Yearly Archive2017

How the Rise of Education Affects Aspects of Society

Collaborators Blogs:
Andrew Wiggins : Ode to Andrew –
Andrew Douglas: The Digital Stream –
Eoin Long: Eoin Long Digital Humanities –

In recent years, there has been a massive increase in Irish people of all ages enrolling or re-enrolling in third level education in order to better themselves, increase their job prospects and secure more professional work placements. This dramatic increase is mainly due to the crash of the Irish Economic Boom in 2008, in which many found themselves out of work or unable to secure full time employment due to insufficient higher level educational qualifications. Many higher level educated individuals were still victims of the crash but had better chances achieving other employment abroad and at home. Due to the massive amounts of unemployed during the harshest period of the crash, crime was at an all-time high. There was an increase in crime within the sectors of theft and burglary, which ranges from aggravated to petty. All in all 2008 to 2010 were the toughest years in recent times for the Irish people.

We wish to highlight, through visualisation tools, the increase of individuals returning to education and how it is having a considerable effect on crime and deprivation in Irish society. The image below is an interactive doughnut-chart indicating the increase of those entering and returning back to third level degree/higher education over the last 12 years, from boom to bust and back again.

The above doughnut-chart was created using, which is a partly free online interactive tool and can also be linked to one’s Google Drive. We used the Central Statistics Office and Central Applications Office of Ireland to gather the relevant datasets for student enrolment over a 12 year period from 2004n to 2015. The amount of those enrolling/returning to third level education has increased from 143271 individuals in 2004 to 182623 in 2015. The largest increase can be seen during the period of 2009 and 2010 of 4366, which is very noticeable on the main interactive graph and is also within the period best known as the height of the downturn. This period also sees a substantial decline in crime but an increase in deprivation, indicating a direct correlation between the three.




As the recession arrived in 2008, people began to struggle and along with this many people lost their jobs. This led to an increase in people returning to further their education and try get jobs either at home or abroad. However, with this dip in the economy came a rise in thefts and burglaries around these years as can be seen from the interactive graph above which was created using an online tool called Datawrapper. This information was gathered from the Central Statistics Office’s crime offences records. These record are split up between the counties Garda stations and yearly quarters. We specifically chose theft and burglaries as representations of crime increase due to the large increase in both during this time frame compared to other crimes. As more and more people chose to further their education in recent times, with an increase of approximately 40,000 new students entering third level education in comparison to ten years ago, there has also been a drop in the number of burglary and theft related incidents in recent times. It could be said that the improvement in the economy in conjunction with a more educated population has led to a decrease in theft and burglary related crimes. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the coming years.



As seen in the above graph, which was also created using the visualisation tool Datawrapper, we can discern that there are similarities between the deprivation rate and the previous data. This rate is based upon the average living standard of a person with a third level qualification, or more specifically, their inability to provide a stable income or provide themselves with an adequate living standard. Following the Irish Economic crash and subsequent recession which commenced in 2008, deprivation rates amongst individuals who have graduated from tertiary education began to rise significantly. Between the years 2013 and 2009 there had been an increase of nearly 7%. As of 2015, the deprivation rate is still higher than at the time of the boom The reason why this is interesting is that is seen above, is that due to the financial crisis people entering Tertiary Education increased significantly. The socially agreed upon solution to poverty is to educate its population. This brings up many questions, such as the standard of Third Level qualifications, but more significantly it proves that even though an increased number of people are pursuing further education, the poverty amongst those with a third level (or higher) qualification has increased. This increase of deprivation is similar to the rise in crime following the crash.




The above graphs represent the percentage of Irish people who fall under the poverty threshold or who are at risk of falling under this threshold. The first graph represents this in relation to those who have not gone to college and the second represents those who have received a Third level degree or higher that are at risk of poverty. We can see that between 2006 and 2015 those who had received a third level degree never rose above 6.5% while those without a third level degree soared over 10% in 2012. While it is now more advantageous to have a degree as seen by the difference in poverty rate in 2015 being 6% in Non-Degree members of the public versus 2.5% of those with degrees, it was not always the case to be in a vastly better position. As we can see in 2007, the difference between Non-Degree (1.5%) and Degree (2%) members of the public was in at a 0.5% favouring those of the public who did not have a degree. It was later around 2008-2010, during the recovery from the Celtic Tiger bust that we see the skill sets of those with degrees come into play where they became less likely to be at risk of poverty and less members of this set were in constant poverty when compared to their Non-Degree counterparts. We also see that after 2011, the Non-Degree deprivation rate also glides ahead of their Degree counterparts and even in 2015 their is ~1.5% disparity between the two.

