2015-2016 Sherman Graduate Fellowship

The Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship is soliciting applications for a 2015-2016 graduate fellowship in digital scholarship. As digital scholarship (DS) becomes more prominent in academic research, the Sherman Centre’s role is to support members of the McMaster community as they experiment and integrate DS tools and practices into both projects and teaching. The term “digital scholarship” encompasses a diverse set of practices throughout the humanities, social, and hard sciences — to learn more about our version of digital scholarship, see our statement on our site.

The ideal candidate for the fellowship will be a graduate student who seeks to help drive the evolution of their discipline by applying the tools and methodologies of digital scholarship to their research. Also critical is a willingness to learn about  the collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of digital scholarship and to engage others both within and without the discipline in their projects. In order to create a focused learning experience over the course of the fellowship, we ask applicants to propose a specific idea for a digital scholarship project that they will work on over the course of the year. This project could be part of a sandwich thesis or otherwise complementary to the student’s dissertation research.

To see current fellowship projects as well as other work happening around the Sherman Centre, please visit our project page. The 2014 fellows were Mark Belan, Chris Handy, and Jeremy Parsons.

The Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship received designation as a McMaster University Research Centre in 2012. It is located on the first floor of Mills Library and includes a presentation space, three public high-powered workstations that provide access to a wide range of digital scholarship tools, and office space for researchers. Beyond space, the Sherman Centre offers a range of staff to support research projects, as well as a robust yet flexible technical infrastructure that fellows and other researchers may utilize.

The fellowship runs from September 1, 2015 until August 31, 2016 and offers these benefits:

  • office space in the Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship
  • technical and project consulting, both via its own staff, as well as from other Library units, e.g.- Lyons New Media Centre or Maps, Data, GIS
  • technical infrastructure
  • a $1,500 stipend

Expectations and deliverables:

  • a presentation for the monthly Sherman Center Colloquium (20-30 minutes)
  • posts on the Sherman Centre blog (minimum two per term) on project updates and/or related digital scholarship issues. These posts will be revised into a written report at the conclusion of the fellowship that details project outcomes, making specific reference to the role(s) played by the Sherman Centre
  • creation of a visualization of an aspect of their work to display on the Sherman Centre multimedia entryway
  • physical presence in the centre and participation in its activities

Eligibility:

  • current or accepted graduate student at McMaster University (open to all faculties)
  • not previously a Sherman fellow

Applicants should submit a letter of intent outlining their project and how it would benefit from the fellowship, along with a CV and a list of three references to Dale Askey, Administrative Director of the Sherman Centre (askeyd@mcmaster.ca).

We will be holding two information sessions for interested graduate students:

  • Thursday, April 30, 1:30-2:00 (following the Sherman Colloquium from 12:30-1:30)
  • Wednesday, May 13, 3:00-3:30

Deadline: Friday, May 22nd

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2DH3: Campus Security – How we can use MGPS to help

Campus Map featured at http://www.mcmaster.ca/welcome/campusmap.cfm

When attempting to solve a social justice issue, digital methods are not often thought to be effective at ameliorating the problem. Technical and speculative processes revolving around digital design and prototyping are methods of creating a greater understanding of any issue. Part of the process of prototyping is to filter out design flaws that potentially are detrimental to the purpose or function of the prototype.

Campus safety is an issue that affects student life. Rape culture, harassment, vulnerability and violence, are all issues that affect student safety on a daily basis. Thus we were compelled to prototype a technology that engages with campus safety as a social justice issue. By design, the item should bring awareness to social justices issues by revealing the complexity of the issue through critical analysis. To do so, we created a prototype of a student card with an embedded GPS and alarm button that serves as a proof of concept.

We are exploring a prototype for a new comprehensive student security system that will be embedded into a new ID student card issued to every single student registered at McMaster University. The student card will be made out of the same plastic as the current one, however, it will have an embedded microchip roughly the size and design of a micro SIM card that is in the common smartphone. The Micro Global Positioning System (MGPS) will be embedded in the corner of the student card with a tactile button over top of it. This tactile button would be similar to that of the old tactile iPhone ‘home’ button. The card would be connected to an on-campus security network that only campus security has access to. The MGPS would not reveal one’s location to campus security until the button of the MGPS within the student identity card has been activated, allowing a level of anonymity and safety.

http://www.mcmaster.ca/vpacademic/documents/FactBook2015-2016.pdf

Population numbers found in the 2015-2016 McMaster FactBook. http://www.mcmaster.ca/vpacademic/documents/FactBook2015-2016.pdf

In order to activate the card, the MGPS must be triggered by pressing the button in a specific way. There are only two combinations in which to press the button. The first is pressing the button rapidly for two consistent seconds. This is essentially the “I’m screwed” emergency button that signifies one is in need of immediate help. The second combination that triggers the MGPS is by holding down the button for 2 seconds. This will trigger the MGPS to track your location and alert McMaster security of your whereabouts and that you are uncomfortable. This feature must be turned off within 10 minutes of being activated or else campus security will go to your position. Once reaching the desired position the student is required to hold down the button again to deactivate the MGPS which will notify campus security that you have reached your destination safely. Furthermore, the MGPS will be deactivated if someone walks over 100 meters off campus as campus security is only responsible for on-campus safety. The extra 100 meters is an added buffer zone so that the student is secure as they leave the campus. This secondary feature is so that if a student were to feel uncomfortable on campus, they can at east notify someone to their position thereby extending the safety network off-campus.

