Griffonage-Dot-Com’s Graphic Look at the Electoral College 1896-2016

fiftieth-featuredI’m always happy to give Patrick Feaster‘s excellent blog on historical media another shout out.  Today, being the day the Electoral College votes, you may be interested in this historical overview.  And since it’s 2016 why not have the story told via visual data.
A Graphic Look at Effects of the Electoral College, 1896-2016

 

Philly’s Own FSRDC Coming in April

Last week’s announcement that Philadelphia will host a Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC) in April of 2017 was exciting news. To be located in the Federal Reserve fed_bank_philadelphia-2e16d0ba-fill-735x490Bank of Philadelphia, a secured facility at Ten Independence Mall, qualified researchers will be granted access to confidential data at the facility.  The Center is a partnership of the University of Pennsylvania (lead by associate professor of economics, Iourii Manovskii), Penn State University, Drexel University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. There are 24 of these centers already dotted around the country; six more are on the way, including Philadelphia.

I went to the information session at the Wharton School on Friday, December 2, to learn more about the contents of the archive as well as access procedures which are formal and take between four and twelve months to complete.

This network of data centers provide researchers with access to restricted data from the Census Bureau, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS).  Microdata from these four sources on individuals or businesses include detailed geographic identifiers to allow merging of city, county, or state information. Details on personal and institutional characteristics–place of birth,date of birth, occupation, income, firm or plant size–is also available. What’s more, most Census datasets can be cross-linked with other datasets, including external ones. Most of the microdata that will be available locally as of next April has been heretofore suppressed by the Census Bureau.  Manovskii believes this is a “big deal for us. Until now, such detail and high-quality US data was impossible to get.” (PennCurrent, December 1).

nawrokipsaTo access data researchers must submit a proposal after having contacted an RDC administrator.  It is important to get a clear idea of what is available and how it can meet expectations.  It’s also good to establish that the sought after data it’s not publically available somewhere else. After submitting the proposal there is a security clearance and an “SSS” (special sworn status) to obtain–all these steps take time so it is good to get the process started as soon as possible. Maximum project time once approved is five years.

For a complete list of available datasets at each of the four centers click here.

 

Data Visualizing Westworld

This should be really fun for fans of the popular HBO series, Westworld, especially if you’re also a bit of a data wrangler.  Folks at Mode gather theories about characters and plot, turn them into data visualizations and display them at WESTWORLD IN DATA.  They also extract data from the shows themselves with findings, for instance, on which characters/genders speak the most.

westworld-robot-in-progress-1024x576

Read more about the this project here, where they invite us to tune in weekly:

“We’ll be updating Westworld in Data with data from the most recent episode every Monday evening, so be sure to bookmark the site and check back. We’ll also be doing more Westworld analyses as the season progresses. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to keep up with our data adventures.”

Election Reading Recommendation

musserWe often forget that previous election campaigns juggled and were shaped by new media forms just like our own, albeit with different “contraptions.” Politicking and Emergent Media, US Presidential Elections of the 1890s, by Yale American Studies/Cinema Studies professor, Charles Musser, is a fascinating read about the election campaigns of the 1890s (and I mean read–in sense that as erudite as it is it’s very readable).  In those days the Democratic party was the less adventursome one in terms of media–it was comfortably ensconced in newspaper formats.  It was the Republicans who experimented more with new media that included the steriopticon (what’s that?) and later motion pictures, telephones, and phonographs.  Writes Lisa Gitelman (New York University), “Charles Musser shows how screens first entered American politics. Whether they are true politics junkies or frothing critics of America’s quadrennial horse race, readers will be tickled by the resemblances between presidential campaigns then and now. This is media history of the finest kind, rendered by one of our most accomplished scholars of early cinema.”

I like Jeffrey Alexander’s observation, writing about the book. “It turns out that technology has been newly emerging over the past three centuries, and the performance of politics has long been deeply transformed as a result.”

If you’re multitasking as you listen to the endless election and post-election punditry, consider opting for this book in your lap rather than just another screen.

Journal Feature: Radio

A couple special issues on radio are worth noting.

e16fcaa6130dae19fd5b0c30e4e314daThe Journal of Radio & Audio Media (Volume 23, Issue 2, 2016) features a 15-article symposium on preserving radio and audio culture, which grew out of the February 2016 Radio Preservation radioTask Force conference in Washington, DC. Issue editors are Drs. Amand Keeler, Josh Shepperd, and Christopher Sterling. Articles include “Networking the Counterculture: The 1970 Alternative Media Conference at Goddard College,”Illicit Transmissions: Engaging with the Study and Preservation of Pirate Radio,”Educational Radio, Listening Instruction, and the NBC Music Appreciation Hour,”Destination Freedom: A Historic Radio Series About Black Life,” “Tripping Down the (Media) Rabbit Hole: Radio Alice and the Insurgent Socialization of Airwaves,” “Archives, Advocacy and Crowd-Sourcing: Towards a More Complete Historiography of College Radio,” among others.


