Decisions!

Class yesterday featured a robust discussion of different digital projects (including Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, the Grand Tour project out of Stanford, the Folger’s Luna respository); we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each project in order to think about how to frame our own audience for the final project for the course.

Things we liked:

  • the geographical heat map of how many British architects visited which sites in Italy.
    • Made information accessible at a glance.
  • How the Data Viewer in the Grand Tour project included a visualization of which data points were missing
    • provided a more complete picture of the dataset.
  • Six Degrees had SO MUCH INFORMATION

Things we didn’t like:

  • There was TOO MUCH INFORMATION on the Six Degrees site for a non-expert audience to understand what they were even looking at.
    • Completeness was actually overwhelming, as opposed to the clarity provided by the Grand Tour.
      • This suggests that breaking up our site into various kinds of interfaces is going to be more useful.
    • The Luna site was also difficult for a non-expert audience who was dropped in without any guidance.

What these example projects highlighted was that, for us, accessibility and transparency of design is paramount, especially because we are dealing with many layers of information. This did help us narrow down the audience: we want to target the site to interested and engaged nonexperts by foregrounding the Explorations of the metaphors of the internet. This means the design of the site will need to facilitate some of the links between the various kinds of metaphors and figures that we are dealing with.

 

Yet there is another layer to this course: the rhetorical manuals by authors like Puttenham and Sidney, plus a selection of scholarly articles on the digital humanities. Thus, while the focus is on the metaphors of the internet, the user will also be able to navigate through to explore the more academically-inclined underpinnings of the site.

Given the priority placed on clarity, navigability, and multiple ways to interact with information, we are going to focus on creating an interactive interface in Twine for the primary user interface. This will allow users to choose what kinds of information they want to see, while also providing access to all the information available.

Another point raised in class was that we need to make some decisions about the priorities for the site. (What this really means is that Dr. H needs to make up her mind about the options available!) So without further ado, here are the options and platforms that students will choose from for their part of the final project.

  1. Twine interface which covers the linkages across multiple levels of information. While not all the work will happen in Twine, all the work will be accessible through Twine.
  2. Using timeline.js to create a chronology both of when figurative language like “the cloud” and “forum” were introduced into English, and when they took on their figurative meanings.
  3. Using either Palladio or Gephi (depending on ability and preference) to create a network of the early modern rhetoricians. This will include links to the words that become internet metaphors if and when they appear in the early modern texts.

So this is where we are at: now students will pick which design tack they would like to take. This work will be in pairs (with one group of three); so while these options are certainly ambitious, we will be working as a team.

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