Week 6 Wrap-Up

This was a busy week, with two very different uses of digital technology.

Jamie Donati’s work ultimately illustrates the ongoing transformation of traditional disciplines like archaeology, which expanded to survey archaeology and now employs remote sensing to help make sense of historical landscapes.  Donati didn’t mention, but even in pit archaeology researchers now often take 3-D scans of an excavation in lieu of a detailed artist’s drawing/sketch of features discovered in a pit.

Remote sensing and geophysics have a wide array of mainstream uses and historians are only just now learning about their uses in our research.

Our discussion with Samara Freemark drove the idea of digital technology enabling robust investigation and emphasized narrative.  For her, digital technology was less fetishized, less of a challenge, and seemed in many ways to fit into traditional practices of analog audio production (eg phrases like “good tape” from recorded interviews).  However, in our pre-interview she also asked about historians’ content management systems and how to keep track of all of the materials that historians amass on a large project like a book.  To that end, I think this essay by Ansley Erickson (who visited in the fall) could be helpful to any of us.

Samara also made mention of the Hero’s Journey, an idea explicated by Joseph Campbell, which is a useful one for thinking about narrative and putting individual agency at the center of a project.

Map assignment

For your second map, you should feel free to develop any new derived data or visualization you want.  There are several calculations you could do.  You could create a “Margin of Victory” column by taking the Victor’s number of votes, subtracting the second candidate’s number of votes, then dividing by the total number of votes in the district. You could explore the “IF” function to do this and use a typical chloropleth visualization for it.

If you wanted to go one step further in the visualization, you could create a new column that concatenated the party of the victor (or its first letter) with the margin of victory, so you could say a district was R12 or D7, then assign a reddish or bluish color to that margin of victory.  When you visualize the map, (right click on the shapefile>>Properties>>Symbology, then there is a menu that comes up; I recommend you choose quantities, rather than the categories we used in the first visualization).  Other data to consider visualizing would be overall votes in a district, popularity (votes) for a third-party candidate.  These are just suggestions, not assignments — let your heart sing in the midst of the cartography.  You have many choices in the process of visualizing and you should reflect on each specific choice you make, whether it helps you communicate something more powerfully or with greater simplicity and less clutter.

Freemark Resources

Tomorrow we will be joined by Samara Freemark, one of the producers for In the Dark, and formerly of Radio Diaries.  Here are some examples of her work before In the Dark.

Willie McGee and the Traveling Electric Chair

The Two Lives of Asa Carter

The Gospel Ranger

Samara has also asked about historians’ content management systems — when you have hundreds or thousands of documents on a project, how do you keep them straight and accessible?

Mapping Assignment and Week 6

I am extending the mapping assignment by a week.  It will be due March 2.   This Tuesday from 1-3pm I will have help hours in the department.   Election data is coming back as I go over it; in a few cases I will give you a different election, but the mapping assignment remains the same.

Thursday we will be joined by Donati and Freemark and will have a couple of changes in the syllabus to ease things up for us.  We will bump the Szarkowski reading for a few weeks and we will set the revised schedule in class on Thursday.

For now, read two of the pieces at Transom on radio journalism and offer comment — what are the narrative challenges and features that the author describes, and what are the technological features and practices that are unique to radio journalism?