Using this interactive visualisation and comparing the discrepancies over the years between both factions here we can see the major appeal to gain a third level degree in today’s world and also how those with degrees are more likely to remain less pressured when a crisis situation such as a recession hits again in the future.



With the use of multiple visualisation tools we wished to highlight how the increase of those enrolling/returning to third level education have had a direct influence on crime in Ireland. The argument we wished to highlight is that a better educated society can have drastic effects on the criminal aspects of a society. In researching the available datasets we were surprised to see an increase in deprivation and poverty even though education numbers had increased and crime was decreasing. The increase in deprivation and poverty highlighted how difficult it is for those trying to further their education in order to increase their availability within the workplace. Only from 2013 onwards we can see a slow decline in deprivation and poverty. This can be associated with the increase of back to education schemes and other further education allowances. Education is one of the fundamental corner stones in any developing society and need continuous encouragement in order for it to be successful.

Data collected:

Our data was primarily collected from the irish Central Statistics Office website ( The Statbank on the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) under the Social Conditions file was critical in completion of our project. We downloaded relevant data tables and then compiled the data in a way readable the tools we used (namely Datawrapper, Datamatics and RAW Graphs). These free online tools would then use our compiled data to create visualisations. It was only a simple matter of later refining our graphs and making sure our data was easy to read for a first time viewer. The visualisations we created include:

  1. We used all datasets of enrollments all over the country from 2004 to 2016.
  2. We used all datasets of crimes in the country from 2004 to 2015.
  3. We used all datasets of the deprivation rates for third level students from 2004 to 2016.
  4. We used all datasets for the poverty percentages of third level students from 2004 to 2016.

In total, we have over 20 folders of datasets which we gathered the relevant information from in order to create our visualization in order to argue our hypothesis.



Datamatics, Open-sourced data visualisation tool, Accessed March 11, 2017.

DataWrapper, Open-sourced data visualisation tool, Accessed March 19, 2017.

Raw-graphs, Open-sourced data visualisation tool, Accessed March 24, 2017.

Central Statistics Office, Ireland, Governmental free data access, Accessed March 11, 2017.

Central Statistics Office, Ireland, StatBank, Crime & Justice, Accessed March 11, 2017.

Central Statistics Office, Ireland, StatBank, Income/living, Accessed March 11, 2017.

Higher Education Authority, Ireland, Statistics DataSets, Accessed March 15, 2017.

DH 2002 Assignment 1

At the beginning of the new semester in my second year studying Digital Humanities and IT, my lecturer for the Digital Tools and Methodologies II lecture laid out the course work to be covered over the duration of the second semester. Consequentially, there are two assignments which are required to be covered in their own blog posts. The following post shall deal specifically with the first assignment in this module.

The Process I undertook:

The assignment in question is fundamentally as follows: the student is required to take part in a community-engaged project with the intention of generating data for public consumption. To accomplish this, I visited the website “Zooniverse”.  “Zooniverse” is a platform where individuals or groups can submit a project to, with the purpose of attracting volunteers from the users of the “Zooniverse” website to partake in their project. So upon visiting “Zooniverse”, I accessed the websites “Projects” page. The “projects” page offers the user several ways in which to browse the numerous projects on the site.  The projects have also been categorised to their specific genre. Later I set up a “Zooniverse” account, with the intention of keeping a record of the work I had completed.

One of the recommendations that was outlined in the description of this assignment, was that it would be preferable to select a project which bears some relation to my minor Arts subject. As I my Arts minor is  English, I first selected the language genre, however much to my dismay I discovered that there were no current projects available for me to assist with in this genre. Continuing on from this I selected the genre connected with literature, in which I was given four possible projects to assist with. In spite of the possible choice given it was evident that only one of the projects had a direct link with literature, and this was the Project: Shakespeare’s World. The other projects in this genre were “Measuring the Anzacs”, “Science Gossip” and “Operation War Diary”. This seemed liked fortuitous luck for me as the module I had chosen to study under the English department was An Introduction to Shakespearian Drama. In addition to studying his plays, I am a genuine fan of his work. So it was here my work truly began.

