Curated Visualisations

The aim of this assignment is to combine both visualisation and narrative techniques we have developed throughout our studies of Digital Humanities to deliver a cohesive argument and a logical conclusion. We were first asked to split into groups between three or four participants. By doing this we could collectively explore a chosen dataset, visualising it for our analytical purposes and then choosing a form to present our findings in the most compelling fashion. And so, our work began. Our team met several times before conducting any in depth research to discuss what interested all four of us, later, deciding what type of dataset we could interrogate and analyse to expose a pattern that would prove to be convincing to an audience.

Through our preparation, we decided that the success of a movie in correlation with its box office receipts would be an interesting dataset to unravel, meaning, is the success of a movie dependant on ticket sales and so on. As we are all collectively very interested in high quality motion pictures, marketing and the film industry, this field permitted us to use skills we had developed last year in Digital Humanities when we studied transmedia campaigns. Therefore, we decided to further our research in a more humanitarian way by analysing the Batman movies as we were introduced to the renowned transmedia campaign for “The Dark Knight” in our studies last year. This realisation resulted in us developing a research topic which excited us, we decided to study the vast increase in box office ticket sales between the extremely popular Batman trilogy; “Batman Begins”, “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” to determine whether the release of the extensive, interactive and worldwide transmedia campaign “Why So Serious” for “The Dark Knight” impacted ticket sales and the movies popularity more than the other two films.

Before the release of “The Dark Knight” block buster, the Warner Bros. collaborated with 42 entertainment for an unforgettable international trans-media campaign. Transmedia is defined as a “technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats including, but not limited to, games, books, events, cinema and television.( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmedia_storytelling) “ The Dark Knight’s, “Why So Serious” campaign, is the epitome of transmedia as we know it today. “Why So Serious?” was a transmedia experience in over 75 countries that played across hundreds of web pages, interactive games, mobile phones, print, email, real world events, video and unique collectives.

In the months leading up to the release of “The Dark Knight”, an alternate reality game attracted more than 10 million unique players to real time Gotham City.  A city where the Joker lurked in the shadows of his minions and left his mark on posters, billboards and dollar bills. Thus, building an army of followers all over the world. The Joker worked with his henchmen through online sources, creating tasks and planting hidden devices for them to find, an example of this was the Joker phone. This allowed his devotees to keep in constant contact with the world of Gotham City, the world of the Joker. Players flooded the streets dressed as their leader, here Gotham City began to spill out into the real world, blending two realities. The campaign built further excitement and anticipation for the release of “The Dark Knight” and on top of that built a worldwide community.

None the less, the renowned Transmedia campaign didn’t just revolve around the life and missions of the Joker, but allowed players to take sides. This was where Harvey Dent was introduced whose message of change reached 33 cities across the US. What’s fantastic about Harvey Dents introduction to the game is that it allowed people who were about to see the movie to have avid support for one of the two characters. The good guy? Or the bad guy? Thus, the transmedia project was deemed highly successful, in March 2008 the Los Angeles Times said it was “one of the most interactive movie-marketing campaigns ever hatched by Hollywood” and left a phenomenal 1.005 billion USD in box office receipts. http://www.42entertainment.com/work/whysoserious

After conducting extensive research into the applaudable campaign we continued to explore the other two movies and began to make comparisons between the three. We used The Box Office Mojo.com (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=darkknighttrilogy.htm)  and The-Numbers.com (http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/franchise/Batman#tab=summary)   to aid in our research. Both websites provided us with compelling results that allowed our research into this dataset to take more shape. The-Numbers.com proved extremely helpful to our investigation here as it provided us with various graphs and figures that illustrated the popularity of each Batman movie.

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You can see in the above graph that the popularity of each Batman movie is depicted using figures from daily box office receipts from the time each movie was released. That time being a period of one hundred days. Although we did not delve into every Batman movie made so far, this graph blatantly showed us the growing popularity in the trilogy we were researching (“Batman Begins, “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises”). Evidently, one can see in the above graph that “The Dark Knight” is the most popular of both the batman trilogy my team were interested in and also, the most popular Batman movie made to date.

