Yearly Archive2016

Ludonarrative Dissonance, A Discussion.

Recently I was made aware of the term ludonarrative dissonance in relation to video games. The term generally refers to the gameplay not reflecting the narrative of the game. This is often brought up as a negative in video games. The reason for this post is for me to explain from my point of view, the relevance and influence that the ludonarrative dissonance issue has, and should have on games.

An example of this can be found in the video game GTA IV, where the protagonist of the game states he does not want to kill anyone, however the player is able to kill random people almost immediately. This goes against the specially crafted game narrative. Another example of this is in the Assassin’s Creed Games, where you are able to kill an infinite number of City Guards in any number of locations, without fear of narrative consequence. My first experience with Assassin’s Creed, actually went against the narrative completely. I spent my first three hours of the game killing what I thought were enemies. In fact these NPC’s were in actuality the main protagonist’s guild members, his closest allies. The game however gave no consequence to my actions.

A game which was designed around the problem of ludonarrative dissonance is the “Dishonored” video games. The game features a character with supernatural abilities designed to give him the ability to kill those who wronged him, however the games narrative reacts negatively to this. If you play the game as it was designed to be played you are given a negative ending, meant to scold you for your actions.  Having played the game, I was often annoyed with this aspect, finding myself unable to have the true fun advertised in the game, such as variety of ways to fight enemies. Instead I found myself sneaking around stuck with using sleep darts and choke holds as the only available option to defeat enemies throughout the game.

Having thought hard about gameplay vs narrative and reflecting on my own experience of ludonarrative dissonance, I have come to the conclusion that, while effective in creating a more immersive experience, ludonarrative dissonance should not come at the cost of gameplay features. My reasoning behind this is that the narrative of a video game is merely an accessory. What makes a game innovative, is first and foremost is in its gameplay. The most memorable games out there are the trend setters. The Mario’s, the GTA’s, these are the games that people remember due to their innovative gameplay.

Now, I am not in that camp of those who are obsessed with the gameplay and no story. I in fact, hate to play games without a good narrative. I often find them boring and unengaging. A good example I can think of are two video games in the same franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Call of Duty Black Ops 2.  The Call of Duty Franchise has received massive hate due to their lack of innovative gameplay, in that logic if you’ve played one Call of Duty (after Modern Warfare) you have effectively played them all. However, personally I love Call of Duty Black Ops) but much to my own surprise hated its sequel. I have finished both games narrative and spent many hours playing their online modes however, in many ways I very much detest the sequel. The gameplay is almost identical, however In Call of Duty Black Ops 1, I was hooked on its story. I loved every twist and turn and found myself questioning the narrative throughout (in a good way). It had a profound effect on me and still influences my taste and expectations of video games. Its sequel however, I detest. While it might be a minority opinion I felt that the story was lacking and rather boring. While writing this blog I wrote a lengthy piece on why I thought this was the case, but I felt that it derailed the point of the blog as a whole. To me, the narrative is the icing on top. Sometimes is superfluous, other times it elevates the cakes quality. However the foundations, in this case the gameplay is far more important. Call of Duty is the most successful video game franchise, based on raw sales numbers. Clearly someone enjoys the same gameplay year in year out.

For me personally, there is nothing more frustrating in a game, then when your gameplay is suddenly restricted.  Often times this is due to the demands of the narrative over the gameplay. Sometimes it can be used in order to add an extra layer of difficulty, as used to be the case about ten to fifteen years ago, but mostly in modern games it is used in order to serve the narrative.

Admittedly it would be strange to play a game where the narrative implies that the protagonist is a Gandhi like character while the gameplay implies that he is in actuality a mass murdering psychopath.  I am not saying that this should be the case at all. There should be a connection between the narrative and the gameplay however, the narrative should be moulded around the game.

The uncharted series received a lot of flak for having a protagonist who is portrayed as a charismatic, all round nice guys, who kills hundreds, if not thousands of people per game. In response to this the developers intentionally reduced the number of enemies in their latest game in the series. I would argue that this is not the way to go, as in my opinion, it reduces the amount of content in the game. At the same time though, they too acknowledge that they should not restrict gameplay in order to satisfy those who demand this aspect to be recognised in their games.

