Tuesday, 5 October 2010

NURBS Theory - Lev Manovich

In this essay, Manovich asks the question that 'why If we are currently fascinated with the ideas of flow, evolution, complexity, heterogeneity, and cultural hybridity, why our presentations of cultural data do not reflect these ideas?'.
I was checking out the archive of a local newspaper to check the main events that happened in Beirut starting with the civil war to the Israeli invasion of Beirut, the Taif agreement (aka the National reconciliation accord) in 1989, the fall of Beirut under the Syrian authority, and similar events that took place ever since I was born. I was thinking hard of how to include similar information in my project, and one idea came to my mind, that of including animated charts that explain these events within a specific time frame. My hesitation disappeared and reading the whole Manovich article empowered this methodology.

Otherwise a nice brief would be the conclusion of the essay:
'Humanities disciplines, critics, museums, and other cultural institutions usually present culture in terms of self-contained cultural periods. Similarly, the most Influential modern theories of history by Kahn (“scientific paradigms”) and Foucault (“epistemes”) also focus on stable periods - rather than transitions between them. In fact, very little intellectual energy has been spent in the modern period on thinking about how cultural change happens. Perhaps this was appropriate given that until recently the cultural changes of all kinds very usually slow.However, since the beginnings of globalization in the 1990s, not only have these changes accelerated worldwide, but the emphasis on change rather than stability became the key to global business and institutional thinking (expressed in the popularity of terms such as “innovation” and “disruptive change.”) Our work on visualizing cultural changes across sets of cultural artifacts, as well as the temporal dynamics of a singular cultural experience (such as a gameplay session) is inspired by commercial software such as Google’s Web Analytics, Trends, and Flu Trends and Nelson’s BlogPulse, as well as projects by artists and designers such as seminal History Flow by Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg, and Lee Byron’s Listening History and The Ebb and Flow of Movies. Until now, most visualizations of cultural processes used either discrete media (i.e. texts) or the metadata about the media. Thus, History Flow uses histories of Wikipedia pages’ edits; Lee Byron’s Listening History uses the data about his use of last.fm; and The Ebb and Flow of Movies uses box office receipts data. In contrast, our method allows for the analysis and visualization of patterns as manifested in changing structures of images, films, video and other types of visual media. We are currently expanding our work to processing of much larger sets of data.'

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