Archive for the ‘Media and News’ Category

Trans-Atlantic Platform

Thursday, 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?

Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

AdobDR4

Nate Hoffelder on The Digital Reader blog has broken a story about how Adobe is Spying on Users, Collecting Data on Their eBook Libraries. He and Arts Technica report that the Adobe’s Digital Editions 4 send data home about what you read and how far (what page) you get to. The data is sent in plain text.

Hoffelder used a tool called Wireshark to look at what was being sent out from his computer.

Gamergate: the community is eating itself but there should be room for all

Friday, September 5th, 2014

The Guardian has a good story summarizing the Gamergate controversy. This follows an essay about How to attack a woman who works in video gaming that outlined the attacks on Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency and Zoe Quinn. A hard-core of gamers seem concerned that game journalists are falling for political correctness and that so they are abusing and threatening women designers and critics.

The abuse mirrors the violence against women that Sarkeesian points out in the video essay above. Abuse of women is used as background plot decoration. The abuse provides a “quick emotional punch to the player” making it quickly clear who are the bad guys players can kill so they can save the women (or watch them be abused first). Now that the abuse is happening for real in the gaming community we should ask if some trolls have started to behave in imitation of game worlds they take as normative. Life imitates arts when we take an art too seriously. It is time to study the homosocial environments that have evolved around gaming and in gaming to understand the ideas of masculinity that have become currency.

And the abuse should stop.

The clock is ticking for an aging Asia

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

George Magnus has written two insightful articles in the Nikkei Asian Review on the impact of an aging population on Asian countries. The first, The clock is ticking for an aging Asia goes beyond the usual stories on Japan to look at other countries including India. The second, Strategies for winning the demographic battle looks at what is being done and what could be done.

What does this mean for the games industry in Japan and, more generally Asia? First of all, we need to remember that the Asian games industry is growing dramatically as the large countries like India and China get wired and videogame-capable systems (smartphones and tablets) become accessible. It will be interesting to see what happens as this audience ages. Second, we in the West are not necessarily the obvious export audience for Japanese games – Japanese companies may turn to focus more on South Korea and China than North America and Europe. There are cultural continuities that make certain types of Japanese games more likely to appeal in Asia than in the west. For example, warring state games – ie. games that have as a background the shared mythology of medieval warring states (whether the period of civil war in Japan or that of China.) Third, we could see Japanese companies developing games for the west in the Philippines as they move development offshore the way they have moved ship building.

To be honest, I am just guessing. I feel we need to understand the Asian game market to understand Japan (rather than thinking of Japan as our other), but I’m not sure where things are going. Magnus’ articles are the best news I’ve read on the issue of aging populations for some time.

NovelTM: Text Mining the Novel

Friday, August 29th, 2014

This week SSHRC announced the new partnership grants awarded including one I am a co-investigator on, NovelTM: Text Mining the Novel.

This project brings together researchers and partners from 21 different academic and non-academic institutions to produce the first large-scale quantitative history of the novel. Our aim is to bring new computational approaches in the field of text mining to the study of literature as well as bring the unique knowledge of literary studies to bear on larger debates about data mining and the place of information technology within society.

NovelTM is led by Andrew Piper at McGill University. At the University of Alberta I will be gathering a team that will share the resulting computing methods through TAPoR and developing recipes or tutorials so that others can try them.

Around the World Conference

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

ATW_Logo

Today we are running the Around the World Conference from the University of Alberta. This year’s topic is privacy and surveillance in the digital age. The Kule Institute for Advanced Study is hosting this online conference. Here are some of my opening comments,

I would like to welcome you to our second Around the World Conference. This year’s conference is on Privacy and Surveillance in the Digital Age.

The ATW conference was the idea of the Founding Director of KIAS, Jerry Varsava. The idea is to support a truly international discussion around a topic that concerns us all around the world.

This year we have speakers from 11 countries including Nigeria, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Italy, Israel, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, the US, and of course Canada.

This ATW conference is an experiment. It is an experiment because it is difficult to coordinate the technology across so many countries and institutions. It is an experiment in finding ways to move ideas without moving bodies. It is an experiment in global discussion.

Waging Culture: Comparison of 2007 to 2012

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

The agYU (Art Gallery of York University) has posted a summary comparison of how much artists made in 2007 and in 2012. See Out There – Waging Culture: Snapshot comparison of 2007 to 2012 results. There hasn’t been a lot of change in the bottom line for artists (they still don’t make much.) What is depressing is how little the average arts practicioner makes from their practice. The mean for 2012 is $2,300 a year (after expenses.) Most artists are surviving from art-related income. Even then, the 2012 mean for practice and art-related income is $21,490.

In a different blog entry on Methodology in Short they talk about the purpose of the Waging Culture survey,

There are some significant issues with using Census data in researching visual artists. As the Census accounts only for the “main” occupation of an individual, those artists who hold day-jobs are not counted as artists, and thus a significant set of artists simply disappear into the need for simplicity in defining occupation. In addition, there is no breakdown of the various source of incomes for those who are identified as artists. In both instances, these lapses can and do lead to significant misunderstandings of the socio-economic health of artists. For example, while the median income of artists in the 2007 study was $20,000, this included income from all sources. Income from studio practice alone, however, was negative $556.

Front Row to Fashion Week – NYTimes.com

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

The New York Times has an interesting way of visualizing fashion that you can see in their article Front Row to Fashion Week – Interactive Feature. They have abstracted the colour hues to create small swatches of different designers who showed at the New York Fashion Week. These “sparklines” or sparkboxes are an interesting way to compare the shows by designers.

Truth and Reconciliation

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Yesterday we went to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission event here in Edmonton, Alberta. Edmonton is the last national event before the commissioners start working on a report for 2015.

No blog entry can capture the learning and emotions of attending just a small part of the event. In the end I could only listen to some of the testimony before being overcome. I will never forget a survivor of a residential school here in St. Albert (outside of Edmonton) talking about how he and other boys would be sent out into the cold to dig graves for those who died. Imagine boys of 9 to 13 in minus 30 degree weather burying their classmates with no support from anyone.

I am reminded of Hannah Arendt’s phrase “banality of evil” which she uses to describe the character of a different evil. This evil unfolded with educational intentions, something we educators should remember. This evil unfolded with the complicity of the major churches who set up and ran the schools, something those of us who belong to churches should remember. Here is a map of the residential schools run by the Anglican church to which I belong. This evil affects the survivors and their families still. Homelessness, (is) one lasting impact of Indian residential schools.

In his closing address, Commission Chair Justice Murray Sinclair, talked about how, now that we have heard truth, we need to turn to reconciliation. As one of the final speakers put it, “The Journey is On!”

Nel Mondo delle Digital Humanities – TechnoNews

Friday, March 7th, 2014


Giorgio Guzzetta has edited an interview taped with me in Italian at Nel Mondo delle Digital Humanities – TechnoNews. He posted both the edited video (see above) and the full interview with the noise of Rome in the background. With Domenico Fiormonte he also wrote an essay “Nel Mondo delle Digital Humanities” (In the World of Digital Humanities).