Data Diaries

In the humanities, we are good a detecting patterns in the texts we read, the people we study, the things we view. But these patterns are often loose and intuitive. In the digital humanities, we have to learn how to capture those patterns as data.

Computers require data. And not just any sort of data. Computers require data that is machine readable, meaning that it is digital, structured, and where the information is accessible or actionable by the computer.

Creating machine-readable data requires breaking the world into discrete, regular, describable chunks that we can then do computer-y things with.

To start to practice seeing and collecting information about the world in the form of data, we are going to start with something very not computational. In Observe, Collect, Draw! the authors walk us through the process of 1. observing some aspect of ourselves or the world around us, 2. gathering those observations into interesting or meaningful groups, and then 3. representing those observations visually.

Using the skills we worked on in class, choose three exercises from Observe, Collect, Draw! to complete (I suggest looking at #01 – #29). The three exercises need to be of different time durations, so plan ahead.


Complete your exercises in the Observe, Collect, Draw! book. When you are finished, take a picture of your work (the assignment page and your creation) – two pictures for each exercise.

Additionally, write a short (no more than 1 page) Word document reflecting on your experience. Please include your name, which exercises you chose, why you chose them, what was most difficult about the assignment, and what did you find surprising as you completed the assignment.

Create a PDF document with the image files and the Word document (use Adobe Acrobat Pro – you have access through UA (

Submit the PDF document through Blackboard.

This assignment is due Friday, February 23.