Spring 2020

Image: Metagenomic Data Visualization, 2016 | Designed by Stamen Design and Eric Rodenbeckhttps://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318798835/

COMP/MCST 194: Introduction to Data Storytelling

MWF 1:10 PM | Library 250

Instructor Information:

Aisling Quigley, PhD | aquigley@macalester.edu

Before switch to remote: Office hours- Mondays 3-4 pm, Thursdays 11:45am-1pm

After switch to remote: Office hours- Wednesdays 1-2 pm (Slack), Fridays 1-2 pm (Zoom)

Course Description

What does it mean to represent "culture" by "data"? - Lev Manovich

What are the truths and falsehoods that data and databases tell us about contemporary culture? Increasingly, computational methods are being used to ask questions and look for patterns in cultural data (from museums, libraries, archives, and elsewhere). This class provides an introduction to some of the methods and tools used to investigate data and datasets, while encouraging critical engagement with a number of humanities-based research questions surrounding them. Students will consider ethical and design questions encompassing the collection, analysis, and presentation of data through class conversations and the process of creating their own digital projects.


You’ll emerge from this class with the ability to:

  • Collect, curate, analyze, and present data
  • Critically engage with data collections, considering their content, context, and structure
  • Confidently experiment with digital tools
  • Balance the discoverability component of playing with digital tools with the very real possibility/probability of failure (“productive” failure)
  • Manage and design a digital project that tells a story about data


This syllabus was inspired by the work of many others, including Rahul Bhargava, Chelsea Gunn, Lauren Klein, Alison Langmead, Kristen Mapes, Miriam Posner, Annette Vee, Roger Whitson

Tools I used to present in class: