10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Transforming Data: Cultural Strategies in DataMining
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10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by glegrady » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:07 am

October 10: ASSIGNMENT CHANCE: ONLY REPORT ON MANOVICH: Cultural Analytics by Manovich - whose title is a play off the title of "Visual Analytics"

George Legrady

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by keats047 » Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:28 am

Manovich's ideas are certainly interesting, though I'm not quite sure I entirely understand them. In some sense there's an argument for the expansion of a software type that is culturally aware by tracing many types of data, but to me this seems like artifice. And given that upon the construction of such a system, it would be rife for misrepresentation, as happens so often on Facebook due to the manipulation of its analytics system, I'm not sure I entirely understand the value of creating such a system. His idea seems to be that by creating this new data we'll have a better understanding of older data, but it seems more like we're shifting the focus of one set of data onto another or possibly many, further complicating rather than providing a better overview of cultural information.

He also claims that it will provide an expanded understanding of data, which is to say we will have more data to look at in a qualitative sense, but I think what he means is that the new set of quantitative data is more like a tool which could potentially be useful for qualitative analysis. While tracking a player in a MMO would be interesting, I'm not sure how tracking such interactions isn't quantitative. It seems that his idea of a qualitative analysis is something akin to tracking multiple pieces of quantitative data. I tend to see qualitative information as the reasoning rather than the rhyme.

My sketch is attempting to look at death in particular, and finds some interesting points where, every 2-4 months, there's a sudden uptick in the searches on it, and around Christmas also seems to be a popular time to search about death. While it's an interesting topic, the searches are still not quite specific enough yet, and these tick points, where a bunch of books about death are suddenly checked out, need to be examined more closely. Still, the data seems interesting so far, particularly in searches related to historical death and poetic death.
MySQL for visualizing and CSV provided below.
http://www.mediafire.com/?jsal6nrtnophier (CSV)
SELECT DATE_FORMAT(ckoutdatetime, '%Y-%m-%d'), count(barcode) FROM transactionsall
WHERE title LIKE '%death%' and subject1 LIKE '%death%'
GROUP BY DATE_FORMAT(ckoutdatetime, '%Y-%m-%d');

A more advanced SQL query which looks at a specific class of death (namely historical and poetic - this focuses on death as a historical/literary event)
SELECT DATE_FORMAT(ckoutdatetime, '%Y-%m-%d'), count(barcode) FROM transactionsall
WHERE deweyclass > 800 AND deweyClass < 1000 AND title LIKE '%death%' and subject1 LIKE '%death%'
GROUP BY DATE_FORMAT(ckoutdatetime, '%Y-%m-%d');
Last edited by keats047 on Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by alessandrarosecampos » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:37 pm

Cultural Analytics Review

Manovich’s proposal for what he calls “cultural analytics” seems highly relevant in a time when massive amounts of data are being generated on the internet daily by both users and corporations. What Manovich appears to be arguing for is a space in which this data can be aggregated, visualized, and made available for both analysis and manipulation. Manovich’s proposal relies on large and expensive wall displays in order to maximize the visual complexity of the large data sets that he intends to work with. While access to these displays does limit the type and amount of people who would be able to interact with the data, Manovich does add that he would like the visualizations to remain relevant when transferred to a smaller display—for example, cell phone and tablet displays/screen sizes.

Manovich does wish to move away somewhat from what he calls “high culture”, to not only include information generated by users of internet content (games, social media, image platforms), but to be accessible by these users as well. There are issues with his proposal such as privacy (Manovich does indicate that he would need the permission of some users in order to utilize the data), corporate motivations interfering with Manovich’s aim to “analyze” the information in order to draw novel conclusions from cultural movement (Sony is interested in his proposal), and the accuracy of his findings (he is relying on data that is uploaded by users who are highly active, which somewhat limits the type of data that will be received and calls into question the accuracy of the sample size). However, this data is available and, as Manovich said, has not been gathered and utilized in a larger platform. I’d be interested to discover what conclusions might be drawn from this sort of culling of data.


