I want to talk a little bit about the information architecture of our website, because that is what I have been spending the greater part of the last week coding. If I’m able to get through this post without once mentioning the number or difficulties I had with the coding experience, I’ll be more happy with myself. However, for future reference, a list of open (to almost closed) questions I have are here:
1. What are the best practices for designing a website which is mainly focused on content-delivery?
a. bear in mind that the content is interactive
b. content are full of color, but not of a single pallette or group of colors
2. What is the shortest possible distance between the navigation of content and the display of meta-project stuff (people page, project about page) that doesn’t detract from the simplicity of the content navigation
a. question whether I’m to use a dropdown list OR a zone that moves the rest of the page down to reveal meta-project stuff OR link to separate pages.
3. will ANY persistent panels (header, footer, or side navigation) detract from the focus on content
a. especially as the site progresses to incorporate more visualizations under each category WITH the possibility of these visualizations having more user control as our development expertise improves.
4. misc color choices.
5.. “Related pages” = y/n
These questions should all be informed by the relative simplicity of themes. There are three themes: looking, speaking, listening. Reflecting on this choice, although it was less of a choice and more of a recognition of time constraints, it seems like the concept creation period needed more time allocated to it and that maybe we should have delved into it earlier in the month. Speaking to the possibility of integrating additional visualizations, people decided that a “coming soon” dialogue would be put somewhere. But this kind of restricts the complexity of visualizations. Skills improve and interests change. This is crucial to the ‘fieldschool’ model of the course. And something I think everyone who works in the area of area of mapping regrets is not having the data at hand for scaling up the complexity. What would a visualization look like, for instance, if it counted user input? What if it relayed social media chatter? What if it spawned mobile-friendly tools?
Oh, the “risks” of data. Data is always mediated, they say. I want to challenge this sort of assumption. I think that the most efficient way to get at this is to say that there is a reverse “risk”, a sort of ideology, that wishes itself worthy of combing through the rough terrain of implicit and methodological biases, political spin and other data diseases. Certainly, I don’t hope to hold anyones cautions against them, but this kind of dubiousness can tend to stymie creativity.
Data is also the process of transformation. It is recursive. And if the privileging of the measurable defects in data leads to the failure to register the immeasurable, that is recursion playing out at the level of a faltering analysis. There is always the danger, that is, of falling into the trap that any data analyst sets him/herself. Recognizing that there are a mountainous amount of bias and spin that is outside of the purview of anyone in the room is the first step in getting beyond this. It may not make people happy to (ex)pose their humility, but I hold it to be a pretty important part of best practice, and one that the Fieldschool should adopt.
Of course, interdisciplinarity is a hedge. So is having a few experts around. Navigating the networks of authority/expertise is an important skill in this regard. That said, I think that we, as 10 slightly aimless-at-times students, have been woefully equipped to use technology in a way that is productive to this kind of exchange. I can’t stress enough how this is a byproduct of a sclerotic university system, but lol, I graduated. And granted, a few weeks isn’t any kind of time to practice, but experimentation is possible.
I would propose here some kind of elaborate lifehack if it weren’t for the above constraints. Dialogue is obviously, obviously a good. And sharing ones links, annotations and what one cares about is crucial to setting up autonomous (very much describes us) places of hacking and mastery. The title of my post refers to the command line. I see it as a sort of heuristic where people who admire simplicity are composing knowingly under the restrictions of the command line. For the sake of this posts readability, I will just tell you that the command line is anything but simplistic. Sure, there is utility to restrictive environments: the change of pace, the occluding from distractions. But it is the purity of the command line interface that works to obscure the complexity of its use.
Finding the field school’s method of instruction and subject matter of interest, I have come to know it, since traveling to Michigan to take part, as a platform for expressing incipient social research concerns. How people relate to cultural materials, especially digitally, is important as we enter into an age when these materials worth will have to significantly secured, restructured and reconsidered. I’m especially interested here in critical resource insecurities as they come to manifest changes in social practices. Also of concern is the prolonging of the financial crisis and the deepening of inequality.
Within the confines of digital humanities, itself a contested term, there arises the related responses of 1) an urgency to embracing sophisticated platforms to both the self-application of them to scholarly practice and the the extrinsic application of them to archives, cultural/material artifacts, etc. and 2) a progressive harnessing of these technologies to hopefully be fruitful in bridging the gap between the multiple disciplines which make up the university and the broader public. I believe that 2 is often uncritically deployed. Therefore, I have real concerns with the aligning of digital humanities projects with financial interests. I have as well to face the more immediate concern of the crisis in employability of humanities graduates in the US. So I guess you could call me a digital skeptic with regard to its status in enabling my personal pursuit in the humanities, at least within the academy in its present state.
However, I have a love for “the digital”, digitally-enabled solidarity and friendships, and I also have a tremendous appreciation for the utility of digital algorithms to solve complex problems in the world. Here I think that engaging at the level of rhetoric is useful: to ask, for example, how our experiences of the world are mediated by things is to ask how the digital transforms perspectives, for good or not. This is the site at which games and critical interfaces can push incremental changes in perspective on their users.
So, basic concerns outran any form of personal introduction. I have a cat that I miss in Pennsylvania, where I enjoy hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I’m a graduate of Temple University. As I attended school, it became clear that a set of activist political orientations would be what I would devote a large amount of time acting out. I am still informed by the way that plural interpretations of political activity are put in relation, where intersections are around shared necessities.