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lukepatrickbutler

I'm Luke and all I want to do is watch the walking dead. But I suppose I'll blog instead.

Storify Critical Review

Okay, so this post will be my personal critical review of the online digital tool Storify. Storify is a social network service that lets the user create stories or timelines using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram so its basically another blogging service. First of all I do want to say I have a lot of mixed thoughts on Storify due to my overall experience with the online tool. I believe it has a lot of useful and interesting methods to make blogging easier however despite all this I do think it needs a lot of work.

Im not going to lie and say Storify was the best online blogging system I ever used because it wasn’t although it did have a lot of flavour to it which I found quit appealing. To me it appears as if Storify  tries to make blogging a little bit different which is hoped to make it more appealing for people to use. I like this idea as it shows a bit more creativity which is always nice to see in blogs. You can see this straight away from the title as it is called Storify which is essentially outlining that this is where you can wright your story and share it with the world. When you are using the tool itself one of the main tabs is titled My Stories. Within this tap you are then able to create a new story.  From this main tab you have a selection of sub tabs such as “All”, “Drafts”, “Published”, “Edited”, “Private” and “Collaborations”. I find these features to be very handy for the main fact of simplicity making it a lot quicker to get work done and keep it organised.

The Drafts tab is probably the section of Storify which I found most beneficial however the only reason why I saw it to be so beneficial was through a recurring negative experience that I was having with Storify. I came across the issue when using Storify that it randomly likes to quite every now and then. I have heard of others experiencing this issue and although the first time I  came across it I was devastated as I thought my work had been lost I did begin to learn it all gets saved in the drafts tab. The next thing about Storify which began to get on my nerves almost immediately when I started to use it was the sectioning of paragraphs when constructing a story. You are completely incapable of pressing the enter button without Storify creating a new parted paragraph in a completely separate box. This will even happen if you stop halfway across a line and press enter. I found the lack of customisation to be frustrating and from talking to others who also used Storify feel the same way. Another area of Storify where I found there to be a huge lack of customisation and personal touch is when adding in media. When an image or video is added to the story/blog you are unable to physically construct the words around the image. Your only option in this case is to have a huge gap in your Storify post paragraphing it off from what you were previously writing about. In my opinion this appears to be very ugly and impractical in a lot of situations.

Despite these negative experiences I have had with Storify I do have to say there are some very good ideas within the service. One of my favourite is the method which is available to you if you wish to implement social media examples into your Storify post. When you are writing a new story these options are presented to you in an easy to use format on the right hand side of the screen. At the top of this section you are given a list of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, google+, Instagram and several more. you are also given the option to add another social media site if its not listed on the page. For example you can select youtube and you are presented with a search bar. this search bar is then connected with Youtube allowing you to search Youtube’s online database for whatever you need to fit your story. Once you search what you are looking for the results are presented to you in a list below the search bar. You can then choice the video you would like and drag and drop it into your story. This method also applies to every other social media site you decide to select. I found this to be by far the most useful tool within Storify. I think it is overall very easy to use and I feel almost anyone who has used the internet before could learn how to use this in a matter of seconds.

Overall like I said at the beginning I believe Storify is heading in the right direction with the new age blog system and creative aspects. However I do believe Storify as a whole needs a bit of cleaning up and a few extra features such as a more creative layout of the stories themselves and also a more stable system which does not result in your work closing on you on a regular basis.

“Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities” By Fred Gibbs

For This blog post I decided to wright about the “ Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities” by Fred Gibbs. The main reason I decided to wright on this is due to the fact that I am currently studying Digital Humanities and information technology in college and I am now in my second year of the coarse. I found this article hugely valid to the type of work we do be looking at in relation to the digital humanities and sometimes you do have to ask yourself is the work lost within the aesthetics of the piece.

Fred Gibbs deeply discusses how he feels the digital humanities should be viewed at in a more realistic view in terms of wether a lot of the style used to present the data is necessary. Fred Gibbs also puts out the question is there really a difference between the traditional Humanities and Digital humanities, asking the  question is there really a difference and is this difference big enough to categories them both separately. Personally I do think the difference between both is significant enough to grant them both separate names, however I do think they are still under the same heading of Humanities work seen as at the end of the day no matter how its presented and how the work was done its still presenting the data of the Humanities.