The addition of a security MGPS chip embedded into a student card necessitates an adequate technological infrastructure. There are two options in which to integrate every student card on campus with the security department. The first is to have every student card connect directly to a single terminal located at the centre of campus or at the campus security headquarters. The second option is to use the already installed security poles on campus as beacons that create a network allowing student cards to connect to them. The security poles act as a localized beacon that relay information regarding the status and location of currently activated cards to campus security headquarters.

There are drawbacks to the proposed prototype and these reflect the general design process which was essentially a problem solving exercise. These problems are brought to light during the design process and require reflection on the social justice issue and proof of concept at hand. The design process was essentially either proposing an idea or scrutinizing it with the assumption that the proposal was innately flawed. Throughout this process, we would generate dialogue as to what was an acceptable and effective solution to solve the specific problem at hand. By no means have we tackled all of the design flaws and potential issues inherent in our proposed prototype, however there were a few that we felt to be quite obvious and jarring.

The first and most obvious problem we thought of was that of personal rights, including anonymity. Although we already live in a world filled with cell phones which can be tracked, knowingly carrying a GPS on your person is still not ideal to maintain safety. The fact that we had to come up with a technology for this social justice issue illuminates the fact that humans have done poorly to change their behaviour. GPS tracking can easily be abused by either campus security staff, or those who have or gain access to the GPS tracking terminal. There is a very real threat of a hacker gaining access to the terminal and instead of using it to protect people, they could use it to track and hurt people. Furthermore, we were not sure whether student data should be stored or erased every so often. Tracking student movements seems a little totalitarian, however, the data could be useful when trying to help solve a case of campus violence.

Fast Facts from the 2015-2016 McMaster FactBook http://www.mcmaster.ca/vpacademic/documents/FactBook2015-2016.pdf

Regardless of how much security and precautions we add into the card, infrastructure and network, there will be always a potential security risk if anything were to be compromised. Not all students will accept having a potential risk on their person and therefore we thought it was appropriate to allow people to opt out of the security program. This, in essence, deactivates your card rendering it useless to security and hackers alike. This would be done through Mosaic. In addition to the opt-out option, the student cards would all be issued with a RFID/GPS protection case which would prevent the card from being read while inside the case. We are still speculating as to what material and what functionality this accessory should look like however its main purpose is to allow you to essentially “get off the grid”. The other security risk is if a student were to lose their student card. Someone could easily take advantage of you and your identity if the card was still active. Again, if someone lost their student card, you would report and deactivate it through Mosaic.

Design prototype of Campus Security MGPS button on University Student Identity Card.

When analyzing further, the second major problem we faced was that the button on the student card could be pressed accidentally. This happens to all of us once in awhile when we pocket dial someone. This would be a huge liability as we don’t want McMaster security services to respond to an accidental call especially if there is an emergency elsewhere. That is why we implemented the tactile patterns and 2 second action time for the two different status options the card offers. By making the GPS respond to only a very specific tactile input, it is highly unlikely the GPS will be set off in a backpack or pocket. Furthermore, if someone were to use the student card as a joke and trigger the button, that would be subject to a heavy fine. This service is for student protection and any student attempting to compromise that function will be penalized.

McMaster Student Identity Card with prototype RFID/GPS Protection case.

Although the prototype has many inherent flaws, there are some strengths. The purpose of this prototype is to promote and maintain campus security. As we discussed the various problems of having a GPS on your person, we neglected to recognize the fact that our smartphones act the same way. From this, we realized that using technology to protect the security of others is ironic because everyday our information is being sold to corporations who in turn manipulate us into buying products or services based on hour data. By engaging in this act of Critical Making, we were able to engage in a speculative process that revealed a lot more complexity within our prototype than we originally inferred as swell as provided us with a greater understanding to issues surrounding Campus Violence.

— Sara Penner and Matt Monrose

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ERU1, Winter 2017 – Abbey’s Post

By Abbey Hudecki

As someone with an unusually large number of friends in engineering, I decided to take Electronics for the Rest of Us to try and keep up- somewhat- with the conversations my friends were having. Despite going into the workshop never having heard of an Arduino before, looking back on the course I am amazed to have learned so much in so little time, without ever feeling overwhelmed.

On the first night of the course, the instructors walked us through the most basic principles of connecting an Arduino to your computer, and gave us simple challenges to get us comfortable with the equipment. These challenges naturally progressed, and on the final day, we were given a more independent challenge to apply some of our knowledge.

My project consisted of three parts. The first was an RBG LED light would change its colour depending on the temperature in the room, going from blue to red. Once the highest temperature was sensed, and the LED was completely red, a short but sweet song played out to inform you that the machine had detected non-ambient room temperatures. Finally, to spice it up a little, the machine would also respond to movements by lighting a second LED. The more active your movements, the brighter the light would get. As you can see, I had inadvertently created The Ultimate Night Club Machine (patent pending).

In all seriousness though, if you are curious about electronics or how stuff works, I would strongly encourage you to take this course. You can explore on your own, knowing there is always someone nearby to help, and it can completely change your attitude towards electronics for the better. The satisfaction of looking at your functioning machine at the end of the three days is pretty amazing, and definitely something you can brag to your friends about— engineers or otherwise.

