Below is the Prezi and some supplementary content for my Digital Humanities 2013 presentation on Project Hieroglyph.
You can learn more about the Center for Science and the Imagination at our website or by downloading our first Annual Report.
On the origins of Project Hieroglyph: you might want to read Neal Stephenson’s inital shot across the bow, Innovation Starvation, or some of the recent press about the project in Wired UK, CNN, the New York Times and elsewhere. You can also follow a site activity RSS feed here.
I’ll add more notes here based on feedback from the talk and any comments you’d like to leave.
You can follow the center at @imaginationASU on Twitter or on Facebook. I’m @zonal. And of course you should sign up for Project Hieroglyph yourself!
I’m very excited to be a part of ACL[x], an experimental conference under the aegis of the American Comparative Literature Association. I’ll try to revise this post later, but for now I wanted to share a copy of my presentation for those who’d like to follow along on their own devices.
If the embedded version below fails you, try this link instead.
I’ve once again fallen way behind in my blogging, but fortunately I have much to report. I’m writing from Digital Humanities 2010, where I’ll be presenting my latest research on Saturday. The conference is in London and it’s been exciting and a little befuddling to wrestle jet-lag amidst an exciting array of panels and posters.
The paper I’m giving is on Toni Morrison, the subject of the recently completed Chapter 2. It’s in its fourth iteration now, after a trial run among the friendly brains at Stanford and great panels at ASU’s Southwest English Grad Students conference and ACLA. At each point I’ve been refining my methodologies and slides (lesson one: visualization is endlessly finicky).
As before, this is a case study where Morrison’s work is really a jumping-off point for an exploration of her reading publics and the nature of literary fame. When I presented at DH2009, I was still working out how to approach these questions and adopted a kind of shotgun strategy, using every data set and methodology I could think of to see what worked. That paper, on Thomas Pynchon, had a lot going on: networks of Amazon recommendations; Wordle images based on word counts of book reviews; bar graphs of library copies; graphs of MLA citations and comparisons of MLA, Amazon and newsgroup publications by year.
Most of these ideas were interesting, but only some of them ‘stuck’ for me. The cyclical nature of academic and other kinds of publication, for example, was revealing to see but a point that probably only needs to be proven once. This year I’ve decided to focus on the richest results from the past and push the envelope. My paper will look at the social lives of Morrison’s novels, and the ‘social’ networks they inhabit online. I’ve worked hard in the past year to create collocation-based networks and to use network analysis to identify the most significant nodes and clusters in Morrison’s ideational networks online. These are the most interesting, and the messiest, of my datasets, and network analysis has revealed some surprising patterns that I’ll be sharing on Saturday.
So that’s the major news. I have a couple of other projects cooking that I’m going to write up when I have some solid bulletins to report.
It’s been quite a while since I updated this blog, so here’s a rapid review.
I’ve completed a draft for my dissertation chapter on Thomas Pynchon.
I’ve got a messy first half of an introductory chapter too, but I’m trying hard not to think about just how much revision that’s going to need.
All of this has snapped into close focus with the end of the academic year and my presence this week at the University of Maryland for Digital Humanities Conference 2009. After months of solitude interrupted mainly (if regularly) by the dogs, I find myself surrounded by people thinking about the same questions I’ve been wrestling with. Cool!
I’ll be presenting on Thursday and panel-hopping for the rest of the time. I’m also looking forward to meeting and re-meeting luminaries of my Twitter and podcast world.
[I’m cross-posting this from Open Culture–it seemed apropos to my academic pursuits as well…]
I just heard Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, speaking at Stanford Law School today. Wales is working on some new projects that he hopes will harness the community-driven collaboration of Wikipedia. He’s already had some success in branching out from the encyclopedia idea with Wikia, which is a “wiki farm” compiling information on a variety of different subjects (some of the most successful so far relate to video games).
What Wales spoke about today, however, is a new collaborative search project. The concept is still in its early stages, it seems, but the idea would be to harness the intelligence and dedication of human beings to produce search results significantly better than Google’s. This raises a few questions:
Is Google broken? It’s amazing what Google pulls up, but maybe we’ve all gotten so good at working with an imperfect system that we just tune out the spam and misinterpretations that still crop up.
Is a collaborative social model the appropriate solution to this problem? People are good at compiling encyclopedias, but they may not be good at emulating search rank algorithms. Also, Google is powered by millions of servers in dozens of data centers over the world managing petabytes of information. In other words, this may be a technology+money business, not a people+transparency business.
These issues aside, Wikipedia is one of the most amazing things to come out of the whole Internet experiment, so I’m excited to see what Wales comes up with. Has search become a basic service? Would it work better as an open-source system?
I’ve been invited to contribute to The Politics of Presence, a multi-day, multi-continental conference experience put together by new media scholars, archaeologists, and more. I’m going to give a brief PowerPoint version of a paper I worked last quarter on terrorism and new media.
Terrorism is an interesting subject because it tends to fall through the academic cracks. This has led to a fragmented professional discourse that tends to get lost between international affairs, psychology, law and politics. Thus the old saw that there are as more theories of terrorism than there are theorists.
My take is that terrorism is essentially a communicative action: without a public to terrorize and a mass medium to dominate, there’s no point. So how do new, collaborative media change that equation? How do we deal with terrorism online? Come by tomorrow to find out.