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The above graph is an even closer look at the domestic box office receipts for our movies of choice. One can clearly see that the 2005 “Batman Begins” had the lowest amount of box office receipts between the three. This fact could be due to a lower production budget (of 150 million), less publicity or even an audience being sceptic of a new Batman trilogy. Similarly, the second most popular of the three movies was the 2012 “The Dark Knight Rises”, which we found to be particularly compelling. One would assume that as the years go by the production capacity would increase, the movies budget would increase (which it did) and with a fan base established, the last movie of a trilogy would be the most popular because it’s audience craves the closure it needs from supporting it over time. This doesn’t seem to be the case here. You can see above that the red curve which is used to illustrate “The Dark Knight Rises” overall box office income still falls beneath the gross income of the second movie of the trio, “The Dark Knight” although it had a greater budget of 250 million dollars. Lastly, it’s now become abundantly clear to us that the second of the trilogy, “The Dark Knight” exceeds the others in popularity and overall sales of box office receipts. Although the 2008 movie release had a smaller budget of 185 million dollars, the-numbers.com depicts “The Dark Knight” to be the most profitable movies based on absolute profit on worldwide gross. You can see in the independent graphs below further proof of income for all three movies. Notice that the graphs follow the 2005 (Batman Begins), 2008 (The Dark Knight) and 2012 (The Dark Knight Rises) order and not the order of highest profitability. This proves interesting to us as it’s unusual to see a fall in income over a period, especially considering how universally popular “The Dark Knight” was.

Batman Begins

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The Dark Knight

graph2

The Dark Knight Rises

graph3

Although at this point all four of us are confident in the fact that “The Dark Knight” remained to be the most popular movie of the trilogy because of the incredible worldwide transmedia campaign having established more information such as the below figures.

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We also decided that although the popularity of “The Dark Knight” was more than partly due to the renowned and successful transmedia campaign, it was also due to an underlying factor that wasn’t to do with publicity and advertising. The provoking performance from deceased actor Heath Ledger as the Joker kept fans of all genders and ages engaged in the trilogy, so much so as with the shock of his death before the debut of film sent fans and supporters of the trilogy spiralling, unable to accept the tragedy and understandably cause a dilemma to produce the whole movie. We then came to understand that because the trilogy was mourning the loss of arguably its best character, “The Dark Knight Rises” didn’t stand a chance at being as successful as the “The Dark Knight” which starred Heath Ledger. On top of that, the transmedia campaign had established a sort of army which avidly supported him as the Joker. Since then “The Dark Knight” remains the most popular of all Batman movies ever made. Fans were encouraged to see the film and pay one last tribute to one of this generation’s most talented actors. Tragically, Heath Ledger himself never got to see the finished product, his immersion into the role of the Joker was already building into the stuff of legend.

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Crowdsourced Participtation

Crowdsourcing is said to be “a practise of engaging a ‘crowd’ or group of people for a common goal”, be it problem solving, preservation or efficiency( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing ). In other words, it can also be described as obtaining information into a project by enlisting the services of people, typically via the internet. Similarly, data curation is a term used to indicate processes or activities related to the organisation and integration of data collected from various sources which is then annotated, published and preserved so it maintains its value and remains available over time (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_curation). Why am I beginning with breaking down the meanings of the above? Well, until the beginning of this semester I had never truly heard of either. Here’s just another classic example of how the study of Digital Humanities is opening my eyes to more exciting and innovative things that I never knew of before. Curation stimulates initiative to collect intelligence, to multitask, distribute cognition, to play and to perform. It seeks to take care of meaningful data which can be used to provide in depth analysis for historians or for analytics above much more.

The passion for data curation is what our project is based on, the crowdsourcing method. As we know, Digital Humanities is very much a collaborative profession, working with others, evolving and being introduced to new and exciting tools which help further research, work and performance. Thus, this is how I was introduced to Zooniverse, https://www.zooniverse.org/ . Zooniverse describes its website to be a collection of “citizen science projects using the efforts and ability of volunteers to help scientists and researchers deal with the flood of data that confronts them.” Our goal was to contribute to a minimum of one project on this website, show initiative and help the creators of these projects achieve their goals in uncovering and maintaining information. In turn, through contributing to on going projects on the above website one will develop a greater appreciation of community projects due to its hands-on nature and see the implications of each contribution made.

