Lets talk about the Oscars 2016

I know I’m a bit late to this party but I wanted to take a look and see whether the Oscars was as racist as everyone has been claiming. It was all over the internet that the Oscars would be boycotted in 2016 for it’s lack of diversity but I wanted to dive a little deeper into these allegations and see just how bad it is. Being a young white woman, am I blind to the lack of colour on my screens? It was something I couldn’t not look into.

I choose to use data visualizations to look at the diversity levels of not only the Oscars but also Hollywood and the movie business as a whole. I’m obviously not an expert at this but i am curious to find some answers. I used ‘RAW‘ as the platform for my visualizations as I found it very simple to use and it worked very well with the data I compiled onto Excel. I did take a look at other applications such as Gephi, D3 and Vida.io but none of them felt right for me to work with.

It’s no secret that Hollywood is lacking diversity in a sorority like manner (as a lot of today’s world still is) so I decided to look where anyone with a query of movies would go to: IMDB. From here I compiled my own data from the top 20 movies since 2010 and what I found was worse than I expected. I looked at the ten main actors and actresses of each film and of the top 20 films, only 8 had at least one African-American actor in it. Django Unchained led easily but still only had 4 of those ten main cast members being African-American. My findings are represented on this scatter plot:


Placing the data along a timeline and putting the Oscar nominations on the y-axis, I was able to plot the data easily. The bigger the circle means the more black actors (of the main 10) are in the film. And yes there is supposed to be 20 circles there but as I said, 12 films featured no main actors of colour.

Now I’m not saying that all lead parts should be taken from white actors I’m just saying they should be given the opportunities to earn them. As Chris Rock said in his opening monologue for the Oscar’s this year:

We want opportunity.

We want the black actors to get the same opportunities.

That’s it.

Not everything is about race but the Oscars have to be very mindful of it. There was NO black actors nominated for an Oscar in 2016 and many actors deserved the mention. Tim Gray done a very good piece for Variety in which he mentions the work of Michael B. Jordan who done amazingly in Creed and all the ‘unknowns’ as he put it, from Straight outta Compton. Both brilliant films directed by someone of colour. Now these films are both outstanding and could easily stand beside the likes of the Revenant and Room for their work but they were somehow forgotten.

This graph shows the ratio of black to white nominees for best actor and actresses as well as best supporting actors and actresses.Untitled

It is clear to see that there is a major injustice here but lets not forget that people of colour cannot win an Oscar for films they aren’t cast in. And it isn’t just black people, this goes for people of all nationalities. Whether you’re Black, Latino, Asian or any other race. A very good info graphic was made by UCLA showing the minorities and even how females are underrepresented in Hollywood. 5asoyqC.png

It’s very interesting to see that through data visualizations we can see easily just how big of an injustice is being carried out in Hollywood today. By using these graphs, it’s clear to see that something has to be done and in my opinion the solution is to give the same opportunities to all races.


My presentation on HuNi

My actual Prezi presentation can be found here: Please work

So for Donna’s module we had to do a presentation on a project from Around DH in 80 days and critically evaluate it using a key theme/issue from a list given to us.

This is the transcript for my presentation;

The Digital Humanities project I chose was Deakin University’s Humanities Networked Infrastructure, commonly known as HuNi. The theme I chose for this presentation was the representation of race, sexuality, class and gender. I really liked this project as it represented many Australian cultures without making a fuss.

HuNi’s virtual library combines data from a number of Australian cultural websites for research. Many researchers have noted that the library helps them to learn a lot more about where and when modern day Australian thinking and ideas were shaped.

Humanities Networked Infrastructure has improved the opportunities of many Australian projects and research by opening different research methods across a number of disciplines. It’s main aim is to help researchers unlock and unite data. HuNi also allows its users to collaborate, collect, connect and combine.

These areas of research are opened up by separating data into different categories. These categories – concept, event, organisation, person, place and work – are used to browse through the virtual library and create appropriate links.

These links are joined to make collections. These collections are created by users and can be made to be public or private.They are given as an interactive mind map and can be exported across a number of social media sites.

On the tech side of things, the HuNi virtual lab is made up of only open source components. This allows the project to be a collaboration with works from all over the world. The HuNi lab is made up of four components;

  • The Solr Document Index
  • The database – This stores profile information, links and collections
  • A HTTP server and an API service
  • A Proxy server

You can do numerous things with the data collected by HuNi’s labs including;

  • Browse and view the collections of others
  • Create virtual collections
  • Share your collection through social media.

Personally, I think that the Humanities Networked Information is a brilliant collaboration project. It also cancels a lot of borders within Australia as it includes all cultures and doesn’t focus too much on this fact.

Using Zooniverse

For our digital tools and methodologies class we were given the assignment of using Zooniverse and I have to say that for an assignment I found it very interesting. Zooniverse consists of collaborative projects that allow you to join in and contribute work in a variety of ways.