14764504
Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media
 (Volume 14, Issue 1, 2016) devotes a special section to podcasting in which authors in the section offer “both similarities and differences in how we read and analyse podcasts compared to radio stories or shows.  In the words of Richard Berry, ‘radio is an evolutionary animal’ adapting to the world around it. Berry argues that using the term ‘radio’ might only be useful as familiar shorthand for our understanding of podcasting; however, he suggests we must also acknowledge the distinctiveness of podcasts as from and medium…one major difference is radio’s ephemeral nature, with its programmes designed for a single, often distracted, audition. Podcasts can be saved and heard many times over, with programmes that listeners seek out and which they give their full attention. Through technologies like smartphones and headphones, the listening experience has moved from a secondary to a primary exercise.” So observes editors Mia Lindren and Michele Hilmes in the Editor’s Introduction to RJ 14:1 Podcast 2016 (p. 4) Articles include “Podcasting: Considering the Evolution of the Medium and Its Association with the Word ‘Radio,” “Making ‘Maximum Fun’ For Fans: Examining Podcast Listener Participation Online,” “How Podcasting is Changing the Audio Storytelling Genre,” and “Personal Narrative Journalism and Podcasting.”

 

YouTube-8M

Everyone’s looking for large datasets these days and Google is here to help with its recent release of YouTube-8M which is comprised of 8 million videos tagged with over 4800 visual labels (I contenthaven’t looked but surely there are tags for that perennial genre of viral video involving inter-species animal friendships). Let the video analysis begin as this trove hosts over 500,000 viewing hours!  According to Google, all videos selected are public and have over over 1000 views.

content2There are large-scale image datasets out there (such as ImageNet) but this YouTube-8M is the fist of its kind for video.  The precursor to this newly minted dataset is Sports-1Mcontaining over a million video URLs tagged with 487 labels. (Sports-1M is actually included in Youtube-8M.) You can learn more about this new open access resource from the recent Google Research Blog announcement, or just dive right into the dataset itself here.

Speaking of YouTube research, check out these titles:

The Impact of YouTube on U. S. Politics by LaChrystal D. Ricke (Lexington Books, 2014).

Unruly media: YouTube, music video, and the new digital cinema, by Carol Vernallis (Oxford, 2013)

Out online: Trans Self-Representation and Community Building on YouTube, by  Tobias Raun (Routledge, 2016)

The YouTube Reader, edited by Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vondera (National Library of Sweden, 2009) 
Front Cover

‘Tis the Season for Political Advertising Resources

Don’t forget about the Political TV Ad Archive if you are interested in searching and viewing 2016 political TV ads in select key markets. (I wrote about it in previous post in February.) 

Incidentally, The Political TV Ad Archive is a project of the Internet Archive which just announced a new collaboration with the Annenberg Public Policy Center  “to help journalists and the public better understand how television news shows present what happens in the debates in post-debate TV coverage.” APPC will do the analyzing of post-debate coverage while the IA will provide researchers with real-time access to debates and post-debate coverage.  See press release here.

ad2If you are interested in tracking what candidates are spending on ads down to the city level, the Lippincott Library has the tool for you in Kantar Media’s Ad$pender.  AdSpender provides advertising expenditure information on brand/product categories, industries, and companies across various media types including cable and network TV, broadcast radio networks, magazines, and newspapers. Political campaign ads are one of the “products” in its data offering.  Want to compare candidate spending in two battleground states? Colleague Mia Wells has just posted a very useful walk-through in Datapoints: A blog from the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School of Business on how to navigate AdSpender for just this sort of query, Election 2016: By the Ad$pend.

 

 

 

 

September CommQuote: “Desperate and Daring Acts of Dignity”

phoneair“In dialogue with the dead, infants, pets, or the distant, the speaker must hold up both ends of the conversation. The call must contain or anticipate the response. Our communication with the dead may never reach them, but such elliptical sending is as important as circular reciprocity. It would be foolish to disparage communications that never leave our own circle as only failures…Dialogic ideology keeps us from seeing that expressive acts occurring over distances and without immediate assurance of reply can be desperate and daring acts of dignity.” —Speaking Into the Air, p.152

So writes John Durham Peters in his magisterial classic, Speaking Into the Air (University of Chicago Press, 1999) which takes a gently contrarian view of communication via mis- and failed communications (“Miscommunication is the scandal that motivates the very concept of communication in the first place,” he observes in the book’s Introduction, p. 6)).  This concept is beautifully enacted in a recent episode of This American Life, Episode 597: One Last Think Before I Go about a phone booth in Japan where people (thousands so far) who’ve lost loved ones in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake sit and talk on a disconnected phone to their departed loved ones.