So, my journey began. I began firstly by creating a Zooniverse account so that I could begin with making contributions to projects of my choice. I made a check list to ensure that the projects I chose aligned with the outcomes I wished to achieve; Am I interested in it? Does it correspond with my minor field? Do I understand the goal and the tasks within the project? Do I feel that my contributions have impacted the project in anyway? The intention of our task was that we might find a project that specifically relates back to our minor Digital Humanities field, mine being the study of economics. I was directed immediately the generous number of projects on the home page of the Zooniverse website, which made me confident that I would find projects I would personally find interesting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a very fruitful supply of projects relating my minor field of study but I did manage find one that could tie into it in some form.

I decided to give a project called “Emigrant City” collaborated between the New York Public Library Labs and The Irma & Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy a try.

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The project proved interesting to me as it involved transcribing 19th and 20th century real estate records. I found it linked to the study of economics in some way as I work with values and commodities a great deal throughout my studies. This project spoke to me because there is a huge comparison to be made in difference between prices of land in the 90’s to the price of the land now. I was given authentic proof of that as I flew through documents requesting sums of up to €2000 for land, however, in today’s day and age we’re talking in the hundred thousand figures for land. The handwritten mortgage and bond ledgers within this project are a vital piece of history as it is a direct comparison between that age and the one we live in now, the growth in property and real estate, citizen’s incomes, exchange rates and so forth. The above collaboration had a clear and succinct outline of tasks involved once you decided to take part in the project. It was cleverly divided into three sections, 1) Mark: Identifying pieces of information, plotting roots for transcribing. 2) Transcribe: Typing words or numbers inside the marked fields and 3) Verify: As every document is transcribed several times to ensure accuracy, here you contribute to which of the conflicting entries you believe are correct resulting in the most accurate transcription. I took part in all three tasks as I wanted to get a feel for all three processes and ensure I believed that the contributions I made would implicate the project in a positive way, resulting in its eventual completion and its well-earned place in history.

Contributing to the above project allowed me to recognise the faith others put in humanity to contribute and aid in their projects creation. It’s well formatted and organised lay out made a clear path for me to remain focused on my given tasks to ensure I made the best transcription/verification I could. I also enjoyed how the project wasn’t in any way intimidating. From the words “Get Started” the user was made feel like any contribution was a step towards making history and I think that was important as one wouldn’t want to feel bored in any way, or feel as if their contributions was obsolete. I believe I will take what I learned from the above with me onto my minor field study in some way as it made me grow to appreciate the vast growth of the economy since that time. It also showed me that dividing labour is extremely important if you want to remain organised and efficient. These are traits I could also take with me to both my Digital Humanities studies as we are often working in groups with team leaders and such and, also to my study of computer science. Subjects within that filed are often extremely complex and it’s easy to find yourself becoming overwhelmed, organising tasks would be a skill to take forward.

The second project I contributed to was called “Chimp & See”.

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I chose this project because I wouldn’t call myself an expert in animals in any way. It interested me because although it’s been said since the beginning of time that we originated from chimpanzee’s, I only took it with a grain of salt. It stood out from the others because it appeared to be more interactive permitting both watching videos of the wildlife and annotating simultaneously. Since secondary school, biology has always interested me, so allowing me to be a part of the study of evolution was an extremely inviting prospect.  By studying the behaviours of the chimpanzees, the goal was to get a better idea of the evolutionary scenarios that led to the rise in our species. The above project had surprisingly similar characteristics to the “Emigrant City” project. It too, was broken down into three tasks. The difference between the two projects was that, with “Emigrant City” I could choose which task I wished to take part in, whereas in “Chimp & See” all three divisions of labour were stepping stones to a completed task, finalising your work with the “finished” button. Step 1) Scan screencaps for animal activity. Step 2) Annotate species or behaviour, (for this step there was a field guide available, this was very useful to me as it provided me with a list of names and a series of pictures of various animals that I would find in the jungle, making it far easier for me to choose which animal I saw and document it’s activity.) Step 3) Educated guessing: this step was much like the verify task in the other project, a lot of people contribute to the above project providing the creators of “Chimp & See” huge numbers of possible animal outcomes, here, your guess is critical to the accuracy of their research.

