25 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2018
    1. I wonder if this project, if it combines with oral history, if it combines with other programs that add nuance and texture to Palestinian life, can stand in opposition to narratives that just say “Palestinians want to kill us and throw us in the sea.” If we can use all of these tools to enhance the image that Israeli Jews have of of Palestinians then maybe we can reach a solution before it’s too late.

      Tool for peacemaking and reconciliation.

    2. Among those people who came were lot of South Asians. Personally, I feel a lot of solidarity with South Asian people because we’ve both been colonized by the United Kingdom. One of the lines that I had in my demo is, the British loved making maps. And there’s always this mutual look of recognition whenever there is a South Asian person in the crowd that I’m demo-ing to. They smile and I can catch it and there’s this moment of solidarity between us. There’s mutual understanding even if we don’t have to explicitly say it.
    3. How can we use the tools of openness to extend our goals of democracy and participation and representation?
    4. the tool to accomplish our goal, which is having democratic representation of ourselves, is openness, with all of its permutations.

      Openness as tool to achieve democratic representation.

    5. What this fellowship has given me is access to that network and a chance to connect people and disparate projects together with the weight of the three big organizations that are sponsoring this fellowship: Mozilla, Creative Commons, and WikiMedia.
    6. If there’s one thing that this fellowship has given me, it’s access to that network of people who have similar beliefs, who have been touched by the same values that Bassel was striving towards. Access to all of the people in his community.

      Impact of fellowship. Access to community and network.

    7. One of the major goals for the oral history archival tool is that we wanted to point out all of the epistemological decisions and ontological decisions that an archivist has to make when they’re creating an archive. So something as basic as do you do transcription or do you do segmentation? It’s a big question mark because there are schools of people who are very strict adherents of one way or another of doing oral history archiving.

      Effects of achival decisionmaking.

    8. One of my major inspirations is the New York Public Library’s NYC Space/Time Directory, which digitized maps of New York that were made by fire insurance companies.
    9. One of my major inspirations is the New York Public Library’s NYC Space/Time Directory, which digitized maps of New York that were made by fire insurance companies. One of my favorite geographers and cartographers, her name is Leah Meisterlin, has done amazing work on cross-referencing different data sets with the fire insurance maps data set. So, after it was vectorized by the Space/Time team, she overlaid that data with other data and she came up with this really nuanced vision of what New York looked like in the 1800s. Where the rich people lived, where the poor people lived, as well as the class distribution. It’s so fascinating! This place where we walk right now, it used to be inhabited by people and this is what the character of this neighborhood looked like 100 years ago, 150 years ago. If I can do the same thing with Palestine Open Maps for Palestine, that would be an amazing thing for me.

      Inspiration. Ripple effects.

    10. How can we build storytelling tools based on those maps that reveal the nuance of Palestinian life over the long term?
    11. All of this means that the only way to make this project sustainable is to turn it into an open source project that has a lot of different institutions invested in it so that we can have a front-end developer and a back-end developer who can spend one or two days a week making sure that it’s running smoothly. A big challenge for me is figuring out how can we activate an open source community around this project — specifically in this region. We need to consolidate the power of the open community so that our projects become more sustainable over the long term, both technically and financially.

      Needs over longer term. How people can help.

    12. And then in the Arab world, there’s a lot of technical people, but the good geeks — the nerds that we rely on to build our tools — everyone just leaves and goes to Europe or North America. There is a huge brain drain and when you want to start building a platform like this one, especially when we first started — before I got the fellowship that’s helping me build the platform now — I didn’t have much time to develop it. It was a very slow process of me wrangling in a few hours here and there to work on development. It was also trying to get people to learn front-end frameworks for Javascript so that we could build it in a modular way that doesn’t turn into spaghetti code and become completely unsustainable a year later. I had to convince people to learn Vue.js as a front-end development framework. We just don’t have enough technical people who could help us grow this project to its full potential. The project has so much potential, and it gets people excited so much, but we don’t have the technical capacity to take it to the next step because it’s just me and a couple of other people very-part time right now. Everyone else who can help is in a different country and is unable to help on this.

      Tech activist brain drain in arab world.

    13. Then eventually, ironically enough, we found them in the Israeli National Library Archives. They’re all scanned at very high resolutions, which is perfect for us. But if you go to the website, the content management system that they use doesn’t give you the entire image. You can’t just download the entire image. If you right-click on it, it gives you a smaller section. Also: You can’t access .il Israeli domain names from Lebanon because the two countries are at war. So we have to circumvent that and use Dropbox to download all of the files, and write a script that takes every tile, stitches them together, and saves them back to Dropbox. It was a very elaborate process technically to circumvent all of those restrictions — whether they’re technical or political — and get those maps. So that’s one thing.

