Author Archives: Mel Walker

Data Driven

One of the biggest difficulties I’ve had so far with our project is coordinating the data we have with the story we want to tell. With the projects I had done previously everything fit together easily but our website has proved a bit more challenging. I’ve been working with our music visualization. Before we even began we had to tweak our original idea, and we had to change direction again after we had gathered the data. Ethan told us time and time again to make sure that our visualizations were data-driven but the message hadn’t quite sunk into until I was fighting with data that couldn’t do what we wanted it to. Coming up with ideas was easy but wrangling data was much more difficult. Additionally, while two weeks seemed like a lot of time at the beginning of the field school the time passed quickly once we actually began working. I had anticipated that the most difficult part of this project would be the actual nuts and bolts of the coding, but now I would say that synching our ideas with the data was most difficult. While figuring out the technical side of things can be quite difficult too, it’s also more straightforward. When you have code that’s not working, you do though and debug. If you can’t get a feature to work, you find out another way to do it. But if the data isn’t there, there’s nothing you can do. Without the time or resources to research something yourself, you’re limited to what others have and what you can gain access to.

Creative Commons

I first learned about Creative Commons licenses last semester when I took Anthropology 370 with Ethan. We were encouraged to read up on what the licenses were and choose the one that suited us best for our class blog posts. I read up on the options then but until now I hadn’t actually read up on the real ideas behind Creative Commons. The internet has really changed the way we look at creative works. These days works are a lot more open to collaboration. People can combine, re-mix or re-use —. While copyright law is still very important, it’s not very well-adapted to the technology of today. I think creative commons fills this gap.

Creative Commons allows for custom licensing that is much more flexible than traditional copyright law. While traditional copyright still has its place, Creative Commons is great for may works, especially online. Creative Commons does raise some interesting questions about intellectual property. To what degree is your work your own? How much access should others get to it? How can other use your work? The most open creative commons license allows for others to do pretty much anything with your work as long as they credit the original source to the creator. It could even be distributed commercially. This is a far cry from traditional licensing. The story Ethan told about his own book that was released online under creative commons licensing is what really got me thinking about this. The fact that someone distributed his book commercially in a slightly modified form, and that it was fine under the licensing seemed so odd to me. While I like the idea of things being open source and open to remixing by others, allowing others to use it commercially is a step too far for me. However, that brings up one of the coolest aspects of Creative commons. You get to choose exactly how others can use your work. So this blog post can be (and is) available for remixing but not commercial use.

Introduction: Mel

Hi! My name is Mel Walker and I’m originally from Livonia, Michigan, It’s a pretty unsuspecting suburb in metro Detroit. Currently, I’m an undergraduate here at Michigan State. I’ll be going into my third year with a major in Anthropology and a newly added minor in Geography. I signed up for the Cultural Heritage Informatics field school because it sounded like too interesting of an opportunity to pass up. I had originally looked into doing an archaeological field school but was unable to work it in this summer. When I heard about this field school opportunity, I jumped at the chance to take. I still haven’t figured out exactly where I want to focus within Anthropology so I’m trying out new areas to discover what all is out there.

Digital technology is advancing faster than ever these days and is absolutely vital to just about any career out there. This field school seemed like a great opportunity to gain a basic working knowledge of many important concepts and skills. I’ve always been rather bad with technology and despite spending an unnecessarily large amount of time online I had no idea how any in or on my computer worked. This is a chance for me to improve my knowledge and also learn how to apply it to my future academic endeavors.