Increasingly, historical documents and resources have been digitalized, making massive amounts of data available online. In turn, this historical data has become an important source for public historians and researchers looking to uncover historical narratives and voices. Crowdsourcing labour is an important means for public historians and institutions to effectively produce access to historical data online. Crowdsourcing, which can be defined as an “online, distributed problem-solving and production model,” is a way for institutions and public historians to harness the collective knowledge of online communities to serve specific project goals. Amongst many successful crowdsourcing projects, Wikipedia demonstrates what collaborative knowledge can accomplish. As Jason A. Heppler and Gabriel K. Wolfenstein explained, Wikipedia is a platform where “the project leaders are providing the space, but it is the community which defines both scope and content.”
This summer, I was fortunate enough to volunteer for the Bytown Museum in their collections department. There, I was tasked with numbering and transcribing a collection of 600 post cards which were sent as correspondence between the Lockmasters of the Rideau Canal locks, and the Superintending Engineer of the Rideau Canal Office in Ottawa. These post cards, which were dated from 1879 to 1963, provided valuable insight into the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the Rideau Canal locks. As the city of Ottawa relied on these locks for settlement and economic development during this time, the Lockmasters focused their correspondence on highlighting their lock station’s suitability for navigation.
For Digital Historians, data visualization is an important means for understanding and interpreting data. When analyzing large datasets, visualization tools can be used to reveal patterns, see connections, and find holes within research. Visualization also offers an effective way to present complex data in a clear and visually appealing manner. For artist R. Luke DuBois, data visualization goes even further, as it can be presented as art. DuBois is a multidisciplinary artist with experience as a composer and a programmer. As a programmer, DuBois co-authored Jitter, which is a software suite which allows real-time manipulation of video and 3D imagery. As an artist, DuBouis focuses on using digital technology to visualize and expose the narratives within data. As technology can be used to express both our voices and our cultures, DuBouis visualizes data to capture how we communicate and understand our selves, and each other, in the 21st century. I recently came across his TED talk “Insightful Human Portraits made from Data,” and I found his data visualizations very interesting and thought provoking.
Currently, I do not own a personal computer so I often used a computer which was available in the history department to complete the exercises for Crafting Digital History. When I did not have access to that computer, I would use my iPad to make changes to my remote GitHub notes. However, there were times when I forgot to pull these changes to my text editor once I was using the computer again. As a result, when I attempted to sync changes from local to remote I caused a merge conflict. There is more than one way a merge conflict can occur, in my case, I created an edit conflict. This is the most common type of conflict, and it occurs whenever two branches change the same part of a repository, and then attempt to merge both changes together. As a result, Git does not know which change to use, and asks for you to “resolve the conflict” to clarify which change your want to keep.
The end of the school year has arrived, and my journey with HIST3907o is officially over. I am sad to say goodbye, I have grown so much with this course and there are still so many things I hope to learn about digital history. I am grateful for all the assistance and guidance Dr. Shawn Graham has provided me with. Thanks to him, this course exposed me to an aspect of history which was previously little known to me. It opened me up to a world where history has so many possibilities. I have learned that technology has, and can, be used to conduct history and explore subjects which would not have existed without the Internet, and the tools which came with it. Now that I have a basic understanding of how to conduct digital history, I look forward to exploring subjects of my own, and hope to make use of the tools and concepts I have learned to manipulate big data for my own projects. My digital history journey does not end here, this is only the beginning for me.
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Welcome to my Reflection Exhibit. Collectively, the following posts are an online exhibit of my personal best module exercises, which were completed and submitted for Crafting Digital History HIST3907o. I selected these module exercises based on how challenging the exercises were, and how successful I was in resolving the issues that arose. These posts document my progress in learning how to manipulate big data for historical research. The full list of module exercises for the course can be found here.
As I look back at my progression through the course, I realize how far I have come. When I began this course, my digital experience was limited to downloading music and using social media. Naturally, I found this course and its content extremely overwhelming at first. However, from the beginning of the course, Dr. Graham was there to provide guidance and assistance whenever I had a problem. And through Slack, I was also able to communicate with other classmates and our TA to work through any issues and solve them.
Does Font Type Matter?
The purpose of this exercise is to help me understand the importance of text font in visual communication. Text, as well as the appearance of its words, both convey a message to the reader. Text font creates a mood and atmosphere, and gives the reader clues about how to understand the text. Fonts like
Roman communicate strength, authority, and legitimacy in its bold and strong appearance. With that in mind, a font like this should not be used by a writer who is trying to convey a fun and informal message in their text. Understanding the role text font plays in visual communication helps the writer choose effective text styles for their documents and projects.
Why Visualize Data? It can be very useful for seeing holes in research, and also for analyzing data further to understand how a dataset is interconnected. This article by S. Graham, I. Milligan and S. Weingart explains the role of visualization in research. There are many different tools to approach visualizing data, here I will be using Voyant. This tool can read either
txt files. If uploading a folder of ordered text files, Voyant will visualize the data in chronological order. This allows you to see the changes in word frequency and use over time.