Life poetry told by sensors, or how automatic journalling apps are marketed

Ths app initiates thoughts and ideas for you. It makes remembering effortless, beautiful & fun. Embrace your authentic self. Save or share your best memories. Track your everyday life and learn how to improve it. Experience your life. Life poetry told by sensors.

SAGA: Choose Your Own Adventure. Be bold. Embrace your authentic self. Record your life automatically and share it effortlessly with the people you care about.

Heyday is an automatic journal. It makes remembering effortless, beautiful & fun, so you never forget another day of your life.

STEP Journal assists you in capturing and telling the amazing story of your life. Life poetry told by sensors – minimal efforts and 100% privacy. The true power of Automatic Journaling!

Rove is an automated Journal. Automatically log your day and import your photos so you can save or share your best memories.

Friday initiates thoughts and ideas for you, it helps you remember, it tries to anticipate actions. With Friday activities, you can share or, just log your favourite activities you’ve been doing all day.

Chronos Data Collector: Find your time. See how you are spending your time without lifting a finger. chronos runs in the background on your phone and automatically captures every moment.

OptimizeMe. Get the best out of every day of your life. Simply track your everyday life with OptimizeMe and learn how to improve it.

Google Now. Just the right information at just the right time.

Storica: Experience your life. Storica assembles meaningful events, defined through activities such as calls made and received, SMS messaging, IMs, or annotations made through the AIRS widgets, and creates a multimedia digital story in icon and textual form with configurable backgrounds. To complete the experience, you can define your own usual locations, based on geo-information, WiFi or BT information.

Narrato lets you privately record all of your activities, then curate them into journals that can be selectively shared. Use the Narrato LifeStream to import your activities from all of the services you already use and love, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Moves, and If you use an iPhone 5S, you can also record your daily step count from the M7 co-processor. If you want to remember something that doesn’t belong on other networks, effortlessly add thoughts, photos, moods, and locations directly into Narrato.

Samsung patent application for “Apparatus and Method for Generating Story According to User Information“: An apparatus and method summarize a user’s daily life information. The apparatus includes an information collection unit, an analysis unit, a story generator, and a display unit. The information collection unit collects log information including user’s daily life information, from at least one electronic device. The analysis unit analyzes the log information collected from the information collection unit and decides at least one topic representing the user’s daily life information. The story generator generates at least one sentence representing the user’s daily life information using the at least one topic decided in the analysis unit. The display unit displays the at least one sentence generated in the story generator.

27. May 2014 by Jill
Categories: Visualise me | Leave a comment

Wearable devices for tracking baby

The Sprouting ankle band promises to monitor your baby's sleep and heart rate and to warn parents when baby is about to wake up.

The Sprouting ankle band promises to monitor your baby’s sleep and heart rate and to warn parents when baby is about to wake up.

Benji is only four years old, but the wearable baby trackers I discovered this evening make his infancy look like the stone age in comparison. Sure, I used TrixieTracker to track Jessie’s napping six years ago, but I had to enter all that data myself. Now, you simply dress your baby in a custom-made onesie or snap a band around her ankle and you can let your smart phone alert you if her breathing, body temperature or heart rate are not OK. The Sproutling ankle band, which isn’t actually available yet but plans to go to market later this year, will even let you know when your baby is going to wake up from her nap. To the minute, they hope.

When your baby wears the Mimo Kimono with the little Turtle snapped into place, you can monitor her breathing and body motions on your smartphone app.

When your baby wears the Mimo Kimono with the little Turtle snapped into place, you can monitor her breathing and body motions on your smartphone app.

And what about a Withings baby scale? Weigh your baby every day, every hour if you want, and hey, you can sync it with your Babynes capsule based baby formula machine (like Nespresso but for baby formula and even more expensive) which will graph how much milk your baby drinks. Or at least how much milk your Babynes makes. And you can edit it.

I remember when my eldest baby was about eight weeks I realized one of the other mums was going to the well baby centre a couple of times a week to weigh her baby, not just according to the set schedule – 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 12 weeks or whatever it was. I started going more often too, thinking that was what a good mother was supposed to do, until the nurse asked me why. There’s really no point in weighing a baby that often, she told me, unless you have a particular reason to be concerned. Weight fluctuates from day to day. Frequent weighing is more likely to make you nervous than not, which probably isn’t that great for your baby. I relaxed, and stopped worrying about it.

