Spotlight: Shanti Interactive

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If you’re looking for tools that will help you create web-based visualizations, images or maps, Shanti Interactive may have exactly what you need. Shanti Interactive, a suite of tools made available from the University of Virginia’s Sciences, Humanities & Arts Network of Technological Initiatives (SHANTI), is free to use and a helpful resource for individuals seeking to show their data visually.

The Shanti Interactive suite includes five programs: Qmedia, SHIVA, MapScholar, VisualEyes, and VisualEyes 5. Qmedia creates instructional and scholarly videos. SHIVA creates “data-driven visualizations,” such as charts, graphs, maps, image montages and timelines. MapScholar creates geospatial visualizations while VisualEyes — arguably the most well-known tool from the suite — creates historic visualizations by weaving images, maps, charts, video and data into online exhibits. While we could write an entire post on each member of the suite (and maybe someday we will), I will quickly go over some of the main functions of the Shanti Interactive suite.

Qmedia

A screenshot of QMedia's demo video.

A screenshot of Qmedia’s live demo.

Qmedia creates an interactive video experience. The screen is broken up into various, customizable boxes, which the user can then interact with. In its own words, Qmedia “delineraizes” the video, allowing it to be scanned. Tools in Qmedia include table of contents, clickable, searchable transcripts, graphical concept maps, images, live maps, interactive visualizations, web apps and websites! While this list can be a little overwhelming, you can see the incredible results with Qmedia’s live demo.

SHIVA

SHIVA's timeline capability.

SHIVA’s timeline capability.

Think of SHIVA as a multi-faceted data visualization tool. It can create charts, maps, timelines, videos, images, graphs, subway maps, word clouds as well as plain text. SHIVA works with open source and open access web tools, such as Google’s Visualization Toolkit and Maps, YouTube, and Flickr. When a user inputs data, they do so through Google Docs. One fantastic feature in SHIVA is the ability to add on layers of annotations onto your data. For more on SHIVA’s capabilities and partners, see the SHIVA about page.

MapScholar

MapScholar is a great tool for creating what they call digital “atlases,” allowing scholars to use historic maps to compare and contrast how different areas have been depicted by mapmakers through time. For example, here is the base map on the eastern United States:

And here is that map overlayed with a Native American map from 1721:

VisualEyes and VisualEyes 5

VisualEyes is a multi-faceted online exhibit toolkit, which helps create interactive websites to display data. There are two versions: Flash-based VisualEyes, and HTML5-based VisualEyes 5, which is recommended. In many ways, VisualEyes is a combination of the rest of the suite’s tools, providing a platform for some incredible integration of sources. VisualEyes’ current example is a tour of Thomas Jefferson’s life (as the program was created at the University of Virginia), and worth a look if you’re interested in the program’s capabilities! It is far more interactive than one screengrab can communicate.

This project includes historic and modern maps, a timeline, and text, which all work together to create the story of Thomas Jefferson’s life.

Shanti Interactive includes diverse, free resources that can transform the way that you present your data to the world. If you need help getting started, or want to brainstorm ideas, stop by the Scholarly Commons and we’ll have someone ready to chat!

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Text Analysis Basics – See Your Words in Voyant!

Interested in doing basic text analysis but have no or limited programming experience? Do you feel intimidated by the command line? One way to get started with text analysis, visualization, and uncovering patterns in large amounts of text is with browser-based programs! And today we have a mega blockbuster blog post extravaganza about Voyant Tools!

Voyant is a great solid browser based tool for text analysis. It is part of the Text Analysis Portal for Research (TAPoR)  http://tapor.ca/home. The current project leads are Stéfan Sinclair at McGill University (one of the minds behind BonPatron!) and Geoffrey Rockwell at the University of Alberta.

