DH Project Reviews

2019

Jonathan Schulz

Browsing through a wide range of Digital Humanities research projects was really insightful because these projects displayed the diversity within the field of Digital Humanities and several projects contained elements that I hope to replicate in my own project.  

Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project (http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/segregated.htm) is a project ongoing in Seattle, Washington that provides an impressively-organized map of the segregation that developed within the neighborhoods of Seattle. Created by the University of Washington, the project maps out the segregated neighborhoods in Seattle and provides historical context to explain the demographic development within the city. I was impressed by how the project included ethnographic statistics for many of the neighborhoods and how the project also provided diagrams of the neighborhoods. From the perspective of a user, this project exceeded my expectations as it not only blended visualizations with historical commentary, but also included links to direct the users to digital versions of the primary documents. I would consider this project a success as it includes a balance of visuals, historical context, and primary documents, is easy to navigate, and is well-structured (chronologically by each decade). For my own project, I hope to replicate some of these elements, especially the balanced blend of visuals and written text. 

Another current project in this field is A Visual History of Chicano/A/X Literature (http://faculty.ucmerced.edu/mmartin-rodriguez/index_files/00VH.htm). Supported by UC Merced, this project is operated by Manuel Martín-Rodríguez and it compiles a list of literary works by Mexican-American authors. This list is presented chronologically by date of publication and a digital form of the original cover is provided for each piece of literature. Although this project contains important elements, I believe that it falls short of a success as it fails to provide descriptions of each works’ historic significance, summaries of the content from these books, digital scans of the original books, as well as other forms of visualization. Without commentary or copies of the original primary sources, this project was extremely limited and provided the user with very minimal information. One aspect of this project that I found successful was the manner by which these books were arranged chronologically and how they displayed a digital copy of the original cover of each document. 

The third project that I explored was the Black Press Collective (http://blackpressresearchcollective.org/visualizing-the-black-press/), which aims to explain the historic and current impact of Black newspapers in the United States. An interesting component of this project was that it included social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, as well as a page with news articles to show the current impact of these newspapers. Unlike the other projects I had examined, this project contained a page with photos of each of the contributors as well as biographies. The site used an interactive map of the U.S. that marked the locations where copies of one newspaper, The Chicago Defender’s, was sold in large quantities. Moreover, this map was accompanied with text that provided historical context to where the newspapers were sold. This approach of providing an interactive map along with text to provide historical context is something that I definitely hope to incorporate into my project. Furthermore, photographs from historically-relevant time periods accompanied the text, which provided valuable visualization for the user. I believe that this project met the criteria for a successful project as it implemented visualizations along with historical commentary, all of which was structured in a very accessible and easily navigable format.

Hunter Kunzelmann

Photogrammar

Photogrammar is a digital humanities project based out of Yale that documents over 90,000 photos taken by the US government during the Great Depression. The pictures are sorted by the city in which they were taken and displayed on a map of the United States. By clicking on the county you wish to see, you are redirected to a page that displays all the pictures from that specific city. Under each picture is a description, the name of the photographer, and the date the photo was taken. The way these pictures are presented is aesthetically appealing and allows you to visualize the extent of the Great Depression and the toll it took on the US. I personally would have also provided an option to view each individual state in a closer-up map to make it more easily navigable, but otherwise the project and its layout are spectacular.

Spatializing Photographic Archives

Mark Downie and Paul Kaizer worked together in this project to develop a program for spatially reconstructing sites from photographs and then matching these sites to their photos. They would start with a photo and “unfreeze” it, stepping outside the limitations of the camera’s lens and revealing hidden aspects of photography. For example, one of the photos spatialized was just a picture of a couple of palm trees from an album. Using their program, Downie and Kaizer were able to reconstruct the entire stand of trees that surrounded the original picture. This method is very interesting in that it provides more insight into what the photographer was seeing whilst taking the pictures and can give us as viewers a greater appreciation for how the photographer decided what it was that needed to be captured. They displayed the original images inside of the spatial reconstructions so you could see the similarities and differences between the two.