Although this project was different, I enjoyed it none the less. It reminded me very much of Bear 71, an interactive video we were introduced to in DH last year of a bear in the woods. I felt a greater sense of control contributing in this collaboration in comparison to “Emigrant City” as it implored the user to take initiative and enjoy the experience of watching the wild life. Another reason I enjoyed It so much is because there was something euphoric about the whole thing, watching the animals and the people in the provided videos allowed me to recognise the difference in lives we all lead. It gave me a greater appreciation of the simplistic lifestyle of such creatures, constant survival mode. The collaboration allowed me to develop skills of perception, skills which I can apply to all my studies especially around the exam periods. The ability to pay strict attention to a task is vital in college as it is the make or break of all your academic outcomes, “Chimp & See” allowed me to acknowledge this as I was eagerly watching the videos, encompassed at the idea of seeing new wildlife movement and annotating it.

This assignment has really taught me that through any profession, economic, medical, philosophic, one can rely on humanities to aid in any research. It invites eager researchers to learn from a wealth of information and create a collaboration that will become valuable and historic.

DH This Year

As we go through the weeks of what seems like endless study, sleepless nights and overall torture coming up to our Christmas, end of year exams, we can take this time to look back and reflect on what we’ve learnt this semester and how far we’ve come compared to the beginning of the college year. This semester has been heavy to say the least. We’ve experienced a greater work load than ever before, juggling various subjects in the space of one day and having to keep up with ongoing assessments and assignments. The life of a college student so they say.

I arrived into Digital Humanities and Information Technology late in the first semester last year. Knowing that my original course wasn’t for me and changing to DH was the best decision I’ve ever made academically. Although I was worried I would fall behind the other students who had been there from the beginning, I was surprised at how easy it was to catch up with the support if my fellow students and encouraging lecturers. I was able to catch up so easily not just for that reason but also because Digital Humanities was a much broader concept then, and it enabled me to explore topics we were actively learning about easily because we had such an interactive and collaborative background, and still do. This year however, semester one of year two,  we narrowed down the broadness of the course. Learning more crucial information and exploring again, new digital tools further helping our understanding of Digital Humanities as a whole because, admittedly we arrived into second year, still not completely sure what Digital Humanities was.

This semester, we learned to compress ideas, resulting in having to make a research question on a topic that stimulates our minds and grabs our interest but also somewhat ties in with the course modules. Mine was; “Technology, does it Help Us or Hinder Us Academically?”. I wished to seek answers on whether students agreed or disagreed that technology stunts our educational experience because, we as students can become too easily distracted with social media when we have free Wifi and digital tools at our fingertips, or whether they thought that the use of digital tools helps us academically.  I decided to use this question as I thought the results would prove to be interesting as were studying an Information Technology course. I found the overall process quite interesting and also fun as it was an interactive experience, allowing me to work with my classmates. I also thoroughly enjoyed setting up my Reclaim Hosting site. The fee was a small price to pay to be able to set up your own website (the one you’re on right now). I always enjoyed blogging on WordPress but using recalim hosting to set up you’re very own website makes me feel like it’s unique to everyone else’s. It allows us to create our own site how we please, allows us to add widgets, to insert a Twitter follow and a Creative Commons license, all the things you can’t exactly do when your blog is being hosted by someone else. I can guarantee that everyone of my classmates site’s look completely different to mine, and that’s the beauty of it. Having a reclaim hosting account also allowed me to install applications which I could use for my Digital Humanities study. Limesurvey, for example. This application allowed me to create my own survey from scratch based on my research question to which I was previously discussing. You have no limits on the amount of surveys you can create and make public which I thought was a quality that gave one a greater sense of independence, it allows you to test your draft surveys and enables you to end up with a product you’re satisfied will conclude with good results and get good feedback. Our next DH project will allow us to use our Reclaim Hosting again as we have to create a project on a digital artefact. We can install sites like Omelca or Neatline, all of which would give us a good platfrom to work on our project.  We also explored sites like Twine – an open source for telling interactive, non-linear stories. Or, Scalar – an open source authoring and publishing platform that is designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born digital scholarship online. http://scalar.usc.edu/scalar . But, besides all of the interactive methods and tools we learnt about this semester, we also got to do a lot of research. Research and reading articles furthered our understanding of DH more and it allows us to develop key research skills, a skill that I’ve ingerited from this course.

