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CHI Grad Fellow Post

Cody M

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May 2, 2018

Launching: Queer Intersections: Visualizing the LGBTQ Video Game Archive!

May 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

I’m thrilled to finally announce the launch of Queer Intersections: Visualizing the LGBTQ Video Game Archive! This collection of visualizations reveals trends in LGBTQ representation in video games from the 1980s to the 2000s using an intersectional lens, particularly to look at intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and genre. Currently the project consists of 16 interactive visualizations, and more will be added in the future in order to continue breaking down the larger trends already present in the data.

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dixonel7

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May 2, 2018

Launch of Queer Continuum!

May 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

My project, Queer Continuum is now live here!

Queer Continuum is a theoretical project I have been working on over the course of the last two years. As I have worked on my PhD in rhetoric and writing, it has often struck me that the rhetoric and writing discipline places a great deal of value on finished products. To create a finished project, we often rely on linear logics and text. Indeed, lines and lines of alphabetic text are currently how I am getting this message across to you now. My project, Queer Continuum, is aimed at challenging that value system from a queer perspective. A few years ago, I came across a passage from Ann Wysocki, who wrote, “How might the straight lines of type we have inherited on page after page of books articulate to other kinds of lines, assembly lines and lines of desks in classrooms” (14)? Or, I might, add, to gravestones? While reading through this text I was already thinking about what it means to be a queer body that writes and composes; in what ways does linear composition perpetuate an inherent valuation of straightness? How might the teaching of linear composing practices that lead to finished projects stifle other kinds of composing; queerer kinds of composing? In what ways does that stifling of queer work lead to the stifling of queer people?For a visual representation, take a look at this infographic I made.

Thus, Queer Continuum is a digital project that has no real beginning or end– it is an exercise in anti-finality, in circular logics, in an avoidance of a finished product. Prepare to be a little frustrated. Each page of this site include some theoretical framing from me, drawing from specific scholars in queer and digital rhetorics, or images and videos I have also created. There is no one way to navigate the site, and it’s possible you will interact with repeats of the site long before you see every page. The site only ends when you decide you’re finished; there are myriad ways to navigate the project.

I built this project using Twine, self-described as an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. Learning to use Twine has been a challenge, as I have discussed in previous blog posts, because it engages in coding languages like html and css, but also in others specific to Twine, like the one I used called Harlowe. While this project might look a little #basic in design, it exists after hours and hours of labor and learning– I’m happy with this version of the project and hope to add to it in the future.

Putting together this project has allowed me to continue to question what it means to compose queerly in an academic world that so values linearity and finished projects. I feel a bit at-odds even presenting the project as it is, because such a launch feels final, and therefore counterintuitive to my argument. Still, there is much work I can do on this project and I look forward to doing so. My hope with this project is that it will open up space for readers to consider the ways in which a reliance on linearity in composition is detrimental to those of us who see the world differently–queerly– than others.

carlinek

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May 2, 2018

Launch of Mapping Consumers!

May 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

My project, Mapping Consumers in the Black South African Press, is now live at this address!

Mapping Consumers is built with data I collected from two South African newspapers, Bantu World and Umlindi we Nyanga in the 1930s. The 1930s were an important period in the history of South African newspaper, advertising, and consumer culture. This was the period when white-owned consumer products companies began sustained advertising campaigns in newspapers for black South African readers. Testimonial advertisements in these papers offer a window onto who the consumers of these products were, how they imagined themselves as consumers, and how advertisers wanted to represent the ideal, “modern” African consumer.

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Brian Geyer

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May 2, 2018

Launching: No Mud Huts

May 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

Today I officially launch No Mud Huts: an open anthropological journal about Kenya’s tech industry! Through this site I intend to contribute to the open science research movement as a part of my broader support for an open access approach to scientific publishing.