Image Similarity Analysis

John Resig investigates the process of using computer vision software to identify similar/identical photographs of works of art. Throughout history, photography archives have been established and maintained, garnering millions of pictures of artwork ranging from paintings to sculptures in order to provide references for art history research. Going through all of these photos and organizing them would be impossible by hand, and so Resig has developed a method to use a computer vision software to detect similar features in photos and compare them to the rest of the database, effectively determining duplicate and/or similar pictures within these archives. This is a necessary undertaking that provides order to these photo archives as well as an interesting (and not to mention time-saving) approach to the problem of duplicate photos.

Lucas Vaughn

I was surprised to realize how hot of a topic medieval literature is within the DH community. Below I have found two great projects — and one not so great — that have helped me realize what can make, or break, a DH project. All three of these projects pertain to my research interest, so I am looking forward to using them going forward. I will start with the two exceptional projects, and then move on to a less effective one:

MESA, or the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance

The first project that caught my eye was MESA, or the Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance. It is meant to be a sort of network of information for medievalists, giving them comprehensive access to digitized medieval content. Users even have tagging capabilities, meaning that medievalists can work together to sort and find content by themes, locations, languages, etc! So far, this project has checked off everything I could want from such a project. I think it will be particularly helpful for when I begin my full transcription of the Hargrett Hours, as I will be able to cross-reference other texts using similar script for when I inevitably run into a letter I can’t identify. MESA even has a social networking feature for discussion between users. This project really sums up what Digital Humanities is to me. It is a way of getting valuable information and resources out to any who desire it, without requiring them to browse through multitudes of different libraries.

University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Five-College Digital Manuscript project

Another project that stood out to me is the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Five-College Digital Manuscript project. While the website is still under work and it is hard to find more info than what is posted on their about page, I think that it is worth keeping an eye on it. This project is wants bring modern computational power into the field of codicology. Their goals are to enhance photography for a perfectly flat reproduction, to increase the precision of measurement of the mise-en-page, to measure letter forms for easier script identification, and to analyze ink to assist tracking scribe changes. I am particularly interested in their measuring of letter forms, as I really enjoy reading and transcribing medieval manuscripts. This project, when it goes public, will help me immensely in identifying script for easier reading and reference.

Society of Biblical Literature

When I first clicked the link, I thought that the Society of Biblical Literature’s website would be of use to me in identifying texts and themes from the Hargrett Hours. However, upon attempting to access their resources, I was prompted to become a member. I was happy to do so, so I followed through the “Join Now” prompt, until I realized that I would not be able to access the resources in the same day. To join, a pdf of the membership form must be downloaded, then a paid membership plan must be selected. After all this, the form must either be mailed or faxed in, along with payment. I can understand requiring a paid membership for access, but I cannot understand such an outdated method of gaining membership. In addition, the website itself looked as though it had not been updated in a long time, and was in sore need of a facelift. This does not strike me as a particularly useful project, since it really doesn’t do much to make information more acceptable. Rather, it locks it behind a paywall, and an outdated one at that. In my transcription of the Hargrett Hours, I want my data to be as accessible as possible. Another thing I disliked about this project was how cluttered their website was. It was hard to find the resources I was looking for simply because my eyes were continuously being yanked across the screen (I have ADHD, so cluttered websites are always difficult for me to navigate). In the future, I want my website to be as clean and clear as possible, so any researchers can jump right in.

Jordan Graham

Linguistic Atlas Project

The first project that I reviewed was the Linguistic Atlas Project. I chose this project because the type of data gathered to make this project is similar to the type of data I would like to collect and present in my own project. The goal of this project is to investigate the words and pronunciation of everyday American English through phonetically transcribing recordings of interviews taken from 1930-present (mostly from 1930-1980) about a variety of topics with a variety of speakers from different geographical regions and backgrounds and publishing this information online in an accessible format. This format includes an interactive map showing where each participant speaker is from that links to a detailed description of the participants including information such as age, gender, education, ethnicity, and social status, as well as the metadata about the subject of the participant’s interview and a text transcription of the interview.

