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.

 

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!