The Assassin’s Creed series use the narrative to its advantage, using the idea of the game within a game type scenario to excuse any bugs or glitches in the game, as being a part of the game’s experience.  While this might be somewhat of a cheat, in my personal experience, I found that it actually helps with keeping the player invested. Even if suddenly a characters face model disappears. Well almost. This narrative aspect did not come to a cost of the games overall experience. While as previously mentioned, the narrative conflicts with the gameplay in other aspects, this particular use of the narrative to enhance the immersive experience is particularly well done.

Just to finish, I would like to point out there are popular and well received games that lack a story, such as the original Star Wars Battlefont games, Minecraft and Terraria. These games focused on the gameplay over any sort of narrative. While a narrative may have been a great addition to these games, it was not necessary.

In conclusion, while admittedly having a game where the narrative does not conflict with the gameplay is preferable, the narrative should not hold all the cards and restrict the gameplay.

 

References;

  • Naughty Dog’s response to Uncharted criticism

http://wccftech.com/naughy-dog-ludonarrative-dissonance-uncharted-4-flashbacks-part-original-pitch/

2) The origins of the term ludonarrative.

http://clicknothing.typepad.com/click_nothing/2007/10/ludonarrative-d.html

3)

Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft Montréal, Ubisoft, 2007

4)

Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Treyarch, Activision, 2010

5)

Dishonored, Arcane Studios, Betheseda, 2012

Other links

For an article on the positives of video Game story telling see the articles on the following websites:

The Girl with the Yellow Beanie

Pixel Peyote

 

E-literature – A look at the Creepypasta

Following on from my previous post about Pepe the Frog, I had developed a fascination with user-generate content on the internet. I wished to discover more content created by web users and ,in conjunction with a recent lecture in college about e-literature, I decided to focus on user-created stories written online. E-literature is literature that stems directly from the digital medium. The biggest genre that came to mind was that of the “Creepy-pasta”.

A “Creepypasta” is an internet slang term used to describe a short, gothic, horror-esque story written by generally amateur writers on the internet. Many stories echo similar themes found in gothic writers such as Edgar Allen Poe. “Creepypasta” gets its name from another internet slang term: “copypasta” . These were copy and paste stories that individuals use  to post around the web, often as their own. The Creepypasta is closely tied in origin to memes, with some stories coming from popular meme caricatures. In addition, Creepypastas are often spread in a similar mannar.

One of the first Creepypastas I read was “The Smiling Man” , which was written four years ago. The story is told from the first person view of the storyteller, about a chance encounter they had one evening five years ago. While walking about the city late one evening the writer meets a strange man, who had a unnerving-cartoonish grin. The story was originally written by the Reddit user blue_tidal and was posted to that website. The story received a lot of attention from the internet, beginning with people doing “Spooky” readings of the piece and posting their reading online, eventually going as far as to inspire a group of people to make a short film entitled “2-Am” based on “The Smiling Man”. This Creepypasta managed to capture the imagination of an innumerable amount of people. The creepy, unnerving tone, alongside the possible ring of truth in the story(as purported by the creator) and the relatable scene enticed readers in the myth of “The Smiling Man”.

The Smiling Man from LetsNotMeet

When talking about Creepypasta’s, it is would be impossible to ignore the most famous Creepypasta of them all, “The Slender Man”. The fictitious being known only as The Slender Man is depicted as a thin, faceless and murderous individual dressed in a black suit and tie. His notoriety led to the creation of several video games, as well as a film and more. The are numerous stories and myths about the Slender Man, and each user gives their own spin on the character.

slender

Tragically this Creepypasta (and Creepypasta’s as a whole) made its explosion in fame due to a traumatic event. A young girl American had been viciously stabbed by her two friends in 2014. The girl survived the attack, but the two girls who attacked their friend claimed that their attack it was in the name of the “Slender Man”. The vagueness of Creepypasta verisimilitude can be seen as driving force behind this attack. Since then, the popularities of Creepypasta as a whole declined. It’s a clear example of the power of story telling, as well as the importance of ensuring that children see age appropriate content.

However, Creepypastas allow for diverse and rich storytelling which is unlike any other form of short story, due to their copy-right free nature. It is possible for anyone to write one or to take an already existing one and adapt it. It can be seen as a digital word of mouth camp fire story, which slight changes in each telling.

References:

1 www.reddit.com/r/LetsNotMeet/comments/rvzaq/the_smiling_man/

2 www.reddit.com/r/TheSmilingMan/comments/13szkh/i_wrote_the_original_story_the_smiling_man_just/

3 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/27/slender-man-stabbing-wisconsin-girls-tried-as-adults-appeals-court

4 http://www.creepypasta.com/frequently-asked-questions/

5 https://www.google.ie/trends/explore?q=creepypasta

Pepe The Frog: Racist Or Comedian

On September 12 2016, one day after the 15 year anniversary of 9/11, the Clinton presidential campaign decided to strike back at those in the world who are intolerant. The moment of mourning had past. On hillaryclinton.com, an article was released. This brought the world’s attention to a horrendous symbol of hate that, unbeknownst to many, had been plaguing the internet for years. This symbol, which represents hate, supremacists, bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism, is known as Pepe. Pepe the Frog.

Who is Pepe? Well unlikely as it is that you are unfamiliar with this now infamous icon, given the current surge of media attention the Frog has been getting, I feel that it would be unprofessional to leave out Pepe’s origin story in this post.

In 2005, 25-year-old student and aspiring artist Matt Furie, created a web comic which he released via his MySpace Profile page. This series featured various anthropomorphic characters, none more famous however then Pepe the Frog. These comic were based on low-brow humour, with a satirical centre on life. When Furie created the character, he could never had anticipated what the internet had in store for his little green friend.

Image result for pepe memes feels badman

Feels Good ManUsers of websites such as 4chan, took an image of Pepe and a caption saying : Feels Good Man. Over the years variations of this image has occurred, most noticeably a sad Pepe with the caption Feels Badman.

Pepe became one of the largest Meme sensations, such as Wojack or the current Harambe memes. A meme is mostly a still image with a humourous caption. The caption is usually out of context with the original intent of the image and the caption be applied to numerous scenarios. Sites like dank memes often times Image result for pepe memesdictate the current trend of memes. Currently crusader memes are very popular. A popular trend of Meme’s are “racist memes”. In reality the majority of these memes are satirical and are not intended to offend. Well not to be hurtful anyways.Image result for crusader memesImage result for crusader memes

It is due to the fact that Pepe’s likeness has been reused in a multitude of different scenarios has led to some individuals believing that the poor frog is a criminal. A symbol of Nazism.

Pepe’s original meaning has been perverted, much like the Swastika before it. Or has it? The anti-defamation league of America certainly has. This is an organisation in America which aims to protect Jews from antisemitic comments. Pepe has been added to a list of hate symbols on their website. While the post admits that it is the context that Pepe is used in is what is racist rather than Pepe himself, the organisation decided to cast a large blanket over the situation and in a vast sweeping decision, any use of the Pepe the Frog meme is a form of hate. The post features images of an altered Pepe made to look like hitler, as well as racial stereotypes. However it is difficult to take the image of Hitler seriously and it is difficult to see how an individual could find this image Racist.

The YouTube channel ETC News goes into more detail about this.

ETC News also mentions a Twitter account which many articles claim is that of a leader of the Alt-Right movement. Jared Taylor Swift 🐸 (@JaredTSwift). In his bio, Swift describes himself as “Prominent white supremacist. Bad memes. Holocaust survivor”. Finally Swift also mentions that, and I quote “*PARODY ACCOUNT*”.

We need to make meme Pepe into a Nazi icon so that SJWs stop using him. This is our greatest task.

ducknaziOnce again this is a satirical post. The idea of a cartoon frog being a symbol of religious hate harkens back to the humourous cartoon of Donald Duck saying “Seig Heil”.

Is Donald Duck a racist? Should we ban Donald? No, this was a parodic cartoon. And in much the same way, most Pepe memes are as such.

Pepe the Frog is just a crudely drawn Microsoft Paint cartoon Image result for donald trump racist memecharacter. And that’s probably giving him too much credit. Pepe is not what people find offensive. Its memes. As I said earlier a meme has a caption. Most of the time it is the caption
which is racist

Other times a meme features an altered image of the original design.Image result for racist gandhi meme
Image result for pepe racist

With enough time and effort any symbol can be shaped into something different.
untitled

An image itself is not racist. It is like saying a gun is evil. It is just a thing. And it is what people do with it determined the character of the person rather than the object. Admittedly there are somethings such as a swastika which is a symbol of pure hate, a meme is not. A meme is a parody. It is not a serious statement. It is not a declaration of war. While it is unfair on those who are offended by such memes, the solution is not to say that Pepe is racist. There are many memes which  are inoffensive and  humorous . Out of all the memes out there, it seems strange that it is Pepe many are rallying behind.

