Slicing the Public Pie: A primer on data representations & issues surrounding their use @HealthCanada


Welcome!  Slicing the Public Pie: A primer on data representations & issues surrounding their use @HealthCanada is a digital humanities (DH) primer created by Richard Soulliere in March 2016. If you would like a brief description of DH, hover your mouse over the image on the right.

If this is not your first time here, feel free to jump to a section of interest via the table of contents pane on the top-left. Remember, you can always click on the Back button on your browser to return to the page you were on previously.

Why was this created?

Originally, this was created as a final project for a graduate-level course in the Digital Humanities specialization at Carleton University's Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture.  More specifically, students were asked the following.

As a final project then I want you to craft a 'primer' on the key digital humanities tools, concepts, readings, and work that is appropriate for your domain. You will need to think about the metaphors of platforms, how people read or otherwise interact with materials online, visualization, spatialization, augmentation... pretty much everything we've explored.


What is a primer?

The concept of a primer was based on a book handled by the protagonist, Nell, in Neal Stephenson's book "The Diamond Age". By way of chance, Nell is given an extraordinary book that was engineered to serve as her primary educational tool. What was special was not that Nell could try different paths, circle back, or make multiple attempts to move the main character through the story; but the book, itself, was interactive. The narrator was another human-being who articulated scripts; plus the obstacles and questions Nell faced were largely pre-chosen by the book's designers with specific educational goals in mind. Nell was to be inspired to think and, through imposing direction on the main character, engage in a form of experiential learning applicable to many aspects of the real world she lived in.

What is my goal/purpose with this particular primer?

This "scalar book" is a primer in the sense that a narrative is presented with the intent of having you, the reader, navigate within the scope of the topic (i.e. preset confines) to be exposed to ideas and intellectual queries that have roots and applications in real-world issues. It's use is entirely introductory for someone at the undergraduate level (or higher).  With the focus on the presentation and use of big data in the Canadian Federal Public Service - particularly that of Health Canada - the "priming" is centered on questions surrounding data representations (generally) as well as the implications these impose on a public entity (both internally and on external audiences).

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