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Poemita, an Experimental Online Writing Project

Figure 1: The five most repeated words from 2010-2013. The words and lines above show their recurrence in relation to each other throughout the corpus. See analysis of this and other charts below.

Poemita began in 2010. It means little poem in Spanish. The basic premise was to experiment with tweets as new forms of writing. I eventually decided to use it as a resource (think of it as data mulch) for various projects. Some of the tweets  are being repurposed as short narratives, which I have not released. Poemita was actually preceded by writing I developed for my video [Re]Cuts, a project influenced by William Burroughs’s cut-up method. I am in the process of producing a second video that uses actual tweets from Poemita.

I worked on Poemita on and off, sometimes not posting for months at a time. In fact, I don’t have a single post for the year 2011.  But during the month of August 2014, I realized that Poemita has been a project that is closely related to my ongoing remix of Theodor Adorno’s work in Minima Moralia Redux. It could be thought of as a negative version of that project (I am using the term “negative” here in dialectical terms). To allude to this relation, I inverted the color scheme for the word cloud visualizations of Poemita to be the opposite of Minima Moralia Redux’s. Poemita takes the concept of the aphorism as Adorno practiced it and tries to make the most of each tweet. Most of the postings are well under 140 characters, and they all try to reflect critically on different aspects of life and culture.  I try to do this creatively, and write content that may appear difficult to understand, but ultimately may not even make sense; the aim is to create the possibility for the reader  to see things that would not be possible otherwise. In short it is an experiment in creative writing, and this is why the project was titled Poemita.

I may not be able to post consistently, but I will certainly be posting tweets more regularly then before.  And I will eventually be repurposing the tweets in different ways to explore how context and presentation along with selectivity are ultimately  major elements  in the creative act. This will become clear as I release the tweets in different formats in the future. This, in essence, is a way of remixing data.

To reflect on where this project is going, I decided to analyze it as I would other texts to understand how it is constructed, and to evaluate the type of patterns that may be at play in my online writing. What follows, then, is a set of studies of  the tweets for the years 2010, 2012 and 2013. I will be releasing analysis of 2014 later, after the year is over.

First, it is worth looking at word clouds for the three years:

Poemita_2010Figure 2: Word cloud of tweets for 2010

 

Poemita_2012

Figure 3: Word cloud for tweets of 2012

 

Poemita_2013

Figure 4: Word cloud for tweets of 2013

Poemita_2010-13

Figure 5: Word cloud of tweets from 2010-2013.

We can note the top four or five words for each cloud for the respective years of 2010, 2012, and 2013 and consider how they eventually become part of the larger cloud for all of the years of 2010-2013. The number of occurrences could be accounted for yearly, but for the current purpose of this analysis, it should be sufficient to evaluate the number of words in the largest cloud for all three years (figure 5).

In the cloud above (figure 5), then,  there are a total of a 1,712 words and 863 unique words. The most used words besides articles and prepositions appear much larger. These words appear the following number of times in the actual body of the text:

Time: 12
Thought: 11
Sound: 7
Space: 5
Thoughts: 5

The word trend chart at the top of this page (figure 1) shows how these words relate to each other in terms of writing sequence. If you were to choose a particular node, you would be taken to the actual text and shown how the word appears in its context. The tool I used to this word analysis is Voyant. Seeing the words in a diagram provides a visual idea of how they relate to each other within the actual writing.

This gives a sense of repetition, and may even allude to certain interests in terms of content and ideas within the corpus of the text, but it does not provide a clear sense of how the words actually function, or under what context they recur. For this, the way the words are used in actual sentences can be mapped. In the following word trees, the top five words (in order of times repeated), Time, Thought, Sound, Space, and Thoughts are linked to all the phrases that follow them:

PoemitaTime10_13

Figure 6: The word “time” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.

PoemitaThought_10_13

Figure 7: The word “thought” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.

PoemitaSound10_13

Figure 8: The word “sound” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.

PoemitaSpace_10_13

Figure 8: The word “space” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.

 

PoemitaThoughts10_13

Figure 9: The word “thoughts” linked to the phrases that come after it. Click on the image to view a larger file.

The word trees above show how each of the words are implemented to create particular statements. At this point, it is possible to make certain assessments.  Let’s take the word “thoughts” (figure 9).  We can see that three out of five times it comes at the end of the sentences. We can also note that the exception to this is a reflective statement: “thoughts of grandeur.” Let’s take a look at the word “thought” (figure 7) and we can notice that it is part of a much more complex set of phrases. Two times, the word is part of the branching recurrences “Improvisation fills one with…” and “the very thought of…” But notice that in the last one thought is also followed by a period.

Finally, we can consider the words that come before these words. Let’s take the word “thought” for a brief example. For this we can use voyant:


At this point we can get a full sense of how the word recurs and how it functions each time it appears. This approach puts me in the position to evaluate what similarities and differences their implementation may share in order to evaluate particular tendencies I may have in my writing.

We could go on and examine the other top words in the same way, but this is enough to make my point.  It becomes evident that how the word “thought” and its plural “thoughts” are used has much variation in the creative approach in terms of twitting. At least, I, as the actual writer, become aware of the way that I tend to relate to the singular and plural instantiation. This in the end is a reflective exercise that enables me to be critically engaged in understanding my own tendencies as a writer. I plan to use this analytic approach to further the possibilities of writing tweets that can offer a lot more content just under 140 characters.

