Author Archives: Gemma S.

GS: Journal Entry (10/12), 29th April

Dear Journal,

I thought it would be a good idea to summarise what happened this week hoping that writing the incident down will help future iterations in explaining this to others. Anyone – if you are familiar with this problem, please reach out as any help is welcome.

Our group created a dedicated DirecterHers email account and related group GitHub repository to publish our website, files, data, and informative material.

I initially placed the folder with my html, css, and javascript files on my desktop, ready for it to be pushed to the new repository. After the creation of a new ad-hoc online repository, I went to my GitBash, or the terminal, and attempted to add the newly created origin, subsequently checking my git status –  I had done this before so I expected to encounter virtually no difficulties in the process. Bizarrely, I noticed that the files listed as ‘ready for staging’ were numerous and certainly not in the dedicated dh praxis prject folder; in this sense, it appeared that git was showing me the files which were living on my desktop. To begin with, I did not think too much of it, and chose to add the newly created online origin once more. And then, the fatal error: the decision to attempt to add all files for staging under the wrong assumption that this could be an easy test to better understand the problem (command: git add -A). All the files on my desktops magically disappeared, other than 3 folders which had already been pushed to my personal repository.  The worst part had yet to come – when trying to restore those files, the stuff in the dx praxis folder also suddenly disappeared. Below the fatal command and the routes tried to restore the lost files.

407  git remote add origin  408  git status (mmm something is wrong here)   410  git add -A (maybe this will help)   412  git status (shite, all my personal files are gone)   413  git restore (double shite nothing is working)   414  git restore -A   416  git restore   417  git reset –hard (triple shite! Directhers files are also gone)    418  git status   423  cd desktop   424  history   425  cd desktop   426  cd dh_praxis   427  git reflog    428  cd desktop   431  git reflog   433  cd dh_praxis   434  git reflog   435  git reset –hard   436  git status   438  cd desktop   439  git reset –hard   440  git reflog   443  cd desktop   444  git reset   445  git checkout deletedfile   446  cd desktop   447  cd dh_praxis   448  git checkout deletedFile   449  git switch master   450  git switch main   451  git switch master   452  git restore   453  git restore –hard   454  git restore–staged  456  git rm –cached

It gradually became clear that nothing would work, especially after realising that reverting staged items is one of the most difficult things to do (based on the various forums on this topic).  Nevertheless, I made further attempts, also with the help of Filipa and Zico.

Finally, we identified the origin of the issue, which was that I had made (evidently by mistake and certainly due to my inexperience) my .git folder on the desktop the origin (not sure whether this makes sense, but it is the only way in which I can explain this), which meant that .git was tracking all the files on my desktop.

I managed to find a folder called lost-and-found in the .git folder and, with the help of Zico, understood that the files contained in it were blobs (binary large objects collecting binary data stored as a single entities). These files presented themselves without an extension and seemed very difficult to decipher (snippet below). I used the below commands to try and isolate some letters in the titles that would help me to match string with relative extension.

grep -e html -r ./  OR grep -e PDF-r ./Blobs

At present, I am still in the process of recovering my files. On the bright side, I found 3 of the files that belonged to the original DirectHers folder and I am hoping to find more in the next few hours.

Clearly, the .git folder is destined to oblivion and I no longer wanna see it sitting on my desktop threatening my poor files!

What a week!! I really felt sorry for all those times where I made fun of my mum claiming to have lost her data while typing in Word!Come on mum, not possible !! You know what, it is possible, and it can happen! Note to future self: never (ever) make jokes of older family members claiming to have suddenly lost their files! Ah, last but not least: back up your files!

GS: Journal Entry (9/12), 19th April

Dear Journal,

First and foremost, I hope everyone had a fantastic break! Our team managed to get some ‘breathing space’ as everyone had the chance to either travel or see their beloved ones – or both! Nevertheless, we all kept working with alacrity on the project.

The research team provided additional directors’ bios and further contents to upload to our website, and compiled more XML files which are in the process of being reviewed for the search engine functionality. Personally, I have connected with almost everyone during the break to chat about how to manage online contents and what to display in our final webpage.

The list of tags has grown exponentially, which was somehow expected considering how difficult it is to map one’s life (especially someone we do not personally know) based on what is available online.  Work is in progress to consolidate the list we currently have and related definitions.

