Exploring Internet Access (Globally)

The Internets “Black Holes” http://www.rsf.org 

Internet access is something which those who have daily unquestionable access to take for granted. Last week my power went, and after running out of phone battery, and not being able to tether my laptop to my phone as a hotspot, I came to the realisation just how much I take internet access for granted. Its frictionless to watch a movie, to find news updates. But in some places, it’s not so easy. The ‘internets’ blackholes as visualised by the image on the left shows green lines spanning across oceans, connecting from one side of the globe to the other, with these large black spots highlighting those who are without access to the means of reading this blog post, or anything online. Lybia and China of the two largest to note.


There are many data sets containing detailed information with regard to internet access.
WorldBank.Org offer an overview of internet users per hundred. One thing I want to mention and direct attention towards is the fact that, as a cultural question, I wish to investigate internet access a worldwide.If you dig a little deeper you’ll realise, just because someone is not an internet user, does not mean they don’t have access to the internet.
It’s essential to keep this at the forefront of one’s mind when considering this, the difference between those who actively USE the internet versus those who have access.
Locating and Interrogating a data set, being the bones of the assignment was the most challenging. I found that in most cases that less is more.

There are many HTML, XML files online which offer masses amounts of data. For this question which I explored, which at its essence is a simple question, just there seems to be a fine line between those who actively use the web, and those who simply can not. I have located various data sets and images and visual.
In Cuba, population of 11 Million in 2011 only 16% of those used the internet, in 2015 that has nearly doubled to 30% but still a measly figure in comparison to Ireland’s 80%+. The World Bank’s data set presents us with annual figures for (per 100 people) of those who have access to the internet and who use it.

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Cuba, “Data Page” http://data.worldbank.org/country/cuba Accessed 8 April 2016.

Notably in the graph, a large boost in those using the internet can be seen from 2011-2012. Which does not naturally correlate with any sort of technological advancements in industry or worldwide availability, simply it was not widely available because of legislation, and Cubans were not invested with technology and there was never a strong technological presence there.

Cuba has one official means of media, and that is the state and solely the state. Not only is the fact that they have internet the factor of importance, but also the quality of the content which they aren’t blocked from finding is essential. Castro rule imposes large internet restrictions. Those who wish to use the internet in Cuba have to be granted permission to legally use the internet. Most do not.

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China, “Data Page “, http://data.worldbank.org/country/cuba Accessed 8th April 2016

China, population of 1.3 Billion in 2011, had 38.3 per 100 citizens online and having actively used the internet, in 5 years that has increased by a full 10%. Passing out the average for the rest of the world between 2008 and 2009. But similar to Cuba, one could say that this is a positive increase. More people on the internet means more diverse interaction and better representation. One could look at these figures and think that, but look a little deeper and you’ll find just how limited the Chinese access is, and the extent of the filter placed on search results.

Upon further examination of this data set, I realised that one could invest a lifetime examining each country and its own individual cultural economic and social reasons for increases in users per 100 etc. After running through most countries and noting changes in figures, I realised that there was no a single country that decreased in users. That led me to question, other such things that has had such consistent and steady (be it slow in many countries as mentioned above) increases in conformity worldwide. I don’t think we would  see similar results in any other field or phenomenon.

Finding data on this was difficult as there was no sign of any data sets of any format which will separate the non users from the non users who have access. Sure I could have done my assignment on how many people use the internet instead, but I believe it begs a more deeper cultural question as to the actual access of the internet.Its as if Internet access is fast becoming a necessity for life, food, water, shelter, warmth and a fibre optic cable.

I downloaded the XML (click here to download) file, and the CSV file from the World Bank page. I tried putting the XML through various visualisers, but it was not formatted correctly to produce an image.

I attempted to visualise data from, but did not find the results to be of note of use. Gephi requires a different type of data, one with connections and intertwining in order to create an interesting graphic, the figures from data sets like these are very difficult to visualise.

The GIF below was something which took me a while to think of, although incredibly simple. At first it took me a few seconds to calibrate my understanding of the graph. Each dot represents a country, essentially what this graph highlights is the growth of internet users per 100 since 2006-2010 and 2011-2015, the two alternating images are screenshots of these two periods. So what can we observe? The looping GIF gives us a sense that in 9 years, some countries have not changed at all. Those countries who’s ‘points’ appear large on the map are not the ones to look at. If a country already had an 80% user percentage in 2006 its improvement will by minimal. Notably countries such as Australia, New Zealand, The US Canada, Greenland and the UK and Ireland don’t seem to budge in size. Rather we should be turning our attention to the points which are minute and have no enlarged at all. Keeping in mind these points represent users per 100, many african countries have seen absolutely zero increase in percentage users.