One of the issues that I assess in all this is the role of repetition.  One may think that repetitive occurrences are bad for creativity, but in practice, it is through repetition that we come to improve our craft and technique in any medium. In terms of how words are used or repeated, with analytical exercises like this one, a writer can come to understand how certain words recur and under what context, to then decide if to implement them differently or omit them altogether in future writing.

I certainly was not thinking that I would use these words the most when I began writing in 2010. They appear to recur and I’m not sure why, but the point is that now I can use this awareness to improve my own creative process.

This analysis can get very detailed, obviously, but this should be enough at this point. This is just a brief sample of how I am data-mining my own writing to also develop other projects  by remixing the content. I will also be mining twitter postings to evaluate how what I learn in this focused project may or may not appear to be at play in the way online communities communicate.

Preliminary Notes on Analysis of Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia

Detail of Minima Moralia 21 and 22 and their respective remixes

Image 1: Word cloud visualizations of Theodor Adorno’s Minima Morlia, aphorisms 21 and 22 on the left and their corresponding remixes on the right. (Click image for detail)

My first post for Minima Moralia Redux is dated October 16 2011, but I had done much research prior to this date. I had been reading extensively on Theodor Adorno and his work, while also creating visualizations of YouTube viral memes for my post-doc at The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen in affiliation with The Software Studies Lab in San Diego, now also based in NYC.  As I analyzed meme patterns, it became evident that much of the material that is discussed in terms of remixing in music and video, which is also quite popular across media culture, usually relies on acts of selectivity–meaning that with the ubiquity of cut/copy & paste, people tend to re-contextualize pre-existing material, much how DJs and producers used sampling to remix in dance music culture during the eighties. [1]

Image 2: Word cloud visualization of the first thirty aphorisms in Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia. (Click image to view large file)

Minima Moralia Redux is a type of mashup, itself, of art, writing as a literary act, and media research that explores how data visualization is providing new possibilities for understanding creative processes. The project explores the selective remix, which arguably is quite popular across culture since cut/copy and paste became a common act due to daily use of computers. Certainly this is the type of remixing that most people debate over in remix culture. The selective remix consists of evaluating the source material and deciding what to leave and what to omit, as well as what to add, all while making sure that the source material remains recognizable.[2]  This means that large parts are kept as originally produced while others may be radically different. A tension in authorship develops, as the remixer clearly shows creativity quite similar to an “author’s.” At the same time, the remixed work relies heavily on the cultural recognition of the author and his/her work.  Much has been written about such tensions, but it is my hope that the research I am now introducing here in preliminary fashion will be a contribution to understanding how we come to create works that appear to be autonomous and credited to a single person, and how we can move past such conventions to more productive approaches that do justice to the way culture is communicating at an ever increasing pace.

 

Image 3: Word cloud visualization of the remixes of the first thirty aphorisms in Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia (Click image for large file)

Minima Moralia Redux has various layers of significance. First, I wanted to explore, as I already explained, how the selective remix functions. I decided to do this by embedding myself in the process, as opposed to studying another person’s remix. In this project, I examine each entry carefully, do research on it, and eventually re-write it to make it relevant to issues that are taking place in contemporary times. While doing this, I keep in mind that it is the voice of Adorno that is at play here. This means that I need to make sure that Adorno’s theories remain his.  In other words, it is not necessarily my opinion that is expressed in the remixes, although I do take creative license and adjust– even critique Adorno’s views within his own writing. This is no different than a music remixer who often times will create a different piece of music, one which nevertheless, is not credited to him/her as author/artist, but only as a person who remixed the author’s work. In the case of music this is done in the commercial sector for increasing sales, but in remix culture, it is done because people may simply love doing it, and/or are fans of the artist/author.  Taking this approach with Adorno’s work, I argue, is only fair given that Adorno himself believed in revising one’s view on life and the world. In the 1960s, he admitted that some of his critical analysis in Dialectic of Enlightenment, which he co-wrote with Horkheimer, no longer stood their ground in 1969. He considers the book “a piece of documentation.” By this Adorno and Horkheimer let the book be part of history. [3]  Based on this critical position on his part, it is very unlikely, for instance, that in 2013, he would use the word “savage” as he did when he wrote aphorism 32.[4]  The result of this approach in Minima Moralia Redux is a new text that is clearly still in large part Adorno’s, but which I hope resonates with the language and issues of the twenty first century.

I rewrite each aphorism  one sentence at a time, evaluating it word for word. I study the history of particular words, and evaluate the sentence’s relevance during the times when the book was written. I then consider how it may be understood and at play in contemporary times. When I rewrite the aphorisms I am conscious of the way remixing functions in music and video, and apply it to writing to see what the results may be. At the same time, I become immersed in the creative process based on intuition as I am also interested in exploring aesthetics.  I use two translations for the rewriting of each entry. The first is by Dennis Redmond, available on Marxists.org, and the other is the official English publication of Minima Moralia translated by E. F. N. Jephcott for Verso Press. I combine parts from both sources, while adjusting sentence structure, and I add and delete material to come up with a statement that is relevant to contemporary times.

