Digital Security

As social beings in a technologically advanced society, it is only natural to want to keep up with our friends, family and world through social media, but we tend to avoid the discussion of digital security. We like to click “Accept” before reading a single line in any of the long, tumultuous user agreements for platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. But who really has access to your information that you’ve entered on you online pages? The truth is, just about anyone can have access to it. Hackers may seek your financial information. Corporations may seek to find your buying patterns. Political parties may seek all of the above plus your private opinions!

The idea of security over privacy was popularly introduced following the Patriot Act post 9/11. At the time, it didn’t not seem that boundaries would be crossed and in a post 9/11 society, people craved security and rightfully so. So why are peoples opinions changing now? Some say, “You shouldn’t fear if you do not have anything to hide”, but we do have things we want to hide, like our financial, medical and political information. This brings an interesting discussion to the topic of government surveillance.

While government surveillance is necessary for security, how do we provide checks and balances to any infringement on our rights to privacy in a new digital industrial revolution? Because there is no precedent for this topic of privacy, government surveillance and legislation – things are murky for now. Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg testified to congress about Facebook’s breech in security and millions of American’s information lost to foreign and bad actors. Facial recognition is also one of the most controversial aspects of the new digital era. Facial recognition has saved many communities form a lot fo crime, but also raises some eyebrows when discovering just how easily our faces are picked up by surveillance cameras. This is a result of information sharing between companies like Facebook and Amazon to the government.

The only legitimate and reasonable solution to the growing threats of privacy invasion by technology and artificial intelligence, is legislation. Decided by the People for the People. This would ensure a system of checks and balances to the social media giants and the government.

Algorithms

Simply put, an algorithm is a computerized system that relies on statistical factors to filter and decide outcomes. It is a step of technology that is being popularly used today by social media platforms, loan offerings, businesses, schools and employers. Big data is commonly known as large quantities of stored computerized data, anything that can be known.

Safiya Noble writes in her chapter, “A Society, Searching” of one of the major issues with algorithms today, racism. She discusses a situation experienced by one of her friends in which she preformed a google search of “black girls” and was mortified at the results as they showed trends in pornography, crimes and other negative results associated with them as the algorithms used by google portray racist results.

Based on the videos watched in class, following the TED talk in particular, in which the speaker explains the unfairness and brutality of algorithms used by the District of Columbia to judge teachers performance, despite the excellent ratings from fellow teachers, principles and students. One of the teachers she made an example out of was fired as the algorithm the school board used, decided the teacher was showing low performance numbers.

Digital Redlining is most certainly the 21st century’s civil rights issue as these computerized algorithms are proving to be the biased and prejudiced. The question we should ask ourselves though, is: is it the statistics that create these prejudice results or the creators of the programs?

Visualizations

One way to define a digital visualization is as a method to view data through a chart, graph or map. For historians, visualizations play a key role in understanding trends in spatial and immigration history. This blog post will discuss the creation of a visualization through Plotly or plot.ly .

Using a data set from 1880 of United States citizens, I created a bar graph to help compare and contrast the number of native and foreign born, males and females of various races and ethnicities within the United States. This graph allowed me to see a multitude of things from race, locational hot spots and population distribution.

plot.ly screenshot of visual

The screenshot above pictures a bar graph displaying fifteen categories, four races/ethnicities, two genders and two locational differences. By viewing this visualization, one should be able to recognize that states like New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio seem to have the highest population of White native born males than other states. One should also be able to notice that New York and Pennsylvania have the highest number of foreign born white males and females. The key in this graph contains a feature that allows the operator to filter what categories he/she would like to see on the graph.

Screenshot of visual from plot.ly

The screenshot above shows the graph under a filter. The filter being applied only shows white native and foreign born males in the United States in 1880. This same feature can be applied to any number of the categories in the graph’s key. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri have the highest populations of foreign born males.

This graph can provide historians with a visual of immigration history of the United States during the Progressive Era. First, one can notice that the more developed and metropolitan areas such as New York and Pennsylvania have the highest populations overall while states like Montana, Nevada and Rhode Island have the lowest populations. Secondly, one can notice that White Foreign Born Males and Females have the second highest population numbers. One may contribute the massive amounts of immigration from white foreign born people to the industrial boom in the United States at the time, which was appealing to many people in Europe.