I’m honestly rather glad I don’t have babies anymore. I know I would be torn between desiring all those gadgets, all that data and thinking the whole thing was insane.

And look, the apps generate endless data, data like diaries. With predictive abilities. Maybe.

The Withings baby scale lets you know exactly what your baby weighs as often as you like, and compares it to standard growth charts. You can even send your pediatrician a copy. Which may possibly be useful for preemies or in very rare other cases, I suppose.

The Withings baby scale lets you know exactly what your baby weighs as often as you like, and compares it to standard growth charts. You can even send your pediatrician a copy. Which may possibly be useful for preemies or in very rare other cases, I suppose.

Of course breastmilk is better for your child, Nestlé admits at the end of each ad, but look how objectively you can track your baby's food if you use a bottle instead!

Of course breastmilk is better for your child, Nestlé admits at the end of each ad, but look how objectively you can track your baby’s food if you use a bottle instead!

The app that goes with the Mimo Baby Monitor - wearable devices for a baby.

The app that goes with the Mimo Baby Monitor shows you lots of data.


22. May 2014 by Jill
Categories: Visualise me | 3 comments

Are there still academic blogs that have active discussions in the comments?

Reading my archives I feel sad that the commenting that was so key to blogs has disappeared, drifted off into closed conversations on Facebook that will be unsearchable and unfindable just a few weeks from now, and dotted around in truncated tweets. I wrote eloquently in 2001:

“How can we speak personally to one another and not be self-centred?” asks Jane Tompkins (in Kauffman, Gender and Theory). I think the clue is in the words “to one another” – and this is why blogs are so powerful: we write to one another. Blogs are always part of a context. We comment on one another’s writing, we comment on what we read, what we experience. Each post in a blog is anchored to a time (the time stamp, the immediacy, opinions in time rather than in a fictitious eternity) and to other writing (the links that posts revolve about) and to an individual. Blogs are personal, they are writing in context.

Are they still? Some blogs have certainly retained this. There are lots of comments on Soulemama’s post about gathering warm eggs from their hens, or on a sewing pattern posted at A Beautiful Mess,

Is it just academic blogs? Cyborgology is a blog I enjoy reading, but there are very few comments there – with the recent heated discussions on the posts about “seminal” being a sexist word being exceptions. danah boyd gets some comments, not too many (the post about the Oculus Rift being sexist got a pile – see a pattern here?) wrote last week about missing blogging, and is going to try blogging as part of a group called The Message at Medium. Medium has comments on each paragraph, which makes them a lot less visible (you have to click a number beside the paragraph to see them) and the discussion certainly becomes more fragmented than when comments are all on the whole text. Maybe I’ll get used to it.

I have to admit I don’t comment much myself these days. I read blogs – academic and other – regularly, but mostly on my phone with an RSS reader, and I rarely click through to the blog itself to comment.

Which academic blogs do you enjoy? Are there academic blogs that do have active comments?

04. May 2014 by Jill
Categories: Blogging | 6 comments

Talk at MIT on Monday May 5

On Monday at 5:30 (in room 14E-310) I’m giving a talk at MIT’s Purple Blurb series, kindly hosted by Nick Montfort. This will be an extra fun challenge because Purple Blurb focusses on art and practice, so I’m going to be talking about how I’ve used digital self-representation myself, research blogging and taking selfies. I’ll talk about my book project too, using bits of the talk I’ve given a few times now, but it’ll be interesting framing it using my own practice – I don’t do that as much as I used to.

I’m going to have to start with my high school diary:

My diary in high school, ca 1989.

And of course move on to my peak blogging years, which when I look back at them now were filled with much more personal posts than now, and with long comment threads. I do miss that, although the comments aren’t gone, they’ve just moved to Facebook and Twitter where there is no way that I will find them ten years from now as I find comments from Diane and Elin and Collin and Scott on a post about fiction and blogging I wrote in 2004. Here I am, ten years ago, happily showing off my new t-shirt. Terrible resolution; I can’t find a bigger version of the image.

