Adult 642, reflection nine


On Tuesday, I attended the first of three Digital Pragmata sessions at Cabel Library. The three panelists, along with the moderator created a lively discussion about visualizing digital scholarship. I tried to follow the discussion on #digprag but was focused on taking notes. The session was video recorded and will likely appear on the VCU Libraries’ You Tube channel, if you would like to catch up on the discussion.

Digital humanities is visualizing research so scholars can see something they couldn’t see before. It might look nothing like we imagine. This is a great way to find new patterns in a different way from text on a page.  Dr. Ayers, the president of University of Richmond, presented two of his projects involving history and visualization. The first, Valley of the Shadow, was something he began work on at UVA at the dawn of the Internet. He said it was very difficult to get money to fund this project, as many did not see it as true scholarship.

Dr. Ayers also created the Digital Scholarship Lab at UR. He showed us this map of where emancipation took place during the Civil War by date. As a photographer, I am obsessed with this project on the Latinization of the south. My wheels started turning during this presentation, thinking about ways this technology could help my husband’s portfolio or my own, which is not even online anywhere.

Wild Flag 22a

Amanda French from GMU spoke next, and showed a variety of ways to visual research. These were posted on her blog but since I’ve now had time to explore them I thought I’d share some opinions.

Bamboo Dirt: a very well-designed database of digital resource tools. Many of these could come in handy in our blogs and projects. I really like that there’s a section for iPad apps: there are so many out there and I’m having trouble figuring out which ones can best support my work. This site is curative, so it doesn’t include everything, but it’s a fantastic jumping off point. If you like Wordle but are looking for a new way to visualize words, this site can help. Beyond that, there are tons of resources for extracting and analyzing data.
Image Plot: Lev Manovich is an important name in the digital humanities (he’s speaking at VCU in April!), and this software creates a visual graph of images.  I can see this being used by artists, magazines, and folks who are just interested in visual media.
MediaCommons: Amanda used this as an example, but MC is a place where scholars can put their research on the Internet and have it vetted by others–like Wikipedia for scholarly research! This does not yet count as peer-reviewed, but it’s a cool way to get very specific feedback.

I know these tools are overwhelming but they could supplement our general work as grad students and also our work as technology experts!

Like other university departments and disciplines, the digital scholars of today would like to see an increase in community and idea-sharing. Sessions like Digital Pragmata and Amanda French’s project THATcamp are an excellent start to this discussion.

Admittedly, I did sign up for these as a way for me to explore digital themes in the context of me trying to figure out what the hell I want to do with my life. I’m inspired to maybe one day apply to VCU’s MATX program, not to prepare for a future as a professor (I read enough articles about how hard it is to compete for jobs) but perhaps as a creator of visual scholarship. Or as a website designer. Or information architect. Or ????. As you can see, I don’t think I’m any closer to deciding what my future career is. I want to do IT ALL.

Wild Flag photo by me. Visualization of Time magazine covers and Manga pages from Image Plot website.


5 thoughts on “Adult 642, reflection nine

  1. Wow. I am so drawn to the idea of visual research. I remembering seeing The Internet Map for the first time, I was in awe. I look forward to exploring the resources you’ve recommended- new technologies are something I’ve been missing this semester. Do you just show up to see Lev Manovich ? Thanks for an inspiring post!

    • Lindsey–
      You were the first person I thought of when I went to this event! I think you’ll really like browsing through the tools too.

      I can’t find anywhere that requires a sign up for Lev Manovich so I think we just go (I’ve been to other lectures there before without signing up). The Commons Theatre is pretty big–it holds 280!

  2. I was also at this event! I arrived a few minutes late as parking is at a premium mid-day! I have heard of the Valley of the Shadow as a teacher and believe that the Teaching American History Grant was an outgrowth of the Digital Humanities program. Isn’t it exciting to see how scholarship is developing? The resources presented were amazing and add a new level of excitement for those in the technology track of Adult Education. Remember that life has many twists and turns. Your path is wide open and could most certainly encompass many different tracks between now and retirement. Lucky you!

  3. Okay, the Latinization project got me hooked! Have you taken Muth’s Literacy and Diversity yet? If not, you’re going to LOVE it! Esp. the class discussions about the murals.

  4. Perhaps you will be lucky as I have been. and the job you hoped for but couldn’t describe will arrive on your doorstep just in time… Now you are even more aware of the visual pieces you want to include as you see data visualized.

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