Monday, August 4, 2008

The Next Big Thing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science Computing: Cultural Analytics

by Kevin D. Franklin and Karen Rodriguez'G, ICHASS

In this series of articles, Kevin D. Franklin and Karen Rodriguez'G examine computational tools and approaches at the interface of humanities, arts and social science.

"I hope that the cultural analytics approach can encourage people to think about contemporary cultural developments on a global scale -- setting up more challenging questions than they are used to. For example, given that the U.S. government has recently focused on creating a better set of metrics for innovation initiatives, can we create quantitative measures of cultural innovation around the world (using analysis and visualization of cultural data)? Can we track and visualize the flow of cultural ideas, images and influences between countries in the last decade -- thus providing the first ever data-driven detailed map of how cultural globalization actually works? If we feel that the availability of information on the Web makes ideas, forms, images and other cultural "atoms" travel faster than before, can we track this quantitatively, visualizing how the development of the Web speeded up cultural communications over the last decade?"

"I think that there are many other applications for cultural analytics work besides humanities and social scientists. I am thinking, for instance, of artists and other cultural producers, critics, museums, digital heritage projects, and education. In fact, I believe that everybody involved in culture today -- from the individual members of a global "cultural class" to governments around the world, which are competing in knowledge production and innovation -- would be potentially interested in what we want to do -- measures of cultural innovation, detailed pictures of global cultural changes, real-time views of global cultural consumption, remix, publishing and sharing."

About the Authors
Kevin D. Franklin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science (ICHASS) and Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Karen Rodriguez'G is Public Relations Liaison for ICHASS and a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Founded in 2004 at UIUC, ICHASS charts new ground in high-performance computing and the humanities, arts, and social sciences by creating both learning environments and spaces for digital discovery. ICHASS presents path-breaking research, computational resources, collaborative tools, and educational programming to showcase the future of the humanities, arts, and social sciences by engaging visionary scholars from across the globe to demonstrate approaches that interface advanced interdisciplinary research with high-performance computing.


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