Then my PhD was done and I was teaching and running a department and suddenly a grown up academic and blogging became difficult. I wrote an essay about that: Blogging from inside the ivory tower.

And here’s today’s selfie, from the beach here at Hull outside of Boston, squinting into the sun. I’m not sure that a selfie like this really stands in for the shift away from the personal in my blogging, but it’s all you’re getting today. Monday you’ll get more about the uncomfortableness of selfies, about the hiding that is necessary in a blog and about all the things you can’t measure, can’t visualize, can’t represent.

Selfie by the beach

03. May 2014 by Jill
Categories: Blogging, social media, Visualise me | Leave a comment

Proposals and Reviews for IR15, the AoIR conference this year

My individual paper for IR15, the Association of Internet Researchers conference this year, was rejected. I’ll still be going, because I’m keen to join in all the selfie discussions we’re bound to have, because there’ll be lots of interesting papers, and (this is important for my getting funding to go to Bangkok!) because our workshop was accepted. Hooray! It’s going to be amazing, bunch of fantastic people working together on selfies with some really fun ideas - read the description here. I’ll post more about how to sign up for the online portion soon!

So I’m not too upset about the rejection, but seeing all the posts on Facebook from people complaining about random reviews from people not in one’s field I was thinking it would be useful if the review process was a lot more open. So I’m posting my proposal and the reviews I received. Maybe others will do so too, whether they were accepted or rejected – I’d love more openness about reviewing in general.

Re-reading my proposal, I must say it’s horrifically short and really doesn’t show much of the work or analysis I was trying to cram into it. I can see how it might receive poor reviews (although I think at least my middle reviewer probably recommended it be accepted – I’m going with that optimistic theory, anyway ;) You’re supposed to submit 1200 words, which is far too long for an abstract but far too short for a paper. I wish they would simply ask for full papers instead.

I would really like to see the scores my reviewers gave me. Here, for instance, are the scores I assigned to one of the papers I reviewed – why not share these with the author?


The IR15 conferences are very cross-disciplinary, which is a strength, but also a challenge, especially for reviewing. I know the current committee has put a lot of thought into reviewing, and it must be an enormously difficult task to manage, with (I assume?) several hundred proposals to assess. Last year there was a lot of discussion on the AoIR mailing list about reviewing that is able to see different kinds of disciplines. It’s not simple to achieve.

I signed up as a reviewer myself this year, and was disappointed that the two papers I was assigned really weren’t in the humanities or on topics or using methodologies I am very familiar with. I think the problem was that I ticked the “Digital Humanities” box when I selected topics and methodologies I was able to review, and the papers I received were both tagged as digital humanities, but really weren’t. One did some image analysis (I felt confident reviewing that) and the other statistics. Of course I added notes to the committee on my (lack of) expertise in the field, and there’s also a number from 1-10 you can assign to your own familiarity with the topic. Perhaps familiarity with the method would be even more relevant.

I would love to hear from the conference organizers what the average number was for reviewers’”familiarity with topic”. That would be an interesting measure of success in assigning reviewers to papers they were competent to review. Another option would be tracks in the conference.

There are journals that have open peer review. Is there any reason a conference couldn’t do this? A problem might be that people would review familiar names more than the actual research, but you could alleviate this, at least to some extent, by have a quota for PhD students and even a quota for early-career researchers beyond the PhD. Or maybe this all gets too complicated – organizing a conference is a lot of work, and standard, blind peer review can easily be run using existing platforms.

Here’s my proposal: “Cultivate a good life and record it”: Self-Improvement Narratives in Selfies, Scrapbooks and Domestic Blogs. It is not an ethnographic piece, though two of the reviewers want more information about the women who took the course. I’m interested in the texts – primarily emails sent out to subscribers to the courses. And because I know that the AoIR has a reputation for excluding humanities approaches, I tried to explain that – but obviously not well enough. I wrote:

This paper uses two online courses to examine ways in which the domestic blogosphere shapes ways in which mothers strive to care for themselves, whether with or against the mainstream. I take a humanities approach, using literary, visual and rhetorical analysis of the course material and of texts and images shared in blogs and social media, as well as drawing on critical theory and historical context to make my argument.

