Off to a good start

My Day of Digital Humanities is proceeding pretty smoothly so far.  I’ve been working on a seminar paper for a course being taught by Professor Alan Liu in UC Santa Barbara’s English Department.  The course, Literature +, subtitled New Media and Cross-Disciplinary Models of Literary Interpretation, is an interdisciplinary project-based course consisting of students from several departments, including English, Comparative Literature, Media Arts and Technology (MAT), Computer Science, etc. The essay I’ve been writing is the theoretical rationale for what my colleagues and I have tentatively titled the Twitter Urban Sensorium, or The Twitter Arcades Project.

The project involved building an API to mine Twitter’s public timeline for geo-encoded tweets within a certain radius (in miles) of two urban centers, Los Angeles and New York City.  We then filtered these tweets for those that contained a sensory-related simile structure, i.e. “smells like,” “tastes like,” “sounds like,” “looks like,” “feels like.”  We hoped that by building an enormous database of these mediated perceptual experiences and grounding them within the search radii, we might be able to draw some interesting (if not social-scientifically representative) conclusions about the relationship of individuals to urban space, specifically urban space that is now mediated through the use of mobile or locative technologies.  My colleagues (Allison Schifani and Pehr Hovey) and I did find some interesting results which are available on The Twitter Arcades Project Wiki.

As might be evident, I’m still in paper writing mode! However, I do have visual aids!!! Below are some screenshots of some of our favorite sense-based tweets, a still from the Twitter geotagging API wiki, as well as one of the visualizations we created using our 100K+ tweet database and the IBM ManyEyes Visualization platform (note: clicking the visualization image will you take you to the actual interactive visualization):


Still going, and going, and going

My morning of digital humanities has already slipped into an afternoon of digital humanities.  I just dropped off the paper I was working on earlier this morning, so I am now officially on a spring break of digital humanities.  In between this morning and now, I stopped working and had lunch, during which I browsed Twitter and my RSS feeds for a while.  I even had a chance to peruse some of the other dayofDH postings.  I thoroughly enjoyed the posts by Matthew Jockers.

UCSB Literature.Culture.Media Center (where all of this happens):

Spent some time browsing digital humanities CFP’s.  Found this particularly interesting one via HASTAC: “The Digital Humanities: Beyond Computing”

I was initially drawn in by the the call’s title, simply because the phrase “beyond computing” is pretty foundational to my own conceptualization of the digital humanities as a field.  I’ve met a lot of scholars who seem to view the field as the continuation of the humanities computing movement.  However, I feel like this view is problematic at the most fundamental level.  Humanities computing possesses a fairly instrumental view of technology in relation to the humanities, i.e. it revolves around the use of new technologies like the digital concordance, visualization tools, etc., as means to an analytical end.  The digital humanities, at least in my opinion, seems to take the critical apparatus of traditional humanities scholarship and apply it to a whole host of born digital texts, ranging from electronic literature and poetry to social media and networks, all the while preserving the focus on the specifics and idiosyncrasies of the medium.  This is basically a paraphrase of media-specific-analysis as described by Katherine Hayles, but I think it is really at the core of the distinction between humanities computing and the digital humanities.  The former paradigm uses technology to work with traditional print texts in different ways while the latter works with technology in ways that embody all the often cited characteristics of new media and the digital: interactive, codetermining, fluid, etc.  #tangent

I’m heading home now to work on a proposal for the UCSB English Department’s Third Annual Literature.Culture.Media Research Slam.  It seems appropriate to leave now, as I am the last person left in the LCM center and it’s become eerily quiet.

Signing off

Just got home.

Finishing my proposal for the LCM Research Slam.

Getting ready to go for a walk and enjoy the rest of the daylight.

Then I’ll cook dinner and start catching up on all of the reading I’ve been putting off for the break, followed by putting together a couple of other proposals and abstracts. Had fun during the Day of Digital Humanities. I’m looking forward to browsing through everyone’s posts. Thanks for the opportunity!

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