What does Feminism have to do with Digital Humanities

I am a Feminist. In recent years this sentence has struck a chord with people and often can have negative connotations because of people’s views on what exactly being a feminist means. To me, being a feminist means being able to have a control in my own life in every aspects and having the chance to have just as many opportunities as men do. This is something that my mum has instilled in me since a very young age, hearing about certain ways in which she was treated differently because she was a women.

One of her favourite examples of took place 25 years ago after my parents got married and my mother had to get written permission from my father so that she could return to work. Bearing in mind that there was nothing physically wrong with my mother that would stop her going to work or that my Dad, as brilliant as he is, has no medical degree to diagnose a reason why she couldn’t go to work other than that she was now his wife.

This is not the only example I have been told over the years ( my mother was one of three children and was the only girl) but it is one that has stuck out in my mind just because it seems so crazy. Because of this, it isn’t hard to figure out where I got my can-do attitude and my urge to try and try things that are traditionally for boys comes from.

Which is why, I was so interested in the fact that there was a chapter in our Digital Humanities book entitled, “Problems with white feminism: intersectionality and digital humanities” by Jacqueline Wernimont and Elizabeth Losh. In the chapter what is mainly discussed is the lack of diversity in scholars of DH and how the beginning of this stems from the lack of women in Computer Science itself. One such quote says that;

“Carpentry and computer science have pernicious histories of excluding people of color by maintaining gatekeeping with unions and associations and through the definition of skilled labour itself, tendencies that digital humanities seems to be replicating.” 

To me, this is a sad thing as I have always thought that being a DH student meant innovation and breaking boundaries that were established years ago but perhaps I am too much of an optimist for this. However, this just makes me want to get involved in as many conversations about Digital Humanities as possible. And it seems like this is similar to the Feminism movement in a way as people do have misconceptions about it, and it is up to the students of DH to change the narrative. 

The Impact of Open Source Software on Data Visualisation

Data visualization is the process of displaying data/information in graphical charts, figures and bars.”(Techopedia.com)

As part of our presentation on Data Visualisation, I researched the relationship of Data Visualisation and Open Source software. For me, Data Visualisation is crucial for Digital Humanities as it allows researchers to show their research in a variety of different ways which can be seen as innovative and interactive for audiences.

In terms of e-commerce an example of digital visualisation is company Uber using digital visualisation to map the most popular destinations for people to order Ubers. Uber’s director of data visualisation Nicolas Garcia Belafonte has praised the use of software and explained why overuse that to track popular pickup and drop off points around the area.

“Personally, I’m a very big advocate for open source, so I think that open source can help the business in many other ways, and those ways are immediately more valuable than someone paying for this software.”

This brings up the notion of Open Source software and its uses. Webopedia defines open source as, “refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community.” For many having open source software is a dealbreaker and can often be more cost effective in the long run. There is a number of open source software that allows people to include some form of data visualisation in order for progress their research,  one of these software companies is is github.com which allows users to create a variety of digital visualisation projects using spatial maps and interactive materials.

One company has expanded into open source software as well as their original brand. E-Commerce company AirBnB has put money into data visualisation by creating their own tool called SuperSet which supports 30 kinds of visualisation techniques at the moment alone. But it is expected to grow over time.  Superset itself is also easy to use and is compatible with by programming languages compared to its competitors. This is a huge step forward for AirBnB as it expands its already innovative brand ethos. It also gives other companies something to work towards in terms of creating similar types of software in the future.

Data Visualisation and Open Source software are both an emerging and viable field in Digital Humanities. I found it extremely interesting to find out about certain companies using these software techniques in order to develop their company and its research policies. I also found the idea of people using the software in e-commerce intriguing, as it is often difficult to imagine other uses for Data Visualisation outside of the scholarly world seeing as the majority of the examples that we seen in the lecture environment are usually set in the scholarly world, so it is good to see the real world applications of this kind of software.

