Weekly report – Nicola Certo

This week started with the WordPress workshop on Tuesday that helped us figure out how to create a simple and clear website to present our project. We are still not sure of what we will do but if the data collection will take too long, we’ll probably use it to simplify our work.

I continued with the model roster. We divided all the models in a spreadsheet, classifying according to name, last name, runway show they walked in and agency. The goal of this week was at least to find out the agencies to contact with the email that Scarlett is preparing. One this step is done, we are starting to collect information about ethnicity.

As designer, our group is pretty fluid, so together we are discussing about ways to present the project. We’ll come up soon with a name, so finally we can create a social media platform to publicize our project.


Scarlett N, personal post

My first duty for this week were to get in contact with Lauren Sherman at the Business of Fashion regarding the use of runway photos and what the protocol is for getting permission to use them. I haven’t heard back from her yet, but I’m hoping to have heard from her by Tuesday’s class. Second, I needed to compose a formal letter to send out to the casting directors of each show we plan to feature in our project. There are only 10, but the trick is actually getting a contact for each ones. If worst comes to worst, I will go to each casting firm that they’re affiliated with and ask for the information we need face to face. This is a crucial aspect of the project. Without knowing the ethnicities of the models, the project doesn’t exist. I am worried, but I feel like we have the tools to get what we want. A lot of the digital aspects are still pretty foreign to me, but I’m doing my best to be as helpful and useful to my team mates as possible.

Civil War Sound Group Update

This week, the group made several important strides achieving fairly solid progress. While much work remains, this week has been a good one in terms of important facets of the project. Initial explorations of ARCGIS demonstrated how it was possible to create dynamic and effective maps of Civil War battles. Of crucial importance was finally getting the python script just right. Anastasiya worked with several of the CUNY GC Digital Fellows to craft the script which could scrape the the American Civil War Letters and Diaries database for the the sound corpus (which we are still expanding) and for concordance, the words around the keyword. On the social media and outreach front, Myrna learned how to optimize the groups twitter reach using hashtags and setting up an organization on GIthub. She also set up meeting with experts, Digital fellows, and going to pertinent conferences to learn and network. The project manager worked on optimizing and maximizing the results that script can scrape and organize.

Project Manager

David Campmier

NYFW Group Post

This week Nico compiled model rosters of all 10 runway shows that we’re looking to feature in the data visualization. Now, with all of the information we have, Alison was able to organize our collected data into a master spreadsheet. Over the weekend I emailed Lauren Sherman, the New York editor of the Business of Fashion to see what their process was for pulling runway shots from Fashion Week. They feature lots of slideshows on their website, so it’ll be helpful if she’s able to lead us in the right direction. Like last week, we are still trying to find out which source is going to be the most useful to us to access the ethnicities of the models  who walked this season. This is going to be the biggest hurdle, and I feel like I can’t focus on our theory without getting over this hurdle. I fell like we’re a bit stagnant (which is no one’s fault) but I’m not worried about the final outcome of the project. I think It’ll be a good idea to put in more hours this week.

Necropolis group update

Field Trip

Today our project team met onsite with Zach Erdinger—the sexton of Shearith Israel—and one of his associates. He graciously answered questions about the historical information he had provided us (a large set of documents and reports) and gave us a tour of both the 11th St. and 21st St. cemeteries, relating stories about some of the more well-known occupants, offering additional background information, and updating us on both cemeteries’ restoration.  He has already made connections for us to a team of conservators who surveyed the 11th Street site last summer, and we will be contacting them shortly.

We also learned that many records and old documents are archived in Newark, NJ and that he will make these available to us for further research. At one time a database existed, which had also possibly served as the back-end of a simple online interactive map. Unfortunately, the website is no longer active and it seems that neither the creators nor the host backed up the information. Nevertheless, this points to the likely existence of more detailed records about cemetery occupants and memorials. It also serves as an important object lesson in backing up data!

Unless the original database records are found, our next step will be to reconstruct the database, beginning with a basic table of information we currently have in hand: names, some vital statistics, and some biographical information. We will also be looking for these individuals in the late 18th- and early 19th-century city directories and property maps held by the New York Historical Society, to determine any home and/or business addresses. Finally, we will connect, where possible, family and individual names with those in three published collections of primary source documents, to supplement the biographical data we have.

Necropolis update – Lisa Hirschfield

This week I spent a great deal of time obsessively working on the website I set up for our project, https://necropolis.commons.gc.cuny.edu/. Of course, it still has a way to go – such as an empty project description page – but the first post is up and I’m encouraging everyone to post about things they find and their activities as they relate to the project – a slightly more formalized version of what we do for this site,  geared specifically toward the public. To that end, Taylor set up a Twitter account for Necropolis, @BNecropolis, to boost publicity.

