Initial Thoughts on Self-Directed Exercises

Overall, the self guided exercises have been very helpful in introducing me to not only how to use a tool, but also its benefits, drawbacks and history. Although I have enjoyed reading about the history of some of the tools, I find the debates and analysis of their uses more interesting and engaging. The most beneficial aspect of the exercises is the are the different tools I’m given the complete the same tasks in slightly different ways and layouts. A good example of this is the mapping exercise that introduced me to many different G.I.S tools and methods. This exercise showed men how these different tools could be employed to create a diverse range of G.I.S projects. The exercise also encouraged me to critique G.I.S projects examples by listing their benefits and limitations. I also enjoyed how the exercise directly relates to me and a project I might choose to do by showing me examples of different projects done by past digital program summer fellows. These really helped me see the scope of what I can do if I choose to do a G.I.S project.

I also enjoyed the text analysis exercise because of interesting articles about text analysis and the simplicity of using the text analysis tools. The articles attached to this exercise were especially helpful in my research process because they taught me about different research methods, a past intern’s research process and project, how to analyze outputs from text analysis tools, and different misinterpretations that can hurt a text analysis research project. Ngrams and Voyant were both very easy to use and helped me consider different text analysis projects I can do with the outputs I got from using them. By using Voyant on Black Men of Amherst and  Black Women of Amherst, I was able to come up with several project ideas that interested me. More than any tool thus far, text analysis has been the one that has prompted the most ideas.

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