As a whole I found this project to be very informative and detailed in the amount of information given to users, and the interactive list and map features worked well and were fairly easy to use. I would say that it is definitely successful in providing a lot of information about American English in a way that is accessible. However, I can definitely see some ways the website could be improved. Firstly, I was not able to easily find a description of the different tags used for the project, which made navigating the data in list form confusing. I also wish that the interactive map had had some way of sorting the participants by factors (age, gender, project, region, etc.) as you can do in the list format, rather than just having a “pin” on the map that links to the participant’s information. This project showed me that having the information you are trying to share be accessible, though important, is not the only factor one should consider when creating a digital humanities project. One should also consider how they can give users alternative ways of looking at, and hopefully making connections with, the data being presented. Even though I found the information interesting, the design of the site was not very engaging and didn’t give me a new perspective on the information. After viewing this project I know that I want to be able to present my own data clearly while also making sure to provide users with a way of interacting with my data that is not just text on a page.

Endangered Languages Project

The second project that I found enlightening was the Endangered Languages project. The goal of this project is to use technology as a tool to document endangered languages, provide users with up-to-date information and resources on said languages, and provide a place where users can interact by providing information and submitting samples of endangered languages themselves. One of the project’s most impressive draws is a world map containing a dot for each endangered language, color coded to show the level of endangerment (vitality) of the languages included in the project.

This project has a special place in my heart as a linguist, as I think being able to preserve and study languages that are rapidly disappearing is extremely important in increasing our understanding of language as a whole. That aside, from the digital humanities side I think this project is spot on. The landing page is engaging and presents a striking image of the map under a link to explore said map, which is both intuitive and inviting. They also link several colorful buttons below this map that link to the other resources the project provides, allowing users with a more directed focus to find what they need. The site is easy to use and understand, and it is both visually and intellectually engaging. This project is, in my opinion, very successful, as it manages to not only display its data plainly but to also give users an alternative view of the world’s endangered languages through interactive the color-coded map. I learned from this project the importance of a good landing page. Hitting your audience with a visually engaging form of your data not only makes it easy for them to access but also keeps the excitement for the project alive in the user: my interest had no time nor opportunity to diminish as I searched the site for where the meat of the project was. I would like to incorporate this into my own site design for my project and make sure to keep the heart of my project front and center.

Twitter Network Gallery

https://dhs.stanford.edu/social-media-literacy/is-there-life-on-twitter/

The third project I reviewed is the Twitter Network Gallery, a set of maps showing a collection of tweets and users and how they are connected through username (using the @username format) tweets. The tweets were collected from hashtags related to violence in Norway and color-coded by time and keywords. This project was fascinating to look at visually and fascinating to think about: seeing the relationships of so many users mapped out like this was both informative and made me think about just how interconnected users can be on social media. I think this project will be useful to me as I do my own twitter research, as I now think that observing the pattern of interaction of the twitter users I am investigating could lead to some interesting and potentially useful discoveries. It is important to see if users interact with the subjects of my research in a way that resembles another type of user, such as a celebrity or business.

While I found this project interesting and inspiring, I would hesitate to call it a successful project. While it is visually impactful the data is not explained very clearly on the original page (the project also only has one real page), and I had to find a related article on the Stanford website to really understand what I was looking at. Also, the data looked at is not very extensive, so the reach of the project is limited. There is no explanation that I can find of how these maps were created, making it difficult for users to use it as a model for their own research. A successful digital humanities project needs to be informative, clear, impactful, and inspiring, and I am just not sure if this project lives up to all of these goals, despite blowing a few out of the water.

Lindsey Smith

African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection

Since my interest is how historical information is presented to the public, I began searching for historical American documentation in its primary source form. This initially led me to the Library of Congress’ collection of African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection. This collection includes over 800 documents consisting of pamphlets, sermons, speeches and other publicly shared material by African American authors from 1822 to 1909. The importance of this collection is that it provides insight of the African American viewpoint during this time period and demonstrates important contributions that may be looked over in other collections. 

The Library of Congress does an excellent job of showcasing these materials by flawlessly scanning every page of the documents, including blank pages. Several interactive features make it easy to examine each document that include zooming in and out readily and having the ability to see the transcription side by side with the original document. Users also have the option of narrowing the 800+ documents to more specific information such as when the document was published, what state it was published in, the contributor, and more. Overall this will be a great resource to find primary sources for analysis. 

