The N^3 Report

Andrew Wilson | PhD student, Art History, UCSD
Andy Rice | PhD student, Communication, UCSD
Lara Bullock | PhD student, Art History, UCSD
Chris Head | MMFA student, Visual Art, UCSD
Tara Zepel | PhD student, Art History, UCSD

The NBC Nightly News is an American institution that has been broadcast nightly in its current format since August 1, 1970. Arguably, the Nightly News, alongside newspapers, has served as America's primary source of information dissemination over the past 50 years. Over this time, changes in technology, visual culture, and the market dynamics for news shows have led certain aspects of nightly news production to evolve in subtle ways.

The N^3 Report presents a meta-broadcast of the NBC Nightly News (1980-2008) unpacked by cultural analytics. Through techniques examining visual characteristics and technological shifts that both are and are not obvious to the human eye, the N^3 Report performs what could be called "producer measurement systems"* in search of visual patterns, trends, or variations and asks what defines the "look" of the news institution over the past 50 years. How and when did aesthetic changes take place? And what might be the "look" of the future?

* a reverse of audience measure systems such as Nielson Ratings

Introductory segments from each year within the specified range were collected from Vanderbilt's Television News Archive. Each segment, beginning with the program's opening and ending with the first stationary shot of the anchor, was analyzed for intensity, color distribution, graphic content and temporal patterns. We report the following:

1) An increase in intensity and brightness by year.

AVG Intensity Mean Brightness (NBC 1980-2008): This graph presents the average measurement of brightness for all shots in each of the NBC Nightly News segments measured. The data reveals a trend of increasing brightness over time.

AVG Mean/Median Gray Value (NBC 1980-2008); An average composite image, which essentially merges the moving images footage into a single frame, was created for each of the introductory segments from NBC Nightly News episodes ranging from 1980 to 2008. This graph presents the mean and median gray values in these composite images. The data indicates an increase in average brightness (on a 0-255 scale) over time.

2) A graphic inundation throughout the nineties and into the millennium that appears to have subsided in the last two years in favor of a renewed and stable focus on the anchor.

Each image in this visualization is created by adding all frames in a given news video on top of each other. Each image on the top row represents one year of the 1980s, the middle row corresponds to the 1990s, and the bottom the 2000s. Note how in the middle of the 1990s row, the visage of the anchorman is replaced by an image dominated by graphics and motion. The focus on the anchorman returns in 2007 and 2008.

3) A visualization of temporal patterns using montages of segmented frames.

Hi-Res Image (7MB)
Each block within the larger montage is an introductory segment montage sampled at 30 frames per
second. Each row shows a 5 year span with two shows per year.

Row 1+2 = 1980s
Row 3+4 = 1990s
Row 5+6 = 2000s

4) A high speed video montage of NBC Nightly News introductions over the past 30 years.

Our investigation explores potential correlations, which may then be further developed through further research. The goal of this project was to take a mainstream source of information, the NBC Nightly News, and analyze the aesthetic techniques used in tandem with the message and reputation that is attached to this specific news program. It is also useful for viewing cultural shifts in the news over time. We focused on introductions to the Nightly News broadcasts because of the relative level of producer control and the concise presentation of what is to follow. By using visualizations of the visual aspects of introductory segments from 1980-2008, we hope to broaden the understanding of this cultural mainstay in American culture and open new questions that, without such techniques, may be overlooked or not realized, but that could contribute greatly to the growth of visual humanities and cultural studies.

Cultural Analytics


Gallery 5
Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass doing a presentation at the opening of Mapping Time exhibition, gallery@calit2


Book Chapters:

Lev Manovich. "Media Visualization: Visual Techniques for Exploring Large Media Collections." In Media Studies Futures, ed. Kelly Gates. Blackwell, 2012.

Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass. "Visualizing Change." In Imagery in the 21st Century, ed. Oliver Grau and Thomas Viegl. MIT Press, 2011.

Lev Manovich. "Trending: The Promises and the Challenges of Big Social Data." In Matthew Gold, ed. Debates in Digital Humanities. Minnesota University Press, 2012.

