Internet Level IV: Deploying a Tool

Introduction

For my last digital humanities project I had to download and configure an installation from a cPanel. When I established my domain I had to then decide which service or application to ‘play’ with.  I found the wide range of applications on display in the cPanel to be of benefit. To test the waters I downloaded a few apps in experiment with their functions.

I downloaded Omeka first and I found the user interface and the process of uploading data to be quite detailed. After this I experimented with vanilla forums. Personally I didn’t overly like the user interface of the site and I dislike forums in general, as a result I decided to try out ‘Tiny Tiny RSS’ which is the tool I will be reporting on.

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Report

Established in 2006, Tiny Tiny RSS is an open source application that showcases the best the web has to offer. As an RSS application it gives users site summaries, for example blog posts, and web articles. Information is giving in real-time and it allows users to customise what they want to see.

Ultimately an RSS feed gives you a summary of data as well as limited metadata. Metadata includes facts such as the author’s name, the date of publication, and some times the original source URL. In order to subscribe to a feed users must submit the appropriate URL. This url is typically – http://www.example.com/rss or /feed. For example the link for this blog is http://www.craighourihan.wordpress.com/feed. 

I found this application easy to use and very interesting. My interest in an RSS feed came from the sheer amount of data viewable on the internet. There are billions of articles and posts being put on the internet daily. RSS feeds allows me, and other users, to tailor what websites they wish to look at. As said above I only receive the ‘headlines’ of the articles.

I primarily liked the application as it allowed me to include Tumblr blogs in the feed. As well as this the layout is quite similar to Tumblr and Twitter. It is primarily close to Twitter in terms of its simplistic nature. Overall I am quite interested as it allows me to digest a lot of data present on the internet.

In terms of future use of the tool, I feel Tiny Tiny RSS would be beneficial to me in projects. For example if I had an English essay due on Edgar Allen Poe I could simply subscribe to a website or a series of blogs who report on him. Of course I can’t judge a scholarly work just by its title, but the feed may give me an idea of the route I might take. Again using the Poe example, I could be writing on his use of the short story form. By finding my niche I can now ‘judge’ the work by its title. The RSS feed allows me to narrow down my reading load.

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In order to deploy this technology I first had to create my own domain on Reclaim Hosting. I found this quick  and easy to do. After this I downloaded and configured the application in my cPanel. I had to decide which domain and directory to use in order to set up my service. When I had this done it was time to play with my application. When playing with my service I had to decide what websites to include in my feed and the overall layout of it.

In terms of configuration I changed the theme and layout of my web service. I also created folders to organize the different types of articles and sites. As well as this I changed my url and my directory name. In terms of technology I primarily configured my service through the cPanel and Tiny Tiny RSS itself.

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Conclusions

I feel a lot of people would benefit from this service. Honestly I think everyone could benefit from some aspect of Tiny Tiny RSS. As mentioned above the layout of the application is quite similar to that of Twitters. Ultimately by using an RSS reader users can save plenty of time as well as your own privacy as you don’t need to sign up to individual websites. I understand that RSS readers have ‘died’ in mainstream conscience, but the aesthetic nature of Tiny Tiny allows RSS feeds to be reborn in the digital age.

Hulking and Wiccan, Marvel’s LGBT couple.

In the first few episodes of Marvels Young Avenger’s, speculation arose around Hulking and Wiccan’s relationship. Flirting was obvious and the hints were there. In terms of the fandom the couple were already canon gay. Then in issue #12 their relationship was revealed.

Following this relation both sides of the debate joined in. Many were for the inclusion of an LGBT relationship while many were not. The comic showed the tender relationship between the two and important event’s such as Wiccan coming out to his family.

Although Hulkling and Wiccan were not Marvel’s first gay characters, they are the most prominent. Young Avengers have been heralded as groundbreaking in terms of youth culture and tackling important issues. After the events of the Children’s Crusade Wiccan fell into a deep depression. Seeing this depression Hulking proposed and the couple shared there first in comic kiss.