This sketch is a line graph that was done in Excel. The issue is that the dates are not entirely visible. In Excel, you are able to hover over the plot points to display the date for each value. However, Google docs doesn't interpret the data chart in the same way that Excel does and I couldn't figure out exactly what it wanted so I posted an image of the line graph alongside the chart. It can be seen here:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... n_US#gid=0

The second sketch (/visualization) was done using IBM's Many Eyes. Again, the issue is the dates. The bar graph that was generated by Many Eyes displayed the book titles on the x axis, rather than the dates. I was more interested in the dates rather than the specific titles, however, you can still get a general sense of movement here:

http://www-958.ibm.com/software/data/co ... 0255111976

Here's a link to an image of a rough sketch, that reduces the data to a the week of Hurricane Katrina's path. Since I didn't find much interesting data, I figured I'd reduce the information to the most pertinent timeline. The sketch shows Hurricane Katrina's path (didn't mess with the stock image, which was pulled from an online encyclopedia's entry on hurricane and tropical storms) and the number of checkouts containing the word "Noah" in the title at each date. Ideally, you'd be able to click further and be directed to the book titles. There is a link to the image below, but I think that's all the work I will do on this topic:
Last edited by alessandrarosecampos on Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by bowea324 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:55 am

Andrew Jay Bowe

Here, I would like to suggest that Manovich's belief in a data-stat-visual movement in the Humanities is highly under developed and lacks a real pragmatic grounding for the field. As Manovich asserts, "In Digital Humanities, people are doing statistical analysis of historical texts-- but these texts almost always come from the past the results have not been turned completely into compelling visualizations." (Manovich 10). He argues that there is a new trend in taking an analytical approach to texts that have enjoyed a qualitative reading (if the act of reading is even qualitative research).

One might understand the changing notion of words as separate from the changing notions of the humanities. One cannot go as far as to make a prognosis that women have been writing now that the word women is showing up in more texts. In fact, women have been writing for centuries and many of their texts just didn't enjoy the privilege of being published. As Manovich continues, "…we also want to data-mine cultural data from the past, we will focus on analyzing and mapping contemporary global cultural production, consumption, preferences, and patterns" (Manovich 11), which displays that mining data is only locative of resources that have been transcribed into the new medium, digital data bases.

Though I do take issue with a macro-level assertion that can be made by any form of visualization of statistical analysis through mined data, I do agree with Manovich on one key idea, "…our emphasis is not on archiving the past for its own sake but on understanding the present and thinking about the future." (Manovich 11). The aestheticization of data must also consider how the mass public can accumulate knowledge or participate in knowledge in the future. One might not dwell on the missing puzzle pieces, as much as making sure that all the puzzle pieces are built for a future puzzle.


I noticed that everyone is doing the excel sketch, but I don't find it necessary for my concept:

https://docs.google.com/a/newschool.edu ... ist&num=50

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by deklerk » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:05 am

Review of Cultural Analytics by Lev Manovich
by Christo de Klerk

Lev Manovich’s introduction of cultural analytics as a category of data analysis and visualization reminds me of the bold vision of Buckminster Fuller for the “dymaxion map”. Buckminster Fuller design for the USA Pavilion at the Montreal Expo 67 included more than his signature geodisic dome that remains there to this day. The dome was meant to be grand scale projection surface for the “dymaxion map”, essentially a proportional scale visualization of current events and resource flows around the world [see Buckminster Fuller’s Universe]. But the visualization proved too dangerous to US interests and so the data visualization project was dropped from the final installation.

Like Fuller’s dymaxion map, Manovich’s cultural analytics is a strategy for data visualization for very big screens. We may even call this strategy cinematic, but unlike film the data for both Fuller and Manovich would come from current cultural and economic data points. The big screens would be the projection surface of big data sets. For Manovich the script would be replaced with the algorithm of data mining and analysis, and the techniques of editing and staging exchanged for varied “suites of visualizations” and the layering of visualizations. Unlike Fuller, Manovich emphasises the need to go deeper than the meta data and to focus cultural units of production and consumption.

