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

Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet


Olga Goriunova gave a stunning presentation a few weeks ago at the PARGC 2016 Symposium, Convergence and Disjuncture in Global Digital Culture. It was called Idiot, Lurker, Troll: Conceptual Personae in Digital Media and it got me looking up her work. Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet (2012) does not disappoint. In it Goriunova provides a new way of looking at how cultural forms on the Internet are developed. To this end she deploys the concept of “art platforms” which does a lot of heaving lifting throughout the book. I’ve pulled a few excerpts from the Introduction that tease out what she means by it. This book is part of the  Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies which has a lot of other great titles though, sadly, they all have the same cover designs (less work for artists).

from INTRODUCTION: Departing from an Art Platform

“…Everyday digital objects, gestures, and the assemblages, such as file uploads and downloads, form filling, data handling, searches and postings, protocols, scripts, software structures, and modification parameters are all plugged in to contemporary aesthetics and coconstruct the ways in which the individual, cultural, and social spheres are produced, organized, and disrupted. Art platforms both conform to and are part of this overall development, but they also stand out from it in very striking ways.

…an art platform can be a stand-alone website that, together with other actors, forms an ecology of aesthetic production, but might also take place as a subconnection of a large platform, or even as a space between a corporate service, artists’ work, hacking, collaborative engagement, and a moment of aesthetic fecundity. An art platform engages with a specific current of technosocial creative practices and aims at the amplification of its aesthetic force.

…As a process of emergence, an art platform is an assemblage of structures, notes, codes, ideas, emails, decisions, projects, databases, excitement, humour, mundane work, and conflict. Here an art platform is best understood through the metaphor of a railway platform, as an element that unfolds in its arriving and departing trains, in tracks that cover vast spaces, in the forests those rails run through and the lakes they pass by, in the hills and sunsets forming the landscape, in the rain on the train’s window, in the mechanics of an engine, logistics of rolling stock, semaphores, encounters, but it is a resonance, a movement, an operation. The capillaries of aesthetic emergence in art platforms draw from the technical materiality of networks, databases, and software; from grass-roots, folklore creativity; from forces of repetition and sociality; from conflictual border zones and disjuctures between normality, capitalism, politics, quotidian labour and despair, escape, and creation.”  –pp. 1, 2, 3

Telemedicine Resources

telehealth_wordcloud_480x339My favorite regular feature in  ACRL’s  (Association of College and Research Libraries) College & Research Libraries News is Internet Resources, which I like to “repost” if at all communication-related.  This month’s focus is on telehealth:  Telemedicine: A Guide to Online Resources (C&RL News, Volume 77, Number 3, March, 2016) by Angela K. Gooden.  Ms. Gooden calls on the American Telemedicine Association for a definition of telemedicine, which is the “use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status….includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”

The Guide sorts the topic by History/Infographics, Government/Policy, Academic Resources, State Programs, Scholarly Journals, Telehealth/Telemedicine Providers, Organizations, and Blogs.

Incidentally, of the four titles rounded up in the Scholarly Journals section, three of the four can be accessed through Penn Libraries:

International Journal of Telemedicine and Applications

Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare

Telemedicine and e-Health

And Smart Homecare Technology and TeleHealth is an open access title. That’s batting a thousand I’d say.

Pain Communication Research

It’s always nice to see good communication research getting picked up in the broader media, as in the case of Elena Gonzalez- Polledo‘s work on how social media users–in this case, Tumblr– communicate about chronic pain. The Social Media Cure: How People with Chronic Illness Use Memes, Selfies, and Emogis to Soothe Their Suffering by Amanda Hess appears in (March 4, 2016). You can read the original research, Chronic Media Worlds: Social Media and the Problem of Pain Communication on Tumblr, by Dr. Gonzalez-Polledo in Social Media and Society (January-March, 2016) here. Gonzalez-Polledo

Abstract for Chronic Media Worlds…:

This article explores dynamics of pain communication in the social media platform Tumblr. As a device of health communication, the Tumblr platform brings together a network of behaviors, technologies, and media forms through which pain experience is reimaged through and against mainstream biomedical frameworks. The article develops an interpretative approach to analyze how, as social media platforms reorganize affective, emotional, physical, and temporal frames of experience, communication about chronic pain and illness is reimagined in its capacity to create social worlds. Drawing on ethnographic theory to reimagine the relation between politics and poetics in pain communication, the article explores the issue- and world-making capacities of social media.

Dr. Gonzalez is also the author (with Jen Tarr) of The Thing About Pain: The Remaking of Illness Narratives in Chronic Pain Expressions on Social Media  which appeared in New Media & Society (November 20, 2014).


Black Lives Matter and Online Media

Beyond the hashtags: #Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the online struggle for offline justice,  Deen Freelon, Charlton D. McIlwain, and Meredith D. Clark‘s full 92-page report for The Center for Media & Social Impact at American University on the #Blacklivesmatter movement’s uses of online media in 2014-2015, has just been released. blm


IN 2014, a dedicated activist movement—Black Lives Matter (BLM)—ignited an urgent national conversation about police killings of unarmed Black citizens. Online tools have been anecdotally credited as critical in this effort, but researchers are only beginning to evaluate this claim. This research report examines the movement’s uses of online media in 2014 and 2015. To do so, we analyze three types of data: 40.8 million tweets, over 100,000 web links, and 40 interviews of BLM activists and allies.

