November 26th, 2014
Hashtagify.me is a neat site that tracks hashtags in Twitter. For example, here is what they have on #GameGate. They show the other hashtags that your hashtag connects to (like #NotYourShield) and you can get a trend line.
The trend makes it look like #GamerGate is going down, but I don’t trust their projection.
All of this is free. They also have a Pro account, but I haven’t tried that.
Thanks to Brett for this.
November 24th, 2014
The Red Bull Music Academy has a nice documentary series on Japanese video game music Digging in the Carts. They introduce the composers and they have remixes by people who were influenced by game music.
Thanks to Sandra for the pointer to this.
November 21st, 2014
The CRediT Project now has a Proposed Taxonomy for assigning credit. They have identified a short list of roles:
- Formal Analysis
- Data Curation
- Writing – Original Draft
- Writing – Review and Edit
- Project Administration
- Funding Acquisiton
They are looking for feedback.
November 13th, 2014
The Economist has a nice essay on The future of the book. (Thanks to Lynne for sending this along.) The essay has three interfaces:
- A listening interface
- A remediated book interface where you can flip pages
- A scrolling interface
As much as we have moved beyond skeuomorphic interfaces that carry over design cues from older objects, the book interface is actually attractive. It suits the topic, which is captured in the title of the essay, “From Papyrus to Pixels: The Digital Transformation Has Only Just Begun.”
The content of the essay looks at how books have been remediated over time (from scroll to print) and then discusses the current shifts to ebooks. It points out that the ebook market is not like the digital music market. People still like print books and they don’t like to pick them apart like they do albums. The essay is particularly interesting on the self-publishing phenomenon and how authors are bypassing publishers and stores by publishing through Amazon.
The last chapter talks about audio books, one of the formats of the essay itself, and other formats (like treadmill forms that flash words at speed). This is where they get to the “transformation that has only just begun.”
November 6th, 2014
Today we had our annual celebration of SSHRC funded researchers, SSHRC Stories and Success 2014. I introduced the speakers and the theme.
Thank you Associate Vice-President Johnston. Good afternoon colleagues, it is my pleasure to introduce the theme for this year’s event, which is:
Emerging Technologies: Competing Needs and Challenges
I should begin by confessing that as I was preparing for this, I had one of those Emperor’s new clothes research moments when I realized I had no idea what really are the emerging technologies and no metric with which to evaluate my intuitions. It is easy to become convinced certain technologies one understands are emergent, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other more important trends or that one isn’t blinded by ones commitments.
Fortunately it turned out that the Wikipedia actually has a list of emerging technologies to keep me honest so I have chosen a few from that list as a way of introducing the theme and the researchers who will talk to it.
- An area where there are a number of emerging technologies coming now to market is display technology and virtual reality. From consumer 3-D televisions that may or may not take off to Virtual Reality head sets like the Oculus Rift that was recently bought by Facebook for 2 billion – there is a lot of change in how we can watch on the horizon. I recently had a chance to try out the Occulus Rift development headset with content from Canadian research and design teams and it is a good news bad news story. The technology works and is solid – it won’t be long before it is brought to market, but there still is a nausea problem. Any of you who remember the VR excitement of 1990s will remember nausea was a problem then too. Maybe this is a re-emergining technology. More important than the technology, however, are the forms of engagement and immersion being imagined for the virtual and Patricia Boechler will be talking about The Third Dimension: Immersive Virtual Environments in Educational Research and Practice.
- Of particular interest to us here in Alberta is a second category of emerging technologies and those are the emerging energy technologies and resource extraction technologies. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released their 5th assessment report titled “Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change.” One of their conclusions for which there is high evidence and high agreement is that “deep cuts in emissions will require a diverse portfolio of policies, institutions, and technologies as well as changes in human behaviour and consumption patterns.” That sounds like a call for social science and humanities research and partnerships. The University of Alberta is one of the places where badly needed interdisciplinary research is emerging around the challenges of the interaction of technologies, policies and human behavior. The story of climate change and how we mitigate its effects is ours to study and change and today we have Gordon Gow who will talk about Stewarding Technology for Inclusive Innovation.
- The third emerging technology I want to mention goes under the rubric of the Internet of Things. The idea is that soon we will be able to afford to embed networked computing in everyday appliances like your refrigerator and associated consumer products like the milk that goes into the fridge. Then the fridge could keep track of the milk and automagically tell you when you needed to buy more. The conveniences are endless – I could use my smartphone to tell if I had left the stove on or really locked the door every morning before I turn back to check. But there is another side to such a network of things. Bruce Sterling, a science fiction writer, has an essay on the Internet of Things that argues that the story of the Internet of Things has an overlooked history (smart appliances crop up regularly), and that this time the story of convenience is being harnessed for economic surveillance. He rightly points out that we are not the customers of companies like Google and Facebook – the customers who pay Facebook for a service are the advertisers and those who buy data about us – . If all our appliances are capable of transmitting even more data about us, who will gather that data, who will mine it, benefit from it and sell the analysis? Kevin Haggerty, our second speaker thinks about surveillance issues broadly going beyond the hi-tech concerns I have and he will be talking about Technologies of Nature: Surveillance at the Limits of the Human.
