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jatolbert

DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly: A Genealogy of Distant Reading - 0 views

  • Because Radway’s voice is candid and engaging, the book may not always sound like social science.
    • jatolbert
       
      I wonder what social science he's been reading.
  • In calling this approach minimally "scientific," I don’t mean to imply that we must suddenly adopt all the mores of chemists, or even psychologists
    • jatolbert
       
      And yet the effect is the same: scientizing processes and products which by their very natures as human works resist scientific analysis.
  • social science
    • jatolbert
       
      Again, this is a very different social science from that in which I received my own training, which has long held to the notion that objectivity is not only unobtainable, but undesirable.
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  • But computational methods now matter deeply for literary history, because they can be applied to large digital libraries, guided by a theoretical framework that tells us how to pose meaningful questions on a social scale.
    • jatolbert
       
      I wonder about this. Is he suggesting that examining a large corpus of published works is the same as examining an entire society? This would seem to ignore issues of access and audience, literacy, representation, etc.
  • The term digital humanities stages intellectual life as a dialogue between humanists and machines. Instead of explicitly foregrounding experimental methods, it underlines a boundary between the humanities and social science.
  • Conflations of that kind could begin to create an unproductive debate, where parties to the debate fail to grasp the reason for disagreement, because they misunderstand each other’s real positions and commitments.
    • jatolbert
       
      Similar to the conflation of sociology with all of the social sciences.
  • the past
    • jatolbert
       
      Is it appropriate to conflate the -literary- past with -the past-? That is, can any study based wholly on texts claim to be in any way representative of things outside the sphere of what we call "literature"?
jatolbert

The Digital-Humanities Bust - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 0 views

  • To ask about the field is really to ask how or what DH knows, and what it allows us to know. The answer, it turns out, is not much.

    Let’s begin with the tension between promise and product. Any neophyte to digital-humanities literature notices its extravagant rhetoric of exuberance. The field may be "transforming long-established disciplines like history or literary criticism," according to a Stanford Literary Lab email likely unread or disregarded by a majority in those disciplines. Laura Mandell, director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M University, promises to break "the book format" without explaining why one might want to — even as books, against all predictions, doggedly persist, filling the airplane-hanger-sized warehouses of Amazon.com.

  • A similar shortfall is evident when digital humanists turn to straight literary criticism. "Distant reading," a method of studying novels without reading them, uses computer scanning to search for "units that are much smaller or much larger than the text" (in Franco Moretti’s words) — tropes, at one end, genres or systems, at the other. One of the most intelligent examples of the technique is Richard Jean So and Andrew Piper’s 2016 Atlantic article, "How Has the MFA Changed the American Novel?" (based on their research for articles published in academic journals). The authors set out to quantify "how similar authors were across a range of literary aspects, including diction, style, theme, setting." But they never cite exactly what the computers were asked to quantify. In the real world of novels, after all, style, theme, and character are often achieved relationally — that is, without leaving a trace in words or phrases recognizable as patterns by a program.
  • Perhaps toward that end, So, an assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago, wrote an elaborate article in Critical Inquiry with Hoyt Long (also of Chicago) on the uses of machine learning and "literary pattern recognition" in the study of modernist haiku poetry. Here they actually do specify what they instructed programmers to look for, and what computers actually counted. But the explanation introduces new problems that somehow escape the authors. By their own admission, some of their interpretations derive from what they knew "in advance"; hence the findings do not need the data and, as a result, are somewhat pointless. After 30 pages of highly technical discussion, the payoff is to tell us that haikus have formal features different from other short poems. We already knew that.
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  • The outsized promises of big-data mining (which have been a fixture in big-figure grant proposals) seem curiously stuck at the level of confident assertion. In a 2011 New Left Review article, "Network Theory, Plot Analysis," Moretti gives us a promissory note that characterizes a lot of DH writing: "One day, after we add to these skeletons the layers of direction, weight and semantics, those richer images will perhaps make us see different genres — tragedies and comedies; picaresque, gothic, Bildungsroman … — as different shapes; ideally, they may even make visible the micro-patterns out of which these larger network shapes emerge."

    But what are the semantics of a shape when measured against the tragedy to which it corresponds? If "shape" is only a place-holder meant to allow for more-complex calculations of literary meaning (disburdened of their annoyingly human baggage), by what synesthetic principle do we reconvert it into its original, now reconfigured, genre-form? It is not simply that no answers are provided; it is that DH never asks the questions. And without them, how can Moretti’s "one day" ever arrive?

  • For all its resources, the digital humanities makes a rookie mistake: It confuses more information for more knowledge. DH doesn’t know why it thinks it knows what it does not know. And that is an odd place for a science to be.
Todd Suomela

This VR cycle is dead | TechCrunch - 0 views

  • Occasional training tool and/or the future of high end entertainment — just possibly. But, hey, no one likes to feel sick at the movies. Feeling like you want to barf is only a good use of your time and energy if you’ve eaten something that might otherwise kill you.

    The wider question in the gaming space, which excels at entertainment and escapism, remains how big VR might get when the hardware isn’t so pricey and clunky, and when investing time and energy in building compelling content can start to look like less of a sinkhole prospect for developers who can now be seen pulling their horns in.

    These same types of content makers may well be having their heads turned by the potential of AR gaming. Which can, as noted above, already point to the existence of essential content generating wild excitement among millions of consumers.

    Rather like the solar eclipse, AR has been shown turning masses of heads and even gathering huge crowds of like-minded folks together in public.

    For now there is simply no argument: AR > VR.

  • As TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney noted: “Over the past several months it’s become clear that the war is no longer HTC and Oculus trying to discover who is Betamax and who is VHS, now they’re just trying to ensure that high-end VR doesn’t turn out to be LaserDisc. Though few of the big players are keen to readily admit it, many investors and analysts have been less than thrilled with the pace of headset sales over the past year.”

    The bald fact that neither HTC nor Facebook/Oculus has released sales figures for their respective VR headsets speaks volumes. (Analyst estimates aren’t generous, suggesting <500k units apiece.)

    Sony did put out some sales figures for its Playstation VR headset in February which caused some initial excitement — with the company claiming 915,000 units sold since October 2016.

    But by June that figure had merely drifted past 1M.

Todd Suomela

Gazepoint - The first affordable eye-tracker! Professional performance at a consumer pr... - 0 views

  •  
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