Analyzing a corpus:

I wanted to know what I needed to know to get a job so I got as many job ads as I could and ran them through very basic browser-based text analysis tools (to learn more about Word Clouds check out this recent post for Commons Knowledge all about them!) in order to see if what I needed to study in library school would emerge and I could then use that information to determine which courses I should take. This was an interesting idea and I mostly found that jobs prefer you have an ALA-accredited degree, which was consistent with what I had heard from talking to librarians. Now I have collected even more job ads (around December from the ALA job list mostly with a few from i-Link and elsewhere) to see what I can find out (and hopefully figure out some more skills I should be developing while I’m still in school).

Number of job ads = 300 there may be a few duplicates and this is not the cleanest data.

Uploading a corpus:

Voyant Tools is found at https://voyant-tools.org.

Voyant Home Page

For small amounts of text, copy and paste into the “Add Text” box. Otherwise, add files by clicking “Upload” and choosing the Word or Text files you want to analyze. Then click “Reveal”.

So I added in my corpus and here’s what comes up:

To choose a different view click  the small rectangle icon and choose from a variety of views. To save the visualization you created in order to later incorporate it into your research click the arrow and rectangle “Upload” icon and choose which aspect of the visualization you want to save.

Mode change option circled

“Stop words” are words excluded because they are very common words such as “the” or “and” that don’t always tell us anything significant about the content of our corpus. If you are interested in adding stop words beyond the default settings, you can do that with the following steps:

Summary button on Voyant circled

1. Click on Summary

Home screen for Voyant with the edit settings circled

2. Click on the define options button

Clicking on edit list in Voyant

3. If you want to add more words to the default StopList click Edit List

Edit StopList window in Voyant

4. Type in new words and edit the ones already there in the default StopList and click Save to save.

Mouse click on New User Defined List

5. Or to add your own list click New User Defined List and paste in your own list in the Edit list feature instead of editing the default list.

Here are some of the cool different views you can choose from in Voyant:

Word Cloud:

The Links mode, which shows connections between different words and how often they are paired with the thickness of the line between them.

My favorite mode is TextArc based on the text analysis and visualization project of the same name created by W. Brad Paley in the early 2000s. More information about this project can be found at http://www.textarc.org/, where you can also find Text arc versions of classic literature.

Voyant is pretty basic, it will give you a bunch of stuff you probably already knew, such as to get a library job it helps to have library experience. The advantage of the TextArc setting is that it puts everything out there and lets you see the connections between different words. And okay, it looks really cool too.

Check it out the original animated below! Warning this may slow down or even crash your browser:  https://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=3de9f7190e781ce7566e01454014a969&view=TextualArc

I also like the Bubbles feature (not to be confused with the Bubblelines feature) though none of the other GAs or staff here do, one going so far as to refer to it as an “abomination”.

Circles with corpus words (also listed in side pane) on inside

Truly abominable

The reason I have not included a link to this is DEFAULT VERSION MAY NOT MEET WC3 WEB DESIGN EPILEPSY GUIDELINES. DO NOT TRY IF YOU ARE PRONE TO PHOTOSENSITIVE SEIZURES. It is adapted from the much less flashy “Letter Pairs” project created by Martin Ignacio Bereciartua. This mode can also crash your browser.

To learn more about applying for jobs we have a Savvy Researcher workshop!

If you thought these tools were cool, to learn more advanced text mining techniques we have an upcoming Savvy Researcher workshop, also on March 6 :

Happy text mining and job searching! Hope to see some of you here at Scholarly Commons on March 6!

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Finding the Right Data at the Scholarly Commons

As you probably know, February 13-17th is Love Your Data Week, an annual event that aims to help researchers take better care of their data. The theme for today — Thursday, February 16th — is finding the right data, a problem that almost all researchers will run into while doing their work at some point or another. And the Scholarly Commons is here to help you out! Here are a few ways that you can “find the right data” through the services we provide here at the Scholarly Commons.

Online resources

The University of Illinois subscribes to an almost countless number of online resources that you can find datasets and data files on. While it can be hard to figure out where to start, oftentimes, there will be a LibGuide that can help point you towards a few sources that you will find helpful. The Finding Numeric Data LibGuide specializes in data for the world, United States, and Illinois, and can generally be used for projects in the social sciences. If you’re looking for GIS data, you can head to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) LibGuide. We even have an area where you can browse all of the Library’s LibGuides and see which guide will be of the most use to you.

