A look back on last year..


I guess it’s that time of the year again.

Before I start to Blog about all the new concepts, learning devices and emerging digital tools of this coming year, I’m going to first reflect on my favourite aspects of DH1001.

To completely pinpoint one exact feature of the class that I found most interesting was hard. Thinking back, we covered interesting topics such as, Emoticons and their place in modern literature, Aaron Swartz and his instrumental battle for the development of RSS and Creative Commons and we even played with the use of Twitter to form concise essays. The essays could only have a maximum of 140 characters because of Twitters format. (Oh yeah, we called them Twessays, I know cool isn’t it.)

Now that I think about it more, these Twessays were probably the most thought provoking elements of the class and that’s why I liked them so much. At first I thought, 140 characters pft this is going to be easy.

It’s only when I actually had to start my first Twessay that the problems arose. First attempt, I went over the word count. Second attempt was the same story. It was there and then I realised the value of words and which ones mattered most. It was not only about what you could add but also what you could leave out. This neglects all the waffle which is common with long winded answers.

I used emoji’s to portray emotion as they took up far less words and were much clearer. This drew a relationship between other aspects of the course too, the whole idea of emoticons and their value and place in modern day text and literature. Below is an example of my first Twessay, where we had to describe openness.



Textual Humanities Getting Intimate with Text

The text I chose to compare and visualise for this assignment was the play ‘Othello’ by William Shakespeare. I became very familiar with this text throughout my leaving cert year and thought it would be a great text to sample.

I first starting using Gutenberg.org in 5th year in secondary school. I found it very useful having a digital copy of the plays, poems and stories I was currently studying back then. I mainly used it for gathering a collection of quotes and then printing these as a hardcopy.

On the other hand Voyant-Tools and the whole idea of visualising for analytical purposes was all new to me. Voyant gives us a visual representation of a text, such as a movie script, poem or story. It gives us the most commonly used words in the text in many different ways through the use of numbers, charts and colour coding. I consider myself to be a very spatial learner so this tool had me interested from the start. I find it easier to understand concepts, ideas and information when they have some sort of visual aid such as a mind map or a graph and Voyant seemed to do so.

Voyant-Tools was simple and easy to use tool in my opinion. All I had to do was paste the link of the text I wanted to visualise into a text box, click reveal and to my surprise I was done.


I found the applications interface to be very ascetically pleasing. It was broken up into five segments and three of these were visual elements. On the left hand side of the screen it generated the most frequent words used throughout the play and also gave a visual representation of these words. The words used most were depicted larger than the lesser used words. I was very impressed by this graph because of its use of colour and abstract style. It also was great because even at a quick glance you have an idea who the main characters and themes without having to read vast amounts of raw data.

For example with this play, ‘Othello’, the main words in bold are: Iago, Othello, Cassio (The main characters) Lord and Love (The main themes). I think this is a great learning aid and would highly recommend teachers and lecturers to introduce this tool to their students.

One handy feature was the search box. It seems like such a basic tool but with a play like ‘Othello’ there are so many words and quotes to learn if you are studying it in depth. I often find myself only remembering parts of quotes and this allowed me to search these and find the full one.

Overall I found the Voyant web tool extremely eye opening. It literally brought a 17th century play into the 21st and opened me up to a new way to view literature. I believe that as the site can still be developed the possibilities to view literature in new exciting methods will continue to grow.

Open Street Map

When it comes to mapping applications Google seemed to be streets ahead in my eyes (pardon the pun). However to be completely honest it was the only street map application that I was familiar with at the time. To me it though it seemed to be only used for personal entertainment, to explore parts of the world where we could only hope to travel or in more often cases used to find one’s home and neighbourhood.

Our assignment was based around a different mapping application, OpenStreetMap (OSM). OSM is an open source mapping tool. It compiles information imputed by users from current satellite images to create, edit and validate maps around the world.

We were given two options for this assignment, one consisted of working around your own neighbourhood editing and adding in more details. The second, one that interested me a lot, was to contribute to a Humanitarian cartography initiative. The whole idea that work being done in this initiative was making a real difference to the people on the ground in these areas really made it appealing.

