Subscribe to DSS Blog feed
News and events from Skillman Library's Digital Scholarship Services
Updated: 55 min 52 sec ago

DHLaf Lunch Series Kicks off with Student Presentations

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 11:41

Ian Morse describing his research

Fifteen students and six faculty and administration members of the DH Mellon Steering Committee gathered for presentations of digital humanities research projects on September 23, 2015, in Kirby 107 as the first of the monthly DH Lunch series of the year. The research grew out of the Digital Humanities Summer Scholars Program funded by the Steering Committee and launched in the summer of 2015. Mellon Foundation Fellow Emily McGinn coordinated the summer research program, and facilitated discussion at today’s event. First up were Vincent DeMarco and Benjamin Draves. Their project, Tempo of the Times, began with a family conversation about depression-era films and how popular arts reflect their historical contexts. To extend this inquiry into the realm of popular music, DeMarco and Draves searched for existing databases of music and ways to break songs down into measurable components. They located several massive datasets, adapted the variables and quantifiers to their own questions, and then went to work. Their current site, as they explained with interactive graphs, presents correlations of economic indicators such as GDP, political indicators such as levels of military spending, with musical variables such as “acousticness” or “loudness” to determine which types of music thrive under what types of epochs.

Ian Morse gave the second presentation. His project is the Solution Based Press Freedom Project. Ian recently studied abroad in Turkey, and his project is an attempt to use a corpus-based methodology to analyze the content of Turkish journalism. Morse mentioned that many global press-freedom indexes fail to control for such variables such as national development, and pay insufficient attention to the quality and tone of reporting as it is affected by political upheavals. Morse has been converting newspaper data to machine readable text, and then using a variety of digital humanities tools find patterns in the data. One of Morse’s next moves is to present his data and preliminary findings to experts on Turkish politics and journalism at a conference at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship” in November of this year. DeMarco and Draves will also be on the program, as well as other DH summer fellows Feevan Megersa and EXCEL student Jethro Israel.

Dean of Libraries Neil McElroy, Professors Wendy Wilson-Fall (Africana Studies), Tim Laquintano (English), Ben Cohen (Engineering Studies), Paul Barclay (History), and Jessica Carr (Religious Studies), as well as Research Librarian Sarah Morris, were also in attendance to ask questions and participate in the discussion.

The next DHLaf Lunch will be on October 29th in Skillman 003 from 12-1 and will feature a discussion of History Professor Paul Barclay’s recent work in connecting his East Asia Image Collection with a complementary collection at Kyoto University in Japan. 

GIS Workshop: A Very Brief Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 15:11

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a powerful, yet easily accessible technology, used for analyzing and mapping information about the world around us.

In this workshop participants will be given an introduction to basic geographic and information science concepts followed by a demonstration of ArcGIS, a popular desktop GIS application available to the Lafayette community at Skillman Library.

A second, optional workshop (Part 2), will be available the following week and will offer hands-on training using WorldMap, a simple, intuitive and free on-line GIS application. You may take the first workshop as a complete, albeit brief, introduction to GIS or you may sign up for the series of two.

Part I: Introduction Weds. Sept. 23 Part II: Workshop (optional) Weds. Sept. 30

Both workshops will take place in Skillman 003 from 12:15pm to 1:00pm. 18 seats available. Lunch provided.

Please RSVP John Clark clarkjh@lafayette.com and indicate if you would like to take one or both workshops and which dates you would like to attend.

 

Summer Scholars Program Introduces Students to DH

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 11:21

This summer Skillman Library launched Lafayette’s first undergraduate digital humanities internship program. The Digital Humanities Summer Scholars program, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and supported by the Library’s Digital Scholarship Services, offered an internship opportunity for seven students to work on a digital research project of their own design.

The program offered students the space, the time, and the resources to become content creators in their own right. Our call for proposals tapped into the creative energy of the Lafayette student body and yielded proposals that demonstrated exactly the type of inquiry and ingenuity we were hoping for. These seven students were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants, and represent disciplines from across Lafayette’s academic community:

Ahmed Malik Braxton – Government and Law
Vincent DeMarco – Mathematics
Benjamin Draves – Mathematics
Feevan Megersa – Liberal Arts
Ian Morse – History; Math
Peter Todaro – Government and Law
Miranda Wilcha – Environmental Studies; Anthropology

The six-week course was structured as a workshop during which the students would meet as a group under the instruction of Emily McGinn, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Skillman Library. In the group setting each would present updates on their work, ask for feedback, and troubleshoot any obstacles they might have encountered. Together this group functioned as a microcosm of all digital projects, tackling questions of copyright, access, and authorship in addition to confronting the difficult task of data collection and cleaning.

Most important, the workshop served as a model for project management. Our summer interns deconstructed their proposals and sharpened them into accomplishable tasks and focused hypotheses. In taking the time to define a realistic scope for the project early on, they were able to identify the tools, the resources, and the technical skill they would need to accomplish their goals. Though many digital humanities projects are large scale, long-term projects that take years to build with teams of developers and researchers, our students were able to scope and build smaller scale, yet complex, well-structured projects in a few short weeks.

Each student had their own goals in mind for their project. For some, it will serve as the basis for a senior thesis, for others a sample for a grad school application, or publication. Feevan Megersa and Ian Morse will be joined by EXCEL scholar Jethro Israel to discuss their work as student researchers and project developers at Bucknell’s Digital Humanities Conference this fall. Ian will also present his work as a part of the NextGen Plenary session highlighting student projects and Vincent DeMarco and Ben Draves will be presenting their project during the poster session at the conference.

Lafayette’s is working to provide additional opportunities for undergraduate engagement both on campus and in the wider digital humanities community. As we continue to build the DH community at Lafayette, student engagement is and will continue to be a vital part of our initiative. We strive to cultivate the intellectual curiosity and autonomy our students showed us this summer and look forward to seeing where they go next.

For more information about this program visit sites.lafayette.edu/dhss.

Our Projects

Tempo of the Times
The aim of this project is to discover connections between music and society. Artists set out to create music that entertains, but also seek to create art that represents the times in which they live. This project examines the way in which societal changes shift musical composition. – Vincent DeMarco and Benjamin Draves

Got Folktales?
This project aims to capture Ethiopian folktales and to map reoccurring themes as well as highlight the moral behind each folktale. In order to accurately represent the diverse ethnicities found within the country we have selected five stories from each of the 13 regions within the country- Feevan Megersa

Solution Based Press Freedom Project
Current press freedom indices conflate myriad problems and measures into single values. When searching for solutions to press freedom violations, believing that all countries suffer from similar afflictions is counterproductive. The crux of this project has focused on establishing a method of measuring how we can use digital humanities to see how newspapers react to external events in answering the question “How does press freedom affect the ‘quality’ of journalism?” – Ian Morse

Gentrification and Barry Farms
This project analyzes the economic and social situations of many people experiencing gentrification specifically in Washington D.C. Gentrification will not only have a detrimental impact on the citizens of Barry Farms, but will also be deleterious to the entire city of Washington DC. – Ahmed Braxton

Garden of Easton
The Garden of Easton seeks to aggregate the relevant information to connect local residents to food, whether that be a community garden, a CSA pickup location, a homeless shelter, or a meal center. We do so by providing an all-encompassing Android App, a web-based map, and a plain text list of the food providers and producers in our community so that residents have an easily accessible site to find resources they need. – Miranda Wilcha and Peter Todaro