I go back to Peters (always the recommendation), “Indeed all mediated communication is in a sense communication with the dead, insofar as media can store ‘phantasms of the living’ for playback after bodily death” (p. 142) and “The two key existential facts about modern media are these: the ease with which the living may mingle with the communicable traces of the dead, and the difficulty of distinguishing communication at a distance from communication with the dead.” (p. 149)

Echoes of Cultural Indicators at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and the Media

screentimeThese days George Gerbner must be smiling down in the direction of  Mount Saint Mary’s University, home of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and the Media which, since 2008, has built up a lot of research on gender prevalence in family entertainment.  To boost their mission of tracking gender and minority inequality on the screen (with financial assistance from Google.org) they are turning to cutting edge software, the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (or GD-IQ), comprised of video- and audio-recognition technology matched with algorithms “to identify gender, speaking time and additional details about characters presented in films, television shows and other media.” Automating this kind of data collection really changes the playing field from back in the day, i.e. the 1970s and 1980s when this sort of pioneering media research relied on video tape and manual coding.

Long before anyone was thinking about casting inequities, before celebrities were making speeches about such at award ceremonies, Gerbner was documenting the disconnect between populations inside and outside of the television set.  He noticed, and then systematically tracked, how the race, age, and gender of characters did not match the reality in the “real” world. To study this dynamic, he built an ongoing landmark research project called Cultural Indicators (1972-1996), amassing a cumulative database describing many thousands of characters and programs by key features, many of them demographic.

Check out a good summary of a 10-year study of TV demographics (based on the analysis of 19,642 speaking parts appearing in 1,371 major network prime time and Saturday morning children’s programs) as revealed by the Cultural Indicators Project in this 1982 piece written for American Demographics, The World According to Television” (Gerbner, Signorelli, October, 1982). 

Over 10 years later Gerbner observed, in a chapter called “Casting and Fate: Women and Minorities on Television Drama, Game Shows, and News” that appeared in Communication, Culture, Community (edited by Ed Hollander, Paul Rutten and Coen van der Linden, 1995):  subpage

“A general demographic overview finds that women comprise one-third or less of characters in all samples except daytime serials where they are 45 percent and in game shows where they are 55 percent. The smallest percentage of women is in the news (28%) and in children’s programs (23%). Even that shrinks to 18 percent as the importance of the role rises to ‘major character’.

While all seniors are greatly underrepresented, visibly old people, roughly 65 and above, are hardest to find on television. Their representation ranges from none on the youth-oriented Fox network and about 1% on network daytime series to less than 3 percent in the other samples. In real life, their proportion is 12% and growing. African-Americans are most visible on Fox and in game shows. On major network prime-time programs they are 11% and on daytime serials 9% of all characters. They are least visible on Saturday morning children’s programs. (Many cartoon characters cannot be reliably coded for race.)

Latino/Hispanic characters are rarely seen. Only in game shows do they rise significantly above 1 percent representation. Americans of Asian/Pacific origin and Native Americans (‘Indians’) are even more conspicuous by their absence. Less then 1 percent (in the case of Native Americans 0.3 percent) is their general representation.

Almost as invisible are members of the ‘lower class’ (judged by a three-way classification of the socio-economic status of major characters). Although the U.S. census classifies more than 14 percent of the general population, 29 percent of Latino/Hispanics, and 33 percent of African Americans as ‘poor,’ and many more as low-income wage-earners, on network television they make up only 1.3 percent of characters in prime time, 1.2 percent in daytime, half that (0.6 percent) in children’s programs, and 0.2 percent in the news.” p.126-127

Fast forward to the Geena Davis Institute and the GD-IQ, and we have, as reported in The New York Times, How Long Is an Actress Onscreen? A New Tool Finds the Answer Faster (Melena Ryzik, Sept. 14, 2016), Dr. Shri Narayanan, an engineering professor at the University of Southern California, studying the 200 top-grossing, non-animated films of 2014 and 2015 to find that “overall, in 2015, male characters were both seen and heard about twice as much as female characters. Parity on paper does not help: In films with male and female leads, the men nonetheless appear and speak more often than the women. Even in films with female leads, the men still get nearly equal screen and speaking time.”  

This new, emboldened-by-technology research is asking the very same questions Gerbner and his team of researchers here at the Annenberg School first posed so many decades ago.  There is even talk, once the software gets more fine-tuned, to look at STEM fields—how characters who play scientists and engineers are cast in screen roles,  how much speaking do they get to do, etc.  Sound familiar?  See Scientists on the TV Screen (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Signorelli) in Society May/June 1981).

Let’s hope today’s research on screen diversity can be the change-agent in the 21st century that George Gerbner hoped his would be in the previous one.