Tag Archives: Tools

Descriptions and links to DH tools

Collaborative Opportunities

The Travelogue team has been exploring how other sites are using maps as digital pedagogical tools.  We are also connecting with possible collaborators, including other mapping projects, educational institutions and libraries.

In an effort to be participate in the conversations happening on social network platforms, Travelogue has been monitoring how Twitter is being used by similar projects.  We have explored hashtags that are being used in reference to maps, are concerned with literature, teaching, English, History, Social Studies, high school teachers, lesson plans etc.  We have also been following the conversations/posts on the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC) site.

On the development front we are playing with several WordPress Child Themes to see which will best work for the Travelogue site and the ESRI Storymap we will be using.  Research wise, we have completed a workable draft of the Ernest Hemingway content spreadsheet which we will use to construct Travelogue’s Ernest Hemingway StoryMap.

The Travelogue Commons site has a Research section that is categorized and features helpul resources, compiled during the progression of the Travelogue project.  For example, Esri Storymaps for Education.

Thank you for following our journey.  We look forward to sharing our connections with others in the GIS world.

If you want to contact us please do. Our project blog is at  travelogue.commons.gc.cuny.edu. Email us at dhtravelogue [at] gmail [dot] com or follow us on Twitter @DhTravelogue

Beyond Citation: Building digital tools to explain digital tools

Over the last couple weeks, the Beyond Citation team has transformed into a web production team of sorts, focused on making key decisions about platform, site architecture, user interaction, design, and communication.

Beyond Citation—a project to build a website that aggregates accessible, structured information about scholarly databases—has the potential to enhance how scholars approach, use, and interpret resources from some of today’s most widely used digital collections. While it would be straightforward for our team to simply gather and publish information about those resources, our challenge is to build a digital tool that supports meaningful interaction with that information, one that can also scale in the future and cater to a community of contributors.

In the project’s nascent stages, the tactical concerns before us are familiar—we’re taking on the common challenge of building and launching a website or web app. Thrust into the very practical realm of software, decisions, and constraints, discussions of critical theory get put off to discuss the merits of WordPress and Drupal. These powerful tools place the project in a digital ecosystem much wider than academia. The platform we have chosen—WordPress—pushes us deeper still into the wide worlds of relational databases, server-side scripting, and content management—the digital tools that will allow us to explain other digital tools.

As we construct the basic building blocks for the site, we find that the best way to focus our approach is by seeking the advice of experts, reading blogs about WordPress customization, and learning more about MySQL and WordPress taxonomies. The robust open source community behind WordPress has enabled us to confirm that the technical requirements for the Beyond Citation website can be met many times over through combinations of WordPress plugins.

Something to consider while building this tool with WordPress, is that we are seeking to publish data about proprietary tools by using open source technology. Perhaps this isn’t really so unusual—we see this in a similar vein as increasingly popular APIs that allow for easier data aggregation or configuration from multiple sources. And toolsets that are hybrids of proprietary and open source systems are extremely common.

But there’s an important depth to explore when thinking about Beyond Citation as a bridge between proprietary and open source systems. The idea of “exposed” information, built on “hidden” information, represents a direction that the project can try to push technically. For instance, if in a future iteration the team can uncover information about scholarly databases that’s not just hard to find, but not openly available (such as how search algorithms work, or the criteria behind publisher contracts), then I think the value of Beyond Citation increases in a direction most closely aligned with its original ambition. This would also allow the project to explore the similarities and differences in how scholarly databases work in more meaningful ways.

Before we can do that, everyone on the team is doing their part to fill in knowledge gaps, and discovering “how technology works” on multiple levels. Just as we are researching the types of information about scholarly databases that we want the project to highlight, we are also researching the types of data-driven web frameworks that could easily support such information. Like many Digital Humanities projects, Beyond Citation is about knowledge acquisition and aggregation for both developers and researchers. We are challenging ourselves to learn as much as we can about one set of digital tools before we can communicate new information about other sets of digital tools—both of which are moving targets, evolving in their own realms of authorship.

