Month: April 2008

Ah…Mystery!

When I took a look at the three new mysteries I was reminded what a powerful addition to the teaching of Canadian history that this collection is. The new mysteries: “The Redpath Mansion Mystery”, “Death on Painted Lake: The Tom Thomson Tragedy,” and “Death of a Diplomat: Herbert Norman and the Cold War” keep raising the bar of how to effectively present material using the web. … With the addition of these new modules, the breadth of the site is reaching a point of critical mass and offer a nicely diverse collection from throughout time and geographic area.

Comparing Word Clouds

Taking a look at a chart of common words and their frequency of use is a first attempt at this. tapor.jpg A similar chart was created showing me words that appeared only in one or the another and I was immediately struck by the fact that campus didn’t occur at all in the McMaster announcement, where it was the most frequent word at Guelph. … By choosing to upload only the text of the announcements themselves (And thus help the tool know just what is important to me) I can get the results I want to consider. tapor2.jpg Voila! … I want to consider this further, but I am far more a visual thinker, and while these bar charts are pleasing, and take a wealth of data and distill it to a very nice summary, I want to take it one step further.

Keeping a Few Social Network Tools in Your Kitbag

However, as I laid out the map, I was in manual mode and although aided by the visual, the growing complexity of the chart suggested that my free-form approach had really skipped the possibility that all this wonderful graph theory that I am vaguely aware of might actually have a role to play. … The resulting list in DOT looked something like this: digraph unix { node [shape=rectangle, color=orange, style=filled]; “Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 1921-1972” -> “Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI) 1974 – 1981” ; “Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 1921-1972” -> “Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 1974 – 1981”; “Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 1921-1972” -> “Protestant Unionist Party (PUP) 1960s – 1971” ; “Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) 1966 -” -> “Shankhill Defense Association (SDA) 1969 -” ; “Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (1974 -)” -> “Ulster Special Constabulary Association (USCA)” ; “Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (1974 -)” -> “Ulster Volunteer Service Corps (UVSC)” ; } A simple start and as you can see, DOT is not too complex. … In a perfect world, this would actually be applicable to my dissertation work as well, as opposed to squirreling away a few precious hours of time I should be spending on writing about Canadian tavernkeepers ;-) Hopefully this provides a little bit of insight a to what tools are easily accessible to take relationships and represent them visually – tools which don’t demand that you learn the finer points of graph theory, but do in fact allow you leverage them to appreciate the intricacies of large social networks.