This is not down to a lack of interest, or a lack of need. This is simply  down to a lack of access.

To conclude from my research, there are very few data sets available on the matter with global measures, the world bank contained a data set which was not necessarily strictly what I intended to find in the first place, but it presented a much better idea of who uses the internet and where. It brought to light for me the idea that the issue is access, and that clearly from the GIF below, in 9 years many countries have seen minimal increase in those using the internet, and while the rest of the worlds citizens are becoming increasingly  familiar with the ins and outs of the internet, many countries are being left in the dust.









Internet Access “Census” Accessed 1st April 2016 https://data.gov.uk/dataset/internet_access

RSF “the internets black holes”Accessed 3rd April 2016 https://rsf.org//intnernet-black-holes

Data World Bank ‘Cuba’ Data & Graph. http://data.worldbank.org/country/cuba

Data World Bank ‘China’ Data & Graph.http://data.worldbank.org/country/china

Gephi Program Accessed 10th April 2016 https://gephi.org 

Data on Users Per 100 “Internet Users Per 100” Accessed March 27th 2016



People-Powered Research: zooniverse.org

People-Powered Research:

Zooniverse is the worlds largest and apparently most popular platform for people powered research. Essentially, its a home to projects which can be furthered and data / meta data tagged and identified by the only that can do it, humans. The idea behind Zooniverse is to universalise a project and irradiate the issue of a lack of researchers classifying the actual research, be it an photography taken by an automated camera that takes a shot when it detects moment to perhaps study the signs of life in down town Chicago, or my chosen project to classify the shapes and patterns of the surface of mars. I joined Zooniverse with an optimistic mindset, but my optimism was tested.

To start, before I created an account, I checked out the site on my iPhone during class. Firstly I was delighted to see that the site was mobile friendly, as I am a strong believer of mobile adaptability. Although I was only impressed until the simple but effective UI produced me with a list of panels in the ‘Chicago Wildlife Watch’ project. Although super effective and clever, and an impressive way of identifying what animal was present in the picture, I was faced with over 40 tiles to chose from on my phone. Even with a 5.5” screen, a giant in comparison to most smart phones, I found it hard to hit the correct tile because of the volume in close proximity.

Mobile issues aside I checked out numerous projects, the Jungle Rhythm Tunes project seemed intriguing but on further inspection it was a bit repetitive and dare I say, boring. Which seemed to be a bit of a recurring issue with many of the projects. Many of the pictures from the automatic motion detecting cameras (a method used in many of the projects) were simply badly timed blank pictures, and trawling through pictures of the same tree with slightly different lighting and no sign of any wildlife got repetitive quickly. 

Eventually I found my way to the ‘Planet Four:Terrains’ (not to be confused with the “Planet Four” project) Something which was a bit more consistent in the interest it inspired in me. Provided with images of Mars South Pole taken from Orbit, set with the task of classifying what I could see in-front of me. Split into 6 different categories, Spiders (not actual spiders) baby spiders, channel network, swiss cheese terrain, craters or none of the above.
With each classification completed, a new image would appear and the classifications would reset. I spent the best part of 2 hours doing this while listening to some of the more relaxing music that Spotify has to offer. Inclusive of the classifications the project had a FAQ page and a forum like discussions page. The FAQ actually did answer many of my curiosities and the discussion page opened me up to a world of people who seemed to be veterans of the cause.

“Legs longer than the size of the centre pit means its a spider”, just one of the simple straight forward classifications. It was really as easy as that. Classify, click finished, repeat. Probably taking less than 5 seconds to classify most images after getting into the flow of things.

In simple terms this project, crowd researched by everyday people with some spare time, is super simple to use. The classification guide makes it so accessible, my 5 year old cousin picked up on how to do it just as fast as I could. My main reason for taking part was the thought of seeing that many images of Mars surface, and the thought of contributing to the datasets and results gathered from these image. Something that if someone had told me I would have been able to do in the past I would have thought nothing of it.