Image result for pepe funny memeA lot of the humour behind the racist Pepe memes is based around the humour image of seeing the usually innocent Pepe in a Racist surrounding. He is not inherently racist, unlike say those crusader memes, which are mentioned above. Nor is he based on an antagonizing figure such as the Troll meme. He is a sad Frog who the world has turned against.Image result for pepe funny meme

 

 

Image result for pepe vs hillary

At the end of the day Pepe is a cartoon Frog. To suggest that he is a symbol of hate seems rather inane. Also given the importance of the position Ms Clinton is running for, it would appear to be a rather unimportant issue, given larger real world problems going on.

References:

Anti defamation League:

http://www.adl.org/combating-hate/hate-on-display/c/pepe-the-frog.html?referrer=https://www.google.ie/#.V_J_8PkrLIU

Who is Pepe

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/pepe-the-frog

http://knowyourmeme.com/blog/interviews/qa-with-matt-furie

Hillary Clinton Vs Pepe

https://www.hillaryclinton.com/feed/donald-trump-pepe-the-frog-and-white-supremacists-an-explainer/

ETC News

https://www.youtube.com/user/MachinimaETC

V.R. in Gaming

What was praised and commended repeatedly at the start of the year, V.R. has become a minor player in the larger gaming industry. Originally, V.R. was depicted as the next stage in gaming, a revolution in the way gaming is thought of and played. Surprisingly enough, V.R. has not become the industry innovator that many had initially hyped it as. It appears that V.R. will end up suffering the same fate as that of motion controls and the eye toy. As of August 2016, the gaming streaming service steam calculated that roughly 0.18% of their users own a V.R. head set. A significant factor in this development is the price of any worthwhile V.R. set. An oculus Rift costs about $599(or €537), an HTC vive costs about €899.00 and PlayStation V.R. costs €399.99. Admittedly, PlayStation V.R. has yet to be released, however going off numbers based off the steam survey it is apparent that not as many people are willing to fork over so much money on an accessory that could turn out to be a part time gimmick, with a lack of content. Perhaps it is because consumers have been stuck by a similar product in the past, the Nintendo Wii. This console became one of the bestselling consoles of all time. You would be hard pressed to find an individual who did not own this machine. However its follow up console, the Nintendo Wii U failed in sales comparison both with its predecessor and with its contemporary consoles; the PS4 and Xbox One. The main selling point of the Wii was its “innovative” motion controller gimmick. It appealed to the casual gamers, hence why it sales skyrocketed. However, the Wii lacked the same amount of content that was readily available on other consoles of the same generation, and it was due to this lack of content, people didn’t return to buy the Wii U. Perhaps it’s because of this past event that people have become more wary of the gaming accessories they buy. Currently the main time of games available on V.R.s are scenario games. These games often lack the replay ability of other games, being one note in design. It’s perhaps the lack of innovative, new and worthwhile content that is currently holding back the V.R. . Currently it appears that players prefer to play their games in third person.

References:

http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey

http://www.vive.com/eu/product/

https://www.gamestop.ie/PlayStation%204/Games/46341

https://www.statista.com/statistics/268966/total-number-of-game-consoles-sold-worldwide-by-console-type/

https://shop.oculus.com/en-us/cart/

http://vrgamesfor.com/list/

Analysing the Data Visualisation of The Aeneid by Virgil

voyant-main-paste-box

For my final assignment for DH1002, I wish to analyse the ancient Epic, The Aeneid, by Virgil.

In 30 B.C. the final civil war of the Roman Republic ended, and with it the Republic herself. Octavian became Emperor Augusts, and ended a century of civil war. Aside from securing the future of the Roman Empire for years to come, the end of the civil war created a revitalisation in roman culture and literature. The period became late known as the Augustin age. Many poets of the time owed direct patronage to Octavian, such as Ovid and Horace. However the most prolific and most influential work of this time was ‘The Aeneid’ by Virgil. This epic poem was commissioned directly by the Emperor himself. Virgil set out firstly, to glorify the ancient and noble heritage of Rome. Secondly and more importantly, the main objective of the piece was to unite the peoples of the Roman Empire. This was necessary in order to achieve stability in the Roman provinces and to prevent another Civil War. According in part to the poem, one need not be from Roman to be a Roman. One needs only to live their life under Roman ideals. While writing his mythological historical epic, Virgil took a lot pf information from the more ancient Greek texts of Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey. The protagonist of the Aeneid is Aeneas, a Trojan prince mentioned in the Iliad, who proceeds to go on a similar voyage to Odysseus in search of a new home for his peoples. He eventually arrives in modern day Italy and is, allegedly, the direct ancestor of Romulus, the founder of Rome. In this sense Virgil sees Rome as the successors to the ancient city of Ilium of Trojan Empire. Most importantly, Aeneas is seen as a Roman, despite not being born in Italy.  While the piece does take information from the aforementioned Homeric texts, the character of Aeneas is different to that of Odysseus, due to the fact that the Romans disliked Odysseus and his wittiness.