For the word cloud visualizations I use Many Eyes, an online resource developed by Martin Wattenberg for IBM. The clouds are useful to evaluate how often words are repeated in the original entries. The visualization of the original text appears at the top of each blog entry. The main section of each post consists of the remixed text with a link to the original source available on Marxists.org. At the bottom is a thumb image of the same visualization along with a second visualization of the actual remix. These thumb images are presented with each post to provide a quick understanding of how key terms are reused and others omitted, while others are added in accordance to the principles of selective remixing. The reader can click on each thumb image to view a detailed version and compare them. I provide two visualizations of aphorisms  at the top of this entry (image 1).

The visualizations expose the constant usage of particular words, and when comparing the original entries to the remixed versions, it becomes evident how selectivity is at play. For instance, one can notice in aphorisms 21 and 22 that some of the words that are more pronounced in the original entry are still repeated often in the remixed versions, while others disappear and others are added (larger words means more repetition, smaller, less frequent). This is similar to how remixing functions in music as well.  I am also evaluating sentence structure and actual number of word repetition for each visualization. I will be releasing a concrete analysis of all this in the future in connection to viral memes, as well as a set of YouTube video mashups. The latter research I have not made available online at all, but two of the videos part of this research can be found on page 106 in my book Remix Theory.  My research of the selective remix as found in the thirty entries that I share on this post is part of my examination of selectivity in other forms of online media production. The idea to look at how remixing functions in text developed out my research in analyzing video. My findings so far have been that there are patterns that certainly crossover among image, music and text, which enables the viewer or reader to sense how remixing is at play in particular pieces.

So far I have remixed thirty-five aphorisms, and provide visualizations of thirty of them as part of this post. Image 2 offers an overall sense of the originals, and image 3 a comparative sensibility of how they were changed after they were remixed.  The process behind the production of each remixed entry takes quite some time to perform, so it will be a while before I can release my final version of this project. This brief entry should at least provide some details on the process that makes Minima Moralia Redux possible.

Below I provide a two column comparative visualization of the first thirty aphorisms (image 4). On the left are the original entries, and on the right appear the remixes. Examining one next to the other provides an idea of how different patterns are at play within and across the originals and the remixes, while looking at them as a large group gives a sense of the aesthetics of writing as a creative act–something that certainly cannot be fully measured, but one could hope can be appreciated.

Image 4: A two column comparison of the first thirty aphorisms of Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia and their remixed versions. Comparing each aphorism with its corresponding remix shows the process of selectivity that takes place in remixing text, which is deliberately performed, in this case, along the line of music remixing.

 

[1] I go over much of this in my book: Remix Theory: The Aesthetics of Sampling.

[2] If  too much material is omitted, then the remix may start to lean towards other types of remixes which will not be discussed in this instance. See chapter three in Remix Theory.

[3]Mark Horkheimer & Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. Edmund Jephcott (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987), xi -xii.

[4] See my remix, which is an extensive critique of Adorno’s conflicted bourgeois position, by using his own words: http://minimamoraliaredux.blogspot.com/2013/06/minima-moralia-32.html

Text Release: Modular Complexity and Remix: The Collapse of Time and Space into Search, by Eduardo Navas

Note: This text was written for the peer review Journal AnthroVision 1.1 | 2012 : First issue. It was published in September of 2012. It is released here with permission from the editors. A special thanks to Nadine Wanono and the peer reviewers for all their support in the process of revising and publishing the text.  This essay is the first formal release of my post-doc research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at The University of Bergen, Norway in collaboration with The Software Studies Lab at Calit2, University of California, San Diego during the period of 2010-2012. I will be releasing more of my research in the near future. For now, you may also look over related material, available under Projects.

For proper text citation use:

Référence électronique
Eduardo Navas, « Modular Complexity and Remix: The Collapse of Time and Space into Search  », Anthrovision [En ligne], 1.1 | 2012, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2012, consulté le 15 mars 2013. URL : http://lodel.revues.org/10/anthrovision/324

Download and read the complete article: DownLoad PDF

Excerpt:

If postmodernity consisted of the collapse of time into space, then the time of globalization at the beginning of the twenty-first century consists of the collapse of time and space into search.  Culture has entered a stage in which time and space are redefined by modular access to knowledge in unprecedented fashion with the use of search engines. Search redefines the way people come to terms with historical developments that are constantly recycled and remixed with the use of new media technology.  A search is usually performed with engines such as Google and Bing; technology that is founded on research that brings together private and public interests.

This text is a reflection on the implications behind search algorithms that provide people with material that is relevant in correlation to a hierarchy of supposed importance that may reach great popularity, and perhaps even go viral (large circulation online) according to the use of key terms known as meta-data. This text is an evaluation of the aesthetics of search made possible because of what I call modular complexity; meaning, the ability to function within a system of modules that are autonomous but that also effectively inform and redefine each other.[1]  This, in effect, leads to the collapse of time and space into search; meaning, if the postmodern gave way to a sense of historical dismissal, such attitude is fully at play in networked culture as ahistoricity.  This shift, which informs emerging markets on the global network, repurposes interdisciplinary methodologies across fields of research in the social sciences as well as the humanities.

