All those topics that i wish i had time to pursue more earnestly.
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Category — Cultural Informatics

dissertation wordle


here’s the wordle of the dissertation i turned in…

September 5, 2009   No Comments

corporate control of archives: News: Digital Archives That Disappear – Inside Higher Ed

Digital Archives That Disappear
April 22, 2009
As digital archives have become more important and more popular, there are varying schools of thought among scholars about how best to guarantee that they will be around for good. Some think that the best possibility is for the creators of the archives — people generally with some passion for the topic — to keep control. Others favor acquisition, thinking that larger entities provide more security and resources for the long run.

[From News: Digital Archives That Disappear - Inside Higher Ed ]


I remember when people were horrified that google bought dejanews and when dejanews started archiving and keeping usenet, which was before fairly ephemeral. Those were horrific days for many people because something would be preserved and controlled by someone else that was never intended to be that way.

We’ve been facing problems with digital archives for ages and private digital archives are a huge problem for researchers, costs aside… The question of copyright, etc. is key and often misplaced, in the new form of the digital material. In any case, the discussion above points to some of the new problems of digital archives.

April 22, 2009   No Comments

“Down the Rabbit Hole” day

Cory Doctorow points out that today is Down the Rabbit Hole day, so here is something i drafted recently that normally i would never post.


Culture in virtual worlds? Critiquing the complexities and our assumptions

Jeremy Hunsinger

Granted this model of culture makes things more complex and clouded than many current ideological strands of the cultural sciences and humanities might prefer, but in virtual worlds, where the environment is constructed either through fixed programmed interfaces or the through the results of genetic algorithms, the construction of subjects and objects as different in any knowable sense is speculative at best. The assumption that many cultural scientists, and humanities scholars make that if it seems to talk and act like a subject or like them’ then it is a subject very much depends on the environment. People have been simulating conversation in virtual worlds for years, and simulating actions just as long, beyond that people have been designing these virtual world for cultural effects that frequently do not come to fruition.

Consider the possibility of a virtual world developed to support natural and cultural sciences. In this world, the humans interface with the world is intended to simulate nature, such as pseudorandom distribution of wind or water flows over abradable media such as sandstone, or the bifurcations of tree roots as they interact with the soil. The purpose of such a world would be to see to what extent artifacts found in nature are likely man-made or man-influenced or not. In this game, individual actions add up to a part of the simulation, thus an ‘avatar’ would be the combination of forces over time as mixed with the forces and the fun would be had by influencing and changing the additive and multiplicative efforts of many people over time. The actions ‘avatar’, as a natural forces, is a combination of many possible people’s influences over time where time is one of the variables that consensus can effect and the interface can model, so that some people may slow down to a bacteriological time, or speed up to human time onward to the geological times of redwoods, and onto that of mountains. One possible sub-game may be to produce objects that might be confused with archeological artifacts, such as the Sphinx. Another sub-game that would surely arise is the design and or defacement of areas of the world for artistic or other purposes. We can see from such a game, that the ‘avatar’, or that which acts on cultural objects in the world may in fact be plural, and may produce things that are not considered artifacts as much as terrain. This possibility, the dissociation of the avatar from the individual and the dissociation of the products of the avatar from the culture is an extreme example of the reality of what people already do in virtual worlds today.

This dissociation of cultural subject and cultural production problematizes much of the scholarship being done in virtual worlds which depends on the assumptions that subject/s create or exist in relation to objects, but in the messiness of programmable systems, the mixing of subjects/objects into quasi-subjects, quasi-objects, and the pluralization of the relationship between a persons interface and their ‘avatar’, causes one to be immediately skeptical of the reported experiences of people acting through their interfaces in the virtual world. Even their reports should be colored by the researcher’s inability to discern the authenticity of the persons reporting given that the world they experienced through their screens, speakers, and haptic devices could be entirely different from that world experienced by a person using different devices, having different proficiencies, or living in different cultures. This is not to say that we cannot make assumptions about world, subjects, and objects, but it is to say that the assumptions that we rely on in the f2f world that ground our research may not be, and frequently are not valid assumptions. In short, when exploring culture in virtual worlds, we need to take care in our methodological choices and their assumptions for even the most basic assumptions such as, “my student in my virtual classroom had the same experience as my other students” is likely to be false in ways that are profoundly different than the ways it may be false in a f2f classroom. Similarly, our assumptions about the causes of behavior, social, economic, and cultural, must account for the new forms of re/mediation in their models, else they will likely end up describing less a model of subjects in a virtual world, then describing the base assumptions of their observations or experiments yet again.