Fred Gibbs focuses on the topic of wether the digital humanities is criticised correctly for the data it presents as he feels a lot of digital humanities work is lost within the appearance created through technology and that perhaps the data is not presented correctly or perhaps it is not presented at all. Fred Gibbs describes this as not being presented as good scholarship “Can we really understand what’s going on? If not, it’s not good scholarship”. Fred Gibbs used transparency as an example for this “ “I used a certain proprietary tool to get this complicated visualisation that took a gazillion hours to encode in my own personal schema–I won’t bore you with the details–but here’s what I learned from the diagram…” This cannot be considered good scholarship”. To an extent I can agree with Gibbs as people can definitely get much to carried away in the visual effects of there work neglecting important data which would be necessary for creating something effective and useful. However I do believe visual effects can hold a purpose as long as they are presented correctly and do have the correct data to go along with it. I believe having to much of one with out the other is a failure within the digital humanities as I believe one of the perks of digital humanities over regular humanities is this. In my opinion it helps us visual learners stay focused as we engage with the work and it is significantly effective on those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

All in all I do agree with Fred Gibbs to an extent but not entirely. I do agree with the fact the digital humanities work can get lost within a vast sea of digital effects severely lacking in data but on the other hand I also believe data can over cumber a work if it does not have an equal balance of visual aesthetic learning surrounding it. I believe this balance is what is needed for effective digital humanities work and I also believe this balance is what defines the difference between digital humanities and regular humanities. I disagree with the statement given by Fred Gibbs that these aesthetic may be just “frosting”.

Susan Sontag “On Photography”

For this Blog post il be writing about Susan Sontag’s “On Photography”.

Susan Sontag’s “On Photography” focuses on several different elements of photographs

and movies. Although this book is somewhat old as it was published in 1977 it still has a lot of meaning and say in modern day photography. Susan Sontag mainly discusses the elements on what may lie behind the image one is looking at and she dives quite deep into the topic on the beauty of photography.

The chapter which captured my attention more so than any in “On Photography” was “In Plato’s Cave”. A lot of Susan Sontag’s books are based around philosophy and “On Photography” doesn’t fail to focus on philosophical topics. If any of you reading this has studied philosophy in college id imagine you have at least heard of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. If not its your lucky day because I’m going to give you a brief overview of the philosophical idea. The idea of Plato’s allegory of the cave is that you have been in a cave for you entire life staring at its walls and you have never left the cave for anything. Due to this all you have been looking at is the shadows which move across the walls of the cave. This means that you don’t know what these shadows on the walls are or what is making them as they are all you can see. However in reality there are physical objects making these shadows so you never really knew the full story, all you knew was the image they were creating through the shadow you were looking at for your whole life.

Susan Sontag compares Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to a photograph or a movie. She does this by describing how one does not know the full story behind an image. When a picture is taken there are a series of events which have lead up to the image and by just looking at it without knowing the background story it can be viewed in many different ways. Personally I one hundred percent agree with Susan Sontag in this topic. The reason being is that a photo or a movie always has more to it which when discovered will allow you to view the image in a whole new light. A good example of this is the image of Linor Abargil when she was being crowned Miss World. The Image shows Linor Abargil crying as she has the crown placed on her head. First impressions of this photo are that of joy and are automatically perceived that she is overwhelmed with the victory causing her to cry. The truth behind this image is that Linor Abargil was violently raped a month and a half before hand while modelling in Italy. Liner Abargil’s rape was unknown to the public and it was due to this she was crying nervously on stage. The reason why this is a prime example of Susan Sontag’s Philosophy in “On Photography” is because viewing this photo without knowing the series of events before hand leaves the viewer in the dark of what is actually happening in the moment of time the picture was taken.

This can be seen in everyday social media through apps such as snapchat as only the interesting things which happen through out ones day are documented in there snapstory. This can create a falls image to the viewers of the story as they are only seeing what the creator wanted them to see. Behind the exiting snapstory there could possibly be a very depressed individual who may not be enjoying themselves as much as it seems. There is always more than meets the eye or in this case the camera lens.

More than business model: crowd-sourcing and impact in the humanities

During this blog I’m going to right about my thoughts on Stuart Dunn’s article “crowd-sourcing and impact in the humanities”.