Next time I submit a paper to AoIR I’ll be even more explicit – I didn’t actually say that I wasn’t doing ethnography, and I probably should have. Maybe next time I’ll even have the opportunity to submit a real, full paper instead of 1200 words!

Here are the reviews:

Review 1

Comments for the authors
This is a really interesting topic but I would have liked more explanation of the authors’ own approach and methodology – did they sign up for these courses themselves?  Did they approach any users of the services?  Did they speak to anyone behind them?  How popular are the two sites discussed?  Do they have many users?  Why were they chosen?  

The author makes statements such as ‘For many women these courses’ clear breaks with the conventions of only presenting the perfect life rather than self-portraits or images of housework is no doubt important’ but this seems like speculation – I don’t see evidence they have actually spoken to the women involved within this abstract.  I would also like to know why the emphasis is on ‘mothers’ specifically, and if we are dealing with a particular group of women (e.g. nationality/age/sexual orientation/ethnicity) – either in terms of actual user base or in terms of who the sites are hoping to attract.

Although the examples mentioned could be potentially interesting, I would have liked more discussion of why they are significant and how this paper would differ from other literature on blogging, particularly the growing body of work (mainly US-centric) on ‘mommy blogs’ and similar practices.


Review 2

Comments for the authors
This is a nicely conceptualized study that considers the hot topic of “selfies” in relation to online self-improvement courses specifically aimed at (privileged white U.S.?) women.  As my parenthetical comment notes, the author needs to locate the subjects of this study in relation to privilege, ethnicity, and nationhood even if in this case the author is particularly interested in the ways in which subjects utilize these self-improvement courses to overcome a sense of their own powerlessness and invisibility.  

Ethnicity, race, nationality and economics are present here even if (or perhaps especially because of) their absence in the observed courses and self-presentations.  Such critiques will be especially important in the context of Bangkok.  This promises to be an interesting study and one that will garner attention due to the fact that it relates to a “hot topic.” 


Review 3

Comments for the authors
The cases are interesting, but would have liked to have seen the author weave together a more coherent theoretical grounding on which to base a study of these two courses – at the moment, this proposal lacks a deep clarity of argument that would mark a strong proposal.


02. May 2014 by Jill
Categories: Academia | 2 comments

Is a network analysis of cited works bound to be biased?

This blog post was selected for the “Editor’s Choice” section of Digital Humanities Now. Thanks!

It’s much, much easier to see patterns and to make visualizations that make sense when you filter out all the messy bits. In my data set of creative works cited by dissertations on electronic literature between 2002 and 2013 the messy bits are all the works that are only cited once. The dissertations cite 467 different works, and 354 of these are only cited by one dissertation. If you’re doing a network analysis, the most interesting thing is works cited by several dissertations, and that’s what the images in my last post show. But of course that perspective might be missing out on important things – and perhaps this is especially important in an international, multi-lingual field like electronic literature.

Here’s a graph of all creative works cited. If you click through you’ll get a much larger image, but I’m afraid it’s still hard to read all the work titles. You do get an idea of how many works are cited, though.


Interestingly, dissertations written in the same language don’t necessarily share citations. Serge Bouchardon’s 2005 dissertation cites many French works, but its shared references with French-Canadian Anaïs Guilet’s 2013 dissertation are all English language works. The three dissertations written by Italians (Giovanna di Rosario 2011; Fabio de Vivo 2011; Ugo Panzani 2012) are far apart on the graph, which shows they don’t cite many of the same works. The Scandinavian authors (Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen 2013; Fagerjord 2003; Anne Mangen 2006; Maria Engberg 2007; Jill Walker 2003; Anders Sundnes Løvlie 2011) don’t seem particularly connected by language either, perhaps because many of them have focused on English language works.

The dominance of English as an academic language may lead more young scholars to write their dissertations in English, and perhaps therefore prefer to discuss English language works. Also, of course, more scholars can read dissertations and other scholarship written in English, which may lead to a “rich get richer” scenario where works written in less commonly spoken languages get even less attention than they might.

