Final Update – Mudd

In Summer 2017 Mudd Hall of Science will be torn down. This large brick building is not just the location of Carleton College’s geology and chemistry departments, it’s home to the students and professors that learn and work there. This is a snapshot of Mudd Hall, Winter 2017. We wanted to preserve Mudd’s interior and some of its material culture and make it available online for those who know Mudd best before it disappears.

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Photogrammetry rocks!

Sorry the last third sounds like it was recorded with a toaster. There were some hardware difficulties. And software difficulties. . But nonetheless, here is a tutorial outlining my process of making a 3D Model, including aligning photos by marker and merging chunks by marker.

My Agisoft Tutorial!

 

Project Mudd Update

Hello from Project Mudd! Things have been happening, mostly behind the scenes, but we are excited to show a small snippet of what we’ve found so far. Our project will be more of a digital exhibition focusing around these questions: What is Mudd? What’s in Mudd? What does Mudd mean?

We emailed Facilities to try and get more information about the architecture of Mudd. Unfortunately, we do not have access to cad files of the building, but fortunately, we do now have access to some higher resolution pdfs

floor plan of Mudd Hall

We would also like to explore some of the collections within Mudd and digitize some for online viewing. By combining testimonials with architecture with material culture, it’s our hope that we can create an accurate snapshot of what life on Carleton’s campus was like when Mudd still existed.

We’ve also begun gathering the opinions and testimonials through surveys and emails to various students, departments, and faculties.

And lastly, thinking about our final presentation and what form it will take, we’ve considered making the model explorable online using Unity’s Web plugins, creating a space where users can interact with 3D models of some of the items collected in Mudd, and another section that holds testimonials about Mudd, its culture, and its impact on the lives of the people who have worked and played there.

Databases

Prior to this class, my main exposure to “databases” was through Microsoft Access in high school, where we practiced fake scenarios of managing business accounts and work orders in a virtual index card system. I originally thought these were going to be similar processes. I see now that I was incorrect.  I used to picture databases as the collection of virtual index cards that were indexed and searchable to provide specific entries, but now I understand databases are more accurately the muscles of websites, the collection of materials and information that reside on the bones provided by coded frameworks.

I was not as quick as some of my amazing peers, and most of my exploration just involved going deeper into the structures in my Phpadmin experience and trying to figure out what exactly everything was and what it’s purpose was. Considering all the data that was contained, I now understand why a database breach is one of the most serious lapses in cyber security. I also noticed that while there was a section for user accounts, I couldn’t find any way to see the associated passwords – making me wonder if the passwords are stored database side, or if the user accounts in my database are actually linked into a larger database that stores such passwords.

The databases we have to experiment with seem relatively small and straightforward.  Perhaps this is a little meta, but I can’t imagine having a databse as large as Facebook’s and trying to manage/organize all that data – let alone try and search it. I read an interesting article lately about how large websites with advanced features such as facial recognition are using neural networks to store this information. I don’t 100% understand the science, but it seems to me like neural networks resemble databases in the ways they store and link information, but in a much more advanced manner. I wonder if they were built on database technology.

Comparing spreadsheets and databases, I can immediately see how the efficiency of a relational database outpaces a spreadsheet, especially for exceptionally large websites with user created content. However, I think human brains have a difficult time picturing relational databases and that spreadsheets still represent an element of useful user interface, besides their own traditional applications.

 

Back to the Basics

I am in favor of humanities students supplementing their coursework with some coding. I wouldn’t expect anyone to become extremely proficient, but having a basic understanding of the tools and foundations that make up the digital world could be essential for the coming evolution of the humanities – as there undoubtedly will be, as new technology and old technology is shifted and adapted into our lives.  “Procedural literacy, which starts with exercises like making a snowball, will be essential if humanities students are to understand virtual worlds as rhetorical and ideological spaces, just as film and the novel are likewise understood as forms of representation and rhetoric,” Kirschenbaum says.

After nearly completing the first lesson for basic Javascript, I decided to make my account to save my progress, and that was when a blue screen of death struck. So, all in all, that was a pleasant beginning to my coding experience. I feel like a true jaded programmer now.

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Whose house is it anyway?

Welcome to “Whose house is it anyway?” where the scale’s made up and the proportions don’t matter. During the course of my battle to build my house, I discovered a few things. TIPS:  Occasionally, when you have intersecting shapes (like the second story and the first story roof)faces will not appear between the lines and you have to get somewhat creative to get shapes where you want them to be. Secondly, Sketchup by default uses a feature called “Autofold” to handle the way attached lines/vertices move when the user uses the move tool to move a single line or point. Using alt + move in combination with Autofold can sometimes help navigate the “sticker” faces, when the move tool alone doesn’t want to do the trick. In addition to the tutorials already provided by Austin, I was able to find the answers to a few of my questions just by googling and being re-directed to previously asked questions on help forums.

So, on to the process itself.

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