Author Archives: Zara Ali

Mapping Local Businesses in Brooklyn

Coming down from a summer filled with local events and good eats, as well as being a proud Brooklynite, I couldn’t help but focus my mapping project on nearby food spots in my borough. Particularly, my map is a visual marking of Black-owned bars and restaurants in my borough. I came across Genese Jamilah’s article list, “Black Owned Restaurants and Bars in New York City and Brooklyn.” There, I extracted Brooklyn based businesses and pinned them on ArcGIS Story Maps. With zero familiarity with ArcGIS, I opted to explore a site cost-friendly and user-friendly. After figuring out gestures–such as dragging mistakes to the trash bin, marking an area with a diamond cursor to create a text box, I gradually grew comfortable with using ArcGIS for a linear map.

While pinning a business, I had access to provide a description of the place, along with a hyperlink to their websites or contact information, and even provide a picture. It can be seen that I attempted to provide an image of the restaurant Amarachi. However, ArcGIS does not provide a function in which users can drag the image to scale. It can be seen that the restaurant sign is partially cut off.

Image cutoff seen above.

Besides the procedural, this assignment led more personal inquiry on the topic. As I was mapping these businesses, I quickly realized the error in that I was mapping from a singular source. Jamilah’s article has many bars and restaurants users may find elsewhere, and more. These businesses all have websites, or Facebook, or Yelp. However, any Flatbush native can assert Jamaican-Guyanese restaurant, McBeans, or Peppa’s Jerk Chicken should be added to the map as well. Another error worth pointing out is that a few internet searches may not provide a comprehensive list, as there is a probability some establishments do not have an online existence.

Another personal inquiry while mapping was the non-existence of black-owned bars and restaurants to the left of Flatbush Avenue. Granted, although it was asserted before the businesses were listed from a single article, along with the knowledge that there may be a probable chance businesses are not present online, I could not help but obsess over the missing marking of black Brooklyn to the left.

Overall, ArcGIS Story Maps is a source I could rely on again for linear maps, and possibly integrate in a K-12 classroom on local history and businesses.

Link: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/2517486f82ec45058e41db67abdb5b88

How would DH be defined (or outlined)?

My Intro to Digital Humanities

My apologies for the uber late submission!  

Prior to the first day of class, my definition of DH was a short statement— an interdisciplinary field which merges computational methods in pedagogy and research. Of course, my statement was further explored after reading “How Do We Do Things with Words: Analyzing Text as Social and Cultural Data.” The exploration of DH was outlined as follows: identify research questions, proceed with data selection, conceptualization, and operationalization. Then, ends with analysis and interpretation. Though not an assigned reading, but text I stumbled upon, I find this breakdown applicable to my quest to further comprehend DH. 

Torn Apart/Separados, a powerful visual study, could be interpreted with this breakdown. Research questions that may have probably been asked were, “How can we engage and inform internet users about an ongoing geopolitical crisis? What information can we provide? How can scholarly journals/works receive a visual renovation? How, in the form of visual research, provide a solution?” Other questions might also be those Matt Gold asked in The Digital Humanities Movement, Debates in the Digital Humanities (2012) — “Does media studies leave off and digital humanities begin? …Can it save the humanities?” Selected data seen are state and district’s financial contributions to ICE, but to counteract, a list of organizations which support undocumented immigrants. Much more data can be found when exploring the site. Under “Reflections” tab, it was made a point that a small group of historians, activists, artists and writers supplemented the site with writings of their own. More context was added to generate discussion of the crisis. Under the “Credits” tab, these two sentences instantly grabbed my attention: “Torn Apart is a part of our Mobilized Humanities interventions. Mobilized Humanities brings together digital tools to equip broad social awareness and help in a global critical situation.” This explanation of “Mobilized Humanities” both aligned with my original definition of DH, as well as provide a concrete conceptualization of the project as a whole. To reflect, the operationalization of the study was one I have not seen before– an interactive map which information will spill at just a swipe of your cursor. My interpretation of the site was that it empowered viewers to be resources of their own. The “Allies” tab alone gave me the sense of empowerment of possessing useful information in this critical geopolitcal crisis.  

I want to revisit my definition of DH at the end of the semester, as I explore more outlines, similar to the one I mentioned above, to more coursework, to create a collective definition.

In case my hyperlink does not work, here is the direct link to the text I mentioned above: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1907.01468.pdf