There might also be a bias against smaller works, such as poetry. For instance, Portuguese author Rui Torres’s works are cited by at least two dissertations (Fernanda Bonacho 2013 and Giovanna di Rosario 2011) but because different works are cited none of Torres’ works show up in the filtered graph that only shows works cited by at least two different dissertations. In a Facebook discussion, Carolyn Guertin, who completed her dissertation in 2003, also noted that her dissertation committee had required her to cite “booklike works”, due to a lack of familiarity with electronic literature at the time. Codework such as Mezangelle’s work is also hard to track in terms of citations to individual works.

Also, as I share these images and analyses, I keep hearing about more dissertations. For instance, Alvaro found four Brazilian dissertations that he will add next week, and Nick sent me word of another dissertation on interactive fiction that would have been very relevant – but I can’t keep re-doing the visualizations, I have to finalize this paper and accept that it’s partial and incomplete.

It’s fascinating to see “the big picture”, but ultimately, this is only one big picture view of electronic literature. I look forwards to seeing others.

Here’s the Gephi file if you want to have a go for yourself. And here’s a tutorial showing you how to use Gephi to analyze it.

25. April 2014 by Jill
Categories: Digital Humanities, Electronic literature, ELMCIP | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The shift in genres of electronic literature 2002-2013

These two visualisations show the shift in the kinds of works discussed in dissertations on electronic literature. There’s been a clear movement towards digital poetry and also towards more specialized dissertations that discuss a single subgenre.

The analysis will be in the revised version of my ELO2013 paper on this that will be published in EBR next month.

Network graph showing creative works cited by two or more dissertations on electronic literature between 2002 and 2008.


The picture changes significantly in the next batch of dissertations, which was published between 2009 and 2013. 24 dissertations are included here, and as in the other graphs, you can see the dissertations in blue.  There are more distinct groups of work here, and two clear groups of poetry. In the upper left we see a lot of poetic installations. Jeremy Shaw’s The Legible City (1989) and Romy Achituv and Camille Utterback’s Text Rain (1999) are bridge between the web texts and these works, which as you can see are connected largely because they are discussed by both David Jhave Johnston and Fabio de Vivo in their 2011 dissertations. The fact that just two dissertations can make such a clear “genre” or at least cluster appear shows both strengths and limitations of this method, of course. 2009-2013-24-dissertations-bipartite-annotated-final


We also see that interactive fiction has shrunk, though it remains a clear grouping. Leavenworth and Hutchison wrote dissertations on IF in this period, but did not cite works as prolifically as Montfort, Douglass and Mateas, so not as many individual works show up.

More in the paper :)

24. April 2014 by Jill
Categories: Digital Humanities, Electronic literature, ELMCIP, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dissertations on electronic literature 2002-2013

Last year, at ELO2013 in Paris, I presented a network analysis of creative works of electronic literature cited by PhD dissertations in the field. I’m revising the paper for publication in the Electronic Book Review next month, and I’ve added lots more dissertations to the data. Spreadsheets and Gephi are starting to drive me mad, but I’m getting there!

Here’s a list of the 44 dissertations in my data sample. In total they cite 467 different creative works of electronic literature. Sorry there are no links, but you can find entries for all these in the ELMCIP Knowledge Base, and each entry includes links to entries for the works they cite. Many of the dissertations also have full text available.