It is noticeable how the project has shifted from a relatively niche subset of filmmakers to a much broader pool of artists – I believe the more we explore the more we find unrecognized talents (particularly women) across a vast range of regions. In this sense, we are attempting to find an easy way to present our efforts during the final presentation as we are in agreement on how difficult it might be for someone outside our project to get a clear grasp of the purpose of our ‘datification’ mission.


DirectHERS – Week 8 Group Update

During the last few days the team has been deployed on two different fronts, one is the ongoing encoding activity and the other is the construction of the website which will be the used to display some of our work.

Just a reminder, the outcome of the work we are doing is destined to sit “behind the scenes”, which means that the data we are creating will, hopefully, be part of, or contribute to, bigger and more established projects that would have a greater capacity to leverage existing, and already operational, search engines.

With this in mind, our website will be the testimony of our efforts in both learning, often creatively, how to research, review, catalogue and encode information that are not necessarily widely available nor particularly well indexed, and yes, we know that this might not be the most visually appealing outcome, BUT we are committed to do our best to make the design experience as pleasant as possible for our readers!

The palette of colours chosen is displayed below; these are also the wonderful colours of our logo!Website Palette

Under review: the font, so far we have shortlisted a bunch, but we still need to agree on one; we have used, mainly because it offers a wide variety of free options.

The idea is to have a navigation bar on top with a few tabs that will be used to move from one page to another. So far, we have included our bios, a short ‘about’ section, the project inspiration and the research part. In the pipeline: a space dedicated to tutorials and resources where to upload training material and encoding notes.  Yet to be added: our social, which will have a dedicated tab.

We are currently working on integrating a pseudo search engine which could be seen as a pilot version of what the product of our work could look like “from the stage” (just to carry on with the theatre metaphor!).

Website landing page

Tech note: the website is being constructed locally and a pilot version will be pushed to our GitHub repository later on this month. This means that the website is not yet available to be accessed by external users. On the search engine: the team is exploring 3 different avenues that could help upload a mini XML database and make it searchable.


Feminist Markup Project: Data Management Plan – Group Project Update

Hi Class,

Here you’ll find our Data Management Plan (DMP). We kept it high-level as things might evolve through the implementation phase. It is in PDF, so hopefully there will be no compatibility issues with any of your devices.

Data Management Plan

Kindly be aware that we are currently working on the re-branding of the name of our project and we will provide an update tomorrow night.

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

The Feminist Markup Project Team


GS personal bio

GS: developer, co-encoder, and co-researcher for the Feminist Markup JWDP project

Gemma is a governance and control specialist whose expertise is deployed across three of the main European financial markets (London, Paris, and Frankfurt); she has an accounting background and holds a Master’s degree in Economics but, in her free time, keeps cultivating her passion for the literature classics and theatre.
Her BAU mainly consists of running independent investigations on operational errors and blockages of various nature that could prevent trading activities, including electronic and algorithmic issues.
Gemma’s decision to join the Feminist Markup JWDP is not just driven by her interest in learning more about text encoding, but also by the vision of the project which is to tackle an almost unchartered territory in a way that could be understood, and potentially replicated, by others.
At this stage, her tasks rotate around two main pillars: researching Japanese women directors and attempting to encode any related relevant (significance is something that the team is continuously and collectively working on) information in XML. Later, her attention will be diverted to the development of a platform, most likely a website, to display the results of the encoding process and, possibly, the outcome, either partial or complete, of the database built throughout the semester.

GS: Journal Entry (1/12), 06th Feb

*Is this the right place to publish the personal blog?*

Dear No Frills Journal,

Unlike my previous posts, I will try to keep you concise and not too poetic nor academic.

Our last DH session was quite something, I enjoyed presenting and, despite the anxiety and the long preparation, I felt very supported by the class; listening to other students’ projects was also a great exercise! In the end, I would have happily joined any of the them as they were (and are) all equally fascinating and nicely challenging.  Ultimately, I joined Miaoling’s group with her Feminist Interventions: Designing Descriptive Markup for the Japanese Women Directors Project.

The group (Miaoling, Maria, and JP) has already exchanged a number of emails and messages discussing some vital points including the original project proposal, the preferred communication channel, and the setup of our first meeting. We have definitely started off on the right food! I won’t deny that I’m quite excited to get my hands dirty with the research piece and related XML encoding.

I think it could be a good idea to bring our group’s personal journal entries together and migrate them to a separate space, however, this might add extra work, so let’s see what the group decides during our first meeting.

Meanwhile, I checked out the resources listed on this site, last tab on the right, and wow! So much good stuff; the tutorial section is formidable and I believe it’ll become handy very soon.

