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 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.


Publishers Weekly Digital Archive

pw3Publishers Weeklythe authoritative voice of the publishing industry in the United States (also Britain) since 1872, will soon be available in full digital format from its inception to the present. The collection will provide an historical record of the advancement of the publishing industry, with its famous mix of news, features, sales figures, and trends. Included in this trove are PW’s renowned book reviews, which began in the 1940s. The complete archive will include up to 400,000 book reviews, 5,000 author profiles/interviews, and bestseller lists from 1895 forward.

This primary source archive, to contain every page of Publishers Weekly published over its first 141 years, all in its original context, in full color, will be fully searchable “to support lines of inquiry into print media and digital culture, American studies, popular culture, history of the book, literature, history, humanities, and their many sub-disciplines” (NA Publishing). pw

While the full archive has been announced as available (and currently sits in our menu of Penn Library e-resources),  it’s actually still being rolled out with the project completion date announced for “the fourth quarter of 2016 or the first quarter of 2017.” A lot is still missing so I wonder if their estimated time frame  is not overly optimistic. Right now the only solid issue blocks are 1872-1884 and 1940-1954, and then a good sampling of material in the 2000s. (NOTE: Penn access will only include up to 2013 in this product but access to the more recent years is available in Lexis Nexis Academic, since 11/2004.)
“Providing students and scholars with access to the Publishers Weekly digital archive,” says Jeff Moyer, president of  NA Publishing, “supports a new level of research and understanding of America’s publishing industry. Every page, every article, every table and all of the advertisements will be reproduced as originally printed in full color.”  
Here’s to seeing more issues populate the platform in the next six months!  

What’s New With BrowZine?

browzineThird Iron’s BrowZine started out as an app designed for tablets and phones to enable users to browse, save, organize and read journal articles.  That was great but things are even better because BrowZine is now fully web-based so users have access to it at the office (desktop computer) as well as on the train (mobile platforms). BrowZine is for anyone who is serious about keeping abreast of their discipline in an disciplined fashion.

And I am told by local Annenberg adopters that Third Iron is very responsive to its community of users.  If they don’t carry a journal you are interested in, just write them and there is a good chance they will add it. 

To get started with the mobile version simply download it from the app store on your phone–it’s free. After that, look for University of Pennsylvania among the intitutions in the Library List.  You will then be prompted for credentials. Once you’ve cleared that hurdle you are free to roam the BrowZine Library which is divided into interlocking disciplines. For Communication folk most any can apply–besides the obvious Sociobehavioral Sciences, you may want to check into Arts and Humanities; History, Philosophy and Religion; Law and Legal Studies; or Biomedical and Health Sciences. Users can also search individual journal titles by typing in the search box at the top of the screen. When you come across a title you want alerts so simply add it to your “My Bookshelf.”  brow

When viewing a journal, the current issue is automatically displayed. There is also a tab to Available Issues which go back a various amount of years (not the full subscription range of the institution necessarily). Public Opinion Quarterly, for instance, loads issues as far back as 2005. Within any issue being viewed, users can select articles of interest to save in either “Saved Articles” (the storage facility within the app) or to email, Refworks, Zotero, Endnote, or Mendeley.  Links to articles can also be uploaded into Facebook or Twitter.

BrowZine shelf space is limited.  Once you’ve filled up four book shelves you’ve hit the limit, 64 journals to be exact.  I’m thinking Third Iron could be petitioned in the future to “build” another bookshelf or two but for most the current “shelf space” is sufficient.

Call me silly, but the colorful journal covers and book shelf furniture of BrowZine is mood enhancing!  If you want a little more info about this alerting/reading/storage service check out this Penn Libraries Guide which includes an informative video from Third Iron. Or go to the Annenberg Library homepage (center column) to see what your  Communication bookshelf might look like.

Enjoy keeping up with the literature in a most pleasant and empowering fashion!

A Bittersweet Communication Yearbook 40

The recent publication of Communication Yearbook 40, the flagship reference annual for the field since 1977, marks the final volume of this longstanding series. For four decades the cy40International Communication Association-sponsored annual has published state-of-the-discipline literature reviews and essays, as well as original research in  handsome monograph format. It has hosted fourteen different editors over the years and Elisia Cohen, editor since CY37, including the sunset Volume 40, does a nice job in CY40‘s Epilogue tracing the history of the publication via these fourteen “eras” which bear the individual stamps of their editors.  The evolution of the field in many ways mirrors that of CY as different editors over the years implemented changes in the peer review process and sought to internationalize representation of the field–including comparative perspectives and cross-cultural communication topics, as well as  reviews of research in languages other than English.

According to Cohen, the Yearbook will actually be morphing into a journal, mentioned here in the Epilogue’s summation:

“Communication Yearbook published in its book format (although it has also transitioned to full digital e-book available during my editorship) has found itself challenged to be relevant to scholars and authors in the new “digital” era. Put simply, in this era the ICA and its scholars place a premium on the ability of authors to be discoverable, internationally accessible, with its research published in a timely manner. Numerous editors examined these issues in their reports to the ICA Board, and to address this historical but growing challenge, Francois Heinderyckx (University libre de Bruxelles) led the publications committee and the ICA Board to prepare for a transition of the series to a journal.

