Open Street Map – Review

As part of my second assignment for my Digital Tools and Methodologies module, we were told to review OpenStreetMap. This is an open source mapping website that allows registered users to contribute to the website. If you’re not signed up, then all you can do is view what has been contributed by many others.

My process: 

First of all, I visited to learn how to edit the map. Like any new toy, you read the instructions first. It was very visual, which I found to be extremely helpful.

I decided to start off with my own hometown, since I would have more information about it, but it seemed to be mapped pretty well. My own estate was mapped but wasn’t named, so I decided to add that in. My area mustn’t have been updated in quite a while because Eddie Rockets, in Blackpool, has been replaced by a diner called Rockin’ Joes. So I made a few changes, also moving Lifestyle sports to the correct building.

I then decided to see if my primary school and secondary school in Glanmire were mapped. This area didn’t seem like a lot of focus went into it. My primary school wasn’t even acknowledged, so I decided to add it in.Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.19.00Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.18.45

Then I checked my secondary school and realised that there was a “h” missing at the end of the name, so I fixed that. Also, the school cafeteria was named as a gym so I had to change that, and I also added in the swimming pool as a building.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 12.23.25

Going through this whole process I’ve noticed a few pros and a few cons.


  • The user interface is attractive, and is very visual with icons.
  • The tools, eg: using a polygon to add a line or area, is very easy to use.
  • It allows anyone to contribute, once they have an account.
  • There is a delay from when you change something, to when it actually appears on the map for viewers, because it has to be reviewed. So information added as a joke, won’t be as funny if it takes a while to show.
  • Various options to choose from, to describe the area/building you’re mapping


  • As it is a crowd sourcing project, it allows anyone to contribute, once they have an account. Which in result, could lead to a lot of wrong information being added.
  • Whatever you add, can be changed by another person that might think that they’re right.

What i’ve learned from this experience: 

I’ve learned how to use this mapping tool, by reading the guidelines and contributing my bit to this project. It’s helped me understand the importance of mapping things correctly, because tourists or even local people that want to find their way around their area , could get lost. And also, the importance of leaving the correct information behind us, because this could be used in the future.

This is the third mapping tool i’ve encountered during my time in this Digital humanities module. I also did a review for my first assignment on a mapping tool called SepiaTown. Mapping tools seem to have grown because of the amount of interest invested in them. People like to know where things are.

How you feel you might be able to apply the spatial or the crowdsourced initiatives in your own work – now or in the future: 

I will be able to use SepiaTown in the future if i’m ever looking for a historical image that applies to whatever project i’m involved in.

I’m not sure yet what I would use Open Street Map for, but it’s seems like a reliable enough source that I could use any data it displays and be sure that it’s credible. Thus, using it in whatever project i’m involved in.

I do find these digital mapping tools to be very interesting, and I’m positive I will be searching for more spatial and crowdsourced initiatives to expand my knowledge for future projects of mine.


Review of SepiaTown

Assignment 1: Reviewing a DH Tool

Megan Desmond

The Digital Humanities Tool that I have chosen to review for this assignment is SepiaTown.

Gathering Information

SepiaTown is an online digital tool that maps historical images around the world. It’s as they describe it, “a cultural history project”. The makers of this Website’s goal is to “provide a window to the past by merging photography, Geography and Technology, as well as a forum for institutions and individuals to share and map historical images”.

I found this Digital Tool in the DIRT Directory when I browsed through the “Mapping” category. I clicked the link that was provided, , and it brought me straight to the SepiaTown website.

I checked the site’s identity by viewing the site’s information, to the left of the URL, and it stated that the site hasn’t provided the browser with a certificate. However, this is deemed as “normal for regular HTTP sites because certificates are usually provided only if the site uses SSL.

While I was registering, it asked me if I was an organization, and if so, to state my number, web-address, address, and to give them a description of the type of organization or collector that we were, or collection that we had.

SepiaTown is a website that has an interactive Google-Map displayed on the homepage, which allows you to search for historical images all over the world, in the exact place that they were taken then. They love to describe them as “Then & Now” images.

The site has a great layout, and provides any information possible that is frequently searched by users. It even has it’s very own Image Guidelines as to who can upload and what can be uploaded. They have strict rules that either you have to be the copyright holder of the image to upload it onto the website, or the image is in the public domain, has been given a creative commons licenses which would make it acceptable to upload and that you follow all the protocols of that license.