Personally I do agree with most of what Stuart Dunn has to say in this article. A lot of the article is discussing how crowd sourcing could be more engaging other than each individual person completing a task alone to create a bigger picture without any interaction with each other. This can clearly be seen in several projects of open source development online. The web is the main place where crowd- sourcing takes place. I personally believe crowd-sourcing should also contain more team work, this would involve individuals working on projects sharing there thoughts to improve and advance further on the projects they are taking part in. This can be seen already in projects around the world and I do believe its a method that should be adopted by others to maximise the potential of there work. The reason why I believe this is because throughout history it can be seen that more can be accomplished when several minds come to gather both correcting one another and also inspiring each other to improve on original work plans. unfortunately this is not the case in many open source works today, preventing those from sharing there ideas leaving an idea stay liner and not grow into something more impressive after being reshaped and re thought about by several other minds.

However you still have to look at this in a realistic light. not all ideas which are shared can be used. The main objective of this form of crowd sourcing is to get everyones ideas together and for the most effective and sense making to be used to improve what project needs to be accomplished in the best way possible

Overall I do agree with the article Stuart Dunn has published on crowd-sourcing as it enhances the chances of work to be more successful accomplished. I do hope more projects include group work with more interaction with each other in the future as I personally believe it will drastically improve the objective of the project and will help new ideas to be created through several minds coming together as one.

Cyborg Manifesto

Before I get into this I just want to explain what I will be writing about in this blog post.

I am currently studying the reading “Cyborg Manifesto” by  Donna Haraway as part of my Digital humanities module in college. I will be writing about my opinion of “Cyborg Manifesto’s” concepts and how I both agree and somewhat disagree with some of the things Donna Haraway had to say.

First of all I do want to say if anyone is planning on reading “Cyborg Manifest” do yourself a favour and have a big cup of coffee before hand or even a nice bump of cocaine as it is not an easy read. The concepts in this reading seem rather mind boggling due to vague descriptions of what Donna Haraway is trying to say and all in all it is very difficult to stay concentrated throughout the reading. Donna continuously speaks of cyborgs in a negative light however she intends to get the message across to those who are reading that cyborgs have very appealing traits and how it would be a positive future if we continue to develop into the cyborgs we appear to be becoming. Donna even takes the next step in saying she believes we are already cyborgs. I both agree and disagree with her thoughts on this. Firstly you have to remember she wrote this in 1985. I do not see how the people of 1985 would have been so in tuned to technology that they would be described as cyborgs. Fair enough the television was around and maybe you would of had a PC at work. The definition of a cyborg is “a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body”. To be honest with you I don’t think this definition fits in with how far technology effected most peoples lives back in 1985.

The reason why I say most peoples lives is because although the average middle class human did not have such an interaction with technology back then, there where still the few who served in war. Donna highlights this in “Cyborg Manifesto” and I do have to say I agree with her on this part. I do completely understand that the definition of a cyborg states that “physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body” however I would personally agree that war brings technology and man together to both create ultimate destruction. Donna explains this as a “cyborg orgy”. This can be both seen in 2015 (modern warfare) and the past back in 1985 and even before. Although most of these technologies are not physically built into humans under there flesh for the most part, I do believe they are deeply integrated into the physical appearance and mental knowing of man through both vehicles and firearm weaponry which extends the ability of normal human limitations.

overall I do have to say I found “Cyborg Manifesto” to be an interesting read. I would definitely recommend reading it if you are willing to get your brain active enough to even read half of it. There are too many interesting concepts in “Cyborg Manifesto” for me to discuss and some I find relevant to the understanding of the present and future but there are just as much that I don’t find relevant. The best thing to do is read it yourself and see what you think of Donna Haraway’s ideas back in 1985.

Deploy a Tool/Assignment 4

For this assignment I had to gain familiarity with deployment of a webservice on my own web server space and to come to an understanding and appreciation of the technology components that come together to make it function.

The main vault which I had to overcome for completing this assignment was that I had to purchase server space for 25 dollars which was roughly 23 euro. I didn’t actually have the money on my own card so I had to borrow friends at the time. Once I finally got passed that barrier I was then confronted with another. After purchasing the server space from Reclaim Hosting I was marked as fraud and was unable to do anything with my purchase. Due to this I had to contact customer service and I was told it is a common error. This was fixed right away with no difficulty and I was very pleased with the quick response.

