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The Platonic Network

Alex-Wright Alex Wright, Author, Designer and ResearcherEtsy, The New York Times, and IBM@alexgrantwright
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, November 11, 201412:30 pm

In 1934, a little-known Belgian bibliographer named Paul Otlet described something very much like the World Wide Web, sketching out plans for a network of “electric telescopes” connecting people to a vast collection of documents, images, and audio-visual material. He dubbed the whole thing the Mundaneum, describing it as a “réseau mondial” – a worldwide web.

Why should anyone still pay attention to the failed schemes of a long-dead Belgian bibliographer? Otlet’s work matters today not just as a kind of historical curio, but because he envisioned a radically different kind of network: one driven not by corporate profit and personal vanity, but by a utopian vision of intellectual progress, social egalitarianism, and even spiritual liberation.

This presentation will delve deep into Otlet’s alternative vision of a global network, in search of useful lessons that could reshape our understanding of what the Web could yet become.

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Strange Bedfellows: Digital Humanities, Internet Art, and the Weird Internet

Darius-Kazemi Darius Kazemi, Independent Artist@tinysubversions
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, November 4, 201412:30 pm

Kazemi will discuss the “Weird Internet,” a wildly popular creative internet-native subculture, and its intersections with Digital Humanities and Internet Art (in the fine arts tradition).

The Big Data approach to analysis of texts is painfully limited in the knowledge it can produce. This talk will take Bruno Latour’s Compositionist Manifesto as well as the speaker’s personal history as a professional “online metrics” analyst as a jumping off point. We will look at  the composition of autonomous  agents and static texts alike, specifically the weird internet and internet art. We’ll see what these things do and discuss ways to send probes out into the world, and what can tell us that we can never gain through analysis of corpora.

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Models of Code and the Digital Architecture of Time

Andrew-Johnston Andrew Johnston, Assistant Professor of EnglishNorth Carolina State University @a_johnston
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, October 28, 201412:30 pm

Andrew Johnston will discuss a portion of his forthcoming book, Pulses of Abstraction: Episodes from a History of Animation, which traces the emergence of real-time computer graphics and animation in the 1970s. Focusing especially on a programming language developed through funding from the National Science Foundation and that language’s use at the art and engineering collective called the Circle Graphics Habitat at the University of Illinois, Chicago, this presentation provides an archaeology of how time and models of perception are coded within early digital graphics systems. The talk will show how animation was fundamental to the creation of these real-time systems, not only because filmmakers worked on the code and platforms that were used, but also because these technologies were built around understandings of time and action taken from cinema. Through an analysis of this history, the presentation argues that real-time computer graphics mark an epistemological shift around the interdependencies of film and other media as well as a broader transformation in the mid-twentieth century of how technologies were modeling perception.

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From Transformative Works to #transformDH: Digital Humanities as (Critical) Fandom

Alexis-Lothian Alexis Lothian, Assistant Professor of Women’s StudiesUniversity of Maryland College Park@alothian
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, October 21, 201412:30 pm

The identity of the field, network, discourse, or discipline of “Digital Humanities” is a source of endless discussion among its practitioners and critics – from conflicting genealogies of humanities computing and new media studies, to the gendered and raced institutional logics critiqued in the recent Differences issue on “The Dark Side of Digital Humanities.” This talk aims to chart an alternative path through the welter of definitional tangles by reinterpreting the world of digital humanities by taking seriously one of its more informal dimensions: the fervor with which digital humanist nerds and geeks appreciate their objects of study. I argue that digital humanities is a fandom – and that there is much to learn from attending to its processes and practices through the lenses developed both by fan studies scholars and by fans themselves. Participants in creative fan communities have theorized their own knowledge production as in conversation with, yet distinct from both media industrial and academic models; drawing from these approaches enables us to understand “digital humanities” as a phenomenon that need not be contained within the bounds of the academy. . . . Continue Reading

Without Innovation: African American Lifeworlds and the Internet of Things

Marisa-Parham Marisa Parham, Associate Professor of English Amherst College@amplify285
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, October 14, 201412:30 pm

This is the second talk in a series. (The first was a TEDx talk given at Amherst College in 2013). Each talk is a speculation on a set of questions about technology, embodiment, and temporality. How can we build a future when we have already had a past? How might we account for how unremembered pasts impact the good work we desire for the future? How do we think about future in a time when futures arrive more and more quickly? What happens to metaphor? To history?