In regards to what can be uploaded, a picture more recent than 1985 is not acceptable, taking in the fact we’re in 2015 now. They like the image age to be at least 30. When uploading your image, they would prefer the image to be placed accurately on the map. If the image is a portrait, it either has to display a good amount of the location, or of a person of significant historical interest to be added to the SepiaTown map. Any graphic subject matter (Violence/Sexual Imagery) is rarely allowed, but, as I will state later in regard to a Road Map, they hope to build a filtering system that will allow the upload of images from an important part of history, that naturally would be inappropriate for certain ages.

When you’ve followed these guidelines, each image you upload gets it’s own page and permanent URL, along with it’s own comments section and a “share link”. If you come across a photo that doesn’t match the criteria, or a problem with the website, you can report it on the Report a Problem page.

There is a Latest Uploads page that lets you view what’s been recently added onto the interactive map around the world.

When I searched for Research Articles on this tool, I used the search engines Google Scholar, and DuckDuckGo, and all that arose was small reviews from magazines that SepiaTown had previously linked to their page in their Press section. All were good, but none fit my criteria of being a “research” article. I changed my wording to a “discussion” about the tool, and I found this small, but useful review from a website called . This teacher showed their take on the tool, and said that it would be perfect for a projector/interactive whiteboard while teaching a class like history, or before they would go on field trips, so they could view the “Then & Now” pictures.

Maturity/stability of the tool

From my research, the tool was made in 2010, and looks somewhat the same as it did then, feature-wise. But, in the FAQ section of SepiaTown’s page, there is a title called “The Future of SepiaTown”. They state that they are working hard as we speak, on several new features that will make the user’s experience better, from Improved search capabilities and uploader profiles, to a cool new mapping game.

The creators, Jon Protas, Eric Warren, and Eric Lehnartz, believe that SepiaTown is still in it’s “infancy”, and in the coming months it will be growing in it’s scope and offerings. Their Roadmap for the future entails an enhanced member presence within the core SepiaTown website by:

having greater community interaction opportunities, embedded SepiaTown technology for member websites, more options for uploaded media types, a mobile experience, and opportunities for members to generate revenues by leveraging their archives”. So there isn’t an app for phones or tablets at the moment, but the process of making one has begun, with on-location viewing becoming available in the near future.

Sustainability of the tool

As I stated above, the tool has been available since 2010, along with the creation of the tool’s social media pages. It doesn’t seem that they have a strong community supporting them in relation to the amount of followers or “likes” that they have built up over the years. Their twitter page @SepiaTown has 524 followers, and their last tweet was May 2014. That’s nearly a full year ago, so they don’t seem to have the urge to build this website, as they claim they do on their own website, which was last updated Jan 2015. They have a collective 1,361 likes on Facebook which their last update on that was March 2012, and on Pinterest they have 27 followers in total. Not much for an up and coming tool. They also have a blog, that they link on their own website with their Twitter and Facebook, and their last blogpost was Jan 2012.

SepiaTown is not an open-source website where you can contribute code to their page to improve it, however you cam contribute photos that you own, to help build the website even more.

There is no export tool on this website. It’s an online based mapping tool that you’ll have to connect to the internet to experience it’s features.

Sustainability of your research

This website is information filled, with how-to’s on everything you need to know about the site and using it. So it’s very clear to the user straight away how easy this tool is, and enjoyable at the same time.

I was confused at first how to even work out what to click on this website, because there’s so much going on, on the screen. But I was steered in the right direction by the information toolbar on the top right-hand corner, which told me everything I needed to know and answered any question I had previously thought. Everything I have stated is verifiable and reproducible and you can see for yourself if you visit the website, or the research articles I have mentioned.

Finishing my research on this tool, I evaluated how unique it is, and how much it would appeal to the common history enthusiast or even a life enthusiast. It displays the impact history had on certain buildings, the role science had on technology. For example, in images these days you’d see cars, telephone wires, etc. The difference between culture and dress sense would be astounding to notice if you were never born in that era, and if you were, the nostalgia would come flooding back. Since learning about all the new features that are to come from this tool, I’m even more intrigued than I was to begin with and I’m looking forward to see what the future holds for SepiaTown.

I got 99 problems but Python ain’t one

Friday morning, the results for UCC’s christmas exams came out. And the exam that everyone was dreading hearing the results for was Python.

Python is a programming language, and without it we wouldn’t have YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Dropbox, Spotify, various apps in Google etc… so I kind of get how it’s an important subject. But for us 1st year Digital Humanists, we couldn’t handle it from the beginning, because of being thrown into the Python module with a Masters class.

