Category Archives: Personal Blogs

Kai Prenger 04/12 Personal Journal Entry

This past week, Connie and I spent most of our time learning the ins-and-outs of Wax. My primary activity was geared toward how to change the website’s style. Working with Wax brought up some key challenges related to technology choices into focus.

Sometimes when you’re working on a web development project with a small team, progress often takes longer than you think to start, but progresses faster than expected. As much as the ideal of iterative work lives on in project planning, most of our progress has some in fits and starts. Part of the slowness to is learning new domains, as required by sourcing the visual media for our archive. But another aspect, a focus of this post, has been learning technical tool from scratch.

While the Wax documentation owns up to a learning curve being “best suited for folks who are willing to take on some technical responsibility in exchange for a lot of flexibility,” the nature of statically generated site engines is that complexity is kept as minimal as possible. In fact, a Wax workflow image represents a basic explanation of how a Wax site as built. What I didn’t anticipate was the complication of additional framework/tools bundled with this particular library.

One example that we stumbled on several times during the stylistic changes was the inheritabilty of CSS/Sass used via Bootstrap. For two people with limited front end development experience, it’s hard to understand where to change fonts, colors for background, hover-overs links and text. The documentation suggests forking the Wax demo project from their repository then “clobbering” the collection using RAKE. These actions yield a complete, working set of styling and interactivity for the website with Bootstrap, but no straight forward landing spot for the new archivist without frontend design skills to update the design of their new website.

There are three Sass files in two directories that determine the CSS compiled when the site is generated.

Three Sass files in two directories

Three Sass files in two directories

All three of these files interact and depend on each other in different ways. A couple of times during this week, we struggled to understand exactly how the update a font, or a hover over color. Should we update the font-family? What about the $body-text variable created via Sass? At best, we got a compile time error when we forget to add a semicolon. We were able to make stylistic changes in the end, but if we need to make additional changes, we might not exactly remember what we did, and whether or not all of the steps we took were necessary in the end.

Some other struggles came up beyond changing styles. We still haven’t discovered why about 20% of the images we’ve uploaded don’t render on our website. Debugging this is a challenge given the size of the Wax project.

Another slate of problems we didn’t foresee are related to performance from a developer perspective. From start to finish, generating the collection takes over two hours! If you add or remove images from a collection, it’s required to rebuild the entire collection, triggering a long process working through +500 images. In a similar vein, generating the static website currently takes more than twenty seconds locally, and six and a half minutes to be deployed. I consulted a friend who formerly used Jekyll for their personal development blog, and they claimed it told four hours to build two years worth of posts. My hunch is that this is related to Digital Humanities comfortability in shipping prototypes and smaller projects, and that our collection is a little too large for Jekyll generator, being built in Ruby, a relatively slow interpretative language. These performance issues almost led to us shifting our archive over to Hugo, a static site generator build in Go , which would ameliorate any performance issues, but we decided against it due to time constraints and the introduction to yet another topic to learn about.

As mentioned before, we will likely scale down the types of media available on the archive. Given the performance issues, we wouldn’t want to experiment heavily with embedding videos, and will opt to include those on a resources page with appropriate links. I suspect we’ll be learning more about the ins-and-outs of Bootstrap, CSS, and Sass for the next week to continue to form the website appropriately given our content. We also need to focus on furnishing the appropriate context and text for the archive to give vistors a sense of themes and purpose of the website sooner rather than later. I’m still confident we will meet our shipping date in two weeks, just that it will be a rough draft we’ll need to polish in the remaining two weeks of the class.


Connie Cordon 04/12 Personal Journal Entry

This week Kai and decided to use this logo and social media icon:

It’s use for social media can be seen here:

I started uploading images onto the Instagram and updated the Tumblr page:

In terms of milestones I am beginning to realize how time is moving much faster as the deadline approaches; I think we spent a lot of time determining what kind of content we wanted to use in order to narrow down what kind of narrative we’re trying to convey through images; and perhaps should have spent more time learning a new coding language (at least for me) and probably should have taken the time to experience how much trial and error goes into creating something from concept to finished product.

