Women Architects and World Fairs

Author: Heba Abd El Salam

Presenting data

One of the most important questions I ask myself when analyzing data is how to present this data to the audience. Data visualization means using bar graphs, dot plots, and line charts. This process will allow researchers to understand their data better and represent it. In this essay, I am discussing different techniques that could be used to present data. Data visualization means mixing between colored, scaled, and Visual cues. For example, using dark and light colors shows the difference between the represented data. Visualization comprises different components, such as visual cues, coordinate systems, scale, and context. There are various visualization methods, making the choice of the color, shape, and size that can be used to represent the data, like mapping, color, geometry, and color. Visualization mainly depends on the data’s size, as little data means little substance visualization. While data with a high number of dimensions, high substance visualization, and more visualization choices, many of those options will be poor ones. To filter out the bad and find the worthwhile options—to get to visualization that means something—you must know your data to present it better. Today, computers can easily enable researchers to present their data, but sometimes, it is crucial to think more about how you need to give your data to the public. As a public historian, I share my results with the public, which is more complicated than representing data to scholars. It took me longer to figure out the best way to visualize data. For example, public historians prefer to use maps to tell the story of historical size. Using a color that helps the audience understand the map is essential. However, some research requires the use of graphs and points. In this case, I believe using color and shape would engage the public and bring their attention to the study. However, it depends on the data you are presenting. For example, I have used graphs and pie to present my analysis to the public to show them how public outreach projects enhance the understanding of history; of course, I have spent some time thinking about the color that allows audiences to understand my analysis clearly. `
This week’s reading was essential because I learned the best way to represent my data.  The reader also helped me to understand how to present the data according to its size.  In addition, I learned how to present a map, which is frequently used in my research.


The use of computers in Art history is related to the mid-1960s when the art historian Jules Prown used Yale University’s computer lab to understand the relationship between the social and economic factors and the sitter’s preferences in portraiture of John Singleton Copley’s. After a few years, computers and digital tools became part of Art history research. This essay addresses the use of computer tools to analyze big data in art history. Now, computers allow art history to explore large data and share their analyses in museums with the public. This extraordinary change wouldn’t have happened without the effort of Prown. Prown was the first Art historian to use computers and statistics to analyze 240 Copley’s sitters, comparing different elements such as age, gender, wealth, gender, religion, age, and size of the canvas[1]. Many scholars were conservative about using computers in art history research, including the department chair of Yale University, who advised him to delete the computer analysis from his book because the computer analysis may affect his tenure promotion.
https://www.collegeart.org/programs/conference/scholars/julesprown I found this article very interesting as the use of computers at that time was very limited. However, Brown decided to use it to save time and offer accurate results in his analysis. This chapter allowed me to compare the use of computer analyses between the mid-1960s and now. I could see how computer tools developed in the last 60 years. I understood that the computer would make incredible changes in the Art history field, which we are witnessing today. On the other hand, Matthew Battles and Michael’s article shows how the digital humanities enable art historians to analyze big data[2]. One of the most significant challenges historians and art historians faced in the past was how to work with big data. In the past, museum curators were mainly focused on presenting and preserving the data. These tools allowed art historians to understand the relationships between different museum collections. It also allowed the museum to present numerous collections of digital images, and the victories now can be seen in these. images and compare them. For example, the Harvard Art Museums created the Lightbox Gallery, an exhibition offering an interface where museum visitors can use the screen to interact with the collection. Technology allowed museum visitors to engage more with the collections. These tools allowed the visitors to explore the collections themselves.  For example, these tools enable visitors to locate object maps, explore the metadata associated with the objects; and know how art objects are labeled. These tools increased the idea of the museum as a place of learning and inspiration. Many teachers now mainly depend on museums as a tool for learning. Students will be more engaged with the information they get from the museums.  The analysis of big data benefits the audiences to have a better understanding of museum collections.
https://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/read/untitled/section/7cdd40a6-9ef4-4aca-8f53-bfee4cd9ed0e#ch27 Reading this week allowed me to understand data analysis in art history and the different tools art historians use to analyze and study data. Of course, data analysis is one of the topics I was worried about early in the semester because, for me, it seems complicated, but thanks to the reading, I was able to understand the topic and how I can apply what I have learned in my future digital history project. I was also inspired by Jules Prown through out-of-the-box and used computers; now, the art history field mainly depends on digital tools. This a lesson for me as a scholar to think, listen to my own voice, and do what I believe is right.
[1] Jules Prown. “The Art Historian and the Computer.” Art as Evidence: Writings on Art and Material Culture(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001). [2] Matthew Battles and Michael Maizels, “Collections and/of Data: Art History and the Art Museum in the DH Mode,” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, eds. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein

 Spatial History: Mapping Places

Each humanity research should include a map to help the reader understand where this project originated. With the new technology, mapping software developers and digital maps now help researchers answer complicated questions that couldn’t be answered before. One example is the GIS software that allows the scholar to identify spatial analysis questions. This essay reflects on the critical role map plays in the humanity field and how it makes information accessible to researchers and the public. One of the most significant mapping projects was the project conducted by  Mapping Nineteenth-Century London’s Art Market by Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich. The primary purpose of this project was to discover the national and international art market in London. In this project, the author’s methods were mapping and marking the art gallery stores between 1850 and 1914 conducted by Pamela Fletcher and David Israel. In addition, Anne Helmreich and Seth Erickson collected and analyzed sales data from the stock books of Goupil & Cie and Boussod, Valadon & Cie. These analyses included trades at several branches in Europe and the United States such as Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels, and New York from1846–1919.[1] This map and visual analysis assisted in exploring and understanding the art Market in practical ways. Moreover, this method revealed information and interpretations that weren’t available in the past.  I find this article very useful as it shows how mapping helped discover information that wasn’t impossible without this tool. This article allowed me to understand how the art market has changed. The audience now can have a good overview of the market in the past. In the photos, I wish they included more information about each image.
I like how they give credit to each one who participated and contributed to this project in this project as many other scholars don’t do that. You can see each one’s name has been included in the image below.
This project showed how maps helped examine and analyze large amounts of data. Now, maps allow historians and art historians to understand various space questions. As a public historian, I included ACGIS in my research. I was working in a cemetery in Dakhlah Oasis. There were 700 graves on the site, and it wasn’t easy to understand without using the map. The GIS tool allowed me to understand the spatial relationship between graves. The map also allowed me to see the distribution of burial according to age and gender (see map1&2).  Even the use of GIS was influential in my research. It was complicated sometimes, and I had to redo the maps many times. In addition, cleaning the data took me forever to be finished. I hope scholars also included the limitations and difficulties while working on the mapping project.
(Map1) (Map2) Overall, this week’s reading allowed me to understand how the map role became critical to any humanity project. It will enable researchers to expand their research. Now, the map can tell the site’s story and offer the audience much information and visual data that weren’t available before.
[1] Pamela Fletcher and Anne Helmreich, with David Israel and Seth Erickson, “Local/Global: Mapping Nineteenth-Century London’s Art Market,” Nineteenth Century Art Worldwide 11:3 (Autumn 2012)

Oral History in the Digital Age

Oral History allows historians to bring people’s memories back to life. History is not only a group of events that must be documented or preserved. It is imperative to know more about the impact of those events on people. In this essay, I want to argue how digital history allowed people to share their sadness and happiness regarding special events. Oral history allowed historians to better understand history by analyzing people’s stories. These stories enable historians to understand these historical events from different perspectives. Oral History Definition Many scholars and organizations have defined oral history. For instance, The Oral History Association described oral history as “A field of study and a method of gathering, preserving, and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies.”[1]  This is one of the most straightforward definitions of the oral history field as it introduces the reader to the role of Oral History in preserving people’s memory of events like war, revolution, etc. On the other hand, Linda Shopes defined oral history as “ a maddeningly imprecise term: it is used to refer to formal, rehearsed accounts of the past presented by culturally sanctioned tradition-bearers; to informal conversations about “the old days” among family members, neighbors, or coworkers; to printed compilations of stories told about past times and present experiences; and to recorded interviews with individuals deemed to have an important story to tell.”[2] Her definition of oral history is more complicated than the Oral History Association’s definition. However, her definition is accurate. I agree that oral history can be formal or informal stories introducing people to recent events. Of course, we don’t need to document every person’s story, but some story that can lead us to understand how people. Suffer in the past, for example. The Virginia Holocaust Museum began recording oral histories in 1997 to preserve the firsthand accounts of people who had witnessed genocide. This story allowed us to feel those people’s pain and value the part of history: https://www.vaholocaust.org/oral-histories/ Public History and Oral History Now, oral history plays a substantial role in most of the public history research. Public historians use oral history to reveal information about the past that does not exist in books or newspapers. Oral history significantly allowed public historians to deeply understand the study of memories, one of the most critical subjects in public history. Each oral history interview shows people’s memories regarding events. Moreover, public historians are most likely interested in digital history, and electronic technologies allow them to share their interviews online to make them available to the public. I have included oral history in my research better to understand the relationship between Egyptians and their cultural heritage. Then, I was able to provide the community with a program that met their needs and interests.
Conclusion This week’s reading explained in detail the field of oral history. The article clarifies how to conduct an interview effectively. Also describes the best questions to be asked. She shared some examples of her oral history interviews. This article is beneficial for anyone who wants to learn about oral history. This article allowed those who do not have a background in oral history to learn more about how to conduct oral history projects. However, it was a very long article, and she added many examples, which made me lose my attention to the article’s main point.
[1] “Oral History Association.” n.d. Oral History Association. https://oralhistory.org/. [2] Linda Shopes, “Making Sense of Oral History,” Oral History in the Digital Age. Making Sense of Oral History – Oral History in the Digital Age (msu.edu).

