Tag Archives: The Graduate Center

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:

@DigitalHUAC: http://digitalhuac.com
Consolidating thousands of hard-to-find #HUAC testimonies into a single, searchable, interactive archive. http://digitalhuac.com

@CUNYCast: http://cunycast.net
Broadcast classes, conversation & controversy with online radio at @GC_CUNY. Shout it out http://cunycast.net #CUNYcast

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

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

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: mgold@gc.cuny.edu
Public course blog: https://dhpraxis14.commons.gc.cuny.edu/
Course Hashtag: #dhpraxis14

Tandem Week 13 Update


We are happy to announce that the initial version of our near-polished UI is up and functioning on http://dhtandem.com/. 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.


Officially a Digital Humanist

I’m excited to say that I’m officially a digital humanist.

I just posted the first of my final papers online, and I’ll be sending a print copy to my professor as well.  Electric Mommyland; Writing a Sociological History Through Auto-Ethnographical Art and Music Performance Towards a Deeper Understanding of Everything Mom for Hester Eisenstein’s Sociology of Gender class at CUNY, The Graduate Center is here. [LINK]

A submission form invites users to post feedback and make suggestions for edits. These will be incorporated in my thesis (2015).

Thank you so much all your collaboration, and for being such a great group this fall.

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!


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!):


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.


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)


Pedagogy vs. Research: Possibilities Beyond Hierarchical Approaches

As Steve Brier’s “Where’s the Pedagogy” demonstrates in its appraisal of CUNY’s diverse digital humanities and reform projects, “digital pedagogy projects and strategies offer an alternative pathway to broaden the impact of the digital humanities movement,” and in part are able to do so because they negotiate the relationship between traditionally-conceived academic research and university pedagogy practices.

I’d assert that the distinction between research and pedagogy, and the values attached to each of these activities at the institutional level, is central to the discussion of how we collate and disseminate information at the foundational level of digital scholarship. Broadly conceived today, the relationship between teaching and research is often viewed as hierarchical, whereby teaching functions to facilitate “new or better research” (Mahony and Pierazzo). The idea that instruction should predicate research seems to not only useful, but necessary: teaching creates the groundwork to understand theoretical and methodological practices, to use them correctly, and to produce scholarship that is meaningful, accurate, and relevant.

However, the conception of teaching–>research can easily place teaching in a subservient position, especially when viewed in the round with labor and educational policy practices. Service-related labor in the university structure (the “ugly stepchildren,” to use Steve’s term) such as classroom instruction, course design, and even committee service or community organization, often receives significantly less attention in coursework topics, job applications, and even consideration for tenure. This privileging of research over instruction at R1 institutions has vast structural consequences for expectations of both students and instructors of undergraduate and graduate education, as well as definitions of academic labor and reasonable work expectations. Katherine Harris’s idea of teaching as “invisible labor” even extends to the other arms of the university that facilitate research, and the invisibility of this labor can be attributed to complex structural issues as Roxane Shirazi (at CUNY!) discusses in her excellent blog on feminized labor, librarianship, and DH.

There’s a lot to unpack in the concept of this hierarchical labor system of teaching and research—what effect does this have on students? How does this connect to the rise of adjunct labor and its invisibility? To what extent does emphasizing the false dichotomy of research and pedagogy create structural inequities in academic labor? Or equal pay? However, I hope you’ll forgive me if I leave those questions for discussion, and shift gears to address how the digital humanities have tended to position themselves on this debate (according to this week’s syllabus readings).

I’ve noticed thus far that the digital humanist approach to pedagogy and research offers a less hierarchical structure in its very acknowledgement that pedagogy, rather than research products (books, projects, articles), shapes the field to some extent. Perhaps this is caused in part by how quickly the field is transforming—there’s just not time to publish books, peer-reviewed articles, and traditional research projects with the old publication models. Perhaps also, digital humanities believe that the field itself is shaped by pedagogical practices and not just the research products that they spark. That is, the teaching environments that Mahoney and Pierazzo describe are not just a means to creating digital humanities—they help to define it. As Tanya Clement’s observes in “Multiliteracies in the Undergraduate Digital Humanities Curriculum,” “any program that identifies itself as digital humanities is in fact inflected by a version of digital humanities that is situational and irreproducible.” These programs are situational and irreproducible because they are humanistic pedagogical experiences, and perhaps even research projects in and of themselves.

