Archive for the ‘Media and News’ Category

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).

An Alberta researcher offers object lessons in the gamification of learning

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

I was interviewed by email the other day by Danny Bradbury from the Commerce Lab. The interview is now up at An Alberta researcher offers object lessons in the gamification of learning. Rereading the interview I’m struck by the disconnect between the research we do and what industry does. We do research for the sake of research, but often we don’t connect the research to the concrete problems of practicioners whether a teacher or in industry. For that matter, in the academy, most of us really don’t know much about the realities in business any more than other consumers. We make assumptions, but don’t check them. We don’t actually know what sort of research has been done or not in industry. That isn’t all our fault as industry tends to guard its research as a competitive advantage. Jane Jacobs in Systems of Survival describes the deep differences as between two ethical systems:

  • The Guardian system which is open and sharing, uses force and shuns trade.
  • The Commercial system that is competitive, thrifty, innovative and industrious

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Defining Digital Humanities

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Melissa Terras, Julianne Nyhan and Edward Vanhoutte have just edited a reader on Defining Digital Humanities. I have two works in this collection, “Is Humanities Computing an Academic Discipline”, which is a paper I gave for a seminar at the University of Virginia, and a blog entry “Inclusion in the Digital Humanities”. I also note that they have selected definitions (of DH) from the Day of Digital Humanities. This seems to be a trend now – books introducing the field include definitions culled from the project.

HedgeChatter – Social Media Stock Sentiment Analysis Dashboard

Monday, November 25th, 2013

HedgeChatter – Social Media Stock Sentiment Analysis Dashboard is a site that analyzes social media chatter about stocks and then lets you see how a stock is doing. In the picture above you can see the dashboard for Apple (APPL). Rolling over it you can see what people are saying over time – what the “Social Sentiment” is for the stock. I’m assuming with an account one can keep a portfolio and perhaps get alerts when the sentiment drops.

To do this they must have some sort of text analysis running that gives them the sentiment.

Arts in 60 Seconds: Research Lectures

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The University of Alberta has put together a set of short (60 second) lectures by faculty on what they do. See Arts in 60 seconds and ignore my one.

Supporting Digital Scholarship

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

The Tri-Council Agencies (Research councils of Canada) and selected other institutions (going under the rubric TC3+) have released an important Consultation Document titled Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada. You can see a summary blog entry from the CommerceLab, How big data is reshaping the future of digital scholarship in Canada. The document suggest that we have many of the components of a “well-functioning digital infrastructure ecosystem for research and innovation”, but that these are not coordinated and Canada is not keeping up. They propose three initiatives:

  • Establishing a Culture of Stewardship
  • Coordination of Stakeholder Engagement
  • Developing Capacity and Future Funding Parameters

The first initiative is about research data management and something we have been working on the digital humanities for some time. It is great to see a call from our funding agencies.

CIFAR: Do you have a question?

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Back in the Spring I blogged about how CIFAR was launching a new programme that might be open to humanists called, Do you have a question with the potential to change the world?. CIFAR doesn’t have much of a track record supporting arts or humanities research as their own reports note. An open call for questions would surely attract some questions that humanists would recognize. Alas, no.

Despite getting 280 Letters of Interest not one of the seven selected comes from the arts, humanities or social sciences. The closest is the Brain, Mind, and Consciousness project which is based in neuroscience and will apparently involve philosophers and ethicists. Here is the list of the seven selected for the next round:

  • Biology, Energy, and Technology
  • BrainLight: Cracking the Sensory Code
  • Brain, Mind, and Consciousness
  • Life in a Changing Ocean: New Perspectives on Marine Functions and Services
  • Making a Molecular Map of the Cell: Towards a Direct Determination of the Structure-Function Correlation of Biological Systems
  • Microbes and Humans
  • The Planetary Biodiversity Project

It is time to ask the question, Why doesn’t CIFAR support the arts and humanities? (In previous programmes they have supported the social sciences.) It is unbelievable that they did not get interesting questions from the humanities. Either no one bothered to submit an interesting question (which I happen to know is not true) or they aren’t interested in the questions we ask. Here are some of the some of the possible explanations I can think of for CIFAR’s ignorance:

  •  None of the 280 LOIs were of the quality of the seven selected.
  • The panel was composed primarily of scientists and engineers. The one humanist was Pauline Yu.
  • The type of questions they were looking for were not the sort we ask in the humanities. They were looking for questions that could be answered with a bit of money rather than the questions we deal with that may never be answered.
  • Their idea of “questions with the potential to change the world” does not include questions about government, race, democracy, culture, art, education or literature.
  • This programme wasn’t really intended as a way to bring in new areas of research as I was told when I asked about the dearth of humanities support.

I think it is time CIFAR be honest with the larger community and admit that they are focusing on support for research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine with some forays into the Social Sciences. No one would blame them for focusing their support. Deep in their reports they admit that “the growth of its programs in the social sciences and humanities has not kept pace with growth in the natural sciences” (Final Report CIFAR Performance Audit and Evaluation) though I frankly don’t see any growth at all.