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CHI Grad Fellow Post

Erin Pevan

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November 15, 2016

Navigating the visualization of language and identity in Norway

November 15, 2016 | By | No Comments

Since my last blog, I’ve ruminated upon the overall purpose of my CHI project; it first shall serve as the digital component to my Master’s thesis, and it second shall serve as that culmination of my background in history, information technology, and anthropology. But even more important, this project serves to digitally represent a somewhat abstract idea, that of the connections between language and identity, and to extend the examination of these relationships beyond text.

In these last few weeks, my project has been molded and shaped to fit this narrative that explores the connections between language and identity, and serves to answer questions regarding how language has become a marker for identity in Norway, and how these identities are expresses in forms of narrative, from literature to music lyrics to comics to art. This project aims to use forms of narrative to tell a narrative of language and identity, and what this means for the multicultural society of Norway – how, over time, the connections between political and cultural machinations have had a profound affect upon language in Norway, and how language has manifested as a marker for Norwegianness. In addition, I want to tell the story of how notions of homogeneity are challenged through language in Norway, and how identity in Norway is expressed in terms of the relationship of these different communities to the Norwegian language. This project aims to help reassert awareness of the importance of Norwegian language identities by providing a timeline of access to their literature and see, through examples of their literature, why language is a hugely important concept in identity formation. Some questions that have churned in my head include:

  • How is literature used to address and express issues of language identity in Norway?
  • How can a digital platform negotiate boundaries and barriers of language use and identity in ways another medium is perhaps limiting?
  • How can we use a digital map or timeline to show flexibility in language use boundaries in ways that acknowledge the complexities of creating boundaries of language use and identity? How are these complexities challenging assertions of homogeneity?
  • How can a digital platform be used to acknowledge perspectives and boundaries, such as those in a cultural, political, or colonial context, while still providing an answer to the question of how literature, through time, has contributed to a Norwegian national identity through language?

These types of musings become important for scholars to examine in the age where words become extremely powerful tools to express ideology, especially in the media, and in the case of national identity, expressive of what it means to be a part of that identity and whether or not your personhood reflects that ideology and identity.

The next step in this process of forming a digital project of a seemingly abstract idea is visualization. I must admit, my first step in this process was to create the tool, of which I felt I had a better handle, and adapt my story to the tool. However, in reviewing this process, I’ve now realized the importance of making your narrative the prime component of the project FIRST, and let the tools fall where they may. Tools for digital visualization are abundant in this day of open-source material; I believe that, given a good sense of creativity, storyboarding, and a lot of examination of the tools out there, you can create any perfect visualization to tell your narrative in a way that both conveys your argument clearly, while also generating a useful and exciting user experience design. If you create your visualization first, you run into the danger of limiting the bounds of your narrative, and what arguments you want to convey. Once I made it through this hurdle and really formed (for the most part) that narrative, I began that journey: how do you visualize the connections between language and identity in Norway?

In Wendy Hsu’s 4-part blog series On Digital Ethnography, available on the website Ethnography Matters, she explores the relationships between extending ethnographic research beyond text and into the digital world. A key component of this series is to consider the role and form of the digital medium as ethnographic knowledge itself. In particular, Part 4 considers the power of moving beyond print medium as a means for conveying ethnographic knowledge. In particular, she says

“If we open up the definition of ethnography beyond text and print, then we can start to envision a media enriched, performative, and collaborative space for ethnographers to convey what they have encountered, experienced, and postulated. Utilizing the affordances of digital media, ethnographic knowledge can be stored, expressed, and shared in ways beyond a single medium, direction, and user.” (Hsu, Ethnography Matters).

Again, it’s about keeping the narrative in focus, and molding those tools to best express your narrative to your end-users. In particular, she discusses the digital medium as a multi-sensory and multi-dimensional experience, including not only video, audio, text, but also through space and time. The assertion of placing a project within a spatial or temporal context to construct stronger arguments and provide essential information is not new to academic scholarly work, but in the realm of digitization, we find a new power in our ability to tangibly visualize this spatial or temporal context for a better user experience.

My next step in this project is to further ponder the different tools and visualization platforms that will best convey my narrative of the relationships between language and identity in Norway. I foresee a temporal aspect to this project, so utilizing Timeline.js might prove useful. Is there a spatial component? Possibly, since much of Norway’s language history is also tied to terrain, historical territorial disputes, and positionality of different communities. An ethnographic archive of different examples of Norwegian narrative searchable through space and time? It’s time to dive into the repositories and find out.