Purchasing data

If you’ve found a dataset that you truly need, but cannot get it through one of the services UIUC subscribes to, you may be eligible for the 2017 Data Purchase Program. Researchers can submit an application which outlines their data needs, and the University Library may choose to purchase the data, and make it available for general use by the campus community. For more information, see the Data Purchase Program website, linked above.

Attending a Savvy Researcher workshop

Throughout the semester, the Scholarly Commons and other Library departments run Savvy Researcher workshops, which teach attendees various skills that will help them be better researchers. While many deal with finding or organizing data, here is a sampling of a few upcoming workshops that will deal directly with finding data: Finding and Organizing Primary Source Materials in DPLA, Advanced Text Mining Techniques with Python and HathiTrust Data, and GIS for Research II: GIS Research, Data Management, and Visualization. For the full schedule of Savvy Researcher workshops, head to the Savvy Researcher calendar. You can also get an idea of what’s going on with the Savvy Researcher workshops by looking at the #savvyresearcher on Twitter!

Making an appointment with an expert

A central part of the Scholarly Commons’ mission is to connect you to the people you need to get the help you need. If you’re looking for data help, take a gander at our Scholarly Commons Experts page and see if there is someone on staff who can help you find what you need. If you’re still not sure, don’t worry! You can always fill out a consultation request form, or email us, and we’ll help you get in touch with someone who can guide you.

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Love and Big Data

Can big data help you find true love?

It’s Love Your Data Week, but did you know people have been using Big Data for to optimize their ability to find their soul mate with the power of data science! Wired Magazine profiled mathematician and data scientist Chris McKinlay in “How to Hack OkCupid“.There’s even a book spin-off from this! “Optimal Cupid”, which unfortunately is not at any nearby libraries.

But really, we know you’re all wondering, where can I learn the data science techniques needed to find “The One”, especially if I’m not a math genius?

ETHICS NOTE: WE DO NOT ENDORSE OR RECOMMEND TRYING TO CREATE SPYWARE, ESPECIALLY NOT ON COMPUTERS IN THE SPACE. WE ALSO DON’T GUARANTEE USING BIG DATA WILL HELP YOU FIND LOVE.

What did Chris McKinlay do?

Methods used:

  • Automating tasks, such as writing a python script to answer questions on OKCupid
  • Scraping data from dating websites
  • Surveying
  • Statistical analysis
  • Machine learning to figure out how to rank the importance of answers of questions
  • Bots to visit people’s pages
  • Actually talking to people in the real world!

Things we can help you with at Scholarly Commons:

Selected workshops and resources, come by the space to find more!

Whether you reach out to us by email, phone, or in-person our experts are ready to help with all of your questions and helping you make the most of your data! You might not find “The One” with our software tools, but we can definitely help you have a better relationship with your data!

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Love Your Data Week 2017

The Scholarly Commons is excited to announce our participation in Love Your Data Week 2017. Taking place from February 13-17th, Love Your Data is an annual event that aims to “build a community to engage on topics related to research data management, sharing, preservation, reuse, and library-based research data services.” The 2017 theme is data quality.

Love Your Data Week takes place online, and you’ll find us posting content both on this blog (look out for our post on February 16th) and at our Twitter, @ScholCommons. We’ll be posting new content for each day of Love Your Data Week, so stay tuned! You can follow the wider conversation by looking at the hashtags #LYD17 and #loveyourdata on Twitter and elsewhere. You can also check out the University of Illinois Research Data Service’s Twitter @ILresearchdata for their Love Your Data Week content!

Each day of Love Your Data Week has a different theme. This year the themes are as follows:

  • Monday: Defining Data Quality
  • Tuesday: Documenting, Describing, Defining
  • Wednesday: Good Data Examples
  • Thursday: Finding the Right Data
  • Friday: Rescuing Unloved Data

Got something to say about data? Or just want to be a part of the action? Tweet @scholcommons or comment on this article!