As we work towards a May launch date for an early version of the site, we realize that the authors of digital projects need a constant appetite for more knowledge—technical knowledge and subject-matter knowledge—in order to create and maintain an authoritative tool.

Follow us on Twitter as we get ready for May: @beyondcitation

Resources for Film Studies Projects

As I know there are at least a couple other film studies people here, and hopefully others are interested as well, below is a non-exhaustive list of possible tools and/or resources for film analysis. One final note that I would like to add is that I think these tools are productive for stimulating both analytical and creative abilities, the latter of which is often lacking in traditional humanities scholarship and pedagogy.

  • Digital Storytelling & Animated GIFs – digital storytelling seems to be growing in undergraduate and K-12 curriculums. This could be a great tool for humanities-based coursework as it allows students to think differently about how stories and films are constructed. Recording/editing mechanisms are now inexpensive and somewhat ubiquitous, and platforms like YouTube can easily publicize a student’s work. Animated GIFs may perform a similar function. Matt pointed me to Jim Groom’s blog, which is very interesting: http://bavatuesdays.com/how-i-stopped-worrying-and-learned-to-love-the-gif/
  • ClipNotes for iPad – this is a very cool app for doing film studies, though at the moment, it is extremely difficult to share one’s work, and use is obviously limited to iPad owners. http://www.clipnotes.org/
  • Visualization – earlier in the semester we looked at Brendan Dawes’ “Cinema Redux” project, which is perhaps the best example, though varying approaches to visualizing films are possible. http://brendandawes.com/projects/cinemaredux
  • Cinemetrics – this is a great tool for doing film measurement analysis. The website contains detailed information, a database, and some written scholarship on the topic. http://www.cinemetrics.lv/
  • Max 6 – we used Max with Phidgets during Bill Turkel’s workshop earlier in the semester. Max contains several free tutorials on working with video clips in the program. There are some very cool possibilities. http://cycling74.com/products/max/

I hope everyone has a nice break!

Message from Steve Romalewski

Steve and Matt,

I hope yesterday’s presentation was helpful.  The students had some good questions.  As I mentioned, I’d be glad to follow up with them individually if they have more specific questions or want to discuss options.

Btw, I was reminded today that cartoDB has started to offer online tutorials for beginners.  More info here: http://cartodb.com/academy  The first session already took place, but they’ll have others and the material will be archived at that link.  Please pass along to your students if you think it’d be helpful.



Steven Romalewski, Director,
CUNY Mapping Service
Center for Urban Research at The Graduate Center / CUNY


New tools for online cartography

Annotating online maps to provide context and narrative

Mapping tutorials

David Mimno and fatty tuna

David Mimno made an important distinction about theory vs. practice when he pointed out that MALLET (or any DH tool) is a method, not a methodology.  MALLET can uncover thematic patterns in massive digital collections, but it is up to the researcher using the tool to evaluate the results, pose new questions, and think of possible new uses for the tool.  In our class discussion, Mimno compared different roles in topic modeling to Iron Chef:  he makes the knives (MALLET), librarians dump a lot of fatty tuna (the corpus of text) on the table, and the humanists are the chefs who need to make the meal (interpreting and drawing new conclusions from the results).

As a librarian, I have never thought of myself as a provider of fatty tuna, but I get the general point. What role do librarians and other alt-academics play in DH? Can a librarian be a tool maker, a chef, a sous-chef, a waitress, or something else entirely?  What does it mean to curate content and devise valuable ways to access that content?  Is it scholarship? I am not sure if I can answer that question, but I do see many new ways to apply MALLET as a search and discovery tool which would be very useful for scholarship.

Can we do better than key word search to find relevant information in huge collections of digital text? Would search terms created from the body of the text itself be more accurate than hand-coding using the very dated and narrow Library of Congress subject headings? The DH literature on topic modeling doesn’t have much on libraries, but I did find the following information. Yale, U. Michigan, and UC Irvine received an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to study Improving Search and Discovery of Digital Resources Using Topic Modeling. See also an interesting D-Lib Magazine article on using topic modeling in HathiTrust, A New Way to Find: Testing the Use of Clustering Topics in Digital Libraries