Modeling Value in the Anthropocene – Group Update 4.07

After a quiet week on the Anthropocene front, your two favorite Stieg-heads are back in full swing, progressing once again with our code, analysis of the text, and website design. As noted in our previous group update, our Friday appointment with Digital Fellow word-embedding extraordinaire, Leanne, proved to be wildly fruitful, resolving each of the issues that we had been grappling with during our week of entropy, allowing us a period of solace that we already look fondly back upon as we rush headlong into the wild Pythonic forests that separate us from our final goal; the modeling of value in the Anthropocene. While new coding challenges have presented themselves as we phase into the production of vectors, we’ve preemptively requested a follow-up appointment with Leanne as to continue progressing as negentropically as possible. This follow-up, coupled with our intention to take advantage of Rafa’s office hours this coming week, will inevitably keep our project in motion, allowing for any hiccups encountered until then to be swiftly smoothed over by the great noetic souls extending their knowledge to deliver us from systemic bêtise. Though this portion of the project has taken a great deal of troubleshooting, autodidactic experimentation, and consultation, we remain confident in our work plan and stand in total appreciation of the Digital Humanities community who have mentored us through this process.

Our joint-reading of Bernard Stiegler’s Nanjing Lectures is nearing its dramatic conclusion, with each page ushering us away from the dead-end banality of the Anthropocene, and towards a novel critique of political economy in the pursuit of Neganthropic potentialities. As we work to assess Stiegler’s concept of “value” in our absence of an epoch and in the fresh epoch urgently necessary through neganthropic bifurcation, we continue to grow in our theoretical foundations, allowing for our code to be replete with Stiegler’s philosophical framework and our findings to be meticulously rooted in the text.

As our efforts begin to emerge from their opaque refuge in Jupyter Notebooks as concrete findings drawn from our imminently stellar code, our outreach plan will be set in motion, allowing for scholarly contact to be at last made with more to offer than merely our intentions. As we progress towards this stage, our website will take on a fresh aesthetically-inspired shape as to support such outreach, bolstered by a series of Stiegler-centric illustrations washed in calming, muted-pastel tones. Below are some examples of our logo designs.

In a stroke of luck, Brian and I were recently approved to begin working on an additional Bernard Stiegler project for our Digital Memories course that we’ve chosen to title Modeling Memory in the Anthropocene. Conceived as an exosomatic artifact of noesis, a network graph based on a temporal and synthetic reading of the text, one that appropriates digital technology as a new way of articulating and organizing retentions and protentions (memory and anticipation), this project is exactly the kind of project that Stiegler calls for as part of contributory research based on contributory technologies of memory. It is our intention to include elements of this project within Modeling Value in the Anthropocene, as we feel it could only strengthen our analysis and provide a greater depth of insight for newcomers to Stiegler’s philosophy.

Lastly, following the advice of our professor, Dr. Bret Maney, we’ve decided that the inclusion of a blog detailing our methodologies, our tribulations, and our victories might be a beneficial addition to the final iteration of our website so that other Digital Humanities might see themselves in our process, learn from it, and improve upon it. For our classmates, a majority of this might be redundant but for future students seeking to analyze a philosophical text in a similar fashion to our modeling of value (and memory) in the Anthropocene, it could prove to be a valuable resource.

That’s all from us, folks. We wish troubleshooting code was more fun to write and read about but, hopefully, this update is sufficient and allows everyone some insight as to where we are amidst the Anthropocene.

All the best,
H & B

Connie Cordon Personal Blog 03/29

So far this week I’ve created an Instagram, Twitter, and completed the CSV. I am not ready to release the twitter and instagram until I’ve gathered enough content for people to view, and also coordinate with Kai about posting to social media.

I also emailed Jenna Freedman, curator of the Barnard Zine Library and Librarian for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, about potentially printing a zine at Barnard if they had the resources to do so. Instead she redirected towards me The Graduate Centers own zine resources, which was very kind of her. I was also suggested to use Fireball Printing to have a zine created for me, or

I’ve also looked at some digital archives to serve as inspiration for how digital archives can work effectively and how there are so many different way to tell stories through layouts and digital photo exhibits.

