I just returned from a week in Bloomington, Indiana, where we kicked off the Research Data Alliance’s (RDA) 2014 Scholars Program. I’ll be working with the Interest Group in Digital Practices in History and Ethnography, conducting ethnographic research and mapping a wide variety of digital humanities projects. It’s a great opportunity to extend my research on digital media practices of environmental scientists, contribute to ongoing projects like the Asthma Files and build connections to the broader RDA community. This summer job will culminate in a presentation in Amsterdam in September. Very much looking forward to seeing what the rest of the cohort cooks up, and my first trip to Europe in almost a decade!
I’m calling the projects examined in my dissertation “environmental media systems” to draw attention to how they each mediate environmental information differently and shape and are shaped by larger systems, contexts and forms of collectivity.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s MyEnvironment site is a project designed to provide a wide range of environmental information based on the user’s location. The site draws on the legacy of scorecard.org, which was billed as “the pollution information site” and was launched by Environmental Defense in 1998. Simply by entering your zip code (or address, city, county, waterbody, park name, etc.), MyEnvironment provides an “in-depth pollution report for your county, covering air, water, chemicals and more.”
I’d love it if readers of this blog would play around with MyEnvironment a bit and get in touch about the experience. What important kinds of information do you think they’ve left out? Is the interface fairly intuitive and usable? What imaginaries of science communication are exemplified by this project? What other questions do you think are important to bring to projects like these?
It’s been a busy summer so far.
We’re pushing full steam ahead with the Asthma Files and will go fully public this Fall. We’ve received some beautiful mock-ups for the interface and graphic design from our collaborators at TLC2 in Houston and are ironing out the back-end structure to take full advantage of the Plone content management system with its object-oriented database.
Nick Shapiro and I are gearing up for our fellowship in Digital Humanities at USC in Los Angeles where we’ll build a multi-layered interactive map tracking environmental health issues in the FEMA trailers that were originally used post-Katrina and are now scattered all across the U.S.
More on all this soon!