker).
StoryMapJS was created for Journalists to tell stories in a format other than the usual print/text+image format to which we are accustomed. Its purpose is not scholarly by nature, but it lends itself well to scholarly content and storytelling. It is easy to pick up and learn and requires no data formatting or coding, so while the bar is low the returns are high.
One of the three tools I used from Bamboo DiRT was Northwestern University’s TimelineJS, made in their fantastic KnightLab. I made a short sample to explain my creative process.
As you can see, it took me a while to figure out how to work with the spreadsheet and fix my data so that it would smoothly integrate with their specifications. However, while it was time consuming it wasn’t overly complicated, and it was in large part a lesson in planning and reading the directions ahead of time *cough* we well as setting my own expectations appropriately.
Timeline JS is a tool that allows you to enter time-measured data into a Google spreadsheet, publish it to the web, and with a clever use of the Google Docs API, it is parsed and presented as an embedded timeline which can be placed in WordPress or a straight-up HTML document. For those who really care, you can go into the code and do some customization, but the options supplied on the project page were more than enough for this project.
Getting my data around was by far the hardest part of this tool, as it meant that I had to identify what information was required and appropriate. Hawthorne doesn’t really care for trivial details such as the date or time, or really anything that I needed for a timeline. Largely I extrapolated periods of time using my mad logic skillz and my browser’s ‘find’ function to dig through the source material on Gutenberg. Yay, public domain!
The tool itself is scholarly in creation but can (as exhibited in the link above) be used for silliness. It’s very useful to lay out linear stories or to show a progression of events, either on a small scale (one day) or a large scale (ten years). Timeline is open source, so you can indeed download it and tweak it to your heart’s desire as well as create your own plugins using JS/JSON to make it do flips and tricks. If you’re interested in doing so, you can find it on GitHub. As my JSON skills are at their most basic and I felt no need to change the tool, I did not mess around in the code, but would be lying if I did not admit to being curious.
In the end, I was very happy with my results and quite content to spend time readjusting the media and the text to get it closer to my goal. The timeline is clear and the transitions smooth, and the data is able to be tweaked without republishing the tool. Overall, the result is that the story, which relies so strongly on the feelings of the intertwined friends, is made more understandable by the passage of time and comprehending how long or short the distance was between events. Hawthorne tends to skip around without much context, and the timeline certainly put the story into perspective for me. It also taught me the importance of removing all commas from the timestamp field and that I should check this first before falling apart over a cup of tea at 1am.
WHEEE! THATcamp is always my favorite event of the year. Next time I’ll get enough rest ahead of time so I don’t feel like I just worked a double shift while fighting off zombies during the holidays in retail. I slept for thirteen hours on Saturday night, so… yeah.
This THATcamp was put on by a GWU history class as part of their final project! The group was largely beginner to intermediate, by our own admission, and most of the sessions throughout the day focused on group discussion and shared experiences rather than workshops or panel discussions.
After a brief discussion and some Dork Shorts, the following schedule was decided:
I attended Sunlight Data Visualization, mostly because I was really curious about using government data for educational reasons and how data visualizations use design to portray a message. The session was intense and enjoyable. I have stickers. They have some fantastic tools available on their website, including a Shazam-like app called Ad Hawk which will tell you more about the funding partners for ad campaigns. They also have a collection of deleted tweets from political figures, which is less educational and far more entertaining.
The second session I sat in on was “You have built it, they have come—NOW what?” which was hosted by Meghan Ferriter (@meghaninmotion) and the rest of the Smithsonian Transcription Center (STC) team. Everyone in the room discussed projects with transcription or active ways to involve a community and build trust with users. The STC team shared their experience with launching their transcription center and things which surprised them—which was mostly how amazing the volunteer community was. They found that once people started transcribing, others actively reviewed the transcriptions and would often have contributions or revisions. The volunteers built on each others’ work and the regulars collaborated together, resulting in high quality transcriptions and an active community.
The third session was one that I imagine our class would have had a ball with: DH in the Classroom/Digital Pedagogy. The discussion centered around what kind of involvement in the online sphere was best suited for what kinds of assignments and students, from K-12 to Ph.Ds. My favorite bit that came out of the discussion was from the visual notetaker:
The main takeaway I got was that our class is pretty fantastic, and that by using our WordPress blogs we are in fact practicing for having our work under public scrutiny by our peers, employers, and other scholars. In fact we’ve gone beyond practicing and are already doing it. So, go us!
Also, I met the fantastic Kathy Larsen, who teaches a class involving fanworks in media ranging from fanfic to Twitter accounts which impersonate West Wing characters. I have a lot of enthusiasm for this discussion because everyone was so interested and passionate and willing to share their experiences as well as learn from others. The woman who lead this discussion was at last year’s RailsGirlsDC event, and it really felt great to see her again and hear her speak about her experiences in digital pedagogy.
Finally, I decided to go to a low-key session about born-digital collections lead by Trevor Owens. I always enjoy his lead discussions because I always walk away with at least ten interesting links to look at in depth and a renewed interest in digital archives. It felt great to put my feet up and discuss video games, selfies, Yelp! reviews, and Geocities & fanfic archives, and hypertext literature with others. It really made me wonder if CUA could start gathering tweets & pics from campus events as part of a preservation effort. The Tower already includes some top tweets every week, it shouldn’t be too hard to begin gathering material. It might even be a good partnership project between the student newspaper and the library to find and share interest tweets.
Overall it was a fantastic day and I miss it already. Kelly joined me for the first half, and I’m so glad she did—the only other grad students who were there were in the humanities, and it was great to have another LIS peep there.