Call for Participation – Digital Methods Summer School 2014, On Geolocation: Remote Event Analysis (Mapping Conflicts, Disasters, Elections and other Events with Online and Social Media Data), 23 June – 4 July 2014
"The Digital Methods Initiative is a contribution to doing research into the 'natively digital'. Consider, for example, the hyperlink, the thread and the tag. Each may 'remediate' older media forms (reference, telephone chain, book index), and genealogical histories remain useful (Bolter/Grusin, 1999; Elsaesser, 2005; Kittler, 1995). At the same time new media environments – and the software–makers – have implemented these concepts, algorithmically, in ways that may resist familiar thinking as well as methods (Manovich, 2005; Fuller, 2007). In other words, the effort is not simply to import well–known methods – be they from humanities, social science or computing. Rather, the focus is on how methods may change, however slightly or wholesale, owing to the technical specificities of new media.
The initiative is twofold. First, we wish to interrogate what scholars have called 'virtual methods,' ascertaining the extent to which the new methods can stake claim to taking into account the differences that new media make (Hine, 2005). Second, we desire to create a platform to display the tools and methods to perform research that, also, can take advantage of 'web epistemology'. The web may have distinctive ways of recommending information (Rogers, 2004; Sunstein, 2006). Which digital methods innovate with and also critically display the recommender culture that is at the heart of new media information environments?
Amsterdam–based new media scholars have been developing methods, techniques and tools since 1999, starting with the Net Locator and, later, the Issue Crawler, which focuses on hyperlink analysis (Govcom.org, 1999, 2001). Since then a set of allied tools and independent modules have been made to extend the research into the blogosphere, online newssphere, discussion lists and forums, folksonomies as well as search engine behavior. These tools include scripts to scrape web, blog, news, image and social bookmarking search engines, as well as simple analytical machines that output data sets as well as graphical visualizations.
The analyses may lead to device critiques – exercises in deconstructing the political and epistemological consequences of algorithms. They may lead to critical inquiries into debates about the value and reputation of information."
"Although a folksonomy is not a controlled vocabulary, and certainly does have limitations, there are important strengths that are important to understanding the appeal and utility of such systems.
Browsing vs. Finding
The first is serendipity. While the controlled vocabulary issues discussed above may hamper findability, browsing the system and its interlinked related tag sets is wonderful for finding things unexpectedly in a general area. In researching this paper, exploring the bookmarks tagged with 'folksonomy' on Delicious, there were many recent resources from a wide variety of authors and sites that I likely would never have been exposed to.
There is a fundamental difference in the activities of browsing to find interesting content, as opposed to direct searching to find relevant documents in a query. It is similar to the difference between exploring a problem space to formulate questions, as opposed to actually looking for answers to specifically formulated questions. Information seeking behavior varies based on context. While one could evaluate a folksonomy in a system like Delicious or Flickr by using specific queries from users, and then evaluating which documents tagged with keywords they choose are relevant to the query, that would ignore the broader set of browsing activities that the system seems to be stronger in. Measuring the utility of that aspect would likely require qualitative research in the form of interviews or ethnographic study of users, and is an area of further study. It would also require comparisons not to search based information retrieval systems, but to browsing activities using other categorization and classification schemes."
(Adam Mathes, December 2004)
"Flickr Hive Mind is a search engine as well as an experiment in the power of Folksonomies. All thumbnail images come directly from Flickr, none are stored on Flickr Hive Mind. ... Flickr Hive Mind uses the Flickr API."
"The broad folksonomy has many people tagging the same object and every person can tag the object with their own tags in their own vocabulary. This lends itself very easy to applying the power law curve (power curve) and/or net effect to the results of many people tagging. The power terms and the long tail both work.
From a high level we see a person creates the object (content) and makes it accessible to others. Other people (groups of people with the same vocabulary represented people blobs and noted with alphabet letters) tag the object (lines with arrows pointing away from the people) with their own terms (represented by numbers). The people also find the information (arrows on lines pointing from the numeric tags back to the people blobs) based on the tags."
(Thomas Vander Wal)
"Thomas Vander Wal will provide an overview on tagging services and outline where there is value in tagging. This will focus on what is different in folksonomy that improves upon tagging, so that it becomes a powerful tool. Thomas will provides insights to help answer when to use tagging and/or categories, who should be tagging, the value of a tagcloud (or lack of value) when used properly, and how to create value from tagging to improve the sites and services we build."
(Thomas Vander Wal, 8 September 2006)