Every time I describe this project I see more clearly how, while we may not create new tools from scratch, we will be configuring existing tools in new ways that have great potential. I am continually surprised by how many historic cemetery websites have clunky, 1990s-era technology driving their public interface. Or, they have beautiful, fancy platforms that clearly cost a bundle, but are nevertheless limited in what information they can visualize. We want Necropolis not only to function as a set of physical maps, but also as a set of conceptual maps.  We want it to be relevant not only to visitors, but also to scholars and students in remote locations.  If, eventually, we can take whatever configuration of software we develop and bundle it into a single, elegant installation for organizations to make use of for their own historic site projects, then my purpose on this planet will be fulfilled. It may not happen this semester, though.


Scarlett Newman update 3

This week we’re able to meet with Tessa Maffucci, a fellow DH/Fashion Studies candidate who participated in the NYC Fashion Index project last year. Tessa has been a great resource for us and filled us in with a lot of “do’s and don’ts” as we further our projects. We also got a lot of great technical suggestions and advice from her. Our tasks this week included recording show rosters on spreadsheets, so taking the name down of every model who walked in a show . This week I did that for Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang. I was able to access all of the models on models.com. Having a lot of information on models in one place is a great resource. I look forward to our group discussions this week. We always learn, or come up with something really cool. We’re also trying to get in touch with former model and founder of the Diversity Coalition, Bethann Hardison. The Diversity Coalition’s initiative is to combat racism/discrimination on the runway.

Necropolis group post – Laying the foundation

We were really feeling the pressure to find a partner site and on Tuesday I announced in class that I’d just spoken with the Zachary Erdinger, sexton of Shearith Israel, who is extremely interested in our project.  We both agreed that the small size of the second (11th St.) cemetery, its occupants, and its history, as well as the physical restoration underway, make it very suitable for a one-semester project.

Since then, the Mr. Erdinger sent us a large trove of materials relating to the second cemetery that the synagogue has collected in the past few years in the course of its restoration efforts. Most of these documents are from the early 20th C, but a few date back to the very late 18th C, and include everything from architectural renderings to documents pertaining to the reinterment of remains prior to street expansion.  The archive also includes portions of and references to some excellent secondary sources, which document the early history of the congregation and the cemeteries. Fortunately most of these are accessible through the Lehman College library, NYPL, and Columbia.  The reading material is piling up!

In the mean time, group tasks are on target: Davide has begun to catalogue the materials we were given (which I will also help with), and he found a beautiful 1830 street and property map via NYPL Labs that I am hoping we can adapt as a base map (with proper attribution). Tyler set up a GitHub repository for the project and a project Twitter account: @BNecropolis. I set up a public website on the CUNY Commons, Building Necropolis, that will document the development of Necropolis, and which we can share with Shearith Israel.  I’ve been trying to tweak social media options on the site so that posts will automatically go out on the project’s Twitter feed, but the CUNY Commons configuration may make this difficult. However, the project is now “following” a number of organizations and individuals on Twitter whom we hope will help us spread the word. The site isn’t complete yet, but the first post is up, as well as the project team page.  A more in-depth project description needs to be added on a separate “About” page.

We are in communication with Mr. Erdinger to arrange a site visit later in the month. Conn is working up a data collection form for our physical survey of the site and, at some point, of its sister cemeteries on  St. James Pl. (Chatham Sq.) and 21st St.


Charting Fashion Diversity #3

After the suggestion made by our Digital Fellows last week, the group worked on methodology. To continue the project we needed to find 10 designers where clearly we could have analyzed fashion diversity. We started from what we considered relevant in the fashion editorial area, but we understood that the primary source in this choice has to be found and clarified.
We contacted Eugenia Paulicelli, Fashion Studies program’s coordinator, about the sources to ask her clarifications about the topic and about the sources.
The group met with Tessa Maffucci, Fashion Studies’ colleague and creator of last year’s fashion project. We discussed about social media platforms to support our project and to communicate our goals, and about the path they followed in the collection of data and in the visualization process.

We came up with ideas for the website’s layout and solutions for the graph’s production; we are very excited about the choices we made about the design. Sequences of images, for every designer we picked, to give the impression of the runway show.

We also started or manual collection of data, splitting some of the designers in a to-do list on Basecamp, and analyzing the models selection. Grouping them together will allow another step toward the final goal. The group started contacting people who could support the project’s aim, with interviews – Bethann Hardison  for example – images, articles, etc.


Nicola Certo

David Campmier – Civil War Sound-

The most important task that I had to work on this week was to learn how to write scripts for text scraping the archive we are using for the project. This hasn’t been as intimidating as I thought it would be and this has been helped by working with the tutorials from The Programming Historian website. Working with the archive has also helped to generate words for the Sound Corpus and focus my script learning efforts based on the American Civil War Letters and Diaries archive. I began to put together the presentation for our update; in it we will present the abstract, concept, work plan, and sample data we have gathered as well as the Sound Word corpus.