Hello everyone! My name is Brian Geyer and I am an 8th year anthropology graduate student here at Michigan State University. I first unofficially participated in the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellowship in 2013-14, and was previously a fellow in 2014-15 and in 2017-18.

My dissertation research is still titled Intersectional Identity Among Kenya’s Technology Industry Professionals; I am interseted in 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. As a part of my ongoing annual trips to Kenya, last October I was hired by the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab as a short term expert consultant to oversee the initial phase of research for investigating women’s participation in programming bootcamps, in and around Nairobi.

Last semester I completed my fifth and final year as one of my department’s research assistants appointed to LEADR, an initiative jointly supported by MSU’s Departments of History and Anthropology. Through that assignment I learned to design and implement digital technology projects within course curricula then instruct students on the tools and methods needed to complete those projects. This meant learning how to quickly familiarize myself with digital tools and methodologies, a skill that has helped in my past CHI Fellowship projects. This year I am a teaching assistant for the first time ever, working in my department’s Introduction to Physical Anthropology course.

As an unofficial CHI Fellow in 2013 I dove into the basics of website mobile design – which at that time was still somewhat of an emerging area of focus – learned to scrape Twitter via their developer API, and used automated task management tools available in Google Sheets. I approached the latter two through a great 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 functional 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 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. 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.

For the 2017-2018 CHI Fellowship I turned my attention to GitHub and its website hosting tools, GitHub Pages. I built No Mud Huts, an open field journal meant to be used during my upcoming dissertation data collection. I built the site using GitHub Pages’ built-in static website generator Jekyll, which reduces page file sizes and thus loading times compared to dynamic websites. I used a modified version of the Hydeout theme developed by Andrew Fong. However, I felt it important to invite interaction with my future posts from research participants or other researchers, while also keeping page file sizes down. Rather than use a dynamic commenting tool such as Disqus, I integrated Staticman into the site, a static commenting tool created by Eduardo Bouças which automates the pull-request and request acceptance processes for submitted comments.

This year I will be building a Jupyter Notebook that will facilitate qualitative data coding, and possibly data analysis. I will use this tool when collecting data during my dissertation to automate part of the data coding process that I would usually have to do by hand. To build this, I will be looking into other Jupyter Notebooks people have created that are relevant to qualitative data processing. Jupyter projects require knowledge of Python, which is a programming language I also want to learn for my dissertation research, to bolster my ability to integrate into Kenya’s tech community.