In closing I want to say a few words about how the social sciences and humanities are turning to think through emerging technologies. The Canadian science fiction writer William Gibson who coined the term cyberspace and helped us imagine that emerging technology in his 1984 novel Neuromancer has famously said that “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Too often people outside the social sciences, arts and humanities think we are last to whom it is or should be distributed in the academy, but that is not the case historically nor today. If anything it is the social science, arts and humanities community that asks what technology is, how it emerges, how it is distributed, and how it can be used creatively. We are already deeply involved studying the emergence of technologies in the imagination and in use. We teach students to beware of the hype around technology and we teach them to use technologies creatively. What is emergent is a multifaceted and interdisciplinary engagement in research and teaching with technologies and their very idea.
November 1st, 2014
In all the GamerGate stories, an interesting move by Newsweek as to commission a study of GamerGate tweets. Taylor Wofford reported about the results in an article from October 25th, 2014 that is titled, Is GamerGate About Media Ethics or Harassing Women? Harassment, the Data Shows. The study was run by BrandWatch and they looked at who was the target of tweets with #gamegate. Low and behold the GamerGate community seemed more concerned with female game designers than journalists which calls into question the claim that GamerGate is really about ethics and games journalism.
We are now gathering tweets too and we will see if we can reproduce the results. At first glance the number of GamerGate tweets seems really low – they seem to be sampling. It will also be interesting to see if there has been a shift in emphasis in the discussion.
October 27th, 2014
IEEE Spectrum has an interview with Michael Jordan that touches on the Delusions of Big Data and Other Huge Engineering Efforts. He is worried about the white noise or false positives. If a dataset is big enough you can always find something to correlate with what you want. That doesn’t mean it is causal or informatively correlated. He predicts a “big-data winter” after the bubble of excitement pops.
After a bubble, when people invested and a lot of companies overpromised without providing serious analysis, it will bust. And soon, in a two- to five-year span, people will say, “The whole big-data thing came and went. It died. It was wrong.” I am predicting that.
October 19th, 2014
From a New Scientist article I learned about Traсes. Traces lets you leave a bundle of information (like a song and some greetings) for someone at a particular GPS location (and at a particular time.) You can thus use it to add gifts for other people to find. It strikes me a neat use of augmented reality. I can imagine all sorts of uses for it beyond gifts:
- One could use it to leave information about a place.
- It could be used by artists to leave AR works as imagined by William Gibson in Spook Country.
- One could create alternate reality games with it.
Alas, it is not available in the Canadian App Store.
October 19th, 2014
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From Slashdot I learned about The Cutting Room Floor, a wiki “dedicated to unearthing and researching unused and cut content from video games.” For example, they have information about Donkey Kong (Arcade) that includes unused music, unused graphics, hidden text (see above), and regional difference. Yet another example of how the fan community is doing history of videogames in innovative ways.
October 16th, 2014
The Trans-Atlantic Platform: Social Sciences and Humanities is a collaboration among social science and humanities funders in different countries. In their About Us page they describe the purpose of this collaborative platform thus:
This Trans-Atlantic Platform will enhance the ability of funders, research organizations and researchers to engage in transnational dialogue and collaboration. It will identify common challenges and promote a culture of digital scholarship in social science and humanities research. It will facilitate the formation of networks within the social sciences and humanities and help connect them with other disciplines. It will also heighten awareness of the crucial role the social sciences and humanities play in addressing 21st century challenges.
The T-AP is co-chaired by the (then) President of SSRHC and the Netherlands social sciences funding agency. It likewise seems to be co-administered by SSRHC and NWO Social Sciences. The T-AP got funding that helped launch it from the European Commission 7th Framework Programme.
What is interesting is who is in T-AP. The German DFG and Americans NEH/NSF are down as “associated partners”. Brazilian, Canadian, Finish, French, Mexican, Dutch, Portuguese, and UK funding organizations are “key partners.” (See Partners page.)
I also have questions about T-AP:
- Does this mean we will see more programmes like Digging into Data that can fund teams across countries? Wouldn’t it be great if a project could include the right people rather than the right people in Canada?
- Or, will we see thematic collaborations like call on Sustainable Urban Development?
- Will they try to harmonize research data policies?