Michael Mateas Interactive Drama, Art, and Artificial Intelligence 2002
Anders Fagerjord Rhetorical Convergence: Earlier Media Influence on Web Media Form 2003
Carolyn Guertin Quantum Feminist Mnemotechnics: The Archival Text, Digital Narrative and The Limits of Memory 2003
Jill Walker Fiction and Interaction: How Clicking a Mouse Can Make You Part of a Fictional World 2003
Scott Rettberg Destination Unknown: Experiments in the Network Novel 2003
Anna Gunder Hyperworks: On Digital Literature and Computer Games 2004
Donna Leishman Creating Screen-Based Multiple State Environments: Investigating Systems of Confutation 2004
Edward Maloney Footnotes in Fiction: A Rhetorical Approach 2005
Cheryl E. Ball A New Media Reading Strategy 2005
David Ciccoricco Repetition and Recombination: Reading Network Fiction 2005
Roman Zenner Hypertextual Fiction on the Internet: A Structural and Narratological Analysis 2005
Serge Bouchardon Le récit littéraire interactif. Narrativité et interactivité 2005
Anne Mangen New narrative pleasures? A cognitive-phenomenological study of the experience of reading digital narrative fictions 2006
Noah Wardrip-Fruin Expressive Processing: On Process-Intensive Literature and Digital Media 2006
D. Fox Harrell Theory and technology for computational narrative: an approach to generative and interactive narrative with bases in algebraic semiotics and cognitive linguistics 2007
Jeremy Douglass Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media 2007
Jessica Pressman Digital Modernism: Making it New in New Media 2007
Maria Engberg Born Digital: Writing Poetry in the Age of New Media 2007
Nick Montfort Generating Narrative Variation in Interactive Fiction 2007
Cheri Crenshaw Exploiting Kairos in Electronic Literature: A Rhetorical Analysis 2008
Hans Kristian Rustad Tekstspill i hypertekst. Koherensopplevelse og sjangergjenkjennelse i lesing av multimodale hyperfiksjoner 2008
Andrew Hutchison Techno-historical Limits of the Interface: The Performance of Interactive Narrative Experiences 2009
Daniel C. Howe Creativity Support for Computational Literature 2009
Florian Hartling Der digitale Autor. Autorschaft im Zeitalter des Internets 2009
Markku Eskelinen Travels in Cybertextuality. The Challenge of Ergodic Literature and Ludology to Literary Theory 2009
Zuzana Husárová Písanie v interaktívnych médiách. Digitálna fikcia /Writing in the Interactive Media. Digital Fiction 2009
Leonardo L. Flores Typing the Dancing Signifier: Jim Andrews’ (Vis)Poetics 2010
Van Leavenworth The Gothic in Contemporary Interactive Fictions 2010
Anders Sundnes Løvlie Textopia: Experiments with Locative Literature 2011
David Jhave Johnston Aesthetic Animism: Digital Poetry as Ontological Probe 2011
Fabio De Vivo eLiterature, analisi critica, strumenti interpretativi, potenzialità e possibilità applicative 2011
Giovanna Di Rosario Electronic Poetry: Understanding Poetry in the Digital Environment 2011
Jukka Tyrkkö Fuzzy Coherence: Making Sense of Continuity in Hypertext Narratives 2011
Luciana Gattass Digital Literature: Theoretical and Aesthetic Reflections 2011
Maya Zalbidea Paniagua Reading and Teaching Gender Issues in Electronic Literature and New Media Art 2011
Rulon Matley Wood Hypertext and Ethnographic Representation: A Case Study 2011
Talan Memmott Digital Rhetoric and Poetics: Signifying Strategies in Electronic Literature 2011
Holly Dupej Next Generation Literary Machines: The “Dynamic Network Aesthetic” of Contemporary Poetry Generators 2012
Jeneen Naji Poetic Machines: an investigation into the impact of the characteristics of the digital apparatus on poetic expression 2012
Jennifer Roudabush Theorizing Digital Narrative: Beginnings, Endings, and Authorship 2012
Ugo Panzani “I think, therefore I connect”. Database, connessionismo ed esopoiesi nel romanzo anglo-americano (1995-2011) 2012
Anaïs Guilet Pour une littérature cyborg : l’hybridation médiatique du texte littéraire 2013
Fernanda Bonacho A Leitura em Ambiente Digital: Transliteracias da Comunicação 2013
Mette-Marie Zacher Sørensen Digital Poesi. Æstetisk Analyse og det Mediales Rolle i Kunstværkers Kommunikation 2013

This is all the dissertations on electronic literature between 2002 and 2013 that I’ve been able to find minus the following 12, which I couldn’t include because I either couldn’t access the full text, couldn’t read them (I could sort of read the German in Lang’s dissertation on Chinese electronic literature, but I couldn’t find anyone who could help me with the Chinese, and all the creative works referenced are in Chinese) or there were no links to creative works of electronic literature.

