Calling Something a Dataset: Visualizing the Crystal Palace

From Digital Storytelling:

Since December, I’ve been working with Steven Lubar for a presentation at Bard College last week. The event focused on the 1853 New York Crystal Palace. Lubar has introduced his presentation over at Medium. (Parts one through three are up at the moment – the next installment will complement this piece.)

Most of my time with this project has been cleaning, wrangling, and interrogating the dataset. (Side note: does anyone remember that poem about literary analysis being like torture? It sometimes feels that way with datasets too.) As we’ve discussed in class, cleaning data is a never-ending process – the data we started with wasn’t raw, but carefully curated OCR from a Cornell Library database. In wrangling the data into a CSV and under headings specific to our needs, we shifted the catalog as a book into a catalog as a database, bringing up multiple questions of historical and technical interest.

Working through the data as a whole and as individual objects, Lubar and I worked to figure out what kind of questions could be explored in the catalog. What was this exhibition? What was interesting about it? What kind of information was collected for the catalog?

Read the whole post here.

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