Creating the flourish map was one of the most interesting things that I did the entire semester considering all of my classes. With that in mind, I had a lot of fun playing around and looking at different data of information and comparing them to each other. Since I am not really interested in recent history, these types of flourish maps aren’t something I come by often. I am however, fascinated by ancient history. Learning about the ancient Egyptians or the Greeks is amazing, however there is not enough information that survived thousands of years to create these sorts of maps.
It is crazy to think that we have documented the number of people that were alive and dead in every different county from almost 200 years ago. Today, technology helps us with keeping track of those things since it is as easy as just entering the number of births and deaths in a system and the work is done. To think that someone actually researched and took their own time to build a spreadsheet with all of the different numbers of people in each county is just mind boggling.
These types of maps really show us the reality in contrast to what we thought was true. Before creating my map, if someone asked me if I thought that there would be more black people over 100 years old than whites in the 1850’s I would have definitely said no. However, the map showed me that in reality there were much more blacks living to be over 100 than whites. It is a crazy fact when we consider that those men were very likely slaves for their entire lives and probably working in the field with a not very diverse diet. That, however, could be why they lived so much. If a slave did not have such an intense life, the physical work combined with a simple diet (extremely likely with no sugar), would definitely help them not only be fitter, but also healthier than some of the masters.
Another interesting fact was that there were more whites that lived to be over 100 in the northern parts of the US and a higher concentration of blacks in the middle. I am not sure why that is the case, and I would have to research more on the topic in order to construct an actual good theory as to why that was the case. However, if we think about it for a minute, it could be because of the weather conditions. It usually gets much colder in the northern parts of the US than in the south. With that, a simple cold could easily kill an extremely poor 70+ years old black man. Something that could possibly be treated with a richer (white) man.
I believe that this tool can be extremely helpful not only in these fun facts that I have learned, but also for understanding human behaviour and why people were the way they were. A point can be made that there is nothing to be learned by just knowing that there were more black people that lived to be over 100 in the USA than whites in the 1850’s, however I disagree with that point. If we begin to understand how human behaviour works using history as a basis, I believe that we can start to see trends in population behaviour and development. Those can and would directly influence how we see not only our own future, but also the future of the population.
The biggest issue I have with my map is that I am not completely sure that the numbers are completely accurate. We simply have no way of knowing if the numbers that were recorded are completely accurate. With that, all of my theories as to why there were more black people that lived over 100 than whites could be a complete waste of time if the numbers are wrong and there were more white people than blacks in reality.
Today numbers are being altered all the time so how can we be so sure that a random slave would have their birth and death recorded correctly. For all we know, not only can their birth date be wrong, but also their death. If someone died and it was not recorded, he can supposedly go on living on the record and get into the numbers of people that lived to be over 100. With that in mind, it could be that most of the black people that were recorded to be alive for over 100 years could have died before reaching 100 and it was never documented.
I understand that I have not exactly completed all of my work for this course. This is not because I did not enjoy the course or because I was not at all interested in the subject. It was mostly because I had a lot of other work due and Saturday was not a good day to hand in work. I tend to procrastinate a lot and only hand in the work the day that it is due and having it due on Saturday was just not a good day for me. However, I am pretty proud of the portfolio that I built for this class.
The two projects that I am most proud of were the flourish map and the podcast. The flourish map was a great way of combining both numbers and history in a fun way that makes it much easier to understand what was going on in the excel document. I do not believe that the history part will have much impact on my professional life, however learning how to use different tools and trying to understand a bunch of seemingly random data in order to create a map is a skill that I believe will be useful in my work life.
The podcast was also an extremely challenging project to do. Living on an extremely busy street with a lot of busses constantly passing by, I had to adapt to this new situation where I had to be in complete silence and did not have much time to create a podcast. I have no problem talking in public and performing or presenting, however I hate hearing my own voice. So you can imagine how stressful and cringe worthy it was to edit myself talking for about ten minutes. I had a great time recording and creating a script for me to speak (which I had missed so much since it is not common at all in most of my other classes), however not so much of a great time actually editing the podcast.
Trying out different things and knowing how to adapt in different situations is one of, if not the most important skill that I believe a person that wants to be financially and professionally successful. This class has definitely taught me how to do that not only in a faster way, but in a more efficient way as well. It is obviously good not to waste so much time on something that can be done faster, however when you learn to do something in an efficient way, that is when you really start to differentiate yourself from the competition.
One thought on “Final Post”
I really enjoyed reading about your revision of the Flourish data mapping assignment. Flourish is one of the most versatile tools for turning two-dimensional data into appealing and easy-to-read data visualizations. Your interpretations of this data emphasize interesting trends found in this data. The census at this point in time also raises additional questions about the accuracy of representation, as you notably described. Although I think it captures a decent sample size, the numbers of enslaved people are about 3.5 million lower than where it should be. Your graph is still an honest representation of the data, but it does raise some interesting contextual questions about the production of this data. I think your conclusions are certainly on the right track; we do know that in southern counties, enslaved populations outnumbered white populations and this might very well account for the higher population numbers by age group. I’m glad that you found this tool to be useful for visualizing data and drawing new conclusions about history through quantitative means.
I really appreciate how you acknowledged the amount of skills and resources you gained from this course. You should be very proud of how much you accomplished this semester—especially the podcast and the Flourish map. Thank you for all of your contributions this semester. I wish you the best in your studies and your future!