I’m separately working on my capstone, which is currently feeling like a stranded vessel that passively, and inefficiently, occupies a lot of headspace that badly needs some clear up! Suggestions are welcome!

I’d say it’s pretty much it for the moment (less than 300 words yeyyy!) – cheers!

Gemma’s skillset

Everyone, your skillsets are amazing! I wanted to leave a reply to each one of your posts, but it would have taken ages, so I will summarise my thoughts by letting you know how thankful I am for your openness in sharing your expertise, and how much I am looking forward to learning from you all!

Data – This is my specialty! My principal areas of focus are normally data accuracy, data integrity, and data validation or, as I like to call it, apples with apples. Due to my profession, I typically work on big trade data queries in order to reconciliate information and provide auditors or financial watchdogs clear and readable datasets. I have worked on all sort of data cleaning processes and applied various standardisation and normalisation techniques. Additionally, I have an in-depth understanding of statistical indicators and their differentiating features which, based on context and information available, might make one measure more significant than another.

Research – I am very proud of my research skills, I am committed to find every possible bit of information available about anything I am interested in or required for any assigned tasks; I am comfortable with consulting catalogues, archives, data lakes, and other available materials. I have a relatively critical approach, which partly stems from my job, and I tend to fact-check everything, always operating on the assumption that there’s a missing piece somewhere or some misconstrued figures (not always the case clearly, but I was given a strong dose of cynicism when I was little)

Programming and IT skills (miscellaneous) – Through the course of the previous semesters, I have developed a good understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (particularly .D3); I have used Leaflet a fair amount and built a GitHub repository which contains a few websites now. Among other data viz tools, I have learnt to use Tableau, however, I am not a fan – I think some of its applications can lead to poor data representations. I can do basic coding in Python, and I am self-sufficient in teaching myself how to manipulate big data with it. I know how to use WordPress and its main features. As strange as it might sound, I’m familiar with Haskell programming language, but I don’t think anyone uses it these days. I’m an advanced Excel and VBA user, especially when it comes to data cleaning, preparation, and automation of repetitive tasks. I have a good grasp of algorithmic trading, circuit breakers, and performance optimisation – these might be useful in the grand scheme of understanding automations, but not necessarily to power any of the projects suggested. In general, I’d be very enthusiastic to shadow anyone who has more experience than me in any of the above software and tools or other and new ones!

Outreach & social media – In-person social network activities and related follow-ups are tasks I am very comfortable with; I tend to leverage my network to connect people, get help, get funds for causes I believe in, and learn from others; on the other hand though, I don’t have a social media presence and this is the result of a thorough and conscious decision process, however, I appreciate the fact that this could be debilitating in successfully promote and present any project to new audiences. If you’re looking for social media power, I’m not you person. Conversely, if you need someone to knock at every door in NY, cold call random people, and find creative ways of reaching out some notoriously inaccessible individuals, here I am, ready for the challenge!

Design – This is going to be the shortest section: delighted to be rescued by anyone who is keen to share their knowledge around design principles and design techniques! I have never tried any online (or even offline) design tools – but I can be a good student, so anyone who is open to teach me, I’d be extremely grateful.

Project Management – happy to leave this joy to someone else; I have seen that many of you have this skill to offer, so I’ll gladly take your guidance here and save my PM know-how for the next big project.

Project Pitch: You’re the Author, DHer!

Let me echo the previous posts: it was so great to see everyone in person on Wednesday; it is quite exciting to embark on this new academic (and personal) adventure together!

In our next class, I will be pitching my project; mainly for two reasons: firstly, because it has a fantastic potential and it truly is a collective project, jointly made and powered by DH students throughout the course of the year; secondly, and slightly more selfishly, because it is an opportunity for me to present in front of a friendly audience to gather your feedback on those public speaking aspects that need development – I’m not a natural, but I’m making an effort to improve.

The project is quite exciting, and it is clear in what the final achievement should be: a harmonious collection of our blog posts, in the form of either a digital archive or an online (or potentially even hybrid) publication.  I have included more info below, but I want you to know that I am very happy to donate this project to someone who is keen to be the team leader and steer its development through the various phases.

It is a wonderful palace – vast, strange, new and impossible to describe. Its grandeur does not consist in one thing, but in the unique assemblage of all things” (Charlotte Brontë on the Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace, London 1851)

The Premise

Students of the Introduction to Digital Humanities (DHUM 7000) hail from all sorts of backgrounds and geographies, they draw from the most diverse range of experiences when discussing academic matters, but can operate cohesively to address social justice issues, institutionalised superstructures, and, broadly speaking, can work harmoniously to distil the role of the Digital Humanities in the contemporary landscape. Hence, their online content production is incredibly heterogeneous and grounded in a great variety of worlds and cultures.

As of January 2023, the course online shared space hosts, between posts and related replies, more than 200 blog entries on an array of topics that includes weekly readings, DH praxis assignments, seminars and workshops attendance, and personal views on class discussions and DH news. In other words, this online repository represents the collective digital footprint of the class. As such, structure, context, and interactivity are the fundamental requirements that could drive its uses and applications in uncharted ways.

The Aspiration

The end goal of the proposed project is the preservation of said footprint through the creation of an online collection of CUNY students’ blog posts, which are digital objects that require adequate organisation to ensure future availability and utility, while concurrently acknowledging the role of students not just as learners but as knowledge producers, thus formally recognising their contributions.

This project will look at what steps need to be undertaken in order to organise this knowledge, integrate its sources and inspirations, display it in a user-friendly way, and make it available over time to a number of different audiences.

What’s new?

While annotations and blog posts are appreciated from an input perspective, their role as academic output is not necessarily thought of as knowledge itself, resulting in a missed opportunity to present it for future iterations, subjecting it to an archiving system, researching and revising it, and, if needed, improving, or extending it.

As emphasised by Trevor Owens in his 800 posts later reflections on teaching digital history with a public course blog, the class blog assumes a cognitive role which entails a gradual swing from the more conventional passive phase of information processing and knowledge acquisition to a more active knowledge creation stage. The blog becomes a vivid testimony of students’ production and collaboration, which no longer translates into the simple achievement of a learning goal, but morphs into new knowledge, which can serve other individuals who could leverage it in future iterations.

 The Audiences & the Future

This knowledge sharing practice, if presented in a coherent framework and through an accessible and easy navigable digital platform, could have multiple applications; for example, it could:

  • help students who have concluded the semester to officially reference their blog post work or source from a specific dialogue with fellow students;
  • be utilised by current students of other majors to draw interdisciplinary connections;
  • become an instructional design tool for professors and lecturers when creating syllabi and selecting reading materials;
  • be useful for future students who either freshly approach the subject or are interested in investigating how the field has changed and developed across different generations;
  • serve as a publication for student authors, and, finally;
  • this blog sharing practice might grow into a great resource for linguists and scholars who wish to analyse students’ discourse and ways of interacting on academic online media.

The Challenge and the Plan

Without reorganisation, students’ blog posts might appear as a discordant, often disparate, assemblage of digital objects which could discourage future readings (and readers). Students’ online comments and blog posts are often asynchronous; they have dissimilar composing styles and layouts; they might discuss very different topics within the same suggested subject; and, sometimes, they simply do not stem from the class required readings.

More to come during the pitch, but here the high-level, simplified, phases:

  • Blog scraping (including multimedia contents).
  • Outreach to authors with the purpose of i) obtaining a formal approval to edit and publish their posts, and ii) collecting their preference around anonymity, pseudonymity, or full authorship disclosure.
  • Manual review of scraped blog posts aimed at unfolding authors’ drivers, references, and interconnectivity dynamics.
  • Content display design (some inspirations here “Final Becoming Ethnographers” on Manifold @CUNY (, hypotheses – Academic blogs, COVID (Re)Collections, CLIR, covidmemory
  • Feasibility analysis: CUNY software and platforms vs building a brand-new website or leveraging other open-source content management systems.
  • Digital creation of the archive or publication (I appreciate this is quite generic, but this phase really is propaedeutic to the group’s decisions on archive vs publication and its layout/design).
  • QA and Testing.
  • Outreach and dissemination.

The Ideal Team

  • The project manager (or, as I call it, the chasing techniques expert)
  • The tech savvy, not scared of getting dirty in meandering the worlds of Manifold and CUNY in a BOX, but also able to pursue more typical routes such as website creation from scratch;
  • The creative mind, capable of bringing to life and concretely draw initially confused thoughts and bizarre ideas;
  • The editor and DH content management expert, in charge of reviewing the posts, aligning them to their references and inspirations, and responsible for drawing the relevant connections in order to transform posts into a continuous dialogue of intertwined parts;
  • Anyone who is happy to help and support the project!!