Creating a Data Playground

Event Recap of Building Project-Based Research Communities Around Humanities Data, 4/3/18

Clay Shirky, Vice Provost for Educational Technology, NYU

Thomas Augst, Associate Professor, Department of English, NYU

On April 3, Clay Shirky (Vice Provost for Educational Technology, NYU), Thomas Augst (English, NYU), Nicholas Wolf (NYU Libraries), and Seth Kaufman (Founder, Whirl-i-gig) introduced and discussed the progression of NewYorkScapes, a collaborative venture between NYU College of Arts and Sciences, NYU Libraries, and NYU IT. NewYorkScapes aims to build ties among researchers through project-based collaboration and to support place-based learning, producing a website to share humanities data with researchers, students, and faculty.

After Shirky’s introduction about the significance of educational tech, Augst began with a presentation of mid-20th century information innovation, including, as an example, the New York Public Library and its automatic knowledge procural system of mnemonic tubes and conveyor belts. However, as Augst said, “Our library is now the internet.” What kind of information environment will emerge in the digital age? NewYorkScapes, Augst explained, is an urban-centered learning community with an open-access horizontal operation which facilitates a pure learning community for research, digital pedagogy, and urban data.

Nicholas Wolf, Research Data Management Librarian, Data Services, NYU Libraries

Seth Kaufman, Founder, Whirl-i-gig

Wolf elaborated on the NewYorkScapes’ website, which holds historical data about New York, catalogs links and resources, and provides a search function for users to search by variable to compare commonalities between multiple data sets. Kaufman discussed his development of Inquisite, a shared data platform for undergraduate instruction and academic research. Inquisite captures and preserves data while disseminating it for use. The software allows for combining and editing datasets, mapping geographic data, and much more. It is, as Kaufman called it, “a data playground.”

The panelists took questions from the audience who discussed implications of shared data platforms like Inquisite and NewYorkScape for research and pedagogy. Listen to the full event and audience Q&A below: