In my previous entry, I let you all know that I will build an application to visually represent the type of emblematic memory Colombians use to make sense of the inner armed conflict. I also told you how I thought I could build it. But I could not tell you Dr. Watrall’s (CHI’s big boss) reaction to my idea because it came later.

Dr. Watrall commented on my project, and, as supportive as he always is, he also encouraged me to avoid getting a possibly unproductive fight with D3. D3 is a powerful visualization tool, but it is also complicated, and I appreciate Dr. Watrall’s advice. So, I am abandoning the idea of exploring D3 and looking into a simpler but equally meaningful way of building the application I am thinking of. By rejecting to use D3, I am also leaving behind the idea of using Survey JS, which was the application I thought would feed with data the D3 visualization scheme I had in my imagination.

I did not mention in my previous entry that I found a political compass project in Github, different than the political compass project I talked about. It was built solely using an HTML document, a CSS document, and two JavaScrpit documents. Kim Turley is the project’s author, and it is only a simple webpage with a seven-question survey. Turley’s project is not as sophisticated as the political compass I discussed in my previous entry (it only has seven questions, and the theory behind them, and the ratings, are questionable). Still, it does provide the means to reproduce the quiz with more questions and theoretical adjustments. That is something that the authors of the political compass I talked about do not share.

I am very thankful to Kim Turley for publicly sharing his work on Github. I am also thankful for his generosity in helping me navigate his project, an excellent example of digital humanities at the service of a better and more politically informed citizenship. In this entry, I am describing Kim Turley’s political compass for the sake of my own project. You could say this is the first step I am taking towards the kind of reverse engineering I must conduct to complete the Plotting the Colombian Emblematic Memory project.  

Kim Turley’s political compass is made of four documents: an HTML document, a CSS document, and two JavaScript documents. The HTML document is basically a list of headers, links, buttons, and a canvas. If you take a look at Kim Turley’s political compass, my short description of the HTML document makes a lot of sense. The web page has images (the brand, the “fork me on Github” label, the faces), two headers (one announcing the number of a question that never comes, and the other one is a statement), and a canvas (which is the big chart in the right). In total, we have 71 lines of text.

The CSS document is more complex than the HTML document, which should not surprise anyone. It defines the main parameters of the body, the headers, the buttons, and the containers (they are sections of the webpage containing pieces of information and functions). It also defines the aspects of “inputs” and “outputs,” elements I had never heard of before. They should be related to the JavaScript document and the interactions the webpage facilitates. But I will have to do some research on those elements. The full document has 149 lines.

As I said, there are two JavaScript documents: the first one is related to the chart (chart.js), and the second one is related to the questions (questions.js). After opening both documents, I realized I had to refresh my JavaScript literacy. I did not understand almost anything. I found five different functions in the first document, but it is hard for me to understand what they are doing. So, in my next entry, I will tell you how those functions are working. The second document has seven functions that must be related to the seven questions the quiz provides. Still, I must be more detailed with my description of the JS functions, so I am giving those descriptions in my next entry. At the same time, I will also start talking about some of the theoretical considerations of my project. Surveying to discriminate between different models of emblematic memory requires defining those models and coming up with a rating system.