The Strengths and Limits of “Google Squids”

The beginning of this week, I headed to the nearby University of Massachusetts Amherst for a NERCOMP conference! I know it sounds like NERD-COMP! To be fair, we were all kind of geeking out about data and other techie stuff all day though…Anyway, during the data visualization workshop that we attended, I spent a good chunk of the exploratory “sandbox” period evaluating Google Fusion tables. What’s really cool about Google Fusion Tables is that you can take data from spreadsheet columns or CSV files, and create quick visualizations. In particular, I tackled the Network Graph feature. According to Google, “this type of visualization illuminates relationships between entities. Entities are displayed as round nodes and lines show the relationships between them.”

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Word of the Week: ingest

 

vb. to take in, to absorb

In libraries and archives, this verb does duty far past the usual descriptions of victuals. For example, you might hear someone say some records need to be “ingested into the collection” without a trace of hilarity.

 
It makes me wonder how useful this word might be in other, broader senses – “I want to ingest this vocabulary before I leave for Brazil.”

 

 

Tech + Text

 

What makes a DH/DS project work or splutter out depends partly on the wedding of digital tool and project materials. With the wrong combination, the whole project can go awry. This week we took the time to consider how the KWE Native American book collection might cooperate with one of the tools we’ve “sandboxed” to get a feel for.

  • ArcGIS. After completing a four-day, twelve-hour workshop in ArcGIS, we got a feel for the capabilities of importing census data, using different map projections, and layering on features like rivers or elevation data. In theory, this could provide a way to look at the KWE, perhaps using locales mentioned in the texts or mapping out the publishing houses over the decades. Continue reading Tech + Text

How in the World?

How do we, everyone working on this project, talk about the KWE Native American books collection as a whole? What sort of project and what kind of tools could make something that speaks to the whole collection? For some reason, I’m particularly interested in broad questions of place concerning these Native American books- How for instance would we present geographic- info on where these authors are from or where their books were published-in a meaningful and accessible way?

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The C Word

It’s my first week or so as an intern with the digital scholarship program and I’m already confused. And it’s not just because I’m still learning how digitization software works, or what exactly that mysterious word metadata means, or even how I’m supposed to answer the question what is the digital humanities? Maybe more so than confused, I’m conflicted. I’m conflicted because of the position that I’m in, at the time that I’m in it.

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Word of the Week: 245

In the language of libraries, MARC, 245 is the code for a title.

So if you’re looking through MARC records, full of indecipherable numbers and their corresponding entries, you might see 245 A wrinkle in time

MARC was created in the ’60s (“Machine Readable Coding) so it is quite dated nowadays, but it sticks around because it’s still doing the trick for libraries and has been the standard in the US since the ’70s.

Digitizing the Kim Wait Eisenberg

I’m a digitizer. I’ve been digitizing since I was ten years old and my mother told me to throw out some of the papers I had boxed (one file box for each grade, 1 – 4). I was instructed to snap photos with our bulky point-and-shoot and clear out the boxes. I’ve been doing that ever since, digitizing my own past once in a while (though I can’t say I’ve ever looked back at any of those photos). The key to any digitization that might happen through the KWE Collection, whether it be the covers of novels for images or texts of pre-1923 works for text mining (no, copyright does not and at this rate will not allow anything post-1923 to sink gracefully into public domain).

Some topics that have drifted across my radar in the KWE:

Digital Scholarship from the Digital Humanities

Digital scholarship is a reworking of the field digital humanities (DH), a retroactive fiddling to try and encompass more of fields like social sciences that were originally left out from DH. After working in these fields for the fair span of two days, one question has emerged most prominently for me about this field – what is digital humanities?

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Digitizing History: My First Thoughts on Digital Scholarship

What was the price of coffee in 1920? Today, for my second day as a Digital Scholarship Summer Intern at Amherst College’s Frost Library, I explored The New York Public Library’s digital initiative, “What’s on the Menu?”. Could questions like the coffee question be potentially answered through digital scholarship? “What’s on the Menu” is a crowdsourcing initiative that seeks everyday people beyond the NYPL staff to help transcribe menus from a vast array of historical periods from around the world. Eventually, scholars could easily look up specific dishes and prices in these menus rather than rely on the menu titles for their research. Evaluating “What’s on the Menu?” provided me with a platform for planning the digital program that I will work on along with other interns and library staff.

Our society seems to like binaries quite a bit, whether they are gender binaries or the academic binaries we artificially create between the humanities and the sciences. Before, I never considered technology and science as potential aspects of my professional life, confining myself in a self-imposed false binary of humanities versus science. Today, I’m starting to work with the humanities and technology side-by-side, learning to respect them as distinguishable but interconnected fields.

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