This kiss is groundbreaking in the Marvel comic industry as it finally shows an openly gay relationship without stereotypes. Historically when gay characters were included in comic books they were often marginalised and invisible. Further more, up until recently many comics had an adult advisory sticker on issues that featured LGBT individuals.

After this they both briefly retired from being superheroes and began to live with each other.

The Pillowman

Last night I had the opportunity to see Martin McDonagh’s play ‘The Pillowman’. The play tells the story of a story-teller, Katurian Katurian, and three grizzly child murders relating to his short stories. Set in a future totalitarian state, The Pillowman is a play filled with dark humour and creepy characters. Both the acting and the staging was suburb, channeling the raw emotion present in the original text. The lead, played by Peter Campion, deserved a standing ovation for his performance, which was beautifully similar to Andrew Scott’s in Sherlock.

The most interesting aspect of the story is the inclusion of ‘fairy tales’. Katurian’s stories are very similar to the Grimm fairy tales in term’s of morality and violence. The stories within the play are creepy and darkly comedic. One of the stories entitled ‘The Tale of The Town on The River’ tell’s the story of a child who has been neglected by his family and community. While resting on a bridge a cart approaches the boy. A cloaked man exits the cart and the young boy offers him half of his sandwich. Thankful for the gesture the figure offers the child a present. He tells him to close his eyes and while his eyes are closed the figure severs the boy’s toes. As the boy the boy is now injured he can’t run or walk. At the end of the story it is revealed that the figure was the Pied Piper and because the young boy couldn’t move, he was the only child left alive.

After hearing this tale I decided to research into the tale of the Pied Piper. The original story takes place in the small town of Hamelin in Germany. Many theories have suggested that the character of the Piper is a metaphor for the children who have died during the plague. The tale has been recorded many times by storytellers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Robert Browning, and most famously the Brothers Grimm. I shall include the Brothers Grimm version of the tale below, which has been translated by D. L. Ashliman.

In the year 1284 a mysterious man appeared in Hameln. He was wearing a coat of many-colored, bright cloth, for which reason he was called the Pied Piper. He claimed to be a ratcatcher, and he promised that for a certain sum that he would rid the city of all mice and rats. The citizens struck a deal, promising him a certain price. The ratcatcher then took a small fife from his pocket and began to blow on it. Rats and mice immediately came from every house and gathered around him. When he thought that he had them all he led them to the River Weser where he pulled up his clothes and walked into the water. The animals all followed him, fell in, and drowned.

Now that the citizens had been freed of their plague, they regretted having promised so much money, and, using all kinds of excuses, they refused to pay him. Finally he went away, bitter and angry. He returned on June 26, Saint John’s and Saint Paul’s Day, early in the morning at seven o’clock (others say it was at noon), now dressed in a hunter’s costume, with a dreadful look on his face and wearing a strange red hat. He sounded his fife in the streets, but this time it wasn’t rats and mice that came to him, but rather children: a great number of boys and girls from their fourth year on. Among them was the mayor’s grown daughter. The swarm followed him, and he led them into a mountain, where he disappeared with them.

All this was seen by a babysitter who, carrying a child in her arms, had followed them from a distance, but had then turned around and carried the news back to the town. The anxious parents ran in droves to the town gates seeking their children. The mothers cried out and sobbed pitifully. Within the hour messengers were sent everywhere by water and by land inquiring if the children — or any of them — had been seen, but it was all for naught.

Ultimately I would give ‘The Pillowman’ a 7/10. Some of the performances needed a bit of vocal work. Other than that the production was sublime. The cast, the lights, the sounds, and the stage were all impeccable. I would highly suggest everyone to either see or read ‘The Pillowman’. Other links relevant to the above content can be found below.

Other Links:

1. The Pied Piper of Hameln
2. Decadent Theatre Company / The Pillowman
3. The Pillowman in Hot Press

The Food of Spring

Spring is a time where nature is being reborn and as a result there is more fresh produce in the markets. Crops and vegetables can be grown again and all signs point to Summer. There are many green’s available during the Spring months including asparagus, peas, garlic, apricots, strawberries, rhubarb, and citrus fruits.

One recipe that sums up spring is Lime and Honey Roast Chicken. I would quickly like to clarify that the time and heat of cooking is for an Irish cooker. You may need to adjust it to suit yourself.

Pre-heat your oven to approximately 180.c (for a fan oven). Place a whole garlic and two halved limes into the chicken’s cavity. Put the chicken into a roasting dish and roast for approximately 90 minutes, depending on the weight of the chicken.

While the chicken is roasting add the juice of a lime, two tablespoons of honey, salt and pepper, and oil into a bowl and mix. After  45 minutes take the chicken out and pour the marinade over the chicken and return to the oven. Continue cooking for around another 45 minutes.

When the chicken is done you could take the juices, minus the fat, and add it with oxtail soup, and gravy to make a citrus gravy. Personally I would leave it as it is.

When the chicken is done carve it and serve with cous cous and a side salad. Add some of the juices to the cous cous in order to flavour it.

Similar Recipes:

Mexican Lime Chicken

Eye of The Beholder – Visualising Text’s

For an assignment in college I had to visualise a text of my choice. Originally I decided to experiment with Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. After I worked on The Canterbury Tales I decided to make another map and do the same with my favourite novel, On The Road by Jack Kerouac. The tool which I used to visualise both of text’s was ‘Story Map’ at knightlab.com. I tried to use the timeline tool on ‘knightlab’ also, but I encountered trouble when working on it. The trouble mainly arose from the inclusion of Google Docs, which I personally dislike to use. I chose story-map as it allowed me to explore the ‘place’ and travel in the two texts. Both texts are about travelling, so I personally think using the mapping tool is an appropriate form of visualisation.

The Canterbury Tales – Chaucer

“Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,

And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,

To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.

And specially from every shire’s end

Of England they to Canterbury wend,

The holy blessed martyr there to seek”

I created two story maps based around the tales told in the text and the historic pilgrimage route.  Firstly I made a quick map of the historic ‘Watling Street’ pilgrimage route as a preface to my main visualisation. There are debates among historians on what route the pilgrims took to Canterbury. The most commonly referenced routes are the ‘Pilgrimage Route’ and the ‘Watling Street’. I chose to visualise the later route.

Most maps online centring around the tales focus on the pilgrim route from London to Canterbury. I wished to take each tale individually and place the location of the tale on a map. I wanted to explore the variety and depth of tales shown in the collection. Almost half of the tales failed to mention a concrete location and some tales such as the Squires take place in a large area not present in 2015 – this can be seen in the Squires tale which take’s place in Tartary which is modern day Mongolia, Siberia, Volga-Ural’s etc. This was one of the main parts of my exercise. 

 I also wished to see if there was any correlation between the tales locations and the locations of the pilgrimage to Canterbury. Ultimately I found little to no correlation, but I found the exercise good in visualising the text. 

On The Road – Jack Kerouac 

On The Road is seen as the quintessential road trip novel. Set in post world war two America, On The Road chronicles the rise of the ‘Beat Generation’. It tells the story of the Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. To quote ‘Lonely Planet’ –

“The USA is a big country, and whenever anyone’s tried to define it – be they a Charles Dickens, a Mark Twain or a Stephen Fry – they’ve hit the road. So did the Beat Generation in the 1940s. They’d skip class to dig jazz and debate their place in Cold War America. And then they’d hit the road: crisscrossing the country in search of the new American dream – or just for kicks, music and women.”

A great novel, On The Road is a story of friendship, sex, travel, and jazz. In spite of this it is, at heart, a story about the road. Kerouac makes a number of trips throughout the novel, from 1947 to 1950. I chose to focus on the first trip in 1947 as it burns throughout with a nervous and explosive energy. Although this isn’t an English essay, I am incorporating literary references and quotes as I feel it will strengthen the overall visualisation experience. Below is the link to my map chronicling the trip taken by Kerouac in ’47.

I personally thought ‘On The Road’ to be a good text to visualise as it is a road novel. It’s a novel about the road and those you meet on the road. Due to this fact I decided to make a map chronicling Sal’s journey the the promised land, Los Angeles. The so called bible of the beat counter culture is still held in high regard, 65 years after it’s release.