Taking a Trip to Nano Nagle Place

On Wednesday October 18th, we took a field trip to Nano Nagle Place here in Cork, in order to examine the impact that Digital Technology has had on this historic site.

For those who don’t know who Nano Nagle was, she founded the

“Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (PBVM) in Ireland (also known as the “Presentation Sisters“) and was a pioneer of Catholic education in Ireland. She was declared venerable in the Roman Catholic Church on 31 October 2013 by Pope Francis.”

Throughout the site, there was a mix of traditional and modern techniques used to tell the story of Nano Nagle. The museum itself is a mix of brightly lit exterior to the dimly lit, more traditional interior of the original school grounds where the exhibition now stands. Nano Nagle is one of the most innovative buildings in the country and it is easy to see as you walk through the museum.

The exhibits are a mix of physical examples like original objects from the original time to more digital examples like digital copies of the role books. It is also easy to see that the people behind the site are catering for as many tourists from all ago groups as possible. There are many examples of this like seating around the museum for elderly people and activity corners for children to keep themselves busy if they are starting to lose interest. However, I do feel like there is not enough facilities for people who are in wheel chairs or who have walking aids as there is a lot of steps throughout the museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are some issues with the place, such as sound echoing throughout the place which made watching the exhibits quite distracting and difficult to listen to the narrations of the exhibits. Especially for older people who may be hard of hearing. Another issue is that or some of the technology does not have instructions on how to use them which may be difficult for some people as they may not be aware that they can interact with the displays.

  All in all, I felt that it was beneficial to go see the exhibit and I would probably return to the museum at another stage to have another look at the exhibits and to get a better feel of the museum. I like the idea that there are plans to create a green-space in the location as the surrounding areas are quite urbanised so it would be lovely to have an area of green in the built up area of Cork City.

What is an Edition?

In a recent DH2001 lecture, we spoke about Digital Literary Studies and the concept of an Edition. In the lecture, Orla Murphy brought various versions of the Beowulf Transcript for us to look at and examine just how different these editions are. It reminded me of a quote by writer Neil Gaiman said when talking about his writing techniques.

Credit: The Verge

Gaiman himself, has re-written his novel American Gods a number of times, so much so that no two editions of the novel exist as with every new edition, Gaiman re-edits the book and changes certain things that he is unhappy with due to the fact that he wrote the book when he was much younger. Interestingly enough, Gaiman has recently published his own edition of Norse Mythology, in which he talks about his first account with the legends, through Marvel Comics with Thor, Loki and, of course, Asgard. He then went back and read an earlier version of the texts and now he has brought his own version of the tales to life, saying:

I’ve tried my best to retell these myths and stories as accurately as I can, and as interestingly as I can.

Gaiman, Neil (2017-02-06T22:58:59). Norse Mythology (Kindle Locations 102-103). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

As an English student myself, I found this topic very interesting especially after reading chapter 13 in the Doing Digital Humanities textbook which examines how we can provide digital editions of books in order to protect them from decaying. As someone who is currently studying 19th Century American Literature, I am aware that some texts are now open access due to their copyright being expired on them, meaning that there is many free editions of texts like The Scarlet Letter, it would be interesting to examine different editions of a text like this and see just how different the versions are. As we covered in class, there are many different Digital Humanities projects that are based on this kind of study. One that I was familiar with since last year was the Blake Archive which I encountered during my module on Modern Literature with Professor Graham Allen. The archive itself holds the texts of Blake’s poetry along with the stunning artwork that went with the works in order to add to the story that Blake was telling. It also allows you to get an in-depth look at the images and to see the work that went into them. For me this is a fantastic use of Digital Humanities.

I don’t claim to know fully what Digital Humanities is all about just yet, but I do know that we are just tipping the ice-berg when it comes to examining the many areas that this subject covers, and I am very intrigued and interested in where we go from here in terms of areas of study.