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Review: The Infographic History of the World by Valentina D’Efilippo and James Ball

The Infographic History of the World, created by Valentina D’Efilippo and James Ball, consists of various infographics with accompanying commentaries. You can find this book and read it at Scholarly Commons, near our other infographic and visualization books! You can also check it out from a nearby library!

Overall, this book is a compelling read and an interesting idea as a project and some of the infographics were really well done. This book demonstrates the power of infographics to help us present and break down important topics to wider audiences. Yes, this isn’t supposed to be a serious read, but there was a lot I did not like about this book, specifically throughout I got a sense that:

Statue of a person with hands over face. Located by the Main Library entrance facing the UGL

Somewhere a political scientist is crying…     Photo credit to E. Hardesty and the Main Library with the original image found at https://flic.kr/p/rw2Ldz

  • “The story of the last 4,000 years is one of nations being founded, breaking apart, going to war, and coming together” (D’Efilippo & Ball, 2013). For those confused why this is a problem, “nation” is a very modern term and concept so that’s a serious anachronism.
  • Why is the theocracy symbol notably non-Western and not used for the English Civil War, which was apparently about republicanism?
  • A history of the “Net” that doesn’t mention Minitel.
  • First flight goes to the Wright Brothers. No mention of Santos-Dumont or the controversy (for everyone who noticed that inexplicable early aircraft cameo at this year’s Olympic opening).
  • The book is very Anglo-centric.

Sloppy stats!

 

  • I’m suspicious anytime Luxembourg wins something. Are they really the biggest drinkers or how does their small population make this data less meaningful?
  • “Absolute number of cannabis users by region” Absolute? Really?
  • Overall, not enough information on where and how a lot of the statistics were generated and why we should trust those sources. Yes, there is an appendix on the back that explains this to some extent in tiny text but not helpful for people who just glance at the infographic and assume it’s giving us useful information about the world.

Visualization issues!

 

  • Emphasizing form over function — much like the new Macbooks with so few ports they are practically landlocked — many of the infographics fail to present the information in a way that is appropriate for what they are trying to present. For example, the Mona Lisa paint by numbers probably would have been more effective as a timeline.
    • Maybe I’m just too attached to the idea of timelines being well on a line or perhaps maybe the spiral depicted on the book’s cover art.
    • Some of the infographics have way too many things going on and are trying to make too many points at once.
  • The colors on the mental illness brain are too close (and I can’t imagine how that would look to someone who is colorblind), and there are other examples where the colors are very close and render the infographic pretty, but hard to actually use to learn something from.

Finally, the authors’ claim of “not trying to be political” / “this is just for fun” is no excuse for not being thorough especially with information targeted to the public. Full disclosure or not, artists and journalists still need to be careful because what people see can influence the way they think about things. Infographics are not a neutral presentation of information, certain choices were made, and audiences need to think about who made these choices and why. Not as bad as some of the examples on this Visual Literacy and Infographics blog post, but still problematic. Please, do not be reckless when making infographics!

To learn more how to create infographics of your own check out our Savvy Researcher workshop: Introduction to Infographics Using Piktochart!

If you are an undergraduate interested in conducting research and becoming information and visual literate there is an entire set of classes in the history department for this through SourceLab. Take a look at their schedule or talk to Professor Randolph to learn more!

 

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Finding Data on Champaign County

The Champaign County Courthouse, taken by Beyond My Ken and hosted on Wikipedia Commons.

Many scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign keep their research local. But sometimes, finding data for a specific locale can be difficult. These suggestions are just a start when it comes to the resources that University of Illinois students, faulty, and staff have at their disposal when it comes to finding local data, but it’s a good place to start.