Race, Memory, and Identity

The second resource I found came from Dr. Hilary N. Green at the University of Alabama. Dr. Green caught my attention because of her interest in African American memory around the Civil War era. Not only is Dr. Green in the process of writing a book that looks at how African Americans remembered and commemorated the Civil War, but she demonstrates several projects under her Race, Memory, and Identity collection. Dr. Green has several sub-categories that have documentation of African American contribution that include Civil War Memorial Landscape, Civil Rights Movement in Tuscaloosa, and a gallery showing has some universities have chosen to commemorate slavery on their campuses. 

Dr. Green’s work is impressive and also serves as an extra resource with the extensive list of digital collections posted as well. Resources include mapping projects, newspapers, visual culture and more. This resource is what led me to my third project review. 

Documenting the American South

Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a huge collection of primary sources of texts, images and audio files sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. DocSouth has 18 publicly available collections posted online. Users my choose by collection, authors, titles, subjects, and even geographically. Options to narrow searches even further are found within each category. I chose “Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina” as it shows visuals and has detailed information on the monuments erected in memory of the American Civil War. These details allow the user to have access and analyze monuments in several areas of interest to me such as location, time period, and verbiage used in the description of the monuments. While this collection focuses solely on the monuments in North Carolina, it is still extremely beneficial to me in demonstrating how to begin analyses on a smaller local scale. 

Maria Zayas

Listening to Puerto Rico

This DH project collaboration between the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan was very well-thought out and executed.  As a user, I was pleased to see the site not only discussed Hurricane Maria, but also the past and future of Puerto Rico, which is important both in the context of the Hurricane and in knowing Puerto Rico.  The testimonies were a great way to get an oral history of the island, which, in my opinion, is a crucial component of history, and the links to outside sources were a great addition for more information.  The only thing I would improve is having the category of testimony and outside links organized on the same page for easier access.  This project made me think of my own because oral tradition is important in the examination of music and dance and can be seen as oral and movement history in and of themselves.  This project also set a good example of what a successful DH project should look like.

19th Century Latino

When first looking at this DH project, I was intrigued by the topic.  This project set out to find the now lost and forgotten 19th century Latino Presses.  While an interesting topic, the execution of the project had several flaws, the first being that the project was not clear as to whether the presses were the only thing being examined or if there was a search for authors and manuscripts as well.  In addition, the map was poorly executed because the location was unclear.  The site was very limited, emphasizing for me the importance of clarity and sufficient information.

U.S. Latino Cultures

This DH project was particularly intriguing since it was a Google site with an unknown author.  Overall, the project did a very good job at emphasizing the different contributions and experiences of Latinos and did so in a pleasing interactive format.  The quality of the information was excellent as well, from notable sources such as PBS.  My biggest issue with the site was that although it was a great beginning source of information, there was no way to refine what information you viewed in each category; it displayed the information in a very focused, narrow way that directs the viewer without allowing them to explore.  While this site is a good starter for information on these topics, especially considering that it is a Google site, it does not allow the user to seek out varied points of interest within a topic.  This project emphasized the need for me not to narrow my site too much.

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2018

Katie Belle Curry

I decided to take Dr. McGinn’s advice and use this assignment to my project’s advantage. I searched through the DH Commons and through a few Google searches to find current DH projects that related to James Joyce, W. Somerset Maugham, the modernist movement in England and Ireland during the years before, during, and just after World War I, or the use of narrative and text analysis of modern works in general. The following projects were the most interesting or creative endeavors that I found.

JoyceStick — Boston College

To me, JoyceStick is one of the most exciting projects bringing James Joyce’s works to a modern audience. The goal of Boston College is to combine the narrative analysis of James Joyce’s Ulysses with the latest virtual technology software. Users will be able to have an interactive virtual tour of Dublin where they can experience the city that was so close to Joyce’s heart while they read the text. By designing such an interactive experience, it will allow for a deeper level of engagement for the readers. As a user, I would like to be able to hear the text read while I explore the scenes that are being depicted for myself. JoyceStick would be a success to me if it quantifiably added to the retention and take-away of the text for the user. I have been inspired by this project to possibly expand upon my horizons of what I think of as the possibilities of DH as well as re-evaluate my goals for how to engage my users in an interactive experience with my texts.

