A Road Map To A Finished Thesis

The quick and dirty show ended up being cathartic for me. In engaging people with my project I was really able to work through and understand a great deal about the possibilities and path of my project. It also came at synchronously with a time when

– the overall work I have been doing at ITP has been coming into focus for me,
– I have overcome (another) barrier in my ability to express myself digitally (programming, design, css, js etc. I have gotten better able to wield the digital tools of expression in my meaning making).

Thesis Framework and Plan of Completion

From the convergence of these events, has emerged what I believe will be the framework for my final thesis project.

Thesis Question:

“How to make data meaningful”


I am working through this in a ‘living document’, which is also meant to be a roadmap to being complete. It feels important to me to set a vision, and a clear idea of what ‘finished’ will mean for my thesis, as I am rediscovering constantly it can never actually be finished. So the ideas is that I have tried to put the most complete vision I have for what a ‘finished’ thesis would look like into this ‘living document.’ And in going through and completing, filling out, the document I will work towards its completion.

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Proposed project development for my thesis moving forward:

Getting to 0

One of the main ways I will show how to make data meaningful, is through continuing to iterate and develop a project I have been working on since my first semester, which is a prison abolition project called Getting To Zero.

The project began in my Data Visualization class, as an attempt to create a transformative data visualization instead of just an interactive one. The key difference being, that a transformative visualization allows the user to actually change something; to explore options outside of just the reality being reflected back to them through the visualization. You can see the early development and read more about the project {{here-link to documentation and first prisons are obsolete page}}

The data that I am making meaningful in this project is data about U.S. prison populations {{cite}} which include my friend and brother, Christopher Hollis. I am going to use poetry, and the digital methods I have developed though my thesis work of manipulating text, in combination with the ability to interact with the data in meaningful ways using interactive/transformative visualizations to show how to make data meaningful and have the potential for transformative interactions, in this case centered on a persuasive environment in service of prison abolition.

The ideas here is to use digital methods of text manipulation, transformative data visualizations, and the power of storytelling to bring out and allow for understanding and interaction with the data about humans imprisoned in the United States.

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The under construction version of this project can be seen here

Digital Poetry Methods Applied to The Protectors Creed

The second way I will demonstrate how to make data meaningful, is through a technique I am calling the ‘living archive.’The idea behind the living archive, is that our words, in their digital text version, no longer need to have only a single use {build out}. Whichever of our words we make digital, have the potential to exist as dynamic, mutable, generative, pieces of discrete data, which can be drawn upon to perform in any number of contexts beyond their original intention/purpose. As an example of this I am going to use the responses generated from my Genocide Watch and Act {{link?}} project as a corpus in a new project, in which I will apply the methods I have been developing to imbue digital text with meaning on to the corpus of responses from the Protectors Creed section of the Genocide Watch and Act project.

I have downloaded the data from the Protectors Creed section of the Genocide Watch and Act project, by pulling the project folder from the heroku-github repository which the website is sourced from. The project is set up to record each user’s response in a json file called creed.json. I copied that file into my new project folder for this Protector’s Creed Living Archive project, and have loaded my original creed and all of the user responses on to a web page.

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The next steps will be to employ the methods I have developed in my thesis prototypes to create a new Protector’s Creed using the user responses from the original Protector’s Creed as the data for the project.

The under construction version of this project can be seen (nowhere yet)