Posted in #UCCBADHIT, 1916 Rising Ireland, Data Visualisation, Digital Humanities

1916 Rising Ireland: Data Visualisation

As this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising here in Ireland, I would like to take the opportunity to use the datasets that are made available from the year 1916 through the Central Statistics Office website. This blog post is based on my second Digital Tools and Methodologies II assignment taught by Professor Shawn Day.

The objective of this assignment is to analyse the patterns of data visualisations from the datasets that help us learn more about the underlying real world condition in which the data represent.

The procedures I undertook:

  1. To begin with, I have located four datasets from the Central Statistics Office website, each representing data from the years 1916 and 2014 in Ireland. The first dataset represents the birth rates, the second is death rates, the third one is the cause of deaths and finally deaths by age group.
  2. The four datasets were downloaded as excel files to my Dropbox.
  3. I experimented with a few data visualisation tools such as: GephiDatawrapper and Tableau Public. In the end, I decided to go with Tableau Public because I find it most convenient to import the data. With Tableau Public, users get 10 GB of free storage space for all workbooks and number of rows you are limited to have per data notebook is 10,000,000 rows. Below is an example of what that the layout of Tableau Public looks like:

    Tableau Sample
  4. After that, I uploaded the excel files into Tableau Public and began connecting the data. The layouts and the colour of each visualisation were also customised.
  5. I created the visualisation by choosing the type of data (eg. the birth rates). The next step is to drag the field (eg. area of residence) under the ‘dimensions’ heading into the ‘Marks’ field. Continue to add the ‘measures’ into the ‘marks’ field and then choose the recommended types of visualisations such as: a pie chart, text tables, trend graphs etc. grab
  6. Next, I created two dashboards (This is where data for birth and death rates are laid out). I used the drag and drop feature to arrange the different types of interactive data visualisations from each data sheet onto these dashboards.
  7. Finally, I uploaded the data workbooks to my Tableau Public account. All saved workbooks are accessible to anyone on the internet.

Data Trends:

Births Registered


The number of births in Ireland differed from 64,814 in 1916 to 67,462 in 2014, an increase of 4% or at a rate of 0.04% for each year. The largest number of babies born for both years were all in Leinster, with the figures of 11,337 in 1916 and 28,205 in 2014 for Dublin (city and county). Ulster (part of) has the smallest number of births in Ireland for both years, with the total amount of 6,700 births in 1916 and 3,752 in 2014, a decrease of 44%. As we can see from the table above, the birth figures were rising slightly. Click here to see the data in detail.

Death Rates

More data in detail here and here

Most deaths which took place in 2014 occurred in older age groups, between age 85 and over. In comparison to this, the number of deaths in 1916 tend to spread more evenly throughout all age groups. The death figures difference in the above table for children under the age of one has decreased drastically by 95%, as the results of a decline in poverty, the onset of new medical technologies and an increased knowledge in the medical sector. 2016-04-05 (2)

There were 50,627 deaths in 1916, with a death rate of 16.1 per 1,000 of the population in Ireland. In 2014 however, the population had risen to over 4.6 million with a sharp drop in the death rates of 6.3 per 1,000 of the population. There is a slight increase in the number of deaths from heart disease in 2014 to the sum of 6,700. Whereas the number of deaths from Tuberculosis had dropped enormously from 6,471 to 25.


As we can clearly see from the data visualisations, Ireland has changed hugely in a century. This Revolution has made Ireland a better country for the future generations. The people in 1916 were suffering greatly from Tuberculosis, Heart Disease and Bronchitis, these were the main causes of death, because they did not have the medical treatments or technology that we have today. We benefit from these new advances in medical screening and diagnostics today, which helps to reduce the number of deaths from Tuberculosis to 25 in 2014.

The people who are less well off in Ireland today no longer suffer from not being able to get medical treatments like those in 1916, as there are medical cards available to those on low income. Young infants now survive because of better sanitisation, healthy living conditions and a wide range of nourishing foods which are easily available.


