“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Albert Camus

Category: DH2018

Day Two — Growing Pains

Today was a good reminder that I am a hands-on learner — I can read and read, and until I actually install and use the program(s), I really don’t know what I’m doing. Thankfully, I am finally up and running on ArcGIS Pro (thank you, ODU IT folks, for helping me at a distance!), and while I am glad I’ve spent several months researching and reading about ArcGIS and Python, I realize that my “practice time” wasn’t all that effective. I should say, I quickly realized that I should put away all of my downloads and focus just on ArcGIS Pro, ArcPy, etc. Just work within that platform now, and take it more slowly than I would like.

That said, I spent some quality time just going through tutorials at the website and playing. I have had an idea of what I could do, and how I could do it, but playing with Python as a separate download is just different than interacting with ArcPy/Jupyter and ArcGIS API. I am trying to resist jumping ahead of myself because I want everything to be done now. Creating my first Jupyter notebook, meek as it is, still felt like a success today.

I am trying now to decide what data to include, how to include it — thoughts as I continue to learn and practice what I can do. I have my lists of paper mills, for example, but is it useful to plot them all out, for example? I’m also thinking, certainly, of how to curate layers, and how those layers could interact. Although it feels like I waited too long to get set up with the software, I actually think that having the time to get to know the data sets me up to make better choices.

That’s what I’m telling myself tonight.

A screenshot of my practice map, with the same three papermakers identified. Now using ArcGIS Pro.


Today is the first “official” day of the materialization of my DH project. I will be updating regularly, detailing what I have done, what sources I am using, and what challenges I am encountering. The course of DH did never run smooth…

At this point, I have done a slew of reading, but only just today have I finally been able to upload a very wee CSV file and watch an ArcGIS map populate with a couple of papermakers in business during the 1800s. The tiniest step forward, but an important one! I am currently refreshing my Python skills, looking at how to effectively cull data that does not seem to be cull-friendly, so I can take my three little dots and turn them into a constellation.


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