The Aeneid is a way to discover what the key aspects of Roman culture, and cultural attitude were at this time.

By using the digital tool, Voyant-tools, I was able to quickly see which key words were repeated throughout the text. Due to the fact that I used an English translation, the translator naturally used different words in order to maintain the poetic form of the piece. In this regard, some words may not appear as often as in the original version, but certain words will remain more prominent like the original.

Putting aside the word, “shall”, the most prominent words in the piece are “arms” and “war”. It is through these words we see that violence is an integral part of Roman Values.

dh1002 visualisation

We can see here how these words are related to each other and complement each other.

Other key word include words that are more centred on religious wording, such as fate, gods and Heaven. This is another key aspect of the Roman way of life, honouring the gods. It can be interpreted from the piece of the overall significance of religion in the state of Rome. Especially when backed up with these visual aids.

The third most common word in the piece is Trojan. Give the context of the piece it is not farfetched to supplement this word with Rome. While there are separate mentions of Rome in the piece, given Virgil interpretation that Rome is Troy’s successor, when the word Trojan appears in contexts such as loyalty to Troy and Trojan brothers, it is clearly meant to reflect Rome, as well as when but in context with the previous mentioned prominent words to do with violence and religious worship, it is evident that Virgil is referring to honouring the gods, by fighting for Rome.

The rest of the prominent words all follow a similar trend of violence or that of religion.

In the lectures for the course, often we covered several data visualisation tools and techniques. A lot of them appear to be superfluous, such as a poster of the text of the novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. The poster itself only revolution was that the lines of the texts left a large space which had an image of a man and a woman fending off zombies. The point of these new tool is to find a new way to read, to add a new layer to the texts that we see. Voyant-tools, in some ways, offers a summary of the piece of literature. You can quickly pick up the key words and themes of the piece.  Unfortunately however, these more beneficial tools only work in conjunction with having read the full text, in order for the reader to fully appreciate the texts for what they are. They more as a mean to analyse a text, not as a substitute way of reading and appreciating a text.

OpenStreetMaps – Humanitarian Projects and other Features

 

The latest assignment for our Digital Humanities Class required us to use the open access tool, OpenStreetMaps. The aim of this assignment was to take part in a globally run project and collect data for public use.

The tool, OpenStreetMaps, is a free to use map and mapping tool, which collects data through user input. The tool is similar to that of Wikipedia, depending solely on the interaction and volunteer work of users, in order to create the content for the service. Using satellite images from Bing, users are tasked with mapping roads as well as highlighting important features such as buildings or landmarks. For specific projects, the map of the region is divided up into equal sized squares. If a square contains too many features that you feel like you the project is overwhelming or that you simply need help, then the square can be split up into four smaller squares. And if one of these square still contains too many feature than they two can be divided up again. Using iD editor, the method used to map these area is simple place down nodes and give it a tag. For example, if marking a road then you could mark one node at the start of the road, and another at the end of the road. A line connecting the two is formed automatically. The software is designed to be as easily accessible as possible. When you think you have mapped everything there is to map in the square you simple say u have mapped everything, than it is up to someone else to come along and validate it. A spokesperson for the software admitted like all wiki-like projects there can never be a guarantee of complete accuracy due to vandalism by users, however they claim that overall their maps are no less accurate than that of goggle maps.

Admittedly there are other free services available to use maps, such as Google Maps. However, OpenStreetMaps intend to be updated on a regular basis, in case of drastic change to the cartography of an area, due to natural disaster or human intervention. Also Open Street Maps allows users to add their own local knowledge to a map, such as paths hidden from view of a satellite, or important local buildings. Fundamentally the software allows for much more interaction and change, than that of Google. Also software such as Google maps are copyrighted. This means that OpenStreetMaps would have to pay to use their maps and satellite imagery. Furthermore in some countries, costs for regions to be mapped is taken out of the taxes. As I previously stated this is an Open Access tool. This tool is free for everyone to use.