Analyzing Digital Collections

Museums in the Digital World

New technology makes museum collections available for academics and the public. People can now access museum collections anytime and anywhere. However, making these collections available for online audiences is not an easy process. Curators struggle to analyze the large number of digital collections. This process is complicated and beyond human ability. It is necessary to find tools to facilitate the curators’ missions, such as ChatGPT and machine learning. These programs save people time and effort. For example, these machines help structure information and data about museum collections. https://www.filmfest-muenchen.de/en/program/news/2023/06/ai/ Machine learning can identify the link between artworks. For that reason, museums, archives, and libraries initiate training programs to train their employees on using machine learning to analyze collections. For example, “Training the Archive ” is a project that aims to examine the ability of machine learning techniques to visualize and explore the links between objects and digital archives. The purpose is to make the data and information of the museum organized and accessible. This project profoundly interests me in understanding how to utilize these machines in museum collections.[1] However, the article was unclear because it used several terminologies, I wasn’t familiar with. This article was published to help beginner users understand how to use machine learning in museums. To me, I felt that this article was written for digital humanities professionals. The field is new; new users must understand these machines’ processes. Machines always make tremendous mistakes, and curators always fix these mistakes. Online audiences rely on a museum digital collection as a self-learning tool, so we are responsible for providing accurate information to keep the museum as a place for education and inspiration. https://blog.pigro.ai/en/digital-museums On the other hand, curators can develop engaging programs for online visitors. This is demonstrated in the author’s writing about Chinese history in Australia. The author uses people’s images to share the history of racism in Australia when immigrants were required to have a certificate with their image to return to the country. In this project, they collected the National Archives Australia images and then digitized and comprised images. Google allowed him to use facial detection to find photos.[2] With new permitted technology, people can now gather the information they need and answer questions. This program was very engaging to me. Public historians always suffer when trying to reach online audiences. They always ask how to raise the number of our online visitors because the number is less than physical visitors. However, if the museum was able to meet online visitors’ needs, this would expand the online audience. I can tell these types of projects would attract new visitors to learn about these types of projects. Digital humanities specialists face limitations while searching for digital collections. Since interface tools are limited, professionals would often find restrictions when analyzing digital cultural collections. The article argues that the problem with these digital collections is that they return very limited results when utilizing their search features. [3]This is not helpful for those who are trying to search digital collections for research, as researchers need to explore collections in depth to draw meaningful conclusions. The author argues that the solution is to create web platforms that are more exploratory. I agree with the author on this point that new tools to help users expand their research. I found the reading for this week to be very selective. By combining these articles, I could build my understanding of how to find and analyze digital collections. As a beginner in the field, I have difficulty learning about the terminology in the field, but I was able to understand how machines enable curators to expand their projects. New technology answered many questions that were impossible to answer in the past. However, with the rapid development of technology, people rely a lot on these machines, and they stop using their brains. It’s good to have these machines to help you save time and effort, but they cannot replace people. As everything becomes digital, will this affect our cultural institutions like museums and libraries? People now rely on technology to gather their data. What can we do to engage the community with their museums?
[1] Dominik Bonisch. “The Curator’s Machine: Clustering of Museum Collection Data Through Annotation of Hidden Connection Patterns Between Artworks.” Digital Art History Journal (May 4, 2021) [2] Tim Sherratt. “It’s all about the Stuff: Collections, Interfaces, Power and People.” Discontents (November 2011) [3] Mitchell Whitelaw. “Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 1 (2015)


Digitization has become particularly important for cultural institutions to document and preserve objects. With this new tool, museums can share their collections online. Archives and libraries can share their manuscripts with the public. Most of the cultural institutions are using facsimiles to reach their audiences electronically. While this tool opens opportunities for more projects to document objects, specialists still struggle with the limitations of digitization.