Contemporary Fiction Database Project (CFDB) — University of Pennsylvania Price Labs

CFDB is working to bring Anglophone literature from the 1960s to the present into the digitized world. According to their introduction on their website pricelabs.sas.upenn.edu, “the first phase of the CFDB project we performed statistical comparisons between bestsellers and prize-nominated novels, year by year, 1960 to the present,” which places emphasis on narrative analysis and illustrating the changes over time of certain time-settings and the seemingly growing divide between the ‘prestige’ of a novel and commercial success. In phase two of the project they aim to, “dig further into that fulcrum point around 1980 by building a digitized corpus of contemporary fiction and subjecting it to computational analysis,” which is similar to my goal of using analysis tools to compare the works of Maugham and Joyce. If I were to use and engage with this system’s content, I would like it to have a built in search component that would display not only textual results but also graphical depict certain trends in literature that I would like to search such as the Civil Right Movement or the war on drugs. Due to the large amount of data that the Price Labs is attempting to compile, I would state that they would be successful if they were able to pick a handful of topics or settings to evaluate, be of interest to, and make searchable to a wider public. For my project, I have taken away that due to my narrow focus, I may want to consider ways that it could be expanded in the future to incorporate other novels that may be similar to the novels that I have chosen. If they are able to incorporate such diversity and range within their project, I should be able to leave mine open to additional novels in the future.

Mapping Modernism / Modernist Letters Project — University of Virginia Scholars Lab R&D

Mapping Modernism has inspired me to look beyond my novels and question the areas of my research more. Novels, contrary to popular belief, are not the result of isolation or seclusion. Novels are the product of communication, collaboration, and exploration of both the physical and cerebral aspects of humanity. The goal of Mapping Modernism is to map correspondence between writers and their friends, colleagues, and associates over time and to represent this data in a clear and concise manner. Not only would this information be vital for gaining the bigger picture of the development of some of the most influential and pivotal pieces of the modernist movement, but I would love to use these resources to help create a more fundamental understanding of my novels. It would be wonderful to be able to search for an author and be presented with a map of their locations and the correspondence that they had with others. It would further be of use to be able to tailor the search to when the author was in a certain location or during certain years or be able to search for the correspondence with one individual in particular. To be defined as a success, I would like to see how interactive their mapping representation would be and allow for the user to do a variety of searches based on timelines, individuals involved, and places where the author was when he wrote and received his letters.

Maggie Dryden

  1. Emily Dickinson Online

In this project, a team of four researchers seeks to compare the original manuscripts of Emily Dickinson’s poetry with various printed versions, which were often changed numerous times by different editors. This project does a good job of presenting their information — the site is easy to navigate and the different versions of the poems are easy to distinguish. The project and its findings raises questions about editing choices and editing in general. How much power and say should an editor have? What kinds of changes in meaning will editing changes cause? What about editing a work posthumously? Should the editing process be different? The project is a sincere jumping point from which more research and speculation can be done. For my project specifically, this project of text analysis is helpful. I have deduced that color coding is extremely helpful and that original manuscripts often breed new information.

2.) Mapping At The Mountain of Madness

This project maps the real and fictional locations of H.P. Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness. The creator of this project did a great job of including text and photo, background information and plot summary to prove why his/her findings are important. I found this Lovecraftian blend of fictional and real locations to be extremely interesting, as the author provides geographical coordinates to both real and fictional places. Although the map wasn’t working when I went through the website, the creator of the project did excellent work to provide an insightful project, even when there are technical difficulties. The coordinates on the map are explicitly described in the text section on the side, complete with details of the color coordination and quotes from the text. For my project, I will take away this project’s great use of textual information supported by maps, points on maps, and images. I would say this project is successful based on its completion and its succinct exploration of the real and the fictional. As a user, I was pleased by the ease of access, even though there was technical difficulties.