In this talk I take as my conceptual starting point Angela Davis’ reading of Frederick Douglass’ telling of his own movement into human freedom, a tale that ends with his assertion that “however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” I end with a consideration of what is at stake in recognizing emergent parallels between the historical lives of African Americans and how the industrialization of the Internet has enabled our growing desire to optimize every object as intelligent extension of a masterful self. . . . Continue Reading

Listening Bodies, Digital Production, and the Pursuit of Invigorated Sonic Experiences

Stephanie-Ceraso Stephanie Ceraso, Assistant Professor of EnglishUniversity of Maryland Baltimore County@stephceraso
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, October 7, 201412:30 pm

Steph Ceraso will discuss her in-progress book project, Sounding Composition, Composing Sound, which re-imagines the teaching of listening in relation to digital media and multimodal experience. Drawing from the listening and composing practices of deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie, acoustic designers, and automotive acoustic engineers, Ceraso proposes an expansive, explicitly embodied listening pedagogy that is based on the concept of multimodal listening—attending to the sensory, material, and contextual aspects that comprise and shape a sonic event. Unlike ear-centric listening practices in which listeners’ main goal is to hear and interpret audible sound (often language), multimodal listening moves beyond the exclusively audible by emphasizing the ecological relationship between sound, bodies, and environments. In this talk, Ceraso will demonstrate how multimodal listening practices enable students to become more thoughtful, savvy consumers and producers of sound in digital composing environments and in their everyday lives.

 

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Prosopography and Crowding Attention

Alison-Booth Alison Booth, Professor of EnglishUniversity of Virginia@alison_booth
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, September 30, 201412:30 pm

Almost a century ago, Virginia Woolf lamented the absence of biographies of housemaids in the great national prosopography circa 1900, The Dictionary of National Biography.  Recent feminist scholarship continues to overlook other widespread records of women’s lives in print well before 1900, in collective biographies. Booth’s book, How to Make It as a Woman, called attention to this genre of prosopography, a rich repository of networked nonfiction narratives with far more varied female roles than in novels or sermons of the same period. Collective Biographies of Women (CBW) (Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities) is a digital platform for research on more than 8600 persons and 13,400 narratives in 1200 books (most by men, published primarily 1830-1940) in the bibliography (Scholars’ Lab).  CBW devised an XML stand-aside schema, Biographical Elements and Structure Schema (BESS), to develop a morphology of this genre, locating types of elements of biography at the level of the paragraph, within samples of collections. In planned collaboration with Social Networks and Archival Contexts and other prosopographies, we will contribute the only comprehensive study of printed biographies of women to the quest for global unique identifiers for all known persons. . . . Continue Reading

Spectacular Stunts and Digital Detachment: Connecting Effects to Affects in US Car Movies

Caetlin Benson-Allott Caetlin Benson-Allott, Assistant Professor of English and Core Faculty Member, Film and Media StudiesGeorgetown University @VideoPhD
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, April 22, 201412:30 pm

Car movies—movies that subordinate plot and character to chases and collisions—typically appear in cycles that coincide with breakthroughs in visual effects production, concomitant changes in production cultures, and—not coincidentally—devastating advancements in corporate globalization. Comparing the construction and ideological framing of automotive effects from the 1970s and 2000s US car movie cycles, I demonstrate how digital effects cultures are promoting neoliberal economies of spectacle through the same tropes their predecessors established to critique corporate culture. This analysis refutes prior critical dismissals of spectacle as mere visual stimulation, suggesting that its sensation also inspires political feelings

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New Voices in Digital Curation

Margo Padilla Margo Padilla, National Digital Stewardship ResidentLibrary of Congress and MITH@margo_padilla
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, April 15, 201412:30 pm

Residents from the National Digital Stewardship Residency cohort in Washington, D.C. will present on the digital stewardship projects they are engaged in at their host institutions. Margo Padilla, resident at MITH, will present her work on developing access models for born-digital collections. Molly Schwartz will discuss her project to make digital resources accessible in research libraries and the development of the Accessibility Toolkit for the Association of Research Libraries. Erica Titkemeyer will talk about her work at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, identifying the digital curation requirements of time‐based media art. Lauren Work will discuss the evaluation of at‐risk media to support digitization initiatives at PBS. More information about the residents and the residency program can be found here.

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There Is No Internet

Lori Emerson Lori Emerson, Assistant Professor of EnglishUniversity of Colorado at Boulder
MITH Conference RoomTuesday, April 1, 201412:30 pm

Emerson will discuss her current two-part book project, titled OTHER NETWORKS, and how it moves through both technical and user-based accounts of networks that outside of or before the Internet, asking both how and for whom each network works (in this case the “whom” will mostly be writers and artists). The project then looks at how the shift from rhetoric that celebrates liberationism via telecommunications networks in the 70s and 80s to rhetoric that calls for libertarianism via the Internet starting in the early to mid-90s may have actually been a kind of release of a repression. While you can trace an almost complete reversal of the meaning of ‘free’ and ‘open’ in relation to distributed networks to communitarian and even socialist, networks in the early 70s such as Community Memory and Project Cybersyn, you can also trace an even earlier reversal – perhaps the true seed of what’s called “cyberlibertarianism” – to the 1960s, in the conceptualization and design of ARPANet and ARPA-related networks that, in the spirit of the managerial theory of the day (just as much or perhaps more than in the spirit of the 1960s counter-culture), emphasized creativity, cooperation, and community. . . . Continue Reading