This visualization can be easily accessed for anyone with a basic literacy copactity as it remains simple, yet detailed. By creating a visualization, one should notice the immense opportunities for efficiency and usefulness of services like that of plot.ly . This particular graph can teach one of the importance of eras in American History such as a the industrial boom during the Progressive Era. Immigration in the Progressive Era shows a surprising level of variety of populations from all around the world, while also displaying effects of slavery and industrial development as southern states have a higher colored population and northern states have a higher population overall in order to sustain factories and industry. This graph also shows some evidence of the America’s Gold Rush in the West which may contribute to some of the various ethnic populations in the West. Overall this visualization can show historians that America began to attain a small, but diverse population and a population of former slaves in the south.

Text Mining

Text mining is a way for one to essentially ‘cut through’ a piece of writing to get the themes, main points, trends and basic topics of discussion within a document. Voyant-tools.org is website used for text mining. It contains tools that allow one to recognize trends, key words and phrases that show relationships between topics.

voyant-tools.org

Above is a screenshot of Voyant with a document uploaded from The Woman Citizen database. The Cirrus tool on the left shows key words such as: woman, women, new, suffrage, state, work and citizen. The TermsBerry tool int he middle will highlight what words are correlated with others when the computer curser hovers over one. The Trends tool on the right is one the most valuable and insightful tools on Voyant as it shows the relationships between key words, phrases and topics of a document.

The examples from The Woman Citizen confirms the trends and topics of the document as when one compares distance reading (analyzing through text mining or Voyant) to close reading (reading the actual document) the reader can notice the discussion of the document is based on women’s advancement into traditionally male roles of work and government in 1918. The document continues to discuss women’s new work, accomplishes and things to be changed, like suffrage. To confirm those topics and key words, one may use Voyant. In the screenshot above one can notice the trends of women, state, new, work and suffrage.

An example of close reading from The Woman Citizen

The role of text analysis is extremely important in confirming themes, trends and topics of writings. By using Voyant, I learned that there are so many important things within a document that may normally go unnoticed. Through the documents from The Woman Citizen, I recognized that the role of women in remaking of a city during the Progressive Era was extremely challenging, but effective. In the ‘The Woman and the Calling’ article, the reader can notice a tone of surprise and acceptance of women’s new role. The author even writes, “Now a new call for men has gone out and women are slipping one by one into their places.” The third paragraph says that it does not matter that women are in some male roles as it is representative of the American Democracy.

By using Voyant we are able to see that women’s approach to reform in the Progressive Era meant mobilization, through associations and organizations, making their voice heard and participation in political life of cities and states. An example of Voyant contributed to such conclusions can be seen below in the screenshot of the Trends tool.

Text analysis to historian is imperative to conducting accurate research and by using a method of Text Mining through something like Voyant, historians are able to gain a better understanding of a document as Voyant analyzes many aspects of a document. Maureen A. Flanagan’s Gender and Urban Political Reform: The City Club and The Women’s City Club of Chicago in the Progressive Era, shows many of the same results of themes and trends through Voyant as The Woman Citizen, which may garner further analysis as a relationship of themes and trends are shared amongst different documents of the same time frame.

voyant-tools.org

Because the Progressive Era was over one hundred years ago, text mining catalyzes efficiency and accuracy when analyzing many documents, thus contributing overall to exposing the historical significance of Women’s role in remaking a city during the Progressive Era.

Digital Mapping – Atlantic City, New Jersey

What do you think of when viewing a map? A map not only displays locations, but also provides an analytical perspective to neighborhoods throughout a city. This concept is now being further developed by historians and is called Spatial History. Richard White, former Director of Stanford University Spatial History Project, discusses Spatial History, what it is and how to use it. White describes Spatial History as, “It is a means of doing research; it generates questions that might otherwise go unasked, it reveals historical relations that might otherwise go unnoticed, and it undermines, or substantiates, stories upon which we build our own versions of the past.” We will explore a map of locations given in a 1940 Greenbook of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Screenshot of Kepler.gl map holding points from 1940 Greenbook

When viewing the photo above, one is able to notice a cluster of locations from the Greenback that would welcome African Americans during the year of 1940. This cluster may be referred to by some, as a ghetto. Because the locations of the Greenbook are clustered in such manner, it is safe to say that Baltic, Arctic and North Indiana Avenues are the streets in which social segregation was implied upon Atlantic City. Services of the locations displayed on the map include: hotels, tourist homes, taverns, restaurants, barber shops and beauty parlors. The main cluster of locations are mostly hotels and tourist homes, however, other services like liquor stores and beautification shops are spread amongst the city. The map displays a community within Atlantic City, which would explain why the services are clustered.