Delanda, M. (2006). A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory And social complexity. Continuum.

Guattari, F. (2000). The three ecologies (G. Genosko, Trans.). London: Athlone Press.

Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social : An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford University Press, USA.

Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. Harvard Univ Pr.

Latour, B., & Porter, C. (2004). Politics of nature: How to bring the sciences into democracy. Harvard Univ Pr.

Law, J. (2004). After method: Mess in social science research. Routledge.

Maltzahn, K. E. V. (1994). Nature as landscape: Dwelling and uderstanding. McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Suarez, D. (2009). Daemon. Dutton Adult.

Veblen, T. (1990). The evolution of the scientific point of view. In The Place of science in modern civilization. Transaction Publishers.

January 27, 2009   No Comments

YouTube – QueenRania’s Channel


[From YouTube - QueenRania's Channel]


this is a brilliant use of youtube!

September 18, 2008   No Comments

Research Blogging

Posts – Research Blogging]

Research blogging is a blog for people who blog about peer reviewed research. It is a place to share and read about that research across many disciplines.

September 3, 2008   No Comments

Workshop on Humanities Applications for World Community Grid

IBM Presents:
A Workshop on Humanities Applications for
World Community Grid

On October 6, 2008, IBM will be sponsoring a free one-day workshop in Washington, DC on high performance computing for humanities and social science research.

This workshop is aimed at digital humanities scholars, computer scientists working on humanities applications, library information professionals, and others who are involved in humanities and social science research using large digital datasets. The session will be hosted by IBM computer scientists who will conduct a hands-on session describing how high performance computing systems like IBM’s World Community Grid can be used for humanities research.

The workshop is intended to be much more than just a high-level introduction. There will be numerous technical demonstrations and opportunities for participants to discuss potential HPC projects. Topics will include: how to parallelize your code; useful tools and utilities; data storage and access; and a technical overview of World Community Grid architecture.

Brett Bobley and Peter Losin from the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities have been invited to discuss some of the NEH’s grant opportunities for humanities projects involving high performance computing.

If attendees are already involved in projects that involve heavy computation, they are encouraged to bring sample code, data, and outputs so that they can speak with IBM scientists about potential next steps for taking advantage of high performance computing. While the demonstrations will be using World Community Grid, our hope is that attendees will learn valuable information that could also be applied to other HPC platforms.

The workshop will be held from 10 AM – 3 PM on October 6, 2008 at the IBM Institute for Electronic Government at 1301 K Street, NW, Washington, DC. To register, please contact Sherry Swick, Available spaces will be filled on a first-come, first served basis.

More about the World Community Grid

World Community Grid, a philanthropic initiative developed by the IBM Corporation, offers researchers a unique opportunity to accelerate the pace of their work while also mobilizing people worldwide around critical social issues.

Launched by IBM in November 2004, World Community Grid uses grid technology to harness the plentiful, underutilized resource of PCs and laptops to support humanitarian research. Today, volunteers around the globe have donated the computational power of close to 1 million PCs; World Community Grid is harnessing their power when the computers are on but not in use to help advance promising research. Results on critical health issues have already been achieved, demonstrating World Community Grid’s potential to make significant inroads on a great range of future projects that can benefit the world.

World Community Grid is available free-of-charge only to public and not-for-profit organizations to use in humanitarian research that might otherwise not be completed due to the high cost of the computer infrastructure required in the absence of a public grid. As part of IBM’s commitment to advancing human welfare, all results must be published in the public domain and made public to the global research community. Current research partners include The Scripps Research Institute, The University of Texas Medical Branch, New York University, University of Washingon, French Muscular Dystrophy Association, the University of Cape Town and The Ontario Cancer Institute.

Looks like Ill be at this:)

August 29, 2008   No Comments

mistersquid: a digital fiction: Resurface

In fact, I’m somewhat in astonished awe at the recent push for supercomputing in the humanties. Don’t get me wrong; I think that supercomputing power applied to humanties-oriented applications will yield innumerable treasures, helping scholars discover as-yet-unimaginable correspondences between word frequencies, textual representation, and aesthetic structure.

[From mistersquid: a digital fiction: Resurface]


this is a good start toward a reflexive critique of the cyberinfrastructure in the humanities movement.

July 18, 2008   No Comments

Degrees in Cultural Informatics

Were I to pursue an MLS, MLIS or Ph.D. related to Cultural Informatics, I would go to UCLA, Illinois or Maryland in the United States. UCLA, Illinois, and Maryland have leaders in the field that will get you jobs.

