Using Onodo to Learn Network Analysis and Visualisation

During our seminar on Network Analysis and Visualisation in DH6010/6019 this past semester as a group we enjoyed a case study involving network analysis of the Star Wars characters presented by Evelina Gabasova ( She does a superb job of combining analysis, explaining her methodology, deriving some fascinating deductions – all with a fun cinematically familiar network. The familiarity combined with Gabasova’s well crafted blog posts really helped everyone grasp the basic precepts of graph theory and set up hands-on network visualisation instruction using Gephi.
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One of the challenges in approaching and using Gephi ( is that it has so much flexibility, power and such powerful capabilities that is can be off-putting for new users. The interface is not immediately intuitive and even with many of its panels minimised it tends to scare people off. It takes time and a deeper understanding of graph theory to appreciate its benefits and to be able to use it effectively – especially for analysis.

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Using Slack for Learning Engagement

Slack is a collaborative commercial messaging platform. It seamlessly organises communications and encourages informal discussions beyond the use of email or rigid discussion forums. Slack’s approach is characterised by the use of themed discussion channels that group users and subjects by content and encourage free interaction.

In an educational context, I have deployed slack to extend seminar discussions, permit easy sharing of ideas, provide course announcement messaging and to capture the broader course discussion being carried on throughout social media.

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Telling Digital Stories with StoryMapJS

The bank holiday affords the luxury of playing around with all the little bits of code and technology that one saves for that oft too often mythical ‘later’. I found a bit of later today and decided to try out StoryMap JS Authoring Tool – a really handy and user friendly implementation with the spatial side of their stunning Timeline JS  tool (used very nicely for example in the recent Hilda Tweedy Archive project at Trinity College Dublin). My humble project below (also available via their own CDN The McAteers in Guelph) repurposes some bits from an article I published 12 years ago looking at a particular family’s experience in the later Victorian hotel trade in Canada as exemplar of the wider evolution of the trade.

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Taming Bad Data

The Bad Data HandbookA great concept for a book. In this day and age as we seem to be increasingly engaging with things we call datasets, engaging in challenges to make sense of big data and engaging with one another around stuff we call data – here are a series of lessons to deal with data … Taking a very case-oriented approach, the collection of articles in this edited volume look at the problems we run into – either overtly or unawarely when working with data. How many have run into the character encoding challenge, received data in a semi-structured form and needed to transform it quickly and efficiently into something more usable, or had to determine a means to identify the potential bias or results from collection errors? Well, that’s what the Bad Data Handbook is all about. Continue reading

The Europeana Data Exchange Agreement and Irish Cultural Institutions

I had the privilege of chairing a symposium organized by the Irish Manuscript Commission which invited participants from a variety of Irish cultural institutions to discuss issues arising from the new Europeana Data Exchange Agreement. Presentations from Jill Cousins, Director of Europeana and her colleagues, Georgia Angelaki, Paul Keller and Lucie Guibault sought to bring clarity to the new agreement and the issues emerging from the online presentation of digital cultural artefacts. Continue reading

Information Diet by Clay Johnson

The premise of the Information Diet by Clay Johnson is: ‘What if we started managing our information consumption like we managed our food consumption?’ And so it begins. This is a fascinating book framed as an open discussion in which Johnson carries along this metaphor of information intake being likened to nutritional sustenance. The initial chapters explore overeating and the obesity of America, but the reader is increasingly wondering how far the author planning on carrying this overeating consumption metaphor. As the narrative starts to move into the realm of information provision and the ‘industrialization of information‘ the author’s intentions become clearer. The case study of AOL’s Blogsmith software that allows for the measurement of information’s impact on revenue and profitability highlights is quite fascinating and paints a picture of information becoming turned into ‘fast food’ – that is easily absorbed, desired, but of limited or destructive nutritional value. Continue reading

Big Data Glossary by Pete Warden

bigData.gifThe *Big* Data Glossary is actually a relatively *short* book, best enjoyed as an eBook in my estimation. This volume is similar to a number of recent releases from O’Reilly that have moved from being deep and comprehensive to providing a higher-level taste-test overview from a more conceptual standpoint. In this instance, the Big Data Glossary by Pete Warden could also be described as an annotated bibliography of the variety of tools and platforms recently emerged to work with linked data or large and rich datasets.

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DIY Bookbinding by Brian Sawyer

diy bookbinding.gifWhat a great excursion down a wonderful project! A lovely, short, step-by-step brief, DIY Bookbinding by Brian Sawyer inspires the reader to attempt their own bookbinding project. Although only 32 pages in length, the author makes the process of binding together a collection of magazines into a durable hardcover tome quite approachable and achievable.

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infostripe: Rich Barcodes for Your Online Self

infostripeI was intrigued by an offhand reference to a ‘neat new service’ and consequently poked into infostripe. It’s a consolidated touchpoint for sharing your social media participation and identities in a compact and dynamic manner. Similar to some extent to, it draws upon a certain amount of your digital narcissism. The biggest difference between and infostripe appears to be in the flavour: takes a very aesthetic-centred approach, where infostripe is deeply rich in content and concise presentation. demands more manual creation of the information used to describe you, where infostripe attempts to automate this process by building a profile based on what you are contributing to the social mediashpere.

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R Recipes: A Cookbook For Data Analysis and Visualisation

rCookbook.gif The R Cookbook by Paul Teetor is a solid addition to the well respected series. Teetor provides a rich collection of useful examples written in the proven method and covering everything from installing, configuring and running R to carrying out sophisticated statistical analysis tasks that demonstrate the power of R. The book is targeted at a wide audience from R novice eager to just start playing in R to more experienced practitioners looking to hone and round out their R repertoire.

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