Digitizing Material Culture: Reflections on my first year at the BGC

posted on 07 Jan 2013 13:33 by Nynne Christoffersen
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Over the course of my first year as a student at the Bard Graduate Center, I have had the pleasure of being introduced to a number of digital tools that have challenged my idea of what academic research and presentation entails. The study of decorative arts design history and material culture necessarily concerns itself with visual communication. Scholars are faced with a broader selection of media to convey their research than ever before. Nonetheless, I found myself deeply impressed with the level of dedication towards digitalization at the BGC.

One of the first tools that I was presented with is the Wikidot-system, currently used in all of my classes. Wikis are class-integrated interactive platforms that allow both faculty and students to share content in the most intuitive and simple way. One of the most user-friendly platform I have worked with in an academic setting, the wikis invite its users to interact regardless of what prior experience they have with blogs or website-development. For me, the wiki system immediately appealed as both an interactive tool in class and a platform in which I can create my own sites.
Bradley Voytek’s interactive map is a visually compelling analysis of the frequency of rides between various neighborhoods in San Francisco. For this study, Voytek used a template form the the D3.js which is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. D3 helps you bring data to life using HTML, SVG and CSS. D3’s emphasis on web standards gives you the full capabilities of modern browsers without tying yourself to a proprietary framework, combining powerful visualization components and a data-driven approach to DOM manipulation. (http://bost.ocks.org/mike/uberdata/)


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