Making Data Matter Syllabus

Making Data Matter Syllabus

See the most updated version of the Syllabus on Google Drive



Making Data Matter


ISIS 290/590
Bass Connections
Information, Society and Culture 

Fall Semester 2013


Course Description

Project Description: Participate in a student- and citizen-led crowdsourcing project that will create access and collaborative opportunities around historically and socially-significant heterogeneous datasets rooted in urban renewal housing records in North Carolina. In the Making Data Matter project, the project team will focus on designing new tools and methods for social engagement, use primary sources and big data to inform ethical urban planning, and work as a collaborative, interdisciplinary team on active research. For more information about Making Data Matter, see our .

Learning objectives: Understanding “big data” in a transformative real-world context while mastering and designing cutting-edge tools and methods.

In Making Data Matter, you will:

  • Create access to historically and socially significant large spatial and temporal heterogeneous datasets
  • Examine deep ethical issues as well as technical ones about big data
  • Develop new kinds of open source tools for better analysis of records, artifacts, maps, images, text and oral narratives
  • Work across the human and social sciences, the computational sciences, engineering, mathematics, urban and environmental planning, and with libraries, labs and community space
  • Scan and digitize primary sources and complete collection indexing
  • Co-create crowdsourced GIS software (learn more about the Big Board environment Visualize and analyze digital maps
  • Understand urban growth policy

Team Leaders

  • Cathy N. Davidson, Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies,
  • Jeff Heard, Senior Research Software Developer at RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute),
  • Joel Herndon, Head of Data and GIS Services, Duke University,
  • Richard Marciano,Sustainable Archives & Leveraging Technologies group (SALT),
  • Jonna McKone, Bass Connections "Making Data Matter" Staff Assistant
  • Ken Mitchell, Assistant Director of Information Technology Services, Duke University,
  • Priscilla Ndiaye, Chair of Southside Community Advisory Board, Southside Asheville native, community advocate
  • Molly Tamarkin, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology at Duke University,

Course Requirements and Due Dates  

Friday, October 11, 2013, 5:00 pm: First Blog Post for Project Prospectus 

Register for an account on HASTAC’s website (, and join the Making Data Matter Group. You must register with a pseudonym. The registration form will ask for a bio. Please simply indicate that you are a “participant in Making Data Matters.” When you post content to the group, there is a toggle that will allow you to make your post public or private to just the group members, and the default is public. 

Your blog post should discuss the scope of your project for the semester, your methodology, your objectives, and timeline. It is a “What I plan to do…” statement, and should be at least 500 words. Please feel free to include code, images, or any other illustrative matter, while observing ethical practices around confidentiality. 

Week of December 2, 2013, Date and Time TBD: 15-20 Minute Public Presentation of Project Work 

This is a 15-20 minute public presentation or demonstration, which should include a PowerPoint, Presi or some other presentation format about your project work for the semester. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 5:00 pm: Final Blog Post about Project Completion 

Your blog post should discuss the work you did for your project, any alterations to your methodology, reflections, surprises, conclusions, and accomplishments. This is your “What I did…” statement, and should be at least 500 words. This should include the slides, url, pdf, or other materials used for your public presentation. 

Previously Attached Documents: 

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