First off I needed to make an account on OSM which was a fairly simple process. Username, password the same ole thing that we’ve become a custom too. Next was the tricky bit, the actually mapping. Before I realised that there were people who went around and validated the maps after I created them I was constantly stressed that I would mark something wrong. I had the vision of someone driving off a cliff because I marked it as a road! Thankfully once I got over that spell it wasn’t all that hard at all!

The site gave a walkthrough for beginners like myself. I played around with it for a while just to get some experience before I dived into the deep end of OSM mapping. Once I felt confident enough at my mapping abilities I got to work.

#1623 – Fiji – Cyclone Winston – Vanua Levu 10 – Lekutu to Naduri


Above was the initiative I was randomly selected to work on. In the description I was told that the storm had destroyed many roads and homes. I concentrated my work mainly on identifying these homes and roads. The satellite images were very clear so I was thankful that it was a lot easier to give detailed descriptions.


I found the tools very simple to use and this made it a far quicker process. One of the hardest things I found was what category to place some roads in. From most pictures it was hard to distinguish between primary, secondary and territory routes. Along the same note it was similar with houses and shops etc.


Once I had mapped four tiles it was time to become a validator. The area that I validated was previously mapped pretty well and I did not need to do much at all. I tidied up a bit of the linear routes and marked a few missed houses and that was it basically.


I found the whole idea of OSM amazing! It’s truly fascinating what a collection of people can achieve when they work together and I’m grateful that I could do my bit to help!

Digital Tool- TwXplorer

Firstly I just want to say a few words on why I decided to choose this specific digital tool.

I am an avid user of twitter and find myself daily turning to it for instant updates on worldwide news, sporting events and even the odd rant. I find the idea of using this great resource in an academic frame interesting. I found this digital tool while browsing the Knightlab website and found the concept appealing so I decided to run with it.

Gathering information on this particular tool was made a lot easier through the availability of (https://twxplorer.knightlab.com/) a website dedicated solely to this digital tool. I first heard of knightlab, the group that have created this tool, during my first DH lecture this semester and was instantly amazed at the work they do.

TwXplorer is a digital tool that enhances the way we use twitter. It is a website based digital tool that was created by Knightlab to aid the how we search on Twitter, “A smarter way to search Twitter“, and was first realised in way back in 2013.


The website has a very user friendly interface so it was very hard for me to go wrong. It links directly to Twitter and seeing as I was already logged in to my Twitter account it was all a very quick process. I simply clicked “Search Twitter” and that’s how simply it was.

The main aim of TwXplorer is to make twitter a better resource for the likes of journalists and other researchers. The difference between Twitter’s original search and that of TwXplorer is the depth. TwXplorer shows users the most frequent terms, links and hashtags used in those tweets.

The Atlantic described the tool as, “A new, free tool [that] lets you analyse and archive twitter simultaneously” in article solely on TwXplorer back on the 17th of September 2013.

To see how it works fully I decided to search ‘Digital Humanities’ below are the results that were shown. The interface is split into three vertical sections of ‘Recent Tweets’, ‘Terms’ and ‘Hashtags’. I found this to be very visually appealing and manageable. On the left hand side of the screen is a pre view of all most recent tweets which are relevant to the search topic. This is generated by the pages you follow along with the similarity to search word/words.


Towards the centre and right of the screen lies a section dedicated to ‘terms’ and ‘hashtags’. These sections show two different lists of the most frequently used terms and hashtags in the two hundred odd results found. It also shows the figure in descending order from top to bottom of how many times that term or hashtag was present, accompanying them is a bar chart representation of that figure which I found very visually satisfying. It also lets you save “snapshots” of its dashboard for a search term. In conclusion, TwXplorer lets you save cross-sections of Twitter, frozen in time and compare them with past and present trends.

