Notes from Love Data workshop

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Since Hurricane Harvey, Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research has been collecting data and making it available to the public along with the tools and resources to use it.

They’ve created two repositories and sets of tools:

Houston Community Data Connections (HCDC)
  • Targeted to non-expert community officers
  • Hosts webinars and in-person training
Kinder Urban Data Platform
Upcoming Events:
HCDC Data Talk: Understanding Gentrification in Harris County
Th, Feb 21, 1-2 pm
Online webinar
(urban disparity, urban planning)
HCDC Data Talk: Transportation, Infrastructure and Safety Concerns
Th, Apr 18, 1-2 pm
Online webinar
(placemaking, urban planning)
Urban Reads: I-45 Meets the Walkable City
Feb 27, 2019
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
MATCH (Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston) - Matchbox 4
3400 Main Street
(transportation, urban planning)
The Future of Urban Mobility
Apr 11, 2019
7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Bioscience Research Collaborative
6500 Main Street

Data collections
Library Databases and Data Resources
Social Explorer
  • current/historical census data
  • business patterns
  • health
  • crime
  • 500,000 social science research data
  • public use and restricted use data
  • different formats available
  • Learning: classroom exercises for teaching and resources for students.
  • Youtube channel with guides on using data
Gallup Analytics
  • Data from countries that are home to more than 98% of the world’s population
  • US Daily tracking and World Poll data to compare responses
  • Library has access to raw Gallup data
  • Business data by name, industry, location, or a combination
  • Closed and historical business data
  • Longitude and latitude available for locations, ready for mapping
  • US demographic, business, marketing data
  • web interface for making maps, reports, and to cross-compare data between geographic locations
  • Data is downloadable
  • Humanities data
  • Digital Library with 16.7 million volumes
  • Provides tools for text mining
JSTOR Data for Research
  • provides datasets from JSTOR researchers
  • Define and submit desired dataset to be automatically processed
  • Metadata, n-grams, and word counts for most content in JSTOR
  • No cost to researchers, includes data up to 25,000 requests
Digital Collections as Data
UH Library
site hosts digitized materials from special collections
Big 10 Academic Alliance
Types of data:
  • cultural heritage
  • geospatial data
  • bibliographic data
  • text and images
Getting library metadata
How to access?
  • Ask UH librarian
  • Download from site
  • Find external libraries that offer metadata downloads and metadata profiles
Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting
Digital Public Library of America
Always Already Computational- Collections as Data
Audiovisual Archives as Data
Archives of digitized films and videos
  • UH’s A/V Repository:
Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision
  • FAIRview
  • MediaNow
    semantic search of media
  • MediaDNA
    media fingerprinting and tracking
    goal of media citation tracking

Review: Andres Serrana, Torture

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Andres Serrana, Torture (2017)
Station Contemporary Art Museum
Houston, TX
June – November 19, 2017

Serrana’s Torture is socially responsible and responsive artwork that, one may hope, can provoke people into being civically engaged. Serrana’s work depicts the victims and places of torture through enormous photographs. He presents them alongside its history and cultural contexts in Christian theology, Medieval Europe, WWII, and its contemporaneous use under the guise of “enhanced interrogation.”

I recognized the journalistic overtones to Serrana’s exhibit immediately, and decided just as quickly to call my wife and tell her to come to the gallery. We walked around the gallery separately, then again together. Her first question was why I asked her to come. She was upset by the topic; Serrana’s photographs are presented at such an extreme scale that their impact is inescapable. But the show was meant to be upsetting, and that was the reason I asked her to join me. We gawked, and with nervous smiles, we tried not to cry. Even in the photographs of empty rooms, Serrana makes us feel a portion of the pain of those who went through those places and may never have justice. He gives us glimpses of context through politics and place, and a distinct lack of all context but the emotional and physical abuse in suffered by those in his portraits. We decompressed on a long walk, deciding that it was worth seeing and seeing together. My wife and I are both steeped in journalism — her, still an active participant in the profession while I use it to direct and resolve my art and critical studies.

Telling upsetting stories, especially as Serrana has, isn’t just a necessary discomfort for us. It is an ethical responsibility. Serrana is a journalist in the truest sense. He isn’t taking advantage of the excitement of a crime story, or participating in the media circus around a tragedy, his photography forces us to empathize with people who have had atrocities meted out against them. To reflect and understand a portion of their experiences. To look at its context, pseudo-justification and contrast in war and in religion.

And this is upsetting. But it is also worth being upset.

Go Away Harvey!


Becca and I were lucky when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. We were fine. Completely fine, and surrounded by people who were not.

In a combination of stupidity, morbid curiosity, and journalistic duty, we ventured out multiple times during the storm. On foot and by car, when the roads and even our parking lot drained enough to be passable. We saw some terrifying things — flooded and abandoned cars in the middle of the street, the rapid flow of flood waters through Brays Bayou. But mostly what we saw was otherworldly blandness, which is dangerous in its own right.  Without seeking out the experiences and perspectives of those worse off, we risk allowing urban development to continue on the path that has made Houston’s flooding regular and unmanageable.

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