The screenshots above show Graces’, a Beauty Parlor, Macks, a Liquor Store and a zoomed out screenshot of south Atlantic City. Atlantic City, New Jersey is shaped similarly to a broken peninsula with the southern part of the city separated from the northern part of the city. This can tell the viewer that the city was segregated in a drastic manner, that the northern part of the city was for the upper classes while the southern part was for the lower classes and African Americans.

Screenshot of map ranging from 1930-1940 of desirable areas in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The photo above displays a map of Atlantic City, New Jersey during 1930-1940 with a legend highlighting the ‘best’, ‘still desirable’, ‘definitely declining’ and ‘hazardous’ areas. When comparing the Kepler.gl map of Atlantic City and the Redlining Map of Inequality, one can notice the points are located mostly in the ‘hazardous’ area of Atlantic City.

Screenshot of Redlining Inequality Map from 1930-1940 of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

By using Kepler.gl and Redlining Inequality Map, one can develop an understanding of segregation of Spatial History in Atlantic City as the locations of services in the 1940 Greenbook are within the bounds of the red ‘hazardous’ and yellow ‘definitely declining’ areas. These maps can help digital historians understand the spatial history of segregation and the different neighborhoods of Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1940.

Spatial History

When studying history, one relies on databases, maps and archives to conduct research.  A new concept called Spatial History is being developed by historians all around the globe as Spatial History tells the story of movement amongst communities and people. Richard White, writes about how historians are developing and using spatial history to better research.  He says, “Spatial practice is, for example, on one scale, our movement within our homes — from bedroom to kitchen to bathroom to living room. On another scale, it is our movement from home to work along an infrastructure of sidewalks, roads and trains. A further increase in scale creates our long distance movements through airports and along air routes. Spatial practice involves the segregation of certain kinds of constructed spaces and their linkages through human movement”.

 Richard White emphasizes the direct connection between Digital History and Spatial History by noting that Spatial History cannot be developed without the use of digital accommodations, like computers.  He makes the point that Spatial History is more than the creation of maps, that it is a tool the digital historians can use to conduct research.  White’s final comment about Spatial History is, “It is a means of doing research; it generates questions that might otherwise go unasked, it reveals historical relations that might otherwise go unnoticed, and it undermines, or substantiates, stories upon which we build our own versions of the past.”

Spatial History can be applied to the era of Segregation by digitizing maps that display political opinions based on location, trails that African Americans used to relocate after the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation, maps that display shading to represent number of segregated public places and numbers of lynching/crimes against African Americans. By creating these tools and using Spatial History, Digital Historians are able to have access to information that may have been available otherwise. 

Data-Base Creation

First and foremost, creating a digital database is extremely daunting and time consuming…at first! As a group project, our class was given parameters of the Progressive Era and Women’s Suffrage movement for the project of creating a historical database. When creating our database, we focused on the question: Which women’s suffrage organization was arrested more often and at what type of events?

As a collective, we gathered 40 sources consisting of news articles about the arrests and events of suffragists and various suffragists parties. We found that suffragists were arrested mostly in Washington, D.C in front of the White House and Mostly for demonstrating and disrupting. We chose to include the date, location, number of arrests, cause of arrests and organizations of each individual source ad event. To us, those seem like the most specific and targeted information one may need when conducting research on the Suffrage Movement.

After finishing our database, I learned that while creating them may take some time, using them makes research and answering questions much easier. The use of databases helps tremendously with efficiency for historical research as databases hold the key pieces of information needed to conduct research.

A Progressive Era Tragedy

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire is remembered as one of the most horrific and notable tragedies to occur during the United State’s Progressive Era. On March 25th of 1911, 145 people were killed at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in the Asch building by fire. This factory was run by ladies who produced clothing garments. The factory owners were two men of New York’s upper echelons and known to be cunning businessmen.