Archive for clothing brand C.P. Company:

Archive for Glass Spectrum; library of natural glazes created as a reference and learning resource for ceramicists, artists, and students:

Archive for The Global Studio, a program run by the University of Technology Sydney’s Photography department. The page is an online exhibition and archive for the work created during the 2020 edition.

YouSayPotatoISayFuckYou by artist Clara Bahlsen:

Modeling Value in the Anthropocene | Group Update – 3.24.22

Hi folks!

Last week, the Modeling Value in the Anthropocene: Contributions to a metacosmics project at last found itself amidst greener pastures after a series of necessary revisions to the project’s scope and a sequence of invaluable consultations with digital humanists who have helped to shine a light on realistic pathways for reaching our goals along with the resources and workshops needed to guide us along the way.

Through our conversations with members of the Graduate Center Digital Fellows and the University of South Carolina’s resident digital writing and computational analysis expert Micheal Gavin, Brian and I have been collaboratively working through Word Embedding tutorials, such as this practical introduction from Connor Gilroy at the University of Washington, and familiarizing ourselves with the learning algorithm we intend on using in the production of our vector representations, GloVe: Global Vectors for Word Representation. This step forward in the development of an answer to our project’s question comes as a result of our successful cleaning and preparation of the corpus. Though we underestimated the complex nature of this process, as well as the fundamental technical skills needed in order to make the necessary tweaks to our text, we’ve managed to extract that which will operate as a groundwork for all future experimentation and analysis. Over the course of the next week, Brian and I intend on diving into our project’s trial period of exploratory vector analysis through the early development of a locally trained word2vec model. As with all stages of our project thus far, this will come with a heavy dose of Python research and development and we will be continuing our frequent Zoom work sessions in order to collaboratively grow, fine-tune, and troubleshoot our model of value in the Anthropocene.

Also on the agenda for this coming week is the continued buildout of our website and the generation of a “press kit” to expedite our outreach objectives. As it’s currently drafted, our website exists largely as a stand-in awaiting our project’s findings but we intend on gradually developing it aesthetically as we progress through this second half of the semester. As for outreach, we are still deliberating over strategies of communication, especially regarding our method of engagement with the Stieglerian scholarly community, and will be providing updates in the weeks to come.

Lastly, Brian and I continue to work through Bernard Stiegler’s Nanjing Lectures as to develop and strengthen the theoretical framework through which we will be viewing our vector analysis. This research has expanded in scope for each of us, coming to include works such as Bifurcate: ‘There is No Alternative’ edited by Stiegler with the Internation Collective, Psychopolitical Anaphylaxis: Steps Towards a Metacosmics by Daniel Ross, and The Thought of Bernard Stiegler: Capitalism, Technology and the Politics of Spirit. Through continued research and interlocution in the coming weeks, Brian and I aim to perpetuate the Stiegler-centric frame of thought we’ve pathologically maintained thus far and commence developing our final product in conjunction with that which is discoverable and visualized through our word2vec analysis.

That’s all for now – we’re looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to!


Kai – Personal Blog 3/23

As Connie mentioned in her blog post this week, we started building the website for our archive. For me, it’s typically nerve-racking to start to show work in process. This is especially true on a subject that I find fascinating and worthy of exploration for beyond the end product due for this class. After hearing some conflicting ideas about how to proceed given the fact that we felt uncertain about the usefulness of our research and archival collection, we both agreed that trying to build something sooner might give us insight into the state of our research thus far.  One method of overcome hesitation to build/publish on my part was to channel the inner technical project/program manager bag of tricks I’ve collected with my professional experience over the last ten years.

The most influential software development practices theory over the last three decades are found under the Agile Development umbrella. As such, I found some strength to start building out the website for our archive in the  Manifesto for Agile Software Development. One value statement from that concise document I’ve always held close to me while working with software engineers is “working software over comprehensive documentation.” The principal behind this software cardinal virtue elaborated in the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto:
working software is the primary measure of progress.” One important caveat to the values espoused in the Agile Manifesto, each of which is formulated with the favored value in the left, and the diminished value on the right, is that “while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.” One can assert that planning and documentation play a role in the development of a digital project in the context of digital humanities. Certainly it’s true when it comes to acquiring funding for a digital initiative. Still, a plan and documentation pale somewhat to having the digital project manifest itself, in this case, as a website. Consequently, I used the agile rationale to dive head first into creating a repo and generating some version of our archive on the web using Wax.

