"Visualizing 'Big Data' in the Arts and Humanities

August 31, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
150A Thompson Library

On Wednesday, September 26, 2012 from 3:00pm to 4:30pm in 150A Thompson Library, the Humanities Institute and the Digital Arts and Humanities Working Group will host a panel discussion on "Visualizing 'Big Data' in the Arts and Humanities.” Panelists David Staley (History), Jessie Labov (Slavic & East European Languages & Cultures), and H. Lewis Ulman (English) will explore the place of data visualization as a form of humanities scholarship,  with visualization as the hermeneutic act that allows humanists to read “big data.” The panel will describe the creation of the Humanities Visualization Studio at The Ohio State University to conduct such humanistic readings of big data.  Questions will center around defining “big data” in the context of the humanities,  how humanists read big data, how our interests and goals with reading big data differ from that of scientists, and how visualization and visual hermeneutics is critical to the effort to read that data. As we read our texts, humanists seek not better models or predictive certainty, but rather patterns of interpretive insight. Reading big data is an occasion for humanists to assert our approach to knowledge: to champion the value of meaning, interpretation and insight in contrast to the logic of scientific prediction and control.

David Staley is Director of The Goldberg Center and an associate professor in the Department of History at The Ohio State University. His research interests include digital history, the philosophy of history, historical methodology, and the history and future of higher education. He has published widely (in print and electronically) on the intersection of technology and scholarship, and is author of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) reports "Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Higher Education in 2025," and "Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians: Scenarios for the Future of the Book," "Futuring, Strategic Planning and Shared Awareness: An Ohio University Libraries' Case Study" in The Journal of Academic Librarianship, and "The Changing Landscape of Higher Education," which appeared in Educause Review. In addition to his written work, he has designed and curated both online and physical exhibitions and has published numerous visual compositions in digital media. From 2003-2008, Staley was the Executive Director of the American Association for History and Computing (AAHC). During the 2004-05 academic year, he was invited as a consultant to lead DePauw University's educational technology assessment, determining the effectiveness of DePauw's investment in technology for improving teaching and learning.

Jessie LabovJessie Labov is Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures. Her teaching and research interests include Polish, Czech, Hungarian, and ex-Yugoslav popular culture, with a particular emphasis on film, visual culture and new media. Her course on “The Underground” (Slavic 3351) traces alternative cultural expressions in several different unofficial or underground contexts: from Eastern European samizdat during the Cold War, to U.S. counterculture, comics, and street art from the 1960s and 1970s, to global internet cultures and political activism today. Her article on the encyclopedia of Yugoslav popular culture, “Leksikon Yu Mitologije: Reading Yugoslavia from Abramović to Žmurke,” was published in the volume Myth and History in BalkanLiterature, ed. Tatjana Aleksić (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007). Current projects include a study of Joe Sacco’s work in comics journalism of the Balkans and the Middle East and its relationship to historiography.

Associate Professor of English and Director of Digital Medial Studies Lewis Ulman teaches courses in digital media, literature and environment studies, electronic textualLouie Ulman editing, and rhetorical theory, history and criticism. He has authored Things, Thoughts, Words, and Actions: The Problem of Language in Late Eighteenth-Century British Rhetoric (SIUP, 1994), edited The Minutes of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, 1758-1773 (Aberdeen UP, 1990), and published articles on eighteenth-century British philosophy and rhetoric, American nature writing, and digital media. Over the past seven years, he has collaborated with his students on four electronic textual editions of unpublished nineteenth-century American manuscripts. With Professor Cynthia L. Selfe, he co-founded and co-directs the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, a publicly available archive of over 2,400 personal literacy narratives in a variety of formats (text, video, audio) that document the literacy practices and values of contributors.

Digital Arts and Humanities Working Group

contact Lewis Ulman (ulman.1@osu.edu) or Lisa Carter (carter.1088@osu.edu)

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