Juxtaposing Woodcuts

I was fortunate to meet Claire Bourne from VCU’s English Department yesterday. In addition to all sorts of fun conversations around her upcoming course on Marlowe (and the WordPress site) and the FileMaker database she built to see more deeply into her research,1 Claire mentioned she was on Twitter (roaringgirle) which opened the door to yet another interesting world of people on Twitter. One of Claire’s tweets comparing two different, but very similar, woodcuts did catch my eye as an interesting target for Juxtapose. woodcut on this 18c TITUS ballad = copy of one on TP of 1 IRON AGE (1632) | Misc 289783, Huntington via @EBBA_Ballads pic.twitter.com/e1EJYqFz1c — claire m. l. bourne (@roaringgirle) August 13, 2015 It took a few minutes to cut/paste into PhotoShop. I then resized them so they were roughly the same size. Despite their aspect ratios being a bit off, I think it turned out well. I also opted to do the vertical scrolling option as I felt it made it easier to see the differences than the horizontal option. Nothing fancy but a solid way we can look at media in a way that helps drive understanding. 1 How awesome is that? I also had fun reminiscing FileMaker was something I spent a lot of time with back in the day.

3D Passenger Pigeon Bones

I’ve been working with Bernard Means who runs VCU’s Virtual Curation Laboratory1. We spoke briefly a while back about building a site to allow for interactive views and downloads of 3D STL files his team has made of passenger pigeon bones. One of the goals was to allow mobile devices to interact with the site in an “app-like” fashion. This is more than a desire for the PR boost that seems to come with creating an “app”2 What we’re working toward is the ability to cache this stuff and enable archaeologists in the field to interact with the virtual shapes on mobile devices or download the shapefiles, print them out, and carry the replicas into the field (next up is a consideration of points). We wanted to get the passenger pigeon bones out in time for the anniversary of the extinction of the species which was 100 years ago today. Due to the excitement and drama that is the new school year, I didn’t end up getting the bones or focusing on this until Thursday. This was the first website I’ve made by hand (non-cms) in a while. I figured it’d be good for me and I thought it’d help remove complications. I don’t know if that ended up being true but it was a decent idea. It was a […]


The Future of Search

It has been interesting to see the excitement surrounding WolframAlpha . The new “Computational Knowledge Engine” called Wolfram|Alpha has gone through a full media cycle before it has even been unleashed on the world. It has been hyped as a “Google Killer” and denounced as snake oil, and we’re still at least a few days from release. The simple goal behind the engine is to connect searchers with precise information. Wolfram|Alpha’s search magic comes through a combination of natural language processing and a giant pool of curated data. That quote is from Radio Berkman (which is a very interesting podcast out of Harvard Law) and they’ve got an interview with the creator as well. Watch the abbreviated 10 minute version below. I’m not sure how well the idea of a curated semantic web will work (although I can understand that urge). This does really show a different way to think about searching for information. It really takes it beyond search, making it closer to exploration maybe. It’s similar in some ways to one of David Huynh’s Parallax project (of Simile Exhibit fame) which has been out for quite a while now. Video of that is below. Freebase Parallax: A new way to browse and explore data from David Huynh on Vimeo. While the media may be portraying Google as being […]

Google Forms Meets the Spaghetti Syndication Monster

Or – how I do things since I can’t program – but isn’t the first title much more fun?1 First off, thanks to Jim Groom for letting me bounce ideas off him, giving some technical assistance and for testing services rendered. Now to business. Here’s what I wanted- a web accessible form that would display the data as it rolled in right under the submission form. Just like comments for a post but we wanted multiple questions2 and we wanted to be able to divide the responses. So that, in and of itself, is pretty narrow and stupid but what this can do in the end is pretty cool and can have widespread power. Using Google forms and the selective publishing option you can embed all sorts of user inputted data w/o having a clue how to program- and I think that’s pretty neat. Obligatory Warning for WPMU users (WP single user should just work)- Some of the stuff I’m going to tell you to do is not a good idea if you’ve got other authors on your WPMU installation that you don’t trust. If it’s just you and people who won’t be doing crazy stuff then proceed under your own recognizance. To make this work in WordPress MU3 you’re going to need to install one plugin – Unfiltered-mu. This […]


Citizen Data Visualization

How cool is this? Today, we’re taking the next step in reader involvement with the launch of The New York Times Visualization Lab, which allows readers to create compelling interactive charts, graphs, maps and other types of graphical presentations from data made available by Times editors. NYTimes.com readers can comment on the visualizations, share them with others in the form of widgets and images, and create topic hubs where people can collect visualizations and discuss specific subjects. –source Sure you could do this the hard way for a lot of the data but to have it supported and built into the system is pretty nice and an interesting shift towards a different kind of user interaction. It, as well as the growth of sites like wordle, swivel and manyeyes, really shows how prevalent and important information visualization is becoming. Now we have to start teaching our students how to analyze and how to make these visualizations in ways that matter. The thought behind the construction (or deconstruction) is what’s important. It’d be easy for a lot of this to be the powerpoint animation of data- just a quick way to pretend something crappy is much cooler and more important than it is (but that fools no one). I’m not sure how flexible things will be. Seems like students might be […]

