Ben Pettis

Web Projects

  • Lantern 2.0 - 2021-2022
  • During the Summer and Fall of 2021, I have been working with Eric Hoyt to upgrade and the backend and redesign the interface for Lantern, the search platform for the Media History Digital Library. This has been a highly involved project, and has required me to essentially recreate the entire website with a newer version of Ruby on Rails to use a more recent version of Blacklight. We are currently running an open test of the upgraded interface, and plan to fully deploy the new version later in 2022.
  • Visit the Lantern 2.0 Beta Site
  • Jazz Genius - 2021
  • Jazz Genius is an experimental Digital Humanities project that interrogates the conventions and trends of jazz lyrics. The website contains thousands of songs collected from and enables users to browse this collection and explore connections. Jazz Genius also offers several tools for analyzing this collection—including topic analyses, TEI markup, and various data visualizations.
  • Visit Jazz Genius (via the WayBack Machine)
  • Alternative Implicit Assiciation Test - 2021
  • This is an alternative Implicit Bias Test created as part of the Code and Power course (LIS500) in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's iSchool.
  • GitHub Repository
  • The Mall - 2020
  • For some reason, when I was in elementary school I became obsessed with creating and drawing imaginary storefronts and the various items that each of them sold. The drawing skills are sub-par at best, and the actual spatial organization of the mall lacks any logic or structure whatsoever. But it was the third grade. Sue me.
  • Years later, while visiting my parents and cleaning out some of my old stuff I rediscovered a folder full of these drawings. Now armed with the technical know-how (aka the confidence to Google and poke around with basic JavaScript), I set out to scan these old drawings and finally connect all these stores with one another like younger-me had always envisioned.
  • Visit The Mall
  • 4chan Scraper - 2019
  • This simple Python script uses 4chan's read-only APIs to scrape the information from the front page of a given imageboard. In addition to saving every image posted to the board, the script will also generate multiple CSV files that record which threads were on the front page at a given time. A folder is generated for each thread's images, as well as an individual CSV file that records each reply in the thread as well.
  • I have done some research on anonymous online communities, the ways they communicate with one another, and how they're able to influence real events in the physical world. Rather than manually browsing and downloading content from 4chan imageboards, I built this script to automatically scrape the most recent content from a given 4chan imageboard.
  • View on GitHub
  • .org Doesn't Mean Credible - 2018
  • Many textbooks, online research guides, and other resources claim that a .org domain name is an indicator of credibility. The common explanation is that only non-profits, professional associations, and other organizations are able to register a .org domain name.
  • One of the course objectives for SPCM 200 (Public Speaking) at CSU was to develop research skills, including practice evaluating the credibility of web sources. To that end, I wanted to teach students that there are rarely hard and fast rules to immediately assess a website – such as looking at the URL. Instead, they should expect to think critically about the web page and its content.
  • To demonstrate this point, I purchased a domain name and created this simple website.
  • Trumpster Fire Twitter Bot - 2018
  • I wrote a simple Twitter bot to represent anything tweeted by the President in a somewhat different format. Running on a simple Virtual Machine, the bot checks Trump’s Twitter feed every 10 minutes for new posts. Whenever it detects a new tweet, it pulls the text and overlays it atop an animated GIF of a dumpster fire using a python script and the Python Image Library (PIL).
  • I have used this twitter bot (along with @RealPressSecBot) as examples to teach Marshall McLuhan’s famous assertion that “the medium is the message.” By taking the same content – one of Trump’s tweets – and adapting it to different formats, the overall message being communicated can change significantly.
  • @USDumpsterFire
Back to Top of Page