Images References:


Posted in #UCCBADHIT, #zooniverse, Croudsourcing, Digital Humanities

Zooniverse Crowdsourced Participation

Zooniverse Logo

In this blog post, I will be discussing my crowdsource participation with Zooniverse as part of my DH2002: Digital Tools and Methodologies II coursework with Professor Shawn Day.

The intention of my participation in this particular project is to join with others in a community-engaged project to compile a variety of data for public use. While browsing through Zooniverse, I came across some of the most intriguing projects from wildlife, the universe and our history. The following are the projects which I took part in and the processes I undertook.




First of all, I joined Zooniverse. The sign up process was simple and convenient. From there, I decided to take part in Chimp & See project. I chose this project because Chimpanzees are one of my favourite creatures (elephants are too) and I am intrigued by how the contribution of volunteers will help us gain a better understanding of our furry friends.

Chimps & See is a new online citizen science project which allows participants to take a closer look at chimpanzees and other wildlife in the surrounding habitat. Study the behaviour, explore and learn about the wildlife through various camera trap videos which takes place in Western and Central Africa.

The process I undertook:

Screenshot of Chimp & See Project
  1. Logged into Chimp & See  with the same user account as Zooniverse.
  2. Followed the step-by-step tutorial on how to take part in the project.
  3. Scanned the nine screenshots from the video or watch the 15 second video and inspect closely to see whether there is an animal present or not. This project allows the volunteer to observe jungle scenes as much as they like and you can withdraw from the task whenever you want.
  4. There are options for the participant to click: “I see something” or “nothing here” once you’ve finished viewing the video/ screenshots.
  5. Adding annotations button appears to mark the types of species and behaviour after you’ve clicked the “I see something ” button. For example, Chimpanzee -> Youth -> Female  ->On the ground, vocalising etc. There is a Field Guide button next to the video to help you distinguish the wildlife that you may not be familiar with. The guide also gives extra information about each species which you can take to the discussion board “Talk Chimp & See” and share your perceptions and ideas with other volunteers.

The implications of what I contributed:

By taking part in projects such as this, it enables me as a student volunteer to contribute my understanding of the project to help researchers identify the behaviours and relationships of these wildlife in order to learn more about the environment, the origins of humanity and how we can raise awareness to protect the lives of chimpanzees and other wildlife in their habitats. Because of the link to how closely chimpanzees are related to us according to American Museum of Natural History, where humans and chimps share a surprising 98.8 percent of their DNA. The information we gathered from this project can help researchers trace the patterns of these apes and discover how hominoids evolved and lived.




The second project I participated in is called The Operation War Diarycontaining the story of the British army on the Western Front during the First World War. This project seeks to create new ‘Citizen Historians’, which allows the volunteers to transcribe pages of unit war diaries. This contribution to the project will certainly help the Imperial War Museums and The National Archives to classify and reveal the gripping details of the lives of those who were involved.

The process I undertook:

Screenshot of The Operation War Diary Project
  1. Logged into The Operation War Diary  with the same user account as Zooniverse.
  2. Followed the ten minute tutorial which walks you through the step-by-step guide of the tagging process.
  3. Classifying diary pages: this process involved the volunteer choosing the classification of the type of document that best matches the diary page which is being displayed, for example: a diary page, a report, signal pads etc. If you are uncertain about the types of diary classification, there is a Field Guide on the top of the menu bar to help you out.
  4. Tagging the data: once the volunteer have decided on the type of diary, the tagging process begins. The list of available tags such as: location, date, hour, casualties and weather will change depending on your page classification.
  5. tag
    Editing or deleting tags: before you finish a page, you can review your tags to make sure that you’re happy with them before you submit your transcribed diaries.
  6. Like the Chimp & See project, there are discussion groups in the “Talk” section where you can share interesting entries or discuss a problem with other volunteers.