3.) Map of Early Modern London

This project has digitized the Agas Map of London. In addition to simply digitizing the 1561 map, the team has also provided background information on the history of London during this time and has taken great effort to redraw and revamp the map for “maximum interactivity,” as they say. Even though the project is still in the beta stage, the map’s capability to allow a user to explore is immense. There are 21 color-coded categories for a user to click, and once one is clicked, the map lights up with color. Each dot of color on the map signifies a location of the category clicked, and there is a drop-down bar that lists all the locations in the category. As a user, the website is accessible and easy, and there is a ton of linked websites that further expand on the questions that the team of researchers hope to bring the user to ask. For my own project, the sort of map interactivity of the MoEML map will serve me as a great resource to look back on.

It is interesting to note, however, that a lot of the DH projects that are linked on websites that list DH projects are glaringly unfinished. A lot of the links are just proposals, details of what could be, or empty links with “Page Not Found” notices.

Nellie Brunson

  1. Cartographies of Memory: Geolocating the Dead in Life 

By: Robert Spinelli

What do you need/want to see as a user?

With the first page leading to a click through, I think the directed page should be clearer. The projects goals are not evident and the user may be confused by all of the menu options. A more obvious link to the tree map (in particular) would be helpful.

How would you define a successful project?

In this case, a successful project would create a user friendly welcome page that points out why remembering and displaying memory of the communal deceased is important. Right now the project scope is ambiguous and the interface lacks clarity, but the content is strong. I especially love the “View from Nowhere” page that poses questions for the reader about how we engage in networks and learn from sometimes unknown “networkers” after the death of a loved one.

What can you take from this review for your own project?

I really appreciate the use of hyperlinks within the text. Also, the tree map is the best visualization within this project. It provides an outline for each branch of thought, nearly guiding the reader to subjects, in sharp contrast to the confusing and overabundant options within the menus.

  1. New Orleans Mortality Project

By: S. Wright Kennedy

What do you need/want to see as a user?

It would be helpful to see who the principal investigator is on the intro page. The project update page hasn’t been edited since Spring 2017. The heat maps with mortality intensity does not have an easy to read legend. It is difficult to tell if there are just more cases in the darker areas, or a greater percentage of one race to another. It also leaves out the seasonal representation of death dates.

How would you define a successful project?

I think a successful project would link a short description and suggestive interpretation to the visual maps. Right now there are six static maps that could be used to tell a story of how people are dying in New Orleans, but instead the message is blurred in the visuals.

What can you take from this review for your own project?

Since this project is close in structure to mine, I can figure out a way to display my maps alongside an interactive feature that offers further context and analysis.

  1. Civil War Washington

By: Susan C. Lawrence, Elizabeth Lorang, Kenneth M. Price, and Kenneth J. Winkle

Another project that stood out to me is the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Five-College Digital Manuscript project. While the website is still under work and it is hard to find more info than what is posted on their about page, I think that it is worth keeping an eye on it. This project is wants bring modern computational power into the field of codicology. Their goals are to enhance photography for a perfectly flat reproduction, to increase the precision of measurement of the mise-en-page, to measure letter forms for easier script identification, and to analyze ink to assist tracking scribe changes. I am particularly interested in their measuring of letter forms, as I really enjoy reading and transcribing medieval manuscripts. This project, when it goes public, will help me immensely in identifying script for easier reading and reference.

What do you need/want to see as a user?

The introductions page could have a visual or graphic that is more inviting than the pure text. On the content pages, the header textboxes that briefly give explanations of the page’s usefulness are helpful. The map itself is a bit overloaded/fuzzy thus difficult to use at a street level. Overall though it is a great tool for anyone studying Washington and it’s 1861-1865 inhabitants.

How would you define a successful project?

This site balances the need for accurate historic interpretation and a practical map for user convenience. I consider this project to be successful because it has streamlined access to the interactive map and short, easy to read contextual information. The project is not just another map, it gives users an interactive database for search-ability and alternative resources (all with the same public data).

What can you take from this review for your own project?