What I like about the idea of cultural analytics comes from how I perceive Manovich’s sense of the cinematics of cultural analytics with Fuller’s idealism of a world proportional map of the flows of resources. Both want to emphasise the flows, patterns, and relationships, but is it necessary to maintain a separate conception for cultural production or might this limit how we perceive the cultural relevance of the sciences, business and governments as producers of cultural products? I think cultural analytics is threatened to be too similar to business analytics if it cannot maintain an ambivalence critical to the arts. This is an argument that I really ought to spend more time developing, but here’s one attempt: In reflecting humanity, I think it is okay for cultural analytics as a strategy for visualizing data to be either pointless, following the tradition of art criticism, or specific in its objectives. This ambivalence, I believe will be essential for sustaining a meaningful and potent difference between cultural analytics and the analytics of business, science, and governments. After all, Fuller’s imaginative data visualization was regarded too dangerous for public consumption.

Visualization Sketch-up

No ideas yet on how to visualize the religious data set. Not convinced yet that the data is meaningful without better idea of the number of people requesting material, those particularly that go unfulfilled.

However, I’ve been considering the idea of visualizing checkouts around the library. No man is an island, but every book is a kind of island. What if the library was an island with a visualization that represents the varying tide of books coming in and out of the library. The idea would play into how books are controversially perceived as the increasingly antiquated core of the library’s mission. Visualizing the books out around the library with dated markers of the high and low “tides” of books out - most ideally projected in AR - would be an engaging visualization that could ported to the live feed of Seattle Public Library’s feed.

Sketch-up of SPL visualization 1
Sketch-up of SPL visualization 2
Sketch-up of SPL visualization 3

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by putzb642 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:13 am

Manovich Response

Manovich goes on to discuss the ways that information has been visualized and which application would work best for which data sets (interactive v. static). It is interesting to think of our culture as a whole as data. When looking at it at a meta level there are various facets make up all of our cultures. These can all be honed in on and developed into interesting visualizations, whether it be media or other actions of humans within the real world. He makes a great argument for the case about how large data sets will more likely need to be displayed in a static form to be able to accurately relay the information that it is being used. I was surprised to see that he did not use any of Tufte’s works for the example involving larger data sets than normal in the static display system.

Viewing the thought of data sets as cultural analytics today is important because it will enable the following generations to have a newer understanding of societal norms both on the local and global level.

This sketch is super rough and I think that the current data collected isn't being accurately displayed. I think it had something to do with the listing of data from the ckoutDateTime. This will be re worked by Wednesday
rough sketch

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by deklerk » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:15 am

The Lev Manovich talk at MobilityShifts: http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2011/10/ ... cs-at.html

In lieu of the Cultural Analytics and going deeper than meta data in image analysis, you may be interested in checking out ImagePlot by Lev Manovich.

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by rileb685 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:49 am

Manovich Review:

Manovich's discussion of visualizing the ebb and flow of information on the web in real time actually dovetails fairly interestingly with some of the ongoing conversation in my thesis section about just how much of our lives, and the information about them, is archived semi-permanently on the web. In general, I tend towards thinking that the changes in the way we think, work, and live wrought by technology are different, but not necessarily worse than how things were done before the advent of the internet, but one development that does concern me is the erosion of privacy caused by volunteering data to social networking sites which have a cavalier attitude towards the sanctity of personal information. In other words, the "Facebook is the Great Satan" hypothesis.

Initially, I thought that Manovich's concept of visualizing information harvested from such a large swath of the internet engaged with the phenomenon rather uncritically, but as I continued reading his proposal, and thinking about its ideas, I realized that I hadn't entirely thought it through. The simple act of representng the vast amount of information that is constantly churning around our global networks is thought provoking in-and-of itself. He calls it cultural analytics for a reason: it's explicitly designed to "generate new approaches for studying cultural history", and positioned "in relation to humanities, cultural criticism, contemporary cultural debates...". Certainly, seeing the enormous scale of the interactions we have with the internet on a gigantic screen would give a viewer a vivid sense of the relationship we have with our technology, laden with possibilities and dangers.