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HUM 2DH3: Bridging the Wage Gap

The issue of gender inequality as examined in workplace wages is one that has arguably shrunk throughout the years, however, inevitably still exists. Women’s average incomes have risen by approximately $3,000 (www.socialjustice.org) due to two decades’ worth of progress. However, women globally still have a significant way to go to be at par with their male counterparts. It is noted that women over-populate the contingent workforce, where wages remain minimal and their work is part-time, non-unionized and insecure. Some institutions have already taken the necessary steps to close the wage gap, such as  McMaster University. A new plan was implemented in summer 2015, where female professors were, and currently continue, to be entitled to a $3,515 (CBC) increase in base salaries; the university found that this was the difference between the amount females and their male counterparts earned. As two young women who will be entering the workplace in hopes of landing secure, full-time employment, it was crucial for us to address an issue that we will both inevitably face in the years to come.

Rationale

As members of the female community, we decided to respond to the ongoing issue of the gender wage gap. It is remarkable to believe that such an issue still exists in 2017 – where those identifying as a particular gender are paid less for often the same number of working hours. After some deliberation, we chose to create a website application in which users can directly input personal data using their computers or smartphones (compatible with mobile devices). Benefits, vacation time, current salary, and current profession are all factors which we are considering in the diagnostic questionnaire that users will be presented with upon using the app for the first time. Once completing the necessary questions, the website will then present users with employees in a similar position, in a nearby community. Users then have the opportunity to network with others in forming more effective union settings while simultaneously participating in the fight for equality. Our concept for the website was originally conceived of as a thought experiment, where our design was derived from an initial idea sparked by personal gender identifications (Dunne and Raby, 2013, p. 80).

After engaging with external research, it is apparent that non-unionized work settings create larger wage-gaps among employees. Within the ‘Gender Inequality’ section under the Centre for Social Justice (n.d.) website, statistics show that women receive 72% of a male’s income for the same work in non-unionized environments, compared to 82% of a male’s income when working in unionized settings. After a review of such statistics, we were keen on proactively creating a platform which could potentially increase workers’ salaries by as much as 10% if in desirable settings. Our prototype for our website can be viewed under a functional lens; ensuring that real, user feedback can be inputted in order to get the most out of our design (Hanson, 2015). Our app design was constructed in a way which could shed light on an ongoing issue our society continues to face: gender inequality in the workforce. While we aim to reduce the wage gap between genders, there is no certainty that the issue will be eradicated after executing the website. While our design is plausible, the idea that wage gaps will slowly begin to vanish is a mere hope and is not entirely believable (Dunne and Raby, 2013, p. 96). Elaborating, our idea was not so much a product that could be executed in the marketplace, but rather focused on the idea of constructionism within critical making. With an abundance of resources at our fingertips, it almost seems like a responsibility that many are entitled to take on, to see progressions in the social sphere. Matt Ratto’s (2011) “Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life” discusses the convergence of critical thinking and physical making which work to form the underlying schema of our project: critical making. By linking “conceptual and material work” (Ratto, 2011, p. 258), we have began taking progressive steps towards revealing a solution to a pressing social justice issue. Our concept, the wage gap, and our materialistic product, the ‘Wage Bridge’ website, combines both feminist framework as well as twenty-first century technology to ensure those affected have an opportunity to have their voices and stories heard by people community-wide.

Description of the Design Process

Our process of design started with researching and brainstorming ideas for our chosen social justice issue. We chose to do the gender wage gap because it was an issue that both of us found relevant, but most importantly, our goal to resolve this social justice issue was driven by passion. As female students, it is extremely frustrating for us to know that when we graduate and start applying to jobs, our male counterparts will already have a salary advantage – regardless of having similar qualifications. When our time comes to start our careers, employers might see us as unequal to men with similar experience simply because we are female.

Using this frustration as our driving force, we researched methods that have been proven to minimize wage gaps within professions. The method that we found particularly interesting was unionization. But how could we incorporate unionization into a Proof of Concept? Speculative design was our answer. Thankfully, we did not encounter too many challenges during the process of coming up with an idea once we had a method.  We used our knowledge of speculative design to create a proof of concept that would provide a platform for local men and women to network within their profession, with the ultimate goal being salary negotiations based on the wages of local professionals with similar experience, and eventually, the formation of unions within said professions.  

We built on the concept of PayScale, which provides general salary information

Our Proof of Concept took form as a mobile website for mobile devices and as a website for use on computers. Our goal was as follows: Create an app where local men and women of various professional and educational backgrounds are able to input information including:

    • Salary
    • Company/workplace setting
    • Years of experience
    • Field
    • Benefits/vacation time

Individuals are then able to network with locals in their field to assist with salary negotiations and forming (better) unions. In addition, individuals who are looking to upgrade their education and skills are able to see the compensation professionals within their desired professions are receiving.

Our website:

http://www.wagebridge.org

Our questionnaire prototype:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdEIDp7RmeeqjoFkF9y406VyaGscJi6WogVUKC7gYr0GaZ34g/viewform?c=0&w=1

Reflexive Examination of the Proof of Concept

Evaluating our Proof of Concept from a distance, the strengths are easily identifiable. The potential to minimize the wage gap is one of the main strengths, in addition to the opportunity to network with local professionals, and upgrade your educational background based on the position and salary you hope to achieve. In addition, by offering the service as a website rather than an app, we provide accessibility for users who may not have cell phones but have computer access from local public libraries. There were some assumptions made in the process of creating the Proof of Concept, including the assumption that there is a wage gap based solely on gender. Some may argue that the gender wage gap is a result of maternity leave and the types of professions women are prominently part of, however, according to our research, the gender wage gap exists regardless of these things.

