Hello everyone! My name is Brian Geyer and I am a 6th year anthropology graduate student here at Michigan State University. If my name sounds familiar, it’s because I worked alongside CHI Fellows in 2013, and then was an official Fellow in 2014, which makes me a returning fellow for this year’s Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative (CHI).

My research has changed significantly since I finished my Master’s in 2015. My current tentative dissertation title is Intersectional Identity Among Kenya’s Technology Industry Professionals; I am currently focusing my efforts upon Kenya’s technology industry professionals and how their many identities – such as ethnicity, gender, religion, and socioeconomic class – intersect in ways that speak to the larger structures of social, political, and economic power in Kenya. This past summer I lived in Nairobi for two months to conduct a pilot project, where I interviewed several professionals about their biographical information and intended career trajectories. I am at the grant application phase of my program, as well as the comprehensive exam stage, so I’m looking forward to a busy semester!

In addition to my programmatic responsibilities, I will be continuing in my position as one of the research assistants appointed to LEADR, an initiative jointly supported by MSU’s Departments of History and Anthropology. LEADR works with professors from both departments in designing and implementing digital technology projects within their curricula for undergraduate and graduate courses and then myself and my fellow colleagues instruct students on the tools and methods needed to complete those projects. This is my fourth year as a LEADR graduate assistant.

As an unofficial CHI Fellow in 2013 I dove into the basics of website mobile design – which at that time was being increasingly recognized as an important addition to web design – scraping Twitter via their developer API, and automated task management available in Google Sheets. I approached the latter two through an ingenious open-source tool developed by Martin Hawksey: TAGS. My finished product – Kenya Tweet – is a rather simple-looking mobile website that utilizes these tools and produces real-time mapping of tweets in eastern Africa. Throughout the intervening time I have made a few updates to keep it working and add more interactivity to the displayed tweets.

For my first official year as a CHI Fellow I produced a website meant to display 3D scans of artifacts from the collection of artifacts from Gorée Island housed at Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal. Remnants of Slavery combines 3D scanning, Bootstrap – an html/css/javascript framework originally developed by Twitter – and an open-source 3D object viewer called JSC3D, and is another example of my failed aesthetic decision-making process. Though I finished everything for the website’s architecture and built all of the features into it that I originally intended, I was never able to get the important artifact information for each object, so the site only displays 3D files alongside Lorem Ipsum placeholder text.

I am unsure of what to produce for this year’s CHI Fellowship, however I have a couple ideas that interest me and could prove useful for my dissertation research. The first is some kind of tool that scrapes online venues where tech companies post freelance development work that many aspiring Kenyan tech professionals turn to for income while getting started in the industry. But even if I collect this data, I do not quite know what I’d do with it. I am looking forward to collaborating with my fellow CHI Fellows on all our project ideas and coming up with something worthwhile and possible for this academic year.