When the classroom is a research project, then, how does this change the relationship between pedagogy and research? Can research inform instruction, and instruction inform research? Sure–but I think that digital humanities pedagogical practice often transcends the idea of permeable boundaries or a mere back-and-forth model. Can we theorize a new pedagogy/research hybrid, particularly in light of newer collaborative publishing platforms?

As ever, no firm answers yet, and looking forward to discussion,

Mary Catherine.

World Wide Telescope and digital learning

Following up on Martha Joy’s helpful digest of the Twitter workshop, I feel I should make sure everyone has links to some of the amazing platforms for digital interactive education and exploration presented last Friday by Curtis Wong, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. I was particularly taken with his early work on the Barnes Foundation collection — a CD Rom that allowed you to explore the galleries on multiple levels before visiting the museum– and his work with Project Tuva— access to annotated lectures of Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman.

These projects raise many questions about goals of data-enrichment in education. How do we use the data enrichment capabilities afforded by technology to teach more than just the skills to search for data or the sense of immediate need to find answers? How do we appreciate objects and phenomena in the presence of so much information? How do we synthesize the many pieces of content with attention to the many slants of truth?

More than simple slide shows or directed tours, Wong’s programs really seemed to be three-dimensional encyclopedias, in some cases four-dimensional (with some of the “tour” maps, you can express depth over time). The WorldWide Telescope, launched in 2008, is an amazing example.

WorldWide Telescope

When paused in the app, you are not in a single frame, but are posited within the universe and can move virtually from star to star. The blurb for Wong’s talk described the WorldWide Telescope as “a free, rich interactive virtual simulation of the visible Universe to enable kids of all ages to explore and understand the Universe.” The exploration of educational material with the multi-platform applications, Wong also showed some of his interactive TV work with PBS, seems particularly appropriate to this week’s discussion.

Fetch on PBS (kids show with multimedia web supplement).

These projects also bring up questions concerning the intersection of profit and education, and the educational philanthropy of large tech companies. Seeing the work from Wong’s perspective and learning his trajectory in the creation of these remarkable research projects showed a great dedication to the accessibility of information to anyone willing to engage, the WWT is available only on Windows (which I don’t have on my MacBook). Though I missed the beginning of the talk, because I am still incapable of finding my way around the GC, the question of tech competition seemed to bubble up beneath the altruism every once in a while.



And so it begins.

In May of 2013, I graduated Queens College. I spent a small fortune, pennies compared to most, to receive a piece of paper that gave validity to my ramblings about how cool I thought Chaucer was/is. I got a degree in English. I must be crazy. Shortly after, I got a job at a magazine. The problem was it wasn’t in the editorial department.

That fall, I began working as a Digital Media Planner a decent sized publishing company. The reality of digital publication soon came to light. It was my responsibility to develop online advertising strategies for blue-chip brands looking to hit wealthy middle-aged men and women or intelligent millennial thought-starters across our sites.

What is the exact frequency and quantity of annoying flashing advertisements we can throw at users before they stop coming back?

Moreover, how much money can we make off the millions of branded pictures, animations, and videos we position next to our content? We are only shooting for a click-through rate of 0.05% (about 5 out of every 10,000 ads).

Needless to say, in a few short months I began to feel anxious about the amount of information ad servers can gather on users online habits. While shopping data management platforms for our sites, we heard promises of user profile optimization that would create content and ad experiences specific to a particular person. My web is different than your web.

Omnichannel personalization. Behavioral data. Interest profiles. Purchase histories.

Suddenly, I was hyper aware of how fabricated the thin veneer of the web really was. Most of us interact with a variety of publications on a daily basis, hitting a top tier of social networks along the way, and reading highly curated content that caters to our need to digest quickly and move on.

What I also realized was the power of data behind this scheme. There are entire industries pivoted on gathering, sourcing, organizing, analyzing, and visualizing these enormous pools of information.

It is much easier to sell a brand an ad campaign when they know their target demographic is exactly who is going to see it.

I began falling in love with data. Call it a complex, but it was essentially a game to see if I was able to make these half-million dollar campaigns could work. I spent hours analyzing user flows, traffic rates, and article statistics.

Visualizations began to tell stories. Charts and infographics were as nuanced as poetry.

I hated the job, but I loved the data.

I come to digital humanities with this love of data and degree in literature. Independently rooted, I hope to unite these two spheres and find common ground this year.

And so it begins.

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