Mapmaking session notes

Facilitator: Kristine Hildebrandt

We looked at some example maps in addition to the ones I included in the session proposal:

We made a map on Google Maps:

And here are the basic instructions for creating maps in Google Maps and in R (we didn’t have time to cover R)

I. Getting Started with “My Maps” in Google:

1. You need to have a google/gmail account

2. You can manually type ‘my maps’ into Safari, Chrome or any other web browser, or use this URL, which will prompt you to log in:

3. “Create New Map”

4. Name your map, and then begin by manually entering spatial data (latitude/longitude, a post code, a place name), you can draw (add a point) on the map and then name that, or else you can import data from an excel, csv, or tab-delineated file

5. I recommend clicking on the “learn more” buttons anytime they are available

6. You can tailor your map points, you can tailor your map to different base types, and you can add polygons (boundary markers) to connect specific points to highlight spatial connections

7. You can save your map, you can make it public and share it with selected people or make it totally open, and you can create images of various types.

II. Getting Started with R:

R is a statistics package, but it has become more powerful than just that. It now has the ability to help you create customized maps of all types (along with countless other visualizations and images). I am just getting started with learning about R for mapping, but I can share what I do know.

1. First you need to download and install R (the latest version as of June 10 was version 3.3.0.

You can download it from any one of the multiple “mirror sites” (a network of servers which host R). Choose the one closest to you. Follow the install prompts.

By the way: R Studio is also R, but it is sometimes a bit more user-friendly because it makes use of a more Windows/Office/OS-like user interface:

2. Launch R or RStudio

3. You must install some “software” packages from the R package installer. These packages are little packets of data for mapping. You want to make sure that “maps” and “mapdata” are installed. You can then check for their presence in the R library:



4. This will produce a default map of the world


You can add axes and scale:



5. In R, remember the X axis is longitude and the Y axis is latitude

6. Here are some coordinates. See what type of map you get. See if you understand what the numbers are telling you.

map(xlim=c(140, 160), ylim=c(-20,10))

map(xlim=c(80, 110), ylim=c(20,35))

7. The map library has two types of maps: a default map “map” and a more high resolution map “worldHires”

You can compare: map(xlim=c(80, 110), ylim=c(20,35))


map(“worldHires”, xlim=c(80, 110), ylim=c(20,35))

Then, you can add your axes and scale again

8. You can import your own coordinates and place name labels, but you need to save the file as .txt or .csv tab or comma-delimited and quoted fields, and NOT as an excel file.

9. I have loaded this file: Languages_MapR.txt, which has the lat/long for 14 Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal, Tibet, China and India


This gives me a spread-sheet type layout. Now I want to plot these language names accurately on the map

Here are the languages and their coordinates plotted on a scatter plot of lat X long: plot(Languages_MapR$longitude, Languages_MapR$latitude)

Here is how the map looks:

map(xlim=c(80, 110), ylim=c(20,35)) #this lets you zoom in to the region

points(Languages_MapR$longitude, Languages_MapR$latitude) #here are the labels plotted

text(Languages_MapR$longitude, Languages_MapR$latitude, labels=Languages_MapR$name) #this lets me add language names as labels

There are some other tricks on the following web pages that allow for color and shading

Here are some tutorial sites that I’ve found useful. There are many others.

You can use R and Google Maps together, too, but I am not as familiar with this:

The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition, an SIUE DH Project

Lead by Dr. Jessica DeSpain, The Wide Wide World Project, featuring students Ben Ostermeier, Elizabeth Korinke, and Gabby Borders

The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition is a long-running project devoted to cataloging the 174 editions of a nineteenth century bestselling novel: The Wide, Wide World. Students will discuss their involvement with the project, what they have learned and gained, and what goals they have.

This session must be scheduled on Sunday.