Which brings me to discuss what I learned from the overall process. First of all the variety and professional aesthetic of each project. Zooniverse as a tool is massively powerful. Providing those with data an already existing platform and already existing traffic the means of getting someone to do all the work for them. I tried to look into the accuracy of the results received but could not find any figures or discussions about how accurate the classifications are that people give. The fact that this is hear and that people happily give up their time to be part of the project is something I learned in itself, which is something quick to become aware of but of massive gravity. Anyone who runs a digital archive may find this massively helpful , or perhaps guide them in the right direction to a service to suit them.

With respect to using this and its applications to my own work. Currently I don’t have any ongoing projects that fit this type of project criteria. But perhaps the reason I have not looked into any digital archiving and people powered research is because I did not think I would have the necessary access to tools such as this. But now that I know that tools like this exist with already existing established presences online it does make me consider the possibility implications and ease of which I could produce data which could be classified, by anyone.

Critical Review of Storify

From my limited use of Storify, I have gathered that’s its central concept is one of bringing storytelling, and age old tradition into the 21st century by incorporating the internets many corners. Its aim of developing a platform for those who which to share stories, or give an opinion, while giving them the tools to incorporate the possibility of embedding the webs many sites, in a clean manor.
Unfortunately, in my experience, although in some cases it does work, many a time I was unable to use the inbuilt search features and had to go and find external links, which defeats the entire purpose of having the side by side layout.
Upon first set up, the ability to log in using Facebook was warranted and happily chosen by myself.  Its minimal appearance was nice upon first appearance, and appeared to be adaptable and ready to use. Upon deciding it was time to embed an external link to a video, I filtered my search to images, and typed in two basic keywords. No relevant results presented themselves. Among the features, the ability to opt for an external link, and simply paste it into the storify embed panel. But this simply defeats the purpose of storify’s entire purpose. The ability to search and find data, relevant to a topic, and insert it seamlessly into your ‘story’. All too often did I find myself giving up on the search feature, and resorting to Google in order to track down an article/image which I wished to use.
Searching tweets, seemed to be a failed pursuit, it seemed to bring up unrelated tweets with no context. Searching the web for ‘quotes’ ‘images’ ‘videos’ and ‘links’ did not work excellently, the search results were limited and didn’t seem to be extensive. Again, for this, searching google was the alternative, and using the ‘Embed URL’ option, taking me away from storify, was the alternative. This seemed silly as 50% of my screen was taken up by a panel which I only used to insert links which I found using exterior search engines. Searching Instagram, and YouTube were the two embedding tools which gave somewhat useable results.
The idea in itself, I think its quite clever, as it (would provide) the write with a seamless experience, without having to switch between tabs to find data to insert, especially handy when on a laptop/notebook, where these sort of tasks, although minor, take away from the overall experience and take up more time, especially if someone is heavily relying on the web as a point of reference throughout their piece.
 With regard to the actual writing of the piece, in the beginning its feature of adding a paragraph was not obvious, located at the border of the screen, just by clicking on white space it created a dialog box in which text could be written, it was not labelled or mentioned at all, and the fact that it was at the bottom of the screen meant typing from the bottom of the screen and it scrolling up as I wrote, not traditionally where perhaps the text is at the top of the screen. This I found a little bit intrusive as, I am used to typing and seeing our text at the top of our screen, having it at the bottom simply caused a strain. The ‘insert’ text option located at the top right of the screen was very small and I did not notice it until I went back to reflect on its layout while writing this review. Perhaps this was a failure on my behalf for not noticing this feature, which would have definitely improved by usability experience, but the fact that I did not notice it stand for itself. The collapsed view feature, although interesting in theory, just caused annoyance when wanting to refer back to an earlier piece of writing. I also noticed some keyboard shortcuts while writing the piece, although not anywhere could I find a list of these to refer to or learn before commencing use.
Aside from its downfalls, when published its layout is simple, and it works. Which at the end of the day is the most important aspect. Putting aside from the fact it needs improvement on its implementation panel, the end-reader of a storify essay is granted with a clean concise layout, with simple easy to read fonts. The headings inclusion of an image from the piece, as a background is a nice touch and brings the essay together nicely.
The added ability to edit after publishing is invaluable. All too often did I make a spelling mistake which I needed to correct, and found that I missed a few when I published. One criticism which I would observe, was the fact that there seemed to be no inclusion of spell check in any form, and no form of grammar verification either. As a result of this, embarrassingly, when unsure if I had spelled a word correctly or not, I copied the word (selected just that word) and pasted it into Google to see if I had made an error, interestingly upon pressing paste, the entire rest of the paragraph from that point pasted. I tested this on Internet Explorer, Chrome Safari, Firefox and also tried pasting into different word processors, I also asked fellow students to give it a go, and they had similar issues.
To conclude, storify’s intentions are interesting and needed. To create a seamless writing experience, but also to keep us constantly conscious of the fact that we have an world of information out there ready to be searched and used in reference to what we want to share. With improved searching abilities and results, I would strongly consider switching from WordPress based blogs, to storify.