[1] I first introduce the concept of Modular Complexity in the Essay “Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability,” written for CSPA Journal’s Spring 2010 issue.  See: http://remixtheory.net/?p=461

Download and read the complete article: DownLoad PDF

Mobile Art Applications: Sensor-driven apps and the emerging aesthetics of mobility, by Eduardo Navas

Konfetti by Stephan Maximilian Huber.

This text was commissioned by mooove.com.  Excerpt follows below.  For the full text please visit mooove.com:

Mobile applications became quite popular when Apple’s smartphone, the iPhone, was introduced in 2007; reciprocally, apps are one of the reasons (if not the main reason) why the iPhone itself became so popular. Later, the popularity of its follow-up, the iPad tablet, cemented an emerging market’s strong interest in software development for mobile devices. Artists and designers began to experiment with app technology almost as soon as it was introduced, and the result has been the emerging aesthetics of mobility, which at the moment shows great potential for creative exploration in the arts in direct relation to diverse areas of information-based research.

Read the complete article at mooove.com

 

Collaboration as Process in the Exhibiting and Public Space, By Eduardo Navas

Living Light, designed by Soo-in Yang and David Benjamin

Image source: livinglightseoul.net/

This text was commissioned for the publication Future Exhibitions, Swedish Traveling Exhibitions, published in 2010. It is released as the third and last in a series of texts that were written during and after my residency for The  Swedish Traveling Exhibitions.

For the other texts, see:

1) When the Action Leaves the Museum: New Approaches to the Exhibition as a Tool of Communication.

2) Code Switching: Artists and Curators in Networked Culture

Note: This text is a brief analysis of the way exhibitions and art works were being redefined in 2010 and before by  the  growing ubiquity of interactive technology in art production and its presentation in art centers as well as public spaces.  Even though culture has experienced quite a few changes in social media and other forms of communication since this essay was originally written, the text is released online as a complement to its other forms of publication because it holds a critical position that is not contingent upon specific trends, but on long standing questions of art production.

Exhibitions at the beginning of the twenty-first century are becoming spaces of flux.  The usual static exhibition and installation with labels and proper cues for visitors to keep a safe distance—which is likely the default image that comes to mind when one thinks of museums and other public institutions—is being replaced by displays and installations that encourage some form of visitor interaction.  Interactivity can take place directly with the object, an online resource, or downloadable virtual tours, often with the aim not only to have an aesthetic experience but also to inform visitors on some issue.  While this new approach is certainly exciting, it also places real challenges for institutions in the arts and other fields on how to organize exhibitions that resonate with the contemporary audience.  In this regard, exhibitions tend to borrow from new forms of interaction often linked to artistic expression to highlight and bring audience’s attention to relevant information.  In what follows some of the variables that make exhibitions spaces of flux that increasingly rely on creative and even artistic solutions for engaging the audience will be discussed primarily in relation to art but will extend to other fields such as architecture, design, and the public space.

(more…)

Book Sprint on The New Aesthetic

This entry was originally posted on Vodule

Note: Previously this entry read “book print.”  This was a mistake on my part. It should be “book sprint.”

I recently read the “book sprint” New Aesthetic, New Anxieties by a group of media researchers, theorists and curators, who got together for three and a half days from June 17–21, 2012,  at V2, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

The concept of coming together for just a few days to brainstorm a book is certainly something worth considering as an act of creative critical practice.  The book from this standpoint functions surprisingly well, especially because its premise is delivered to match the speed of change that its subject (The New Aesthetic) experiences in the daily flow of information throughout the global network. I personally find amazing that a book of this sort can be put together with some cohesion.

The subject of the book is The New Aesthetic, a term /concept that has been making the rounds on the Internet for a bit over a year and a few months, but which really took off when Bruce Sterling wrote about it for Wired on April 2, 2012.  Since then many  have written about it; the latest manifestation is the book sprint.

With all respect to the authors, I will state that the text is not fully cohesive, as it becomes obvious that much of the content consists of copy/paste material that was clearly worked over to somewhat match a book format in just three and a half days.  Clearly some stuff had to be written on the spot, but many of the references in the footnotes could not be gathered so quickly–or at least everyone had to come prepared with some strong references to use well before the writing sessions would begin.  What the book sprint does accomplish is provide a good sense of the initial stages of The New Aesthetic in order to reposition the concept in terms of a more critical practice.  The New Aesthetic, based on what I have been reading about it for a few months now, is not a term initially invested in criticality, but rather it befriends trending strategies of the design world which more often than not is primarily invested in landing major corporate contracts.

I won’t dwell on my own views on The New Aesthetic in this case.  For now, I prefer to share some links that also complement The New Aesthetic, New Anxieties Book sprint.  They appear below.  I did not include the authors’ names, but you can certainly find them once you click on the links.