All of the aspects of the course I’ve mentioned above are culminating to determine next year. This semester was so hard because it taught us that it’s only going to get harder as we continue to learn. Next year, we were given an option of doing a paid work placement, going on an Erasmus and studying abroad or going straight to final year. This semester being so tough, prepared us for the future, a future that’s edging closer and closer for those who picked work placement. Some of my classmates will be working in a real Digital Humanities and Information Technology environment, whether its creating games, researching apps or new tools, they are about to embark on a journey that will allow them to gain an insight of what lies beyond graduation. For me, I’ve chosen to study abroad (fingers crossed to Utrecht, a city outside of Amsterdam) and I couldn’t be more excited. I would love to be able to take my degree abroad with me and expand my pallet culturally, so being able to study my course abroad gives me great confidence that I will be able to do so in the future.  Again this course opens up so many doors and opportunities and I intend to take full advantage of these opportunities before I enter the “big, bad world”. This year in DH so far has given me skills to think on my feet, to be creative, to use other, exciting tools to enhance my college work and to enjoy the process of being introduced to new ways of learner and working.

Social Media Trends

I read on “The Social Media Club.org” about the “Evolution of Social Media” that said “Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I was born with Twitter in one hand and Facebook in the other. My brain has been hardwired to respond in statements that are 140 characters or less and I get an adrenaline rush whenever I live tweet. To sum it all up, social media is a big part of my life.” and it’s something I agreed with profoundly. Why do we like social media so much? Maybe because its a common aspect in the life of my friends and colleagues. Maybe, because it allows one to express themselves in the form of posting a picture on Instagram or by tweeting.  Or, it could just be the fact that I was of an appropriate age at the most opportune time when the creation of all of these sites were just beginning, allowing me to jump in and explore these sights with my curious friends, and allow myself to become accustomed to not just the nature of social media, but also the growth in it because let me tell you, it’s changed a lot over the last decade. https://socialmediaclub.org/blog/from-the-clubhouse/the-evolving-nature-of-social-media

Social media is constantly evolving and changing, it requires users to be patient and to act as constant learners because that is the only way you will actually keep up with whats going on, online. However, I do admit that social media can tend to be extremely competitively based. The objectives of the site was for you to create a profile and see how many favourite, likes, retweets, comments or shares a post got. That was the essential determining factor of success, something you could brag to your friends about as cruel as it may seem.

Now though, I’ve found that I’ve grown out of that kind of mind frame. I rarely post Facebook status’s, my activity on Twitter is mainly to look at others tweets, retweeting or favouriting the ones I enjoy rather than tweeting myself. Instagram and Snapchat would be the sites I’m most active on because I love the sharing and editing process of a picture. And, although I can admit to disregarding the amounts of likes or comments on my Facebook or Twitter accounts, I am more harsh on myself when it comes to posting pictures on my Instagram profile. Why? I don’t know, but there is a feel good feeling there when you get over a certain amount of likes on a new posts that makes you feel more confident about your page.

However, despite all of those things, there has been an increased growth in specific social media trends. I’m using this space to discuss it because nowadays, rather than people sharing they’re own photos or videos on Facebook they’re sharing videos of this content, instead of randomly tweeting as one tends to do, people are tweeting about these trends and instead of posting a still life picture on Instagram, users are uploading a video mimicking these social media trends. Two trends in particular come to mind and you’re probably wondering where this is leading to.

Ever heard of the “Harlem Shake”? The Harlem Shake is an internet meme (an internet meme being an activity or concept which spreads from person to person over the internet) in the form of a video where a group of people perform a comedy sketch accompanied by a brief section of the song”Harlem Shake”. As I said, it is a meme, the video was replicated by many people; athletes, celebrities and regular people went into a frenzy over the Harlem Shake craze, their videos receiving millions of hits, allowing it to go viral in 2013 with many videos uploaded onto Youtube. This type of content took the steering wheel of everyone’s social media accounts, allowing them to share videos on their pages and also, copying the video themselves and uploading they’re own version. As well as that, if you do remember the Harlem Shake, meet the “Mannequin Challenge”. Since the Harlem Shake it was hard to find a competing phenomenon that could potentially enter the “Harlem Shakes” territory, that is, until the “Mannequin Challenge”. The trend built up quite a bit of steam online, again by both celebrities and normal people creating they’re own videos. The “Mannequin Challenge” is essentially building a story line off still movements, each time the camera moves around the room and across each person they must be “mannequin” like and as it goes around again and again each move with change resulting in an almost slow motion picture, usually the videos are quite funny. You see these videos all over your social media feed, being posted by friends at pre-drinks before a night our or on Snapchat stories (that one being particularly impressive as you have to squeeze it into a ten second period). But, for me, I barely batted an eyelid at the craze until they started to make ones with dogs. Not just any dogs, skillful, patient and overall adorable dogs which would stay completely still for the duration of the video, some showing skills of having treats right on top of their nose and not even flinching. See link attached to watch them and they’re glory.