I worked on two projects, ‘Emigrant City’ and ‘Old Weather’. I found these two projects very good as you could join in in very different ways. Emigrant city is a project about the bank set up for the Irish immigrant community in New York in 1950. The project focuses mainly on the property records such as bond and mortgage records as well as loan records and other real estate materials. They aim to use crowd-sourcing to create a keyword-searchable archive of sorts to be used by genealogists and for research.



Old Weather has a collection of documents collected from US ships from the mid-19th century. It aims to understand what the weather will do in the future by understanding what it did in the past. These records go a long way to help reach these goals as they were the only records of how the weather behaved back then for the very simple reason that sailors needed to keep track of the weather and storms.


Both these projects uses crowd-sourcing to transcribe documents recovered from the past. This work helps to digitize works from the past so they can be viewed and used all over the world with no damage to the document itself.

The process I undertook

In the Emigrant city project you could contribute in three different ways – mark, transcribe, verify. I really liked how these were separated as I really enjoyed transcribing but didn’t really connect with the marking process which I found a bit boring. One thing I will say is that the marking was made a great deal better by the side notes which acted as a key to the different information pieces we were taking from the document. The colour coding of the transcribed work also went a long way to make it more enjoyable. The project was broken down  very efficiently as you could easily switch from task to task  or skip one if you found it hard or even boring.

The Old Weather project works slightly differently. With Old Weather, I felt as though it was more of a game than a task. You were able to choose a ship to sail on and begin annotating and transcribing their records. Again, I preferred the transcribing over the marking but that may just be me. One thing I did find odd when playing around with this project was that there wasn’t much to transcribe. It may have been my beginners error when using the site but I just couldn’t do much transcribing. (This is the reason I decided to have a look at another project.)


The implications of what I contributed

Although I didn’t do much on these projects (in relation to the size of the projects) I still felt that I was contributing to the bigger picture, especially when I was verifying on the Emigrant City project. This really felt as though it was the final step in the project and that what I had contributed was being locked in and had meaning in a way. It also felt as though the work I had done was worth something even if I only type what I read which was a bit surreal.

For the Emigrant City project, (The project I spent most time on) its aim was to digitize bank records from the 1950’s onward. The work done  will allow anybody from anywhere in the world to look at the documents and see a digitized version of them which makes it simple to view and easier to read. The digitized very can also be easily shared worldwide. This can be a way of Irish people to look back and see what houses and where their ancestors live many years ago when they crossed to see to America.

The implications felt much bigger with the Old Weather project as it will go on to help specialists forecast what changes the weather may make in years to come. This is an interesting thought that I could have contributed to something that will be so big.


What I learned from the experience

I have learned very valuable skills from this project the main one being how to use a crowd-sourcing site and contribute without feeling too pressured by a deadline or team leader. The use of crowd-sourcing is a brilliant idea and using these sites could hopefully one day, allow me to even create a crowd-sourcing site that is usable and not too difficult to work on.

I have also learned how to transcribe which was very easy to do as the sites were engineered brilliantly to allow me easy and almost immediate access to the documents. I also felt I have learned a great deal about the projects and their value. It was interesting to use sites like these to learn about Irish immigrants years ago in New York and about the mortgages and loans they had to take out to live. It would be interesting the see if Emigrant city could link in a way with an ancestry archive to give information on your own family tree and those who branched off to America.

One thing which surprised me to learn was that the past could so greatly effect the future on something as big as the weather. Could people predict climate changes by looking back on a sailors logs ?


How I could use the initiatives in my work 

I feel I could use the crowd sourcing aspects of these projects to help with my work with the LGBT archive project in the immediate future. We could use a transcribing section as the Emigrant City and Old Weather did to digitize old documents from all over the world not only Cork and verify them as Emigrant city did before adding them to the site.

After that I could see a lot of benefits from this for the future but not on any specific projects yet. We will have to see what the future holds.



Critical review of Storify

My final assignment for Donna Alexander’s class is a critical review of Storify. Storify is a social network service that allows people to create and share stories with others closely using different social media websites.



First impressions

My first impression of Storify was that it was simple and easy to use. After signing up – a simple e-mail and password registration – I was brought to the opening screen of my profile. On my profile there was already a draft to help me get started, in this draft Storify had laid out the basic guidelines to using the website. It told me how to to search and add what is called sources to my stories.  You can use these sources to link any research you have done into your story. This manual also told me how to embed and publish my stories. Storify taught me how to edit, update and share my stories as well as their ‘notify’ feature.



Storify’s sources are a feature that allows you to do all your research alongside your post as you are writing it. It also allows you to post these links with your stories so your readers have easy and immediate access when reading your story. Theses ‘sources’ include twitter, google+, GIF, Storify and YouTube. I found these sources amazing – when they worked. Many times the results given were not what I was looking for or expecting so I was better off searching as I normally would. The idea is very good but it needs a small bit of work.



