On Making in the Digital Humanities fills a gap in our understanding of digital humanities projects and craft by exploring the processes of making as much as the products that arise from it. The volume draws focus to the interwoven layers of human and technological textures that constitute digital humanities scholarship.
On Making in the Digital Humanities is finally out from UCL Press. The book honours the work of John Bradley and those in the digital humanities who share their scholarship through projects. Stéfan Sinclair and I first started work on it years ago and were soon joined by Juliane Nyhan and later Alexandra Ortolja-Baird. It is a pleasure to see it finished.
I co-wrote the Introduction with Nyhan and wrote a final chapter on “If Voyant then Spyral: Remembering Stéfan Sinclair: A discourse on practice in the digital humanities.” Stéfan passed during the editing of this.
When Jason Allen submitted his “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” into the Colorado State Fair’s fine arts competition last week, the sumptuous print was an immediate hit. It also marked a new milestone in the growth of artificial intelligence.
I can’t help thinking that an important part of art is the making. When I make art things they are amateurish and wouldn’t win any prizes, but I enjoy the making and improving at making. Having played with Midjourney it does have some of the pleasures of creating, but now the creation is through iteratively trying different combinations of words.
Anatomy of an AI System – The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data and planetary resources. By Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler (2018)
Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler have created a powerful infographic and web site, Anatomy of an AI System. The dark illustration and site are an essay that starts with the Amazon Echo and then sketches out the global anatomy of this apparently simple AI appliance. They do this by looking at where the materials come from, where the labour comes from (and goes), and the underlying infrastructure.
Put simply: each small moment of convenience – be it answering a question, turning on a light, or playing a song – requires a vast planetary network, fueled by the extraction of non-renewable materials, labor, and data.
The essay/visualization is a powerful example of how we can learn by critically examining the technologies around us.
Just as the Greek chimera was a mythological animal that was part lion, goat, snake and monster, the Echo user is simultaneously a consumer, a resource, a worker, and a product.
I have long been interested in Jacques Bertin, a pioneer in thinking about visualization. His Semiology of Graphics is a classic. I had been thinking it would be great to try or simulate his way of doing cluster analysis with physical matrices which he called “dominos”. I was therefore pleased to see that someone has recreated his matrices, see DIY Matrix.
Update: They also have a web application called Bertifier that allows you to try it virtually. This interactive allows you to choose different ways of decorating the blocks and will then also reorder them. It is fascinating to play with.
Now I have something I want to print on a fabricator.
Sean pointed me to a video (abvoe) explaining the working of a real Turing Machine built by Mike Davey in Wisconsin. It is worth noting that Turing didn’t (to my knowledge) every try to make the machine he described for theoretical purposes. Also worth noting (as is clear in the video) is that there are actually 3 settings for each position: nothing, 0 or 1.