Conclusions

I found this exercise to be an interesting one. As I am studying English as well, there is a great need for visualisation in order to understand the text. It was because of this need that I decided to visualise two pieces of literature rather than two critical texts. I found story map to be easy to use and a tool I could incorporate into future projects.

Captain American: The Winter Soldier – A Portrait of Modern Life

A text I wish to analyse is the 2014 film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. I wish to examine how the film paints a portrait of 21st century life. It centres around a conspiracy involving the Nazi organisation HYDRA and the mythical Winter Soldier. In the words of Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the first superhero since the terrorist-inflicted The Dark Knight

that plugs you right into whats happening now”.

I believe that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” mirrors modern life on numerous fronts. It show’s the main anxieties people have in this age, and the challenge’s they face involving the unknown and their supposed ‘freedom’. I will start by examining three central characters and what they represent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and how they relate to the general public.

Peggy Carter an-ex British soldier, and later on co-leader of the foundation S.H.I.E.L.D,  is confined to an old age home and is suffering from alzheimer’s and dementia. Carter along with S.H.I.E.L.D shaped and the built the pre-World War II world and political landscape. Her character echoes the “Greatest Generation” and the “Baby Boomers” who rebuilt and shaped the modern world after two world wars and countless threats. Both the above generations and Carter have regrets on how they shaped the world, as Peggy remarks to the Captain – “You saved the world. We rather mucked it up.”

The head of S.H.I.E.L.D Nick Fury is the opposite of Carter. He represent modern governmental institutes and regimes. The publics anxieties of their governments is represented in this character. As the Captain remarks, Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D are holding a gun to the publics head and calling it freedom. Fury like modern regimes is critical of the actions taken in the past in response to threats. Like today’s government’s Fury can see the world as it really is. This is shown when he retaliates against the Captain and states “S.H.I.E.L.D takes the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be.”

Steve Rodgers also know as the titular Captain represents the majority of the public. Lost in the modern world and holding on to what he knows, after being frozen in ice for almost 70 years. A polar opposite of Fury, Rodgers is the character most like the audience. He see’s good in the world and will do what it takes for the public to be free. Rodger’s is a pinup of what the public should inspire to be like. He hold’s the ‘ideals’ of America such as helping others and protecting the weak. Lost in translation with the modern world Rodgers want’s to do good but is unsure how a person does good anymore. In his own words “ For as long as I can remember I just wanted to do what was right. I guess I’m quite sure what that is anymore.”

As we can see the three principal characters represent the many faces of modern life. All three characters have different ideologies and react differently when faced with a threat. The said threat in this film is the Nazi organisation HYDRA. The re-emergence of this group in the MCU echoes the emergence of extremist groups in the 21st century.

HYDRA’s main philosophy as said by their head Alexander Pierce is that to build better world one has “to tear the old one down.” This is similar to modern extremist groups such as ISIS who wish to create a world based on one political / religious philosophy through the destruction of the old one. Within the film’s universe HYDRA infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D from it’s very beginning. This acts as an opposite of our political system where far right groups are now gaining votes in elections all across the world. Modern ‘extreme’ groups, such as England’s UKIP, who are using the political system in order gain power is directly similar to HYDRA using S.H.I.E.L.D a government institute in order to gain control.

The ways in which HYDRA aims to achieve it’s goal’s is through mass surveillance. Everything from internet history, bank transactions, tweets, and exam results are examined by a complex algorithm used to determine the future habits of the public and to exterminate the threat before it can happen.

With the recent news of Facebook using users information in order to manipulate their news feed and the news from whistleblower Edward Snowden that the NSA were keeping telecommunication records on citizens, the methods used by HYDRA seem to familiar be to the general public. In a world where everything about an individual can be easily accessed online HYDRA acts as an efficient metaphor for these organisations that invade the public privacy in order to examine threats.

Finally within the final third of the film the workers of S.H.I.E.L.D are faced with the revelation that they people they have been working for have been infiltrated by the enemy. The way in which the characters know little of the institute in which they are working for acts as a window into states which are generally seen as closed of to the west such as North Korea.