———–

The New Aesthetic Blog:

http://new-aesthetic.tumblr.com/

An Interview With James Bridle of the New Aesthetichttp://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/robert-urquhart/an-an-interview-with-jame_b_1498958.htm
The New Aesthetic: Waving at the Machines
http://booktwo.org/notebook/waving-at-machines/
An Essay on the New Aesthetichttp://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/04/an-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic/
In Response To Bruce Sterling’s “Essay On The New Aesthetic”
http://www.thecreatorsproject.com/blog/in-response-to-bruce-sterlings-essay-on-the-new-aesthetic
We are the droids we’re looking for: the New Aesthetic and its friendly critics
http://blog.jjcharlesworth.com/2012/05/07/we-are-the-droids-were-looking-for-the-new-aesthetic-and-its-friendly-critics/
What Is the “New Aesthetic”?
http://stunlaw.blogspot.com/2012/04/what-is-new-aesthetic.html
The New Aesthetic Revisited: the Debate Continues
http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2012/05/the-new-aesthetic-revisited-the-debate-continues/
#sxaesthetic
http://booktwo.org/notebook/sxaesthetic/
The New Aesthetic: Seeing Like Digital Devices at SXSW 2012
http://joannemcneil.com/index.php?/talks-and-such/new-aesthetic-at-sxsw-2012/
SXSW, the new aesthetic and commercial visual culture
http://noisydecentgraphics.typepad.com/design/2012/03/sxsw-the-new-aesthetic-and-commercial-visual-culture.html
The New Aesthetic
http://www.aaronland.info/weblog/2012/03/13/godhelpus/#sxaesthetic
SXSW, the new aesthetic and writing
http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2012/03/sxsw-the-new-aesthetic-and-writing.html
What is the New Aesthetic?
http://gizmodo.com/5901405/what-is-the-new-aesthetic
The New Aesthetic Needs To Get Weirder
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/the-new-aesthetic-needs-to-get-weirder/255838/
Bruce Sterling interviewed about the New Aesthetic
http://boingboing.net/2012/06/21/bruce-sterling-interviewed-abo.html
Why the New Aesthetic isn’t about 8bit retro, the Robot Readable World, computer vision and pirates
http://revdancatt.com/2012/04/07/why-the-new-aesthetic-isnt-about-8bit-retro-the-robot-readable-world-computer-vision-and-pirates/
The Banality of The New Aesthetic
http://www.furtherfield.org/features/banality-new-aesthetic
Is Fashion Ready for a New Aesthetic?
http://www.businessoffashion.com/2012/05/is-fashion-ready-for-a-new-aesthetic.html
New Aesthetic Street Art
http://hyperallergic.com/53662/new-aesthetic-street-art-jilly-ballistic/
The New Aesthetics: Problems and Polemics (Part 1)
http://www.realityaugmentedblog.com/2012/05/the-new-aesthetics-problems-and-polemics-part-1/
The New Aesthetic Problems and Polemics (Part II)
http://www.realityaugmentedblog.com/2012/05/the-new-aesthetic-problems-and-polemics-part-ii/
The New Aesthetic: Further Thoughts
http://www.realityaugmentedblog.com/2012/06/the-new-aesthetic-further-thoughts/

Early Updates on Facebook: How the “is” Became a State of Mind, by Eduardo Navas

Image: inversion Facebook’s front page.

Digging through my archives, I found the list of my early updates on Facebook.  When I joined Facebook back in 2008, personal updates read “What are you doing?” prompted with “Your Name is … ” I liked the idea behind positioning the Facebook user in a constant state of action.  It was like a performance online.  Because of this set up, I found myself always thinking of what I was actually doing at the moment that I entered Facebook, and thought of creative ways to approach the apparent triviality of the updates.

I thought that I would eventually develop a project with my updates, or that I would simply keep writing them as long as I was a Facebook member.  But then Facebook changed its status updates to state: “What’s on your mind?” and I could no longer perform my ongoing development towards a work of art. Thus my potential project apparently came to an abrupt end.

Below are the updates that part of me still hopes to use in some form to develop an interesting art project. But I don’t see that in the near or far future.  So for now (and possibly for as long as this post is visible), they function more as mundane documentation and, to some degree, as commentary on my early days on Facebook. I share them because I realized upon my re-reading that the banality of the posts as they now are updated by members of Facebook has not faded, but rather has become watered down to appear more “thoughtful.”  After all, how deep can one be when asked, “What’s on your mind?”  This is equivalent to being asked by an acquaintance when passing them on the street, “how are you?”

Notes below:

———–

Facebook “what are you doing notes”
At this time I did not request friends and had my setting fairly open to be seen on major search engines.

The notes below are listed exactly as they appeared on Facebook.  I began writing my status updates on March 20, 2008

March 20: Eduardo is looking at your profile.
March 26: Eduardo is still looking at your profile.
April 1: Eduardo is exchanging his labor for pleasure.
April 8: Eduardo is exchanging his pleasure for value.
April 12: Eduardo is debating the default state of the verb “to be” in the Facebook Interface.
April 18: Eduardo is reloading his home page to check out the adds on the left.
Apr 26, 2008: Eduardo is unable to fill this space with an action.
May 4, 2008: Eduardo is down with an empty statement.
May 13, 2008: Eduardo is excited about a new art project.
May 20, 2008: Eduardo is moving.
May 26, 2008: Eduardo is about to fly.
May 29, 2008: Eduardo is in Madrid.
June 5, 2008: Eduardo is on the move again…
June 6, 2008: Eduardo is in Barcelona
June 9, 2008: Eduardo is in Madrid, again.
June 16, 2008: Eduardo is back in LA.
June 17, 208: Eduardo is in San Diego and depressed, Lakers lost…
June 20, 2008: Eduardo is sick.  Some bug he caught.
June 24, 2008: Eduardo is now sick of writing, but cannot let go of the keyboard.
June 25, 2008: Eduardo is cool now. Not as in being cool, just cool.. now.
June 30, 2008: Eduardo is.
July 7, 2008: Eduardo is [re]revising.
July 15, 2008: Eduardo is down with the stoop.
July 19, 2008: Eduardo on the move, again–going east.
July 25, 2008: Eduardo is still on the east coast, working really hard.
August 5, 2008: Eduardo is looking at his belly.
August 20: Eduardo is simply busy.
September 8: Eduardo is killing mosquitoes with his bare hands.
September 18, 2008: Eduardo is, again.
September 20, 2008: Eduardo is forgetting to write in this space what he is doing.
October 3, 2008: Eduardo is looking at leaves falling.
October 10, 2008: Eduardo is releasing a new project: http://navasse.net/traceblog/about.html.
October 19, 2008: Eduardo is listening to his own music list: http://remixtheory.net/?page_id=328
October 28, 2008: Eduardo is preparing for a long long day.
November 4, 2008: Eduardo is looking at the polls (and has voted).
November 5, 2008: Eduardo is more than the verb to be today, because we can.
November 10, 2008: Eduardo is just out of smart things to say.
November 16, 2008: Eduardo is in the middle of wishing-happy-birthday week.
November 22, 2008: Eduardo is, has been, and will be in the middle of snow for a while..
November 29, 2008: Eduardo is quite sick of Turkey, but still willing to eat it.
December 9, 2008: Eduardo s tired.  Academic term almost over… Flying to warmer lands!
December 22, 2008: Eduardo is still cold.  Whatever happened to California weather?!
December 26, 2008: Eduardo is still cold, second update. People in Big Bear, CA must be happy…
January 5, 2008: Eduardo is up, packing.  About to go back east, yet again, back to Lalaland soon next month
January 7, 2008: Eduardo is back in the middle of snow, ice and lots and lots of rain.
January 19, 2008: Eduardo is enjoying MLK Day. Must stay up and work, work, work.
January 20, 2009: Eduardo is thinking about living history, or living in history, or living with history, or living-history: 44th presidential Inauguration of the President
February 1, 2009: Eduardo is going to watch the game with ambivalent critical distance…
February 7, 2009: Eduardo is simply chilling.  Yep.
February 14, 2009: Eduardo is trying to say something that will be well data-mined.
February 28, 2009: Eduardo noticed that “is” is no longer the default on Facebook.

At this time I took myself off search engines results and privacy settings were set to their safest set up.  I began to request friendships based on recommendations of people I might know, or suggested friends.

Facebook Update Status changed to “What’s on my mind”
March 16, 2009: Now I no longer need to be in a state of action, but simply express what’s on my mind.  We have entered a new stage of data-mining.
April 3, 2009: Spring.
April 16, 2009: Eduardo just figured out (quite late) why Facebook changed its status hook. (cause of twits…)

Research on Remix and Cultural Analtytics, Part 4

Image: Detail of sliced visualization of thirty video samples of Downfall remixes. See actual visualization below.

As part of my post doctoral research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, I am using cultural analytics techniques to analyze YouTube video remixes.  My research is done in collaboration with the Software Studies Lab at the University of California, San Diego. A big thank you to CRCA at Calit2 for providing a space for daily work during my stays in San Diego.

The following is an excerpt from an upcoming paper titled, “Modular Complexity and Remix: The Collapse of Time and Space into Search,” to be published in the peer review journal AnthroVision, Vol 1.1. A note will posted here, on Remix Theory, announcing when the complete paper is officially published.

The excerpt below is rather extensive for a blog post, but I find it necessary to share it in order to bring together elements discussed in previous posts on Remix and Cultural Analytics (see part 1 on the Charleston Mix, part 2 on Radiohead’s Lotus Flower, and part 3 on the Downfall parodies). The excerpt has been slightly edited to make direct reference to the previous postings, and therefore reads different from the version in the actual text, which makes reference to sections of the research paper where more extensive analysis is introduced. Consequently, in order for this post to make more sense, the previous three entries mentioned above should also be read.

The following excerpt references sliced visualizations of the three cases studies in order to analyze the patterns of remixing videos on YouTube. The reason for sharing part of my publication now is to bring together the observations made in previous postings, and to make evident how cultural analytics enables researchers invested in the digital humanities to examine cultural objects in new ways that were not possible prior to the digitalization process we have been experiencing for the last decades.

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To understand how a meme evolves based on the first remixes that a user may find can be evaluated by developing visualizations of the three cases studies that show the editing of the video footage over time.  To accomplish this, I took the frames of thirty videos of each meme and sliced them in order to examine the types of pattern the editing actually takes.  What we find is that with the Charleston Remixes the video footage stays practically the same except for a few remixes in which the footage of Leon and James dancing was used selectively as part of bigger projects.  “Mr. Scruff – Get a Move on | Charleston videoclip” is one of these exceptions, in which the video is re-edited to match the sound (see slice detail below).  Another is “Charleston & Lindy Hop Dance ReMix – iLLiFieD video.mix (Version),” (also see below).