There are also limitations to our Proof of Concept that can be identified when looking closer into the plan. For instance, the application/website does not incorporate ethnicity into the data. This can become problematic because statistically, women of certain ethnic backgrounds are paid even less than other women – leading to a wage gap within the gender. This was not addressed with our application as our goal was to address the social justice issue of the gender wage gap, but going forward – addressing the wage gap within women could be a logical next step. Some other limitations include privacy, which can be addressed by incorporating usernames/anonymity, and usability as the app needs to be used in order to be useful.  

Conclusion

Even with these limitations, the Proof of Concept still brings attention to the social justice issue at large: that equal work deserves equal pay. Regardless of whether or not individuals would use an application such as this, it opens the conversation to the wage gap and aims to raise awareness surrounding the way men and women are treated in the workforce. Overall, our goal with this speculative design project was to address the human rights issue of inequality. We hope that by sharing our research and proof of concept, individuals in society are more socially conscious when considering the impact of inequality, and how women should be valued as equal workers, equal professionals, and most of all, equal humans.

– Maha Dostmohamed and Harleen Dhami

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ERU1, Winter 2017 – Madeena’s Post

By Madeena Homayoun

My name is Madeena and I am in my last semester of studies at McMaster University, soon to be graduated as an Integrated Science student. Before starting, I was really nervous about the “Electronics For the Rest of Us” course. I wanted to have a guided educational experience involving electronics, but I was fearful that others in the class would be much more advanced than me, that I’d be lost with the material, or that I wouldn’t learn or gain the course credit. Yeesh.

This reflects an attitude a lot of us may have regarding electronics. Having a grasp on electronics seems to the outsider to be a mystical subject known only to those born with a natural intuition for it (we all have that one sibling who is responsible for internet and TV troubleshooting).

This anxiety definitely persisted into the assignments as we went through them. It started with me experiencing a high level of anxiety and an impending sense of failure at the beginning of each assignment, and gradually led to a sense of ease, pride, and accomplishment with each step forward. It did help that the assignments were designed so that each accomplishment was really visible in front of you!
The instructors were also very helpful and kind and I felt that I was truly being guided and taught.

For instance, we first started with programming a light on our Arduino pad to blink on and off. Then, the assignments gradually built on each previous one and got more complex throughout the course. These included using a potentiometer to control the amount of LED light, incorporating a photoresistor, and controlling a red-blue-green LED light with a thermistor (changing the colour based on the temperature). Finally, our final assignment was to incorporate these many aspects and also explore some new functionalities to create a multi-functional device (as seen in the video attached below.)

Overall, my nervousness towards electronics improved a lot and I have an increased confidence in myself in handling electronics and programming. With caring mentors and course-ware designed for beginners from an exploration and discovery approach, this course ended up being really rewarding, memorable and fun.
A short video showing the multi-functionality of the device we built at the end. This includes an LED light that can change colour and play a tune once it reaches a certain temperature, and a photo-resistor that brightens another LED light based on the level of ambient light detected in the room (similar to what a night light does.)
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Exploring Indigenous Data Sovereignty through Water Governance – Kelsey Leonard, Sherman Centre Fellow

Aquay (Hello), I am a PhD student in Comparative Public Policy in the Department of Political Science focusing on Indigenous water security and its climatic, territorial and governance underpinnings. I am an enrolled citizen of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a federally-recognized Tribal Nation located on the southern shores of Paumanok (Long Island, NY). Shinnecock means “People of the Shore” and as Coastal Peoples water is integral to our cultural identity and survivance.

The Shinnecock Indian Reservation borders Southampton, NY

However, I am still often asked “Why Water?” essentially probing my personal and professional background to uncover the key moment in my life when I was inspired to become a scholar/activist in such a niche area of Academia. But, such a question is gilded with legacies of inherited colonial intellectualisms that erase Indigenous epistemologies of caring for water since time immemorial. Despite the frustration in having to answer these inquiries, there is not one moment I can pull out of the pages of my life and say “That’s when I knew I wanted to be …”

Was it at six months of age when I had placed my feet in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans? Or the history of ground water pollution on our Indian lands leased to Long Island settlers for potato farming after late blight had devastated crops across the big waters? Or the insufferable failure of access to adequate water infrastructure and sanitation on our reserve when across the bay sat the Meadow Lane mansions of the Hamptons?

Time is not linear. There is no one moment that changes our course as Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island. It is a collection of moments past, present, and future buried deep in our “blood memory”[1] that shape our response for collective action grounded in sovereignty and self-determination.

With modern Indigenous movements like #NoDAPL and Idle No More the world is gaining greater understanding of the politics of protecting Indigenous waters for current and future generations. However, as Indigenous Peoples we have always known that we are the miner’s canary. In 1953 Felix Cohen is famously quoted using this metaphor:

Like the miner’s canary, the Indian marks the shifts from fresh air to poison gas in our political atmosphere; and our treatment of Indians, even more than our treatment of other minorities, reflects the rise and fall of our democratic faith.[2]     

This is the great test of the 21st Century. Will the world continue to let Indigenous Peoples’ suffocate as it mines to satisfy insatiable greed or will we heed the canary’s cry? As Indigenous Peoples, we are on the frontlines of climate change. We are climate refugees, losing our first foods, lands and waters to ongoing processes of colonization. Elizabeth Ann Kronk Warner, a legal scholar, argues that nation-states, such as the United States, are violating Indigenous treaties through their climate change inaction. The treaties are often bounded in language tied to natural elements and waterscapes captured in phrases such as, “so long as the rivers flow”. But what if anthropogenic climate change and hydrocolonialism[3] make it so that the rivers run dry? Every failure to act on climate change is a renegement by colonial states on commitments made to Indigenous Nations and guaranteed in Treaties.

