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 9

(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 on a Mac/on a PC.)
  • Breaks down the black box of your digital project by identifying its
    • Sources
    • Processing
    • Presentation

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 16

Select one of the links below, which all lead to the finding aid for a physical, archival collection held here at UCLA. Remember, a finding aid is just a description of the collection; it isn’t the collection itself. To get a better sense of what’s inside the collection, click on “View entire collection guide,” as indicated in the image below.

Read the complete finding aid to find out what’s in the collection. In your blog post, answer these questions: 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? What kinds of sources would you need to find in order to address those gaps?

…or pick another collection that piques your interest!

Monday, October 23

Find a dataset from the City of L.A. and link to it here. (To view a dataset, click on the name of the dataset, then, from the Explore dropdown menu, select View Data.)

As you learned in the Duarte article, in information science, an ontology is an organizational strategy for dividing information into data. An ontology reflects the categories into which the dataset has been divided, but it also reflects the worldview of the person or organization who created the data.

  • Describe your 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 30  Wednesday, November 1

Please note the revised due date.

For this blog post, you’ll need to use the software OpenRefine, which is a free download for Windows and Mac. If you don’t have your own computer, you can use the computers in the Rolfe Learning Lab, which is available to you from 9 to 5 on weekdays, anytime a class isn’t in session. (See the Lab Schedule to find a time.)

Complete this tutorial on OpenRefine. When you’re finished, answer the following question:

Think about your group’s own dataset. How might you manipulate the data to be more useful in answering your research questions? What OpenRefine operations will you need to perform in order to do so? What would you like to be able to do to your data that you’re not sure how to do?

(This blog post can be shorter than usual. In addition to the operations you learned about in the tutorial, it may be helpful to read some of the supplementary resources on OpenRefine listed on the OpenRefine Resources page.)

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, November 6

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 13

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 20

Select and read a work of short fiction 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 your blog post.

The video below will show you how to do this. You can also look at this tutorial.

In your blog post, discuss the following: What, if anything, does this network graph illuminate about the characters’ connections? What are its limitations?

* Some stories are free to read and some aren’t. Click around until you find something you like!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Looks like WordPress’s security settings are preventing the embedded, interactive version of your network diagram from showing up in your posts, so go ahead and just post a link to your diagram & some screenshots!

Wednesday, December 6

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. (If you can’t embed it, just link to it!)