I really enjoy when these type of videos come out and surface. Users competitive streaks fade and its not about getting more likes or shares than your friends, its a time where you can share these funny videos with one another, giving ye something to talk about and laugh at and also, if you’re into it, its something you can create yourself for fun. The fact these videos have gone viral isn’t for anyone’s gain in particular, when things go viral it’s usually not intentional, where creators become accidental celebrities for brief periods of time, but to make a community over the web which I think we can agree that it does.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydimoro/2016/11/08/remember-the-harlem-shake-meet-the-mannequin-challenge/#5a53cc582345 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Shake_(meme) 

 

Epiphanies from Disney 


This particular topic viciously grabbed my attention as I was eagerly and excitingly watching the upcoming Beauty and the Beast movie trailer. Live action. Live action movies are a combination of both traditional animation or animated computer sequences and non animated characters. It tells a story of animated characters interacting with actual people.

For those of you who don’t know (which I can only assume is all of you), I am a huge Disney fanatic, a firm believer in that no one grows out of Disney. It’s impossible not to become excited and nostalgic, not to become instantly happy while watching an old classic or even seeing the new Disney films they’re creating these days. I must say, I’m biased to the classics but Disney as a whole is an anti ageing solution I’m my eyes. It keeps me young at heart and for a brief time, while I bask in it’s magical glory, in my mind too, an aspect of it I will be forever grateful for.

And although when I think of Disney, I think about the original cartoons I grew up with in the 90’s, the work they’ve put into remaking our favourites with the use of live action and CGI (computer generated imagery) is incredible 

There has been a handful of these realeased in the past two or three years, Maleficent which stars the beautiful Angelina Jolie, Alice and Wonderland and, my most recent personal favourite – The Jungle Book (a truly outstanding piece of work). https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HcgJRQWxKnw .Now, Disney has almost completed their live action adaptation of their 1991 Best Picture Oscar Nominee, Beauty and the Beast, and I can hardly wait. People movies says Disney was “emboldened by the success of the live action fairy tale” http://people.com/movies/disney-is-making-a-live-action-version-of-beauty-and-the-beast/


But, I don’t just wish to use this space to indulge in my excitement about the upcoming movie but also to appreciate the technology that is put into its production. It’s ironic, in my last blog post I spoke about how we can’t seem to define our course  never actually acknowledging the possibilities it brings. Obviously thoughts about the future frequently occur in my mind but are swiftly pushed away by the assurance that I have two and a half years of college to go before I search for a path to best fit my future. It took watching the trailer for me to become excited about future prospects and the endless possibilities we are granted with our degree. It took the trailer for me to even fathom the thought of being able to work in the movie industry, a career that I never thought was in my reach. Now, I’m not naive, I’m not assuming I’ll be working for Disney (if I was only so lucky) but the interest in being involved in that industry alone has given me most initiative to push myself further and see what else can come from my studies. Even the thought of collaborating with others on something so exciting is refreshing. A thought now, but definitely a push I’m the right direction. Did I not say Disney was magical?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nGwBDchDLPg

Do We Know Exactly What Were Studying?

dh

Its a funny topic to be writing about really because any normal person attending college knows exactly what they’re studying cause they put it on their CAO and hope to make a career out of it. Now, the same goes for all DH scholars out there but I decided to write a blog on the matter because we just recently started up our tutorials again and a recurring conversation is constantly coming up – “Who can tell me what Digital Humanities Is?”. Of course, we all burst out in laughter joking how “we’ve never heard that one before” but its true, no one can really find a unique, simple and concise definition to explain what it is that were studying.

During that tutorial we spoke about how difficult it is to explain to a family member or friend who wouldn’t have the first idea of what your studying to begin with, all to end up with them being more confused then they were before they asked (wishing they hadn’t asked at all now), having wasted 10 minutes of their precious life and ended up more confused about the whole thing yourself? This conversation is one that i particularly dread. Not being able to explain what I study throws me further into a downward spiral of distress thinking about my future, me being over dramatic none the less but its’ some predicament.