Reference:

Hsu, Wendy. 2013 Ethnography Beyond Text and Print: How the digital can transform ethnographic expressions. http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/12/09/ethnography-beyond-text-and-print-how-the-digital-can-transform-ethnographic-expressions/

 

nesbit17

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November 11, 2016

Project Musings

November 11, 2016 | By | No Comments

As the semester rolls on and we are tasked with trying to visualize our CHI projects, I am feeling a little stressed and inspired, all at the same time! As I’ve said before, my project is going to center around the research I’ve been conducting in the Sociolinguistics Lab in the Department of Linguistics and Languages, here at MSU.  For this project, we have been conducting and recording interviews with college freshmen at LCC and MSU and subsequently training them to interview their friends and family members.  The purpose of building this corpus is to document language change in the Greater Lansing Area. There are two reasons for having people interview their friends and family: (1) to gain less accessible participants and (2) to get a better picture of the social networks and upbringing of the college students.  These last two factors have shown to have insurmountable effects on ones choice to participate in a sound change and I’m hoping to drive this home somehow with my CHI project.  Thus far we have interview data from over 50 speakers ranging in birth date from 1908 to 1995! My initial idea for my CHI project was to create a website through which we could (1) gather more data – via some sort of recording interface whereby native Lansingites can record themselves reading some of the data samples and answer some of our demographic questions and (2) update the larger community (linguistic or otherwise) about our research and findings.  I am still a little unclear of how I am going to make the components of this project work, BUT I am inspired by the group projects that we did in LEADR two weeks ago.  For that project, we created a website that had a map and integrated way points onto the map that were related by some theme.  I’m thinking I can use this exercise to better visualize (1) where the speakers in our sample were born and raised, but also (2) to display how language in the area has changed over time.  In essence, I’d have way points for each birth place of a speaker and then perhaps another set of way points documenting where they moved.  It would also be nice to use a visualization tool to display familial and friendship relations within our sample.  Not sure how all of this will work, but I am very excited to figure it out.  To be continued…

 

nelso663

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November 6, 2016

ICTs and Indigenous Knowledges

November 6, 2016 | By | No Comments

This past Friday, we talked about licensing. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m interested in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and traditional knowledges (TK), which are the product of the intricate relationships between indigenous peoples and the specific places in which they have lived or used to live for long periods of time. Questions of licensing that are specific to this class of knowledge – the question of who has the right to access, use, modify, distribute, profit from, or otherwise relate to some piece of TK – are warranted by the historically antagonistic relationship toward TK of modernization projects like residential school systems for indigenous children, or the removal of artifacts for sale, analysis, and display in museums or private collections.

I’d argue that at this point in time, ICTs and traditional knowledges relate in at least three ways:

  1. ICTs can be vehicles for the publication of TK artifacts, whether for journalistic or scholarly purposes. This is afforded by the internet and web content management systems (CMS) like the domain-specific Omeka or more generically WordPress and Drupal. See, for instance, the project “Dawnland Voices: Writings of Indigenous New England” (Omeka) or Indian County Today Media Network (Drupal).
  2. ICTs can be instruments for the organization of TK. Knowledge objects like place names, demonyms, and flora and fauna names have historically been a) subordinated to western names, and b) relegated to arcane corners of the Library of Congress (LOC) or Dewey Decimal subject headings (“Mythology, Other”). The Xwi7xwa subject headings developed by the Library of the University of British Columbia is a widely cited positive example of the organizational role of ICTs in TK. The modeling of Andean craftsmanship documented in Brownlow et al. (2015) is a good example of ontological organization of TK.
  3. ICTs as aides in the application of TK alongside (if not as integral than at least as supplementary to) professional knowledges, as in the domain of natural resource management. An example of this might be web resources documenting species names and associations between a species and an environment, habitat, or another species (as a reference, for instance, in administering and complying to Canada’s Species at Risk Act). Given the history of extracting TK, provisioning such a web resource would need to involve careful consideration of the problem of TK licensing; the problem of whether and how to provide for more sensitive items (e.g., information about the associations between a given species and uses such as medicinal; food and beverage; technology, arts and crafts; and social or religious rites).