Another source of inspiration came in the form of software engineering management wisdom gleaned from the development of IBMs OS/360, the operation system developed for the company’s System/360 mainframe. Fred Brook’s The Mythical Man-Month details the learning he culled from his experience managing the OS/360, germinating from a question IBM’s CEO asked Brooks during his exit interview on why managing a software project seemed significantly difficult in comparison to a hardware project. While the book is clearly from a particular time and place in history, some of the lessons learned feel durable even in the face of increased processing power and more ergonomic/productive programming technologies. One chapter, “Plan to Throw One Away” felt appropriate to address any hesitation I might feel in starting our web archive as soon as possible. As Brooks sees it:

In most projects, the first system built is barely usable.There is no alternative but to start again, smarting but smarter, and build a redesigned version in which…problems are solved…one has to build a system to throw away, for even the best planning is not omniscient as to get it right the first time. The management question, there, is not whether to build a pilot system and throw it away. You will do that. The only question is whether to plan in advance to build a throwaway, or to promise to deliver the throwaway to customers…Hence plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow (Brooks, 116).

In an attempt to embrace this lesson, we’ve started to assemble our metadata in the csv without overthinking it, and knowing that we won’t get the filters and categorizations right the first time, but that in doing the work will yield the lessons for a reversion. Similarly, we’re dumping our entire photo catalog into the website as a first step. While some curation has already taken plan in the creation of our collection, we need to see all of the assets in one place to understand if any of them won’t work for our archive for one reason or another. I’ve also embraced the throwaway nature of some of the initial work in the naming conventions in our code: the collection at present is called temp_collection and we reuse templates from the Wax demo project as a starting off point. Even the repo name is wax-project, obviously is nondescript name. The key motivation is to get something working, even if we’ll eventually replace a great deal of it. Once we have a website up and running, we can critique it, file bugs and changes requests to it, and create a new version that better addresses our needs.


Brooks, Frederick Phillips. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering. Addison-Wesley, 1995.

Connie – Personal Blog 03/22

This week we’re starting on the website, which in process started with creating an information architecture, and now a CSV. I noticed for Outdoor Recreation Archive they have an inventory spreadsheet.

On another note, something unplanned occurred while I was doing research about the exhibit “Computer Films of the 1960s” the Museum of Moving History held. I noticed on their website there was a screening called “As Mine Exactly“, held by Charlie Shackleton. There was a small description of the event, but it looked like some kind of desktop documentary from what I could tell.

I signed up for this viewing under the assumption it would be in a theatre playing a desktop documentary, but instead, upon arrival on Friday, I was placed in a room with Charlie himself while I wore a VR headset. The headset played the desktop documentary while Charlie narrated himself in the room. The recorded phrases from his mother played from a speaker behind my head. It was a unique and interesting form of storytelling, as it was an intimate moment with someone else, but with a piece of machinery in between us. It felt personal, and yet I knew it wasn’t, because he had done this performance about 60 times with different people.

In the VR headset, it was a desktop screen that showed photos of his mother, scans of journal pages documenting her seizures, and video recordings of her seizures taken by him to show to the doctor treating her.

In my last blog post I ruminated over the idea of technology simultaneously aiding and destroying our existence. However after this experience, it also reminded me of how one can use computers in such a way to create intimate moments with another, and also use it as a tool to process trauma.

Before it was an artistic project, I talked to a friend about having been a child, having observed my mom’s seizures, and ultimately having filmed a number of them for medical observation. This friend instantly made the connection between that and me being a documentary filmmaker. My initial reaction was, “No, absolutely not. It’s too sensitive to me and it’s too personal.

