A drawing of a small terrier dog jumping through a hoop held by a monkey.

Code as Poetry, Time as a Variable – Options in the Ether

Backstory Driving into work I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing Nikki Giovani a poet from Virginia Tech. In high school I was one of those people who really suffered reading the The Red Wheelbarrow and other non-rhyming poems. They irritated me in the same way people seem to be annoyed by White Paintings or 4’33”. In any case, in college I took lots of English classes. One of those classes was on poetry with Donna Hickey. The class selection was driven more by fitting my schedule and a vague notion that I might minor in English rather than any real interest in poetry. The first day of class she had everyone list their favorite poets. I don’t recall what people chose but I remember feeling like my choices of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Suess was not of the same category. In any case, I had a great deal of fun with the course and using poems as games and puzzles to think around and through. I later took a graduate course with Dr. Hickey1 in poetry and made my first digital liberal arts website around 2001 or 2002. It focused on breaking down various Richard Hugo poems and creating attempts at multimedia experiences.2 That stuff is all long gone from the UR website. I might have backup […]


YouTube Snippets WordPress Plugin

I made a little shortcode plugin for making it fairly easy to embed YouTube video snippets. The plugin supports both a start and end time or either a start or end time. It also now allows you to embed multiple videos on a single page. The plugin works like below. Times are in seconds. [yt_video id=”xxxxxxxxx” start=”101″ end=”117″] It’s a slight evolution of the code I found at Amit’s site after a quick Google search. This version obviously ties into WordPress but it also supports multiple videos and stops the video from displaying related videos. The uses for this are pretty wide open. Seems like film studies would have lots of reason to chop up scenes and display them with additional written context.1 Lots of classes would have reasons to chop up YouTube videos to show exactly what they want. Minor Figuring Out of Stuff The only real thing to figure out was how to deal with multiple videos on one page. The original code looked for a single ID on the page. I needed to both generate and find as many unique ideas as people might need. A bit of Google and I found a Stackoverflow bit to create a random string. Then the ID of each div created by the shortcode becomes id=”youtube-player-‘.randId().’ with randId being a 20 […]


Considering Making Digital Sociology Tools

First off, I believe that websites that help you think are tools. Websites that help you author media are also tools. So when I say “tools” that’s what I mean. I will also likely call them sites. That’s also what I mean. I like to start off posts like these establishing the fact that I’m not going to try very hard to make sense to you but at least I’m explicit about it. I’ve had a couple of conversations recently that have me close to building these with or without a faculty/course attached. #metoo Movies This started when I was watching one of the original Star Wars movies with my kids. I’d never really watched them closely as an adult. It really seemed like Han Solo was a textbook example of a person acting out some pretty specific examples of sexual harassment. Repeatedly Leia tells him to stop touching her and he ignores her etc. I ended up talking to some friends at a school function about it and the conversation expanded into the idea of a database of clips like this that both act as a lens on that time/space/movie and as examples of particular patterns that might be of interest more broadly. For example here’s Han being creepy . . . In order to write this post, I’ve […]


Weekly Web Harvest for 2018-01-28

fulldecent/system-bus-radio: Transmits AM radio on computers without radio transmitting hardware. Transmits AM radio on computers without radio transmitting hardware. The Anatomy of a Data Story Knaflic explains that “it’s not the graph that makes the data interesting. Rather, it’s the story you build around it—the way you make it something your audience cares about, something that resonates with them—that’s what makes data interesting.” Excel vs R: A Brief Introduction to R There is no doubt that the learning curve for R is much steeper than producing one or two charts in a spreadsheet. However, there are real long-term advantages to learning a dedicated data analysis tool like R. OverTheWire: Wargames Each shell game has its own SSH port Visualization Tools a data visualization of data visualizaitons How Do Kids and Artists See While Drawing? | Eye Tracking – YouTube Panicked about Kids’ Addiction to Tech? The funny thing about verbalizing what you’re doing is that you’ll check yourself about your decisions to grab that phone. Somehow, it’s a lot less comfy saying: “Mom’s going to check work email because she can’t stop looking in case something important happens.” Tobias Schneider on Twitter: “Somebody forgot to turn off their Fitbit. Markers trace known military outposts, supply and patrol routes.… “ Somebody forgot to turn off their Fitbit. Markers trace known military […]


Census Reporter API Exploration

We’re trying out a new site idea for the online digital sociology program. Once again, Matt came up with an idea that really got me excited and I started wandering around trying to figure out how to make it work. At some point I found CensusReporter.org. This is a pretty amazing site that is a Knight1 News Challenge-funded project. What we want to do is figure out roughly where the viewer/visitor is geographically and give them a glimpse of that area through some data. Nothing too deep, just a taste of the interesting ways technology, data, and visualization can blend together to do interesting things. We don’t want the exact address for a few reasons. One, we don’t want to be too creepy. Two, getting a rough location through the IP address doesn’t trigger the browser approval request that more exact location data requires. My goal is not to subvert the approving/denying of location data but I worry too many people will miss that approval prompt and we’re not keeping this data. Get Location To get local data I have to figure out where the person is. To do that, I’m just grabbing the IP address and getting a location bounced back. There are a few ways to do this. I went with freegeoip.net and the following function would give […]

Full size view of the timeline .