The problem of providing and consuming rights to use, distribute, modify, and otherwise relate to TK is present in each of these configurations between ICTs and TK. Diving into data modeling this semester, with a class on enterprise database systems at the business college, I’m not surprised to find myself thinking about these topics as I continue to plan my project for this fellowship.

doyleras

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November 4, 2016

Introducing John Doyle-Raso//Building a database of Lake Victoria’s environment and economy

November 4, 2016 | By | No Comments

Hello all! I am a second-year doctoral student in the Department of History. I am especially interested in studying environmental history and histories of science and technology, focusing on water politics in Africa. I am interested in historicizing the water politics of Lake Victoria as part of the broader water politics of the Nile Basin. I plan for my dissertation to address the policy shift from swamp reclamation to wetland preservation in Uganda in the second half of the twentieth century. I will conduct archival and oral research in English, Kiswahili, and Lusoga. My supervisor is Dr. Laura Fair; the other members of my comprehensive examinations committee are Drs. Walter Hawthorne (to round out my major field in African History), Jamie Monson (for Environmental History), and Georgina Montgomery (History of Science).

I began my postsecondary studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, majoring in peace studies and sociology and minoring in biology (I have an abiding interest in ecology and evolutionary biology). Thanks to an Undergraduate Student Research Award, I was able to do four months of oral research about village-level water politics in Dodoma Region, Tanzania, at this time. After my bachelor’s degree, I completed the dual master’s degree program in world and international history at Columbia University and the London School of Economics. My thesis addressed the final years of colonialism in East Africa, 1953-63, in light of the completion of the Owen Falls Dam across the Victoria Nile in 1954.

I plan for my doctoral research to extend my master’s research to address the transition from colonialism to independence in East Africa, to narrate people’s experiences with the changing politics of the lake aside from those of a narrow class of development experts, and to be the first book-length study of Nile water politics to foreground changes in East Africa. I will focus on the change in environmental policy from one of swamp reclamation to one of wetland preservation, bookended by the dates 1954-1986. This change was happening globally at the time, but had uniquely wide-ranging significance in East Africa due to the position of the region at the source of the Nile.


For my project for the CHI fellowship, 2016-17, I will build a database to document and visualize economic and environmental changes in the Lake Victoria basin. The database will both inform my analysis and serve as a way to access freely information that I have collected in Africa, Europe, and North America – a vital issue in African studies, wherein research participants and other local people often lack access to research findings.

I participated in the HILT 2016 digital humanities training prior to joining CHI this year. At HILT, I learned about an array of programs and tools for analyzing and representing data digitally; the CHI fellowship continues my exposure to these approaches. I am especially interested in programs such as CartoDB, Cytoscape, and Google Fusion Tables. Network analysis programs like Cytoscape would enable me to analyze the dynamics of overlapping networks, including: the relevant scientific communities; government, activist, and other political actors; and relationships between political and scientific leaders. Programs such as CartoDB and Google Fusion Tables would let me map these networks, and the resources about which they communicated. Environmental history is highly amenable to such approaches, given its focus on space across time.

I intend to focus on data regarding water as well as the energy and commodity industries in the Lake Victoria region in the late colonial and early postcolonial eras. I will pull this data from sources that I digitized from African, American, and European archives. This corpus contains disparate information on economic variables, such as the inputs and outputs of different industries, as well as environmental variables, like rainfall and lake level. Creating the database will help me better understand the historical context I will research for my dissertation, by structuring these sources of data spatially and temporally.

I will be able to add to this database as my research advances. For example, this summer, I visited a number of different government scientific offices in East Africa and learned that many continue to update environmental records dating to the colonial era (with some gaps). In particular, there are long-standing government programs for hydrometeorology and limnology – two disciplines with major economic and political implications in the Lake Victoria basin. The database and skills that I will develop in the CHI program would help me to ascertain what scholarship I can and cannot produce based on such sources.

In particular, my work in CHI will advance two of my primary goals for my scholarship. First, it will help me represent changes in water and land use in East Africa in an integrated manner. Land politics are central in the historiography of East Africa, and water politics were integral in shaping land usage, e.g. agriculture, forestry, mining, and wildlife conservation. Yet, the relationship between land and water in the Nile basin has received little attention, and so our understanding is incomplete.

