Microscopy: Systemic Scale

A framing of scale from Greg Urban's "Once and Future Thing":
"structure is in fact not prior to movement, in some absolute sense but the a derivative of movement..It is not that structure does not exist; it is rather that structure is a consequence of the way in which cultural elements move through space and time" (32)

"Human beings cannot directly grasp the world as it is simply by reflecting upon their sensory observations. Since emic perspectives intervene between the individual and the world, the best hope of grasping the world, insofar as a human is able to, is by studying and comparing the different emic systems through which the world is rendered understandable by people" (36)

How does scale move?

Nowcasting defined by The Economist
takes the pulse via Google queries to establish current and emergent trends

NEH Digging into Data Challenge 2013 Winners

The Rise of Machines
details Busa's work and the early text analysis described by Rockwell

What is Distant Reading?
a NY Times Sunday Book Review of Franco Moretti's Maps, Graphs, Trees: Abstract Models of Literary History (the definitive book on distant reading scale?)

The Writing Studies Tree
an ongoing open source project in our discipline that is working to visualize the relationships between people and institutions in the field (fits with some questions raised by Losh, Flanders and Jockers)

Yaddo Circles Prototype
a relationship mapping tool prototype as a means to illustrate text analysis

Views from a Distance: A Nephological Model of the CCCC Chairs' Addresses, 1977-2011
Derek Mueller's Kairos piece that builds (in part from the XML markup we have been reading about) a tool to examine potential relationships in keywords from the texts of the addresses (getting more at the hermeneutic, disciplined play described by Rockwell, Flanders and Jockers)

How do we define scale? How might the relationships be accounted for both closely and more distantly (a la Flanders and Jockers)?
  • micro v. macro
  • big v. small (?)
  • big v. boutique (?)
  • big v. dark (?)
  • sliding - scalability

big data
“Now that we have massive databases of materials used by scholars in the humanities and social sciences -- ranging from digitized books, newspapers, and music to transactional data like web searches, sensor data, or cell phone records -- what new, computationally-based research methods might we apply?”

boutique data
the plethora of currently inaccessible sets of qualitative and quantitative data that exists behind much of humanities scholarship. These data sets are often small and built from local contexts, but when combined with other such sets, they are rich in potential new sources of inquiry and knowledge.

dark data
dark data: “Like dark matter, this dark data on the basis of volume may be more important than that which can be easily seen”

"When asked, almost all scientists will quickly acknowledge that they are holding dark data, data that has never been published or otherwise made available to the rest of the scientific community. An example of dark data is the type of data that exists only in the bottom left-hand desk drawer of scientists on some media that is quickly aging and soon will be unreadable by commonly available devices. The data remains in this dark desk drawer, inaccessible to the scientific community until the scientist retires. At the point of retirement some scientists rush to find a more suitable home for their data be they in the form of slides, photographs, specimens or electronic media files. More often than not, even in a well planned retirement the desk drawer is eventually emptied into a dumpster because no one including the scientist knows exactly what the data is since it lacks adequate documentation" (P. Bryan Heidorn “Shedding Light on the Dark Data in the Long Tail of Science.”)

text network analysis
a method by which a researcher can trace the circulation of meaning within a text

“Any text will draw upon many systems to create meaning: syntactic, graphemic, cultural, et cetera. TNA is all about teasing apart the different strands to discover what is connected to what, and to see where the clusters and paths of meaning lie. With it, we can also follow the path of a specific word or idea, and locate its place within a larger network of words or ideas.
Meaning circulates within individual texts, but individual texts circulate among other texts and within communities and cultures. So, a larger concern with meaning circulation is not satisfied with analyses of individual texts. However, any study of meaning circulation within larger networks must take the individual text as its starting point (or ending point, I suppose, depending on how you approach the question).” (Seth Long "Meaning Circulation in Lolita")

text analysis
  • tools have roots in print concordance - a standard research tool in the humanities (13 C)
  • augmentation tools that extend scholarly reach
  • 1940s first use of information technology by Busa with his Index Thomisticus
  • 1960s and 1970s first generation of tools created to be used by others
  • 1980s with increasing power of microcomputers, tools shifted from mainframes to personal computers (Geoffrey Rockwell "What is text Analysis, Really?")

What are the implications of time in DH work relative to questions of scale and material?
  • kairos - nowcasting (?)
  • pronoia - futurecasting (?)
  • metanoia - pastcasting (?)