10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Transforming Data: Cultural Strategies in DataMining
Instructor: George Legrady
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Post by matthew » Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:21 am

Here's a link to sketches of how I might visualize the data.
google doc with sketches

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by deklerk » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:19 pm

I've revisited my earlier idea of visualizing all the books that are checked out as a tide that rises and falls against the island of the library. I've reconsidered the idea of wrapping the library in a circle of books that expands and contracts and replaced it with the idea we discussed of externalizing the spiral that is within the library. I hope this sketch helps to make more sense of the project. Further details attached in this google docs document.

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by bowea324 » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:58 pm

Review of Lev Manovich’s Cultural Analytics:

It seems that the vast majority of data driven interpretations of the ‘field of humanities’ explore the most reductionary elements of humanities data: words. Perhaps this is because with the rise of organizational software the only mode of interpretation has been on the basis of word organization and comparison (Excel, MySQL as a way to re-organize). And that perhaps one of the easiest goals to reach with current technology is strictly the automation of organizational-interpretation.

But, the question might be raised, can data from large cultural data sets (such as those expressed by Manovich) be used in a more macro-level form of analysis, or a more meaningful framework for drawing in more rigorous or profound forms of theory and/or conclusions.

Rather than analyze Manovich’s project in it’s entirety, I would look at his framing of the ‘digital humanities’ and attempt to understand what he means in provoking a ‘data’ approach to the humanities, and what he hopes to gain in approaching the humanities from an analytical perspective. The notion of analysis or the notion of analytics meets many of us -who have backgrounds in certain historical modes of thought –with a rigid and schematic utility, which might make many people wary of the re-production of the humanities in the form of social science. In this sense, a field that has often embraced interpretation (process), could potentially be moving to a conclusion-centric sphere (telos).

As Manovich states, “In digital humanities, people are doing statistical analysis of historical texts—but these texts almost always come from the past the results are not being turned into compelling visualizations” (Manovich 2007). In this sense, we might imagine the reduction of text into visual data produces conclusions that are obvious and unnecessary, or that the interpretation of the text from a larger or more zoomed out lens is impossible, or better, has not yet its real potential.

Manovich quickly ignores the questions that seem to be the most important in the utility of analytical or visual turn in the representation of humanities texts. He approaches the humanities by looking at the broad range of texts, “…digital humanities work so far has focused on the analysis of canonical historical texts that belong to “high culture” and it has not taken advantage of the wealth of contemporary cultural data available on the web…” (Manovich 2007), rather than looking at the types of information and the forms of interpretation that have been developed in relation to those texts.

In imagining culture as ‘data’ one must reframe ‘data’. Data cannot mean the categorical, structural, or systematic flow of information that might limit interpretation in the quantified environment of current technology. Cross disciplinary approaches to humanities data, is indeed important, but one must be slow to announce a social-scientific research model in the field of cultural studies.