Image: A two column slice visualization of the 29 of 30 remixes (one remix was omitted because the footage is not the same performance.  That video is not relevant to evaluate how the video footage of this meme is left intact).  For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Charleston Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

Image: this is a slice visualization of “The Charleston and Lindy Hop Dance Remix.”  When comparing this sliced image to other slices in the two-column visualization above, one can notice the selective process with which footage from the Charleston Style was used.   This video is much longer than the original footage, and has been compacted in order to show how the video was selectively edited.  To view this remix, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POupa2sW1UI&feature=player_embedded. This video was uploaded to YouTube on May2, 2009. View large version of this image.

Image: this is a slice visualization of “Mr. Scruff remix.”  When comparing the sliced image to the other slices in the two columns visualization above, one can notice how the same footage was edited repeatedly to match the beat and sections of the song. This video is much longer than the original footage, and has been compacted in order to show how the video was selectively edited.   Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bx5-itIA0pQ.   This video was uploaded to YouTube on January 10, 2008. View large version of this image.

Image: A two-column visualization of Lotus Flower Remixes.  The original video by Radiohead is on the top-left.  Most of the videos sliced in this sample were uploaded within the first two weeks after the original video was uploaded by Radiohead on February 16, 2011. For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Lotus Flower Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

In the Lotus Flower Remixes (See image above) we can note that the editing of the videos is quite diverse; the footage is remixed (heavily edited) to match the beat and the overall feel of the selected songs, with the very first videos.

The Downfall remixes (see figure below) consists of video footage that for the most part has been left intact. What is remixed is the fake translation of Hitler’s rant.  The subtitles for Hitler are sometimes in the middle of the screen, in others at the bottom; sometimes the typeface is small, and at times large.  But in the end the video footage is left intact and the translations very much obey the rhythm of the original editing.

Image: A two-column visualization of The Downfall Parody remixes.  The original video with no subtitles is on the top-left.  Videos sliced in this sample were uploaded between 2007 and 2011.  At the moment it is not certain whether the 2007 upload was the first because many remixes have been taken down by YouTube.  For a full list of this visualization visit: http://remixtheory.net/remixAnalytics/ and select “Downfall Video Slices.” View large version of this image.

Image: Visualization of Downfall video, with proper English subtitles.  The thin horizontal white bars near the bottom of the frame are the subtitles.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bmkUlXp5sk&feature=related.   Some of the remixes present the subtitles in yellow. View large version of this image.

Image: visualization of “Hitler’s Reaction to the new Kiss album,” a video remix in which Hitler rants about the album’s title “Sonic Boom.”  The subtitles (the thin horizontal white bars) in this case move all over the frame.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOLfppXhsk&feature=youtu.be. View large version of this image.

We can note in the three case studies that the approach of remixing is in part defined by the way the original remix or footage was produced.  With the Charleston Remixes, most contributions leave the video footage intact.  No major editing took place until September 2007, that is a year and four months after the first upload.  With the Lotus Flower Remixes, editing of the footage is done from the very beginning, while with the Downfall parodies, it does not place at all.  Why would this be?

Based on the diagrams (see the link “visualization of links” for each case study on the page remixAnalytics) and patterns of editing that I present, we can note that the later videos are in fact responses to previous productions.  In the Charleston Remixes, the video footage is left intact because it is intact in the first remix.  With Lotus Flower, the original footage by Radiohead is heavily edited, which gives remixers the license to immediately manipulate the footage in selective fashion—by omitting some parts of the footage while repeating others to match the selected songs.  With the Downfall remixes, the result is similar to the Charleston Remix: the footage is practically left alone because the meme demands that the basis of the meme be that only the text be remixed; therefore, the only major shift takes place with the placement of translations on the screen: sometimes on the middle, but for the most part at the bottom.  The only other shift we can notice with the subtitles is that they may crossover from one shot to the next based on the emphasis of the content that the remixer wants to make.  But none of the Charleston and Downfall videos are as heavily edited as the Lotus Flower remixes.  It is also worth noting that these are all selective remixes, which means that they all are dependent on a clear reference to the original source.[1]   If such reference is lost, then, the remix withers, and would become either a badly concocted reference, or simply a product on the verge of plagiarism.

One last element that needs to be considered, which apparently affects the production of the memes, as is also argued by a study on YouTube funded by Telefonica [2], and also supported by the research of Jean Burgess and Joshua Green [3] is that due to the viral emphasis on YouTube, online users are most likely to find an already remixed version of a video, and not the original if the remix has enjoyed more views.  The exception to this is Lotus Flower, for which YouTube apparently always offers the original video as part of possible selections, on the first page of all results.  This is likely because given Radiohead’s popularity, their YouTube channel has a large number of views.  For the Charleston, this is not always the case, as the original footage sometimes will not come up with certain video remixes.  For the Downfall meme, it is even more difficult to speculate how videos produced before 2007 affect users who currently search for the meme, because they are likely to find videos that are popular, but not necessarily the newest nor the oldest—but rather the most relevant based on the terms used for the search in relation to the number of views.

[1] For the full definition of the selective remix see “Selective and Reflexive Mashups.”

[2] Meeyoung Cha, Haewoon Kwak, Pablo Rodriguez, Yong-Yeol Ahn, and Sue Moon, “I Tube, You Tube, Everybody Tubes: Analyzing the World’s Largest User Generated Content Video System,” http://an.kaist.ac.kr/traces/papers/imc131-cha.pdf

[3] For Burgess and Green this is evident based on their assessment of the emphasis of presenting popular videos first, and the fact that YouTube members deliberately find ways to promote their videos to become as popular as possible. See Jean Burgess & Joshua Green, YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture (Cambridge: Polity, 2010), 74.