The fire broke out on the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors of the Asch building due to a lack safety and health standards. In attempt to escape a painful death, people jumped out of windows, yet most died from such acts and smoke inhalation. Why did so many jump to their death rather than escape safely, you may ask? Well…this is the key to what makes what normally would’ve been a tragedy, a heinous crime. The management and men that ran the company, would lock/block the exits and common rooms in order to prevent the ladies from taking breaks and slowing production progress. When the fire erupted, the workers had no option for escape and faced two choices, risk it and up or burn.

The history books usually do not fail to teach us of the significance of the Progressive Era. Personally, when I think of the Progressive Era, I think of the Roaring 20s in Gatsby-like style and the horrendous industrial conditions. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire forced the country and business community of New York to address the multiple issues of safety standards, sexism and prejudice in the workplace as most of the victims were not only women, but immigrants as well. The faulty system of the Progressive Era preyed on the lower class and immigrants. This in turn led to the rise of Unions and relief efforts for incidents like these. In the Triangle Factory case, the Ladies’ Waist and Dress Makers’ Union rose to fight the owners in trial and the Red Cross raised around $100,000 for the victims’s families. Dr. George M. Price says in an article detailing the efforts post-fire that, “Americans need big shocks, says Dr. Price.” and later says, “Workers Must Depend Upon Selves.
The salvation of the working class depends upon the workingmen themselves.” Dr. Price’s message is important as he is implying that working people must demand change in order to receive change. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was one of the deadliest industrial accidents in the U.S.

Footnotes:

“NEWSPAPER & MAGAZINE ARTICLES,” Cornell University – ILR School – The Triangle Factory Fire – Introduction, , accessed February 26, 2019, http://trianglefire.ilr.cornell.edu/primary/newspapersMagazines/lgw_0911.html?sto_sec=mourning.

Primary Sources

Almost every college student or researcher has heard the term ‘primary sources’ when conducting research for an assignment or project. But what is a ‘primary source’? A primary source can be described as something that was studied and written or recorded under the time it was being studied. A simple example would be a newspaper article announcing the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Let’s have a look at some other more specific examples! There are five examples with citations below for primary sources around the Progressive Era.

The first example I chose to look up was an article written during the progressive era regarding divorce and the systematic changes that have lead to loosening the religious standards for divorce. It discusses the immorality of adultery and argues that a simple infidelity of the heart can cause a reason for divorce in itself as a it affects the heart of the marriage. New discussion of divorce. (1860, Apr 05). Circular (1851-1870) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/137617060?accountid=14541

There was an edition published by the American Journal of Agricultural Economics in 1981 discussing strategies for addressing world hunger after World War II. The edition mentions several assistance programs from government and international bodies like the Department of Agriculture, United Nations and others. Rasmussen, W. D., and J. M. Porter. 1981. “Strategies for Dealing with World Hunger: Post-World War II Policies.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics 63 (December): 810–18. http://mutex.gmu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bpr&AN=519496071&site=ehost-live.

Using the Reader’s Guide to Retrospect collection, I found a primary source regarding flappers. The periodical I browsed talks about a flapper named Jane and the youth during the ‘Roaring 20s’. A conversation between Jane and another person reveals the way some viewed flappers and the progression to a society with loosened social standards. BLIVEN, Bruce Ormsby. 1925. “Flapper Jane.” New Republic 44 (September): 65–67. http://mutex.gmu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rgr&AN=522065697&site=ehost-live.

Science during the Progressive Era and forward has been rapidly advancing. many believe prosthetics is a very modern idea, however, when searching for primary sources around the Progressive Era time frame, I found that prosthetics seemed to have their beginning in dentistry. The article referenced discusses the London School of Economics prosthetic dentistry. 10, Science06 Jan 1928 :. “THE LONDON SCHOOL OF HYGIENE AND TROPICAL MEDICINE.” Science. January 06, 1928. Accessed February 11, 2019. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/67/1723/10.1.

Following the Progressive Era came the World Wars. Through the American Periodical, I discovered an article written in 1916 about the struggle of the Russian people during the first World War. Not only did they suffer tremendous losses at the hands of the Germans, but also held a complete governmental and political revolution during the first World War. This article discusses the subject in depth. Mason, Gregory. 1916. THE NATIONS AT WAR. Outlook (1893-1924). Jan 05, https://search.proquest.com/docview/136981276?accountid=14541 (accessed February 11, 2019).