Colonialism & Erasure

Walking around the streets of Toronto, it is difficult to see traces of its long Indigenous history. As a direct result of colonialism, Indigenous ways of knowing and naming place were replaced with European knowledge systems. While Indigenous place names convey local knowledge about physical landscapes and their histories as a means for navigation, colonial place names in Canada are instead used to emphasize European monarchs, religions, prominent families, and meaningful locations in Europe.

Continue Reading "“Place Names Are Powerful”: Counter-Mapping Indigenous Spaces & Place Names"

I came across a tweet by The Archivist that displays a time lapse GIF made from layered historical photographs of Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver. I found it very  interesting to watch as GIFs are typically used as memes to provide humour. However, as “flip books of the Internet,” GIFs can, and have, functioned beyond memes to illustrate tutorial directions, animate data to provide context, market products and ideas to consumers, or layer images to show movement or change. This GIF in particular constructs and deconstructs layers of cityscape images to engage viewers and encourage interest in the historical development of Vancouver.

Continue Reading "More Than Just A Meme: How To Make Animated GIFs"

I came across an article that made me rethink Facebook as merely a platform for sharing and searching information. Published by Cornell University, The Many Faces of Facebook: Experiencing Social Media as Performance, Exhibition, and Personal Archive argues that people experience Facebook through performing and reflecting on their life experiences and identity. It was found that users curating their personal collection of data on Facebook correspond to three different “regions” or goals: “performance region for managing recent data and impression management, an exhibition region for longer term presentation of self-image, and a personal region for archiving meaningful facets of life.”

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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Seeing Patterns

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 cxv or 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.

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Name Entity Recognition

Stanford Name Entity Recognizer (or Stanford NER) looks at patterns in metadata, and identifies and tags/labels words in a text which are the names of places, people, organizations, time, date, etc. The results can be extracted and visualized.

Dr. Graham recommended a very useful tutorial by Michelle Moravec on how to use Stanford NER and then extract results on a Mac. The tutorial also shows you how to organize the results into a categorized list ex: list by Location. At first I had an issue with running Stanford NER, the command line was telling me there was an issue with Java:

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Wget is a Tool for Downloading Internet Sources

The purpose of this Programming Historian Exercise was to help me get a sense of how to use wget to download a specific set of files, and how to download internet sources by creating a mirror of an entire website. For this exercise I decided to complete the section: “Step Two: Learning about the Structure of Wget – Downloading a Specific Set of Files.” In this exercise I ran wget through the command line to download the papers located in the active history website under the “features” tab. I was introduced to a series of useful commands for wget:

Continue Reading "Module 2 Exercise 4.1: Scraping Data With Wget"