Class notes

When it is your week to serve as discussion leader, you will post any important notes or media, together with your notes for your presentation summarizing the week’s discussions, and your discussion questions here.

Discussion #5 – Tionna, Carla, and Nicole (2/26)

Sorting, Classifying, and Information Visualization

  • Major Concepts
    • Colonialism and Classification of Indigenous Ontologies
      • Settler Colonialism: extraction of resources back to home country (ex. human labor, crops, etc.) Settlers want indigenous people to leave but can utilize them before they go.
      • Neo Colonialism: Making a new space of your own through economics and policy
      • Four Mechanisms of Colonialism (Duarte and Belarde-Lewis 682)
        • Classification of Diverse Indigenous People’s into Homogenous, Subhuman Group
        • Theft of Indigenous Lands
        • Establishment of Social and Political Institutions to Support Acts of Domination and Exploitation
        • Marginalization of Indigenous Knowledge Systems
      • Power of Naming: Tool for Classification of Communities and Controlling Access to Knowledge (680-1) (ex.SATs, employment forms, and marriage contracts) (ex. Expectations when searching for history..we know our father’s last name will travel far back in time.)
      • Decolonization: Community Based Construction and Organization of Information Infrastructure
        • The Yaqui’s Use of Social Media as a “Space for Learning and Knowing” (686-9)
    • Classification of Society: spatial segmentation of the world
      • Classification System: a set of boxes (metaphorical or literal) into which things can be put into some kind of work.
      • You can find a certain screw in the store due to classification. In some cases classification is not always accurate. (Professor- screw did not match labeled size.)
      • Categories can promote one view and silence another.
      • BUT categories play an important role in any type of infrastructure
      • How do we revise this information? – Metadata! Do the tagging and coding work no matter how hard it may be.
    • Visualization of Data as Rhetoric
      • Four Components, or “Ingredients” for Visualizations (Yau 93)
        • Visual Cues
        • Coordinate System
        • Scale
        • Context
    • Four Things to Consider (136)
      • What’s the data like?
      • What do you want to know about your data?
      • Which visualization components should you select?
      • What do you see, and does it make sense
    • Epistemology vs. Ontology: The way of knowing vs. the order of being, becoming, existence, or reality
  • Discussion Questions:

What are the properties of a classification system? Are classification and categorization positive or negative or both? Why do you think so?

What are the four mechanisms of colonization? What are some practices that promote colonization? How does naming affect colonization? Can you think of any examples that we haven’t discussed that indirectly and subtly promotes Western ideals and marginalize other groups?

How can we proceed to de-colonize western centered information infrastructure? Do you think it will ever be a truly democratic enterprise? Do you think it is possible to de-colonize all of the information infrastructures we have now? Why or why not?

How do different forms of visualization affect how we process information? How does rhetoric play a role in visualization?

Do you believe American history has been underrepresented in other parts of the world? Why or why not?

Who do you all hold responsible for the obliteration of true history and promotion of false histories? Why?

If you wanted to find and promote the underrepresented histories of a certain group, whom you did not classify with, how would this help and or hinder your efforts?

  • Class Questions

Makiah – “What are the commonalities of preserving history? In what ways is visualization/ visual arts a tool to curating narratives/ underrepresented histories? In what ways is it a hindrance?”

Gabrielle – “It’s hard to place and categorize photos correctly, especially without perpetuating stereotyping/trends.” -How can we ensure that we are not imposing Western Ideas while finding/publicizing underrepresented histories? Or is it in our nature to be pro-western?

Daniel – Netflix categorizes their movies and TV shows which represents a form of metadata. Netflix has a special algorithm where it learns what you like to watch based on your recent viewings, automatically searches through lots of media and presents that media to you in an organized manner. – Do you believe Netflix is only focusing on what you watch or like or is it deeper than that (location, sex, race) (Name and email = identity?)

Annie – “We should challenge ourselves to create systems that encourage flows of indigenous knowledge for and within indigenous communities” -Where do we begin?

Discussion #4 – Krista and T.J. (2/19)


Information Organization


7 Steps of the Search:

  1. Gather Information (Spiders)
  2. Keep Copies (Cache)
  3. Build an Index
  4. Understand the Query
  5. Determine the Relevance of Each Possible Result to the Query (Cloaking)
  6. Determine the Ranking of the Relevant Results
  7. Present the Results


Do you think that coding should be incorporated into school curriculums? If so, how in depth should the coding education be? Should we teach the rhetoric of it or simply how to code?

Tionna’s Questions: Why is Google one of the most highly recommended search engines? Is it the appearance and themes, or the search results? Who determines what search engines we utilize? In regards to limited search engines, should the people have a right to control and have easier access to creating and promoting new engines?

Walmart’s website has a section for baby clothes for boys and girls. Why is this potentially problematic? How could organization reinforce the ideas of the majority?