When approaching this assignment, we were given two options:

  • To assist in a Humanitarian Project task

or

  • Add one hundred new features to your local area.

My initial inclination was to help map my own are, believing that my own local knowledge would be more useful than just looking at satellite images, however when I found my hometown and started adding in features, I found that so much of the area had been mapped, and almost to completion that aside from the fact it would be difficult to add one hundred new features to the area, but also my addition to the area would not be very beneficial to anyone. So following on from this I started upon task one. Following a link to the website for humanitarian OpenStreetMap Tasking  website, I was immediately bombarded with humanitarian projects. I quickly got to work. The projects at the time, which were of the highest priority, were projects to do with Fiji following Cyclone Winston. The natural disaster killed 40 people in total and destroyed many buildings. The aim of the humanitarian projects was to map parts of Fiji, so as to help

“support recovery efforts by improving the basemap in the affected areas.”

The new satellite images were blank and required complete remapping due to the disastrous effect of the cyclone and resulting landslides. Australia’s ABC News site has an article, here, which shows the full devastation of the disaster.

The squares as they assigned randomly, can contain a huge amount of features or none at all. At one stage I was validating a square to discover that all it contained was the sea with no features at all. There were also squares such as one I completed which only contained one visible road, the rest covered by forest. I added as much as I could to squares before moving on, leaving it up to others to validate them.

When I was doing these squares however, I noticed that the project was being completed very quickly due to joint effort, and sure enough within a few days most of the Fijian related projects were completed. And as these projects were of the highest priority, they were first ones to be seen and completed. So I decided to start a different project.

The next humanitarian project I looked into was #1568 – Peace Corps Zambia. According to the projects official description:

“The Peace Corps Public Health program in Zambia and the Manyaana health clinic are requesting assistance building a better base map of Manyaana. The health clinic will use the base map data to gain a clearer understanding of the needs of their catchment zone and to conduct basic public health analyses. In addition, the Forest Department will use the data while managing the 1,000 hectare forest reserve in the community”

While not an immediate priority, I wished to help another project with the intent of helping people in need. I found that this region was a lot more populous in terms of roads and buildings, given the more precise location, and the fact that a natural disaster had not destroyed half the buildings in the area. Accordingly, it took far longer to complete the squares. I had added in well over 300 features to a square, including a variety of roads and agricultural tracks, as well as  over a hundred buildings, including huts as per the instructions of the project. Given the vast amount of features in these squares, I ended up splitting my third square in the area, so I could have a better view of the complete region while mapping in order to see if any features were left out easier.  Even though the project is being worked on by several others, currently the project has yet to be complete. I wish to get back to it soon and join in with the others on this group project. If you wish to contribute to this project, I have included a link in the references to this project.

I hope that these maps will be used in order to aid those in need. I like to think that by contributing to these maps that organisations like the Peace Corps can get to those who need help. Overall I found the experience, to contribute to something bigger than myself, humbling. I felt compelled to keep adding in more and more data to the projects, in order to help others who either need to use the software for practical use, as well as those who want to map out the area in the future. While there were some squares I did not complete, I still felt I had helped someone else. I felt the urge to continue until the project was completed.

I have learned more about how helpful accurate maps can actually be. It’s one thing to know a region from living there, but if you are not familiar to a place, more accurate maps are extremely beneficial. It is disappointing how many people cannot get access to accurate maps, in cases of emergency, knowing where to go and how to get there quicker, people’s lives can be saved. It is a sobering thought.

OpenStreetMaps is prime example of a crowd sourcing effort that works, I could see how a similar crowd sourced initiative could be used for projects. For example it could be applied to college work, where people could collaborate on notes and work together to help create accessible and understandable notes in order to help other students and themselves

So if you feel like helping out others in need, I recommend spending a few hours on OpenStreetMaps. It can be fun, but you are also making a difference.

1st tile Captureopen maps

 

References:

OpenStreetMaps

OpenStreetMaps Tasking Manager

OpenStreetMaps Tasking Manager, Project #1568 – Peace Corps Zambia – Manyaana

OpenStreetMaps FAQ

ABC NEWS:

Gephi: A Review

This following Review is a part of my Digital Humanities Course in UCC for the module DH 1002: Digital Tools and Methodologies.

