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CHI Fellowship Program

swayampr

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February 2, 2017

Making maps talk…

February 2, 2017 | By | No Comments

When I look at a map, I want to know how it relates to the reality of the terrain. One of the things I learned during my Master’s in Urban Design was to use AutoCAD. I enjoyed being able to created detailed figure-grounds, especially tracing over archival maps. The challenge however was, how would I ensure that they were projected properly? It was all great to have a really (what I thought at least) pretty map in 2D, a whole exercise to actually have to project the right way. I unsuccessfully tried to use Rhino etc to create maps that were projected right. It was only last semester that I found out that one could geo-rectify maps super easily (there is a list of tutorials you can use at the end of this blog post)! There are range of softwares and website that help with georeferencing.                                                                                       

The question I guess is why is geo-referencing important for my project? What will it add?

The simple answer is that geo-referencing a 2D map (especially a 2D map) spatializes it in a far more real way than looking at it and comparing it with a globe/3D map etc.  Especially when it comes a historical map georeferencing lets the viewer get a better sense of what used to be and compare it to how things have changed.

Geoferencing, simply put works like this: the user identifies anchor/control points on both the 2D map and the properly projected map (often times archival maps have contour data and/or labels that can be helpful in figuring out these points), the user then marks those on both maps and voila! The software/website actually stretches the 2D map to match the projected map. Depending on the accuracy of both maps, the accuracy of the corrections and distortions will vary.

Georeferencing a historical map requires a knowledge of both the geography and the history of the place you are studying to ensure accuracy. The built and natural landscapes change over time, and it is important to confirm that the location of your control points — whether they be houses, intersections, or even towns — have remained constant. Entering control points in a GIS is easy, but behind the scenes, georeferencing uses complex transformation and compression processes. These are used to correct the distortions and inaccuracies found in many historical maps and stretch the maps so that they fit geographic coordinates.[1]

In a sense this treats the control points as tack pins that pin the historical map to a three dimensional surface.  For a project such as mine, a georeferenced map makes it easier to see the ways in which the planners of Norris planned the town. It makes relationships with the nearby dam and urban areas more clear. And it also gives the user the ability to look at what has changed and/or the difference between planning and implementation. For a user, a well done georeferenced map also makes the experience a lot more interactive and meaningful.

Learning georeferencing:

I must admit that at first I didn’t think I would be able to do it. So I test-tired a low-resolution map of Norris and it worked really well! Heartened by that, I am currently finishing up the high-res map georeferencing. My next hurdle is putting it on to the website (I am still figuring that out!). I shall share the link as soon as its done.

Some of the links I found particularly useful and easy are listed below:

http://programminghistorian.org/lessons/georeferencing-qgis

http://www.kristenmapes.com/georectifiedmap1/

http://history2016.doingdh.org/map-warper-tutorial/

Happy georeferencing!

[1] Jim Clifford et al,  Georeferencing in QGIS 2.0 (2013). Accessed December 25, 2016. http://programminghistorian.org/lessons/georeferencing-qgis.

Nikki Silva

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January 31, 2017

How to Build the Directory of Oneota Scholars

January 31, 2017 | By | No Comments

In the past few weeks I have struggled to decide how I will build my database into my github pages site, without learning how to code SQL (structured query language), which would be difficult given the amount of time I have to complete this project. I was struggling with using Airtable as a front end developer and I think it will be easier to just create a template in the HTML for entries and fill in the information this way, while still using Airtable to house the information. I will pull from this file (like an online excel spreadsheet) to populate the directory. I will have the letters of the alphabet listed at the top of my Directory page, which will be anchored in the HTML to each section of scholars listed alphabetically by last name.