Research Interests:

In recent years, I have seen a global shift in calls for climate justice, often led by Indigenous Peoples, in the face of extreme environmental changes. In this way, my research is a quintessentially Indigenous project that addresses questions of concern to Indigenous Peoples and our Nations as we work to build resilience. As an Indigenous scholar/activist I endeavor to bring to the forefront a “set of tools” that Indigenous Nations can use to develop adaptation strategies for water security in the face of extreme climate events.

If the United States and Canada are to carve a true path towards reconciliation then they must recognize the intellectual inheritances that perpetuate ongoing acts of colonization. As a Graduate Fellow at the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship, I am working to dismantle archaic forms of knowledge production, which privilege Western science over Indigenous Knowledge. In particular, my research examines how maps have been used to erase Indigenous Nations from the geopolitical scales of transboundary water governance.

A large part of the world’s freshwater resources are contained in river basins and groundwater systems that are shared by two or more nations. As climate change is expected to raise the number of extreme situations of flooding and drought, both in frequency and in duration, transboundary management of these water resources becomes more essential to reduce the impact of these extremes.

Transboundary waters shared by Indigenous Nations, US and Canada.

The disenfranchisement of Indigenous Nations from transboundary water governance is rooted in legacies of colonialism that are no more apparent than in the physical erasure of Indigenous Peoples, places and languages from basin maps. Rivers and lakes do not respect political boundaries and yet they are often the basis for them. The dominant water regime has politicized our water relatives and removed Indigenous Peoples from our traditional stewardship roles. However, my research is not solely on the colonial project rather it examines the ways in which Indigenous Nations resist and build resilience for future generations. We are still here. We are resilient. We cannot be easily erased. Therefore, my digital scholarship aims to digitize the work of Indigenous Nations and our water protectors as they fight to (re)claim inherent sovereign rights to govern our waters.

In 2014, this map of the Columbia River Basin (CRB) was developed by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC). It is the first transboundary basin map to equitably represent Indigenous Nations across the US-Canada border in the management of the CRB.

Comparatively, there is not a representative map for the other basins across the US-Canada border notably not even for the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Basin (GLSLB). However, there are digital efforts to decolonize maps, such as Decolonial Atlas, which created the following map of the Great Lakes in Anishinaabemowin.

Nayanno-nibiimaang Gichigamiin (The Great Lakes) in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), by Charles Lippert and Jordan Engel.

Indigenous Nations are (re)constituting water governance institutions across political scales through geospatial mapping efforts. Indigenous water institutions combat hydrocolonialism and reject labels of Indigenous Peoples as “stakeholders” in the management of transboundary waters. We are Nations, not stakeholders. As Indigenous Nations we have inherent rights to self-determination and sovereignty guaranteed under treaty and international law through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Specifically, Article 25 of UNDRIP states:

“Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.”

Violations of treaty and international law denying Indigenous water governance is at the heart of the Dakota Access Pipeline conflict. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) continues its legacy of hydrocolonialism by violating the inherent sovereign rights of Tribal Nations to protect our waters for future generations. The decision by USACE to route the pipeline less than a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation is a defilement of treaty law, specifically, the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.

Sources: Joseph Smith, Land Management Director, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe www.villageearth.org, www.nwo.usace.army.mil, www.indians.org, www.history.nd.gov, www.history.sd.gov MARK NOWLIN and AUDREY CARLSEN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Furthermore, the Dakota Access Pipeline is a violation of international law under Article 32 of UNDRIP whereby Indigenous Peoples have the right to free, prior, and informed consent “prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”

Despite the ongoing acts of hydrocolonialism there is strength in the resilience of Indigenous water institutions to advocate for change and protection of the waters. Indigenous water institutions have: (1) an identifiable role in governance of transboundary waters; (2) develop in response to the exclusion of Indigenous Peoples and or Indigenous ecological knowledge from the dominant water regime; (3) incorporate Indigenous epistemologies of the basin and maintain a holistic approach to resolving water insecurity through their chosen management practices; and (4) bring together Indigenous Nations for a relational voice in water governance.

Indigenous Nations face severe impacts of historical trauma resulting from acts of hydroclonialism like the Dakota Access Pipeline. These events are not new. In fact, they repeat a systemic colonial practice of removing Indigenous Peoples from our lands and waters. The image below is from 1948 of George Gillette, the chairman of the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa tribes of North Dakota, crying at the Garrison Dam signing that flooded ancestral lands and burial grounds under the direction of the Flood Control Act of 1944.

George Gillette c. 1948 chairman of the Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa tribes of North Dakota, crying at Garrison Dam signing.

It is said that one act of violence takes four generations to heal. Yet, how can we heal if acts of violence against Indigenous waters remain constant? If we are to set ourselves on a shared path towards reconciliation and transformative healing for Indigenous Peoples we need our rights to govern our waters as we have since time immemorial to be respected. Indigenous water rights are not just about adequate quantity and quality of water. Water is sacred. It is our first medicine as we are carried in the womb. It sustains us and throughout our lives it restores our balance. As Indigenous Peoples our ceremonies and cultural survival are integrally linked to the health of the water. The water remembers – and so do we as its caretakers. Water is a living repository of our shared existence, holding memories of song and prayer in safekeeping for future generations.

