UBC Announcement for LGLC

1964 TimeMapThe University of British Columbia has posted a lovely story on “Coding Character,” the SSHRC Insight grant-funded research project that will support Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada for the next five years.

Results for the 2013 Insight Grant program have been posted on the SSHRC website. We couldn’t be prouder to have received this grant, and to be listed amongst so many inspiring research projects taking place across Canada.

Prosopography at DH2014

DH2014 logoThere were two workshops on prosopography at this year’s DH conference in Lausanne. The first one, spearheaded by Harvey Quamen, with assistance from Constance Crompton and myself, covered database options available for working with prosopographical data, specifically MySQL and Neo4j. Harvey was nice enough to set up a website for our workshop, and the slides and resources that were discussed have been posted.

Harvey in action at DH2014:

The second workshop was on Ontologies for Prosopography. More details about the workshop are available on stoa.org.

If you’re interested in continuing a discussion of methodology and possible collaborations in the area of historical, ancient historical and modern prosopography and person database projects. If you are interested in joining, please send a message to the Google Group for iPRG, the International Prosopography Research Group.

Back from DH2014 – Web scraping and archiving!

Archive-ItI was lucky enough to attend Digital Humanities 2014 in Lausanne, Switzerland this summer. One of the topics I was most interested in learning about was web archiving and scraping. I took a workshop led by Scott Reed from the Internet Archive on their Archive-It web-archiving service. At the workshop I ran into  Ian Milligan, professor in the Department of History at the University of Waterloo, who suggested I check out the web scraping tutorials on the Programming Historian website.

The most rewarding part of this workshop was being able to create my very own web archive of the websites for Rick Bébout and the CLGA. Getting full-text access to searchable archives of these sites will hopefully be of great use when doing research for the LGLC project.

For more on web archiving, check out Ian Milligan and Nick Ruest’s presentation The Great WARC Adventure: WARCs from creation to use: “This presentation will cover a historical overview of web archiving, how best to both capture and preserve websites, and make them discoverable and usable using open source tools that can be easily replicated by other organizations, the interplay of the archivist and historian with respect to web archives, and finally ways to access web archives”

The International Internet Preservation Consortium has also provided a small directory of open source web archiving tools.

 Search the web-archive for the CLGA and Rick Bébout


Visualizing Gay Liberation in Canada: Using Digital Tools to Represent Identity

Presented as part of the CSDH/ACCUTE joint session on “Difference, Identity, Diversity” at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences on May 26th, 2014.

Some great Tweets from the session:

Congress 2014

I will be presenting as part of the CSDH/ACCUTE joint session on “Difference, Identity, Diversity” at Congress 2014 on May 26th. I will be giving a short talk on “Visualizing Gay Liberation in Canada: Using Digital Tools to Represent Identity.” Congress 2014 logoFrom the call for proposals: “The humanities have long worked to specify, recover, contextualize, and understand difference and diversity. We are now seeing increasing emphasis on difference–race, gender, ability, postcoloniality, alternative academic status, and global economic disparity being the most prominent–within digital humanities debates and practices. This panel asks how difference, diversity, marginalization, and power register within digital research and culture.”

Visualizing Gay Liberation in Canada: Using Digital Tools to Represent People and Places

Some great Tweets from the presentation, courtesy of the amazing keynote speaker, Shawn Micallef.

Exploring LGLC data with free tools

Inspired by a recent article, “Tales of an Indiscriminate Tool Adopter,” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, I decided to evaluate some of the suggested tools and see how easy they would be to implement.

First was RAW, a visualization tool that helps represent the connections and relationships between and within sets of data. Using RAW is as simple as copying a table from Excel and pasting it into a text box. Using data from Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada, I tried to visualize the information I have on gay liberation periodicals being published in Canada in the Sixties and Seventies. I pasted in an imperfect CSV file, fully expecting it not to work, and with a few minutes of fiddling I had created this dendrogram showing all the periodicals sorted by the cities in which they were published. In just a glance I could see that Toronto was publishing the most, followed by Montreal and Vancouver. Ottawa was comparatively rather silent on the matter. There was also an unlabeled point on the dendrogram, which has helped me identify some data that requires a bit of additional research to determine publishing location. RAW isn’t the most comprehensive tool and the visualizations it creates can sometimes be a bit muddled, but it certainly was fast, easy to use, and free.

Periodicals dendrogram

Next I was interested in trying TimeMapper, an open-source web-based tool to create maps and timelines. I had previously used Timemap to build a map and timeline representing the year 1964 in the LGLC data. Building this required quite a bit of fussing with HTML and the creation of a compatible kml file. TimeMapper, on the other hand, requires users to simply input the URL for a Google Spreadsheet. I followed their sample template and created my own with an excerpt of the 1964 data, pasted the link into TimeMapper when prompted, and it generated this:

(View TimeMapper sample in new window)

TimeMapper required a bit more work than RAW, as the Google Spreadsheet has to be created to match their template, however it was still remarkably simple considering the beautiful result. It would also require some more work if you wanted to host your own images (I linked to external images on the web just for the purposes of testing it out). And no fussing with HTML, Javascript, or KML required! The template even includes a Google script that will convert plain text names (ex. Toronto) into their geographic coordinates.

How Poetry Saved My Life

Amber Dawn
[Arsenal Pulp Press]

How Poetry Saved My Life book coverMidway through How Poetry Saved My Life, Amber Dawn’s memoir of her life as a sex worker, she recalls a client telling her “Now I feel human again.” A few pages later she asks “What would I pay to feel human again?” This collection of stories and poems is harrowing, taking readers on a journey from working class Fort Erie to Vancouver’s notorious “kiddie stroll,” and through the daily violence visited upon the women who make their living on the street. Finding solace in the generosity of her fellow sex workers, the warmth of the butches she takes as lovers, the poetry of Sylvia Plath, and the simple act of a kiss on the cheek, Amber Dawn tells us exactly what she paid to feel human again.

Originally published in Shameless Magazine, 2013.