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Erin Pevan

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January 28, 2017

Circumnavigating the choppy waters of evidence gathering in Norwegian national literature

January 28, 2017 | By | No Comments

Recently, as I’ve begun to build my project and begin the first explorations of constructing the corpus of textual evidence through which I will examine national identity in Norway, I’ve been vexed with an epistemological challenge of using such evidence in my corpus that includes examples of literature, folklore, folk songs, and the like. Can such evidence provide solid, justified examples of meaning and knowledge based in truth, or is it a medium through which discourses of opinion provide problematic challenges in discerning fact from fiction? Well, thankfully, I’ve explored this issue before, and with recent input from the American Anthropological Association conference I attended this past November, I have found many ways in which cultural heritage research, and anthropological research in general, has made great use of the wealth of material that literature provides as evidence for such topics such as expressions of national identity. Read More

Jessica Yann

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January 27, 2017

Phase I: Developing my Timeline

January 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

Now that the new semester is here, I have finally begin to build my archaeological timeline of Michigan.  While not much has changed on the project website, I have been working steadily on collecting the necessary data to include.  You are welcome to view/keep tabs on my project development by going to my project development page here. Depending on when you check, there may or may not be a navigation bar at the top (that has been my most recent struggle).  I’m hoping to have the base pages created soon, with a navigation bar on all of them, and the timeline visible on the main page very shortly.  From there I can amend the events on the timeline and really start to add content.

Speaking of content, I’d like to say a bit regarding the type of information you can expect to see on my timeline.  After struggling a little trying to make decisions about just which archaeological sites to highlight, I decided it was important to highlight the most important sites in our state, which will be represented by those sites that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  These are archaeological sites that have been determined to be nationally significant, that have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory (you can see the criteria for listing here).  I will probably add a few additional sites that represent the earliest occupation of Michigan (these have not yet been nominated for listing).

Keep tabs on my project, comment on what you see, and enjoy! Just know that this is a living draft, that is always changing. I’m hopeful by my next blog post I will have started adding events and information to my page!

 

Erin Pevan

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December 27, 2016

Rifling through a stack of books: Examining expressions of Norwegian national identity

December 27, 2016 | By | No Comments

In my last CHI blog post of 2016, I’ll discuss the next steps of my project, expanding from my last post regarding the visualization of cultural heritage and ethnographic topics to the overall scheme and vision of my own project on Norwegian national identity. As with most large scale and content heavy projects, mine has evolved over these several months to this current iteration that not only serves as the main component to my master’s thesis, but also as the platform from which I can launch further projects that involve my interests in Scandinavian culture heritage, language, and the use of technology as the medium through which I can explore these interests.  Read More

Nikki Silva

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December 16, 2016

Project Introduction: Directory of Oneota Scholars

December 16, 2016 | By | No Comments

Project Description:

My dissertation research focuses on Oneota populations living in Illinois. Artifacts attributed to the Oneota have been found primarily in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Because of the variety of Oneota sites and the different geographic areas where artifacts have been found, it is difficult to parse out who is currently studying or has previously studied the Oneota and what has been published on Oneota archaeology. For this years CHI Project I will create a website that serves as a directory of these scholars and lists their publications, areas of interest, and current institutions of employment. This directory will be used by graduate, undergraduate, and PhDs trying to find other scholars studying the Oneota.

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Jessica Yann

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December 9, 2016

Gliding through time!

December 9, 2016 | By | No Comments

Last time I described my idea for my CHI fellowship project, an interactive timeline on Michigan’s Archaeological history.  I have had plenty of time to play with this idea and test out several different means to try and get a functioning timeline on my web page.  I think I have finally decided on using Timeglider JS, as it looks like it will allow me to create the pop-ups and interactivity I am looking for.  Timeglider JS is a widget written in javascript that you use to create your timeline, then incorporate that into your web page.  I’ve tested it with dates from 14,000 years ago up through the present, and even tested the interactivity to a point. I believe it will do everything I am hoping for.

Now that I have decided how I’m going to accomplish my project, the next step is to accumulate the information to put into it.  During the coming semester, I am going to start compiling archaeological information on important sites and themes to include on my timeline, while figuring out how to best incorporate them into the timeline. Some of the major themes I am thinking of incorporating into the timeline include major environmental changes, faunal changes (i.e., demise of mammoths and mastodons), and then major technological changes (i.e., appearance of pottery, plant domestication, introduction of the bow and arrow).