Common sense dictates that if you want to work in this field, go to the best school you can, then leverage that to get an internship where you wish to work over your summer off, then get a job there when you graduate.

In Canada, I would choose Toronto or UWO to go into this field, but for different reasons. I think Toronto addresses Cultural Informatics most strongly in their Museum Studies program and UWO addresses it most strongly through their integration of Media Studies.

Other interesting programs are at York University in the U.K., and the University of the Aegean with its Centre for Cultural Informatics

I would not go to any school in or around NYC for this for a wide variety of reasons, but primarily because I have seen none where there curriculum actually deals with cultural informatics in any substantive way. , I’ve not seen that in NYC at any school, though some make claims. If i were to choose a school close to NYC to take a degree related to cultural informatics, I would go to Rutgers, though if I wanted a more technologically oriented cultural informatics, Long Island University would be sufficient also.

I think that claims toward leadership in many fields in relation to cultural informatics should be investigated before one applies to that field. Leadership comes from research, publishing, and service to the greater community of cultural informatics. If you cannot find substantive evidence of such work in fields in and around cultural informatics, then you should be very curious about the school. Remember that if you are serious about your career, you want to find senior leaders in the field who have a record of notable students in the field. If you go to a school which graduates a hundred of students per year, with few faculty, you need to wonder about the quality of education you will receive. Also schools with a substantive number of adjunct faculty or very few senior faculty with tenure, and a large number of junior faculty are schools you should be worried about.

I would be careful to separate hype and reality. Be sure to talk to other people at the University or School before you decide to attend. Also be sure to use google and look for complaints about the programs.

Also, while ALA accreditation is important, you should also be sure that the school has not had any problem with regional or other accreditting agencies. Usually this can be found on the schools website, but digging deeper might show that the capacity of the school to actually deliver the education it claims is seriously in question.

To conclude, Cultural Informatics is a up and coming field, and some people might use its relative obscurity to promote their programs as cultural informatics. As such, students have to be wary consumers in the field of cultural informatics. There are great programs out there, but I think they are few and far between.

This is written as part of the cultural informatics series.

May 18, 2008   No Comments

Fellowship and Conference

Since Tuesday I have been in Milwaukee visiting SOIS and CIPR as part of my Information Ethics fellowship. I attended a discussion about a possible future conference on translating intercultural information ethics across the situated understandings that term implies across a plurality of contexts. That seems like a great project, I’m happy to help out there. For the rest of the time, I attended the conference Thinking Critically:Alternative Perspectives and Methods in Information Studies. It was an excellent conference and I met many interesting people in the field of information studies, most of which are leaders in their field or soon to be so. I also attended the 2008 Samore Lecture: “Interpreting the Digital Human,” by Professor Rafael Capurro, at the Allis Museum, which provided an excellent end to the conference. I had excellent dinners and conversation with colleagues that I’ve not seen for some time, and with new friends and colleagues. I suspect that I’ll be seeing many of these people again over the years. It was a great experience all around, though I did not get enough writing done on a promised paper that is overdue. It really looks like the CIPR and SOIS are up to some great things and I’m happy to be affiliated with them as an Ethics Fellow for another year.

Unrelated to the conference and my fellowship, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Thomas Malaby who has a book forthcoming on Linden Lab. We spoke at length about problems of research, computer game studies, his work with Linden Lab and his related work. It was a fantastic conversation and I hope to have similar conversations in relation to my work in Second Life in the future.

All in all the problem of alternative methods and the communities that support them is an important issue in my career. I have been affiliated with many groups on this topic from Phil Graham’s old NewMediaResearch, heterodox economics, and the political science perestroika movement list, to my current work with InterpretationandMethods and Theory, Policy and Society, not to mention my work with the Association of Internet Researchers. The work that I perform is primarily interpretive methods, from ethnography to textual analysis, though I’ve been known to use quantitative when it adds to the argument. The key to me though is to come to notion of understanding and being able to communicate what actually leads to certain understandings of the world. It concerns me that there are so many people with so many of the same issues across so many different disciplines and there is so little conversations amongst them. Though there are broad interdisciplinary efforts and efforts toward inclusion.

May 18, 2008   No Comments

book chapter: there is a gunman on campus



Brent and I have “Chapter 11: The April 16 Archive: Collecting and Preserving Memories of the Virginia Tech Tragedy” in the above book.

April 8, 2008   No Comments