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Data Visualizations

New Research Project: Trans Tumblr

For about two years, I’ve been collecting data on the use of the #ftm hashtag and, for a shorter time, #mtf hashtag on Tumblr. These oft used trans hashtags, standing for female-to-male and male-to-female respectively, drew my attention as I was coming into my own trans identity. I came upon the world of trans Tumblr, as I call it, in 2010 when I was choosing my own new name. I found a tightly-knit network of trans people who are otherwise unanchored through their geographic diaspora. They were mostly very young, publicly sharing and connecting about the everyday violence and life milestones, accomplishments and losses that fuel life in general and trans life specifically. I was particularly struck by the small number of voices that dominated the conversation, as well as the suicide notes that would float to the surface and the resounding and instant response of those around them …

Reflections on The Digital Image of the City: Hartford 2015

The Digital Image of the City, American Studies, Trinity College 2015. Standing, left to right: Andrew Fishman ’16, Madelaine Feakins ’16, Rick Naylor ’16, Dalton Judd ’16, Assistant Professor of American Studies Jack Gieseking, and Callie McLaughlin ’16. Seated, left to right: Molly Mann ’16 and Georgianna Wynn ’16. CC BY-SA-NC Trinity College 2015.The Digital Image of the City, American Studies, Trinity College 2015. Standing, left to right: Andrew Fishman ’16, Madelaine Feakins ’16, Rick Naylor ’16, Dalton Judd ’16, Assistant Professor of American Studies Jack Gieseking, and Callie McLaughlin ’16. Seated, left to right: Molly Mann ’16 and Georgianna Wynn ’16. CC BY-SA-NC Trinity College 2015.

As the new semester is upon us–how did that happen so quickly?–I wanted to reflect back on my courses from last semester. I had a beautiful first semester at Trinity College, thanks mostly to those incredible faculty, staff, and students with whom I spend my days.

My senior seminar, The Digital Image of the City, which was a huge success–or so said the students on the final day, all smiley as they were on the last day (and as you can see on the image in the left)! I share a short explanation about …

Slides from “Queering the Map” Talk

My slides from my Futures Initiative talk, “Queering the Map: Theoretical Reflections on Spatial Methods,” at the CUNY Graduate Center this Friday (October 2nd) can be found below, and the Storify, notes, and photos from the talk can be found here on the FI blog.

As is the usual (and never the norm, wrote the queer theorist) for my approach, I drew upon both feminist and queer approaches for this project. While this talk highlighted the queer aspects of my project, an earlier talk this year at SDSU. “Personal/Political/Feminist Maps,” focused on the feminist dynamics and those slides can be found here. A number of paper are forthcoming from the intersection of both talks, including the piece I am presently working on: “Size Matters to Lesbians Too: Feminist and Queer Contributions to the Scale of Big Data.”

My thanks …

Steps toward Recognition through Openness and the Virtual (Fifty Years Later Essay)

My essay, “Steps toward Recognition through Openness and the Virtual,” below was written for the Bowdoin Museum College of Art virtual exhibit Fifty Years Later: The Portrayal of the Negro in American Painting.” My essay is best preface by reading Dana Byrd and Sarah Montross’s essay, “Fifty Years Later: An Introduction,” which describes the exhibit & site, and I excerpt here.

 Fifty Years Later: The Portrayal of the Negro in American Painting - A Digital Exhibition. 2014. Bowdoin Museum College of Art.Fifty Years Later: The Portrayal of the Negro in American Painting – A Digital Exhibition. 2014. Bowdoin Museum College of Art.

The Portrayal of the Negro in American Painting was a landmark exhibition organized by and exhibited at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art during the summer of 1964. …[i]t attracted high-profile national attention, including visits and praise from Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. … Organized at the height of the civil rights movement, The Portrayal of the Negro in American Painting was recognized

Visualizing ‘Queer Exchange’ Friendships

I am increasingly interested in the social networks of queers, broadly and self-defined. One of the largest queer groups on Facebook that I know of is the Facebook group Queer Exchange with 7,855 members as of December 1, 2013. Each node or dot represents a person and the lines or edges indicate the friendships between them. Rather than a top-down culture, Queer Exchange repeats the interwoven and overlapping descriptions of queer spaces and lives that have described lgbtq life across cities, states, and times. In other words, many cultures often demonstrate relationships and dynamics that show some dominant voices overtaking others, or friends being connected to only one other person so they wander on the periphery. Instead this graph shows an interwoven society.

If you click the here or on the graph below, you can interact with the social network analysis graph of Queer Exchange I created.

User friendships on the Facebook group Queer Exchange as of December 1, 2013.  The 7,855 group members indicates how connections between queers overlapping rather than built replicating top-down cultures of interchange and expression. Created by Jen Jack Gieseking CC BY-NC 2013Click on the…

Collecting Data, Que(e)rying the SpaceTime of the Lesbian Herstory Archives

On founding the Lesbian Herstory Archives:
Deb Edel: We began talking about how easily our history had gotten lost.
Joan Nestle: That we didn’t want our story told by quote “a patriarchal history keeper.”  I didn’t want our story told by those who told us we were freaks to begin with.
Deb: If we didn’t do it, nobody was gonna do it for us.
Joan: This wasn’t gonna be a one night stand.  This was gonna be a long-term relationship. We had a commitment to the archives that…it had to be a lifetime commitment… If an archives doesn’t outlast at least one generation it’s not an archives. … This was an archives who belonged to the people who lived its history. (Lesbian Herstory Archives 2009)

There is a need for lgbtq people to unearth and even create their own history, especially lesbians and queer women who face erasures of their …

Scaled Generationally: Lesbian-Queer Organizations, Power, & Time

This post is a continuation of a series of posts on my graphic analyses and data visualizations of lesbian-queer space and time with a focus on the 1983-2008 NYC-based organizational record collection from the Lesbian Herstory Archives that I am creating as part of my larger contemporary historical geography of lesbian-queer life in New York City.

In my previous post on the way scale operates with lesbian-queer organizations, I provided a summary glance into how those groups break down across scales spanning 1983 to 2008. Another earlier post on the trends in the numbers of when these groups founded shows a steady increase in these groups being founded through the early 1990s but then a decrease and pleateau. In a recent post, I explained how I carefully marked out these generational shifts, through both qualitative and quantitative analyses. As a result, even as I wrote a …

Generationally Speaking Across Qualitative and Quantitative Data

Historian Marc Stein contends that a sequential narrative of lgbtq history can reflect “the critical study of change over time, with special emphasis on human agents of change” (2005, 623). The narrative of such change has the power to inspire and begin to enact that change. I designed my research to embrace multiple generations of participants and let them share their experiences across and within generational focus groups. Throughout my qualitative interviews with and research into lesbian-queer everyday lives, the issue of generations came up repeatedly independent of my interest in the issue as it clearly framed these women’s life experiences.

I’m keen to explain the generational breaks you are about to see in my future data visualizations. They are far from haphazard. They are based not only on trends and shifts in these archival data, but also from patterns I found among women who took part in my …

Sharing the #CLAGSqNY Twitter Hashtag Archive & Its Relationships

For those of you interested not only in the conversations we shared in the “Queer(ing) New York” Seminar in the City I taught with the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in the spring of 2013–that are available via video on this site or in the comments below each week’s post for the course for those who talked in the chat window–the Twitter hashtag archive for #CLAGSqNY is now available below.

I have also rendered a social network analysis of Twitter mentions of various individual’s handles (namely those in the class) who used the #CLAGSqNY hashtag. Each dot below is a person or group tweeting. Each line indicates they mentioned or were mentioned by someone else connected to them. A total of 502 tweets let us see that three major networks of communication (based on the colors of the connections) formed on Twitter: @CLAGSNY (Center for Lesbian and Gay …

When Categorizing Data Feels Like Borges’ “Certain Chinese Encyclopaedia”

The more I create categorical variables, the more the world reads like the preface to Foucault’s The Order of Things.

“This book first arose out of a passage in [Jorge Luis] Borges, out of the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought—our thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography—breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things, and continuing long afterwards to disturb and threaten with collapse our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other. This passage quotes a ‘certain Chinese encyclopaedia’ in which it is written that ‘animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) suckling pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) …

Opaque is Being Polite: On Algorithms, Violence, & Awesomeness in Data Visualization

Data visualizations are fantastic stuff. Social network analysis, graphic analysis, video, spatial analysis, images, and all other types of #dataviz increasingly capture the imagination and inspire as a way to represent the oft mentioned big data. The failure of many of these new software and analyses in the hand of new, excited scholars and hackers and other excitable folks means that their meaning is often…opaque. Oh, let’s be honest, opaque is being polite. I am sharing these thoughts because while many of you are concerned with the data in big data, I want to turn your attention to the algorithms within and how they mask meanings in many ways.