‘Water Is Life’: Indigenous Transboundary Water Governance Data Portal

Digital scholarship can aid Indigenous Nations in our efforts to decolonize water governance regimes and enhance coordination for the management of transboundary waters. During my tenure with the Sherman Centre I will endeavor to explore digital tools that aid these efforts for equitable water governance. The project will develop an online toolkit, or data portal, that consolidates available data on extreme climate events and water security issues affecting Indigenous Nations in the Columbia River Basin and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin.

Indigenous Nation Profiles – The project will create water governance profiles for each Indigenous Nation in the CRB and GLSLB basins. Profiles may also be added as clickable layers of the mapping project to explore Indigenous water security issues including frequency of extreme climate events faced by each nation. (Examples include: http://tribalclimate.uoregon.edu/tribal-profiles/; http://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/BIA/climatechange/Resources/Tribes/TribalFactSheet/index.htm) The project will differ from the examples presented in that it provides a cross-border comparison of all Indigenous Nations in the basins not set solely within the Canadian or American context as previous research has done.

In the coming months, I look forward to sharing my research with you as we work to highlight innovation in digital scholarship and open data across Turtle Island for water governance. As Grandmother and Water Walker Josephine Mandamin says,

“I will go to any lengths to and direction to carry the water to the people. As women, we are carriers of the water. We carry life for the people. So, when we carry that water, we are telling people that we will go any lengths for the water…”

Josephine Mandamin (Wikwemikong First Nation)

The blogs I will share with you are a digital (re)imagination of our water walks crossing digital divides grounded in Indigenous epistemologies of caring for water. We are the carriers of tradition. We are water protectors. Water is Life.

[1] A term coined by N. Scott Momaday in House Made of Dawn.

[2] Felix S. Cohen, The Erosion of Indian Rights, 1950-53: A Case Study in Bureaucracy, 62 Yale L.J. 348, 390 (1953).

[3] Hydrocolonialism refers to processes of colonization whereby Indigenous Peoples are (1) disenfranchised from the dominant water regime; and (2) waterscapes are territorialized based on geopolitical scales that fail to recognize Indigenous sovereignty, stewardship, reciprocity, and responsibility of caring for water.

 

Posted in Blog Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Experiments with HGIS in Tableau

[As part of my PhD dissertation, I’m working on a Historical Geographic Information Systems (HGIS) project which traces the movement of people, objects, and ideas during the nineteenth century gold rushes. Previous posts on my Gold Rush Flow-Mapping project here:

A Graduate Fellow Introduction

Maps and Mining: Getting Data Out of ArcMap & the Beginning of Flow Mapping

Data Drudgery & Beautiful Betas]

Experiments with HGIS in Tableau

Over the past few months I’ve been continuing to add entries to my “moved things” database. Although necessary for the overall success of my project, this kind of work hardly makes for thrilling blog posts.

As part of my neverending quest to find the Best Ever Software for Flow Mapping, I’ve been testing a new program: Tableau. Under the pressure of their 14 day free trial, I managed to churn out some awesome results.

Learning Curve

It took me about 6 hours of tutorials and general messing around in the software to start producing legible maps. This compares well with ArcGIS, which took months and several expensive workshops. However, Tableau had been sold to me as a user-friendly, quick, and easy alternative to Arc…and so the learning curve, though minimal, was frustrating.

Its also worth noting that Tableau’s tutorials are almost uniformly unhelpful. Most assumed a clean dataset, pre-formatted for compatibility with the program. Eventually I figured out that for the purposes of flow maps, this meant that 1) all lat and long measurements needed to be in the same column and 2) origin and destination needed to be next to each other in the table. My database does not look that way, and it took quite a lot of effort to figure out how to format it so that Tableau could “read” it.

Results

Eventually I got Tableau to start spitting out things I wanted. Here’s the flow map it created for me, which shows moved ideas, objects, and people to the Porcupine Mining Region during the 19th Century Gold Rushes. (click to enlarge)

Then I did some more cool things. Using ONLY the origin coordinates, I was able to create a visualization showing the places of origin for Ideas, Objects, and People which influenced the Porcupine Gold Rush. (click to enlarge)

Later I figured out how to format the legend and titles (sorry about that).

And here’s something even more neat (that Arc CAN’T do): Change over time in an animation using the “story” feature. Note: I had to use third party software to record this, as Tableau will only let you “present” you story in the program itself.

Conclusions:

After getting over my initial annoyance about the fact that it took more than 5 seconds to learn, I liked Tableau a lot. Its easy, the learning curve is relatively short, and it can do a lot of different things (provided your data is oriented correctly). However I dislike the lack of freedom – to export stories, for example, but also to use unconventional or uncleaned data. Arc will perform the most amazing gymnastics to read spreadsheets, if you know how to use it. Tableau couldn’t even handle a csv.

Despite these shortcomings, Tableau is amazingly powerful and very customize-able. Plus, it appears to have a free version for students, so I may consider using it for my final product this summer.