Session Facilitators: Taking & Posting Notes

Many people were interested in attending SIUE THATCamp 2016, but were unable to do so for various reasons. We’d like to document as much as possible from this unconference so that we and others can return to the shared ideas from these two days. If you are facilitating a session, please do the following:

  1. Designate someone to take notes. We’re looking for:
    • Title of session
    • Name of Facilitator
    • 3 major talking points/resources mentioned from the session
    • Anything else you’d like to add is great and a bonus!
  2. Afterwards, create a post on the SIUE THATCamp Website (or edit your post if you already had one), and share these notes. You can take a picture of the notes if taken by hand, create a word document, or type in the body of the blog post.
  3. We created a Word template in case you’d like to use it: Breakout Session Notes Template

Make Session Proposal: Creating a Community Curation Platform for Child-Appropriate Web Videos


My son is four years old, and though I hate to admit it he watches a lot of YouTube. It’s our go-to diversionary tactic for short- or medium-length car rides. This means he might watch for 20, 30, even 45 minutes at a time.

I would like to curate a list of appropriate videos for kids aged 3-5 years for parents who allow that sort of thing but who want some level of say in what their kids watch.

I’m also proposing to document that list in a blog so parents can see why each video has been approved.

Ultimately, I think we’ll have better tools for this kind of process in the future – sort of networked sharing where algorithms take a back seat to friendly curation by organized actual humans.

There are some pitfalls to watch out for. Obviously not everyone approves of the same videos. What goes in and what’s culled is going to be up to us. We could set guidelines for our choices and parameters for the scope of what we’re going for (top 100 list or just a list of anything of value for which we can make a good case that it should be shared?), but you can probably imagine how tastes vary and evolve and how rules are made to be broken. You can also imagine how someone might try to hijack an effort like this as a prank or as a political act.

So, we should also take this as an opportunity to discuss how difficult human curation may be but also how important this kind of curation might be given that algorithms aren’t infallible.

Algorithms are making media decisions for us, and though we may not always make better choices and we can’t compete with these types of media controls in terms of scale (at least not yet), we might build curation networks around our most important concerns, starting with what our kids are exposed to and what they’re learning from.

Here’s the image I want to leave you with. I will sit down with Sammy and watch some interesting videos about monster trucks each painted a different color or carrying a different number on its side. To me, this is fine. This is like Sesame Street – bite-sized lessons about basic building blocks of communication and mathematics presented in messages that a young child can easily consume.

–But (and you knew that “but” was coming) after three or four minutes of somewhat educational videos playing for Sammy in his car seat, I hear dinosaurs roaring and explosions going off and come to find that there’s a fire breathing dinosaur (as if!) battling a monster truck in a swamp all made hastily with cheap graphics carrying information that is confusing scientifically and of negative social value.

I mean, sure, sometimes a dinosaur has to solve his problems with violence, but tail smashes should be the last option.

So, can we use the power of a small network of smart people to curate a list of videos (perhaps a YouTube playlist) and then can we justify in a paragraph or two (perhaps through a shared WordPress site) the videos we like?

If we can do that, THEN, can we think of a platform or a process whereby all kinds of groups might be able to set up these lists? Can this be done in meaningful ways that aren’t already covered by Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter and with relatively easy-to-use interfaces for both the curators and the “audience”? What is our audience? Do we have one? How big might it be?

Finally, what are the ethical implications of this level of peer curation? Are we building a system to create echo chambers for kids? Might parents try to use this to limit what their kids are exposed to in ways that are relatively negative? (I’ve built my grandson Mason an ALL TRUMP CHANNEL so he can learn early about what’s really going on in this country.)

Do we worry about that when trying to build this kind of network tool?

I’m certain there’s a use for this. It definitely comes with caveats, but this is my proposal that we make a prototype for networked curation on a small scale which could be coupled with documentation explaining our choices so there’s could be a level of transparency and thoughtful reasoning behind media curation, at least where we care to set it up.

Talk Session: DH Applications for Indigenous Cultural Knowledge via Place Based Education

To get a few more proposals in the hopper, I am willing to lead a Talk Session on DH Applications for Indigenous Cultural Knowledge &via Place Based Education. I am labeling this as a Talk Session in the best form of collaboration–not presentation. For participants interested in place-based teaching and undergraduate (grad?) research–invariably connected in one form or another with the indigeneity of place/history/culture–this would be a sharing of ideas and ways that our classes can incorporate Digital Humanities Applications of Indigenous Cultural Knowledge via Place Based Education.