The implications of what I contributed:

The dataset collected from volunteers about the people, military activities, weather, casualties and army life etc. can be grouped together into a timeline of events where geo-mapping is used. Because each page is tagged by several people, the information that is gathered will be more accurate. From the tags we can create a detailed index to the people who appear in these pages and learn more about what they were doing.


What I learned from my experience: 

My experience with both projects was a pleasant one, not only because it was enjoyable but also because knowing that my small input, combining with thousands more before me to projects such as these will help benefit community both at national and international levels, one of the benefits of crowdsourcing.


This project has given me a greater understanding about the lives of these apes, as well as their relationships and behaviour towards other wildlife and their surrounding habitats. This will in turn help researchers conduct new hypothesis about human origins and to identify the differences in terms of intelligence, memory and emotions etc, between the chimps and us. Watch the video below! Do you think in the future, maybe a hundred years from now, these apes will revolutionise science with the discovery that these furry friends are more capable than being just Chimps? Tell me what you think 🙂



From gaining hands on experience with this project, I can see why Imperial War Museums and The National Archives need the help from volunteers. I won’t argue that participating in this project was not enjoyable…It was! Especially with the help of modern software that is involved. But… There is a BUT. To tell you the truth, it’s not so much fun when you are painstakingly trying to read the handwriting of the soldiers. I am pleased with my contribution to Operation War diary because I have the opportunity to help making inaccessible information become more freely available to family historians and academic researchers.

How I can apply the crowdsourced initiatives in my own work now or in the future:

My first ever crowdsource participation project was with OpenStreetMap. I found that experience to be worthwhile and for the second time around, I am not disappointed. Zooniverse has given me a broader perspective on what is out there and by allowing me to give my input (which may not necessarily be 100% accurate) and to be a part of something great. For the above reasons, crowdsourcing will definitely be part of my own DH project in the near future.



Posted in Digital Humanities, Review, Storify

A critical review of Storify

In this blog I will be reviewing my first experience using Storify.


So what exactly is Storify?

Storify is a social media content curation tool that allows users to create stories in a timeline format. It is free and the signing up process is really simple. You can sign up with Facebook, Twitter or with your email address. You can make your Storify story entirely about anything you want and it does not necessarily have to be a blog.

Below is a sample of what Storify looks like.


My experience:

For my last assignment for DH2001 Concepts and Collaboration in Digital Humanities II, I was required to create an essay and use Storify as a platform for doing so.

My first impression of Storify is rather good. What I like the most about Storify is how quick and convenient it is to search for sources on the web and on social media sites such as YouTube, Instagram, Giphy, SoundCloud, Google+, Twitter etc. I find that having everything on the one page within Storify is much neater to work with, rather than having multiple windows running in the background.

The way in which the window is split into two, the left side being your timeline and on the right the social media options, makes it convenient for me as a user to find and collect snippets of information which is related to the topic of Language Learning and the Digital Classroom. This process saves me time from scouring through each website, copying, pasting and embedding the link for each of the sources that I found onto the social media platform. This stuff is neat!

Another thing is that, you are not limited to just surfing social media sites. There are other options available too, where you can add content in your stories from RSS feeds, Google search and add custom links, which I think makes it even better for the users as you can incorporate content from the web as well.

From the information that you collect, you can then curate and publish a Storify and share it with the wider community. With Storify, similar to other social media platforms like WordPress, provides users with security of whether to post publicly or privately. Changing your Storify post settings from public to private, your story will become unsearchable in any search engine or visible to anyone anywhere. Private stories are only available through a secure generated URL containing random alphanumeric strings. Just keep that in mind, only those who have access to this secret URL will be able to access your story without logging into Storify and once the secret URL is generated to your story, it cannot be edited.