My second goal is to produce knowledge about changes in environmental policy that occurred during the transition from colonialism to independence. Historians of development, environmental politics, and water in this context have focused on projects started by colonial governments and continued into independence. Most depict continuity, emphasizing the power of the twinned discourses of development and modernization. Thus far, historians have tended to argue that postcolonial governments continued the forceful drive for modernization begun under colonial rulers without significant changes occurring. Yet, the history of Lake Victoria affords opportunities to study historical change in this context. For instance, the collapse of the East African Community in 1971 ended a number of long-standing organizations aimed at integrating economic, political, scientific, and other activity in the region. Additionally, the policy shift from swamp reclamation to wetland preservation has reversed the valence of state objectives regarding a key link between land and water. By focusing on the shift from reclamation to preservation, I will challenge the prevailing depiction of development and modernization in Africa as extensions of the colonial state. A database of economic and environmental data over time would make it easier to analyze these changes.

 

Autumn Beyer

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November 2, 2016

Capturing Campus Cuisine: Early Foodways at Michigan State University

November 2, 2016 | By | No Comments

I love food, and this year I am combining this love with both of my fellowship, Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) and Campus Archaeology Program, into a focused research project on the Early Period of MSU’s campus (1855-1870). Within the Campus Archaeology fellowship I am working with fellow Susan Kooiman on a meal reconstruction project. This involves using archival research along with the identification of archaeological food remains, both plant and animal materials, from MSU’s campus excavations. My CHI project will be creating the website that publicizes the meal reconstruction event to be held in the spring, as well as include background information about the project focusing on our research methods and reconstruction areas.

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Nikki Silva

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October 28, 2016

Wrestling with The Digital Dissertation in Anthropology

October 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

Academia is changing. The old standard 500+ page, written dissertation may become obsolete as new technologies develop and academia starts accepting new models of the dissertation. One model is incorporating digital components (i.e. a map, database, appendices, or other entities) into dissertation projects. Because of my participation and experiences in the CHI fellowship, I have been asked by a few people (including CHI director Ethan Watrall) whether I want to incorporate the skills I have learned to add a digital component into my dissertation. Honestly, I have been fearful of even bringing up the idea to my committee chair. Why am I so afraid? I think this stems from the idea of doing something ‘different’, ‘new’, or something that ‘isn’t the standard’ for a PhD dissertation in the heritage/human sciences.

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Jessica Yann

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October 22, 2016

Making Archaeology Accessible

October 22, 2016 | By | No Comments

These past few weeks I’ve been pondering what to do for my CHI fellowship project. This has prompted a lot of introspection on what I think is important about digital cultural heritage, along with many internet searches.  One of my core beliefs is that archaeology, in some form, should be accessible to the public (this is sometimes referred to as public archaeology, or you can go here for more information on digital public archaeology). This is partly because people need to be invested in our shared past, but also because the public supports archaeological research (in more ways than one).  But making it available and helping people understand it are two different things.  How do you help the public understand sometimes difficult concepts?

One (I think) cool option for making it easier for people to understand and become engaged with archaeology is through 3D modelling, which has already been discussed in several other blog posts. As I was perusing some of my archaeology news sites this week, I came across an article where researchers had created a 3D rendering of a wealthy family’s home at the site of Pompeii, in Italy.  This site was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which buried much of the city under layers of volcanic ash, preserving the site in situ (in its original, undisturbed location).  3D modelling is great for providing these views of how things looked in the past, like this tour of Rome as it looked circa AD 320.  This allows people to get a glimpse of these sites at their height, as well as see some of the results of the archaeological research that has been done on them.  Significant research goes into recreating these sites as they would have looked 2000 years ago.

Models such as these make sites that may not be accessible for a variety of reasons (cost, distance to travel, general accessibility) accessible to anyone with a computer.  Whether you have bad knees and can’t walk great distances, or just can’t afford the cost of flying to a foreign country, you can still experience what it feels like to be amid these important sites, while also experiencing results of the research done there.

If you are just interested in viewing some of the more well-known sites from afar, 3D imaging allows for that now as well.  You can use Google maps to do street views of many popular archaeological sites, such as Stonehenge, Pyramids of Giza, Chichén Itzá, Machu Picchu, or the Colosseum in Rome.  While these views don’t provide any interpretations of the sites, they do open the door on the conversation, and allow greater accessibility to places that are of great historical importance.  Hopefully this can be a start to prompting additional research and more in depth thought on these sites and what they mean, while also being another avenue for digital public archaeology.

While I highly advocate for greater accessibility to important places such as these, and for cool new ways of providing archaeological interpretations such as through modeling of sites as they looked at their peak, this greater accessibility does lead to some issues.  Increased awareness and increased tourism can lead to greater risk for the site and its preservation, in the forms of looting, vandalism, or just through additional traffic by tourists (for more information on the effects of tourism, check out this article: Tourism and Archaeological Heritage). At the same time, these digital representations help preserve the sites in one, static form.  As of yet, there is no easy answer on how to rectify this.  There are many challenges yet to be overcome, but this is an exciting direction to see things headed in.