The Shakespeare’s World project’s goal is to transcribe numerous documents and letters written by William Shakespeare’s contemporaries during the time of Shakespeare’s life. The website upon which the project is hosted, offers up numerous advantages for doing so, most prominently that of learning about Shakespeare’s life and to gain a greater understanding of the society at the time. The website also allows very quick use of the site, with the ability to begin transcribing with a click of a button, no login required. The site offers a quick tutorial on how to transcribe, stating that it is imperative to the project as a whole that when performing palaeography it is crucial to record the precise way in which the document was written, i.e. preserving spelling and grammatical errors. While somewhat jarring to begin with this is just one of the many struggles which come with transcribing handwritten documents with numerous writers, from the 16th and the 17th century.

As spelling had not been strictly regimented at the time, some words bear little resemblance to their modern day counterpart. Admittedly the project does offer a visual aid of how some writers wrote their letters, there appeared to be no agreed standard amongst the writers of the documents as it is often impossible to make out certain words.  In addition to this, often grammar is thrown out the window, making it difficult to fully grasp the context of the sentence. This is of course to be expected when dealing with such old documents, as they are written in what is classified as Middle English rather than Modern English. While the site claims that ability in palaeography can be achieved after a lot of practise, it would appear to me that in order for these documents to be reliably transcribed, individuals with an academic background in these fields would be more helpful over an anonymous user with little or no relevant academic background, from the Internet.

With interest in participating in other projects I returned to the Zooniverse site and visited a few other projects, namely: Measuring the Anzacs, Decoding the Civil War and Operation War Diary. Out of them all I found the project Operation War Diary the most fascinating. The documents to be transcribed in this one were official war diaries and orders written during the First World War by the English speaking soldiers.  The project allows the contributor to pick what Army Company/Divisions they would like to help transcribe the documents from. This project was very different to the Shakespeare’s World project, as the objective was to not transcribe the documents word for word but to tag the page with information. These tags included dates, locations, unit activity and named individuals amongst others.

The Implications of my work:

By contributing to these projects, I am helping to generate data, which can be later used to learn more about history. Hopefully, the contributions I’ve made will help those who wish to use the data parsed and created from these projects. At any rate it offers a second opinion to others who may come across the same documentation, which can either corroborate their own interpretation of the document, or offer a different possibility. As previously mentioned, the work done on the Shakespeare’s World project will hopefully offer historians a greater insight into life during the Victorian Age.  The Information collected for the Operation War Diary project will help to create a clearer picture of the events that occurred during one of the biggest wars in history.

What I have learned from the experience:

By completing this assignment I feel like I’ve learned how a crowd sourced project could be designed, as well as how crowd sourcing can be used effectively. Also, I have seen several different interfaces and have seen the pros and cons of each separate project. An example of a con would be from the Shakespeare’s World Project. When transcribing a document which another individual has already worked on, it is impossible for you to see what the other individual has already transcribed. You can see from what point to what point, however you cannot establish what was actually typed out by the transcriber. As the page has not yet been fully complete, a clear indication of what work has already been accomplished would be beneficial. Also there’s a possibility that given there is no requirement to create an account to work on this project, there could be incorrect, offensive or misleading translations typed out. A pro would be the clear tutorials set out as well as the clear message in regards to the goal of the project. The tutorials were extremely helpful, concise and to the point, teaching me how to use the tools. The clear objective of the project allowed me to remain focused on the relevant/important aspects of the documents.

How I feel I might be able to apply the techniques or material developed/digitised/transcribed in the crowdsourced initiative in my own work:


When it comes to English literature, authors often write numerous notes and drafts of their work. These notes are fascinating to those who are either admirers of their work or work in the same field. An example of an authors’ notes being used after their death are the several novels released after JRR Tolkien’s death based upon his unfinished work. Some of his notes became a complete story. An example of this is the novel ‘The Children of Húrin’ which was released thirty four years after Tolkien’s Death. I’m not saying that the intention would be to create a novel out of the data transcribed from a now dead writer, but the information that could be collected about their methodologies applied when it came to writing would be insightful. While I’m sure a lot of authors notes have already been digitised, I would be grateful to take part in such an endeavour.  I feel that if given the opportunity I would attempt to have my third year final project be based on a concept not unlike this.