Another great feature available on Storify that I really like is the “Drag and Drop” feature. It is new and no other company seems to have it, which makes it very unique. So once you find the image or video etc. which you’d like to use in your Storify, all you have to do is drag the content from the right side of the screen and place it in your story. It is as easy as that! Plus you can rearrange the position of that content anywhere in your post.

From the name itself, Storify is all about making stories. “It’s about changing how journalism works to acknowledge the fact that everyone on the ground is potentially your eyewitness, and it’s about empowering journalists to draw from that source material“, Burt Herman -Storify CEO and co-founder. I really like the way Storify makes it so simple for anybody to use. You don’t have to be a professional who has brilliant IT skills to use this because you will learn as you go along and if you don’t understand some of the features, there are forums and tutorials on the Storify website. They were helpful for me when I wanted to change the cover photo of my Storify as it was previously in a gif format and not a picture.

Another difference that Storify has in comparison to what I am used to in WordPress is the story Template feature. Here you have a choice in choosing between the story, grid and slide show templates. You can make it interesting by having different templates featured on your timeline and it is definitely useful when you want to give a class presentation as you can easily convert a story into a slideshow.

To conclude, I really enjoy using Storify as a story-telling platform as it makes my blogging experience a whole lot better. The only thing that I didn’t like is how it’s very fidgety to get used to at the start as when I want to skip the written up part of my story to every second line, Storify automatically splits it into a different chunk, which I find a little annoying but overall, Storify is a good content curation tool!




Posted in #UCCBADHIT, LearningLanguages

Storify Essay: Language Learning and the Digital Classroom

language learning1

Here is the link to my Storify Essay.

For my last Concepts and Collaboration in Digital Humanities II assignment taught by Dr. Donna Alexander, I was required to curate data that responded to the central questions in my minor discipline and how digital humanities impact them.

Before I begin, I would like to explain a little as to why I am interested in this particular topic. I am currently studying German as my minor discipline as part of the [i] Digital Humanities and Information Technology course work here in UCC.

As a digital humanities (DH) student, I find this course advantageous in comparison to other arts degrees out there and for me personally, in the area of language learning. This well-balanced program crosses between the areas of Information Technology, and the Arts and Humanities perfectly. Hence, provides me with the skills and knowledge that I need, in order to exercise a more efficient way of learning languages with the help of this new technology.

language learning5
Hands holding globe

So what impact does DH have when it comes to language learning? As Robert J. Blake explains in his [ii]Brave New Digital Classroom Technology and Foreign Language Learningbook, a practical and informative instruction on how to use computer technology in the foreign language classroom. Here, he claims that “a second language is best learned and taught through interaction”. At the same time, the educator should make learning enjoyable for the students, as we tend to work to the best of our ability when we’re not being forced to learn.

Blake introduces the idea of CALL (computer-assisted language learning), a notion that indicates that computers are able to operate as language mentors to improve language learning for students, with little to no real language tutor present during that time. This is an efficient and flexible method of foreign languages learning. Not only students can benefit from this financially, they can place this method of learning around their busy schedules, which saves time and money.

digital classroom1

As [iii]Kathleen Fitzpatrick explains it, digital humanities[iv] are ways of “bringing the tools and techniques of digital media to bear on traditional humanistic questions. But it’s also bringing humanistic modes of inquiry to bear on digital media”

The following are some of the questions in relation to the field of digital language learning and how digital humanities impact them:

  • How can technology help students with language learning and why this recent method is more efficient than other traditional language learning styles?
  • What are the costs involved in the use of interactive digital language learning?
  • Are there any disadvantages as a result of interactive digital language learning?



  • How can technology help students with language learning and why this recent method is more efficient than other traditional language learning styles?

Over the past decade, the growth of technology for education has changed the way people learn and access education.

These new technologies such as Technology-Enhanced Language Learning (TELL), Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Internet-Based Language Learning (IBLL) help to motivate students in becoming more independent when learning foreign languages, as well as allowing them to become more interculturally competent.

