Miguel Gutierrez on Web Development and Warfare

By The Digital Humanities Editorial Team

Miguel is an Art History student minoring in the digital humanities. He will graduate in June 2019.

What brought you with the digital humanities program?
I knew that the digital humanities program was very open ended. I enrolled thinking I would use digital humanities to augment my education in art history and digital media. Along the way, I learned a lot about myself and ended up changing my career path.

What caused the change?
I got an internship with the Broad museum. I thought I wanted to be a curator, but part of the internship included building a website. It was an amazing experience and I gained a lot of skills.

I honed those skills, and throughout my third year I explicitly took DH classes. Now I’m applying to grad school programs and I’m pretty set on being product designer.

What has been your favorite experience so far?
Definitely the [DH101] drone project. It was the most rewarding, chiefly because we all chose what dataset we wanted, and the five of us knew we wanted something with a social justice bent.

What did the project entail?
We found drone strike data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. I spent hours on-end working as the sole developer – a good thing for me because I’d never worked on the developer’s side of digital projects.

I wanted to challenge myself to build a website, and I was really ambitious. The dataset was huge; we had four in total. The narrative was critical – somewhere in the 8000 [word] range. As the designer, I had to know how to chop the information into digestible pieces. It’s now a statement piece in my portfolio and part of my grad school application.

What was so rewarding about it?
The data in and of itself revealed so much – the visualizations really speak for themselves. They revealed a lot; we compared [drone strikes] between presidential administrations. This lens allowed us to see who was the game changer in warfare, and we were all really surprised. The data illuminates policy in a way that could only be seen through visualization. The four countries we studied had never been compared all at once like that before.

That sounds really cool! Do you have any advice for students interested in the minor?
The cool thing about DH is it means something unique to each person. I was more interested in the humanities within technology itself, and DH let me tailor my education to be about the relationship between humans and technology.

If you’re just thinking about joining DH – absolutely do it. This minor was one of the most rewarding and practical experiences I had as an undergrad . The skills and what you learn are so valuable to your career. The topics are fascinating, and you’ll love the experience.