My data harvesting so far has concentrated on Roman emperors. A compelling visualizing should reflect the subject matter in both aesthetics and substance, so I thought about how a Roman emperor would go about visualizing data.

Eventually, I thought of Trajan's Column, which can be seen as a visualiztion of the narrative of Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars.

So, I thought of giving various Roman emperors column, with the height representing the overall number of withdrawals concerning that emperor, and each horizontal section of the column representing a different year.


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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by luc393 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:20 pm

Lev Manovich's Cultural Analytics reminds me of two projects, both distinct from each other:

1) A Teddy Bear Exhibit by Ydessa Hendeles
http://www.designboom.com/weblog/cat/10 ... -2010.html

In this exhibition, Ydessa collects and curates over 3,000 photographs of teddy bears from 1900-1940. I recommend clicking on the link to see the staggering amount of photographs and the intimate details of each one. Whether it's a girl with her beloved teddy or an elderly couple dressed as bears, the exhibit shows the cultural significance of the teddy bear in its infinite varieties, resulting in a strange cultural tale of what sweet old teddy has come to symbolize.

2) Cascade by The New York Times
Cascade is the latest project by NYTimes R&D Lab that allows precise analysis of the structures that underlie sharing activity on the web. This tool links browsing behavior on a site to sharing activity to construct a detailed picture of how information propagates through the social media space. [text from site]

The Teddy Bear Exhibit and Cascade retrieve information from large data sets to tell a cultural story by allowing interaction and visualization of specific data so that patterns can be extracted and conclusions drawn. Even if Manovich is able to use something like Image Plot to collect and curate the vast universe of internet, the results would fall into the category of the sublime and though aesthetically interesting, be impossible to interpret. Standing in front of a Rothko will evoke a certain response that cannot be quantified and is difficult to communicate even through language. Hopefully, his talk on Friday will enlighten me with the secrets to creating a Magic Eye out of a digital landscape.

On other news, here is a link to my updated project on sustainability:
http://www.mat.ucsb.edu/forum/viewtopic ... rt=10#p559

Here is the sketch:

The results of my search proved that from the years 2006-2010, the public’s interest in sustainable DIY practices increased dramatically in specificity, as well as popularity. Here is a sketch showing the increase in resources through the years as an abstraction of city lines, foliage, a system of roots, and expansion.

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Re: 10.10 Cultural Analytics Review + Sketch

Post by beth.c.carlson » Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:36 pm

Data sketches:
http://www-958.ibm.com/software/data/co ... tributions

The data in these sketches represents the amounts of item types checked out during the month of October of each year. I am attempting to show older technologies like video and tapes are in decline, while the use of CDs and DVDs has risen over the last 5 years. I would like to figure out a way to lay all 4 line graphs on top of one another to represent each item type in the same graph. I don't feel like the stack graph works as well. (Please let me know if the above link does not work)

Cultural Analytics review:
In a time when such massive amounts of data are being generated and collected on a daily basis, Manovich's goal of utilizing that data, and drawing cultural conclusions from it, is a worthy and potentially very interesting project. In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of what Manovich is trying to do is his avoidance of 'high culture' data, such as historical canonical texts. With the advent of programs such as Google earth and the Music Genome Project, large data sets exist that are more useful for making more current observations about society and culture.

It will be interesting to see the progress of this project, and if it is in fact possible to create a kind of 'situational awareness' for cultural analysts. Even though the internet collects and stores data at such a rapid pace, I wonder if this project can really track cultural trends as they are happening, or if it will always be one step behind. It will also be interesting to see what a visualization of the web, and cultural transformation, will actually look like. Manovich explains that the visualizations in Cultural Analytics will be of a huge scale, but it will also be exciting to see what shapes and forms they will take on.