Author Archives: Nuraly Soltonbekov

Text mining Praxis

We did the assignment recently for another class and I just to import it here since it concerns the text mining in particular. It was a group project and the text we chose was the time classic Dracula right around the Halloween. It was an annotating assignment but the text mining was important part of it. Our group took this text and we ran through the Voyant text mining program to find out which words were most used in this novel. The usual words such as vampire, time, etc were present but some were very interesting to say the least such as room or poor (which in Victorian times were ever present theme).

Text mining and text analysis are good tools since they save your time. I just imagine a time for Digital Humanists to comb through the novel hand by hand to count each words and tally them to get the whole picture. These types of assignment and exercises would not be even possible say couple of decades ago. These programs provide us a new tools to analyze the novel in more nuanced ways and find which rhetoric was employed in the novel. I want to bring in the works of Ian Bogost’s term of procedural rhetoric in analyzing the novels since we can infer the laws of that world through analyzing the words that are used in this Victorian novel.

There are a lot of words concerning communication in this novel and if we break down the novel using the definition of procedural rhetoric we can infer some things. Things such as communication pre 20th century was based on good listening, availability of candlelight and the prominent usage of letters for example since it is written in the late 19th century. A good handwriting was paramount and we start to understand the “laws” of that setting in more nuanced ways and the text mining give us the tools to explore them.

Deconstructing the text or any other media are important in understanding the building blocks of these works. These tools are convenient and powerful at the same time. They save time, and present an appealing platform to be digested by people who may not be tech savvy.

Workshops summary.

It is an interesting requirement to attend the workshops outside class hours and I in particular have not encountered this type of an assignment at all during my undergraduate years. I understand that In this ever shifting job market and the skill set in need of a constant update workshops were breath of fresh year and gave me the chance to experiment and explore. Experimentation and exploration to new ideas are a hallmark of digital humanities. I want to preface that I am trained in Computer Science mostly but history has always been my favorite subject and a passion of mine. The above served as a guidance in which types of workshops that I chose to pursue.

I have attended the Python workshop on October 30, 2022 on Friday and it was interesting because Python as a code is different from Java another popular code writing program. I was mostly trained in Java and Python was new for me. Even though Java and Python share many similarities they do differ in how each executes the programs. I like the simplicity and cleanliness of Python and it is no wonder that it gaining more track within the dev community. I will look forward to taking classes in the future about Python programing language.

My wife is not a citizen yet of this country and I have been taking classes in our local library on how to process her claim to get the citizenship. I do not want to pay thousands of dollars for a lawyer if I can do it myself and besides it is a good civic lesson on how the person becomes a citizen because I myself do not remember it since my parents took care of everything when I was a teenager. The process of citizenship has become more digital and at times less access able for the people of older ages and especially for those who a digitally illiterate.

I am also will be taking Mapping classes on Dec 1, 2022 as I am completely new to mapping design and mapping software and I really want to explore that crucial aspect of digital humanities. I have been playing with Twine lately and I am surprised that there exists open source tools like that and it is my first semester and everything pretty much is new to me.

Reflective blog post on annotations.

I had real trouble with finding the right text to annotate and instead chose a different text to annotate and understand how this digital annotations work. I came to this with little understanding of digital humanities as a field, because I am trained in computer science field humanities part sound like a different language to me. I do come from a generation of forum nerds and I do see the usefulness of digital annotations akin to what forums did in mid 2010s before the mass advent of social media. Forums kind of died out under the weight of minute to minute updates and fast shifting social meta. I chose the text The making of the atomic bomb to annotate as it is of great interest to me and it is easy to find on CUNY manifold. All you have to do is to type it up in the search button but I could not find the text required by assignment for the life of me and spent close to an hour trying to find it. I guess that speaks of manifolds limitations in regards to efficiency of its search engine.

My annotation was:

“Pollonium- its interesting how each country gets to name each discovered element with its namesake. US got the name almost bottom half of the periodic table.”