One feature which I particularly liked using was the filter option. Twitter has its own filter option when searching where you can chop down your search into People, Videos, Photos and News, however I didn’t find this particularly useful when searching in more depth for information and trends. TwXplorer had a great filter option where you can swindle down your search to particular terms and hashtags on certain pages and certain locations. Below I used the example of searching UCC and the filter of @ucc_gaa.


Other great aspects of using TwXplorer is that it is a completely free and one hundred per cent an open resource for anyone to use. You don’t need to have numerous TwXplorer profiles if you have more than one Twitter account! All you have to is sign in to them separately.

TwXplorer also have a great feature for exporting and saving information generated using the tool. Once you use the search you have the option to take a ‘Snapshot’ (which is essentially a screenshot). You can then save a set of these results by clicking on the save snapshot button. The snapshots are displayed by the date/time when you saved them and grouped by query or list (depending on how you obtained the results). Click on any snapshot to review it. You can explore a saved snapshot in the same way you explore live search results.








– Dean Kamen

For nearly one-fifth of the world’s population, getting a drink of water on the hottest of days is not as easy as filling a glass from a tap in your kitchen or going to the local store and buying one. Millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa have to walk thousands of miles per day just to access some kind of drinking water. Most of the time this water is not purified and is full of water-borne diseases that is making them and their families’ sick.


Slingshot is project started by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. His main aim and focus was to bring an end to the world’s safe water crisis.

I’m just going to give a quick insight into the work and life of Dean Kamen first. He is an American entrepreneur and inventor, and another successful college drop out. He is best known for inventing the Segway. The Segway, is a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle. At first it was deemed a failure but in time it took off and made him millions and he was recognised as one of the modern day great inventors.

Away from the Segway, Dean worked greatly on the development of science and technology in schools. This program called, ‘First’ was focused on the appreciation of these very things.

140528-robotics-competition-vin 2

Founded in 1989, this year FIRST will serve more than 300,000 young people, ages 6 to 18, in more than 60 countries around the globe.

At this moment in time according to the centre for disease control and prevention, an estimated 801,000 children younger than 5 die from diseases caused by lack of clean drinking water such as diarrhoea each year, especially in developing countries. This means that 2,200 children are dying each day due to just this one disease caused by lack of clean drinking water.

Dean Kamen recognised that this was a major problem and he dedicated 15 years of his life to design, develop and create a solution. He created the ‘slingshot’, a water purification device. The device claims to be able to produce safe drinking water from almost any source or substance that contains water. Mr Kamen demonstrated how the product works live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he purified perfectly clean water from another liquid substance. This was the start of his press tour to make the people of the world more and more aware of the problems that these third world countries have to deal with on a day a day to basis.

I became aware of the problem through a documentary, ‘Slingshot’. The documentary follows the life of Dean Kamen on his quest to resolve this problem and also gives us an insight into the world of a famous inventor.

He recently teamed up with the global brand ‘Coca-Cola’. He hopes that his technical know-how combined with Coke’s global reach and iconic name will draw people to the matter they are trying to resolve. He has recently been successful in developments in rural Ghana but still hopes to reach more countries in the coming years.






Technology;Friend or Foe with Sport

From education to dating to gaming, there is nothing that technology is not getting its hands on nowadays. One of the things that technology is influencing majorly is sport. As a Digital Humanities and Information Technology student and also a keen lover of all sport this excites me. I’ve been playing sport since I was 5 years old and have been on the end of a bad refereeing decision to many times to count. Loss in sport is heart breaking but the pain is multiplied far worse when the loss in generated by a simply refereeing mistake no fault of your own. It is also not fair on the referee who has to make a split second decision in front of crowds up to 80,000. There have been many circumstances where referees have had to be escorted off pitches due to a wrong decision that they’ve made. One such occasion happened during the 2010 Leinster Football Final between Louth and Meath. On this particular occasion Meath scored a goal in the last few seconds of the game, however the goal should not have stood, the Meath full forward Joe Sheridan threw the ball into the goal.00037f3d-642

This moment in turn cost Louth a famous win and caused up roar among the Louth fans. As I watched this unfold live, I could only imagine how all this could have been stopped.

A lot has changed in all sport and not just Gaa since this occasion in 2010. On the 22nd of April 2013 ‘Hawk eye’ was introduced into Gaa matches in Croke Park. Technology has also evidently been introduced in Soccer, in the Premier League Goal Decision System is used at all Barclays Premier League matches. It is supplied by Hawk-Eye, the world’s leading provider of vision processing instruments to sport. The system aids referees with close calls, in cases where there may be some doubt if the whole ball has crossed the goal line. Match officials use microphones to keep in contact with each other during the game. Vanishing Spray is carried by referees, who can use it to mark out distances between defending players and the ball, before a free-kick is taken. The spray will vanish within minutes after its use.

In other sports such as Tennis, Ice-Hockey and Rugby similar technologies are used to keep human refereeing errors to a minimum. Tennis use a similar technology to Hawkeye which identifies if the ball has stayed in the court or not. This makes the umpires job fair easier. The same goes for Rugby and Ice-Hockey. Rugby is an interesting one, they use the technology but let another person use this information to give the verdict. They do not leave the outcome up to solely to a computer programme.

On the contrary with the use of so much technology comes the chance of technical failure. This was evident during the All Ireland Minor Hurling semi-final between Limerick and Galway. Limerick scored a point which was deemed a ‘Miss’ by the newly introduced system. Due to this one technical error the system was disabled for the following match. The system cost the Gaa millions.0007c0f9-642





Critical Response to Twessay II


Storytelling is evolving – My Critical response to all our Twessays

For me being a proud Irishman I was pleased to discuss this topic. Story telling runs deep in our history and culture. The stories of Finn McCool and the Fianna and fond memories of my childhood.

My view on the evolution of storytelling in 140 characters was (https://twitter.com/DenisVaughanUCC/status/667321798074245120)

The main evolution for me is its accessibility. Almost every story told is only ever at most a simple few clicks away, thanks to the development and the expansion of the internet. There is no denying that this accessibility is fantastic. Thanks to this children and adults alike all over the world have access to stories thousands of years old.

One factor that I’m fearful of is the extinction of the storyteller. Could the once great tradition of the Seanchaí be gone? Instead replaced by a computer screen. A Seanchaí, a traditional Irish storyteller, was once the only person who you could listen and learn of the great Irish fairy tales. They were traditionally not meant to be written down and were passed down through the years by word of mouth. This form of preservation allowed the art of storytelling to be also preserved. It was not all about the story, it was also about the way it was told.

Out of all my fellow peers tweets the one I found the most insightful was Paddy O’ Toole’s (https://twitter.com/paddykoolster/status/667330344106987520) I could not agree more that the internet and other resources or ‘tools’ as paddy refers to them as are evolving storytelling. This can’t be denied. The accessibility nowadays compared to even 20 years ago is miles ahead and it doesn’t look like it’ll be stopping soon. However it’s his second point that engaged with me most. “Human interaction is @ the core of any #narrative” We can preserve and store stories but we cannot preserve the storyteller! Storytelling is a skill which needs to be practiced not stored.

Now to concentrate on the positives of the evolution of storytelling, and don’t get me wrong there is a few! Kasia bangs the nail right on the head with her tweet. The benefits of the digital world are enhancing the way we experience stories. Through the use of hashtags, hyperlinks, music and videos the very nature of stories are growing. Hashtags are linking similar stories and ideas together in one place making it very easy to follow. Hyperlinks give external points of view that may interest the reader and finally sounds and video provide the entertainment any great story should have!     (https://twitter.com/KasiaSobiech182/status/667747477320241154)

In conclusion I feel I have gained much more than I thought I would from my two twessay assignments. At first I thought there’s no way they would work with a 140 character limit but I could have not been more wrong. You learn not to waste a character and I hope to bring this same methodology into all my future work not only in these assignments.



Kasia Sobiechhttps://twitter.com/KasiaSobiech182

Patrick O’Toolehttps://twitter.com/paddykoolster?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw