Make: Mapping fuzzy logic and fictional universes

Can we use out of-the-box software to communicate our research findings and represent the fuzzy logic of the humanities?

Cartographers and artists have long made sentimental and subjective maps that portray the emotional states of individuals and communities. The Google N-grams viewer is another successful attempt at making subjective information visible to the broader public. These hijackings of the tools of scientific inquiry for qualitative research remain relatively rare and will not develop further unless they are adopted more broadly by researchers and in humanities classrooms.

This is a pity because there are so many simple tools like Google Fusion Tables and Tableau Public they are fun to play with. They could make for excellent teaching tools, or even make humanities research findings go viral in the way that scientific studies often do. But there is a big problem: visualization tools generally require precise locations and numbers, so we need to come up with new ways of thinking about data for qualitative research.

Which software packages have you used to visualize data in class? Have you come up with innovative ways to present qualitative research? Is there a body of qualitative research that you would like to see as a bar chart, map, or scatterplot?

Bring at least one idea for a subjective or emotional dataset. We will play with some online visualization tools, brainstorm uses for them, and execut a few small projects.

Categories: Collaboration, Mapping, Research Methods, Session: Play, Teaching, Visualization, Your Categories Are Inadequate |
Profile photo of Melanie Conroy

About Melanie Conroy

I am starting as an Assistant Professor of French at the University of Memphis in the fall and would like to meet people interested in the digital humanities in the area. I have a lot of experience with GIS, network graphs, and project management software. Most of my projects are in 19th-century studies or French studies.

Leave a Reply