So, I ask, what  REALLY  is DH? During our most recent tutorial we broke off into groups to brainstorm the very topic. We first began by googling it for some inspiration, Wikipedia says first that “Digital humanities (DH) is an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_humanities not a bad one really but then I pose the question whats the core definition of humanities? The study of human culture?  So, our conclusion was that its where the arts meets the technological, pithy and simple. Our as a fellow classmate sarcastically suggested “Where code becomes poerty“.

So, until us genius’ get published for coming up with a DH definition (like that will ever happen) we must remain positive and  look forward to where our study of digital humanites takes us, god knows I didn’t see myself down this route but everything happens for a reason, so all you DH scholars, lets continue to make poetry together.

Is Instagram as Authentic as we thought? 


Here’s some food for thought, Instagrams real purpose. For me, Instagram is my favourite form of social media, before I got to bed and after I wake up it’s the first app I check on my phone (trying to make that sound as healthy as possible) including scrolling through it throughout the day. It’s addictive, for each individual it’s like their own personal kryptonite, beginning on one simple picture can lead you through ten different people’s pages where you find yourself suddenly obsessed with this new instagrammers page and giving them the extra follow (as if they needed it.) 

Or.. do they? I’ve been researching how so many random, normal people have suddenly become these Instagram stars with thousands of followers and how they’re making money off it. While conducting my research I found that it’s all in the profile, these Instagram stars need to devote specific time throughout everyday to keep they’re profile updated, to ensure that they let they’re followers see they’re everyday life and, it’s because of this, followers believe that they are everyday people, that if for argument sake I follow a fitness fanatic that’s posting daily workouts, supplements or meals and before and after shots, they are in turn selling to me a lifestyle that is totally achieveable with the hard work that they are posting. But is that it? Nope. A lot of these Grammers have been endorsed by brands that pay them to sell they’re goods, for each like or follow up to the products site the instgrammer gets paid and not just that, gets all the free stuff to be used in the pictures, not too shabby. 

But, after visiting the topic on Forbes website http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaymcgregor/2016/07/28/how-to-make-money-on-instagram/#24f8e81c60c9 it showed that a lot of these people are just promoting the personality of brand they’re trying to sell and that a lot of them actually have they’re own person Instagram account, ones that would’ve  correspond with the one full with millions of followers. ZD Net says “study shows non-celebrity influences are 10 times more likely to drive in-store purchases”. I agree, I would be so much more inclined to buy a product after seeing such good results from “normal” instagrammers rather than celebrities because they have a life style that we wouldn’t understand. 

Thought, there is a dangerous part to Instagram, where it becomes an ad network and loses its core appeal, authenticity. Beneath in the attached link is a video made by Essena O’Neill, she talks about how instgramming took over her life later making her become unhealthy because of it, this honest video shows how this lifestyle can effect someone and it resulted in her deleting herself from all social media. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1Qyks8QEM 

Technology – Does it Hinder or Help Us? 

Recently as part of a DH assignment we were asked to conduct a research project on any topic that related back to our field of study. A research question acted as a platform to it all. I thought long and hard about what I answered questions I had that coincided with DH and IT and found myself pretty stumped to think of one that would actually grab others attention as well as my own enthusiasm do the assignment. It was when I was actually conducting the research into possible areas that my question struck me. It was all the while when I was constantly looking up ideas, searching through Google I thought, what kind of research would I be doing if I didn’t have a computer at my disposal to help me? And, how did I do projects in the past without the majority of the information having come from the web?

So, even though the use of a digital tool aided me in getting an epiphany and forming my research question I asked, does the use of technology hinder us or help us academically?

To begin, there are various types of learners; visual, auditory, read & write and kinesthetic. If we think back to primary school during the years of 2007-2010, here came the introduction of interactive whiteboards, goodbye boring blackboards and silly whiteboards hello beautiful and fun tool for all the class. But, were they actually helpful in any way, shape or form? Was there research to prove that students learnt better on them? Or, was they’re popularity just due to the fact that pupils liked to play on them and teachers had stopped giving out about chalky clothes and ink blotted hands?

Moving on another decade, on college campus almost every student has a laptop in their bag or are making use of the plentiful supply of computers. But how many of these students would prefer to actually write their assignment? Do some of them miss conducting research in the form of library books? Cause lets face it, you can find almost anything online. Is technology tarnishing our old methods of studying and can we say we were more focused when we didn’t have so much of these tools at our disposal? Did we get better grades without them? How many of us don’t get distracted when they’re doing college work and also have wifi at the same time? How quickly do you find yourself getting distracted? I crave all the answers, calculated answers that proves whether the advancement of technology has hindered us in an educational setting.


All these questions will remain to haunt me. It’s true, one can go on and on for days talking about how the old methods of teaching and learning have gone to the dogs, but the truth is, technology is our future and I’m sure in another decade or so I’ll be asking myself the same question only it will be about how people aren’t using laptops to study anymore, some other tool that has yet to be invented surely and I look towards that day with optimism.

I later conducted an interview with two of my classmates researching this topic. The video I will link below is the conclusive clip of my overall interview to which I uploaded on Vimeo.com. https://vimeo.com/user60170840/videos

 

The Conspiracy Theories of 9/11


During the years spent in secondary school we often spent time in religion class watching documentaries of 9/11. Documentaries that told the stories of the heartbreaking last phone calls to loved ones that were trapped inside the building or the heroic stories of the firemen and policemen on the scene that day. But, it was after watching a documentary on the conspiracies of 9/11 my attention was quickly drawn to that particular topic. At the end of the day the only reason the other documentaries, where such admiration grew for the citizens of America fighting for their lives that day was because someone was behind it but, the question now is who? 

“9/11: Truth, Lies & Conspiracies” unraveled the real actions of the US Government in the hour long documentary. It shone light in the “truthers”, the “liars” and the “conspiracy theorist”. It involves former CIA and NSA workers coming forward, openly admitting that they are burdened by almost 3000 murders that took place that day in cold blood.  

It was revealed a former CIA that the failure to stop the 9/11 hijackers, was because while running surveillance on two Al-Qaeda members Nawaf Al-Haz and Khalid Al-Mihdar he was under explicit instructions not to alert the FBI. Although, the two members travelled to Malaysia to take part in a terror summit to plan attacks on American soil, and also, when both passports showed proof of a visa into the United States. Why? 

As the documentary goes on it appears that an NSA officer admits that they have coded recordings of Al-Haz and Al-Mindar planning their attacks but again, we pose the question, was the work loads too heavy to decrypt these life threatening phone calls or was there a greater power involved? The two men were later reported to have been rented a house from an FBI informant who “claims” he didn’t know who they were? And it finally describes the path of investigation that took place after the actual attack. Investigating countries such as Iran and Iraq but never Saudi Arabia even though that was the home of 15 out the 18 hijackers. 

My senses were really stimulated during this purely because it posed so many unanswered questions. This is the biggest kept secret of the century and one that will never actually be discovered fully. The specific role of the government is to protect the safety and best interests of they’re people. It could be argued that yes, if 9/11 never happened then, would it have happened anyway on a different date at a different time? We don’t know, we will never know but we crave answers.

1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s33zBYJfeg

My Appreciation of DH  So Far 

Hi all, 

I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’m taking this opportunity after a long and refreshing Summer to blog about one of my very interesting modules last year – Concepts and Collaboration in Digital Humanities. A lot of my previous blogs tie in with this exact module. If you look at my previous posts you will see the one involving Aaron Schwarts; The Internets Own Boy, The Quipu Project, my post on Transmedia and also the “twessay” critical response. 

It’s so easy to misinterpret what digital humanities actually is, to be honest I cant say I fully understand every aspect of it a year down the line but, that’s why I love the study of it, to peel back layers still covered by my confusion and curiosity. This class last year was so enticing because I found it really interesting to see how something like a piece of literature and a piece of media meshed together to become one movement. Our week studying Transmedia is a great example of this, using the “Why So Serious” Batman campaign as a platform. Here is where we saw how travelling information using posters or text messages, emails on line or even word of mouth became interactive and famous all over the world. Also the Quipu Project, this is another example of how Transmedia helped make such a huge problem like sterilisation of woman without consent become recognised and gave those who were so alone a voice. My favourite aspect of this study as a whole is really just how it brings all elements together, elements like people mainly, but information, media, story telling also, ultimately to make a powerful and interactive movement. 

I also need to take the chance to say how much I appreciated the informality and honesty within this module as well. In a very relaxed setting we were able to mix so well with one another and converse as a real class unit rather than a busy lecture hall only hearing murmurs of people’s answers or contributions to the class. It helped us all become more confident around each other allowing us to make presentations together and having a constant flow of conversation whether online or in class.