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Enhancing Public Understanding of Activists, Religion
(and Religious Activists!)
through the Geo+Digital-Humanities"

by @kidwellj

What is the point of the digital humanities?

possibly better engagement with (public AND scholarly) audiences?
but why might digital be better?

We can learn in different and more in-depth ways through play

Digital engagement can be scaled to include two-way interaction, i.e. co-research

Digital tools can be multi-scalar and multi-dimensional, enabling shallow and deep interactions depending on interest and skill

Digital tools can be multi-scalar and multi-dimensional, enabling shallow and deep interactions depending on interest and skill

Let's recap:

Digital humanities =
playing around +
co-researching +
reaching lots of folks.

Why do I do the digital humanities?
Mostly because I'm a bit of an activist.

Community groups across Britain are doing amazing things to fix

The recession

Climate change

Donald trump

and while things look pretty hopeless from a birds-eye view

when you look more closely at communities across Britain you discover that amazing things are underway

Community level solutions are:

- innovative
- impactful
- sustainable

...they're also invisible to our political and scholarly communities.

This visibility problem

impedes funding, collaboration, and multiplication

These groups desparately want to be visible!

picture of a map with lots of dots

And maps are a fantastic way
to communicate this significance visually.

And they know this - everyone has a map on their website

Development Trust Association Scotland

picture of dtas website

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

picture of dtas website

Eco-Congregation Scotland

picture of dtas website

And these maps are all hosted by google.

This is a bad thing.

- The Google interface is user friendly
But in exchange for this "free" service,
you agree to some pretty predatory Terms of Service
They can (and probably will) cancel your service at any time without warning
You get no analytics
And the data is stuck in a black box that doesn't interconnect

Let's recap:

Community groups are providing innovation and value
This is going un-noticed
and lack of knowledge impedes funding and collaboration
We can address this problem cartographically
But our options stink

Digital Humanities to the rescue!

Let me introduce you to the (AHRC funded) Mapping Community project

The University of Birmingham now hosts a "spatial intelligence" platform

This enables community groups (co-researchers!) to maintain a live database of their networks

picture of permaculture groups

That database is the back-end for a map

picture of permaculture groups
Using these data sets scholarly researchers (like me!) can conduct location-based analytics for groups and their umbrella organisations

picture of dtas website

open data is more sustainable and can be re-used by other social policy researchers

we can help groups to find new local cross-network collaborations

The map provides a sandbox where we can find new alliances, new research partnerships and generate more accurate data!

Now Let's Demo!