This week, I continued writing my part of the essay that will help describing the process and steps for our data collection.
I found very interesting the description that Georg Simmel gives about fashion. For him, fashion is explain as the phenomenon in which two different forces collaborates in the same unity. He talks about the demand of conformity of a group, but at the same time Simmel describes how also the desire of individuality is strong in the approach to fashion.
It’s important to clarify the power that fashion has today and why it’s a topic worthy to discuss from a social point of view.
I’m also looking at tools to show Messy Data in our visualization part. We discussed about Ghepi.
As time is becoming a concern, we more or less decided that for the next couple of weeks we should each focus and be responsible for one thing instead of working on overlapping tasks. (Well, I decided this, but this M.O. seems to have been the general trend.) Overlapping tasks was useful earlier on, because it helped all of us get a better sense of what the scope of this project is. But now we have to buckle down. Taylor is going to work on the platform, while Conn, Davide, and I put together the rest of the content. This entails gathering historical background, because this project also involves narrative description in short and long form, and we need material for that. Davide is working on this portion. I working on obtaining digital maps and georectifying them to correspond with Open Street Map. Conn is working on getting the database of physical conditions (cemetery monuments, etc.) in place, since we have to recreate it from records rather than the electronic database we were hoping to access.
Despite that setback, on Thursday I had a great talk with Rachel Frankel, an architect and historian of Jewish cemeteries, who is working with the congregation on restoring the 11th St. site, and who has had long-term Jewish cemetery restoration projects in Suriname and now Jamaica. She pointed the way to some additional sources of information, and had good suggestions for how we might reconcile some data discrepancies in terms of people recorded as buried in two different places at the same time. (Some people were in fact moved much later after burial, but this is carefully documented.) The records aren’t necessarily sloppy, but they may actually reflect the political jockeying within the congregation for burial in preferred locations. This adds a whole new dimension to the social life in and around the cemetery that we are mapping. Rachel also provided us with the identity of one of the weirdest burials in the cemetery: a flat tomb cover that is cut off at the top, at an approx. 65º angle where the fence was built. It’s odd because all the monuments had to be lifted and re-situated when the site was raised to meet the grade of the street; you’d think the stone would have been moved sufficiently inside the grounds, rather than “decapitated” when the cemetery’s front wall was put up shortly thereafter. Usually the term “history’s mysteries” would suffice for something like this, but in the case of the 11th St. cemetery, “history’s inconsistencies” is probably more accurate.
Last week, our group met with Alycia Sellie at the GC Library to discuss copyright, fair use, and the runway photos we collected from Vogue.com for our project. Although there are concerns to consider, we’ve come to terms with there being no easy answer and decided to move forward with developing our visualizations to supplement the analytical narrative threads we had presented in our last class session (missing data/ messy data, tokenism, and racial categorization). From the resources provided to us from librarians, it is clear that we must make an effort to “transform” the images we use for educational purposes in order to “make meaning” and illustrate our observations.
If anyone is interested in those resources on copyright and fair use, please let us know and we could forward you what we have. We also intend to preserve our project in a traditional essay format.
This week, as I wrote in the group post, was difficult. The results from working with the archive, at first blush, were not ideal. It doesn’t seem like 175 sources will be enough but, after talking with the group,, at this stage, that those may be enough for the final presentation at the end of the semester. Talking with the ARCGIS experts was a mixed bag. What I understood is that ARCGIS has the tools and the capabilities to make our project possible. However, to do that it may take more time than we have in the semester, Moreover, one of the experts we met suggested that we create a story map, one with multiple, clean maps, with a serious emphasis on a written narrative explaining our narratives like a chapter book. This is not how I imagined, or even sketched out the project initially. If, however, we are pressed for time this looks like to be a good option. This experts also questioned what we intend to do with sound; she was not convinced about how we were thinking about sound’s place on the battlefield, specifically how sound may influence decisions or create contingency during battle. This critique needs some serious thought and reflection. I am not sure, as of right now, if we should change course.