American FactFinder

American FactFinder is a free-to-use service provided by the United States Census Bureau. It contains basic facts in its Community Facts section, but allows for more detailed research through its Advanced Search option. We suggest that researchers use the Advanced Search for more in-depth questions. It contains census data for Champaign County from 2000 through 2015, at the time of writing this post.

Social Explorer

Social Explorer uses census data to create map visualizations. It is important that you access Social Explorer through the University of Illinois library, and not a Google search, as the latter will give you limited functionality in the site. Social Explorer offers information dating back to 1790, as well as a good deal of customization. Maps that you create with Social Explorer can be downloaded and used as a visual.

SimplyMap

SimplyMap uses a mix of both census and market research data to create map visualizations. A little clunkier than Social Explorer, it allows you to compare and contrast different variables with census and market research data, giving you powerful visualizations. Though you cannot download the visualizations themselves, you can download the data sets and tabular reports SimplyMap creates for you. Similarly to Social Explorer, you should enter SimplyMap through the Library, and create an account using your U of I email address.

These are just three of many data sources for Champaign County. Do these fill your needs? Do you have a favorite data source, either listed here or not listed? Let us know in the comments!

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Image of Research – Undergraduate Edition: Now Open for Entries!

In conjunction with the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Scholarly Commons is pleased to announce the Image of Research Undergraduate Edition competition for 2017!

 

The Image of Research is a multidisciplinary competition celebrating the diversity and breadth of undergraduate student research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All undergraduate students are invited to submit entries consisting of an image and brief text that articulates how the image relates to the research.

Submissions will be accepted through March 1, 2017. Announcement of the winners will occur via email at the end of March and there will be a reception during the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

First prize: $300
Second prize: $200
Additionally, there may be up to two honorable mentions.

For more information about this year’s competition, or to submit an entry, visit the Image of Research – UR Edition website. Past entries and winners can be viewed in IDEALS.

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Survey Research Webinar Series Spring 2017

If you’re interested in learning how to conduct research, you’ll want to check out the Survey Research Webinar Series! Each webinar is free to University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students and begin at 12:00 pm Central time. The following is a list of the semester’s offerings:

  • Organizational Surveys. Wednesday, February 15
    • Presenter: Timothy Johnson

    • Individuals are not the only unit of analysis when conducting social surveys! Increasingly, surveys are focusing on larger social groupings. This workshop will address some of the unique aspects of organizational surveys and some of the best practices for conducting them.

    • Register here
  • Introduction to Political Polling. Wednesday, March 1
    • Presenter: Allyson Holbrook

    • This webinar will explain how surveys or “polls” are used to predict and understand political elections and how political polls are different from other kinds of surveys, and the strengths and weaknesses of political polls. Political polling will be considered particularly in the context of the 2016 presidential election.

    • Register here
  • Ethics in Survey Research. Wednesday, March 8
    • Presenter: Timothy Johnson

    • This webinar will provide an overview of ethical considerations in the conduct of survey research. Some of the topics to be discussed include informed consent, confidentiality, interviewer training & oversight, and secondary research subjects.

    • Register here
  • Introduction to Survey Sample Weighting. Wednesday, March 15
    • Presenter: Linda Owens

    • This webinar will cover the basics of constructing statistical weights for survey samples. It will cover the underlying rationales for using sample weights, consider the different kinds of sample weights commonly used, and provide basic examples of each.

    • Register here

 

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Register for Spring 2017 Workshops at CITL!

Exciting news for anyone interested in learning the basics of statistical and qualitative analysis software! Registration is open for workshops to be held throughout spring semester at the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning! There will be workshops on ATLAS.ti, R, SAS, Stata, SPSS, and Questionnaire Design on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in February and March from 5:30-7:30 pm. To learn more details and to register click here to go to the workshops offered by CITL page. And if you need a place to use these statistical and qualitative software packages, such as to practice the skills you gained at the workshops stop by Scholarly Commons, Monday-Friday 9 am- 6 pm! And don’t forget, you can also schedule a consultation with our experts here for specific questions about using statistical and qualitative analysis software for your research!

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