‘On Photography’ – Susan Sontag and Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities by FRED GIBBS

‘On Photography’  – Susan Sontag

In ‘On Photography’ Susan Sontag explores the idea that despite what we think of our own perception of contemporary art, we still are very much still stuck in ‘plato’s cave’. In a series of short essays, she goes about offering her opinion on the matter that our perceived ideas and impressions of images are not as insightful and clever as we may think.

Sontag uses the story of plato’s cave as a method of juxtaposing how peoples level of perception nowadays are not that different to that of those men and women who dwelled in caves with little stimulation. She tells the story, of them as they looked at lights flickering and casting shadows around the cave, and they’re impressions of these lights, and gauging opinions and forming more relatable images in their mind. In comparison with todays world one might think this is a pointless comparison, comparing the cast of light, to perhaps, a google search which provides 1000’s of images immediately. But just like the images cast by shadows in plato’s cave, the images that we see today only form 1 small section of the bigger picture.

This struck me as a perplexing comparison, and definitely something I fond engaging. As a photography myself I understand the power and weight behind images, and how they do not always accurately symbolise the actual moment which they captured. A picture can say a thousand words as they say, but would those 1000 words be inclusive off all the information needed to fully understand the context of the image?

Personally, I don’t think they do. We don’t have the non-visual details like the socio-economic contexts for example of an image, and all to much do we jump to give it meaning and say what its about. Out of human nature, and the longing to understand and relate, comes our mechanism of doing this. We may think we understand the image, and can harbour all of its meaning, but Sontag reminds us that it is but a shadow of the full picture. She believes, just like those cave men and women, we too are still stuck in plato’s cave. We see the ‘mediated truth’.

As viewers, Sontag points out we are alienated from the truth. Where we point our cameras, says a lot about the image, not only in the actual end result, buy why we pointed it where we did, and decided to include this in the frame, and perhaps moving back to capture more of the scene, or closer for less.

She discusses the way in which beauty is perceived. Beauty is perceived differently by all, and in that sense, just like beauty, images too, are subject too judgment and non-consciously do we make massively different assumptions based on the appearance of an image. Sontag, as a philosopher obviously looks into this juxtaposition with a deeper intent than most, but at face value she says something which might seem a little obvious. I think what she successfully highlights which is accessible and understandable by all, is the fact that, even though in this age, we are subject to more data, images, media, sources of data and information, her point is that our ability to perceive has remained unchanged. No matter how much we take in, we still take it in with the same level of perception and the image or whatever it may be, still has untold secrets.

Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities


From my reading of Fred Gibbs’s look at how ‘critical discourse’ comes about in Digital Humanities, at face value, I completely agree with Gibbs. My main issue with digital humanities as an area of study, is that there seems to be a lack of sight sometimes; All do often do I see projects in DH which offer little to no end of the line results with meaning. Fred asks the question, are projects debated, questioned and are there motives considered.

He approaches this in points, and asks straight up, “where is the criticism in digital humanities?” and answers his apparent rhetorical question by saying frankly, there is none. He breaks down his argument into three separate parts.

Gibbs suggests that the volume of peer review is acceptable, but the quality and intent behind the reviews / criticism is seriously lacking in regulation in a sense. There is no art behind what we currently would class as a peer review, and Gibbs feels this needs to become something in its ‘own right’. A way of valuing someones work so that it at the end of the day offers something to someone, and doesn’t just reiterate something with fancy visuals for people to look at, but seeks out something of use. Digital Humanities in its current presence is definitely something that is alien to an outsider, and frankly to many of those on the inside.

This second point is definitely a little bit harder to grasp. It seems Gibbs was trying to get at the fact that we must acknowledge the gap between digital and traditional work albeit perhaps we already do, but more so in an obvious way. He thinks perhaps the way in which we look at info should be reconsidered, rather than evaluating it with similar methods, exploring new ‘lenses’.

As Gibbs puts it, Digital Humanities is no doubt multifaceted in nature, and as a result of that offers many avenues to go down, and as a result, its review process differs to that of a normal review in a specific field. In a sense, because of its applications, digital humanities requires a collaborative effort in order to review it critically and accurately.

Gibbs then goes on to explore the question, is there any difference between digital humanities and the humanities? Perhaps they don’t differ hugely, but I believe simply, its the presence and consciousness of the author/writer/etc. with digital humanities as a prioritised motivation that makes it different.

An interesting point, that the ‘Big Tent’ theme of the 2011 Digital Humanities Conference suggests that everyone and anyone is welcome into the DH community. And many of those are ‘self-proclaimed’ digital humanists. Is this a bad thing? No. Does this effect the overall results and image of Digital Humanities as a field of study? Yes. Gibbs however, brought my attention to the fact that such a widely spread community of solidarity may indirectly ‘curtail’ public criticism. But then again, isn’t criticism what is needed, and wanted in order to help DH on its path to clarity.

“Old-fashioned’ critics Gibbs says, is perhaps exactly what we need. Someone to take a fresh look at things, and be ruthless perhaps in there analysis. Transparency, reusability, data, and deign, all of these is what Gibbs believes we need in order to start to resolve the lack of vision in Digital Humanities. DH’s transitory nature, and problematic identity, put simply, will help shape and form a new era of DH whilst still suffering from growing pains.

Blog Posts DH2001

Cyborg Manifesto – A Metaphorical Contradiction.

by Donna Haraway.

In the early moments of my reading of the “Cyborg Manifesto” I knew reading it would be easy no easy feat. The ‘Cyborg’ that Donna describes in this piece is a metaphor, which I believe she intends to represent a joining of both men and women, into one gender. This thought process stems from her considerably different approach to feminism. In the sense that, rather promoting one gender, her approach in this piece, is addressing the idea of a cyborg, which embodies both genders, but comes across in an almost contradictory way.

What I believe Donna is essentially trying to produce in this piece, is the idea of this new walk of life. Which is not defined by a label, such as ‘male’ or ‘female’. Which disregards typical associations of a typical gender specific being. Which perhaps may be a world with out an origin, which consequently could be a world with no conclusion.

“imagining a world without gender, which is perhaps a world without genesis, but maybe also a world without end”

Donna uses medicine and war to introduce the idea that this is already the case, that war already incorporates these semi-human semi-robotic beings which have massive impacts on the world.

She continues to discuss the idea of a world that lacks any gender, to irradiate the possibility of boundaries between the two, and to form a world without judgement by gender. She discusses the ever present aspect of cyborgs in our lives today, with the availability of prosthetics etc.

Donna then goes on to the idea of a cyborg, but with negative tendencies. She makes comparisons with a monster, and acknowledges the downfalls of a world of cyborgs.

She discusses the boundaries then of cyborgs as a replacement of the human race.

Firstly being animal and human, she does not hide away from the fact that a cyborg race would be limited in its sympathies and human characteristics. Which is what she discusses the boundaries between organism and machine, or the lack of, which made me wonder if she was to write this paper today, what would be different. Would she have even written it?

My thought process is that this would have been seen as an outlandish far fetched piece written by someone who’s opinion might have been regarded with hesitation, because of how non sensical it may have seemed at the time.

The boundary between physical and non-physical is also explored, Haraway uses the idea of light technology as a physical, but also non physical because it is visible but not touchable. All these boundaries seem to promote the fact that it would be scientifically impossible to replace the human race, which is where this metaphorical contradiction comes into play. Despite all the benefits of the lack of judgemental qualities present in humans, not present in this ‘cyborg’ she mentions, she still acknowledges all the downfalls

She mentions the ever narrowing distance between the difference organism and machine. One has to keep in mind that this paper, was written in 1986, and that if it was written today it would have almost been looked at something that doesn’t need to be stated almost, in the sense that, its something that we almost take for granted that we live in a ‘cyborg-ized’ age. More and more with the presence of wearable technology and virtual reality its something that we have grown to accept and look at as a social norm.