Motivations

I am about to complete my comprehensive exams and will soon be moving to Kenya to undergo a year-long data collection period, during which time I will be writing about my research on this site. Because of limitations regarding participant confidentiality, I will not be publishing all of my field notes and collected data, as would normally be expected of a scientist contributing to the open science movement. Instead, I will be working to write preliminary analyses of those notes and data, in order to strike a balance the ethics of conducting anthropological research with the ethics of ensuring one’s scientific production is accessible to as large an audience as possible.

I intend for this site to shine a light on the processes involved in “doing anthropology” for those who are interested. It is my hope that this site is viewed favorably and intently by those professionals with whom I am honored to conduct research in Kenya, but others who may be interested in what exactly it is anthropologists do and how at least one of us thinks.

Site Overview

No Mud HutsThe site’s layout is rather straightforward, with a landing page, About page, and the hosted blog. Adding new posts is as simple as creating a new Markdown file with the proper opening material, which prompts its inclusion in the blog post list. Despite being a static website hosted by GitHub Pages, No Mud Huts integrates several other open-source tools to allow for quick design changes and an automated comments section complete with Gravatar profile image integration. Comments can be easily disabled for individual posts as well. As the blog grows, the theme I’ve used for setting the website’s aesthetic design has an option to quickly implement post categorizations for blog post lists, as well as the ability to generate suggested links at the bottom of each post.

 

msumatrix

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May 2, 2018

Launching: No Mud Huts

May 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

Today I officially launch No Mud Huts: an open anthropological journal about Kenya’s tech industry! Through this site I intend to contribute to the open science research movement as a part of my broader support for an open access approach to scientific publishing.

Motivations

I am about to complete my comprehensive exams and will soon be moving to Kenya to undergo a year-long data collection period, during which time I will be writing about my research on this site. Because of limitations regarding participant confidentiality, I will not be publishing all of my field notes and collected data, as would normally be expected of a scientist contributing to the open science movement. Instead, I will be working to write preliminary analyses of those notes and data, in order to strike a balance the ethics of conducting anthropological research with the ethics of ensuring one’s scientific production is accessible to as large an audience as possible.

I intend for this site to shine a light on the processes involved in “doing anthropology” for those who are interested. It is my hope that this site is viewed favorably and intently by those professionals with whom I am honored to conduct research in Kenya, but others who may be interested in what exactly it is anthropologists do and how at least one of us thinks.

Site Overview

No Mud HutsThe site’s layout is rather straightforward, with a landing page, About page, and the hosted blog. Adding new posts is as simple as creating a new Markdown file with the proper opening material, which prompts its inclusion in the blog post list. Despite being a static website hosted by GitHub Pages, No Mud Huts integrates several other open-source tools to allow for quick design changes and an automated comments section complete with Gravatar profile image integration. Comments can be easily disabled for individual posts as well. As the blog grows, the theme I’ve used for setting the website’s aesthetic design has an option to quickly implement post categorizations for blog post lists, as well as the ability to generate suggested links at the bottom of each post.

 

Julia DeCook

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May 2, 2018

Launching: Networks of Hate

May 2, 2018 | By | No Comments

After a long seven months of dreaming, planning, and making, I’m happy to announce that my project, “Networks of Hate: Visualizing Extremist Celebrity Networks” is now live!

The motivation behind building this website was to visualize the ways in which extremist celebrities are connected in terms of the larger movement that they identify with or have been identified as belonging to. Many have noted how groups like the Manosphere and movements like GamerGate served as gateway ideologies/movements to more extremist groups like those that fall under the Alt Right or Alt Lite label, and the goal of my project was to visualize the networks of celebrities that these ideologies often travel on. To build the visualizations, I used R to make the interactive networks.

 Why celebrities?

The new extremism is notable for their use of digital platforms in community building and mobilization. Because of this, there are a number of “celebrities” in the movements themselves that serve as vehicles of these ideological messages, and visualizing how these celebrities are connected can demonstrate how the beliefs of these groups intersect. Of course, celebrities are individuals, but they speak and represent the groups that they are affiliated with to larger audiences. Extremist celebrities in the 21st century not only forge connections but expose groups to one another like brokers. Using platforms like YouTube, Twitter, reddit, and many others, these extremist celebrities forge connections between groups and seeing their group affiliations may illustrate the movement of these ideologies.