 

Posted in Blog

ERU1, Winter 2017 – Rachel’s Post

By Rachel McVittie

At Electronics for the Rest of Us, I learned how to use and modify existing Arduino code to control various external elements. Having the base open-source Arduino programs made the work easy to understand and enjoy because we didn’t have to spend as much time learning the basics of the programming language.
I learned how to connect the Arduino board to a breadboard to control various electronic components, and, using sensors, I controlled different actuators. We used a thermistor as a temperature sensor to change the colour of an RGB LED and made a mini night light using a photoresistor and an LED.

My final project involved a thermistor which changed the colour of an RGB LED and triggered a speaker to play Pop Goes the Weasel when it reached a certain threshold. I wired a couple of seven-segment displays in parallel to display the ones digit of the temperature. As I was working, there was a mistake in the code which caused the speaker to emit a clicking noise. With the multitude of wires connecting my two seven-segment displays to the Arduino, people commented that the device looked and sounded like a bomb. Because of this, after I had ironed out the problem in the code, as a fun feature I added a button which would intentionally cause this ticking noise and make the seven segment display flicker.
Overall, the course was a lot of fun. Although I’d had a few lessons on computer programming in the past, this was unique in that there was a physical application of the code.

 

Posted in Blog Tagged with:

Unusual Resistances

A Workshop with Peter Flemming

Monday March 6 / 1:00-5:00 / Sherman Centre

This workshop examines the property of electrical resistance. All electrical circuits have resistance and anything can be a resistor (though some things are better). In other words, resistance is necessary and everywhere. In this class you will consider how everyday items might be inserted in electronic circuits in unique ways to change the circuit behaviour. You will build a sound oscillator around a 555 timer chip, with standard parts. We will then find non-standard unusual resistances and add them in. Along the way you will be introduced to some specialized electronic test equipment: the digital multimeter.

* No prior experience with electronics or mathematics is necessary.

Peter Flemming is a Canadian artist working with sound, kinetics, electronics, robotics, mechanics and performance. His work is exhibited nationally and internationally, considering natural and technological ecologies in site-specific installations and performances that are resolved intuitively and experimentally. Recent projects explore sound and resonance in improvised installations, and past work has included lazy machines, solar powered robotics, and hypnotically repetitive automata. Flemming is a professor in Studio Arts at Concordia University, where he is principal facilitator of the interdisciplinary art + science Embedded Faculty Initiative. He is also Vice President of the Board of Directors at the Oboro Centre for Contemporary Art and New Media.

 

 

Posted in Blog, Events Tagged with:

DATA QUE/E/RIES

Please join us for DATA QUE/E/RIES, a public seminar focused on putting forward provocations for ways of thinking about ‘big data’. In particular, we turn to queer perspectives to help us address and unravel some of the assumptions, biases, and limitations of a big data paradigm, and ultimately, envision relations outside of its governing logic.

Brief formal presentations will be complemented by lively discussion. No formal technical training or domain specific knowledge is required. The seminar is aimed at graduate students in particular, however, faculty and undergraduate students are most welcome to attend.

Seminar schedule and resources: http://ow.ly/BlYR308erNt

Discussants: Osman Ahmed, Mike Beattie, Nina Cammalleri, Luc Cousineau, Arun Jacob, Jade Lalonde, Ian Miculan, Luis Navarro Del Angel, Paula Pimentel Daidone, Desai Spanos, Whitney Thompson, Kim Tindale

Respondents:  Dr. Rena Bivens, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University; Dr. Mélanie Millette, Département de communication sociale et publique de l’UQAM; Dr. Andrea Zeffiro, Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia, McMaster University

DATA QUE/E/RIES is a public seminar organized as part of CSMM 708: Technocultural Politics and Practices of Big Data, and the Critical Methods in Technoculture Series, in collaboration with the Lewis & Ruth Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship.

data_queeries_poster

Posted in Uncategorized

Data Drudgery & Beautiful Betas: Mining Flow Maps Update

Previous posts on my Porcupine Gold Rush International Flow-Mapping project here:

A Graduate Fellow Introduction

Maps and Mining: Getting Data Out of ArcMap & the Beginning of Flow Mapping

Part I: Data Drudgery

I know that I am hardly the first Sherman Fellow to lament mind-numbing data management which becomes inevitable at a certain point in a mapping project’s life-cycle. Having successfully sorted out how to make flow maps in Arc, I now just need a complete database to plug in to the software. That means getting enough entries into my “Porcupine Inventory” of moved people, objects, and ideas to make it work. What does this mean on a practical level? In Chapter 1 of my dissertation I argue that the Cobalt silver rush in Northern Ontario (a predecessor to the Porcupine) was an part of an international mining network. One of my supporting pieces of evidence is the fact that the Otago School of Mines regularly sent graduates to work in Northern Ontario – Cobalt was considered a very prestigious placing.  The information from the Otago School of Mines comes from a 14 May 1910 clipping in the Otago Daily Times “Otago School of Mines Annual Report.”

final

I then create a database entry like this:

Name: Norman Fisher
Date: 14 May 1910
How_many: 1
Type: Person
Point_of_origin: Otago, New Zealand
End_point: Cobalt, Ontario
Instigator: Temiskaming Mining Company
Source: “Otago School of Mines Annual Report,” Otago Daily Times, 14 May 1910, 5
Notes: Mine Manager trained at Otago School of Mines

And repeat for ad infinitum as I go through my primary documents. Thrilling stuff.

Part II: Beautiful Betas: Blueshift Map Builder & Ethnic Origin of 1921 Porcupine Residents

As a way of counteracting some of the drudgery, I’ve continued to experiment with different flow-mapping platforms. By far the most exciting has been Blueshift, a simple flow-map browser application which allows you to make beautiful flow maps in just a few minutes.  Since the embed function doesn’t work yet (it is still in the beta phase) I took a short screen capture to show how it works.  You can also visit the interactive map to zoom around and play for yourself.