This week was a tough week. We spoke with two people who were quite familiar with ARCGIS. Both experts pointed out that it is quite possible to work with the ARCGIS system as a platform for a fully functional and open map. One expert however, noted that time could be a serious issue for us as we move forward. It is not easy, she observed, to make a complicated map in one or even two weeks. It takes time. She also steered us toward using the Story map function to create a much clearer narrative for our project. One another front, we realized that the Civil War Letters and Diaries database only has 175 individual documents related to the Battle at Gettysburg. This may be enough, we figured, for a proof of concept presentation. The second issue had to do with getting the metadata attached to our concordances; this is still be worked on.
After our meeting on Thursday with Jennifer Tang, we reconsidered the methodology to use in our project. According to the fact that the information we were looking for and the methodology we used to gather it came out as unsuccessful, we needed to modify the direction of our problem. The lack of information about ethnicity is exactly the proof that the issue we originally decided to analyze is real.
I started writing my part of essay, called Messy – Missing Data, and my attempt is to show the origin of our project and the step we made in the data collection. I’m writing about our attempt to reach our our data with the Fashion Spot, Jezebel and with a direct relation with Casting Directors, and how this ways where unsuccessful and failed because of a not-justified collection of data.
This week has been trying as the group works out issues with the database and maps. For my part working with the database is a hit and miss proposition. The database is by turns easy to use then frustrating. Nonetheless, I have made some progress finding more documents for use to use. As far as managing the project goes, I find using Basecamp fairly useful, especially its Scheduling and To Do functions. All in all the group is in a good position to move on to the next stage in the work plan.
The Civil War group had some progress this week. We are continuing our work on the script for the text documents in conjunction with our recently completed Sound Corpus. We have been working on in the meantime on a two front approach. The first is to work with the database to get more documents out of the current search functions. This has had some results. We will discuss them in depth on Tuesday. The second front has to deal with finding and working with the right kind of map. We have to choose between historical maps and representative maps (Google Maps, ARGIS ect.) Historical maps have the benefit of showing the battle as it appeared in 1863 but are inflexible for the programming functions we want to include such as locating sound on exact coordinates and zooming in and out. Representative maps have the opposite problem, often depicting the field as it looks today or have inaccuracies. We are still grappling with these issues.
Tuesday was the deadline for our group that determined whether or not we’d have to re-route the entire thing, and we did, so we met with Jennifer Tang that Thursday in hopes that she could pass on some guidance to us. We were able to come up with some great ideas based on the data that we weren’t able to access. We defined our project threads, so basically we’re going to create an essay style visual, something totally different than what we started out doing. For now, we’ve divided the project into three sections: Racial Categorization, Missing/Messy data and Tokenism. Each section will be led by a member of the group. At our meeting earlier today, we were able to get a lot of our thoughts on paper about our individual sections, which also came in handy when we were preparing the presentation for Tuesday’s class. At our next meeting, I think we agreed to start talking about how we’re going to visualize these sections.
Last Thursday we had an extremely productive and thought inducing meeting with the GC Fellow, Jennifer Tang. That Tuesday was the deadline we created for ourselves in terms of getting the data from casting agencies that would supplement our project. Of course, we only heard back from one agency, so the meeting on Thursday was centered around the re-routing of our project. Jennifer helped us organize the threads of the project that we brainstormed on Tuesday, and organize them into what now will be our “essay style” visualization. We’ll be focusing on: racial categorization (the section Alison will be leading), missing/messy data (Nico will be leading this section) and Tokenism (I will be leading this section). Our ideas were born out of the data that we weren’t able to access and why.
We met again earlier today with fuller thoughts on each section that we were assigned. This made it easier to prepare for our presentation on Tuesday and also to start thinking about how we wanted to visualize the different elements of our project. I think at this week’s meeting, we’re going to talk some visualization. Jean suggested something called “Gephi,” so maybe that’s something we can explore at the meeting, or one of the fellows can elaborate on it so we can figure out how we can incorporate it into our project.