The home page gives a brief overview of the project and provides links to the networks themselves. The site is organized into four main pages and then four subpages under the “GROUPS” main page. The pages are as follows:

  1. HOME
  2. ABOUT
  3. GROUPS
    1. Alt Right
    2. Alt Lite
    3. Manosphere
    4. Gamergate
  4. CONTACT

HOME
As discussed above, “HOME” is the landing page where some cursory information is given about the project itself and the motivation behind it. This is an “at a glance” page and it includes links to the network visualizations on the landing page and an explanation of how to navigate the website.

ABOUT
A more in depth essay on the reasoning and motivation behind the project will be found on this page.

GROUPS
The main “GROUPS” page includes information about all of the groups and reasoning behind why they were included, and is titled “THE NEW EXTREMISM: Who’s Who?” to illuminate the purpose that these visualizations are meant to serve.

Alt Right
The first of the subpages includes a brief essay about the Alt Right, who the main players are, and presents the first visualization which includes all four of the umbrella groups that are included in the networks.

Alt Lite
The second of the subpages includes information about the Alt Lite, key players in the movement, and how it was borne out of the Alt Right – particularly after the Charlottesville Rally that resulted in the death of one counter protestor, the Alt Lite aimed to distance itself from overt white supremacy and instead is more focused on a nationalistic, “Western” civilization view. The network visualization on this page shows the connections between the Alt Lite and the Alt Right.

Manosphere
The third subpage is about The Manosphere, which is a web-based loosely connected collection of men’s rights activist websites, Pick Up Artistry spaces, and others. Groups that fall under this umbrella term include Mens Rights activist, r/TheRedPill, MGTOW, A Voice for Men, and others. Whether or not Incels has a place in the Manosphere is contested between the various groups. The Manosphere in particular has been pointed at as a gateway ideology, and this visualization illustrates the connections between the Manosphere and the Alt Lite.

Gamergate
The final subpage is about Gamergate, which was a harassment campaign targeted towards women gamers, game developers, and journalists, and culminated in a number of death and rape threats toward them. The communities where many of these harassment campaigns were enacted are still active and thriving, even if they have slightly receded from the limelight. A notable celebrity of this movement is Milo Yinnaopoulos, who then parlayed this fame in to being connected with the Alt Lite, Breitbart, and the Manosphere. This visualization presents the connections between Gamergate and the Alt Lite.

CONTACT
Just a page with a contact form, and nothing more.

Future Directions
I’m hoping to make more detailed visualizations in the future, like the specific groups that are connected since all of the groups I included in these initial visualizations are the broader umbrella terms. Also, my initial plan to have text pop up as one clicks on each node required a lot more technical knowledge than I could learn in a year, but I feel happy with the end result despite it being slightly different from my initial plan. Despite this, the website is a first glance at seeing how cultural flows and ideology are spread from celebrity to celebrity within these extremist groups, and future work can build off of these initial maps.

ellio252

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April 30, 2018

Migrants and Muscovites: The Memory of Migration

April 30, 2018 | By | No Comments

I am writing this blog from Moscow, the place that my website (now almost fully functional) is about. I find it appropriate to discuss all the ways that I have seen migration play out over the course of my various stays here. I first came to Moscow in June 2011 as an undergraduate with one year of Russian under my belt. I’m not sure what I expected when my plane took off from JFK that summer evening, but I was shocked by the streets of Moscow. Growing up in the Bronx, I feel more at home in urban environments, but Moscow’s streets had kiosks everywhere. You could buy everything: fast food, cigarettes, beer, newspaper, SIM cards. It is probably more accurate to say that there was nothing that you couldn’t buy. It seemed to me that Russians ran many of these makeshift shops, but clearly migrants from elsewhere in the former Soviet Union had joined them.