It is a tongue in check annotation in regards to naming convention of periodic elements and how each country races to name the most. US named the most radioactive bunch on the bottom of periodic table since it was the leader in atomic research thus discovering unstable elements needed to produce an atomic bomb. Nuclear weapons are hot topic again since the end of cold war, and it is important to know their history and with history comes the context of what we are talking about. I guess that is one of missions of digital humanities to spread the gospel of humanities through digital means and to stir up conversations in the general populace, and if we do not that we are at the precipice to be relegated to the dreadful academic elite which became an insult in this day and age.

Praxis Data Visualization WW2 Fallen, and the politics of today.

Preface: I come from part of the world that is steeped in history and that history be it good or bad may drive the politics of today. That world is Soviet Union, or rather was. I was born in Kyrgyzstan one of the republics that constituted the “great” last true colonial empire of the Eurasian steppe. As the old saying goes Demographics is destiny.

When the Soviet Union collapsed into 15 different republics, Russia population stood at 148 million people in 1991 and now in the year of 2022 the population of Russia is about 146 million people and that is despite the immigration into Russia and all the incentives of the Kremlin to boost that number. Population is stagnant and is getting older and the demographic pyramid of Russia looks like a dried Christmas tree rather than a true pyramid. Putin always said that demographics is one of the things that keeps him at night and I am not exaggerating. This types of statements have been said by Putin on numerous times. He always said that there are millions of “Russians” (Russians and Russian speakers) outside of Russia that have been unjustly separated by history and he seeks to correct that mistake. Demographics drives him.

Putin is the leader of Russia that was born right after the WW2, his own father fought in the war. He knows acutely that it was this war that shapes modern Russia. The main holiday 9th of May is a testament to that with all of the pomp and the military parade (not many people know this but military never marched on the 9th of May during the Soviet Union, they marched on October 7 the day of Russian Revolution). He sees the sacrifice of the Soviets and demographic echo that still reverberates in Russia as a great motive to undo the damage of the WW2 that is still being felt. Putin as an amateur of history knows that demographics to him is destiny, and to rule an empire he thus needs more people. 146 million is not enough, and that is why needs Belarus and the crown jewel Ukraine. The events of today and important aspects of politics of Putin can be explained by the below data visualization.

Expectations vs. Reality.

Records and record keeping is an intricate process. The validity and availability of records depends on many factors such as bias, motivation and many other factors that even come to the person who is keeping those said records (Basically there are many questions to be asked be they obvious and/or nuanced). There is a problem with keeping records for the marginalized communities especially for the communities of color here in the Western world. Are they reliable? Are they complete? Do they gloss over the context of the people? Who kept those records that are now being researched by the modern researchers. In designing the course for the Digital Humanities those questions have to answered in order to present a more nuanced approach in pedagogy. Those are the questions I am asking when I read the article “Teaching the Digital Caribbean: The Ethics of a Public Pedagogical Experiment” by Kelly Baker.

Records and archives by their design are mundane and at times can be very dry. The challenge comes in deciphering those records in order to be presentable to a wider audience and I would classify the students even in a Masters program as a wider audience as well. But through those records the above questions must be answered before giving the full picture to the students. That is where the problem comes in the records and the archives themselves might be incomplete in a scholarly sense because the record keepers and the writers of those records might be very unreliable when they were recording the event pertaining to the marginalized community.

Digital Humanities big tent.

It seems that digital humanities is experiencing sort of a zenith in its ability to coagulate different disciplines and change the academic environment in the university setting. We should look at the elasticity of the term as an advantage not as a disadvantage as many would claim. “Understanding digital humanities as an expanded field can help ensure that the specificity of these methods and their own rich histories can be brought to bear on DH, and vice versa.” The comment speaks of the evolution of the field to an expanded as more technological progress allows to greater expand its elasticity and possibilities of research that it brings. The volume and connectivity is ever more important and digital tools shape humanities part of the digital humanities so called big tent as defined by Knauss. Elasticity of the field allows it to research underserved communities that were neglected either by design or because there was no academic progress so speak for its researchers as it allows it to connect with different disciplines under one banner. Different communities can have a voice through the tools of digital humanities but we must not forget the needs of those said communities and ethics of research surrounding that. Digital humanities should be looked as a tool, a valuable tool in a researchers kit for more nuanced understanding within the humanities discipline.