Nicole’s Question: But can a resource which privileges the powerful, enacting the 80/20 rule of influence, truly deliver “the truth,” or is everything which it shoots back at us filtered, not through a communist but rather a mega-capitalist lens of “big business”?

In Blown to Bits, we learn that Google agreed to censor its news service in 2004 so that it wouldn’t be cut off by China (152). How do you feel about Google censoring its news in China? Do we expect Google to be completely uncensored? Is ranking results a form of censorship?

Weinberger claims that “if albums are the archetypes of memory, memory becomes less what we have assembled and locked away and more what we can assemble and share.” Do you agree with this? How are our memories affected by these new technologies and methods of organization? Is it really all about sharing?

Discussion #3 – Makiah and Gabby (2/12)

Main Concepts:
What is metadata? 
Where/how do we use metadata?
3 Types of Metadata
Mark-up language
Metadata for Archives
Archive & Community
– We’ve learned a lot about metadata, its applications and relationship to other things in the realm of academia such as research or publications, however at the surface level, how has learning about metadata impacted the way you operate throughout the day in university setting (specifically on digital platforms)?
-In Monday’s class discussion we talked about how and where metadata could be used. After having explored the uses of metadata, why do you think it is important to society (both technologically oriented and not)?
-To reinstate one of Monday’s main take aways differentiating the types of metadata, the three main types are descriptive, structural, and administrative. How do these operate individually, where can they be found, and what are examples?
-What are (3) examples of mark-up languages? Can you identify what the acronyms of the mark-up languages we talked about stand for?  Why is it important to use these standardized regulations to arrange data?
-Lastly, we see that metadata plays a huge role in archival systems such as the hurricane database Dr. Rivard worked with. Despite it being fairly linear in understanding, one main point that stuck out was that understanding the archive metadata relationship privileged scholar use but baffled non expert. Why is this such a drastic contrast if virtually everyone with internet access interacts with both (whether consciously or unconsciously recognizing it)? What could this imply in terms of understanding digital rhetoric?
-What is the Dublin core (DCMI) and why is it important in terms of the intersection of technological archives and modern communities?
If we have time, let’s talk about a modern day example (The Patriot Act —> USA Freedom Act and how metadata plays a role) :

Discussion # 2 – Zach and Daniel (2/5)


Main Concepts:

  • Information Infrastructure
  • Stages of Literacy Technology
  • Discourse
  • “Real” Vs. “Imaginary” History
  • 3 Kinds of Historical Representation
  • Historical Annihilation and Preservation

Discussion Questions:

  • Information infrastructure can be thought of as the “invisible scaffolding,” or technological systems, that we use to find, share and gain awareness of information in the modern world. What are some examples of modern day systems of information infrastructure? Why does Johnson categorize these public institutions as “regimes of public information?” What are some ways in which we can analyze these systems to understand them further and to figure out their true impact?
  • What are the general stages that determine the spread of new literacy technologies? Which stage do you believe is the most vital in spreading these new technologies?
  • How has discourse (both public and private) changed with the advent of digital rhetoric and digital literacy? How is history a discourse? Is that historical discourse also changing?
  • What is meant by “real history”, as opposed to an “imaginary” history? Why are we only satisfied when presented with neat and orderly narratives with clear moral resolutions?
  • We can all agree, hopefully, that ‘history proper’ is the most accurate form of recording and retelling history because of its organization and inclusivity. However, there is the concern that with too many different perspectives, history is no longer coherent, and it is difficult to tell what is “real” and what is “imaginary”. How do we determine whose story is more “real”? Is there a way to know who actually remembers history in the most “true” way?
  • What do you think constitutes as “historical annihilation”? Is it inherently wrong or can it ever be justified?


Discussion #1 – Annie & Livi

The Social Network — Concepts

  • House to house –> person to person
  • “Triple Revolution”
  • Castells 7 Ways
  • Algorithms
  • “Going viral”
  • 80/20 Rule

Discussion Questions:

  • If the idea of media multiplexity is valid, and you are making real relationships more valid through social media, are you also degrading them by interacting with people you don’t know?
  • Should we be focused more on the meaning of our relationships [online or otherwise] or the quantity of relationships we can amass?
  • Someone, somewhere isn’t blocking you from seeing information, but is controlling the algorithm.  How does this make you feel, knowing the content you see is skewered?
  • Is the web dead? How much time do we spend on the actual web versus “gardens” like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and other apps? How often does this happen on your phone compared to your computer?
  • What are our standards for adding a new friend/follower on our social media sites? What are the dangers of the sparsely connected friend/follower network? What are the benefits?
  • How do we know whether or not we’ve overextended ourselves when it comes to networking?

Week 1 notes

notes from the board about blog as writing genre

class 1-13