Once I started interrogating that thought, I realized that I found the idea that I could take this incredibly intimate material and release it into a content ecosystem in which it can be consumed in any number of ways, with any amount of engagement, empathy or a lack thereof, off-putting. For much of the work I’ve made, that’s exactly the kind of unpredictable lack of control I want for its artistic possibilities. With As Mine Exactly, it felt irresponsible, both to me and my mom and also to a viewer, to put something sensitive out into the world with no assurance that it would be received in an ethical way.

Charlie Shackleton interview “Strengthening Bonds”

Kai Prenger Personal Journal Entry 3/15

My thoughts on our semester-long project have been haunted by questions of sustainability after attending a skills lab hosted by CUNY’s Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (ITP) program a month ago on the subject as it relates to digital scholarship. Over the course of the workshop, Jesse Merandy, the first GC PhD candidate to complete a digital dissertation, elaborated on a central theme of what happens to digital projects in academia over time: they age, they falter, and, eventually, with changes in technologies and tools, they stop working. Beyond remarking on how a digital project will age and decade over time, Merandy also offered strategies to preserve the discovery generated by a digital academic project. In a nutshell, Jesse advocated for nth level documentation of research methods and thought processes (within the tolerances of sanity) that ideally takes place continuously throughout the project lifecycle.

While the tool selection decisions for our mainframe project attempted to counteract the speed at which digital work rots by way of statically generated content, markdown content, zero dollar hosting, and publicly available code repositories, we can’t escape the fact that eventually, our project will be hard to access as originally designed, if at all. To that end, Connie and I are focusing on how we can incorporate the process documentation to be present in or alongside our project website. Some of the subjects worth documenting and the rationale are found below

Reuse of our personal journal entry blogs

Reusing from our class commons site, to reflect what our week-to-week thoughts were about the progress, work methods, and moods about the project. We expect to do some reflection beyond our weekly journal entries will also be included, like topics for further discovery, or themes we weren’t able to address during the allotted time frame.

Narrating project challenges

Narrating the challenges we face during our time working on the project. One striking example is the difficulty in accessing physical archives for serendipitous findings. Another is encapsulating a doable topic within the time-allowing and supported by the archival material we were able to collect, both of which may not match any of the project proposal’s original themes or ideas.

Effect of time constraints

Detailing the scope and time titrations necessary to complete as coherent a project as possible. The original project imagined a staff of four to complete the resultant website. With two team members, multidisciplinary role assignments, and learning technology as well as subject matter compresses the origin “thick history” proposed before the project started. Of course, time constraints also help uncover new venues in which to explore, and conceive of novel studies. For instance, we’ve been a little surprised by how abstract and arty some of the advertisement creative turns out for what amounts to business equipment. We’re also exploring deformance and inspired collage as research methods into some of the themes we see in the cultural history of mainframe computers.

Identifying sources of inspiration

Identifying sources of inspiration for the project that aren’t constituent of the end product seems relevant for any future development. We can imagine a Zettelkasten style table for use in research down the line, as unused resources can emerge as relevant upon further research and analysis. We’ve been compiling research sources as well and inspirations from various forms of digital media .

Important side effect of documentation

One important side effect of documenting a digital humanities (DH) project from a bit of a remove: you are able to receive the cash value the enthusiasm on prototyping. That is to say, we can explicitly articulate weakness of the project output, without feeling like shortcomings are synonymous with project failure.

Connie Cordon 03/15 – Personal Blog

David F. Webber, The Computers Are Coming! book cover, 1980

Generally this past week I have continued finding material for the archive. A good resource for visual content I found that I liked is, who has their own YouTube channel, in which they combine old, eclectic clips from the 50s to 80s in their entirety with other clips. They include original sources of the clips in all their videos, which is helpful in finding more material. While speaking with Kai about these findings, he brought up the topic of Hauntology, which is a term I was not familiar with at the time. There seems to be some journals published on it in academia. In an article by Mark Fisher titled “What Is Hauntology?”, he states

What defined this ‘hauntological’ confluence more than anything else was its confrontation with a cultural impasse: the failure of the future.

The future is always experienced as a haunting: as a virtuality that already impinges on the present, conditioning expectations and motivating cultural production.

Mark Fisher – What Is Hauntology?