Belinda Barnet Lost in the Archive: Vision, Artefact and Loss in the Evolution of Hypertext 2004
Christy Dena Transmedia Practice: Theorising the Practice of Expressing a Fictional World across Distinct Media and Environments 2009
Clara Mancini Towards Cinematic Hypertext : A theoretical and Empirical Investigation 2003
Gavin Stewart A homecoming festival : the application of the dialogic concepts of addressivity and the awareness of participation to an aesthetic of computer-mediated textual art 2006
Lisbeth Klastrup Towards a Poetics of Virtual Worlds. Multiuser Textuality and the Emergence of Story 2003
Lori Emerson The Rematerialization of Poetry: From the Bookbound to the Digital 2008
Mark C. Marino I, Chatbot: The Gender and Race Performativity of Conversational Agents 2006
Mirona Magearu Digital poetry: Comparative textual performances in trans-medial spaces 2011
Wilton Azevedo Interpoesia: Le Debut de L’ecriture en Expansion 2009
Wilton Azevedo Interpoesia: o Inicio da Escritura Expandida 2009
Xiaomeng Lang Der Dialog der Kultur und die Kultur des Dialogs: Die chinesische Netzliteratur 2008
Zoltàn Szüts Szellem a gépben. A hypertext 2007

It would be interesting to do even more with the data. I really regret having shaved the data too much when I imported it into Gephi – I should have kept more of the metadata, but at the time I thought of it as a mess that would just complicate the affair. Now, though, I don’t have publication years or the university the PhD was granted by or the language it was written in, and so I can’t easily see how patterns of citation may have changed over time, or how geography, language or institutional links may affect citation practices. It’s pretty obvious that the French cite French works and the Portuguese Portuguese language works, but I have no idea whether the British cite different works from the Americans, for instance. The data’s all in the Knowledge Base. But I’d have to re-export it and there are way too many fiddly bits for me to do that right now. Maybe it’s good to have some questions still open for another time or another person to answer.

Here are all the creative works that are cited by at least two dissertations, along with links to the dissertations that cite them.


23. April 2014 by Jill
Categories: Digital Humanities | 1 comment

From Quantified Self to Quantified Other (and back to the panopticon)

I quite like self-tracking. I loved my Fitbits and Shine activity trackers (but kept losing them, putting them through the dryer, etc) and using them really did help me stay more active. But self-tracking is one thing. Having other people require you to track yourself and to share that data is quite another.

Forbes reports that BP and other companies give their employees Fitbits or other activity trackers and then give them a discount on their health insurance if they get enough steps. Actually according to Forbes, BP needs to use a data broker so they don’t have direct access to their employee’s activities (thank goodness) but this is extremely murky territory.

Another example of workplace surveillance that the worker is aware of (“transparent surveillance”?) is UPS’s use of “telematics” to monitor its drivers. Back in 2009, the UPS union posted an interesting piece explaining the system:

These reports track how many of the following safety “events” occur during a driver’s day: Seat Belt Off in Travel, Recording on DIAD While Traveling: Delivery While Idling, Bulk Head Open In Travel, Harsh Braking, Total Backing, and Backing First Exceptions.

Management can print up reports with the data superimposed on maps. For example, one map might show every backing event on a given day, its location, and speed. Another might show the same data for seat belt occurrences.

A recent NPR piece explains how this is used to increase productivity. For instance, UPS “figured out that opening a door with a key was slowing their drivers down. So drivers were given a push-button key fob that attaches to a belt loop.” Apparently drivers get paid more due to that increased productivity. That’s great, but the union piece also talks about how the technology is used to discipline drivers:

“When they first brought in telematics, they said it wasn’t going to be used for discipline. That’s changing over time,” said John Virgen, a shop steward in Sacramento Local 150. “They’ve had people in the office for these telematics reviews—questioning them about every stop over five minutes. They’re looking for stealing time.”

The union gives drivers advice on handling telematics reviews: always make sure they have a union representative with them in such meetings, not to get into specifics (there’s no reason why a driver would remember a particular stop if nothing special happened) and to should keep a log of their own days for themselves. But ultimately, drivers should just relax into the panopticon:

Drivers who only follow the methods when management is watching need to adjust because telematics lets management watch you all the time. The best response is to work every day like a supervisor is in the jump seat.

That doesn’t mean being nervous. It means maintaining a safe, even pace, using the methods and strictly following EDD and PAS—even if it slows you down. Focus on doing your job correctly—not taking shortcuts to make up for delays or problems created by the company.

