NYCDH Week 2016: Workshops in Review
The first New York City Digital Humanities (NYCDH) Week took place February 8–12, 2016 across academic and cultural heritage institutions throughout the city. Workshops were solicited from members of the NYCDH community and offered openly to anyone in the area, including those passing through. The week’s central event was an afternoon at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus, including networking, lightning talks (one session featured graduate student work), and a panel discussion with Steering Group members about the state of the field and the future of NYCDH.
The following event summaries were written by students and faculty in digital humanities courses at Pratt Institute’s School of Information, and some link to longer event reviews. They provide only a glimpse into the 25 workshops offered throughout the week, yet even these testify to collaboration, experimentation, and connectedness in the field.
“User Experience for Digital Humanists: A Primer”
Offered by Craig MacDonald at Pratt Institute
Through examples, discussion, and a short design challenge, this workshop explored the role that users play in determining the context of design problems. MacDonald stressed the need to design for users’ pleasure—rather than just finding and fixing problems (avoiding pain)—and to seek frequent user feedback. Empathy emerged as the most important quality of a good designer. The workshop concluded with four lightweight methods for UX research and assessment: usability checklists, paper prototyping, guerilla usability tests, and cognitive walkthroughs. Attendees included those working on DH projects, those facilitating work on DH projects, faculty in design, and members of the UX industry. A digest of tweets from the workshop is available.
—Chris Alen Sula
“Understanding Numbers: Basics of Statistical Literacy”
Offered by Irene Lopatovska at Pratt Institute
After an introduction to four categories of numeric data scales (nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio), different formulas of statistical analysis were reviewed in terms of their applicability to the numeric scale types. These analyses included measures of central tendency, dispersion, standard deviation, and more. Throughout the overview, examples were given in Excel. Dr. Lopatovska also provided a brief overview of inferential statistics, which can be studied further in her class “Data Analysis and Publication.” Read full review.
“Typography for [Digital] Humanists”
Offered by Amy Papaelias at Fordham University
This workshop was led by Amy Papaelias, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at SUNY New Paltz, and focused on basic typographic design principles and how they can be applied to digital humanities projects. The workshop also explored various typography resources available online, including Typecast.com, and the challenges and concerns digital humanists might face when trying to apply typographic principles to their projects. Above all, typography was stressed as a simple way to help projects stand out through design. Read full review.
“Social Media Scraping for Qualitative Research”
Offered by Sarah DeMott at New York University
The workshop focused on using NCapture to scrape datasets from social media accounts and then analyzing them with the qualitative analysis software NVivo. DeMott proved the usefulness of qualitative data analysis and its assorted tools by walking attendees through installing NCapture, scraping data from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and then analyzing the datasets. Attendees learned how to visualize data in various ways, including trees, graphs, and charts. DeMott also shared examples of the practical application of the software, such as her own research into social media postings from the Middle East during the Arab Spring.
“Public Participation in Humanities Research: Using APIs and Crowd Sourcing Platforms”
Offered by Heidi Knoblauch at New York University
At this workshop we saw how scripts in iPython notebooks accessed through dhbox.org which has Jupyter Notebook plug-in can be used to pull images from a collection on the Internet Archive and converted into a more easily usable format. Knoblauch, Digital Projects Coordinator at Bard College, showed how the platform crowdcrafting.org could have these images uploaded to it so that someone conducting a study could use crowdsourcing in the sorting and classification of the images. In this fashion, large amounts of images from Internet Archive collections could be winnowed down just into the ones that interest the researcher. Read full review.
“Pinterest as an Exhibition Gallery”
Offered by Noreen Whysel at the Metropolitan New York Library Council
Two reviews of this event follow.
Digital humanities resources and projects may be displayed and promoted to the wider community with the use of a wide variety of technological tools. Pinterest turns out to be a very convenient and accessible option because, on the one hand, it provides a series of “boards” that function as exhibition areas that support the display of projects, books, films, exhibits, conferences, lectures and competitions related to the DH field, and, on the other hand, it encourages the tagging of all these resources with “pins” in order to connect them with the wider world. Ms. Whsyel noted that Pinterest could be an important technology tool for the DH community because it provides an opportunity to showcase exhibitions within a high traffic environment. The event included a one-hour introductory explanation followed by a one-hour workshop for all its participants. Read full review.
This workshop demonstrated steps to upload, save, sort, and manage images, or “pins,” using Pinterest. Moving Digital Humanities onto media platforms that are already popular among users can provide a useful place to curate, display, and provide information. Although it generally focuses on arts and crafts and visual images, Pinterest is also a time efficient and convenient source for librarians and archivists to popularize their institutions’ ephemera, reaching an audience that can span the globe. Read full review.
“Gallery Interactive Design: Prototype to Product”
Offered by Jesse Merandy and Kimon Keremidas at Bard Graduate Center
This was a thorough and energetic workshop on best practices for developing digital exhibits that are based firmly in the pedagogy and intellectual understanding of student-initiated projects. The presenters explained how the Focus Gallery Project (FGP) exhibitions begin as key research projects by students. Under the supervision of their professors, and in conjunction with ongoing expertise from several Bard departments (art, curatorial, exhibition design, editorial), these student projects move from mockup to prototype and thereafter are developed by top-notch developers until a fully-interactive digital exhibit is completed and available to the public. Read full review.
“Digital Humanities: Visualizing Data”
Offered by Miriam Posner and Heidi Knoblauch at the New York Academy of Medicine
The New York Academy of Medicine, in conjunction with NYCDH Week, held a workshop co-hosted by Miriam Posner and Heidi Knoblauch. The attendees were largely scholars and professionals who, through some aspect of their work, have a dataset, collection, or other resource that they felt would benefit from the use of DH visualization tools. The workshop provided a general overview of the field, its methods, and its roles and responsibilities in the larger academic realm, and focused largely on familiarizing attendees with large datasets and creating exploratory visualizations using them. Read full review.
Digital Art History Day at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts
Three reviews of this event follow: an overview of the day and reviews of the morning and afternoon sessions.
The day’s activities included a morning of engaging lightning talks with art historians and art research professionals on their work that incorporates digital tools. Jason Varone, artist and Web & Electronic Media Manager at the Institute, gave the opening remarks which included an introduction to the NYCDH group as well as the digital humanities community in the New York City area. The second half of the day, “Digi Café,” featured a series of workshops on DH related tools such as CartoDB, Cytoscape, D3.js, and Zotero. A full review of the lightning talks is available.
The morning presentations on “Digital Art History in Practice” focused on a number of DH methods used in art-historical projects. Emily L. Spratt presented on digital reconstructions of world heritage sites after their destruction and the use of computers in analyzing aesthetic preferences in art. Dr. Louisa Wood Ruby presented a tool that uses linked data to facilitate access to images of art from different photo archives and a tool that mimics the functionality of a table for arranging and sorting images in the digital environment. Samantha Deutch’s presentation focused on data scraping tools. Ellen Prokop presented on the use of GIS technologies for art-historical research. Read full review.
The afternoon “Digi Café” embodied an “unconference” in that it was casual, welcoming to any and all professionals, and maintained an underlying theme of the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. At their own leisure, attendees were able to have intimate discussions with experts of open-source software, such as Zotero, CartoDB, D3.js, and WordPress, as well as proponents of major DH projects—the PHAROS consortium project and “Mapping Video Art.” The PHAROS project, spearheaded by the Frick, aims to craft a tool that aggregates images of art across institutions within the consortium, and “Mapping Video Art,” created by NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, is an interactive visualization of the movement of video art across space and time. Read full review.
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