Embracing Complexity. Craving Simplicity

More a caution than a critique, I was fascinated and left to ponder Peter Liu’s time-based spatially informed map presented in the MapBox Blog this week. I think that the concept is absolutely sound and the implementation is skilful, thoughtful and very efficient. It’s an impressive conceptualisation of how to rethink data representation for a particular decision-making process. That being said, it is probably important to realise that it calls for considered appreciation of the thought behind it and how we can take advantage of interactive way finding technology and not lose sight of the varied ways we get from A to B. Liu’s blog post is a very well articulated explanation of the thinking behind the reconnection and we need more of this sort of thing. But it raises some serious questions about technological dependence and critical engagement with the data we rely on today. Continue reading “Embracing Complexity. Craving Simplicity”

Using Onodo to Learn Network Analysis and Visualisation

During our seminar on Network Analysis and Visualisation in DH6010/6019 this past semester as a group we enjoyed a case study involving network analysis of the Star Wars characters presented by Evelina Gabasova (http://evelinag.com/blog/2016/01-25-social-network-force-awakens/index.html#.V7Mn5WXi-f4). She does a superb job of combining analysis, explaining her methodology, deriving some fascinating deductions – all with a fun cinematically familiar network. The familiarity combined with Gabasova’s well crafted blog posts really helped everyone grasp the basic precepts of graph theory and set up hands-on network visualisation instruction using Gephi.
Screenshot 2016-08-16 16.33.22
One of the challenges in approaching and using Gephi (http://gephi.org) is that it has so much flexibility, power and such powerful capabilities that is can be off-putting for new users. The interface is not immediately intuitive and even with many of its panels minimised it tends to scare people off. It takes time and a deeper understanding of graph theory to appreciate its benefits and to be able to use it effectively – especially for analysis.

Continue reading “Using Onodo to Learn Network Analysis and Visualisation”

Using Trello for Team Process Management

Screenshot 2016-07-04 16.46.34Just delivered a short  workshop providing an overview of how to conceptualise and implement the commercial software platform Trello into a collaborative academic workflow. Trello offers an intuitive and scalable means to provide a shared workspace tracking tasks, users assigned and dates due to help facilitate shared management of complex processes. It offers transparency without intrusion and has the potential to catch those milestones that may fall through the cracks. It is an excellent tool for both personal and professional use and has a flourishing user community. Continue reading “Using Trello for Team Process Management”

Looking Back and Counting Forward

NI-Hex-2016-2011-ResultsSo what about these hexagons? IS this the new digital Giant’s Causeway? They were all the rage during the UK General Election last year – to the extent that the BBC actually constructed a physical jigsaw in their atrium out of them. At the time I mused on there usefulness for providing a pseudo-spatial representation of return data. At the time I was largely positive and have subsequently experimented with their usage in place of heat maps – as in the example below looking at healthcare coverage. On a popular basis they appear to have been a passing fancy with the major media organisations abandoning them just a year later during the UK local and regional elections. I haven’t abandoned them yet myself and found that for the NI election this week they offered a useful sense on the allocation of seats by constituency. Continue reading “Looking Back and Counting Forward”

Google, Alphabet and Digital Scholarship

The last workshop of the season concluded the Digital Humanities Initiative at Queen’s sponsored by Special Collections in the Library. Today’s topic: Google Tools for Digital Scholarship – brought me to reflect on a few of the more salient aspects of the fluidity of data and tools abcxyzin the digital age.

I began delivering this workshop three years ago in response to a perceived need for an introduction and survey of practical, approachable and useful tools for digital scholars. Impetus for this arose from a realisation that many the of ‘simple‘ and ‘popular‘ tools that might take for granted and not universally known or used.