Alas, we got the help we needed and because of that help I PASSED! Somehow, it even beat one of my other modules that I had gotten results for, so I’m buzzing anyway. Towards the end of semester 1 I started to like learning python, because I understood it. So maybe I’m not completely done with my Python journey

Going for Gold

So, I’m doing this thing called Gaisce – The Presidents Award, and if anyone has never heard of it, it’s the most prestigious Award in Ireland for young people aged 15 to 25. It’s described as a self-directed personal development programme. I’ve been a part of this since I was in fourth year, and have so far achieved the bronze and the silver award. The last stop is Gold, and if I complete this I’m a pure legend. But more importantly, I get to meet Mr. President himself Michael D. Higgins.

As the Website states :

“Gaisce is an old Irish word which means ‘a great achievement’ and it is in the spirit of this meaning that the programme challenges  young people to set and pursue personal goals in four different areas of activity:

  • Community Involvement
  • Personal Skills
  • Physical Recreation
  • Adventure Journey”

So a lot of shtuff is needed lets say.

I ventured off on a cold, wet January morning for my 4 day excursion of Cill Airne (Irish for Killarney if you’re not Irish folk). The friends and memories that were made added to the experience. But also the absolute shite weather! Here’s a small account of what went down.

Day 1:

We got on the wrong train. Off we were to Dublin. Luckily enough, before we got to Mallow, we realised. Got on the right train an hour later, our adventure begins again. Arrived at the train station in Killarney, our walking begins there. Got to the hostel, quickly changed into my oversized walking gear, looking very attractive indeed. Took a few pics all jolly outside the Hostel as we headed out on our first 25km walk through the National park. Billy (our leader) had the tunes blaring on his new speaker he got from santa, and it made the walking that much more bearable.


Day 2:

Up bright and early we were, looking forward to our continental breakfast that was promised to us. Buzzing for my croissants so I was. Got down to the kitchen and to our dismay, Bran flakes, corn flakes and toast were awaiting us. I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting croissants, being the French student that I am. But we didn’t complain, we savaged everything. Little did we know it would be the worst day yet. Lets just say we all nearly died that day. 35km in and the rain had gone through most of our clothes and right through to the undies. Not a very comfortable situation to be in when you’ve to walk 35km. I must say, MuckRoss house toilets are kept very clean though. Torc waterfall banjaxed all of our knees with those steps. ( I’m still having problems walking around campus with my knees over it). Silver had completed theirs and got to go home. Gold still had to power through.


Day 3:

Replay of the day before’s morning at the breakfast table. Billy’s speaker had run out of battery. Our hope was lost. We set off for the Gap of Dunloe, and it felt never-ending to get there. Met a few stray dogs on the way, even though they smelled, so did we. We got along. Every pub and hotel we passed were closed (Who picks January for an adventure journey?), so the toilet option for girls was a no-go. All of us were in agony with our knees. It was dark while we were walking back. Never felt so homeless in my life. We played uno that night, bought a chocolate cake on discount in Tesco for celebrations. Few of us stayed up chatting and laughing till the AM.


Day 4:

Had a lie-in because of all the hard work we had done, still made it down before breakfast ended.

“I’m going back to the start”

My father passed on his love of music to me, which I am ever so grateful for, because at a very young age I was exposed to some of the most amazing music ever made. He always had classical music playing for me while I slept in my crib, and I truly believe that this simple act has benefitted me greatly in my emotional and creative development. Not to mention he helped me develop my love for some of the greatest artists I believe to be out there; U2, Coldplay, Stereophonics. I know some people may have never heard of Stereophonics, and they are no longer as big, as Coldplay and U2 still are. But every time I hear one of their songs that is recognizable to me, I just feel happy inside, and the nostalgia of those good old days as a young child going on road trips with my dad, comes flooding through my memory. How I know all of this has benefitted me greatly, is because throughout my childhood I have played many musical instruments; Tin-whistle(Like every other primary school child in Ireland, more than likely), Cello, Violin, Piano, and Singing. I loved all of these instruments, but the two that I have stuck to with a great passion is signing and the piano. I do also give credit to my mom for my passion for the piano, as she did, and still does pay for my lessons!

My mother passed on her love of art to me. From as long as I can remember, My mom had always provided me with the tools and supplies that I needed to create anything I wanted to. I had this life-size kids easel that had a chalkboard on one side, and on the other side you could clip on your A3 pages and paint or colour anything you wanted. We would take turns with each side, making our own masterpieces, either with chalk or paint. My mom would be creating a chalky beach, while I would be painting a sun with a smiley face. I would mostly paint and draw pictures with colours, and my creations were hung around the house because my mother was so proud of everything I did. I got so motivated that I would enter competitions whenever I saw the chance. One year I won an art set from Supervalu because I had the best coloured in Halloween picture out of everyone! This passion was then pursued when I went to secondary school, as I had chosen it for my full six years there. My art teacher helped me to hold onto this passion that I had, and I swore when I left that I would keep it alive. I have a lot of diverse hobbies and interests for a nineteen-year old girl, and picking one for my blog was a tough call, but I stuck to that promise I made to myself and chose art.

