Skill 8: Portfolio and Reflection

I will say that it is no secret I took this course because it fits the mandatory IT requirement. I was very worried about this class, what it entailed and how I was going to do, but I was presently surprised. By no means will I be using coding language R or creating another database for anything ever again, but I enjoyed getting the skill right and relating the digital to history. We had 8 skill assignments each relating to a different part of the progressive era and using a different tool. I will go over each skill on its own with the link in the title and share its description and my thoughts.

Skill 1: Omeka Metadata

This skill assignment was to pick a topic discussed in class, nickelodeons, women’s suffrage, workers rights. One that was narrow enough to use for the second skill. We had to gather 5 photos or newspapers and give descriptions of the images. It was also important to cite and date the images. This was a good assignment to introduce history to the digital world.

Skill 2: Omeka Exhibit

This next skill was more intensive. Using the items from Skill 1, you created an exhibit. Almost like an off-brand museum website exhibit. Using the images to great a narrative or a picture of the time. It was also important to do the 5 W’s who, what, when where and why. Answering the 5 W’s and creating a narrative to flow was important to create a customizable space and create an ideology of the things a digital historian can do.

Skill 3: TimeLine

I did not like this skill at all, it did not seem necessary to the curriculum as it was basically creating another exhibit. Only with this skill, you could use multiple topics of the progressive era such as women’s suffrage, World War I, workers protests, and immigration. Also, 20 images seemed excessive, maybe 10-15, but 20 was a bit overkill, it was at least a bonus that you could use all sorts of images from the progressive era. The only thing I think that this skill did was show a different way and a different tool to create an exhibit. It is definitely ranked at the bottom of my list. It also for some reason would not date right.

Skill 4: Database and Blog Post

This skill was when things started looking up. I actually enjoyed it especially when the requirement of 20 sources was subtracted down to 10 sources. The assignment was to pick a topic on the progressive era mainly women’s suffrage if I recall correctly and pick an idea. Such as their demonstrations, outfits, predominant influencers, and the list goes on. Then, using the database tool called airtable, we would fill in the fields, create tables and correlate the topics that overlapped. With the database, it was easy to organize and structure information, as well as link it to separate tables making it easy to show lots of information and not just have everything on one long spreadsheet that is probably not as easily sorted into chronological or alphabetical order. Databases just make sorting and researching history easier and act as a great tool to use for many projects.

Skill 5: Mapping

This was also an interesting skill. Using the Motorist Green-Book you picked places and plotted them on a map. Then once all the points were plotted and labeled you could see proximities. It made sense that most places were clustered together making it so African-Americans would not have to venture far for entertainment or things they needed. The fact that the green-book can be mapped- even after decades- and can still demonstrate history in real time is amazing. It proved an interesting skill with limitless possibilities in varying fields.

Skill 6: Text Mining

I really liked this skill, if for nothing other than the wordmap I made. This skill was to demonstrate the relationship and relevance of words using a software tool that took text data and filltered to see how many time a word was said, if that one was related to another and inspected the grouping of words. It used multiple tools to show which words came up most and of course included stopwords that come up to much like “to, and from, but” and many more. This skill dispaled the usefulness of text mining. Say for a research study, dissertations, medical reports and many other sources of text to fully comprehend and understand information. It also, to me, is a prime example (more than other assignments) of creating and answering questions.

Skill 7: Visualization

I found this skill stressful for some reason but also fun. Inputting data from a census year into Plotly (the tool used) allowed to sort for historic demographic data and make inferences on what the data could imply. The visualization allowed for a discussion on different charts and graphs and put a greater visual on the historical trends and data, and what you learned about Immigration in the Progressive Era. I used an area plot graph to draw a visualization between immigrant men and women as well as native-born men and women.

Skill 8: Portfolio and Reflection (this post)

This skill might be my favorite because it is the easiest. All that was required was to reflect on your time in class, share your thoughts and lastly, link and describe previous skill assignments. I do know more than I did about technology since I have finished this course, and I have more knowledge about history in the Progressive Era. I do think I enjoyed the history aspect of this class more though!

Blog Post #8

I will say that the in-class video of Cathy O’Neil made the readings of Kieran Healy and Safiya Noble make much more sense. It was also great to see Safiya Noble’s video and accompanying her verbal articulation with the one that I read. From what I have gathered “big data” is the reliance, creation, and control over Algorithms. Algorithms are just past data and a definition of success. The best example that I can think of on my own is an algorithm in selecting a menu for a restaurant. If you use past data- those being past recipes or order receipts and then create a definition of success such as “using items that were most successful. Then Bam! Watch the algorithm work and your menu get created. The issue with that though is that it does not take into current trends, what if avocados are out and bananas are in? Or if the unicorn trend turns into the dragon trend? It also warrants they’re may not be vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free or nut-free options and that is an issue because a restaurant without some diversity is a no-no in this day and age.

The scholar’s readings and review of their topics in class talk about this type of algorithm set up on a greater scale. Instead of a restaurant menu, it’s a police radar algorithm causing more blacks to get arrested and jailed or an algorithm further assisting in progressing a sexist work environment. There are countless issues on relying on big data and algorithms. The main reason for that is because they are all based on the past. Algorithms merge past data with future ideologies of a “success”. This does not help if the past data is racist, sexist and overall closed minded then what change does that create? It doesn’t; it just forms a more reliable means of oppression. This digital redlining is more like a bright red flag and it is definitely the next the current civil rights issue of the 21st century! It may have been created to improve conditions but so was the cotton gin and that did not improve anything- it just made conditions worse.