A Digital Humanities Visualization: Deconstruct to Reconstruct: Examining Collective Digital Archives to Tell Herstory
Created by: Areej Mawasi (2020)
Featured music by:
Halalayya - folk from Palestine and the Levant, Vocals Amal Kaawash;From Ahmad Qaabour's album "Palestine, Amma baad" - Arab Center for Research and Policy Stidies (2013); Music arranged by Mazin Siblini
[Conference converted to virtual format due to COVID-19 Pandemic] Submitted as Visual Art Installation. 64th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society: Education Beyond the Human (CIES2020). MIAMI, FL. [Conference converted to virtual format due to COVID-19 Pandemic]
Technology can afford multiple types of interactions. Among these interactions is expanding our communication with each other to construct new meanings of the world. Building upon the notion that knowledge is co-constructed I created this visual representation that Deconstruct digital media tweets to Reconstruct the words to create a new meaning of it, telling a different story of it that connects with its previous meaning, but also create a continuation of it to give a broader perspective than what a tweet can tell.
In this project, I have multiple goals: (1) to problematize my decisions as a researcher looking at public data and the methodological steps I took to build this art visual representation; (2) examine the power of digital media tools as a way to support the creation of digital archives by and with youth; (3) expand the notion of non-linear storytelling while also humanizing untold stories; (4) argue that while data can predict or/and tell stories, without careful examination of the meaning of this data, it can also be a tool that reproduces injustice; (5) connect between the themes of time, place, space, speed, tools, and language by using multiple types of sources to construct a meaning of this work; and finally (6) examining the role of intergenerational learning in knowledge construction.
During Summer 2019, I have attended a book signing for Palestinian Writer and Architect Suad Amiry “My Damascus”, where she tells intergenerational stories about her family extended across multiple geographic places and expanded over 150 years. Then, I wrote a review article about Amiry’s work. I argued that Amiry stories represented in her books are representative of the lives of Palestinians regardless of the “place” in which Palestinians ended up living due to politics. In her work, Amiry employs an interactive approach to describe time, place, and space and ways in which they all intersect with people daily life practices, from food, love, sex, school, traveling, politics, teaching, learning, buildings, relationships, and many more. Her dynamic way of telling stories “across space, place, and time” brought my attention few weeks after to #MyPalestianSitty hashtag, in August 2019. Social media users used this hashtag in respond to US Representative Rashida Tlaib cancelation to visit her Palestinian grandmother. The tweets shared carried memories of mostly Palestinians all over the world with their Palestinian grandmothers, in Palestine or the diaspora. These stories, led me to think about the good and bad side of digital media when it comes to agency, data, and storytelling. The three can be good, but also can have negative consequences when they are misused.
In this project, I selected around 40 tweets randomly that appeared on my timeline when I did an advanced search on Twitter. I removed identification words from them such as full names. And used data analysis software to generate “WordClouds” for these tweets. I employed multiple steps in this process and ranked the words in different ways. For example, sometimes visualized them based on word length and other times based on frequencies. I also purposely changed the tempo (speed) and rhythm (pattern) of these visualizations to represent multiple historical moments across multiple generations, times, and embodied actions required to react in such moments. There were multiple constraints in the software, however, what matters more is the diverse meanings and types of words that these tweets revealed: active verbs, passive verbs, geographic locations, emotions, values, details, places, cities, names, and more. All these words create a new life and meaning to Herstory/Theirstory.
Areej Mawasi is a PhD student in Learning, Literacies, and Technologies in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Areej earned her master’s in Educational Technology at ASU in 2017, where she also was a Fulbright Scholar. She completed her bachelor’s degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Business Administration and Education in 2012. Drawing upon research from Learning Sciences, Education Studies, and Digital Media and Communication, she studies and designs learning environments mediated by learning technologies to support learner’s participation and engagement in STEM-related domains. Areej is also an amateur graphic designer using multiple mediums (visual art, digital media, photography). Areej's writings and graphics have been featured in several mediums (e.g., online magazines, book chapter, videos).