Session Proposal: Introduction to Text Mining with the HathiTrust Research Center

I’m willing to lead a session that will introduce attendees to the text mining tools and services of the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC), the research arm of the HathiTrust Digital Library, a nonprofit consortium currently containing digital scans of nearly 14 million books.

At the HTRC, based jointly at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Indiana University Bloomington, we seek to make this unprecedented collection accessible for scholars performing large-scale textual research, by supporting the HathiTrust Digital Library through a suite of computational tools built around creating and working with customized, user-created sub-collections.

This session will provide an overview of the functionalities of the HTRC Portal, how to create a sub-collection in the HTRC Portal and run algorithms against your collection, and if we have time, we’ll take a look at the HTRC + Bookworm tool for discovering lexical trends across a large corpus.

If you’re interested in joining this workshop, sign up for an HTRC account in advance here:

UPDATE:  Click on this link for the slides from the HTRC text mining session!




Make Session Proposal: Collecting/Writing Your Regional DH Work into an OpenAccess EBook

I have been thinking about what would be an interesting THATCamp learning/production that would be of broader benefit beyond our own DH work in our classes and communities. For this session, I would like to propose for our unconference a radical knowledge production that would be  open access, freely available, and unblind peer reviewed edited eBook available via Amazon. If several of us have some coherence of ideas and praxis, then it would be possible to write up some of what we have already done (including materials already crafted for our teaching and/or research activity) and collect that together for a helpful collection of examples that would be widely available to faculty and students globally, digitally, and freely.

There will be a brief initial TALK presentation of no more than 10 minutes in which I will present my most recent book: 10 Strategies for Your Success in College. [I have set up the Amazon page to include a preview that gives you access to the front matter, including the  brief and detailed Tables of Contents, along with the unblind “peer review” section of responses by various experts in the field.] This is my first experiment in more broadly accessible and available publishing models.

The potential and wholly insane goal of this session is to produce by noon on Sunday an eBook draft with the work of several of us:

Play Session Proposal: Text Adventures: Interacting and Creating Narrative History through Accessible Programming

In this session, we’ll play and explore legacy text adventure games, take a look at free development software used to make them, and collaborate on an example of a text adventure game using primary documents from archival and special collections as its foundation. 

Text adventures were popularized in the early 1980s as text-only adventure games that required users to manually enter commands in order to navigate, explore, and interact with the game world.  Also known as “interactive fiction” these text-based adventure games were often unfair, frequently unbeatable by the average user, and often did not have happy endings.  Developers of these games had to form incredibly intricate storylines and develop sound programming using  conditional constructs in order to create interactive environments that were easy to navigate but frustrated users enough to keep them playing. Interactive fiction forces the user to interact with their world in order to change it and requires them to make a choice with every step they take.  This has led to a niche following that still exists today because the players become so immensely invested in the game.

So how does this relate to the digital humanities?  Game development requires serious attention to storyline, so text adventures lend themselves very well to narrative history.  By creating environments based on historical documentation, we are able to build games that can follow the real path of an historical figure, event, or movement.  We can use primary documents to build historically accurate game worlds that only allow users the options that a real person at the time would have had. Hopefully, the game that results is an immersive historical experience, providing context and insight that may have been overlooked before.

Make Session – Digital Humanities Toolkit via LibGuides

Facilitator: Lora Smallman


I’ll lead a session on building a digital humanities (DH) toolkit intended especially for beginners. If you’re new to DH, this is a great session to come and get your feet wet. I’ll be using a web-based software called LibGuides to build this toolkit. I’d also like to see veteran DH folks in my session to help with brainstorming what to include in the toolkit. I’d like to devote areas of this guide to:

  • Digital Humanities Centers
  • SIUE DH Projects
  • Great DH articles, especially for beginners to help define the discipline
  • Local DH Projects
  • Famous DH Projects
  • Well-known DH Researchers
  • Conferences/Professional Development
  • DH pedagogical resources
  • Programs of study either at undergrad or grad level
  • Digital tools

This is the blank slate we’ll be building up:


Use this google doc to help me brainstorm resources (anyone can edit):