Given the need for an electronic manuscript submission system to support the next editor, and the demand for Communication Yearbook to have a global access, reach and scope, the ICA Publication Committee’s discussions to transition Communication Yearbook to an online journal format, with an annual print compendium for libraries, will preserve its history while providing an audience for ICA as international in scope as its members. In 2015, David Ewoldsen was selected by the ICA Board to leave the development of Communication Yearbook‘s successor publication. Although when I assumed the editorship I did not do so intending to be the last editor of the Communication Yearbook series, David Ewoldsen’s vision for the re-branded “Annals” of the International Communication Association will include the best of Communication Yearbook‘s tradition while extending its reach and impact in service the ICA membership.” –p. 474 Epilogue, CY40


commyrbk1Communication Yearbook 40 (along with the rest of the set beginning with Volume 1) is available here in the Annenberg Library.  Pulling down old volumes is a good way to reminisce about the field or, for newbies, it’s a good way to bone up on how the field has emerged into its current state. As for the last volume, fifteen review pieces comprise its four thematic sections:                            commyrbk27

Part I: Media Framing, Structure, and Reception

Part II: Personal and Strategic Communication in Social Interactions

Part III: Place, Boundaries, and Exchange in Organizational Communication

Part IV: Emerging Issues in Communication Research


Cheers to Communication Yearbook and to what follows ahead of (not behind or inside of) its deep footprints!





Climate Change and Communication Overview Articles in WIREs

olbannerleftIt always feel a little more gratifying directing folks to articles that appear outside the more obvious communication journals from which many CommPilings readers may be already receiving alerts. Case in point: two overview articles in  Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change (Volume 7, Issue 3 May/June 2016) on climate change and communication.  The articles are:

Climate Change Communication: What Can We Learn From Communication Theory? by Anne Gammelgaard Ballantyne (pages 329–344).


The literature on climate change communication addresses a range of issues relevant to the communication of climate change and climate science to lay audiences or publics. In doing so, it approaches this particular challenge from a variety of different perspectives and theoretical frameworks. Analyzing the body of scholarly literature on climate change communication, this article critically reviews how communication is conceptualized in the literature and concludes that the field of climate change communication is characterized by diverging and incompatible understandings of communication as a theoretical construct. In some instances, communication theory appears reduced to an ‘ad hoc’ toolbox, from which theories are randomly picked to provide studies with a fitting framework. Inspired by the paradigm shift from transmission to interaction within communication theory, potential lessons from the field of communication theory are highlighted and discussed in the context of communicating climate change. Rooted in the interaction paradigm, the article proposes a meta-theoretical framework that conceptualizes communication as a constitutive process of producing and reproducing shared meanings. Rather than operating in separate ontological and epistemological perspectives, a meta-theoretical conceptualization of communication would ensure a common platform that advances multi-perspective argumentation and discussion of the role of climate change communication in society.

Reflections on Climate Change Communication Research and Practice in the Second Decade of the 21st Century: What More Is There to Say? by Susanne C. Moser (pp. 345-369).


Appreciable advances have been made in recent years in raising climate change awareness and enhancing support for climate and energy policies. There also has been considerable progress in understanding of how to effectively communicate climate change. This progress raises questions about the future directions of communication research and practice. What more is there to say? Through a selective literature review, focused on contributions since a similar stock-taking exercise in 2010, the article delineates significant advances, emerging trends and topics, and tries to chart critical needs and opportunities going forward. It describes the climate communication landscape midway through the second decade of the 21st century to contextualize the challenges faced by climate change communication as a scientific field. Despite the important progress made on key scientific challenges laid out in 2010, persistent challenges remain (superficial public understanding of climate change, transitioning from awareness and concern to action, communicating in deeply politicized and polarized environments,and dealing with the growing sense of overwhelm and hopelessness). In addition, new challenges and topics have emerged that communication researchers and practitioners now face. The study reflects on the crucial need to improve the interaction between climate communication research and practice, and calls for dedicated science-practice boundary work focused on climate change communication. A set of new charges to climate communicators and researchers are offered in hopes to move climate change communication to a new place—at once more humble yet also more ambitious than ever before, befitting to the crucial role it could play in the cultural work humanity faces with climate change.


May CommQuote

This month’s quote is brought to us by Abby Smith Rumsey‘s WE ARE NO MORE: HOW DIGITAL MEMORY IS SHAPING OUR FUTURE (Bloomsbury Press, 2016).  Notes Paul Saffo,9781620408025 Consulting Professor, Stanford University School of Engineering, “Rumsey takes us on a lucid and deeply thought-provoking journey into what makes the human species unique–the capacity to create external memory. This book will change how you think about our collective store of knowledge, and its future.”

“And so it is with our artificial memory. The more fragile the medium, the more redundancy we need. Nothing we have invented so far is as fragile as digital data. We began our attempt to cheat death by creating mighty artifacts of clay, stone, paper, and parchment that outperformed our memory by hundreds and thousands of years. Now we create storage media that maximize volume, not durability. The Sumerian scribes looking down on us from their imaginary perch in space-time would be surprised at how far we have gotten in documenting the world and its many transactions over time, how far beyond accounting, epics, and prayers we have extended the memory of humanity, and how many people can read, write, and circulate their ideas across the globe instantaneously. They would marvel at the trade-offs we so lightly make between volume and durability. But we may not have to make such trade-offs forever. We are entering now into an experiment with memory that was not even imaginable until a few decades ago–to take the first, most compact, and most enduring form of memory, the DNA molecule, and encode it with digital data…” –p. 162