Tag Archives: Digital Libraries

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Mapping Data: Workshop 3/3

Hi all,

Just to follow up on Mary Catherine’s post about finding data, I wanted to recap the final session of this workshop series that took place tonight.

The library guide on mapping data (by Margaret Smith) can be found here: http://libguides.gc.cuny.edu/mappingdata

As in the other two workshops, Smith emphasized thinking about who would be keeping this data and why as a part of the critical research process. It’s especially interesting given the size of these data sets and maps, meaning that the person (or corporate entity, NGO, or government agency) likely has a very specific reason for hosting this information.

She brought us through a few examples from basic mapping sites, like the NYT’s “Mapping America” which pulls on 2005-2009 Census Bureau data, to basic mapping applications like Social Explorer (the free edition has limited access, but the GC has bought full access) and the USGS and NASA mapping applications. The guide also includes a few more advanced mapping options, like ArcGIS, but the tool that seemed most useful to me, in the short-term anyway, is Google’s Fusion Tables, which allows you to merge data sets that have terms in common. The example Smith used was a data set of demographic data (her example was percentage of minority students) organized by town name (her example was towns in Connecticut) and a second set of data that defined geographic boundaries by the same set of towns. Fusion Tables then lets you map the demographic data and select various ways to visualize and customize your results.

My main takeaway from this series was that each of these tools is highly particular and unique, and you have to really dig into playing with the individual system before you’ll even know if it is the right tool for your work.

That, and also learn R.

Finding Data: Preliminary Questions

Hello, all,

As promised, here’s a link to the “Finding Data” library guide on the Mina Rees Library site. Apologies if someone has posted it already!

http://libguides.gc.cuny.edu/findingdata

The guide was created by the wonderful Margaret Smith, an adjunct librarian at the GC Library who is teaching the workshops on data for social research. There’s one more–Wednesday, 6:30-8:30pm downstairs in the library in one of the computer labs–and I’m sure she’d be happy to have anyone swing by. Check out the Library’s blog for details.

Within this guide, the starting questions that Smith provides, in order to get you thinking of your dataset theoretically as well as practically, are very helpful–and I wish I had them years ago! Here are some highlights, taken directly from the guide (but you should really click through!):

HOW TO FIND DATA:

When searching for data, ask yourself these questions…

Who has an interest in collecting this data?

  • If federal/state/local agencies or non-governmental organizations, try locating their website and looking for a section on research or data.
  • If social science researchers, try searching ICPSR.

What literature has been written that might reference this data?

  • Search a library database or Google Scholar to find articles that may have used the data you’re looking for. Then, consult their bibliographies for the specific name of the data set and who collected it.

HOW TO CONSIDER USING IT:

Is the data…

  • From a reliable source? Who collected it and how?
  • Available to the public? Will I need to request permission to use it? Are there any terms of use? How do I cite the data?
  • In a format I can use for analysis or mapping? Will it require any file conversion or editing before I can use it?
  • Comparable to other data I’m using (if any)? What is the unit of analysis? What is the time scale and geography? Will I need to recode any variables?

And another thought that I really loved from her first workshop in this series:

Consider data as an argument.

Since data is social, what factors go into its production? What questions does the data ask? And how do the answers to these questions, as well as the questions above, affect the ways in which that dataset can shed light on your research questions?

All fantastic stuff–looking forward to seeing more of these data inquiries as they pop up on the blog!

(again, all bulleted text is from the “Finding Data” Lib Guide, by Meg Smith, Last Updated Oct. 15 2014. http://libguides.gc.cuny.edu/findingdata)

MC

The Importance of Place

By, Martha Joy Rose (you can call me Joy 🙂

Screen shot, Madonna, Material Girl video (1985)

Screen shot, Madonna, Material Girl video (1985)

To quote Madonna, “we live in a material world.” Bodies are the containers for our intellectual, sensation-filled, pleasurable, and of course painful lives. My material body is the place from which I interact with the world. The biological shape it takes interprets data and responds accordingly. It is my home, and its receptors process my life experiences. That’s why I titled this first blog for the Digital Praxis Seminar “The Importance of Place.” For people wishing to push past the limitations of the material world, online portals provide unique opportunities to connect beyond the place and space individuals physically occupy.

During the first Digital Humanities Seminar class participants wrote one-sentence definitions of DH. My short and sweet assessment was, “DH is the intersection between information and technology.” Expanding on that idea is the notion that every subject within the interdisciplinary humanities has the potential to be available via the internet. These systems have already begun to change the learning landscape through MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) and digital libraries. Optimally the internet expands opportunities and enhances the physical/mental landscape into information highways, hyperrealities and more. This is a fascinating new frontier with its own possibilities and limitations. We are still at the forefront of this burgeoning new “place” learning to manage the opportunities presented and the pitfalls created.

This summer I watched Morgan Spurlock’s special on CNN delving into Futurisms. You can see the YouTube video here. The episode is a sometimes-frightening glimpse into humanity’s technological future, of which each of us plays a part, like it or not.

Because I still live in a body, but because my body lives in a world of rapidly developing technologies, I embrace the importance of both spheres relatively. I exercise my body, eat right, and love my physical form (in all its stages), but I am diving full steam into the new important space of digital humanities where information and connections find scope and life online. I absolutely think it is the next important place to be.

(If anyone needs extra help getting in the wordpress groove, I’m happy to help. Just write me at my gmail address and we’ll set up a chat time by phone)
My Twitter Handle is: TheMediaMom
E-mail: MarthaJoyRose@gmail.com
Website: MarthaJoyRose.com