Like others in the class, this week I had a realization that I had to re-evaluate the scope of my project. I’d approached my project really broadly at the outset, contacting zine librarians, collectors, archivists etc. across NYC. My experience working with the zine community was really positive; everyone I talked to was supportive of the project, and open with sharing what information they could (including their own collection databases). In the process, I collected over 3,000 records of zine titles that met these two criteria:

A) originally published in NYC or surrounding metro areas
B) currently located in a “zine center” in NYC or surrounding metro areas

Looking back, I have to admit that my methodology may have been too ambitious. I wanted my map to be really data-rich, but didn’t have a clear idea how to frame and make a convincing research argument without casting a wide net.

I originally planned to upload the whole record set into URT, and draw together spatially-driven arguments from the resulting visualization. In retrospect, I think I spent too long focused on making my data as comprehensive as possible. Instead of trying to round all up the information I could find about zines across the board, I think the project would have benefited from narrowing by theme earlier in the process (ie. focus only on zines that related to social movements).

Since uploading all 3,000 records wasn’t possible in the time I had left, I ended up conducting my data analysis in a more traditional fashion. This actually proved easier than expected. Because I had all the zine data I’d collected on a single spreadsheet, I was able to sort the data in various ways (by title, current location, publisher, etc.) to draw out data trends and discrepancies.

I started by sorting by title, and highlighted the titles that had made their way into the greatest number of zine collections in NY. I then sorted by author/editor/publisher, and highlighted the ones that had made their way into the greatest number of collections. And finally, I sorted by location, and identified the zine collections and centers that were associated with the authors and titles highlighted above. I now have 30 zine titles to map (instead of 3,000), as well as about 40 different “zine centers.” Much more manageable — but still daunting!