DH Projects using Data in new ways

I have come across some interesting DH projects lately that demonstrate the variety of uses of data and their applications.  First, one must discover, invent or create the data before using it.  Exhibit one is a student who took the driving directions in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and created a set of driving instructions in Google (Berlin student transforms Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ into a set of Google driving directions):

Since Kerouac first published the original in 1957, fans have made various maps to retrace Sal Paradise’s journey. But Weichbrodt may be the first to take the trip itinerary, plug it into Google Maps, and reassemble the written directions into an eBook, “On the Road for 17,527 miles.”

“I did some research and I didn’t find anything. But it was so obvious that I had to do this,” he says.

 Weichbrodt started by writing a short computer code that would allow him to enter a whole bunch of routes on Google. Once he entered all the locations in the book, he hit enter. And there was his book.

The second project deals with data mining and predicting the medal count for the Olympic Games in Sochi.  Using Data Mining to Predict the Winter Olympics Medal Counts in Sochi shows a real life example of how the process of data selection, building data sets, etc. from many factors: economic, population, human development, geography, religion, politics, and freedom.  As Dan Graettinger writes, “As data miners know, the data you expect to tell you the story isn’t always the stuff that actually does the job….”  Once the data set is built, a predictive model is created.  I look forward to seeing how accurate the preitions will be. Thank you to Kim Hoffman for sharing this on Twitter.

The third project is on open data and how Github is making a contribution.   For those of you new to git and GitHub

“…helps developers manage different versions of a project’s code. Many developers already use a piece of software on their computer called git to manage versions of code, and Github gives them a place to store Git’s files in the cloud and collaborate with others about them.”

In the latest issue of The Atlantic, Catch My Diff: Github’s New Feature Means Big Things for Open Data, GitHub is taking expanding on open data and applying it to maps. Last year:

“Github began to render 3D models, geographical data, and tables. These made the site an attractive home for municipal data—like the city of Chicago’s—and also allowed any information in Excel to be placed and viewed on Github.”

GitHub is exploring how to visualize the differences between documents, in a simliar way with as Juxta does with literary and historical documents. 






2 thoughts on “DH Projects using Data in new ways

  1. Professor Gunn,
    Building on our in-class discussions about where the humanities end and the social sciences begin (or vice versa), how can we classify exhibits 2 and 3 as digital “humanities” projects? Does mapping data points qualify as a fundamentally humanistic endeavor due to the potential for the ensuing visualizations to communicate in a more interdisciplinary fashion?

  2. Hi Anita,
    I may have overstated projects 2 and 3 being ‘pure’ DH projects. What is fascinating about both for our class is that they exhibit a number of topics, tools and methodologies that we have been and will be exploring in the course: open data, GIS, data mining prediction, Github, etc. All these can be used in and for DH projects.

    While project 1 can be seen as obviously an attempt to explore a humanities question, project 2 is less obvious. This project used religion as one of many categories examined in building a predictive model. The writer goes on to speculate about the future predictive success of his model: “Why is a nation able to produce excellent individuals? What factors contribute to such success? If I found answers to these questions, perhaps those answers might cross over from athletic excellence to other areas of human endeavor: science and technology, the arts, theology, etc. Well … that was getting way beyond the original scope of the project.”

    Project 3 demonstrates the usefulness of the tool Github, a repository for sharing and collaborating on coding and now for sharing data. The specific project deals with GIS and how to visualize differences (‘diffable’) between maps. Important developments whose DH possibilities are still unknown!

Comments are closed.