Evolution of Painting tools

Cave painting dates back 40,000 years. Paint was made by mixing dirt or charcoal with spit or animal fat. Techniques that were used to apply it was smearing, dabbing, brushing or spraying, which you would blow through a hollow bone to give it an airbrushed effect. Hand stencils were made using the spraying technique, by placing the hand on the wall and spraying the pigments around the outline of the hand. Shoulders and other bones of large animals have been found stained with colour, and were presumed to be used as pigment grinders. Pigments were added to a paste that was made up with various ingredients including water, urine, animal fat, bone marrow, vegetable juices, blood and albumen(also known as egg white). 

Artists before the Industrial Revolution had to use pigs bladders to hold their paint in, and paint brushes were made with animal hair. The Industrial Revolution then introduced the idea of having paint in tubes, synthetic bristles on the paintbrush, and new colours were created. One of my favourite artists, Monet, loved the idea of “En Plein Air”, where an artist would paint outside, rather than inside their studio. He created this painting “En Plein Air” with his new technology of colours and tools. painting-284546_150Poppies, Near Argenteuil, Claude Monet, 1873

Now we can do everything these people did, with less time and effort. Technology has completely changed art. I can promise that 95% of people reading this(If you’re around the same age as me), have spent a good few hours on the Windows paint application as child, creating all sorts of crazy and thinking you were unreal. From the ability to change the brush size, the colour and shade, the texture of the paint on the white page you would always start with, to drawing a perfectly straight line with the tool that allows you to do that, and using the tin of pain icon to completely fill one half of that line with some crazy colour that you could almost design by dragging the mouse around the circle spectrum of colour that was made available to you.

My blabbering on through that whole paragraph was done for a reason, to emphasise the amazing change that technology has made to painting.

Art in the Digital Age

One of my hobbies and passions is Art. I did it as a subject all through secondary school, and had to endure the painful process of writing essay upon essay, all in Irish, about why people in the Stone age/Bronze age/Iron age drew on rocks.  What materials they used, How they did it, etc… 

Recently I presented my project, “Art in the Digital Age”, for my Digital Humanities class. I was a bit nervous, but because I get on so well with all of my classmates, the nerves faded. 

My presentation briefly highlighted how art is being perceived on the internet, how there are numerous websites available for artists/art lovers, and the different tools artists in the digital age are using to create their masterpieces. 

Our presentation had to run for 3-4 minutes, and I felt like I had a lot of Info that I couldn’t fit into that time limit. So, I will link a few websites that I found while researching my topic, that I find very interesting and I hope you will too.  – This is the first article I came across, and I knew after reading this, that it would be my topic for my presentation. – Hit record is a website that my Digital Humanities tutorial lecturer brought my attention to. And you can imagine my surprise when I saw Joseph-Gordon Levitt’s face pop up when I clicked on it. If that doesn’t make you want to click on the link, I don’t know what will. – This is a very entertaining review on the Genius Pen Tablet. I mentioned in my presentation a UK Art student ,named Sarah-Rose Oliver, who used this tablet to create her photo-realistic portraits of various celebrities. – I found this website after I read the article from my first link, and after this all of my presentation seemed to come together. – Last but not least, the link to my presentation. Unfortunately you need a prezi account to be able to view it.

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

Oscar Wilde


Why am I here? That’s the question I frequently ask myself throughout my time in UCC so far. I’m 19 years old, and I still have no clue as to what I want to do with my life. I have so many interests and hobbies that I couldn’t possibly choose which one to pursue.

I’m studying Digital Humanities & Information Technology and French in University College Cork. I was told as part of my DH module that we are obliged to write a blog on a particular topic that we have been researching. 

First of all, English in secondary school was never my forte (Probably due to the fact I attended an all Irish school), and as a result of that, I hadn’t even counted it in my points for CAO, despite how hard I worked for it. So, you can Imagine how terrifying I find this whole blog post thing.

Secondly, due to my knowledge (or lack of ) towards my life’s dream, I cannot pinpoint the exact topic of conversation I would like to direct my research on yet.

Therefore, I shall be selfish and post about whatever I want to.