When faced with this revelation a number of the workers stand up for their beliefs and a face-off ensure’s between the two conflicting side. Sharon Carter a minor character working for S.H.I.E.L.D was one of the first ground workers to stand up the the HYDRA agents. When faced with the belief that she picked the wrong side,  “Depends on where you’re standing.” This clearly resembles the ordinary people in corrupt states, who when faced with the knowledge of corruption stand up for what is right and risking everything in the process.

In conclusion Captain America: The Winter Soldier clearly paints a portrait of life in the 21st century. The characters and plot lines within the film and the MCU as a whole act as a metaphor for ordinary people in the world and the larger problems they face when they see the world as it is. I’ll finish with a quote uttered by Peggy Carter in which I think sum’s up the films resemblance to modern life –

“ The world has changed and none of us can go back.

All we can do is our best,

and sometimes the best we can do is to start over.”

#MapLesotho

For our second digital humanities assignment I had to engage in a mapping activity of the Lesotho area. At first I was daunted with the prospect of doing this task as I had no previous experience in mapping software. Every time I participated in the mapping I documented my work in a PDF journal. I found this to be a good way of keeping track of my progress. I have attached a version of my  journal here – Map Lesotho Journal

Report Of The Activity 

Lesotho is a small land locked country just above South Africa. With a population of two million over 40% of the population live under the poverty line. In this respect it is important for us who can to help map the country, as a lot of Lesotho’s inhabitants don’t have the means or knowledge to undertake this operation. But why is this important? It is important because it allows groups of people living in Lesotho to view correct and informative maps of their country.

If there is a central computer in a library or educational institution for example residents can travel to these locations and view the maps collectively. This has many positive implications for the Lesotho region,  ranging from educational to economic to political. By utilising open source software this activity helps  spread the word of the open source movement. The amount of people engaging in the activity can quickly spread open source through hashtags and promotion. Following on from this I was ready to start the activity.

At first I found this activity hard as I wasn’t used to the software and I didn’t fully realise the need for the project. I overcame these two obstacles through a variety of ways. I used the help tab and I followed it through to the wiki. To me this was really helpful as it allowed me to quickly pick up the skills I needed. While doing the assignment I found it worthwhile to check what other users were editing and to view their edits. This way I was able to see how my edits should look. I thought that the website itself was good to work with and allowed easy access for editing. You could choose different layers for your map which helped me get a feel for the area in which I was working in.

I found the assignment quite difficult as a lot of the work was already completed in the Lesotho area by others. The three slides I included in the journal was the most I could do in terms of mapping. The information that was already marked was correct in my opinion. Due to this I couldn’t engage fully with this mapping exercise. I tried my local are and the area around the CBD of Paris, but again the work was already done. As well as this I tried my local area. Again the work was completed. The best I could do was re-label incorrect information.  I didn’t include the Paris and Cork activity in the journal as it was primarily editing names.

In order to make the experience a little easier,  I would like to have the ability to install a widget in the software that would allow me to look up information on the area I’m working on. I didn’t know much about Lesotho so I didn’t know what type of markers I should have been labelling my buildings. Taking this into account I did some research on Lesotho itself. The research aspect helped overcome the second obstacle. Through my research I eventually realised the need for it.

I would say that this project was beneficial to me as it was my first time engaging in a collaborative effort such as this. Both collaboration and crowdsourcing are two integral components in the field of digital humanities. Before this project I had little to no experience of these two aspects. For me the most beneficial aspect of the assignment was crowdsourcing. It allowed to me to engage in an activity with countless others. We were all working towards a common goal which made the experience much more fulfilling to me.

To conclude I would like to take a moment to criticise my own work method. If I were to do this again I would spend more time planning. While doing the actual mapping I engaged in sporadic burst’s of work rather than adhering to a well thought out work schedule. As I mentioned above I didn’t see the point of this assignment while beginning it, thus my work ethic was to get it over and done with as quickly as possible. Looking back I should have had made a plan of action and thoroughly researched both mapping and crowdsourcing.