Tartan Datascapes is a blog featuring snapshots of the data landscape across the entire Carnegie Mellon University campus, including students, staff, and faculty from the College of Fine Arts to the School of Computer Science. Each installment of Tartan Datascapes features an individual researcher or research team, highlighting how their work contributes to the broader datascapes of CMU, as well as special features on tools and educational opportunities at CMU Libraries to support research data management. Our students, staff, and faculty from across the spectrum of domains are doing amazing work with data at our institution, and Tartan Datascapes is a great place to read about this work!

Featured with each blog are quick tips for managing your data through research data management (RDM) techniques, and information on how the University Libraries can assist you with your myriad data needs through workshops, outreach, and consultations!

For more information about Tartan Datascapes or to request a feature of your research, teaching, or coursework, please contact Dr. Hannah Gunderman, Research Data Management Consultant, at

Summer Musings on Legos and “Good Enough” Data Management

Regular readers of Tartan Datascapes will know that I like to draw comparisons between things in popular culture and data management. And for this month’s release of the blog, I wanted to focus on an irresistible comparison between using Legos to build cell phone stands for a desk and “good enough” data management practices! So get cozy (and maybe grab a stack of Legos to play with), and let’s dive in!

Lessons on Data Management in Research from Video Game Let’s Plays!

Readers of Tartan Datascapes know that I like to find data management lessons in popular culture to share with the CMU community and beyond. As CMU’s Data, Gaming, and Popular Culture Librarian, I’m fascinated by all the lessons we can learn about data from video games and pop culture, and I’m thrilled to be focusing on something near-and-dear to my heart for this month’s release of the blog: video game Let’s Plays. Let’s Play are videos showing one or more individuals playing a video game and usually narrating their experience while playing.

Exploring your Relationship with Data through Art: Creative Prototypes for Future CMU Libraries Workshop

Those who have taken workshops from CMU Libraries know that we offer several workshops a semester open to the CMU community and beyond that teach skills in data visualization, data management, collecting data, and communicating data. We often find that many of our workshop participants, particularly students, see the Libraries as a safe space to learn these data concepts, especially in cases where they may feel embarrassment or anxiety in seeking foundational data help in their own departments. We are so glad to be able to offer this space for data skill development to learners!

Data Management Lessons from Organizing a Board Game Collection

If you’re familiar with Tartan Datascapes, you know that I like to find the data management lessons that live all around us in our daily lives, beyond our research (and if you’re new here, welcome! It’s lovely to have you here). Recently, I decided to organize my board game collection which had gotten out of control, and I reflected on what lessons it taught me about data management and keeping data organized. So, if you like board games, data management, home organization, or some combination thereof, keep reading!

Celebrating Animal Crossing: New Horizon's 1 Year Anniversary!

Hey, folks! For fans of the Animal Crossing games, tomorrow is an exciting, momentus day. On March 20th, 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released and gained millions of players across the world during its first year. During that time, I have not only played it in my personal life but I’ve also used it in my work at CMU Libraries to help bring a fun, lighthearted element to teaching data concepts.

“What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been”: Tartan Datascapes in 2020

I apologize for the cliché use of the “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been” lyric from the Grateful Dead song "Truckin'" that can sometimes be overused to describe odd happenstances and situations over a long period of time, but it really is the perfect way to describe the year of 2020 for Tartan Datascapes (and really, 2020 in general).

README Files: Front Matter for Your Data

For all you bibliophiles out there (a person who loves books and/or collects them), I’m certain that you’ll enjoy this blog post where I draw an irresistible connection between the front matter of books and README files. For the casual book user, I hope today's Tartan Datascapes not only increases your interest in README files, but also sparks a passion for all the lovely things that comprise a book.

A Safe, Cozy Home for Data: The KiltHub Institutional Repository

Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to a lot of YouTube ambiance videos (check out this one creating a soundscape of being in a cabin during a blizzard) and drinking copious amounts of tea, but I’ve had the word “cozy” on my mind for a few weeks now. What comes to your mind when you think of the word “cozy”? Soft blankets? A cabin with a fireplace? A basket of tiny, fuzzy bunnies? Being the data enthusiast that I am, a really interesting thing comes to mind when I think of the word “cozy”: data repositories.