Scalar Project Log

This is my ongoing project log for Scalar.

Update 2/6:

After learning about Storymaps and thinking about what kind of project that I would like to do with Scalar, it came to mind that having already done some research on mapping in Pullman, I would like to continue with a digital effort to resist what Ralph Cintron calls “colonial discourses of measurement” which are encoded in the dominant cartographical discourse of Google maps. The project will attempt to challenge these discourses by mapping Pullman via tweet. The aim may be too ambitious for my current ability with the programming necessary to create a layer in Storymaps based on tweets, but I will hopefully meet with Alex soon to discuss my possibilities.

Update 2/14:

I have found a potential way of mapping tweets onto a Storymaps layer. The big question now is whether or not I can filter those tweets. My main idea at this moment is to try and map according to certain hashtags or languages in order to create a visualization of lived experience in the Pullman area (without roads, buildings, etc.). As I wish to counter dominant spatial narratives, non-English tweets may prove useful.

Update 2/22:

After reading the books by Chan and particularly Duarte, I am very interested in the idea of “reframing,” as Duarte puts it. In the context of reframing, my project would seek to understand Google Maps as a cartographical infrastructure, a “crystallization” of institutions which mapped places like Pullman in accordance with a colonial agenda. In resistance to this paradigm, the Storymaps layer could map tweets onto their geographically tagged locations, but leave the underlying map minimal or even abstract. I also want to think about the possibility of manually tagging the map in accordance with a local tribe’s understanding and use of the land. Not sure how I would go about that, but it seems like a cool idea.

Update 3/12:

Mapping Tweets has proven to be a bit difficult, mostly because the current API used by the Storymaps Public Information layer that I am using will only pull Tweets from the last 24 hours and won’t allow for another filter. At the moment, there is no way to pull from the alternative API which would give me more control. I’ve added Instagram to the map to see how that goes.

Update 4/3:

I am working on a suggestion from Dr. Christen to work with Native Programs in order to have students tag locations which are important to them. This would be a better alternative to the social media mapping that I was trying to do through ArcGIS. The social media map is neat, but it ultimately doesn’t do the kind of work that I think matters in the case of resisting colonial geographies. One reason for this is that nearly half of the posts (or more) which are geotagged and show up on the map are somehow related to companies or advertising. This is likely due to the fact that local companies make sure to include geographical information in their tweets.

Update 4/10:

I had a great opportunity to visit Native Programs and students helped me map more than ten points that were important to them! Sadly, I was so excited and wrapped up in the moment that I forgot that ArcGIS does not cloud save. I feel pretty dumb about this, but Dr. Christen has been really kind and encouraged me to go back. I plan to visit again this week.

Dr. Christen also provided me with several resources–mostly theoretical, relating to intersections of mapping, postcolonial studies, and American Indian studies–which will help me to flesh out the theoretical side of my project. I am envisioning a kind of “theory and practice” approach when it is finished, where the first half of the project will be theoretical background, then the latter half will be the collections of maps and the final project.

Update 4/17:

The Scalar is coming along. I have only a few points mapped after a second visit to Native Programs, but as for now, I am just glad to have something on the map. I want to continue this project with Faith, so I believe that I can set them up with a map in the future through ArcGIS (not Google, due to the problems involved with that platform and inclusion). As such, I am seeing this version of the map as a proof of concept. Dr. Christen has encouraged me also to keep the social media map.

Update 4/23:

I am mostly done with the theoretical underpinnings for my project at this point, so I have taken some time to write them out and reorganize the Scalar. I broke the long page of writing into four sections which can be explored separately.

Update 4/25:

I spent a lot of time today polishing the Scalar after feedback in class. I created a path which moves through the theoretical argument and then into the maps themselves. In a stroke of luck, I managed to secure the rights to use an HD drone flyover of the Palouse from a gentleman on Youtube, so I tried out an experimental feature in Scalar to set that (in MP4 form) as the title page to the site! It’s awesome!

Theoretically, I also decided to foreground my interest in synthesizing Gannon and Duarte as the final theoretical impulse for my project, drawing on my favorite idea that I came across in my blog posts. I may decide to do a bit more with the idea of the network as an alternative to the map, if I have time.

Update 5/1-5/7:

I have completed the theoretical framing of each section, and added the final “coda” in lieu of a full conclusion, to reflect the iterative nature of the project.

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