I think I keep revolving around this idea of a dystopian future in regards to the theme of the mainframe project because with the more materials I compiled, it became evident that there has and always will be a desire for an improved and efficient way of living, however there is no escaping the way in which all suffer on a day to day basis. Somehow technology exists both as a tool to make our lives easier, and yet it also makes it easier to destroy said life.

“We construct our technologies, and our technologies construct us and our times. Our times make us, we make our machines, our machines make our times. We become the object we look upon but they become what we make of them”

Margaret M. Lloyd, There, yet not there: Human relationships with technology, 2010

Sounds of Music Technical Coordinator’s Log, Week of March 14th, 2022

If change is inevitable, predictable, beneficial; doesn’t logic demand that you be a part of it? (Captain James T. Kirk, speaking to Spock in the Star Trek: TOS episode Mirror, Mirror)


I confess that when I was writing out “Technical Coordinator’s Log,” I almost put Stardate instead of Week. This is a sure sign that the technical coordinator has been watching too much Star Trek.


As we move toward the mid-point of the semester, I have been considering how best to build, expand, and modify the website. The platform is up and running through WordPress, via the CUNY Academic Commons. There is a contact page; one of multiple menu options on the top toolbar. There is a blog, a homepage, and a contributor’s page.


None of the more mundane aspects of website building are causing me much trouble at the moment, as I am intimately familiar with WordPress’ suite of tools. I’ve been running my own author’s blog since 2016 on WordPress, and have acquired skills throughout the past six years which have served me well in this project.


What truly concerns me is how to make our website more accessible. Our core values include accessibility for all, and as someone with a disability, I am very sensitive to the needs of those who also have disabilities, no matter the form they take or the age at which they were acquired. I am still struggling to make the text-to-speech function work on WordPress, and hope to iron that out within the next week.


I have also been playing with the font size, in order to make the site more accessible to the visually impaired without sacrificing aesthetics or clarity. Additionally, I have already installed a toolbar that sits at the left side of the screen, allowing users to toggle between a combination of high-contrast, grey-scale, and large-font modes.


I have been exploring other avenues of making our website more accessible and have compiled a list of websites that will be helpful in making it so.


Our audience consists largely of homebound, elderly individuals, so I also wish to make our website simple to navigate and easy to use. I wish to suggest a logical path for the journey the user could potentially take, in exploring the website.


I will also be researching websites that are highly rated in terms of accessibility, to study them for inspiration.


I confess also that I never noticed issues of accessibility until I, myself, became disabled. I cannot discern how much of this is due to the fact that I acquired my disability as a pre-teen, and how much can be attributed to the general lack of awareness of accessibility problems and solutions on behalf of the able-bodied and non-disabled population. Either way, I now notice elements on all levels of infrastructure – both in the physical and the digital world – that are deeply problematic. I always return to the example of the MTA’s new, ‘modern,’ leaning bars, which are hostile to the elderly, the disabled, and the homeless. Only the latter of these populations were being directly targeted, yet the leaning bars acted to the detriment of many more citizens.


What might be a mere inconvenience to some can become an insurmountable barrier to others. Inaccessible subway stations with levels and levels of stairs might not do much more than briefly wind the able-bodied, but to a mother with a stroller, or a person in a wheelchair, it takes the ‘public’ out of public transportation.


We all struggle in our own ways. It is part of the human experience. But how can we be fully human, if all of us are not given a fair chance to overcome those struggles? How can we proclaim equality for all, when our neighbors and friends and family members and fellow human beings must face barriers that can be, at times, insurmountable – barriers we take for granted, and maybe grumble about; barriers we should be rethinking and re-envisioning and redesigning.


Change is inevitable, absolutely, and is predictable to a certain degree, but it’s up to us to ensure it is beneficial for all of us – that every adult might benefit, and that every child might grow up in a brighter future. It is not mere logic that demands this; it is something stronger – empathy. It is only through our empathy for all people that we, too, are rendered fully, completely, vibrantly human. I want to be part of a world where walls are torn down, and barriers are dismantled, piece by piece, so that we may, all of us, emerge, triumphant, into a better future.


Ultimately, I want our website to reflect that vision.