Category Archives: Uncategorized

What is Code?

If you perhaps did not catch Paul Ford’s Business Week essay, What is Code? in your end of semester haze, it is worth reading.

In particular, I was about to send Stephen to read Section 3.4 on Object Orientation when I realized the rest of you could read it, too.

TANDEM Week 14

WEEK 14 (Can it really be?)

Presses have rolled (to some extent). Word of mouth is spreading and will only grow. The launch is upon us and we are ready to go.

Friday Chris and Jojo presented at the GC Digital Initiative’s Media Res #1. It was exciting to see TANDEM rolling with the NYCDH crowd. Not only were useful contacts made in the other presenters, but it gave us a chance to see how our final presentation should go. In under five minutes, Chris was able to describe the basic objectives and accomplishments and the proto-website easily stood up to the standard of the other presentations (even as a definite pre-rollout version). Chris also got first hand experience with areas that need more or less explaining. Optimizing 10 speaking minutes will be a challenge, but it was a productive and constructive exercise to give it a dry run. It also allowed the team to make more focused and concise presentation slides.

Thanks to tips from Tim Owens and Zach Davis, we have fixed the bug that was causing unpredictable results. The bug meant that some users would experience a session crash (unhandled error), others would go through all the steps and get back an empty result set, while still other users would get results with other project results inexplicably mixed in. The solution was based on the ‘aha!’ realization that the web is a stateless environment and that the programmer must take steps to ensure that a session across multiple requests and responses remains a single logical whole. The way to do that is to use anonymous cookies to identify the session and store the project-id in that cookie. Using the project-id, the program looks up in the database all the information required including the location of the files and folders in use for that project. There is no doubt that we have achieved our MVP and it is a good reliable user experience. There is a tiny bit of styling left to be done and the program is finished as far as version 0.5.

Give it a try!

Tumblr has an interesting Captcha up these days. If you try to log in with a bad password too many times, you have to select all the photos of soup from a little gallery:

Definitely made me think of #nycfashionindex’s game ideas.

We’re live! The Digital GC: 2014-2015 Year-End Showcase

The Digital GC: 2014-2015 Year-End Showcase

Please join us on May 19th 2015 for a special event at the Graduate Center showcasing the innovative and diverse digital projects initiated during the 2014-2015 academic year! Presentations will be given by: the Digital Praxis Seminar, the GC Digital Fellows, Provost’s Digital Innovation Grantees, the New Media Lab, the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program, the Futures Initiative, and the GC Library.

Event Details:

The Digital GC: Year-End Showcase
Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 4:15 pm
The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Street
Room 9205

The Digital Praxis Seminar: Final Project Launches

Digital Humanities Praxis is a two-course sequence that introduces students to the landscape of digital humanities tools and methods through readings, discussion, lectures, hands-on workshops, and culminates with students collaborating in groups over a single semester to build and launch working prototypes of Digital Humanities projects. The instructors for DH Praxis are Stephen Brier and Matthew Gold (Fall, 2014) and Amanda Hickman and Luke Waltzer (Spring, 2015).

Event hashtag: #digitalgc

Students in the Digital Humanities Praxis course at the CUNY Graduate Center will launch four new projects:

Consolidating thousands of hard-to-find #HUAC testimonies into a single, searchable, interactive archive.

Broadcast classes, conversation & controversy with online radio at @GC_CUNY. Shout it out #CUNYcast

Simplify text & image data generation with @dhTANDEM, a unified #Djangoapp that combines #OCR, #NLTK, and #OpenCV.

NYCFashionIndex scrapes fashion imagery from @instagram for tagging and analysis, building a real time social index of fashion.

Additional Presentations:

Following the Digital Praxis project presentations, the following programs will present their most recent projects and accomplishments:

The GC Digital Fellows

Provost’s Digital Innovation Grantees

The New Media Lab

The Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program

The Futures Initiative

The GC Library


A video of last year’s Digital GC Showcase can be found on the Videography Fellows Website.

Please visit the Graduate Center Digital Initiatives website to view all of the current and past Digital Initiatives at the Graduate Center, and please follow us on twitter.

This event is sponsored by the Graduate Center Provost’s Office and the GC Digital Fellows Program.


Open to the Public

Contact: Matthew Gold
Contact email:
Public course blog:
Course Hashtag: #dhpraxis14

Prep Your Slides

I created a shared Google Drive folder that you should all have access to. If you don’t have edit access, email me with your gmail handle and I’ll share the directory with you. Before we convene on May 12, your presentation should be in that directory.

From CartoDB

A few of you have shown some interest in doing cool things with CartoDB — consider coming to this. I’m pretty sure that I have some $0 discount codes somewhere, too, so let me know if you need one of those.

To support our growing group of cartographers in newsrooms, we’re hosting a two-day conference in two weeks and you’re invited!

GeoJourNews is a two-day conference and hackday, focused on showcasing and building maps in news reporting and investigative journalism. We’d like to invite you and provide you with 90% discount passes for your colleagues and friends who might be interested!

Date: May 15, 2015
Location: Parsons: The New School
Hosts: CartoDB, Knight-Mozilla: Open News, and Parsons: The New School

Please share the event and the following discount code. If you can’t be in NYC you should share this with your friends and collaborators who will be!

RSVP at:
Discount Code: mapsftw

Spread the word on Twitter via the hashtag #geojournews and @cartodb!

If you want to learn more about the event, read our blog post.

Thanks so much and looking forward to seeing you there,

Aurelia & the Community Team @CartoDB

Tandem Week 13 Update


We are happy to announce that the initial version of our near-polished UI is up and functioning on This development means that you can now go to the site and walk through uploading files as well as review some early versions of our documentation.

Immediate next steps for our team include updating the text on the documentation pages to the more robust things we have patiently waiting in the wings while we finalize the connection of the front and back components of the app. We have been powering away at creating thorough documentation and user information to be present on the final site. This also includes our exploration of the Mother Goose corpus which is beginning to take shape (in part thanks to some TANDEM supporters and volunteers from the praxis class). Basically, we’re pushing our data set through various tools for discovery and analysis. These results will become incorporated in the Sample Data section on the TANDEM website, which is intended as an example of the apps potential, and as a learning tool for new users.

As we continue to work on bugs and high priority action items, such as fixing an error with zipping files that originated from a change in processing in this iteration, we are realizing areas that could use strengthening post-dhpraxis. Our function May 19th MVP is so close we can taste it.

The zipping problem mentioned above may be related to another problem, which only happens on the server and cannot be replicated in a development environment. What appears to happen follows: when a user starts a new project, TANDEM builds three folders on the server, one for the uploaded files, one for the final output which is subsequently zipped for download. The third folder is a staging or intermediate directory that can contains files after any pre-processing that is required. For example, PDF files must be converted to JPG for our image analysis software to work. Another example is that the text must be extracted into TXT files via an OCR step for NLTK to be able to consume the content.

These new folders appear to be created successfully, and their locations are saved to global variables in the program. However, when it comes time to write files to the newly created folders, it seems that the file are being written to a previously used set of folders. The problem is intermittent. To make diagnosis more difficult, the zip step sometimes zips the older folder which delivers content from multiple projects to the user. However, other times the zip step zips the new folder which is empty delivering an empty file to the user. At still other times, the files are all read and written properly.

Zipping issues aside, we are moving along. Given all the amazing progress we have made, it is not surprising that buzz for the launch is growing. (Also Jojo invites anyone and everyone she speaks to). With new details regarding presentations, we are ready to get this party started. The DH community at CUNY and in New York has been a part of these projects whether actively or abstractly, and it seems a grand opportunity to celebrate.