Erin Pevan

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October 21, 2016

Språklivet: Using Digital Humanities to explore connections between language, identity, and the problem of boundaries

October 21, 2016 | By | No Comments

Since my last blog post, the foundations of digital project planning have been arranged, and the next steps have been taken towards creating the framework for my CHI project. From learning the fundamentals of project management to work plan preparation to geospatial web mapping, the tools have been placed in our hands to begin the process of building a solid digital space that houses a compelling theoretical argument and visualized representations of our evidence.

I’ll be quite candid in saying that ruminations of my project have been lurking in my mind for several weeks now, further established and solidified as I continue through my readings course, a course designed to ignite those sparks of thought and theory in hopes of contributing to the development of a project. My ideas and their solidity were put to the challenge when an opportunity to apply for a conference in Göteborg, Sweden (Digital Humanities in the Nordic) presented itself and suddenly all of those ideas needed organization. And this is where I saw the efforts of the last several weeks of learning and challenges and collaboration exude through my project proposal.

map-1019873_640

In preparing this proposal, I considered all the ideas (however general they may be at this point) I wished to considered for my project, as well as honoring my interests and greater research goals. In addition, I also took the valuable advice and direction from my graduate committee when considering the ultimate goal of this project, as well as the greater theoretical question I am aiming to answer, or at least attempt to answer. In this, several questions came to mine to start the framing of my project. They include:

  • How is literature used to address issues of language identity in Norway? How can a digital platform negotiate boundaries and barriers of language use and identity in ways another medium is perhaps limiting?
  • How can we use a digital map to show flexibility in language use boundaries in ways that acknowledge the problems of creating boundaries of language use and identity?
  • How can a digital platform be used to acknowledge perspectives and boundaries, such as those in a cultural, political, or colonial context, while still providing an answer to the question of how literature, through time, has contributed to a Norwegian national identity through language?

I envision this project wholly within a digital space such as a web map, or more simply a web site, in the most simplistic sense. The project itself will be housed within a digital space, utilizing a digital mapping environment provided through open-source platforms Github, Leaflet, and Mapbox, and enhanced through JavaScript and Python programming to maximize functionality and ease of the user experience. Digital mapping and the possibilities entailed within this structure allow for conveying the natural fluidity and negotiation occurring across language boundaries.

While the project has a long way to go in terms of planning, organizing, and really tackling that theoretical question, this is a start. Next week I will be attending a workshop in LEADR which will introduce 3D Modeling with photogrammetry. I’m not new the world of 3D modeling (I’m looking at you 3dsMax) but I am new to creating 3D models in conjunction with photography. I’m hoping this new tool provide an extra dimensions to a future iteration of my CHI project!

mahnkes1

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October 10, 2016

Visualizing Place Analytics: Big Data, Smart Cities, and the Question of Democracy

October 10, 2016 | By | No Comments

                This last week, we discussed Geospatial visualization tools to aid the creation, display, and emphasis of geospatial analytics. As a researcher of the rhetoric of place and space, that is, the communicative relationship between citizens and locales, I’ve been eager for ways to represent the various forms of this relationship digitally. Being your about average digitally literate citizen, I immediately thought of Google Maps and its standard use as representative of what geospatial tools could do. So if I were to present research on the dominant revolutionary narrative of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, for instance, toggling between Google Map’s Street and Roadmap views, could visually demonstrate material influences: the landmarks, layout of political buildings, and topography, so forth, alongside a discussion of how these spaces are “socially crafted” through behavioral acts.

