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Tools for Discovery: Carrie Roy

Carrie Roy, a postdoctoral researcher at WID and coordinator for the Humanities Research Bridge, shares the tools -- digital, design and otherwise -- she uses to transcend disciplines in her work.

Photo courtesy of Carrie Roy

Tools for Discovery is a monthly profile series that inspects the tools, computer programs, gadgets and methods behind WID’s ideas and discoveries.

Carrie Roy is a postdoctoral researcher and coordinator for digital humanities initiatives at UW–Madison and the Humanities Research Bridge. She is a collaborator in WID’s Living Environments Laboratory.

Question: What is your WID research focus?

Carrie Roy

Transcending disciplines through the study of narrative –– specifically, approaches for modeling networks of entities and their complex interactions over the course of time. The projects I work on involve modeling and analysis of humanities data, ranging from creating network graphs of poems to plotting word trends to modeling character interactions in narratives.

Coffee, tea, happy hour, wonderful food and an inviting environment do wonders for establishing a space where personal connections, creative ideas and truly intellectually engaged discussions spark breakthrough ideas and discovery.

— Carrie Roy

Tools for analysis?

Each narrative has special features to model, so discussions begin around whiteboard or glass. Approaches are sketched out in more detail through SketchUp, Illustrator, Photoshop, Paper by 53 or Keynote, and I am beginning to learn Processing. Conversion, extraction and data organization ranges from ImageJ to TextWrangler, Numbers, DEVONThink, FileMaker and more. Network animations, Gephi and SoNIA offer some useful features, and for working prototypes, I turn to my brilliant collaborators, Kevin Ponto and Ross Tredinnick, for custom coding.

Tools for writing?

I organize my thoughts visually first, so I create slides of key concepts, points, etc. in Keynote before moving into writing. For my purposes, Pages (part of iWork) handles media well alongside my texts, footnotes, etc.

Tools for collaboration?

Dropbox for sharing files, Google Docs for collaborative writing (although I prefer collaborative writing in person over coffee), and a 32GB CooKey by LaCie for quick transfer of large files.

Ultimate tool for discovery?

Coffee, tea, happy hour, wonderful food and an inviting environment do wonders for establishing a space where personal connections, creative ideas, and truly intellectually engaged discussions spark breakthrough ideas and discovery. Inspiration has come from mechanisms in children’s toys, to Medieval metaphors, to woodcarving, so just as I look for parallel applications in digital tools between the sciences and humanities, I look to the physical world and history for inspiration.


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