Timeline Sketch #2

I am still kicking around ideas for a timeline of my work history. You can see some of the other stuff in this post. This version is a Bootstrap version that I think can end up working pretty well even in a mobile view with a bit more work. You can see it full size here. It’s set up so that there are two col-sm-6 containers that hold ten columns each making for a total of 20 covered years. I didn’t realize Bootstrap would let you just do col-1 and make it more than 12 columns. So I have two rows of 10 columns within the 6 column ‘halves’ of the page. That lets them break nicely on mobile views into two rows that stack. I set up some JSON to represent the jobs. I only did three so far but there are enough to see it’s functional. If you click on one of the first three job titles, you’ll see the data below the timeline changes. I haven’t really worked through the colors. I’m letting it marinate to see if I want to take it to fruition. See the Pen bootstrap timeline test by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen.


Weekly Web Harvest for 2018-01-21

Tobias Schneider on Twitter: “Somebody forgot to turn off their Fitbit. Markers trace known military outposts, supply and patrol routes.… “ Somebody forgot to turn off their Fitbit. Markers trace known military outposts, supply and patrol routes. Donald Rumsfeld’s Snowflake Poetry Is Exactly What America Needs Right Now – POLITICO Magazine CALENDAR, PART 2 I have a feeling that the things I want to do that we have to drop off the calendar don’t get put back on. For example, I still need a dentist appointment. Nov. 28, 2001,1:21 p.m. h/t my lovely wife Walgreens Vampire | Orlando – Yelp He’s normally referred to as the Altamonte Vampire, although I’ve never seen him in any other businesses than Walgreens, as he pretty much lingers there late at night. I’ve also heard to him referred to as Dracula, but I think the Walgreens Vampire is more fitting than anything. Prior Art – Futility Closet Krøyer patented his technique in the United Kingdom and Germany, but (the story is told) the Dutch application was rejected because a Dutch examiner found the 1949 Donald Duck comic The Sunken Yacht, by Carl Barks, in which Donald and his nephews raise a yacht by filling it with ping-pong balls. Senate Quietly Admits It Doesn’t Protect Staffers’ Personal Email Or Devices From Hacking The government agency […]

Portfolio Timeline

One of the things I ended up being dissatisfied with on my own portfolio was the timeline of my work history.1 At the time making an interactive multimedia timeline seemed like a good idea. Just the phrase “interactive multimedia timeline” sounds fancy, right? I made it using the KnightLab Timeline JS tool (which is a great tool) but it just doesn’t do what I want. Define the Purpose I hadn’t really thought deeply enough about my audience. If it’s people trying to hire me, and I can’t imagine anyone else caring, then I have to think what I want them to understand at a glance. Paging through the timeline can tell a decent story (if it happens) but the timeline does not allow the viewer to see the big picture at a glance. I also tried to show that while I’ve had a large number of jobs there’s a pattern of, and consistency between, organizations and between higher ed and k12. I tried to make that connection in the Timeline JS version by using the same logo and color pattern in the segments but it requires people to notice that and hold it in their heads. It’s not doing what a good visualization should do which is to offload that cognitive load to the eyes of the viewer. Hand Sketch […]


Portfolio // Data Visualization

This is meant to be a general survey of a fairly large swathe of concepts and examples with lots of links for additional specificity. I encourage you to follow links.1 I’ve tried to also mix it with quotes from a variety of designers.2 Those people are also worth exploring and most links will lead you to something that will lead you down an associative trail3 of links/searches.. Portfolio design considerations are grounded in many of the same design decisions that are foundational to good data visualizations. Many portfolios also include, maybe should include, elements that meet the typical definition of data visualizations although usually of small data sets.4 Both portfolios and data visualizations can be thought of as heuristics. You’re helping people think. You’re helping them understand you, a concept, a relationship, etc. Rich content brings meaning to a graphic. Inviting visualization interprets the content and highlights the essence of the information for the reader. Sophisticated execution brings the content and the graphics to life. Dona Wong Have an Audience in Mind5 The audience sets the initial frame for your consideration. Who are you trying to talk to? What are their likely experiences with websites and what do they care about? It’s also worth thinking about what might keep you from being attractive to people that you wouldn’t like. Assuming […]