For your average user, Google Maps’ ability to visualize and navigate the material domains of space means it wouldn’t upfront tell us much about social and political dynamics of a site. This made it easier for scholars like myself to simplify the use of the interface to represent the material. However, great strides in geospatial software and Big Data, in general, mean that analytics on locales have the potential of revealing much much more. I refer mostly to how Big Data has contributed to the creation of Smart Cities, cities wherein sensors gather, analyze, and interpret large sets of data to track anything from resource consumption, traffic rates, Wifi availability, to even grants for the arts. Talk about your options for visualizing certain place-based analytics! By combining a series of metrics, a “CityScore” can indicate a city’s overall health, and cities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York have already begun to rely on Big Data’s ability to represent place to improve efficiency, resources, and the engagement of citizens.
Though Smart Cities are still a relatively new way of ‘visualizing’ place, discussions of its benefits are rolling in. Though its ability to make cities more efficient is obvious, there have also been insights as to its democratic benefits. Place data from city-wide sensors could allow more equitable distribution of resources among poor and rich neighborhoods, and as The Economist predicts, could have allowed a quicker response to prolonged tragedies such as Flint’s water crisis.
The idea of Smart Cities links Big Data with an improved democratic infrastructure. However, in the same way that citizens can ‘supposedly’ be self-governing in a democracy, could they do the same in an ever-growing and changing digital universe of Big Data?
A large part of the democratic challenges involves the digital citizens to be informed users, particularly from Big Data privacy issues. Big data breaches aside, Jonathan Obar (2015) asserts that the individual’s limited time to educate themselves on multiple terms of service statements, private policies, and hidden data brokers combined with the rapid evolution of Big Data, as well as its lack of transparency make it nearly impossible to be an informed digital citizen. This limitation on privacy and knowledge has already bit back at Smart Cities’ data access as Seattle’s citizens have protested against tracking methods, thus leading to the implementation of data-protection officers.
The ability of digital tools to represent more than material space is quickly becoming an alarming reality. As a researcher in place/space, I’m excited for this more robust view of place dynamics. Furthermore, what is done with that data can have amazing results in the hands of the right people, but individual consent and say in its use may still remain an afterthought to innovation.

References

Goldsmith, S. (2015). “Protecting Big Data.” Data Smart City Solutions. Retrieved from http://datasmart.ash.harvard.edu/news/article/protecting-big-data-742

“How Cities Score.” (2016). The Economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21695194-better-use-data-could-make-cities-more-efficientand-more-democratic-how-cities-score

Obar, J. A. (2015). “Big Data and The Phantom Public: Walter Lippmann and the Fallacy of Data Privacy Self-Management.” Big Data & Society (2015):1-16. Doi: 10.1177/2053951715608876

nelso663

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October 8, 2016

Who’s paying for class=”fa fa-home”?

October 8, 2016 | By | No Comments

I recently switched to one of these wireless service providers with a sort of pay-as-you-go model, and so now I’m (trying to be?) thriftier when it comes to the data I consume. Earlier today, as we wrapped up our cultural heritage project pitch websites and learned about mapping tools, the option I was recently given on my phone by the Google Maps application to download my area for navigation offline prompted me to take a step back and think about my team’s project website in terms of design choices, especially with regard to the cost of accessing it.

Providing some context: for the cultural heritage project, we thought of a smartphone application repackaging the audio tour mp3s at Stockholm’s Vasa Museum, currently available on their website, in order to streamline visitors’ audio tour experience. Beyond thinking about the means by which end-users would get ahold of the application (i.e., by streaming the audio, downloading all mp3s at once, or downloading them one by one during a tour), we did not get too much into the details of implementation, but the project pitch site can serve as a kind of placeholder for thinking about the implementation of cultural heritage projects.

First, the networking section of the Google Chrome developer tools provided some useful information about our project site. At its root, our site weighed 6.4 MB, and took 5.26 seconds to load on my home wireless network. The images, alone, accounted for 6.3 of the 6.4 MB. The larger one of the two images (4.3 MB) is hosted with GitHub here in the U.S. and took 513 milliseconds for the browser to retrieve; the smaller one (2.0 MB) took tens times as long (5.14 seconds) to retrieve from its server in Stockholm. Then, using Xcode’s Network Link Conditioner to simulate full network throughput and a latency of 500 milliseconds (about the latency of a satellite connection), I found that our site took 40.58 seconds to fully load in a browser in those conditions.

Our site uses Twitter’s Bootstrap framework, which is especially useful for building sites that respond to a device screen’s resolution. But the Bootstrap stylesheet alone, gzipped and minified, comes in at a relatively heavy 23.9 KB (cf. other CSS and JavaScript frameworks). To echo Ethan’s comments earlier today, Bootstrap is powerful, but to its power comes at a cost. Responsible use of client-side frameworks like Font Awesome or Bootstrap, and assets like the large images we used on our project pitch site means also accounting for that kind of cost. While this is all a bit artificial, since I’m evaluating a site that was not intended for production, a visitor from, say, New Zealand, would likely be happier if the site were designed with an understanding of conditions further from the internet backbone.