Frank Elavsky

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Clemson Research Experiences for Undergraduates

Collaborative Data Visualization Applications Summer 2015

Home Institution

Trinity Lutheran College
Everett, Washington

Clemson Research Mentor

Gabriel Hankins
Visualizing Literary Correspondence

Clemson Visualization Mentor

Jill Gemmill
Electrical and Computer Engineering

About Me

Theologian, Philosopher, Digital Humanities Researcher, Data Scientist, Play-Systems Designer

I am interested in studying and understanding mediums of communication and meaning. I have a keen fascination with how humans create things, find meaning in life, and connect with others.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my wife and our dog, playing games and exploring. My wife and I are also co-designing a tabletop game that involves mutual storytelling, character-playing, and narrative building.
Regarding my education, I have studied extensively in a broad variety of fields as a dual-degree student in Theology/Philosophy (B.A.) and Computer Information Systems (B.S.). The areas and disciplines which interest me the most are: play philosophy, gamification, post-structural semiotics, relational ethics, and secularism. I also enjoy topics in information security, data science, and predictive analytics.
Thanks to countless opportunities and privileges given to me I have received several awards and served in various leadership roles: Associated Student Body President, Director of Spiritual Life, TLC's Missional Leadership Program Member, VoFo Head Mentor, Dean's Circle Scholar, Dean's List (12 time recipient), Biblical Languages Scholar Award 2012-2013, LiM Exploration Grant Recipient 2013 (FTE), and member of the ELCA's OFM.
There are few doubts that this NSF REU Site for advanced visualization is going to challenge me in new ways, but also make use of my unique interests and varied skills. I am honored and thankful for all of the known and unknown people who have contributed to my opportunities and successes. I am excited to work alongside brilliant minds and fascinating technologies.

Project Description

Visualizing Literary Correspondence

Working with Gabriel Hankins, we are engaging the methods and issues that arise when you represent and investigate late modern literary correspondence using digital methods. We will investigate the value of visualization as a form of argument and inquiry in order to better understand late modern beliefs and knowledge out of a material network of letters. We intend to co-author an article that summarizes existing work on individual collections of correspondence, archival standards, metadata categories, and new forms of visualization and aggregation (e.g. EMLO, Republic of Letters). The article will close by pointing towards possible research questions and projects in the field of twentieth-century literary correspondence.

VisREU Scholars | Home/Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | XSEDE15

Week 1

Summary of Week One

Monday: This afternoon Gabriel Hankins and I met for a few hours and discussed goals and expectations for this summer. We also talked about possible research questions moving forward, as well as possible sub-questions. We looked at possible research venues and audiences, background material, and tools/resources.
We discussed in broad strokes what the semantic web is, what semantic modeling is about, and in general what digital humanities focuses on (as a discipline). We talked about the 'wild west' that is this new field of research.
Tuesday: We engaged terms, our framework, and our research questions today. We looked over and engaged Hankins' preexisting article, as a starting point (contextually) for the work we will be entering into this summer. I have printed two articles for reading before we meet again tomorrow. The first article is from a peer in the field of Digital Humanities whose research is quite similar to ours. The second article is a valuable resource on why digitial visualization is a scholarly activity, not just peripheral for argumentation, but sometimes central to a thesis. Here are the possible directions for our research:

  • Improving on the process of 'data wrangling' with non-digital mediums across various, non-standardized contexts.
  • Mining large, preexisting data in the humanities and visualizing them
  • Engaging methods of metadata aggregation standards and use in the humanities
Wednesday-Friday: I developed my Palmetto account, put Gephi and my data files in there and began importing the data. I have also started research with four different sources, two books and two journal articles. The project is becoming clear: we are going to see what we can do with RDF formats (many old archival data for humanities is in this format) and try to centralize the importing process, i.e. a database. After we develop a methodology for the data-munging or data-wrangling, which is mostly uncharted territory (no real standards exist for this kind of data), we plan to visualize our networks of correspondence.

Last updated: 07/26/2015