Archive for May, 2008

Visualizing Cultural Patterns

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

2517016818_a769262976.jpg

2516195007_e0d4edbcfb.jpg

Jeremy Douglass and Lev Manovich present interface design for Cultural Analytics Research Environment running on HiperWall, UCI, May 23, 2004.
Interface graphics: Bob and Sergie (UCSD Visual Arts Department).
Photos by Anne Helmond. More photos on Flickr.

Me and three other researchers from UCSD have been awarded Interdisciplinary Collaboratory Grant from UCSD Chancellor office to begin working on a project Visualizing Cultural Patterns. The following researchers are involved in the project:

Lev Manovich (Visual Arts);
Noah Wardrip-Fruin (Communication);
Falko Kuester (Calit2 and Structural Engineering);
Jim Hollan (Cognitive Science).

Project summary:

Digitization of media collections, the development of Web 2.0 and the rapid growth of social media have created unique opportunities to studying social and cultural processes in new ways. For the first time in human history, we have access to large amounts of data about people’s cultural behavior and preferences as well as cultural assets themselves in digital form. A growing number of researchers have already started to take advantage of these opportunities. We propose to extend this work in new directions by taking advantage of the unique combination of expertise by members of our team, which come from the departments of Visual Arts, Communication, Cognitive Science, and Structural Engineering.

Project description:

Contemporary science increasingly relies on computer-based analysis and visualization of large data sets and data flows. This approach has already yielded significant advances in many fields such as astronomy, geology, genetics, and linguistics. Its success is reflected in the National Science Foundation’s Cyberinfrastructure Vision for 21st Century Discovery document (2006) that emphasizes the development of tools for the collection, storage, analysis, and visualization of large data sets.

The joint availability of (a) large cultural data sets (through the Web and digitization efforts by museums and libraries) and (b) tools already employed in the sciences to analyze big data makes feasible a new methodology for the study of cultural processes and artifacts. If humanities have typically relied on the manual analysis of a small number of cultural objects, we can now create information visualizations of large cultural data sets to discover patterns that have not been visible previously. Some initial work has already been undertaken in this area. However, it is limited by its relative lack of interdisciplinarity. We believe that here at UCSD we can make field-defining progress in this area by bringing together people who study and create digital cultural artifacts, people who study distributed human cognition, and people who are developing computational tools for analysis, display, and interaction with large data sets.

Out team will create new kinds of multi-modal interfaces appropriate for the study and experience of large sets of cultural artifacts in different media. We will also bring together the visualization techniques normally used in science with the techniques developed in digital design and new media art. The practical outcome of our research will be Cultural Analytics Research Environment: an open platform which supports an analysis of different types of visual and media data and a variety of visualization and mapping techniques. To demonstrate the use of our approach, we will produce interactive visualizations of cultural flows, patterns, and relationships based on the analysis of large sets of data comparable in size to data sets used in sciences. We believe that such visualization environments will be used by a range of people – social scientists and cultural theorists who professionally study culture, students in art history, media studies, and communication studies classes, museum visitors, and cultural creators who want to better understand how their work fits within a larger context.

2516194833_41165cb232.jpg

2517017460_44cb4a85a8.jpg

2516968944_34d2e9d685.jpg

Jeremy Douglass and Lev Manovich present interface design for Cultural Analytics Research Environment running on HiperWall, UCI, May 23, 2004.
Interface graphics: Bob and Sergie (UCSD Visual Arts Department).
Photos by Anne Helmond. More photos on Flickr.