This new method is more efficient than the traditional styles of foreign language learning because students’ cognitive and language learning skills tend to be enhanced more rapidly with the use of digital media. For example, watching a German documentary on YouTube or practicing German speaking and comprehension skills by talking on Skype with a native speaker etc.

According to [v]Adina Levine, Orna Ferenz, and Thea Reves, computer-based technologies are more useful than the conventional method of reading in the development of critical literacy skills. The use of technology motivates and inspires students to express themselves and to be more creative when learning a language.

  • What are the costs involved in the use of interactive digital language learning?


Interactive foreign language software could cost you a fortune. But nowadays, you can get good quality language resources and applications at no cost. This would benefit people from less privileged backgrounds, who were previously unable to access foreign language education. As a student, it is best to shop around for the types of programs that suits you and your budget. A great example of a free language-learning application is Duolingowhich offers over 40 language courses across 23 languages. Duolingo also employs crowd source business models to translate its contents.

  • Are there any disadvantages as a result of interactive digital language learning?

Even though interactive digital language learning benefits students in so many ways, we must not overlook the problems that arise as a result of this method of learning.

The disadvantage involved in digital language learning would be the lack of training and familiarity on part of the educators, which can make it challenging to implement the use of Internet in the digital language classroom for students. Cost is another major issue, as training must be put in place for educators where funding is limited.

To come to a conclusion, these new technologies enable students to become increasingly independent in learning foreign languages and also to gain more intercultural literacy which can only make language learning better for the future.







Images & Gifs:

Posted in Croudsourcing, Digital Humanities, OpenStreetMap, Review

Crowd-sourcing and impact in the Humanities by Stuart Dunn

I recently read an article “More than a business model: crowd-sourcing and impact in the humanities” by Stuart Dunn, a lecturer in Digital Humanities at King’s College London.


Before we get started, we must first understand what the term Crowd-sourcing means as it was first coined by Jeff Howe back in 2006.

As Daren C. Brabham explains it, “Crowd-sourcing is an online, distributed problem solving and production model that leverages the collective intelligence of online communities for specific purposes set forth by a crowd-sourcing organization—corporate, government, or volunteer”.

In this article Dunn examines the development of crowd-sourcing activities in academic contexts, particularly in the humanities side. As a Digital Humanities student, I find the whole area of crowd-sourcing captivating. Earlier this year, I have participated in a crowd-sourcing project called Open Street Map (here is a link to my Open Street Map blog). The outcome of my experience with OSM has given me an insight to how the work of an individual can have a vast impact on the wider community as a whole.

As Jeff Howe drew out the concept of out-sourcing in the early days, this was more geared towards profit making in business rather than an open source. Crowd-sourcing has evolved into a more open and accessible engagement platform for the public to use.

In contrast to out-sourcing, crowd-sourcing focuses more on the calculated alignment of intellectual interests and outlooks which the public shares with academics. For example, academics look at crowd-sourcing as a tool for editing specialised academic content such as classifying and transcribing historic handwriting into machine readable texts.

Dunn states that in the humanities, if projects in this area wish to have ‘impact’, as well as be impacted upon, they need to reach out and recognise that the public wish to be collaborated with. In his survey report, he states that the “super contributors” wish to be more involved and have more of a desire to be useful and participate in digital culture in a meaningful way through conversation.


To come to a conclusion, Dunn proposes to us the three ingredients for ensuring shared impact of a humanities crowd-sourcing activity:

  1. Pick your battles: crowd-sourcing is not always the answer to all of the problems you have, so keep in mind that people will always want to contribute to this great cause but make sure that you make their time worthwhile.
  2. Do not mistake large numbers for high impact: bigger does not always mean that it’s better. Valuable public impact can happen from very small groups of people too.
  3. Put a mechanism in place for your contributors to talk to each other, as well as to you: this allows the non-institutional community freedom to express opinions in forums around your project.


