3D modeling

For those researches that try to reconstruct scenes or environments from the past, 3D modeling and simulation seem most appropriate. Like the Gettysburg project 3D modeling of Roman and Hellenistic architecture and environments, not perfect information to reconstruct the whole environments is not available. By 3D modeling using such sparse information, it is possible not only to reconstruct what exactly happened, but also come up with hypothesis what might happened from one event to another and conduct more research to reconstruct as much close as possible.

I think manual modeling makes the most sense when replicating items from the past like broken pots and rusted knives. Also, I remember that I saw physical models of ships for all kinds purposes such as war, fishing, and transportation.

Based on the experience from the last class activity, procedural modeling is very good for modeling a world with given sets of instructions or rules. Although it requires quite a lot of computer resources for running, it can generate fully realized models of past environments.

Photogrammetry obtains reliable information about physical objects and the environment, interpreting photographic images. In the last class, we used dozens of images for creating a 3D model of an artifact. I think that this technology can be very helpful in 3D printing.

For Roman and Hellenistic project, I think incorporating manual and procedural modeling, and photogrammetry together would yield more realistic environments. One idea that I have for now is first creating a physical model of buildings as much close as possible. Then, digitize it using photogrammetry. Lastly, insert those digitized models into the virtual world so that the environments now look more authentic and realistic.

Matching Goodsell Ovservatory

I chose to match photos of Goodsell Observatory to the model and this task turned out more difficult that I had anticipated partially because of my poor decision at first. I first chose to create the actual model of the observatory based on the top down photo.

I basically drew circles and rectangles and pulled them from the ground and created a design that looks plausible to the observatory. And then, based on the model, I tried to match the rest of the images of the observatory that I had found from the library archives.

It could be just me, but it was extremely difficult aligning the model the to images so that I could not match the last image from the above. Maybe, I think I should have created a model based on the one from. Also, one mistake that I made was that when I was pulling objects, I did not take height too much into account… The results look as below

The top view is the one that resembles the most because it is the one that is made off from the top view screenshot taken from the Google map.



Extension to college mapping

After we mapped earliest universities built in US, I somehow wanted to map top 25 liberal arts colleges and universities in the world, respectively. I admit that ranking is not the only criteria for telling how good a college or university is, but I just wanted to see to how those ‘top’ colleges and universities are distributed in the globe.

For liberal arts college rankings, I just googled ‘Liberal arts college rankings’ and simply clicked the very first link that appeared on top for no reason. For university rankings, I did the exactly same thing (link). I created a csv file with ‘College name, Type, Address’ and imported it into ArcGIS. Each type (liberal arts or university) has different color. For more information, go to my webapp.

Back-end Exploration

Glimpse of phpMyAdmin exploration

As the assignment instructed, I explored  features that phpMyAdmin supports. I first set up a test database and attempted to reproduce the tables described in Stephen Ramsay’s article. At first, I inserted data into tables row by row, but then I found that I was able to import a file into the table. So, I created .csv files for each table using Microsoft Excel and imported them. Then, it auto inserted the data into table which was convenient.

Pros and Cons of Spreadsheets vs. Relational DB

I think spreadsheets are good for small size of data. For my phpMyAdmin exploration, I created four tables(author, works, publisher, city) just for inserting six rows of data. I think I could have saved more time and effort if I used a simple spreadsheet. One more trivial advantage that  I can think of is that spreadsheets do not require knowledge of query languages so that it would be more accessible for those with no programming background.

Crunching all data into a single spreadsheet as the volume of a database scales, however, might be disastrous. It could act as a place for storing data. But, it would result in redundancies in storing data and it might look visually very distracting. Furthermore, it would be hard for users to see how data from one attribute are related to those from other attributes.

If we take the approach of breaking a single big table into smaller ones as we did in the class, it is possible to minimize redundancy and clearly see the relationships between attributes within tables.

Breaking a single big table into smaller ones to keep redundancy minimal, however, requires well thought-out scheme like the diagrams illustrated in Ramsay’s article. One should consider how to refer data from one table to another and think of what attributes could form primary keys and should be foreign keys. Creating actual tables in relational DB involves declaring types and sizes of attributes. One should also keep the optimal size of variables for each attribute in mind in order not to occupy free, unused disk space.