Storify says that any of their stories are easily embeddable so you can post your work in many different places such as your blogs. When I tried to embed my Storify essay onto my WordPress it just wouldn’t co-operate. This may be a case of a bad workman blaming his tools for his mistakes but I simply couldn’t make it work. It appeared on my blog as a horrible and ugly html block with several links. I like the idea but I could have just linked the essay to my WordPress (as I did) to do the same thing.



My story was saved as a draft while I was writing it so I could keep going away from it and when I returned it was easily accessed. Storify also kept auto saving my work which was very helpful. When my post was a draft only I could see it which allowed me to keep tweaking small things until I was ready to post. When publishing the essay, it was made immediately public and easy to find on my account. I could still edit the post once it was up which I found brilliant.


Editing and Updating

When writing my post, at first I found the editing aspect of rearranging paragraphs a little annoying. It took a little bit of time to actually get used to the fact that every time I hit enter a new paragraph was started. This also made copying and pasting my essay in to a word document a task. Once I got used to reordering the elements I quiet liked it especially when rearranging media elements and links. The click and drag works well and it helps that the elements are so simple to delete. The fact that I can keep editing my post even after it’s published is amazing, I can simply rearrange paragraphs or add new aspects i seen too late into my story.



In this draft message, Storify mentions a feature called ‘Notify’. The idea behind it is that any one who is quoted or used in your story can be notified and given a link to view your work. This idea is a very good one – in theory. I wasn’t notified or asked if I wanted to notify those after publishing my work. This idea was to help your stories spread and create coverage for your work by sharing. I would have loved to use this feature as I think a collaboration would have been nice as well as a bit of feedback.


Other features

Some other features that weren’t mentioned in the draft was the choices to share your story using twitter, Facebook and google+. This is a good way to get the story out there and share it with the world. You can also export your story in different forms such as HTML, JSON, PDF and XML. This is a very useful feature for advanced users especially when using technology to print your work or open it across many different platforms. You can also change the view of your story to a grid, list or slideshow. I particularly liked the slideshow as it could very easily be used as a presentation form. Storify also gave you the option of making the story private and also unpublishing your work (reverting it to a draft).



When going to write my first post i found the layout to be a little complicated, maybe it was due to my inexperience with the site. Overall, I liked the site and I would easily consider it to replace other sites I used such as WordPress if all aspects worked perfectly. The ideas on Storify are good but they are very similar to other blogging sites. The search method to look at others stories was very good and easy to use. Maybe I’m biased after using WordPress so long now but I would give Storify as a tool a 7/10.

My reaction to Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborgs Manifesto’

This blog is my reaction to reading Donna Haraway’s cyborg manifesto.

When I first read Haraway’s Cyborg manifesto I was immediately shocked and confused. It was hard to even understand what a cyborg was never mind how it came to cross with socialist feminism.The concept confused and bewildered me especially as Haraway had written this back in 1983. Her thought process must have been considered out of this world and simply crazy back then. Who – especially back then -would ever come to think that humans could be hybrids with technology?

Even in today’s world many may think this is a wild idea. But really when do you see a person with out a phone or tablet in their hand? Technology had evolved so quickly and radically in the last 30 years it would be interesting to see where we will stand in 30 years time. It would also be interesting to hear what Haraway would say about cyborgs now. My initial reaction of confusion then quickly began to morph into fear and worry. What will the world become if we were to become cybernetic organisms as Haraway predicts ?

To Haraway, Cyborgs will level the playing field in terms of equality. This is when I began to understand what Haraway means when she mentions the cross of a cyborg with a socialist feminist. Cyborgs – this hybrid of machine an organism – will eventually equalize the world. There will no longer be just male or female, there will no longer be racism, sexism etc. Haraway’s cyborgs joins everyone without judgement. It resets the world into an innocence that it may have been born with, as children are. Today’s world is the best time for the idea of cyborgs as now, we are the most accepting as we have ever been. We now find it easier to accept the idea of something that we may find ridiculous. Of course we still have extremists who rebel and fight against many new things but there will always be those who are willing to listen and accept. Maybe this is what Haraway meant by humans becoming cyborgs.

Haraway predicted that as we now declare animal rights which put the needs of animals in line with the need of humans, we will branch out to technology as we have with animals. Haraway also aims to expel the boundaries between the physical and non-physical. The example she uses is of television and light technology. She explains how it blurs the lines between physical and non physical as you can see it right in front of you but you cannot touch it.

We are slowly becoming more accepting of a persons sexuality, feelings and what will make them happy. It wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t allowed vote and had to quit any job they had as a result of marriage and people of colour couldn’t sit on the same bench as a white person. Even today we are still advancing as we have only recently legalised gay marriage in Ireland (YAY for the Irish !) it is now considered crazy to have ever rejected these ideas as we have become accustomed to life as it stands now.  These neanderthal ways of thinking have long changed and what we consider crazy or obscene now may be normal in twenty years.

Overall I found this reading confusing yet intriguing.


(1) Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto

(2) Human Vision Image by Franz Steiner