Smithsonian Internship 1

Currently I have the amazing opportunity to do a digital humanities internship at the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative ( The mission of the initiative is “to protect cultural heritage threatened or impacted by disasters and to help U.S. and international communities preserve their identities and history.” The Conflict Culture Research Network (, a part of the Initiative, involves many countries but I am currently working on Syria, managing and visualizing data of the cultural heritage sites. There are two datasets—the cultural heritage sites and the cultural heritage sites impacted by war. I have some creative responsibilities to explore what data visualization effects there can be and how to present the data in the most effective manner.

I am most excited to be doing data visualization using various software tools and coding. After researching a great variety of mapping tools such as Arc GIS, QGIS and Geoda, I have narrowed my focus to two mapping tools which suit the project better: and Mapbox Studio. They are two powerful open-source geospatial analysis tools for large-scale datasets. They can create various visualization effects on the map, making it possible to investigate trends on a geographical level. Kepler is easier for beginners to use; you simply upload the datasets and click various options to analyze trends and visualize data ( Kepler requires no programming but it limits you to pre-set functions. Mapbox has a deeper learning curve but is more powerful in customization and visualization. In Mapbox, you can customize everything on a map and create any effect you want on it. However, with more options to create maps comes coding. Mapbox uses JavaScript language. I had knowledge of Java when I built my websites to insert images, adjust font and change colors of text etc. but Mapbox definitely requires more knowledge of coding because the user needs coding to create complex effects on maps ( While trying to create different visualization effects on the map, I am deepening my understanding of JavaScript language.

I am excited to do this because it is a wonderful opportunity to improve my digital skills and contribute to Conflict Culture Research Network and the cultural preservation of Syria. I am very glad to present scholarship in a dynamic and visualized way to the public because it may reach more people and engage them to join the preservation work than the traditional way to publish findings. Thanks to the internship, I am exploring Python, another popular programming language, to see what data visualization it can create. I look forward to further progress on the path of programming.

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