Emma Stanford reflected in her book chapter on how digitalization has increasingly been used in museums and art institutions. Her chapter aims to explain the limitations of digitization and offers a guide for creating high-quality digital images. [1]She pointed out how many institutions, such as the British Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art, took advantage of the recent technology and could share their collections online. Many museums were indeed able to digitize most of their collections and share them with the public. On the other hand, many museums, like museums in the Middle East and North Africa, cannot do the same because of the lack of funding.

A critical question Stanford raised was which objects should be digitized. This question is a debate between cultural heritage preservation professionals. They always ask themselves which object needs to be digitized or preserved for the next generation. The answer is that each piece of history is essential and should be digitized. Digitization is a tool to share objects with the public and scholars and saves objects for future generations. In case we lose an object in the future, at least this would allow cultural institutions to share it with the public and scholars. One example to support this point is a historical manuscript called “Description of Egypt.” The book was written by French scientists in 1809. Unfortunately, the book was burned on 25 January 2011. It was the only copy, and humankind has lost it forever.

One of the other problems of digitization is the visual size of an object. Stanford points out that digitization sometimes differs from actual objects, and I agree with her. I have seen this problem in many museums, like the Egyptian Museum in Cairo Khufu’s statue, which is only 4 cm (about 1.57 in) but looks more significant than that in the image. Of course, this is one of the limitations, but I think with better interpretation and description of an object, this problem would be resolved. Another problem is the quality and the resolution of an image. I believe with the rapid progress of technology; this problem will also be resolved.

Now, cultural heritage organizations tend to share their digital images internationally with other organizations instead of digitizing new images, which will reduce their budget for digital projects. I believe in saving funding for more digital projects, and institutions should collaborate to ensure no overlapping of digitizing. For example, instead of digitizing the same objects twice, other objects can be digitized to save effort and money and allow more objects to be digitized. Many objects are still not digitized and need to be digitized. One example is a collection at storage in Middle Egypt. Digitization will introduce audiences to new collections hidden in storage and protect these objects from being stolen.

An example was an object was found in Abydos, Egypt. The director of the team digitized the objects after she excavated them. After a few years, she found those objects online for sale and was able to identify them and bring them back to the Egyptian government. The digitization and share collection will expand the audience and protect these projects from theft.

Of course, the budget has been one of the main problems museums and cultural institutions have dealt with for decades. Now, with the age of digitization, these institutions struggle to find funding to fund their digital humanities projects. Stanford argues that cultural institutions are working hard to secure digital project funding. We can see that many government institutions and nonprofits are more likely interested in funding digital projects than other projects. For example, the National Endowment of Humanities offers different funds for digital projects.

Digitization has increased the number of scholars because scholars can now study the site without visiting museums or sites. Stanford made a great argument about the benefit of digitization and how to make art history more accessible to the public. Also, digitization software offers new methods for visualization, like 3D models and showing objects closer to the original state. Her chapter is beneficial for those who are interested in the study of digital humanities. However, she focused her arguments on the United States, Europe, and Japan; these countries are significantly developed in digital use. I wish she could emphasize the role of digitization in other countries like India and Egypt and how big institutions like MET or BM can help museums in these countries to digitize their collections.

In addition, Stanford ignored the role digitization plays in protecting cultural heritage. I hope she can light this point in her chapter and explain it in depth for the reader to understand how this tool offers sources to preserve the past for the audiences. Before this tool, humankind had lost many artifacts. For example, the government of Libya lost a storage collection at the Bank of National Libya. During the Arab Spring, those collections were stolen, and because the Libyan government did not have any images from the collection, they could not find it and bring it back to Libya.

Overall, I want to say the reading this week helped me better understand digitization. Digitation for cultural heritage sites was interesting to me as a public historian. I believe these tools would allow me to expand my audience and open the door for more projects to protect cultural heritage.

[1] Emma Stanford, “A Field Guide to Digital Surrogates: Evaluating and Contextualizing a Rapidly Changing Resource,” Routledge Companion, pp. 203-214. 

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