Talk: Planning for big data (lessons from cultural heritage)

I was invited to give an hour-long talk for the Association for Project Management’s Knowledge Management SIG event on ‘What does big data mean for project and knowledge managers?’. I shared lessons from work in cultural heritage, including the British Library and Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, on ‘Planning for Big Data’.

Exercises for CHASE’s Introduction to Information Visualisation

These exercises were prepared for the CHASE Arts and Humanities in the Digital Age event’s workshop on Information Visualisation but they’re also useful for people who want to learn more about data visualisations in cultural heritage and the humanities.

Exercise 1: compare simple text tools

Time: c. 5 minutes.

Goal: compare the ability of two different tools to help you understand a new text corpus

1.     Load the word cloud site

2.     Then, grab some text:

  • Open another browser tab
  • Go to http://pastebin.com/Nd0a86tm
  • Select and copy the 8 lines of text. The easiest way is to click into the box under ‘RAW Paste Data’
  • Paste them into the text box on the Wordle site and hit ‘go’
  • You can customise your visualisation using the menu. Which options create a more informative visualisation?

3.     Load the word tree site

  • Go to http://www.jasondavies.com/wordtree/
  • Paste the text into the ‘Paste Text’ box and hit ‘Generate WordTree!’ (Grab the text again from Step 2 if necessary)
  • You can click on words on the screen – which words produce the most options?

4.     Discuss

Bearing in mind that this is an unusual corpus, which tool gave you a better sense of its content? Why?

Are these tools better for exploring or explaining data? Why?

If tidying up the data provided – removing punctuation, making spelling consistent, etc – would improve the visualisation, then try editing the text and re-running the visualisation. Did it help? What else could you do?

Exercise 2: exploring scholarly data visualisations

Time: c. 10-15 minutes.

Goal: get hands-on experience and practice critical analysis.

Pair up with your neighbour to explore and discuss one of the visualisations listed on the following page.

Instructions

  1. In your browser, go to one of the sites below
  2. Take a few minutes to explore the visualisation
  3. Then discuss with your neighbour:
    • What do you think is being presented here?
    • Can you easily see where to start and how to use it?
    • What stories or trends can you start to see?
    • Does it work better at one scale over another?
    • Do you find it more effective at aggregate or detail level?
    • Does it present an argument or provide a space for you to explore and develop one?
    • What arguments (statements about the data) does the site present?
    • What have you learned from visualisation that you might not have learned from looking at the data or reading a description of it?
  4. Be prepared to report back to the group. e.g. summarise the site’s purpose, visualisation formats and data types, or share unresolved questions or the most interesting parts of your discussion


University of Richmond, ‘Visualizing Emancipation’

http://www.americanpast.org/emancipation/

Further information: http://dirt.terrypbrock.com/2012/04/visualizing-emancipation-examining-its-process-through-digital-tools/

Stanford ‘Mapping the Republic of Letters’

http://www.stanford.edu/group/toolingup/rplviz/rplviz.swf

Further information: http://openglam.org/2012/03/21/mapping-the-republic-of-letters/, http://danbri.org/words/2010/11/22/603

Locating London’s Past

http://www.locatinglondon.org/

GAPVis Ancient Places

http://gap.alexandriaarchive.org/gapvis/index.html#index

Further information: http://googleancientplaces.wordpress.com/

Digital Harlem :: Everyday Life 1915-1930

http://digitalharlem.org/

Further information: http://digitalharlemblog.wordpress.com/ http://writinghistory.trincoll.edu/evidence/robertson-2012-spring/

Digital Public Library of America’s timeline, map, bookshelf

http://dp.la/

Further information: http://dp.la/info/ and http://dp.la/info/news/blog/

Orbis

http://orbis.stanford.edu/

Further information: http://hestia.open.ac.uk/updating-orbis/

Lost Change

http://tracemedia.co.uk/lostchange/

Further information: http://blog.britishmuseum.org/2014/02/19/lost-change-mapping-coins-from-the-portable-antiquities-scheme/

The State of the Union in Context

http://benschmidt.org/poli/2015-SOTU

Further exercises

Learn more: explore and analyse more visualisations

Sketch out ideas for a visualisation

  • Work out what data you need and the best way to prepare and present it. http://www.dear-data.com has some lovely examples of creative sketches.

Create your own visualisations

These sites can be used with your own or public data:

If you have sensitive data you must check whether any data you load will be made public.

Talk: Choosy crowds and the machine age: challenges for the future of humanities crowdsourcing, KCL

I gave a presentation on ‘Choosy crowds and the machine age: challenges for the future of humanities crowdsourcing’ at Kings College London for Citizen Humanities Comes of Age: Crowdsourcing for the Humanities in the 21st Century (9th – 10th). This lead to a co-authored publication, Citizen Humanities Comes of Age: Crowdsourcing for the Humanities in the 21st Century Event Summary.

Some of the points I raised are discussed in ‘How an ecosystem of machine learning and crowdsourcing could help you‘ and ‘Helping us fly? Machine learning and crowdsourcing‘.

Workshop: Information Visualisation, CHASE Arts and Humanities in the Digital Age

I’ve been asked to give a workshop on Information Visualisation for the CHASE Arts and Humanities in the Digital Age training programme in June 2015.

The workshop will introduce students to the use of visualisations for understanding, analysing and presenting large-scale datasets in the Humanities, enabling scholars to ask increasingly complex research questions.

Slides, sample data and instructions for exercises are downloadable here: CHASE InfoVis Handouts 2015.

Links for the various exercises are collected below for ease of access.

Exercise 1: Exploring network visualisations

Exercise 2: Comparing N-gram tools

Books

Newspapers

Exercise 3: Trying entity recognition

Exercise 4: Exploring scholarly data visualisations

Exercise 5: create a chart using Google Fusion Tables

Google Fusion Tables: https://www.google.com/fusiontables/data?dsrcid=implicit

An Excel version of this exercise is available at http://www.openobjects.org.uk/2015/03/creating-simple-graphs-with-excels-pivot-tables-and-tates-artist-data/

Exercise 6: Geocoding data and creating a map using Google Fusion Tables

Google Fusion Tables: https://www.google.com/fusiontables/data?dsrcid=implicit

Exercise 7: Applying data visualisation to your own work

Explore more visualisations:

Sketch ideas for visualisations:

Try visualising data in different tools:

Try visualising existing data

Seminar: ‘Citizen History and its discontents’, Institute of Historical Research Digital History seminar

I was invited to give a talk on my work in the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) Seminar in Digital History series.  I talked about ‘Citizen History and its discontents’:

‘An increasing number of crowdsourcing projects are making claims about ‘citizen history’ – but are they really helping people become historians, or are they overstating their contribution? Can citizen history projects succeed without communities of experts and peers to nurture sparks of historical curiosity and support novice historians in learning the skills of the discipline? Through a series of case studies this paper offers a critical examination of claims around citizen history.’

The video and slides are linked from the IHR Seminar in Digital History site.

Workshop: Visualising Collections, Geffrye Museum

Ananda Rutherford organised a workshop for the Documenting Homes project at the Geffrye Museum, which  is researching visualisation models for presenting the archive and other collections information across digital platforms. The workshop is a chance to explore the role of visualisations in organising, interrogating and interpreting collections in context and to develop critical and planning skills for designing visualisations. It will include guided exercises for turning data in a spreadsheet into simple visualisations and an optional hour for trying out visualisation tools with your own data.

Contact me for the workshop slides and datasets. The exercises are below.

Continue reading “Workshop: Visualising Collections, Geffrye Museum”

Workshop: Data Visualizations as an Introduction to Computational Thinking

I gave a half-day pre-conference workshop on ‘Data Visualizations as an Introduction to Computational Thinking’ for the University of Manchester.

From the event blurb:

Digital Humanities (DH) has grown rapidly in importance in recent years, as interest turns away from technology as an instrumental tool simply for resource discovery and access and towards the need to identify and solve new research challenges for the humanities. As one of the largest concentrations of humanities scholars in the UK, surrounded in turn by the enviable breadth of expertise provided by the University’s technologists and librarians, the University could be a fertile ground for Digital Humanities research.

On 7 November 2013, the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures will be hosting an afternoon workshop for University academics and post-graduates; the event is aimed at exploring the skills and literacies researchers might need as potential digital humanists. This informal, hands on event will provide an opportunity for academics, post-grads to start to ‘think like a programmer’ and learn some computational thinking. Participants will be introduced to new methodologies and tools, including those for manipulating and analysing data using visualization tools. No technological expertise in these areas, only a laptop, curiosity and a willingness to experiment.

Goals of session

  • Provide opportunity for academics, post-grads to start to ‘think like a programmer’ and learn some computational thinking
  • Learn and put into practice some skills for accessing, manipulating and analysing data using visualisation tools
  • Introduce new methodologies and tools
  • Demystify tools, think critically about what’s happening ‘under the hood’, understand the impact of tool choice and data structures
  • Enable dialogue with technologists about project design and tool choice
  • Think about the skills, literacies Digital Humanists need