Lab Journal 1

Earlier in class I felt unsure about whether or not to promote my project proposal: The Tokyo Destruction Diary. To recap, my idea was to create an interactive map of Tokyo where certain points of interest were highlighted and when a user clicked on them they gave data and historical context to an actual attack or disaster that happened there (earthquakes, fire-bombings, terrorist attacks, etc). Other points would give information about popular media (comics, movies, games) that have stories tied to the destruction of Tokyo. The two categories of fictional and actual destruction would cross reference each other to give the viewer an encapsulation of Japanese media and history, and how societal fears can be expressed through popular media.


I felt genuine conflict about whether or not my project idea was worth pushing, whether it was a battle worth fighting. The final grade on my proposal for my project made me realize some of my shortcomings. Prof. Gold considered TDD a good general project idea, but found it lacking in a humanities focus and I was at a loss for figuring out the nitty-gritty about how to execute the project beyond just using a map based program like Neatline.


I have the basic idea (explore Japanese art/culture through events in history and vice versa). I have the knowledge and passion for the subject. But ultimately, I lack the technical know-how to fully realize my idea, and I would find myself relying on other people almost completely to realize certain aspects of it. Granted, part of this exercise is learning how to rely on others, but I feel like it would be irresponsible to rally the class to construct a building I didn’t have blueprints for, so to speak. Also, the information about fictional destruction would be tricky to gather in mass quantities or from databases. It would rely more on an individual knowledge of the subject matter (mostly from me). I feel like the project would need a serious re-evaluation before it could be considered good enough to pitch.


4 thoughts on “Lab Journal 1

  1. James Mason

    i love the idea for your project Renzo. Japan might be the beginning, but I think a mapping project of the world in media would be super interesting. I would love to see a map of fictional destruction between Godzilla, Pacific Rim, etc. Similarly, There are so many stories told along the same streets–wouldn’t it be interesting to see what characters lived on the same streets in alternate universes? I believe your project is possible, but there would be no way to automate it, right? Every locale and story would have to be manually built (or at the very least, mapped over their real-world counterparts), which is kind of interesting in its own right: digital, yet handcrafted. If you were to build such a tool / database and could fill it with enough information I could imagine it being wildly successful. Regardless of whether or not you pitch your project, definitely hold on to it!

  2. (Martha) Joy Rose

    Renzo –
    I love how honestly you express your uncertainty. All I can say is I feel uncertain ALL THE TIME. So, if you are passionate about your project – Go For It!
    If not, then we’ll all find the right mix for our talents.


    Hey Renzo,
    I think you and I are in the same boat. We’re both really interested in our subject matter, but the project falls short on the technical side. For me, while building an Omeka site is a worthy approach, I tend to agree that it’s not that interesting or “sexy” in the marketing sense. I too lack the technical know how, at least right now, to make this project as exciting as it can be. While I’m not going to pitch my project, I still plan to learn how to use Omeka and its plug ins and any other programs that I can get my hands on.

    I find your project objective really interesting. Similar to what James said, maybe you can start off with the research phase by creating a database (or a blog) that centralizes all of your findings. And then you can look at it as a whole and look for interesting patterns or particular points of interest that will allow for an interesting DH methods, much like Lev Manovich’s approach to analyzing cultural data. Sometimes we see something in the beginning but we keep digging and our ideas change. I think you would be selling yourself short if you don’t allow yourself to go through all those changes. Even if you don’t pitch your project, it’s an idea worth developing. Hey, it’s pretty impressive that we were able to whip out a proposal for a project that some of us had less than a semester to think about.

  4. Chris Vitale

    Your project has an audience that stretches far outside of academia. The cinema enthusiast, sci-fi junkie, the average joe would all be targets for this. This is the type of clickthrough link that you stumble on in a reddit feed that has you encapsulated for an hour.

    Do it. Be confident that this is a great idea.

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