The data used here is census information on Porcupine residents’ “place of origin” in 1921. Here’s the original data expressed as a pie, for the curious.

originpie1921

It is hugely problematic for a lot of reasons all on its own – it is unclear if individuals were assigned ethnicity by the census-taker or whether they self-identified their origin (most likely the former). The data also obscures that fact that many people, regardless of how they were identified ethnically, had come from the US. Obviously it also obscures indigenous residents. It thus must be taken with a large grain of salt.

However, I found that Blueshift forced me to make additional oversimplifications I didn’t like. So, for example, the original data lists origins like: “French,” “Scandinavian,” “Hebrew,” “Negro” and “Chinese and Japanese.” Obviously this is somewhat of a mixed bag of continents, nations, and ethnic groups. However, I could only sort my data by city, state, or country in Blueshift. So for “China and Japan,” I had to pick one (I chose China), and I likewise just had to pick a representative country for broad categories like “Scandinavia” and “Negro.” Furthermore, the “world” baselayer uses modern national boundaries and so the application, like many mapping apps, simply does not jive well with historic and/or “messy” data.

On the plus side, it is very attractive. In fact the finished product looks exactly like I imagined my final flow map looking, only better. So I see this as a viable alternative to hard-to-learn programs like ArcMap and QGIS and I think it is even easier and more functional that ArcGIS Online.

Posted in Blog Tagged with: , , , ,

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                                                            [1] => Sorry, but you do not have the correct permissions to update the %s plugins. Contact the administrator of this site for help on getting the plugins updated.
                                                            [singular] => Sorry, but you do not have the correct permissions to update the %s plugin. Contact the administrator of this site for help on getting the plugin updated.
                                                            [plural] => Sorry, but you do not have the correct permissions to update the %s plugins. Contact the administrator of this site for help on getting the plugins updated.
                                                            [context] => 
                                                            [domain] => 
                                                        )

                                                    [install_link] => Array
                                                        (
                                                            [0] => Begin installing plugin
                                                            [1] => Begin installing plugins
                                                            [singular] => Begin installing plugin
                                                            [plural] => Begin installing plugins
                                                            [context] => 
                                                            [domain] => 
                                                        )

                                                    [activate_link] => Array
                                                        (
                                                            [0] => Activate installed plugin
                                                            [1] => Activate installed plugins
                                                            [singular] => Activate installed plugin
                                                            [plural] => Activate installed plugins
                                                            [context] => 
                                                            [domain] => 
                                                        )

                                                    [return] => Return to Required Plugins Installer
                                                    [dashboard] => Return to the dashboard
                                                    [plugin_activated] => Plugin activated successfully.
                                                    [activated_successfully] => The following plugin was activated successfully:
                                                    [complete] => All plugins installed and activated successfully. %1$s
                                                    [dismiss] => Dismiss this notice
                                                )

                                        )

                                    [1] => init
                                )

                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                )

            [15] => Array
                (
                    [GoogleSitemapGeneratorLoader::Enable] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => GoogleSitemapGeneratorLoader
                                    [1] => Enable
                                )

                            [accepted_args] => 0
                        )

                )

            [99] => Array
                (
                    [check_theme_switched] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => check_theme_switched
                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                )

        )

    [iterations:WP_Hook:private] => Array
        (
            [0] => Array
                (
                    [0] => 0
                    [1] => 1
                    [2] => 5
                    [3] => 10
                    [4] => 15
                    [5] => 99
                )

        )

    [current_priority:WP_Hook:private] => Array
        (
            [0] => 0
        )

    [nesting_level:WP_Hook:private] => 1
    [doing_action:WP_Hook:private] => 1
)

wpgform-debug.php::56::$wp_filter['template_redirect']

WP_Hook Object
(
    [callbacks] => Array
        (
            [0] => Array
                (
                    [_wp_admin_bar_init] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => _wp_admin_bar_init
                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                )

            [1] => Array
                (
                    [GoogleSitemapGeneratorLoader::DoTemplateRedirect] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => GoogleSitemapGeneratorLoader
                                    [1] => DoTemplateRedirect
                                )

                            [accepted_args] => 0
                        )

                )

            [10] => Array
                (
                    [wp_old_slug_redirect] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => wp_old_slug_redirect
                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                    [redirect_canonical] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => redirect_canonical
                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                    [kpg_permalink_finder] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => kpg_permalink_finder
                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                    [responsive_content_width] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => responsive_content_width
                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                )

            [11] => Array
                (
                    [rest_output_link_header] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => rest_output_link_header
                            [accepted_args] => 0
                        )

                    [wp_shortlink_header] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => wp_shortlink_header
                            [accepted_args] => 0
                        )

                )

            [1000] => Array
                (
                    [wp_redirect_admin_locations] => Array
                        (
                            [function] => wp_redirect_admin_locations
                            [accepted_args] => 1
                        )

                )

        )

    [iterations:WP_Hook:private] => Array
        (
        )

    [current_priority:WP_Hook:private] => Array
        (
        )

    [nesting_level:WP_Hook:private] => 0
    [doing_action:WP_Hook:private] => 
)

wpgform-core.php::1741::ProcessGoogleForm

Array
(
)