Continue reading “Google, Alphabet and Digital Scholarship”

Reflecting on the Breadth of DH Development at Queen’s

I was asked to ponder what the Digital Humanities initiative at Queen’s had accomplished over the past two years. I think it’s a great idea to reflect occasionally on where we have come from so as to have a better sense of where we are going; who we are serving, inspiring and empowering and how we might do this better. As I was going through this quick exercise I thought I’d share these ponderings publicly in the interests of all those who have participated from Queen’s and from the wider community – so as to remind, and to solicit suggestions for the future. None of this is a big secret – far from it. We have begun something significant here and it’s definitely worth the time to reflect on it. Continue reading “Reflecting on the Breadth of DH Development at Queen’s”

Using Social Media to Achieve Research Impact

I was asked, as part of the Queen’s Gender Initiative (QGI),  to share a few ideas around why it has become so important for academics to engage with social media to achieve research impact. I focus on three actions : promotion, connection, and collaboration as a means to find personal academic research success. Ultimately, social media offers great opportunities, amplifying and extending traditional practise, but comes with its own perils and pitfalls, aspects we explored during this session. Continue reading “Using Social Media to Achieve Research Impact”

Spring Digital Workshops in the Humanities

DigitalHumanities@TheLibrary and the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities invite you to enjoy and benefit for a series of interactive workshops and seminars specifically targeted at humanities and social science scholars curious and eager to accelerate their research practise. They are developed and delivered in a concise and focussed manner to compress valuable information into a convenient period and get you what you need to know to go further.

Our new series begins in January. All are welcome and the seminars are free, but as spaces are limited please register in advance to guarantee a place via the links provided on the information pages for each session.

Registration is now open.

Please visit the DH@TheLibrary site at: http://qubdh.uk for more information and to register.

Monday 25 January 11:00 – 13:00
How to Put Your Data on the Map: Geospatial Visualisation for the Humanities
dataontheMapSmallWondering how you can make those cool maps that everyone seems to be suing these days to share their research findings – it’s easier than you might think. Come and find out
McClay Library Training Room 2

Friday 12 February 10:30 – 15:30
Requirements Engineering for Humanities Scholarship
What sort of questions can you ask of yourself to increase usability, shareability and impact of your research outputs? This is an impactful workshop on how to get to know your users better, reach wider audiences and share your findings with a wider audience.
McClay Library Training Room 2

Friday 4 March 10:00 – 13:00
Constructing Digital Exhibitions with Omeka
How can you creatively tell a story that engages with a wide audience, leveraging the power of Omeka? Do you wonder why archivists, librarians and information architecture professionals make such a big deal about metadata? Learn how you can leverage metadata to tell better stories and construct more effective online exhibitions.
McClay Library Training Room 2

Monday 18 April – 11:00 – 13:00
Relationship Mapping: Visual Network Analysis for Humanities Scholarship
Relationship-MappingSmallWhat patterns are hidden in the data that you are using today? Can you find new information by mining the additional datasets to discover relationships between the people, places and things that you are studying today? Come along for a gentle introduction to the tools and practises involved in network analysis. 
McClay Library Training Auditorium

Friday 29 April – 11:00 – 13:00
Using Google Tools for Digital Scholarship
What scholar-specific tools does Google offer? Are you making the best use of the Google tools you are currently using? Come along and find new tools that can help you to be a better researcher. 
McClay Library Training Room 2


Irish Health Centres

The HSE posted two new datasets to Open Data Ireland and I wanted to determine how quickly and effectively these might be visualised. In this case I used CartoDB and created a hexagonal data map. Interesting. A few immediate findings.
Why Hexagons? … It all goes back to the most recent UK general election – I tweeted that it seemed to be the election where the hexagon became de riguer – where all the mainstream media outlets were suddenly seized with the novelty pf the hexagon. In seriousness, it raised an interest in exploring the usefulness of the hexagon as a datavis tool. What does it afford? Seemingly a unique middle ground between pure cartesian spatiality and useful tesseract chart. It may well be rather subjective, but this exercise did yield some substantiation.
The process for this one is simple: download the CSV file from data.gov.ie, do a wee bit of kludging and send the resulting dataset to CartoDB. CDB requires a little twerking, but it is nicely GUI driven wizardry and the result can be inserted into your sharing venue of choice. In this case, a quick burn on the QUBDH blog.
Are hexagons a useful visualisation tool for you?