I like the format of the website whereby each category has written contextual background, interspersed with thought provoking questions/statements and minimal clutter. The data page that gives users access for their own projects is ideal. And the multiple formats (workbook, database, interactive map, etc.) for displaying information allow different users with different needs to search information or tell particular stories of wartime lives in DC. I also like that the project draws on more than just one form of “data” like census records, instead encompassing texts such as letters, medical cases, and newspapers.

Bradley Camacho

Latino Cultures in the US:

Latino Cultures in the US attempts to be a museum of sorts by collecting and displaying “exhibits” celebrating successful latinos. The reason this project caught my eye, was how stunningly well done it was. From the very beginning, the website catches your eye with dynamic images and an intuitive layout.The entire project made it easy, and almost addicting, to browse through interesting exhibits.While I have a personal connection to this website as I am latino myself, I believe the website would manage to engage anybody with even a slight interest in latino culture.

This project made me begin to consider how aesthetics and design will play a key role in our projects. Personally, I would love for my project to be as slick as this project. I am also a huge fan of the way they handled their exhibits. I hope to implement something as modular as their exhibits, so I can go back and always bring something new and fresh to my project at a later date.

Modernist Journals:

I chose this project as an example of what I hope to avoid, more than an example of what I hope to achieve. When the site loads, you are shown a horribly designed landing page. The site does not scale correctly to modern day screen resolutions, which means text runs together or off the page completely. Buttons have no indication that they area interactive (I had no idea most of the images were clickable). The hyperlink color is also, for some reason, a just a darker shade of the background making it hard to realize they are hyperlinks.

To be fair though, once you maneuver away from the landing page the site does what it is meant to – it provides an archive of older magazines and journals which may be hard to come by. Books, essays, and journals are easily found since the size of the digital collection is limited. The biographies page can be slightly criticised, as it is by far the largest collection on the site and contains no search function, only the option to skip to a certain letter. I also stand corrected about when I said there was no search function when we met; there is a search function, it is just its own separate page which searches the entire site.

I want to avoid many issues this site is plagued with, such as a bad landing page, poor implementation across systems, and a general lack of aesthetic elements.

Modernism Lab:

The Modernism Lab out of Yale hoped to explore the roots of the early modernist movement. What caught my eye, was the fact that it was so simple by design. Unlike the Latino Culture project, the Modernism Lab doesn’t use and dynamic images or fancy design.  The landing page gives you two options – to search by option or by year. The header is just as simple; providing only five links, which seem to be all the website needs since it is so well organized. With those five links, you can navigate from any page on the site to any other within less than 3 clicks.

Thoughts:

I love the organization of the Modernism Lab. I am personally torn between the simplicity of Modernism Lab, and the dynamic and fun design of the Latino Culture site. I am currently thinking that I would like my site to be simple in design like the Modernism Lab, but contain certain elements which are very interactive such as exhibits like the Latino Culture site contains. I know for certain that I want to avoid pitfalls such as a bad landing page and a general lack of compatibility with future systems like the Modernist Journal site displays.

Jordan Miceli

Mapping the State of the Union:

This is the DH project that really got me excited to dive into my DH project. It is stunningly done, aesthetically pleasing, incredibly user friendly, and has a remarkable level of detail. Although the subject matter, being a slightly academic and perhaps uninteresting to the common reader, may seem a little pretentious, it was accessible and engaging and I could see any person from any educational background enjoying and learning from this project. The graphics were seamless, the way the piece transitioned was perfect, and the information was succinct and transparent to the point where the user knew exactly where the information came from and how it was being used.

Enchanting the Desert:

The use of the photos taken by Peabody in conjunction with the map is nicely formatted and the idea behind the project is interesting. However, and this may be kind of a personal, nitpicky thing, but I feel like the website could have been better looking. The white-on-white on the landing page isn’t kind on the eyes, the harsh red contrast of the color is stark and a bit jarring. It is an overall solid piece, doesn’t lag, the graphics aren’t clunky, the explanations read well and are engaging. Considering it as a whole and using it as a user would, I would need smoother, cleaner use of the website: everything works fine but it doesn’t necessarily flow and could definitely use some surface touch-ups.

