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Ryan Pickering

My online home during HIST3907B. Come in, and make yourself at home!

"Pickering Away at Big Data in History"

Behold! Big Data!

Welcome to my online HQ for the class HIST3907B, Data Mining and Visualization. Below you can find my first post, my introduction, and more posts will be added as the class continues. Enjoy!

You can find my open notebook for this class (and my life in general - to-do lists and grocery lists abound) here.

As well, feel free to send me an email. Looking for my blog for the George Garth Graham Undergraduate Digital History Research Fellowship? You can find it here

Final project: Google Trends and Residential Schools

March 30th, 2015

This post quickly explains my process and goals for my final project, dealing with the relation of demographics and historical consciousness regarding residential schools in Canadian provinces. Initially I wanted to examine Twitter archives and a lot of Reddit information, but after analyzing what I got from Google Trends I thought the stuff I found was so different from what I expected and so interesting that I figured I could just focus on it.

The specific Trends search that I am working off of can be found here. It includes 5 terms: "residential schools," "canada residential schools," "canadian residential schools," "indian residential schools," and "aboriginal residential schools."

Two patterns have come out of these searches that I have noticed and am drawing upon for my final project. The first is the timeline of popularity for these terms, which is more closely related to protest and resistance by Indigenous people in Canada as opposed to federal or provincial action or apology. This project started as an analysis of public reactions to Stephen Harper's residential schools apology in 2008, but instead has morphed into a discussion of consciousness in general about this in different regions and cities and possible explanations for this. This says something about the nature of Indigenous protest in Canada, and perhaps the unsatisfactory nature of the apology and the subsequent TRC.

Also, semantic difference between the provinces when talking about residential schools is very interesting. While they are officially called Indian residential schools as a relic of their era, the most commonly searched term is just residential schools. But, there is a wealth of difference in regional usage of terms that connote different things, such as Aboriginal vs. Indian, or Canada vs. Canadian.

Welcome to my page!

January 8th, 2015

My name is Ryan Pickering, and I am excited to be participating in HIST3907B this semester. I hope to get a lot of information on how to interact better with the digital world through this class, as I strongly believe that the world needs to be more digitally literate. My digital experience thus far consists of participating in HIST3812A last semester, where we explored the concept of video games as historical scholarship, using such resources as Twine and placing all of our work on our class site. As well, this semester I will be working with Dr. Graham on a digital fellowship, where we will be working on building up a game development studio focused on creating historical scholarship through games (a continuation of the themes of HIST3812A). You can find the work-in-progress site here.


So basically, my digital experiences have been limited to what I have experienced in that class. I have been attempting to learn coding through the website for my digital fellowship, and it has been going well so far. I am taking this class to really expand my understanding of computers and the Internet. While I do not fully grasp the ideas of historical scholarship through data visualization as of yet, I can clearly see it's benefits, especially in the future. While digital technologies get more prevalent and more powerful in every aspect of our society, it is important to be able to understand how they work and shape the things we see everyday. As algorithms continue to define the world we see more everyday, it is important for the general public to realize that the things they see and are presented with are not neutral: indeed, they have a vast amount of political and social power and influence, and are therefore often used for political reasons against unsuspecting people. With awareness on these topics comes power for the average citizen to take control of their own digital presence, whether it be an academic one or just a social media one. One looking for a reason for why this digital literacy is important today need only look at the PRISM program of the NSA, recently exposed by Edward Snowden.


In conclusion, in this class, along with an A or A+ (typically), I would like to achieve a new level of digital literacy that can let me understand the internet that I interact within, and also cultivate a stronger online presence, both academically and personally. Thank you for reading this, and if you are a fellow student in this class, good luck!

Ryan Pickering