-The article “More than a business model: crowd-sourcing and impact in the humanities” by Stuart Dunn can be found here.

-Below is another great crowd-sourcing project that was recently launched this year.

Storj, an open source encrypted cloud storage platform which allows users to store data in a secure and decentralized manner. It has been awarded as one of  Black Duck’s Open Source Rookies of the Year.

-Crowd-sourcing by Daren C. Brabham:

Posted in #UCCBADHIT, Digital Humanities

On Photography by Susan Sontag

This blog post is based on an essay called On Photography by Susan Sontag. In this essay, Sontag explains about how photography can reveal so much about our culture, history and society. It is a way of imprisoning reality.


Photography implies what we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it”. To a certain extent, this is not the case. We live in a world where what we see or hear may not necessarily be real. Needing to have reality confirmed and our experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into “image-junkies”, it is the most irresistible form of “mental pollution”. Photography nowadays brings out the greed in humanity through paparazzi and as long as people feed off of this form of insignificant and irrelevant photography our world will not be a safe place for future generations. Regulation and responsibility are really important in photography for the future.

Sontag claims that “photography is the inventory of morality” and the way in which one takes a photograph is to participate in another person’s “mortality, vulnerability and mutability”. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, “all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt”.

For Sontag, photography is like the inventory of morality. It is regarded as clouding the transparency of the photographer’s consciousness, and as infringing on the autonomy of what is being photographed. As I see it, to photograph is to appreciate the things which are being photographed. Nowadays, people utilize their cameras and smartphones to show off and to claim that they’ve experienced it all, but unfortunately they failed to truly recognise a location’s significance or to fully capture the atmosphere of an event. Sontag further explains how photography is not considered a “mass art form” but rather a social activity. I agree with this statement totally as photography is considered nowadays as being totally natural in so many of life’s applications and interactions. It is a tool for social pleasure and for documenting one’s life experience in so many ways.


Just as a camera is a “sublimation of the gun”, to photograph someone is a “subliminal murder”. The camera is a powerful weapon which can take away peoples’ integrity and in my opinion, more control is needed in the social context in order to preserve the morality and sensitivity in the human sense needed for the future.

Posted in CriticalDiscourse, Digital Humanities, Fred Gibbs

My response to Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities by Fred Gibbs

My second blog post for Concepts and Collaboration in Digital Humanities module will be a review of Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities by Fred Gibbs.


To begin with, I find this article by Gibbs extremely relevant to what I am studying. As a Digital Humanities student, I, too question “Where is the criticism in the digital humanities?” I agree with Gibbs about the fact that we need to criticise our own work as well as our colleagues’ work. But I believe that, criticising someone else’s work is a lot more difficult, as we all have different minor disciplines. Digital Humanities itself has branched out into many different areas so how can we define or criticise what it is or should be? This article by Gibbs explores the value of creating a critical discourse around work in digital humanities which are broken down into three main ideas:

  •  We as digital humanists have not created an effective critical discourse around our work.
  • We need more theoretical and practical rubrics for evaluating digital humanities work.
  • Digital humanities work requires a different kind of peer review in order to produce effective criticism.

Gibbs points out to us that digital humanities criticism needs to go beyond typical peer review and inhabit a genre of its own in order to make the value of our work clearer to those both inside and outside the digital humanities community. I agree with this completely. As a digital humanities student, I do feel that the projects which are done by the digital humanists are not being recognised by wider communities as well as they deserve to be, and the reason for this maybe is because our work is not publicised enough to the local and global communities. Gibbs emphasizes to us that the most innovative digital humanities projects cannot be fully evaluated through the “traditional, critical, and theoretical lenses” of the humanities where our work requires a different kind of critique that is typical in the humanities because it puts unique demands on both critics and criticism itself. I also find logic in Gibbs’ argument that we should recognise the importance of a critical discourse and the different areas of critical focus as they provide opportunity for more critical theory in the digital humanities which continues to grow.