Who does your college think its peers are?:

From the moment you land on the project page you can tell it was created in 2012. The article attached to it was really well done and read easily, however I wish they were on the same website instead of two separate links The graphic and overall platform its on could do with some updating; while its still fascinating and gets the information across, it could be a little more aesthetically pleasing with some updates given that it probably hasn’t been touched in six years. Successful in that the subject was interesting and relevant without being boring, gives an interesting look into universities as they relate to one another, but the platform could definitely benefit from an update and touchup.

Trevor Talmadge

Ideally, people would care about issues project creators are passionate about, and I don’t believe it’s always for lack of caring; instead, there is an overwhelming amount of information that we try to incorporate on a daily basis. What these resources (and, eventually, our projects) have to do is push a user from the first-click curiosity to an exploratory, consumptive curiosity. Thus, landing pages were a key part of how I was analyzing these resources, because creating that consumptive curiosity can be rendered useless when the landing page isn’t captivating.

Quiapography

Quiapography is a virtual museum that seeks to map the Quiapo neighborhood of Manila, Philippines. Within the context of my project, Quiapography represents a large departure from my own sense of knowledge; as someone entirely unfamiliar with what Quiapo is, it helps me understand what to have in mind as a project designer if other people enter my project with little functional understanding of the subject material.

Initially, I find Quiapography’s landing page to be slightly disorienting. Though movement may suit a specific project, the movement of pictures at the top only seems to be there to provide some visual representation of the neighborhood. While this seems to be reasonable, I would argue that most users who are not intimately familiar with Quiapo will not be compelled to explore by these images. A single background and a separate webpage for exploring the neighborhood photographically might have worked better.

Part of how I’m defining success is how efficiently a project designer moves a user from their preconceived notions to the designer’s train of thought in thinking about a subject. In this sense, Quiapography allows the user plenty of room to see the separate strands of thought that went into organizing this digital space.

The rest of the project was well organized, but the landing page left much to be desired.

Leaving Home, Finding Home

Leaving Home, Finding Home (LHFH) is a narrative-based DH project that serves as a digital storytelling space for South Asian women in the United States. As a narrative-based approach, this website helped me more in seeing the end goals of my project. In the short term (i.e. the length of the DH program), I don’t imagine I will get past incorporating the statistics-based understandings of suicide. In the long term, I would like there to be space for sharing stories about the disparate impacts of identity categories on mental health experiences.

The landing page of LHFH does not have an “About Us” section, though it has a clearly-identified link to how you can find that information. What leaves me unsatisfied in this project is the lack of any meaningful information on the landing page. While it is aesthetically-pleasing and could be likened to a book cover (which might have been the intention), as a user I’m not emotionally moved to explore further. If I do click further, I find an introduction page from the author. In the same vein, I don’t think anything about that page is particularly captivating. Whereas Quiapography quickly orients the user to the designer’s ways of thinking about the project, LHFH puts more onus on a user for exploring. Thus, I want to seek out a proper balance of organizing information for utility while leaving some room for the user to explore.

Endangered Languages Project

The Endangered Languages Project (ELP) is a DH-driven resource used to document the endangered languages of the world. Because it includes a map, it is relevant to visualizing the topic of suicide. Furthermore, it incorporates all sorts of different data, and I imagined that would be important for an issue as difficult to track as suicide.

The landing page is not much to bat an eye at aesthetically, but is highly organized and helps the user orient themselves to the project’s trains of thought. The principal resource, the map, is readily available at first click of the webpage. Making the map itself the homepage would likely be overwhelming, as it presents information from roughly 3400 languages. The design is not clunky, but it was not the most visually engaging landing page I saw.

The map function of ELP is good for possibly highlighting certain trends (county/state-based) in suicide. However, it is a global map and my project will be limited to the United States. In this sense, the dots on the map will never be able to be converted to specific people due to privacy concerns. It was important for me to realize this now and search for other map functions that could better fit the data I will be working with.

Ultimately, I hope that my project will reflect a lot of transparency. I would like for the data itself to be transparent, but it is also important to me that a certain amount of transparency in design is reflected. Of course, this should not be placed in ways that will detract from the tool itself.

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