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dixonel7

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April 27, 2018

Adventures in Courier New

April 27, 2018 | By | No Comments

This is one of my last weeks at CHI and its led me to think about all of the progress I’ve made this year learning to code. I’m not sure if my project will really highlight all that I know and have learned when I showcase it next week, but I really have made a ton of progress. If you begin the CHI fellowship with no knowledge of coding like I did, you might experience the journey in similar ways I did.

When I started CHI, we were all asked to work through a bunch of classes via Code Academy, where we learned the basics of html, css, and javascript. I remember being thrilled to figure out how to place a picture on a webpage using html, and changing font size and style with css. I took copious notes and felt like I had arrived!

In the first half of the semester, the CHI fellows were given group projects and tasks to learn how to work with mapping, data-visualization, and website-building. Again, I felt like I had a ton of tools to prepare myself, and I did! But what I’ve learned this semester is that trouble shooting is a much more complicated process.

When I started working with Twine, it felt like starting from scratch. Building a Twine story is a bit like working with an HTML and CSS page, except that Twine also has its own kind of language that is like html and css, but not quite. My first few weeks on my project was especially tough.

One Friday, it took me all six hours of our workday to figure out how to change a font from “futura” to “courier new.” SIX. HOURS. I was honestly so ashamed. We worked on an additional coding project that day where we could change the title to whatever we wanted, and I called mine “Adventures in Courier New” to celebrate my embarrassing victory of learning.

What I’ve learned throughout this process in CHI is that the individual making of a project is much more time-consuming than learning the basics within a pre-created template or program. My project may not look like much, but it is evidence of hours of toiling, googling, tutorial-viewing, self-deprecation, and multiple asks for help. Coding, like writing, is not an individual process, but a very social one, something that requires the support of many multiple people. I’ve come a long way since my Adventures in Courier New, but I have years to go before I feel like I truly know what I’m doing.

dixonel7

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April 13, 2018

My Adventures in Troubleshooting (and the Importance of Good Technical Writing)

April 13, 2018 | By | No Comments

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned during this CHI project is how necessary various forums on HTML and CSS are to a person’s progress on a project. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to rely entirely on the Twine Cookbook and googling random questions online to try to understand what I need to change. Programs like Code Academy  are useful is developing a basic understanding of how to understand and use html, css, and javascript. But, in the end I’ve spent way more time perusing the cookbook and reading forums online for specific solutions for the problems I’m having. For this reason, I’ve also learned the importance of good technical writing. Which, PS, turns out a lot programmers aren’t the greatest at that.

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carlinek

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April 6, 2018

Presenting “Mapping Consumers” at a World History conference

April 6, 2018 | By | No Comments

Two weeks ago, I went to Northeastern University’s 10th annual Graduate World History conference. My paper was largely based on the sources that I draw on for my CHI project. This was my first time showing my site to the public, and the deadline for the conference presentation was a great motivation to get my site up and mostly functional. This is what my site looks like currently:

Mapping consumers home page

One of the things that was helpful about presenting this to an audience of strangers was learning which parts of my site are self-explanatory, and which need more context. I found myself having to explain the colourful marker clusters, which is a feature built into the Bootleaf template that I’m using. When there are more than a certain number of markers in a certain area at a certain zoom level, it will create a coloured cluster representing this group of markers. However, I realized while presenting that these clusters somewhat obscure the argument I want to make with this map — that testimonial-writers in the black press were from rural places all across the South African countryside.

Based on this experience, I’ve now changed the zoom level at which the marker-cluster feature works. I’ve turned off the marker-cluster feature at a lower zoom level, so now as you zoom in, you’re able to see the spread of testimonial-writers across the map. Like so:

Markers showing testimonial writers in the Eastern Cape region

Another positive take-away from this conference was that because it was a World History conference, I was able to think in new ways about how my local South African project is contextualized in global history. My paper made the argument that testimonials show how local South Africans responded to global marketing campaigns (in particular the well-funded campaign for tea consumption put on by the Tea Market Expansion Bureau).