Yesterday I had the honour of giving the first seminar in the Long Room Hub Methods Series at Trinity. I presented a paper entitled ‘Visualising Historical Data’ to a packed room. We had 45 people in the room, some sitting on the floor, and apparently another dozen or so were turned away at the door. Jennifer Edmond gave me a warm and thoughtful introduction and I then launched into a high-level discussion of a few of the very interesting and innovative tools and methods available for working with both structured and unstructured text and numbers. The talk was intended to merely spark interest and hope that attendees might be inspired to try something new with their own research data.
The talk explored tag clouds of a couple varieties, tree maps, timelines, and introduced OpenCalais as a machine driven means to apply context to data. We had a very fruitful discussion afterward as attendees raised some very intriguing questions ranging from issues of visual misrepresentation, the role of the consumer of the visualisation in the making judgements, as well as privacy and the crucial importance of not losing sight of traditional research fundamentals in the glitz of technological toys. I attempted to convey the use of data visualisation for both analytical process and as a means of presenting research findings. Technology forced me to present using PDF as the presentation driver and thankfully the last minute change came off without a hitch. Hopefully, if technology cooperated, the talk will be available for public consumption through iTunes U very shortly.
It was my pleasure to be invited to give the talk and I thank Jason McElligott and Jennifer Edmonds fo the opportunity. I was enormously pleased by the interest in data visualisation in the humanities and certainly this looks like a very ripe area for the DHO to focus some efforts as part of our mandate.
The talk was delivered in the Trinity Irish Art Research Centre which is housed in the renovated Provost’s House Stables. A very unique location and a rather cool architectural reuse.