Most of the report is devoted to detailing our findings, which include:
» Although the #Blacklivesmatter hashtag was created in July 2013, it was rarely used
through the summer of 2014 and did not come to signify a movement until the months
after the Ferguson protests.
» Social media posts by activists were essential in spreading Michael Brown’s story nationally.
» Protesters and their supporters were generally able to circulate their own narratives on
Twitter without relying on mainstream news outlets.
» There are six major communities that consistently discussed police brutality on Twitter
in 2014 and 2015: Black Lives Matter, Anonymous/Bipartisan Report, Black Entertainers,
Conservatives, Mainstream News, and Young Black Twitter.
» The vast majority of the communities we observed supported justice for the victims and
decisively denounced police brutality.
» Black youth discussed police brutality frequently on Twitter, but in ways that differed
substantially from how activists discussed it.
» Evidence that activists succeeded in educating casual observers on Twitter came in
two main forms: expressions of awe and disbelief at the violent police reactions to the
Ferguson protests, and conservative admissions of police brutality in the Eric Garner and
Walter Scott cases.
» The primary goals of social media use among our interviewees were education,
amplification of marginalized voices, and structural police reform.

In our concluding section, we reflect on the practical importance and implications of our findings. We hope this report contributes to the specific conversation about how Black Lives Matter and related movements have used online tools as well as to broader conversations about the general capacity of such tools to facilitate social and political change.

Local News Ecosystems in Three New Jersey Communities

njnewsA new report, Assessing the Health of Local Journalism Ecosystems: A Comparative Analysis of Three New Jersey Communities, prepared for the Democracy Fund, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, analyzes one week of online journalism output across three communities–Newark, New Brunswick, and Morristown. The researchers, Philip M. Napoli, Sarah Stonbely, Kathleen McCollough, and Bryce Renninger looked at both the home page content and social media (Facebook and Twitter) postings for all television, radio, print, and online journalism sources that could be located within these communities. Their findings “potentially point to a problem in local journalism, in which lower-income communities may be underserved relative to wealthier communities. The researchers intend to address this issue further by applying the methodology and performance metrics developed for this project to a larger sample of communities, an effort to better understand the factors related to the health of local journalism.”


The State of Broadband 2015

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Digital Development (launched by the ITU and UNESCO in 2010) has just released its The State of Broadband 2015. state_of_broadband_2015_chart

For anyone interested in global internet access and technology development issues, there is good cross-cultural, comparative data in this report.

“A large body of evidence has now been amassed that affordable and effective broadband connectivity is a vital enabler of economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. Although global mobile cellular subscriptions will exceed 7 billion in 2015 (with nearly half of these subscriptions for mobile broadband), growth in mobile cellular subscriptions has slowed markedly. The total number of unique mobile subscribers is between 3.7-5 billion people (according to different sources), with some observers interpreting this as an indication that the digital divide may soon be bridged.

However, the digital divide is proving stubbornly persistent in terms of access to broadband Internet, including the challenge of extending last-mile access to infrastructure to remote and rural communities. According to ITU’s latest data, 43% of the world’s population is now online with some form of regular access to the Internet. This leaves 57% or some 4.2 billion of the world’s people who still do not enjoy regular access to the Internet. In the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), only one out of every ten people is online. The gender digital divide is also proving incredibly difficult to overcome, reflecting broader social gender inequalities.” –From the Introduction

DiRT Directory

Don’t let the humanities in digital humanities mislead you. The term applies equally to the social sciences when it comes to digital research tools.  If your research needs have to do with capturing information off the web, cleaning that data, organizing it, contextualizing it….if you need to store data, interpret data, visualize or preserve data, publish or disseminate it, the DiRT Directory is for you.  What is DiRT? It’s a longstanding and well-regarded registry of open access research tools for scholars. 


Overseen by an international steering committee of scholar-volunteers, the Directory is conveniently, and with seeming effortlessness, organized by types of tools and methods.  However, this organization is the result of a complex taxonomy (Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities in the Humanities or TaDiRAH) that was developed by an “iterative process of community feedback” about the research life cycle composed of overarching goals and related methods of achieving those goals.

Some functions on the site work better than others but overall there are more thriving signs on the site than entropic ones.  There is a page devoted to development and recently the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations announced the DiRT Directory has been “adopted as the newest centerNet Initiative.”

If you are so inclined, DiRT Directory encourages contributions from its user community such as adding or reviewing new tools.

Mapping the Digital Divide

You may or may not be interested in The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers take on the digital divide in the United States but their report issued this summer, Mapping the Digital Divide (July 2015), provides a fair amount of data on internet penetration and demographics. 

From the Introduction:

This report examines the state of the digital divide using new data from the Census’ 2013 American Community Survey (ACS), which we link with the most recent version of the National Broadband Map (NBM). The large scale of the ACS allows us to examine Internet use at a level of granularity that was not previously possible. Our most important findings illustrate how the digital divide reflects factors that influence the demand for Internet, such as household income, and also the costs of providing it (e.g. population density). Although we consider several potential explanations for the digital divide, our main goal is not to measure the causal impact of any particular factor, but rather to characterize disparities in Internet access and adoption as they exist today. Overall, the evidence shows that we have made progress, with the largest gains occurring for those groups that started with the least. While this suggests the beginning of convergence toward uniformly high levels of access and adoption, there is still a substantial distance to go, particularly in our poorest neighborhoods and most rural communities, to ensure that all Americans can take advantage of the opportunities created by recent advances in computing and communications technology.