Passive Aggressive Learning and Other Drivel

These things are less techy and more inspired by pop culture once again but I thought they were worth remembering. Scion Crest Generator – While the choices aren’t unlimited, this nice flash interface will help you make a lot of different crests. The real power would be in requiring logic for the various choices and in that way the restrictions almost work for you- less time in building and more time spent on why your choices make sense. You could do this with just about any character or historical figure. The really nice thing is the image sizes are really good- up to 2048×1536 so you could print them out and do other things with them or just use them as a starting point in Photoshop or some other image editor. For instance, I made the crest above for this blog. The wrenches on the left to represent the DIY ethic of much of the stuff I like. The circuit board patter on the right to represent the technology. Then the broadcasting icon represented RSS to me and the fire is for igniting a passion for learning. The wolf is because I like to bite people. I just liked the wolf, a little gritty and banged up from the real world. Corny, I know, but you get the idea. It’d […]

A Blogging Bestiary

Soooo, I had to do another presentation on blogging and “Bob on Blogs” wasn’t really the style I wanted for the UR crowd. Time for something new. This is my basic thought process in case it might interest someone. Concept (learning objective): There are two key things I want viewers to come away with A blog is just an easy way to get content (multimedia and otherwise) on the Internet and you don’t have to do commenting, regular posts, etc. There are lots of interesting ways to use blogs in education The problem I ran into was that I had lots of blog examples but when I started trying to break things down to show the flexibility it got way too complex. I was initially trying to show things like: Group blog, with comments, using text and images Single user blog, without comments, using text Group blog, aggregating via RSS, with comments using text, video and images So, instead I divided the presentation into two parts. The first portion would be a more traditional presentation with slides to add some humor and associate some interesting visuals with the relatively dry topic of the conceptual use of blogs, their limitations etc. I really wanted to keep the audience engaged and thinking about things in terms that made sense to them. The […]

On the fly video mashups

I may have to add Omnision to the tools Jim Groom and I will be talking about this Thursday. We’ll be discussing ways to mashup data without having to sink to the odious business of programming (I’m just jealous because I can’t code). Session title is “Welcome to Non-Programistan” and it’ll be part of the NMC online spring symposium. So Omnision is a nice way to mash up various Youtube videos at varying points/lengths into one continuous movie. The service also gives you the ability to add comments or allow others to do so (warning: that gets ugly quickly but you can turn them off/on). The nice thing here is you suddenly have the power to make subtitled videos (like we did with the Baliwood video thing) but now you’ve got a huge catalog of much more varied material. You could really do some creative and interesting work with this. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities, not Steve Ballmer excited, but pretty excited.


Asterpix – Part Deux – The Review

Through the magic of the Internet I got a comment from Nat Kausik who works for Asterpix (update 2015 – asterpix is now spammy). It still amazes me when this happens (and ups my faith that they’ll stick around because they are listening and responding to the user). Nat requested a little more detail regarding what I’d like to see improved in Asterpix. I’m not really sure why he needs more information. I think “it’s not quite as slick as I’d like” is a pretty detailed and useful feedback. 🙂 Here is what I’d really like to be able to do with Asterpix in my dream world. Please note- I find Asterpix to be very useful right now and I intend to use it. I encourage others to use it. I really feel they’re providing something that no one else is and I’m very grateful for that. That being said, here’s what they could do that would result in my getting a “I Heart Asterpix” tattoo. I’d like much more control over my notes. I want to be able to control their shape, fill opacity/color, line thickness/color/opacity. In a really perfect world I’d be able to use a tool something like the polygon creator in Google Maps to plot points to make irregular objects. I’d like to know what html […]


Next Level Video – Asterpix

I love the way in some videos you can click on images or text on the screen and they are interactive- taking you to URLs or different portions of the video. I really feel that in education, and elsewhere, this has amazing potential. Making text interactive through hyperlinks changed the world so doing the same thing with video is likely to have some real power as well. I’m not a big fan of Flash so I had explored a few of the Quicktime options (mainly Livestage Pro. The software creating these movies is fairly expensive and has a pretty steep learning curve. Not ideal for education or for encouraging student/teacher use (or me for that matter and I like this stuff). Enter Asterpix (I know, with a 12-3-07 launch I’m late to the ball). This online service (registration required) allows you to add clickable links to movies. It plays nicely with Youtube and gives you and embed code. See example above. While it’s not quite as slick as I’d like- it makes up for it in terms of ease of use and pure getting things done. I’m very happy. There’s something to be said for just increasing the amount, as well as adding different formats, of data in videos and then there are a lot of creative options you could […]