In this day and age, the way in which we receive our information is almost more meaningful then the actual data we find. The medium carries more weight than the actual message we receive, e.g the ‘medium is the message’ [ McLuhan, 1964 ]

Although this was definitely a challenging read, my impression of Donna’s definition of a cyborg was something which she presents as something which she asks us do we really want? Do we really want the world to be reduced to have no boundaries, ‘no genesis’ and without consciousness of the boundaries she addresses. She seems to like the idea of knocking down boundaries and addressing gender etc. stigmas but seems to think that cyborgs would not be an adequate replacement. Hence the metaphorical contradiction.

She simply likes the idea of knocking down boundaries, but thinks that the replacement (cyborgs)available at the time of her writing the paper is just not ready.

Crowd-Sourcing Scoping Study – Stuart Dunn

Stuart Dunn’s piece about crowdsourcing, was an easier read for sure, but still had its complications and words for thought. But where did this idea of ‘crowd-sourcing’ originate from?

In 2006 the phrase was born and its functionality held the intention to surge profits by resorting to the internet as a new means of completing tasks needed to be done by people, which anyone could do provided they had the time and a reason, albeit money or something else. Mainly micro tasks, general administration etc was common in the crowd sourcing era of the time. Crowd sourcing was ‘an online, distributed problem-solving and production model’ [ Daren C. Brabham, 2006 ]

In the non academic world, crowd sourcing was the complete opposite of what public engagement is about. Rather than the tools available being used to have any sort of positive repercussions for those who took the time to be apart of that ‘crowd’, it was mainly focused on those who took part having a say, or an ‘impact’ as Dunn puts it. It was not about the ‘public being impacted’.

But when it comes to world of academics, it differs. It a report written by Dunn, they delve into what ‘intellectual interests and outlooks’ are shared by members of the public and academics. The drive to contribute is brought about by peoples interests, or perhaps they would like to think they’re say will create change. It seems to me that when it comes to crowdsourcing, the sourcing, is very much a physiological battle, to encourage people to donate their time to the cause.

Seemingly crowdsourcing alone has never let to any major conclusions or innovation, rather it needs to be carefully implemented with consideration of said source of the crowd.

Dunn outlines three suggested ‘ingredients’ which aim to remove the business model form factor from crowd-sourcing. 1. Pick your battles 2. Do not mistake large numbers for high impact.  3. Put a mechanism in place for your contributors to talk to each other, as well as to you. Each of these three measures have reason and purpose and should be followed when considering the use of crowd-sourcing, on thing that seems to be not present which I would consider an important deliberation, is the actual method of collection. Is the data being collected worth the time, is it being asked / collected / curated in a way that presents the data in a useful manor.

Deploying a tool

I spent a few hours searching through the varying one click install applications available through the use of cPanel. I reverted to using WordPress. I found many applications that appeared to be extremely useful on first inspection, but then I asked myself, would these ever truly be useful to me. Would I ever actually benefit from using them? While still considering whether or not I wanted to go any further with WordPress I discovered the Zerif. A theme which offers a few very helpful functions with in built widgets which are customisable. It presents the user with a fully professional aesthetic scrolling blog layout, with animated features.

WordPress, although I am familiar with it, opens up as a tool when using hosting. More options are available and more tweaks are possible. I made the WordPress app the default page by cloning it, so that evanshelly.com linked directly to the application, displaying the Zerif based page.

I find this an interesting and viable option because it offers 6 massively functional sections which are customisable. Personally, I would use these to showcase my photography. How? The first section its a title section, which offers space for a background image, and two buttons. Each button can be hyperlinked within the customise options.

It is absolutely applicable to something I will do in the future, and I plan to further my use of this tool to make the post of the domain name. The second section of the page, is titled “our focus”. It presents 4 separate circles, which can be fully customised, with custom images within the circles, and different headings. For this section I plan on showcasing the different types of events I have shot before and am best at shooting. For perspective customers to get a feel for what I offer.

Each will then link to a gallery show casing the best examples of each sub genre of photography.

The development process for this application is a combination of WordPress, an open source blogger which we have delved into previously in other modules, and the theme. Nothing too technical at all, but offer the ability to use custom CSS and HTML in order to fully adjust everything to your liking.