The next step was to find an application to get focused on. I clicked on cPanel from the reclaim hosting dashboard and tried out several different applications until I found the one which I felt suited me best. The application which I decided to stick with was Zenphoto.  Zenphoto is an open source gallery and photo blogging application. It was initially released in 2005 and today powers more than 300, 000 photo galleries.

What is the purpose of the service or application you have chosen?

The main purpose of zenphoto is to allow people to view your photo galleries which you feel may bring them entertainment and inspiration. Zenphoto is a blog which is completely portrayed as photos to tell a story or share news other than words. This gives blogging a new form of artistic touch allowing those to create a huge amount of galleries to express themselves to the world through this beneficial open source.

Why are you interested in it?

Personally I am interested in zenphoto as I have a friend who is crazy about photography and loves to share his pictures and videos as much as possible. This tool got my attention as my friend continues to look for new ways to get his photos out there and let people see the artistic beauty photography can create. I am also interested in this application as I have never heard much about it and I am curious to why it does not get more public attention. It is a very useful tool with many useful features including complete customisation of your galleries and how they are viewed.

How is it applicable to something you may do in the future?

My friend and I go traveling a lot and are currently organizing a few trips both within and outside the country. I believe this tool will be very applicable to our travels as we will be able to share our galleries on this open source of all the amazing scenery we see along the way.

What steps were involved in the deployment process?

The deployment process was very simple as all it required was clicking install this application. Once installed I was already assigned a username and password. Then all I needed to do was sign in and happy days all I needed to do was create a gallery to my liking and add photos of my choice.

 

What technologies are used and had to be configured to deploy your chosen application

The technologies which I used were Windows 7 running on my pc and google chrome browser. The application deployed perfectly on my system and ran like clockwork.

Who would benefit from access to such a service/application?  

There are many people who would benefit from access to this application. Firstly a person such as my friend who takes many picture’s every day and would be known as a semi professional photographer looking to get there name and work out to others. This application would also benefit people such as families who may be living apart for a while perhaps due to work. For example a mother may be at home with her kids whilst there father is away working. The mother could upload galleries on her server allowing the father to view them from where he is located.

Personally I believe this was an overall necessary experience to really get connected with what occurs behind everyday webpages. I found this to be an enjoyable experience and can’t wait to see what I do with my new web space next.

My experience with Voyant

Getting intimate with text

The text visualisation tool which I have chosen for this assignment is Voyant. The reason why I chose this tool is because I found it fascinating when viewing its outcomes from other people in the past. I found the tool very easy to use and due to this it was quite a pleasure to have chosen it as my tool for this assignment. The text which I used to create a visualisation is the lyrics to the song Mad World by Gary Jules. The reason I picked this text due to it having a lot of meaning to me from a young age and I was intrigued to how it would turn out when manipulated by this tool to create a visualisation.

Whilst using Voyant I had come across a slight problem. The main issue was that it chooses the most frequently used words within the text. This means that it also chooses words which are not exactly important and should not be given the most attention in the visualisation. An example of this was the continues use of the word it. To fix this issue there are several different methods in doing so. I personally found the easiest way in solving the issue was to copy and paste the text into Microsoft word and then using words adjustable settings to replace any occurrence of the word it. This was very handy as I used it for other meaningless words along the way. It was also a useful way to fix the issue as it was very quick and effective.

I chose the song itself as I knew that the tool was meant to express the meaning of the text through the most frequently used words. I found that using this text in the Voyant tool thought me even more about the song and I found that it truly did express the songs meaning in a visualisation as it gave the most important words a more centre place in the image and a larger text such as find, me, mad and world. These are all vital words with strong meaning to help one understand the song.

All in all I found Voyant to be a very affect and easy to use tool and would most definitely use it again in the future both for fun and work that involves a creative touch.

