Research Proposals

Question of the Week

Should video online be a video specific media or a net specific media?

Why Blog for Documentary?

Sounds like that bumper sticker about fighting for war. After the OzDox panel the other night, and being a guest at Mediamatic

Time and Tag Clouds

This project has developed some text parsing software that generates tag clouds of key words of US presidential speeches. What is very interesting about it is that there is a timeline so you can see changes in time. This temporal dimension is generally lacking from a lot of mashups, though I don’t know why. I think, for example, a mashup that showed photos from a specific location, with a timeline, would be historically and narratively very powerful. Same with a mashup (for instance ontop of a googlemap) that had video. You could see what ‘happened’ yesterday, last week, etc. The key thing about social software is time (it is the passage of time that turns space into place, for instance) so hopefully we will shortly see timelines in our all mashup social software thingiemajigs (TM technical web 2.0 term).

That Moment Might Do

This long post refers to a draft experimental interactive text movie, 40MB at moment to download and play locally (url will be

Scholarships

I received this via email recently:

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce its new Digital Innovation Fellowship program, in support of digitally based research projects in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. These fellowships, created with the generous help of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, are intended to support an academic year dedicated to work on a major scholarly project of a digital character that advances humanistic studies and best exemplifies the integration of such research with use of computing, networking, and other information technology-based tools. The online application for the fellowship program is located at http://ofa.acls.org; applications must be completed by November 10, 2005 (decisions to be announced in late March 2006).

Don’t you think that’s amazing? They’re providing enough money for up to 10 academics to spend a year on a major digital scholarly project. The ambition, and the recognition that this ought to produce major work, is admirable.

digital interactive video exploration and reflection

Diver is, as the title suggests, an unwiedly acronymn. Got this from the videoblogging list, is a very impressive piece of software that would be ideal for teaching cinema studies. Will send ’em an email tomorrow to find out more.

Peer Review, Academic Labor, and Publishing

Picking up from many of the discussions about academic publishing that have occurred in the sciences, I recently made this suggestion on the (primarily) Australian Fibreculture email list:

Imagine a database which publishes peer reviewed work via http. The system is designed to offer structured feedback and mentoring not only of those receiving reviews, but also those doing the reviewing.

  1. I submit a paper and nominate the fields and/or discplines (from set choices) that I
  2. think it fits into
  3. as a possible author I agree to also be a reviewer (this is a requirement)
  4. where I also nominate a series of fields and/or disciplines that I have expertise in
  5. these fields which represent the disciplines would be derived from an existing metadata standard,
  6. and if one doesn’t exist then the project would develop one
  7. the system automatically allocates 3 anonymous reviewers based on the preferences made by each contributor
  8. my paper is anonymously reviewed by 3 others
  9. these reviews are well structured (template and process driven)
  10. and the author gets access to these reviews and
  11. the author is able to rate these reviews (template and process driven)
  12. during this process, which would support resubmission, the paper must meet miminum requirements for publication
  13. this minimum number would be determined by averaging the reviews received, measured against the reviewers ranks as reviewers
  14. if accepted the paper is published and identified as peer reviewed
  15. probably only after you have completed your 3 reviews (quid pro quo)
  16. since reviewers are rated by authors and authors are rated by reviewers
  17. over time an expert peer driven system is built which can then weight participants so that
  18. reviewer A is known as high quality and receives a high review rank, while
  19. reviewer B who is not much chop receives a low review rank

The benefits of this are multiple.

First of all the academic labour that constitutes a great deal of scholarly publishing is made visible, not only in the requirements of becoming a reviewer to publish, but by the use of straight forward and standardised feedback protocols to structure feedback. This models good practice, so provides professional development for new academics, and may also improve the quality of feedback generally (which in the humanities can be abysmal).

Once established, there is virtually zero cost involved, apart from bandwidth (which could admittedly be considerable), as the system is more or less self organising and self sustaining.

The engine could be entirely scalable so that new discipline groups could be easily added.

It moves scholarly publication into a quite different temporal model because rather than being volume based articles would appear whenever sufficient reviews had been completed and appropriate ‘criteria’ met. This would mean that in some cases publication would in fact be issue based, though in the more usual sense of timely interest, as a spate of papers may appear dealing with a specific theme because of interest or debate.

Finally, the criteria used throughout this system would be explicit, and though qualitative would have some quantitative index (a rank) so not only the papers but the values that constitute ‘good’ work would also then be subject to peer review and discussion. In the same manner reviewing as a professional practice would be subject to review. Of course all indicators would be anonymous, so that my reviewer identity would be some sort of number, for instance, which only I would know.

This would, of course, be just the beginning. Complex visualisation strategies could be employed to represent content and the emergent clusters that developed through such a system, generating in itself a whole series of new research problems and programs. For example the system could easily build and represent citational frequency clusters, visualise link patterns, and so forth. It might even help some parts of the humanities catch up to the sciences in reimagining what constitutes knowledge production, expression, and dissemination.