This Review deals with the Data Visualisation tool “Gephi”.

Finding the Tool:

When researching for a tool to review for this assignment I first went to the website, “Digital Humanities Resources for Project Building”. The reason for this was that I wished to use a tool that would hopefully be beneficial for me to use in a project in the future for DH. While going through the list of useful tools on the website, I found that I was likely to use a data visualisation tool in the future. It was here that I came across the digital tool Gephi. The website itself describes Gephi as the following “[an] interactive visualization and exploration platform for all kinds of networks and complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical graphs”. I followed the link on the Digital Humanities Resources for Project Building page to Gephi’s website. The information presented on the website intrigued me and I wished to use this tool for my review. The website provided me with background information on the Digital Tool, showing links to publications about the tool and its applications. These publications deal with the aim of Gephi, which is that it “aims to create a sustainable software and technical ecosystem, driven by a large international open-source community, who shares common interests in networks and complex system”   Following this I checked on the DiRT Directory for this tool in order to ensure that the tool authentic. DiRT Directory listed Gephi in their directory with the same link posted.

While the tool only deals with the visualisations of networks and link analysis, I felt that it could be of benefit in future projects as a means to show relationship and correlation between certain stimuli and results.

Maturity of the Tool:

In order to find out the complete story behind the development of the tool, the website for Gephi provides a link to an interview with Gephi’s initiator, Mathieu Jacomy. The Gephi tool was created as the prototype, “Graphiltre” by Jacomy in 2006 as he was dissatisfied with the existing free digital tools available to him. Jacomy’s design for the tool was original and new as he wished to create a tool that could be altered visually rather than through script writing. Jacomy took inspiration from his experiences with digital tools such as Pajek or Guess. He found that he could not evaluate the results he received. Jacomy used some open source code available to him in order to create his digital tool. Fundamentally, Jacomy want to create a tool that would make a graph that he could easily alter.

The development of the tool was handed over to another man named Mathieu ironically, as Jacomy was primarily a software designer and had little experience in code creation. While the tool became more code based, Jacomy remained involved with the team working on the newly named Gephi to keep his vision of the tool. The most important change to the Digital tools was that Gephi had evolved having its own, original code. Jacomy claims that the vision behind the tool isn’t as important as creating good concepts however. The tool is designed for the users, not for himself.

From my use of the tool, I came across barely any issues in using the tool. While there was an issue in trying to transfer data to the tool, this was due to the issues of a third party plugin.

Sustainability of the Tool

As I alluded to above, Gephi has existed in one form or another since 2006. The tool is still in development, the latest update being in December of last year. The community supporting and using the tool is strong due to the active use of its wiki site and its members. The tool is created by a set team of individuals and rely on user engagement. As the tool is free and non-profit, the only way for money to be generated for development of the tool is through donations. Therefore the community around the project is integral to the future of the tool.  Also as the tool is open source, everyone access to the code. This allows users to ensure that the tool is safe for use, as well as allowing others to create other digital products of this code.

The tool allows for the easy exportation of data for use by the user. Gephi allows for the exportation of its graphs as a file, in csv format as well as other such formats.

 

Sustainability of Research

I admit that the tool does not use a simple interface, and that it lacks appropriate touch-pad support. However the site provides several how to slides on the usage of the tool. I was able to create a graph based upon connections between people in the book “Villette”, similar to the example graph of “les Miserables” given in the Tool. I also tried to use the pre-existing data from my Facebook profile in order to create a graph, however I was unable to download the correct information necessary from the third party app. By allowing the easy implementation of “nodes” as data points, the tool allows the creation of graphs quickly and easily.

I could see the tool as being very useful when trying to create a visual representation of connected information, to be used in presentation and in portfolios. The tool excels in its execution as a data visualizer.

 

Works Cited:

Bastian M., Heymann S., Jacomy M. (2009). Gephi: an open source software for exploring and manipulating networks. International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.

Gephi Website: https://gephi.org/users/publications/

Alan Liu, Digital Humanities Tools, Digital Humanities Resources for Project Building

URL: http://dhresourcesforprojectbuilding.pbworks.com/w/page/69244319/Digital%20Humanities%20Tools

DiRT Directory Website URL: http://dirtdirectory.org/

DiRT Directory Link:

http://dirtdirectory.org/resources/gephi

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