c&w catch all

I struggled to write a post that encapsulated perhaps what cannot be so tidy/condensed: conference happenings. The shortform blog post was turning into an epitaph as soon as it was being written. If I could break the rectangular confines of this textbox, this list would appear more scattered. Perhaps on a seismograph, as constellations with varying intensity, as electricity passing through conductor points, as a comic with thought and dialogue bubbles, as areas of increasing/decreasing temperature on a heat map, or as a map of a territory in the making…As is, though, it is a [nested? network? worknet?] list:

thinking about the price of participation in the field (as the typecast poor graduate student)

search the Twitter conversations

attended: Resonance, Refinements, and Rip-offs (an awesome session by Jody Shipka and Mary Hocks) – condensed as keywords/phrases: sonic literacy, (social) resonance, thing power, agency as affectivity, embodied knowledge, auditory imagination, traces/tracing found artifacts, opening blackboxes through multimodal composing

attended: Multimedia and the Teaching of English, 1920-1970: A Distant Reading of English Journal and CCC (an awesome session by Jason Palmeri and Ben McCorkle) – condensed as keywords/phrases: pre-history of computers and composition, long history of multimedia and multimodality through technologies terms, distant reading sees field emerging, “what can we learn about new media by studying past moments when media were new?”, bar graphs, word clouds as “dated”, distant to close reading through data as heuristicScreen shot 2013-06-12 at 11.09.42 AM





attended: Archives and Other Multi-Literate Practices (an awesome session by Claire Lauer and Colleen Reilly) – condensed as keywords/phrases: Digital Methods Initiative (DMI – coming from sociology and interest in Bruno Latour) and their tools wiki – particularly Issue Crawler (makes networks), take ownership over terms as a field, bar graphs, clusters of influence, MLA job info lists as data to mine/visualize

noticed (in the sessions I attended):

  • distant reading and data visualization trending (?) – what is the exigence?
  • prominence of bar graphs as data visualized (+/-: what is made visible/what remains unseen) – there were moments when the bar graphs felt like a gate to me (in my position); instead of making visible, they made me aware of that which I can not/do not see because I don’t know enough
  • questions about what becomes of these visualizations/data sets – focus is on making visible and connectivity, but heard gestures toward “edited collections” (slow, black and white paper renderings) of work which seems counter-intuitive to the nature of the methodology

place/space/time re-presented:

ethernet glitch luckycat pepsipepsipepsi troncar



Computers & Writing

Re-presentation of my presentation materials from the Computers & Writing Conference: slidedeck | audio

I presented “with” (I say “with” because Joe was actually in Vermont for his summer job and was there in form of a video he created) Joe Torok on slices of our MA projects that share an interest in distant reading, data visualization, the materials of the field, data mining, “the” field, access, connectivity/networks, disciplinarity, and academic activity as graduate students/newcomers to the field. Our session: #h6 “Regionalism, Heterotopoi, and Circumferences: Rethinking Distant Reading” was better attended than I expected, and I’m glad for it because I think this might have been my best presentation to date (no small feat for someone trying to craft an academic identity for themself(s)). While I’m not sure these venues will ever be comfortable for me based on my personality, I can see growth in the structuring of my talk, in timing/interplay/juxtaposition with my slidedeck, with retaining some consciousness in the blackout that always seems to shutdown my brain in presentations, and with discussion/exchanges. I think this might be attributed to me accepting myself and my position in the field: I don’t know what I’m doing, and that’s okay. Curiosity, exploration, and enthusiasm are working in my favor. I hope this doesn’t read as negligence or defiance, because the mindfulness to what I’m doing/not doing is there; it’s just a (silly perhaps) realization that I can’t compare myself to individuals who have been doing this longer than I have – I’m not there (yet).

In attendance (among other wonderful individuals) were Jason Palmeri (!), Doug Eyman (!), and Ben Miller (!) who are also interested in distant reading, data mining, and visualization, as well as Amanda Wall and Gwendolynne Reid (happy to see some other ladies interested in this stuff). Much of our session was left to conversation, which was awesome. I left humming with electricity. An aside: I would really like to record my future presentations so I can sift back through them later. Here is a reduction of the conversation:

  • a question about this focus (I’m assuming the size of my data set or my project’s scope) as fractal in relation to what could be done with this methodology
  • a question of whether Moretti’s distant reading is the proper term/lens for this work (perhaps because of the set sizes or because of the sliding scale of interaction)
  • concerns with the tools available to do this work: cost (money, time, and labor)
  • making this work public – making data available for others to work with
  • questions of what can be “given away” through these data sets (like the entirety of a journal article as plain text) – to which Doug had an answer I wish I could recall that dealt with the XML file itself, I believe
  • Google APIs
  • connecting/collective collaboration on this work
  • making visualizations that move/interact

There was much more, and this is where I wish I had the aid of an external brain in form of av equipment. For instance, there was a gentleman who is more in industry/software/programming with interest in sentiment analysis who suggested I write Python script for a visualization I ultimately imagined for my data set (which I so eloquently called a “blip map”: the fading/prominence of keywords over time from my set of Braddock essays that might make more visible trends in care/questioning of the field) that I had questions for but not the language to do so. (this feels like a missed connection…)

I’m left thinking:

  • I want to learn more about programming/coding
  • I want to discover more free tools for building visualizations
  • I want to find other people doing this work and find ways to put my work into conversation with the field
  • I want these visualizations to be interactive/animated to live up to their use(fulness)
  • I want this to keep going