Weekly Blog Posts

All blog posts are due by classtime on the day indicated. If your post has been edited during class, or if you’ve posted comments during class, your work will be discarded and you will receive no credit for this assignment.

The Internet is unpredictable, and occasionally browsers crash or connections fail. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you compose your post in a separate document and paste it into the browser. I also strongly recommend that you give yourself enough lead time to account for any mishaps that might befall your work.

Your posts should be about 400-500 words long. If there’s a significant technical component, like a data visualization, the written part can be shortened accordingly.

Need help creating and formatting your blog post? Please see this tutorial.

Monday, October 3

(Assignment borrowed from Austin Mason.)

Explore one of the sites below and write a post trying to reverse engineer one of these DH projects.

Make sure your post does the following:

  • Introduces and links to the project you explored.
  • Contains an image of the project that links directly to it. (How to take a screenshot.)
  • Breaks down the black box of your digital project by identifying its
    • Sources (assets)
    • Processes (services)
    • Presentations (display)

You may need to poke around the About or FAQ sections of the page to figure out this information, but see how far you can get.

Monday, October 10

Select one of the links below, which all lead to the finding aid for a physical, archival collection held here at UCLA. (Not sure what a finding aid is?) Read the finding aid to find out what’s in the collection. What kinds of historical narratives might you be able to tell, based on the materials in this collection? What would be missing from your narrative, if you based it entirely on records in this collection? How might you remedy that?

(Want to see any of this [except the restricted collections] in person? You absolutely, 100% can.)

Monday, October 17

Find a dataset from the L.A. Controller’s Office and link to it here.

  • Identify its data types.
  • What constitutes a record in this dataset?
  • Use Wallack’s and Srinivasan’s definition to identify the dataset’s ontology.
  • From whose point of view does this ontology make the most sense? (Another way to ask this question: Who will find this data most useful and illuminating?)
  • What can this dataset tell you about the phenomenon it claims to describe?
  • What gets left out?
  • Imagine you’re starting over with data-collection and describe a completely different ontology, from someone else’s point of view.

Monday, October 24

Use one of these datasets (or your group’s own data) to build a simple data visualization with the tool of your choice (we suggest these, but you can use something else if you prefer), doing your best to adhere to the principles Nathan Yau lays out in Data Points. Link to or embed your visualization in your post. What does your visualization tell you that you couldn’t see from the data itself?

Monday, October 31

Using the HTML we learned in class, build a website that contains a header, links, paragraph(s), an unordered list, and an image. (BONUS: Style your page with CSS.) Upload your page to your group’s server and link to it from your blog post.

Your page doesn’t necessarily need to be about your project; it can be about anything you want. Your blog post doesn’t need to contain anything except the link to your page.

Monday, November 7

Select a DH mapping project from the following list and think about the way it uses maps. Think also about Turnbull’s contention that all maps are perspectival and subjective. What kinds of assumptions, and whose point of view, does the map you’ve selected reflect? What does the map reveal and what does it obscure? Imagine and describe an alternate map.

Digital Harlem
Caribbean Cholera Map
Digital Gazetteer of the Song Dynasty
Locating London’s Past
Mapping Decadence


Monday, November 14

Select and read a short story from here.* Make a list of characters. These are your nodes. Decide what constitutes a connection (e.g., characters appear together in a scene, characters speak to each other, etc.) and build an edge list. Use your edge list to build a simple network graph with Google Fusion Tables and embed it in this blog post. (You can use this tutorial, or see the third video in my network analysis lecture.) What, if anything, does this network graph illuminate about the characters’ connections? What are its limitations?

*Click on each issue to view its table of contents. Some stories are free to read and some aren’t.

Monday, November 21

Choose a project from Vectors and describe its interface. What was it like to navigate this site? Based on the project’s editorial statement and your own observations, explain why you think the project designers made the design decisions they did. Do you think the project is successful? Why or why not?

Monday, December 5

Working with a partner, download and install 123D Catch on either a phone or a PC. Use it to build a 3D model and embed the model in a blog post.