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24 MARCH 2014

The Digital Methods Initiative

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."

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academic researchalgorithm • Almila Akdag Salah • Amsterdam • analytical machines • Anat Ben-David • Anne Helmond • Bernhard Rieder • blogosphereCarl Rogers • Carolin Gerlitz • Cass Sunsteinchart • chart data • Christine Hine • critical enquirydatadata analysisdata scraping • data sets • data visualisation • device critiques • digital methods • Digital Methods Initiative • Digital Methods Summer School • discussion forum • discussion lists • epistemological consequences • Erik Borra • Esther Weltevrede • folksonomiesFriedrich Kittler • Govcom.org • graphical visualisationshyperlink • hyperlink analysis • index • information environments • information validity • Issue Crawler • Jay David Bolter • Koen Martens • Lev Manovich • Liliana Bounegru • Lonneke van der Velden • Marc Tuters • Marieke van Dijk • Matthew Fuller • Michael Stevenson • Nadia Dresscher-Lambertus • Natalia Sanchez Querubin • natively digital • Net Locator • new medianew methods • older media forms • online newssphere • politicalrecommender culturereferenceremediationRichard Grusin • Richard Rogers • Sabine Niederer • scrapesearch engine • Simeona Petkova • social bookmarking • software-makers • summer schooltag • technical specificities • telephone network • Thomas Elsaesser • thread • virtual methods • web epistemology

CONTRIBUTOR

Linda Carroli
18 MAY 2010

We Feel Fine is an exploration of human emotion on a global scale

"Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases 'I feel' and 'I am feeling'. When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the 'feeling' expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 – 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

The interface to this data is a self–organizing particle system, where each particle represents a single feeling posted by a single individual. The particles' properties–color, size, shape, opacity–indicate the nature of the feeling inside, and any particle can be clicked to reveal the full sentence or photograph it contains. The particles careen wildly around the screen until asked to self–organize along any number of axes, expressing various pictures of human emotion. We Feel Fine paints these pictures in six formal movements titled: Madness, Murmurs, Montage, Mobs, Metrics, and Mounds.

At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what's on our blogs, what's in our hearts, what's in our minds. We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life."

(Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar, May 2006)

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2005artworkbig data • blog entries • culturedatadata collection and analysisdata scrapingdatabase • demographic • depressed • everydayfeelinggeographical locationgraphic representation • happy • human emotion • human feelingsI am feeling • I feel • information aestheticsinformation graphicsinteraction designinteractiveinterfaceJonathan Harrismadnessmedia artmetrics • mobs • montage • mounds • murmurs • opinion miningparticle systemspatternpatterns of human behaviourphrase • sad • scrapesentiment analysisSep Kamvarvisual depictionvisualisation • We Feel Fine • weblog

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 MARCH 2005

Palimpsest: Scraped Again

"A palimpsest, from the Greek word palimpsestos meaning 'scraped again,' is a manuscript written on parchment that has another text written over it, leaving two (or more) layers of visible writing. Palimpsests were common in antiquity because parchment for writing was scarce and costly. As certain kinds of texts went in and out of literary fashion, manuscripts were recycled and reused, their original content rubbed away and overwritten."

(Lexi Krock, WGBH Educational Foundation)

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Greekoverlay • overwrite • palimpsest • parchment • PBSre-inscription • recycled • reused • scrapesurface
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