I know this post is coming a bit late but I was so inspired by Hypercities that I had to go ahead and write about it. I have been anxiously awaiting our discussion of mapping all semester, and have not been disappointed. I was particularly inspired by the project gathering the tweets occurring during the Egyptian revolution and with Yoh Kawano’s attempt to use GIS to empower Japanese people to acquire knowledge of the radiation in a given area in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. It was a bit of a revelation to me to see scholars taking on projects that will really help people outside of academia, and that have such personal relevance for them.
Reading this also gave me an idea of what I would like to do in DH—possibly for my dataset project or my large project proposal. I would really like to harvest (?) locational data about the tweets sent last August in Texas during a few of the hearings, and protests, related to House Bill 60, as well as Wendy Davis’s filibuster. These bills which came up for debate in the Texas House and the Senate at this time aimed to severely restrict Texas women’s access to abortion and other reproductive care. These measures (which I believe have now been partially put into effect) disproportionately affect the many Hispanic women living in South Texas, where virtually no clinics were able to remain open, and working class women, who cannot afford to take off several days or more to travel the long distance now necessary to get reproductive care. In a state that takes eight hours to drive across width-wise and probably more to drive across length-wise, there are only seven abortion clinics left—all of which are located in Texas’s few and widely scattered urban areas.
As you can see, geography has played a big part in which women have been affected by these laws. However, geography also played a role in whose voices have been heard in the protests, and whose have been silenced. There is a wide perception that Austin is the only area of Texas with a significant liberal population, and that the rest of Texas is hyper-conservative. While this may be true to a large extent, I believe there are pockets of people all over Texas who strongly opposed those measures, and whose voices were marginalized and trivialized when Rick Perry said the protesters did not represent “real” Texans. Though indeed many protesters present were from Austin, there was substantial opposition to the measures on Twitter as well—a medium which, while it certainly is not accessible to all Texans, provided a relatively efficient and economical alternative to in-person protesting. I think plotting on a map the frequency of use of certain hashtags popular in these events such as #standwithwendy and #comeandtakeit might give voices to these silenced people, dissipating the feelings of hoplessness and isolation that come with being a liberal person in Texas, and providing a convincing illustration of the extent to which the Republican leadership of Texas in promoting measures like these, ignores the wishes not only of liberals in Austin, but of a much wider portion of its constituency. This project was very important to me because I was actively involved at the time and feel the need to help, though I no longer live in Texas.
It seems like I will definitely have to learn about APIs, and maybe some kind of mapping software. This may be a very large project I am aiming toward, but if anyone knows what other skills I might need to get started, I would be very much obliged for your input!!!