To catch you up, I’m working on a sizeable dataset about lesbians and queer women’s lives, spaces, and experiences. I’ve stuck to actual categorical variables or regular counts of trends and produced some pretty exciting graphs so far all the …

On Having Arrived at Bowdoin

photo 2My office at Bowdoin. Jen Jack Gieseking CC BY-NC-SA 2013

I have arrived at Bowdoin College as the New Media and Data Visualization Specialist, Postdoctoral Fellow in the new Digital and Computational Studies Initiative (DCSI). After saying goodbye to Brooklyn, I am delighted and excited to be here!

I have always been enamored with all things tech since my days on the Chesapeake BBS and installing my high school’s first network, but present technologies thrill me in new ways. Furthermore, over the past few years I have been often inspired by and growing alongside a cohort of brilliant colleagues Gregory T. Donovan, Kiersten Greene, Collette Sosnowy, Maggie Galvan, Lisa Brundage, Edwin Mayorga, Evan Misshula, John D. Boy, Suzanne Tamang, and Emily Sherwood to become not only spatially inclined but also equally digitally inclined. Digital collaborations afford more collaborative and participatory …

Scalar Implications of Lesbian-Queer Organizing

I was sitting in what was a back bedroom of a brownstone in Brooklyn in the winter of 2008-9 and I was cold. Archives are often cold. The bedroom-cum-archives had become a records room that now hosts 11 seven-foot high filing cabinets bulging with the organizational and biographical history of lesbians. Around me, scores of boxes towered over me and a bookcase stuffed with comments, mementos, and original Wonder Women comics (which I read often during lunch) sat to my left. I was at—what else but—a dining room table with my legs nestled between more boxes underneath and wearing a knitted cap when I noticed a very interesting pattern in the organizational records of the Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA) I was reviewing for my research. The pattern was about scale.

Not long ago scholars have argued that scale is socially produced (Smith 1992; Marston 2000). In other words, the …

Lesbian-Queer Organizations: Feminist, Women-Oriented, &/or Placed

This is the third in a series of posts on data visualizations I have created based on the complete records of all available lesbian-queer organizations in New York City at the Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA). In my reading of LHA lesbians’ and queer women’s organizations’ purpose statements, I noticed a striking pattern of decreasing mentions of feminism in the organizational purpose statements over time coupled with a greater of cross-gender organizations. Furthermore, there was a considerable increase in the number of groups with access to permanent space to perform their work and organizing. While both changes speak to the radical cultural and economic shifts within lgbtq communities throughout this period, they are intriguing to place side-by-side to see our history anew. My statistical analyses of these numbers are forthcoming but the visualization of this data already afford significant insights into the shifts in everyday lesbian-queer life from 1983 to 2008, …

Lesbian-Queer Organizations: A History in Openings & Closings

This is the second in a series of posts on data visualizations I have created based on the complete records of all available lesbian-queer organizations at the Lesbian Herstory Archives. One of the key takeaways from my focus groups with lesbians and queer women who came out between 1983 and 2008 was the persistence experience of loss and mourning of key lesbian-queer places, namely neighborhoods and bars, as well as bookstores and other community spaces. At the same time, many women, especially those who had come out in the 1980s and 1990s generations, lived with an expectation that one just created the organization or space they required, often through activism or socializing. When we turn to the actual numbers of lesbian and queer organizations in terms of their totals and their patterns of opening and closing, there is more to these shifts.

The generational social and political shifts explain a …

(Data)Visualizing Lesbian-Queer Space & Time

lha org records - all copyThis is what lesbian-queer history looks like: the detailed notes on 381 lesbian-queer organizations look like in a spreadsheet. The white means the organization was existent; the black means it did not yet exist or closed.
Jen Jack Gieseking CC BY-NC-SA

Over the span of a year, I surveyed the complete collection of 2,300+ organizational records at the Lesbian Herstory Archives (LHA). This research was originally part of 2008-9 dissertation research and is now a part of the series of books I am writing on lesbian-queer spaces of in/justice in New York City from 1983 to 2008—from AIDS to “The L Word.” In a series of five posts over the next two weeks, I will share the first in a series of interactive data visualizations from my in depth reading of the 381 NYC-based records of lesbian and/or queer organizations spanning 25 years (1983-2008) whose records are available at …