      Technical challenges because of political situation

    14. I think that’s the biggest success of this project: Using the power of technology, turning this abstract concept of Palestine that we’ve been told about as children — this is your homeland and this is the place where you belong — turning that into something that’s really tangible.
    15. Whenever a place is mentioned in those narratives and those interviews, can we have it pinpointed on the map? And then can you hear the story about that place?
    16. There are all of these nuances about our lives as Palestinians that have been systematically erased that we can actually extract again out of these maps and reconstruct.
    17. You can understand your own history and you can have a different understanding of your own history by taking a critical look at the archives.

      Reading against the archival grain.

    18. They made highly detailed maps and now, as the victims of that colonization, we Palestinians can read those maps with a purpose that’s completely different from the purpose that they were intended for by the colonizers.

      Reading against the archival grain.

    19. Finally I know what my grandma’s talking about. Even if I can’t access it today, at least there’s this physical remnant that has been left to us. It’s particularly interesting if you’re thinking about archives. I learned this because I’m more of a technical person so I’m not as well-versed in the terminology of the philosophy of archives. But my collaborator, Hana Sleima [see also: Constructing a Palestinian Oral History Archive], taught me this term: “reading against the archival grain”.
    20. My grandmother is still alive and she was born in Palestine. She was one of the people that was ethnically cleansed during the Nakba and she hasn’t been back since. She was 11 years old when it happened so she remembers what it was like. I grew up listening to her talking about our house in Palestine and I know that the village doesn’t exist anymore. It’s been completely destroyed and in its place there’s a forest, a South African memorial forest, a European pine forest. She can name a few places but because they don’t exist anymore you don’t know what those places are. Because she was only 11 years old she doesn’t have that grasp on geography. But when I got the maps I looked them up. Last summer I was visiting my family — they live in Kitchener/Waterloo, close to Toronto. My grandma was there and I was asking her, Teta, can you describe your house to me again? So she started describing and she was like, oh, it’s on top of the hill called El Khirba. And I looked at the map and there it was: El Khirba. It was labeled on that map. Then she was like, if you look from our house qibli (in the direction of Mecca, south) you would see Esh Shajara, the other village, and sure enough it’s on the map. If you go there right now wouldn’t see it but on the map it’s right there. It’s directly south. She would describe all of those landmarks and those features and, sure enough, they’re on their map. To me, it’s extremely profound. Finally I know what my grandma’s talking about. Even if I can’t access it today, at least there’s this physical remnant that has been left to us. It’s particularly interesting if you’re thinking about archives. I learned this because I’m more of a technical person so I’m not as well-versed in the terminology of the philosophy of archives. But my collaborator, Hana Sleima [see also: Constructing a Palestinian Oral History Archive], taught me this term: “reading against the archival grain”.

      Using archival maps and oral history. Reading against the archival grain.

    21. Now we have a community that’s excited about finally having a way to archive and publish their collections.
    22. As Palestinians, most of us have not seen what our villages look like. Before I saw those maps, I only knew of one surviving photo of my village and now I have a more textured view.

      Maps add nuance and texture to memories.

    23. I started thinking about how to activate the community around the mapping and issues of mapping. Because, for example, there is no one authoritative map of Beirut that you can get, especially of buildings of Beirut. On OpenStreetMap there are areas where some active mapper lives, so you can find all of the buildings in their neighborhood. But they’re drawn from satellite imagery so they’re not very accurate. But there’s no comprehensive map of Beirut. I’m trying to think about how can we use OpenStreetMap to engage the community in mapping efforts to make sure that their communities are on the map — literally — and connecting that with other sources of data, so that organizations like like the Beirut Evictions Monitor can use it.
    24. It is not just about the code of the open source software, but also about how community dynamics in its community work, who can contribute, who doesn’t, and so on.

      Importance of community to open projects.

  2. Jun 2018
    1. StoryEngine is way to listen to, support, and create with the people who matter most to an organization or a cause. It can be used to do research, to monitor or evaluate a program, to generate learning, or facilitate grant reporting. StoryEngine is based in-depth interviews that get transformed into stories. These stories are assets — for communications, advocacy, and more — as well as data. Together the stories create larger dataset that can analyzed to surface insights and learning that inform decision-making.

      StoryEngine qualitative methodology.