OpenStreetMap My Experience

Okay well I have spent a bit of time playing around with OpenStreetMap adding in various different locations for the good of those who want to view this area of the map for navigational purposes. I began my experience with OpenStreetMap by Joining its services which was a very quick and painless process. This was a simple case of giving a name, email address and password. After this I then received an email from OpenStreetMap which required me to accept my signup to finish off my account setup. After I had setup my account I then proceeded to launch IDEditor in my browser which I planed to use to edit the map. I then viewed all the tools at my disposal for the task which I had planed to execute. I then picked the area which I planed to map. The area which I had finely chosen was Cobh in Co. Cork. The reason I chose this area was because it is my home town and had a large amount of unmarked properties and landmarks. I began by finding my own home terrace and marked it as a residential area and followed this by naming it correctly. I then continued by following the same process for several other residential areas in Cobh which were not yet marked. I also marked industrial zones within Cobh such as Ticknock were my place of work (Cobh DIY) is located. I continued this by marking neighboring retail stores such as Pets Plus and Saint Vincent De Paul charity shop. After marking these areas I then continued to mark a vast amount of farmland which is located around the island of Cobh. The majority of Cobh is taken up by farm land and a large amount of it is not marked on the map as an actual location thus I decided to do it myself. From my experience of using OpenStreetMap I can defiantly say it can be somewhat enjoyable marking areas on the map knowing that this could help people in the future such as tourists who need a free, easy and trustworthy way to navigate around an area safely. I also learned from my experience with OpenStreetMap that it is very easy to apply these necessary changes to the map and how little time it actually takes. Due to this I most definitely will continue to use this tool.

Assignment 1

508 compliance tester review Assignment 1

http://www.508checker.com/

I found this digital tool on the World Wide Web Consortium tool web page. The reason why I picked this tool is because I find the idea of making technology accessible to as many people possible such as the blind and visually impaired community very interesting. The main reason to why I find this topic so fascinating is due to the disability which both my father and sister suffer from which is Retinitis Pigimintosa. This has caused my father to go blind at an early age and has drastically affected my sister’s sight leaving her with almost none at all. I have grown up with new technologies being experimented with for the blind in my house hold such as mobile phones which have now developed into smart phones such as the iPhone which comes with a pre-installed screen reader with no extra cost. The 508 compliance tool is used to check if a website is accessible to these screen readers and if not what is hindering there use by these screen readers.

It is very important that websites are fully accessible to the blind and visually impaired as something as simple as an image without alternative text can completely through off a person’s understanding of what is being described. Alternative text is one of the elements of the html which the webpage is comprised of that the 508 compliance tester looks for. Alternative text is a part of the html code which clearly states what an image is. This is then read out to the user by the screen reader they are using and the image present is then described to them giving them a clear understanding to what is being described. The 508 compliancy tool has a very straight forward interface. It is presented with a box asking for a URL which you want to test for 508 compliancy. A large button is then present on the right hand side of this box which is labelled scan. I personally appreciated the simple, clean but effective interface of this tool. This is very important for this tool as it would be more frequently used by elderly people and the disabled to test whether or not a webpage is accessible to them.

One major complaint which I have about the tool is that when you click scan to view the compliancy of a page you are presented with a window stating “To see the results, please tell us a little about yourself”. Underneath this you are then asked for you first and last name, work Email, Industry and phone. My first thoughts on this are negative for the simple reasons that it may turn people away from continuing on to view the results of the test. This is a major concern for me when thinking of the older community and whether they really would be willing to enter these details and perhaps they don’t know what exactly they are being asked for. This also makes the tool slightly more difficult to be used by the blind and visually impaired as it brings in more unnecessary complications.  However my second thought on this is that this tool is an open source and is made available to anyone who wants to use it and because of this I cannot complain about what is fair and what is not. This tool is still set in place to help people such as the blind or visually impaired and it is also useful for one who is developing a website and wants to check if they are heading in the right direction for developing his or her webpage in the form of being accessible for screen readers. Once you proceed with the scan you are then given a reason to why your searched webpage is not 508 compliant. I believe this is necessary as it then allows a web developer to either fix the web page them self’s or to be informed by other on how to improve their webpage for those who use screen readers and would like to access their website. This Tool both helps the web developer as it gives them a larger audience when people using screen readers can access their web page and it also benefits those who would like to view these webpages but are restricted due to the screen reading software’s inability to gain access to the webpage due to its failure to be 508 compliant.

 

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