While I can do this all on my own, I am also soliciting input from you all as well.  What do you see as the most important themes in Michigan Archaeology that should be included? What are your favorite archaeological sites?  What information do you think the general public would most benefit from having included? Let me know what you think!

swayampr

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December 2, 2016

Naughty Norris

December 2, 2016 | By | No Comments

While my project has changed, I am still trying to figure what the UI of my website will be. City plans tend to be static and insipid unless you are a city planner/architect/urban designer in which you start critiquing it. But I am getting ahead of myself. Currently as it stands my project will try and understand the connections between cities and infrastructural projects such as dams. My test site is the town of Norris in Tennessee built by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Today, parts of Norris are on the National Register for Historical Places. In trying to bring out connections between cities and infrastructure, I think it is important to bring out human stories. I anticipate using photographs (from the Library of Congress FSA collection) to think about the urban form. One of underlying aspects of my project is to try and analyze Norris for what it is — a model company town that embodied a certain utopia.

So then what is the story? Simply put the story is to try and think about the relationships between cities and infrastructure through people’s lives.

Meet Norris!

Town Plan of Norris

 

The chief architect of the Norris idea was TVA Chairman Arthur Morgan. On paper, Earle Draper, was the town planner. The immediate purpose of the town was to house the workers building Norris Dam about four miles away on the Clinch River. The second subliminal goal might have been to show America that how cooperative living might work.

The houses in Norris were supposed to be built on a modest and tasteful scale, with an eye to community as much as comfort. In design, they were to balance the traditions of the Tennessee Valley (building materials of natural stone and native cedar, and a porch on every house) with modern conveniences. It is important to remember that at the time of its construction, the region around Norris was less than 10 percent electrified. Norris on the other hand was to be fully electric, with ceiling heat and refrigerators in every home.

Norris Town Center

Norris was also supposed to be a completely walkable town. Modelled around the garden city concept, the town would be surrounded by a buffer zone of protected, undeveloped forest that would keep the ugly outside world at bay. Thus the people of Norris would in theory be able to visit their neighbors, walk to school, the grocery store etc—all without getting into a car.

As I research though I am beginning to think about the user experience. Right now my idea is to create a website where users can use the city plan to navigate the lives of the people who lived in the town through clickable icons. In addition, longer essays would be cross linked. One of the ideas I am kicking around is to create a 3D model of the city plan that users could interact with on the website.

However, I am looking for new ideas, so any ideas would be most welcome!

 

 

 

 

nesbit17

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December 2, 2016

Workshopping: How to Model Variation

December 2, 2016 | By | No Comments

As a variationist sociolinguist, my research focuses on the way language varies and changes in communities of speakers and concentrates in particular on the interaction of social factors (such as a speaker’s gender, ethnicity, age, degree of integration into their community, etc) ModelingVariationand linguistic structures (such as sounds, grammatical forms, intonation features, words, etc). As such, when trying to visually represent and statistically model the effects of various variables, many a variationist has simply defaulted to a statistician, throwing in the towel and hanging our head in shame.

Thankfully, I think my field has found a savior and is finally able to walk out of the dark ages.  I attended a workshop at the latest conference I attended (NWAV 45) and learned how to model variation through the use of an interactive application built as a Shiny app with various statistical and graphical R packages (a programming language I am already quite familiar with).  The Language Variation Suite “allows one to handle imbalanced data, measure individual and group variation and rank variables according to their significance”.  The best thing about this suite is that it is easy to use and requiring minimal programming skills.  Much of the interface requires only a drag/drop process.

I am in the process of writing my second qualifying paper for my degree and have low-key been procrastinating because I have had no idea how to deal with the interaction of all the variables I care about.  This suite has come at the perfect time in my academic career and I can’t wait to try it out!

Nikki Silva

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November 29, 2016

Easy Doesn’t Mean Right

November 29, 2016 | By | No Comments

Is the easy way always the best way?

During the 1st semester of the fellowship, fellows are responsible for completing a series of tasks focused on certain topics such as project management, web mapping, and data visualization. As a returning fellow, I completed these tasks last year. Because of this, groups usually include at least one of the three returning fellows to help current fellows complete these mini-projects. I have found over the past semester that though this is beneficial, there are some times when the knowledge I have of an easy way to do something is a hinderance when showing others how to complete the tasks.

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