Why Coding?

Few years ago, I heard that Samsung was employing humanities majors under the slogan that it sought to cultivate software developers with ‘humanistic’ aptitude. Well, I still do not have any idea what kind of ‘humanistic’ characteristics they looked for and it makes me question, “Does that mean non-humanities majors lack humanistic aptitude whatsoever?” But, the thing is they hired those people, trained them how to code from the basics, and had them develop software. Apart from my doubt on Samsung’s motivation, it is the fact that coding has already pervaded all around us. In that respect, I agree with Kirchenbaum’s argument that humanities majors should also learn how to code.

Then, it makes me wonder why code? In his blog, Kirchenbaum wrote that,

“The exercise of thinking through what it takes to model a snowball in a believable fashion goes a long way toward capturing the appeal of what I mean by programming as world-making.”

As a CS major, I strongly agree what he meant by programming as world-making. As people come up with their thesis and general structures of their papers when writing, programmers also come up with what and how to make/build. It is not like programs or software applications are created out of no where with simple coding. It all starts out with abstract concepts how to model the world around us and implement or materialize them.

In Data Structures class, I learned how to store data using different kinds of structures such as bag, list, queue, stack, tree, and graph. But, wait a minute, computer does not have any idea what a queue is like not to mention how it behaves. So, the first thing was to come up with what kind of functionality each data structure has and what kind of features it entails. Then, we as a coder, materialized those ideas.

But, what does it have to do with humanities majors learning how to code and materialize whatever abstract concepts via coding? In my personal experience, it has taught me how to inquire about the things that I have taken for granted like, “How does this hyperlink take me from one webpage to another?”.

In his blog, Donahue wrote that,

“but furthermore that in many ways the two are working on exactly the same projects”

Works done by humanities, CS, or any other discipline are no different. They all start out with similar abstract ideas. The only difference I think is the approach or methods used. But, I think that coding is really a good discipline in respect to how to dissect the problems at hand and how to explore the best/optimal approaches to find the answers.

Go to my Codecademy profile

Reverse Engineering – Musical Passage

The digital humanity project that I attempted to reverse engineer is ‘Musical Passage: A VOYAGE to 1688 JAMAICA‘, which attempts to “tell the story of an important, but little known record of early African diasporic music”. The first reason that I chose this DH project to reverse engineer is very simple: It is because I took Afro-Cuban drum lessons at Carleton and I wanted to know more about its root. I also wanted to know what means the researchers decided to use in order to meet their goal.

Musical Voyage exploration page

This DH project webpage primarily focuses on an interpretation and reproduce short pieces from ‘Voyage to the Islands of Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica‘ from Hans Sloane’s 1707.  In the ‘About’ page, the researchers acknowledge that they do not know how exactly the musical pieces from ‘centuries-old book’ were played.

In order to reproduce the work of Hans Sloane’s as much authentically as possible, they gathered/processed such information as description of musical instruments, and collective knowledge of the period. Also, they digitized images of musical notes and descriptions of instruments and entered detailed information such as the background history for each piece and the terms or words written on the notes.

The method used for presenting their work is very concise and user friendly. When you first enter the webpage, there is a playlist on the top right corner and it auto plays at first. A user can stop or start the playlist anytime. In ‘Explore’ page, not only does it display the image of the musical notes, but also a user can click any piece he/she wants to listen by simply clicking. To help users distinguish which from where a piece starts and ends, it blurs the rest of the image except for a small piece that a mouse cursor is pointing to. This simple and yet very intuitive approach captures the essence of what they want to visualize and auralize.

My home stay house

Considering my first experience in 2-D or 3-D modeling using computer software using Sketchup, I judged that building a twenty-story apartment which I live in is not applicable. So, I attempted to create a model of the house that I homestayed in high school.
The structure of the house is simple enough, but what I like the most about the house is that it has two big glasses on the roof.

One thing that I had hard time, was the actual size/dimension of the house. I started out big 20×20 meters and I kept making. After I finished and put a car by the house, however, the dimension of the house was way greater than it should be. A window is like 3 meters high…

Well, I think I should have started out with a person or other objects as a reference of size, since it is easy to over or underestimate. But, this gave me a lesson that designing a good design should be come first.