Beauty vs. Space

Today we tried out a  number of data mining programs.  I like the term “data mining:” it seems an appropriate way to think about digging deep, with some goal in mind, finding raw glittery things that need to be handed off to a skilled person to consider, judge, cut, polish, and set.

Graphs can be really compelling, for they so swiftly and decisively draw conclusions from piles of data–in this case, books published from 19th to 20th centuries analyzed for the frequency with which words appear. They’re also dangerous, I know, for they are certainly light on nuance. But I guess that is the role of the scholar: to understand the context and ask the further questions to properly position data that appears so spiffy and commanding into a broader consideration—or, alternately, to just go ahead and use it as proof of the devastation brought to centuries of architectural tradition (beauty) with the advent of anti-aesthetic concepts (space).  Especially considering this graph, in which the lines cross at 1907–the very year that Peter Behrens was named design director for the A.E.G.!–I can maybe see how a person might be tempted to do that.

Source: Beauty vs. Space

High-five! A Gigundo Week of Ginormous Discovery


Let’s just pause a moment and recap what I accomplished this week:

1. set up a new website domain (you’re reading it!)
2. learned smarter ways to search for images on-line (Googlerama)
3. played with Zotero
4. elevated my Twitter game
5. wrestled with Omeka, furrowed my brows at Scalar and Drupal
6. thought about the lack of oral history in architecture
7. was not made to feel better about copyright issues
8. impressed myself with Thinglink and had ridiculous fun with Animoto (my husband, who teaches a woodshop-safety class at our university, requested something that would attract and hold the attention of freshman students)
9. had big fun annotating film clips on YouTube (even if they’re not as immediately pretty as other tools)
10. got dizzy over the thrill of Google Map Engine Light
11. totally rectified an 18th-century map of Philadelphia
12. spent a few hours making a very spiffy StoryMap for my architect
13. crashed and burned with the new install for Omeka

Overall, many more successes than failures–and even the latter have value for defining limits and maybe encouraging re-thinking about the learning (or trial-and-error process) overall.  While I am delighted that I can look back at having learned so much in really such a short amount of time, my work through the weekend did reveal some points of weakness.  First, not everything has really sunk in, and I am reminded how important it is to practice new skills over and over to make sure they are really truly learned, even after an initial success.  Second, as I tried to  build a little project to display my new skills, I found there were aspects of the project that weren’t yet served by my little skill set, or that there were still things that I just don’t know how to do, even if I can imagine them or have seen them working in some other online source.

I am starting week two trying to balance these two main impressions: 1. delight that I know so much cool stuff, and 2. anxiety that I won’t know everything I really need soon enough!

Source: High-five! A Gigundo Week of Ginormous Discovery

Project Planning: T.U. Walter in the US (ca. 1830-50) and/or Europe (1838)

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Locating relevant digital repositories

For my project, “Mapping the Dynamic Landscape of Architectural Practice,” I need to find sources for the following subjects:

1. information about T. U. Walter’s projects in different states; his modes of transportation and communication; data (location, date) of particular building projects

2. maps of the US, ca. 1830-1850: maps have been sourced from the following websites: David Rumsey Map Collection (1835), Wikipedia (1835), Antique Prints Blog (1840)

3. Maps/information about networks of different kinds: post roads, railroads, shipping routes, etc.: these have been much harder to track down.

Creating intentional archives of sources

1. For Walter’s information: this is material I have collected for previous research projects, primarily from the Walter Archives at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.

2. US Maps: saved in Zotero.

Footnote: if necessary maps pertaining to the proposal are not easily accessible, the project may shift to chronicling Walter’s 1838 tour of Europe, tracking his movements, means of conveyance, and buildings/sites visited/studied.  In this case, the following map is a good, big, high-resolution map of the correct year; unfortunately in German but we’ll work with that: Europe 1838.  Additionally, images of the buildings that he studied will be included, perhaps in some kind of pop-up boxes keyed to the map, like the one shown above (from this source); also, if permission can be granted from the institution that holds Walter’s archives (the Athenaeum of Philadelphia), scanned pages of his travel journal might be included.  Images of key buildings dating as close as possible to Walter’s visit will be sought.

Source: Project Planning: T.U. Walter in the US (ca. 1830-50) and/or Europe (1838)