Your stress level will go way down and you won’t have anything to worry about whether management is watching you with telematics or while sitting in your truck.

It’s kind of like religion used to be. That might as well have read “work every day like God is in the jump seat”, as Sean White noted on Facebook

Siva Vaidyanathan has argued that we have moved away from Foucault’s panopticon, where the whole idea was that you knew you might be being watched at any time and therefore behaved as the watchers desire. Vaidyanathan proposed the term nonopticon for today’s – or at least 2008′s – surveillance situation:

Second, what we have at work in America today is the opposite of a Panopticon: what has been called a “Nonopticon” (for lack of a better word). The Nonopticon describes a state of being watched without knowing it, or at least the extent of it. The most pervasive surveillance does not reveal itself or remains completely clandestine (barring leaks to The New York Times). We don’t know all the ways we are being recorded or profiled. We are not supposed to understand that we are the product of marketers as much as we are the market. And we are not supposed to consider the extent to which the state tracks our behavior and considers us all suspects in crimes yet to be imagined, let alone committed.

Later, in The Googlization of EverythingVaidhyanathan changed the term to “cryptopticon”, (also “for lack of a better word”) and noted that the most important thing is that

we don’t know all the ways in which we are being watched or profiled– we simply know that we are. And we don’t regulate our behavior under the gaze of surveillance. Instead, we don’t seem to care. (page 112)

That’s just not the case with company-mandated (or at least encouraged) Fitbits and UPS driver tracking. The BP employee wearing a Fitbit to lower her or his health insurance costs is most certainly aware of being watched, and can also see every bit of the data being collected herself. The UPS driver can’t see their own data, but knows perfectly well that it is being collected, and may collect his or her own log as well.

The UPS union even sells log books for drivers to keep their own log of their day. That is the only way to fight back, it seems. Quantified self, laborious self-tracking, becomes necessary for self-protection. It can be hard to prove that you are innocent, as danah boyd found when the state of Massachusetts required proof that she had moved to New York in the middle of the tax year.   It’s far worse for those who are already at a disadvantage due to their social status, income, race, nationality. In Chicago, they even have a list of people who have never committed a crime but are still heavily surveilled because they are likely to commit crimes.

Maybe the leaks and our increased awareness of the extent of surveillance in the years since Vaidhyanathan wrote this have laid the foundation for us to return to Foucault’s panopticon.

If you haven’t read Dave Eggers’ The Circle yet, please do. In a way it’s nothing you haven’t already imagined, but it makes it visceral, real. And it makes reality look even more like fiction.

22. April 2014 by Jill
Categories: Networked Politics, social media, Visualise me | Leave a comment

What is a selfie?

Did you see SELFEED yet? It’s an art project by Tyler MadsenErik Carter, & Jillian Mayer, that quite simply displays a live feed of the recently posted photos tagged #selfie that are posted to Instagram. Here’s an animated gif showing a random selection of just a few of the selfies that came up when I watched it this afternoon:


My first thought on seeing it was that the images are much more different from each other than the images in Manovich’s project. Here are some of the Selfiecity images:

On checking Selfiecity’s methodology, of course I remembered that they deliberately only looked at single person selfies:

We randomly selected 120,000 photos (20,000-30,000 photos per city) from a total of 656’000 images we collected on Instagram. 2-4 Amazon’s Mechanical Turk workers tagged each photo. For these, we asked Mechanical Turk workers the simple question “Does this photo shows a single selfie”?

We then selected top 1000 photos for each city (i.e., photos which at least 2 workers tagged as a single person selfie).

You can say a lot about the methodology of this kind of research, and especially the biometric analysis that follows (Terri Senft called it a kind of phrenology ;), but obviously if you’re trying to understand selfies and eliminate any images that show anything but a single person you’re ruling out a lot of images. The self-described selfies that the Instagram #selfie tag shows are an interesting counterpoint.

So what is a selfie? Is it what the person taking the photo says it is in the hashtag, or is it what Selfiecity – and, I think, mainstream media – say it is?


16. April 2014 by Jill
Categories: Visualise me | Leave a comment

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