Introducing ImagePlot Software: explore patterns in large image collections

Image: 883 Manga series from the scanlation site OneManga.com.
Total number of pages: 1,074,790

Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass, 2010.

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ImagePlot is a free software tool that visualizes collections of images and video of any size. (The largest set we tried so was: 1,074,790 one megabyte images).

DOWNLOAD IMAGEPLOT 0.9

ImagePlot works on Mac, Windows, and Lunix.
Max visualization resolution: 2.5 GB (2,684,354,560 grayscale pixels, or 671,088,640 RGB pixels).

ImagePlot was developed by the Software Studies Initiative (softwarestudies.com) with support from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA).

Along with the program, we also distribute a number of articles by Lev Manovich, Jeremy Douglass and Tara Zepel that address methodologies for exploring large visual cultural data sets, and discuss our digital humanities projects which use ImagePlot. (The articles can be also downloaded directly from softwarestudies.com.)

Visualizations created with ImagePlot have been shown in science centers, art and design museums, and art galleries, including Graphic Design Museum (Breda, Netherlands), Gwangju Design Biennale (Korea), and The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.

ImagePlot software was developed as part of our Cultural Analytics research program.

Learn more about Imageplot at Software Studies.

Research on Remix and Cultural Analytics, Part 3

Image: detail of video montage grid of “Hitler’s angry reaction to the iPad.”  One of several remixes on Hitler’s Downfall.  Larger images of this montage and others with proper explanation are included below.

As part of my post doctoral research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, I am using cultural analytics techniques to analyze YouTube video remixes.  My research is done in collaboration with the Software Studies Lab at the University of California, San Diego. A big thank you to CRCA at Calit2 for providing a space for daily work during my stays in San Diego.

This is part 3 of a series of posts in which I introduce three case studies of YouTube video remixes. My first case study is the Charleston Style remixes.  The second case study is Radiohead’s Lotus Flower remixes.

In the above video, Hitler rants about the iPad’s lack of features.

I learned about the Downfall remixes while doing research for the Charleston Style remixes.  For a good assessment of its development, read Know your Meme’s blog post of August 1, 2011.   These parodies consist of various excerpts from a not so well-known film titled Downfall, released in 2004, about the last days of Hitler and his inner circle before they all committed suicide.   There are a few scenes that have been used for the remixes, but I chose the most popular, which is also the longest excerpt remixed, of about 3:59.  The footage presents Hitler being told by key members of his inner circle that Berlin is surrounded and that it is only a matter of time before the enemy reaches them in the city.  Hitler is upset about the fact that he was not told the truth sooner and rants for quite sometime to eventually come to terms with his certain defeat.

In the above video Hitler rants about not getting the role as the Joker in Batman.

The parodies consists of taking the original footage, and implementing subtitles in English that have nothing to do with what Hitler is actually saying in German.   Instead, the subtitles present him ranting about the lack of features of the iPad, his realization that Pokemon does not exist, and his disbelief that Kanye West was extremely rude to Taylor Swift when West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech at an MTV video awards to tell her that Beyonce was a much better music artist, among many other remixes.  I made a definite decision to focus on the Downfall remixes after I ran into one that showed Hitler upset about the “fact” that the Lotus Flower remixes had surpassed the Downfall Parodies’ popularity on YouTube.

In the above video Hitler rants about the Lotus Flower remixes.

I consider this reference a way of coming full circle between the memes.  With the Downfall parodies I was unable to find remixes before January 2007; and, therefore, I am not sure what the first parody may have been (check know your meme’s entry for a parody of 2006 that is no longer available); many which have been featured on articles by newspapers are no longer available on YouTube.   Nevertheless, new ones keep showing up, as reflections and commentaries of current events.


Montage grid of Downfall video, with proper English subtitles. 
View 2200px wide version Note that the resolution of the grid montage I make available does not allow for the subtitles to be read.

With the Downfall remixes, the result is similar to the Charleston Remix. In the Charleston, it is only the music that is switched, and for Downfall, only the subtitles are changed; therefore, the only major shift takes place with the formal placement of translations on the screen: sometimes on the middle of the screen, but for the most part at the bottom. For this reason, I’m only showing one montage grid visualization (above).

Visualization of Downfall with original English subtitles (no longer available on YouTube). View 2000px image. The thin horizontal white bars near the bottom of the frame are the subtitles.  To former link of this video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bmkUlXp5sk&feature=related.  

Visualization of “Hitler’s Reaction to the new Kiss album,” a video remix in which Hitler rants about the album’s title “Sonic Boom.”  View 2000px image. The subtitles (the thin horizontal white bars) in this case move all over the frame.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOLfppXhsk&feature=youtu.be.


Visualization of “Hitler Rejected For Joker In Batman 3.”
View 2000px image

Another shift we can notice with the subtitles is that they may crossover from one shot to the next based on the emphasis of the content that the remixer wants to make. But none of the Charleston and Downfall videos are heavily edited as the Lotus Flower remixes. I will compare at length the three case studies in part four of this series.

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