In order to get a more technical approach to using this app, one must familiarise themselves with using widgets and the widget menu within WordPress. Although not technically demanding, it is something which needs to be ventured into in order to benefit fully from its use and possibility.

Its features are all highly functional. Beneath the ‘Our Focus’ section, an ‘About us’ section can be utilised. It offers a three way split tile with room for a quote, a larger piece of text and 4 circles for facts and figures. For this I plan on adding a bit about myself, and my previous experience. As well as a friendly introduction in to what my ways of working are.

Below this, a section for team members aptly named ‘our team’. Similar to the ‘our focus’ section it offers 4 bubbles with links to separate social media pages below, for each individual member. Since I am a one man team I can reduce the amount of bubbles in order to just have a picture of myself, within the circle and links to my various other pages such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.

The testimonial section is straight forward, space for up to three testimonials with room for signatures as images within. Blog posts are then found below this, which I would mainly use for show casing latest events which I have photographed or done video work for. As well as photo work I do a small bit of video work and am only now entering into a stage which I can offer quality video work, before now it was just a hobby.

Then below this is what made me choose to dispel the original apps I was using. I had looked into various newsletter applications and feedback applications which offered pleasant looking interfaces for entering names and addresses, to make a booking or to ask a question. But with this theme, a Get in Touch tile is available. It is aesthetically pleasing and straight forward, leaving room for Name, Email address, subject of query and a made body of text. Anything entered here will be directly emailed to my address.

The only real beneficiary from this tool is me personally. In this day and age, in order to stand out, appearance is everything, and a slick website says nothing more than professional. Gone are the days when basic HTML pages will do. With this theme and in built widgets I can present a professional page which looks like it was built just for me with my aims in mind, and with Reclaim Hosting, I can get the .com that I want, without the wordpress url baggage.


Faced with the task of putting one of the widely available, open source, text visaulisation tools, to use, I started to look for a piece of text.

I narrowed down my choice to a song, songs are short, much shorter than books. Lyrical songs mostly contain a story, or some narrative which the artist wished to convey through the medium of music. As any 20th century person, I enjoy music. Stemming from my youth I have always been open to all genres of music, within reason. Rap is something that I was exposed to in my teenage years, and admittedly, most rap songs are difficult to digest with one listening. For this reason I decided to focus in on the rap genre, also because in a recent lecture we were shown a piece of data visualising the level of vocabulary amongst all rap artists.

I decided to tackle Eminem, the most well-known white rapper that will ever live. His songs are infamous for all the right reasons, and the messages he sends those prepared to listen are heavy. Space Bound, deals with a man chasing after a girls heart, by no means an unfamiliar theme for a song. The song shows two sides to the rapper, his loving calm side, and his alter ego, a violent care-free thug. One of his most popular songs, I chose this song as a grounds to investigate text visualisation, as if it was something more obscure less people would be able to relate to it, having previously listened to the song. Perhaps the visual will change how they look at the meaning deep within the song.

I searched around amongst the tools discussed in lectures, Wordle and Voyant being the cleanest and most efficient. Many Eyes was something which I looked into, but had some hassle with the format of the export. Word shift is a similar tool which I experimented with but in the end Wordle proved to be my personal favourite.

I ran the text through wordle and produced two separate visualisations. Before doing so I cleaned up the text, removing conjunctions, some adverbs which served no meaning, and others such as “the” and “it”

Something that becomes immediately clear from the two images I produced, is that “Space Bound” presents a struggle within oneself. The ever present examples of words which contradict each other, and presence of curses and words which offer us an insight. “love” “mistreated” “right” “go” “promise” “burnt”.


One could ask, what is the true essence of the song, at its core. From the visualisation below, it’s clear that “you” takes up a massive proportion of the image. Without a doubt suggesting Eminem is directly speaking to the woman whom he is undecided emotionally with. Something which is obvious from listening to the song, and most people pick up, and is clearly supported by the image.

ssssadsdWhy bother visualising? Frankly, although my choice of text would not appeal to many, and may not offer universal relevance, the idea behind visualisation is simple. Not only is it visualisation, it is simplification. Taking something uniform and standardised like a piece of text, and transforming it into something new, completely unique, and new to our eyes. Any medium which offers someone a new way to look at something old, in my eyes, is immensely powerful.

With the right set of data, and the right tool this method can produce simplified artefacts of massive pieces of text, breaking it down to its central concentration.

Data visualisation is data simplification.