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Visualizing Value: A Geospatial Look at Comparative Approaches to Local Valuation of Cultural Heritage

Tomczyk, Stacy Lynn

This study researches the viability and effectiveness of using Twitter data as a research tool for assessing local valuation of cultural resources. It looks at Twitter as a tool that can be used alongside other more tested community value assessment techniques. The study’s subject population is the LGBTQ community in New York City’s five boroughs, but these or similar tools could potentially be used for other populations that use Twitter around the country and world.
The other two research methods, used here for comparison and supplementation of the Twitter research, include research generously provided to this study by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project as well as an online survey conducted for the sake of this study. The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project anecdotally assessed and assigned cultural significance to their first 100 sites using basic research through primary sources, secondary sources, and aggregating additional information. The other tool, an online survey, was created for this study as a participatory research method that asked community members to talk directly about and rate the significance of LGBTQ sites that they value. Both provide quantitative, mappable data as well as qualitative information for further analysis.
Mapping and comparing the geospatial quantitative data collected from each method, as well as analyzing the quantitative results, allowed the study to gauge the benefits, limitations, and potential of using Twitter research to assess local community valuation of cultural resources when it is used as a supplementary tool. The quantitative data from these three methods of research was be mapped on Esri’s ArcGIS.
Collecting and storing this Twitter data iteratively, from this point forward, can form a archive of valuable data for research use. In the future such an archive could provide an indispensable resource for preservationists looking back to see how sites were used in the past by marginalized communities, and also less marginalized communities
Twitter research can potentially add more nuance to these other research methods and has the potential to be a stronger, even more relevant tool for preservation as time goes on and the tool sharpens. It already has the potential to aid preservation in the quest to further democratize the process by which community significant cultural sites are identified, understood, how they are advocated for, and the way their community value is assessed.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Raynolds, William
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 5, 2017
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