Lev Manovich. "From Reading to Pattern Recognition." In I read where I am, eds. Mieke Gerritzen, Geert Lovink, and Minke Kampman. Amsterdam: Valiz with Graphic Design Museum, 2011.

Tara Zepel, "Cultural Analytics at Work: The 2008 U.S. Presidential Online Video Ads." In The Video Vortex Reader II, eds. Geert Lovink and Rachel Somers Miles. Institute of Network Cultures, 2011.

William Huber. "Epic spatialities: the production of space in Final Fantasy games." In Wardrip-Fruin and Harrigan, eds. Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives. MIT Press, 2009.

Lev Manovich. "How to Follow Global Digital Cultures, or Cultural Analytics for Beginners." In Deep Search, eds. Felix Stalder and Konrad Becker. Transaction Publishers (English version) and Studienverlag (German version), 2009.


So Yamaoka, Lev Manovich, Jeremy Douglass, Falko Kuester. "Cultural Analytics in Large Scale Visualization Environments." IEEE Computer, cover feature for the special issue on computers and the arts, 2011.

Lev Manovich. "How to Compare One Million Images?" In David Berry, ed., Understanding Digital Humanities (Palgrave, 2012).

Lev Manovich. "What is Visualization?" In Visual Studies. Routledge, 2011.

Jeremy Douglass, William Huber, Lev Manovich. "Understanding scanlation: how to read one million fan-translated manga pages." Image and Narrative (Brussels, 2011).

William Huber. "Catch and release: ludological dynamics in Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly." Loading: The Journal of Canadian Game Studies. Volume 4, Number 6 (5 April 2010).

Lev Manovich (with contribution by Noah Wardrip-Fruin). Cultural Analytics: white paper (5/2007; latest update 11/2008).

Jeremy Douglass. "Computer Visions of Computer Games: analysis and visualization of play recordings.". Workshop on Media Arts, Science, and Technology (MAST) 2009: The Future of Interactive Media. UC Santa Barbara, January 2009. [slides]

Jeremy Douglass. "Playpower: Radically Affordable Computer-Aided Learning with $12 TV-Computers." Co-authored with Derek Lomas and Daniel Rehn. Meaningful Play 2008. Michigan State U., October 2008.


Lev Manovich. Software Takes Command. Italian translation published by Olivares, 2010. Forthcoming from The MIT Press (Software Studies Series), 2013.

Lev Manovich. Inside Photoshop. Computing Culture, no. 1, 2012.

Cicero Silva & Jane de Almeida. The explorers: Open Source and Free Software in Brazil. Forthcoming from the MIT Press (Software Studies Series), 2012.

Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies. The MIT Press (Software Studies Series), 2009.

Lev Manovich. "There is only software." 2011.

Lev Manovich. "Software Studies." In FILE (International Festival of
Electonic Arts, Brazil) catalog, Sao Paolo, 2008-2011.

Cicero Silva. "There is nothing outside of software (Não há nada fora do software.)" In FILE catalog. São Paulo, Imprensa Oficial, 2008.

Cicero Silva. "Estudos Culturais do Software." In Comunicação e Cultura Digital. Porto Alegre: Espectros Editorial, 2009.

Cicero Silva. "Analítica Cultural no Brasil." In Paralelo. São Paulo: MIS, 2009. [presentation]


Lev Manovich
  • April 2008 | London Schol of Economics, | London
  • April 2008 | Royal College of Art (RCA) | London | Lecture
  • April 2008 | Goldsmiths College | London
  • April 2008 | London Schol of Economics, Social Study of ICT Workshop (SSIT8) | London | lecture
  • May 2008 | Department of Design / Media Arts, UCLA | Los Angeles | lecture
  • May 2008 | “Software Studies” international workshop | University of California – San Diego, | San Diego, California | presentation
  • May 2008 | “Software Studies” panel, HASTAC II conference, University of California – Irvine | Irvine, California | lecture with Jeremy Douglass using HIperWall
  • May 2008 | “Software Studies” panel, HASTAC II conference, University of California – Irvine | Irvine, California | Panel organizer, moderator, and speaker
  • June 2008 | Software Cultures” lecture series, University of California – Irvine, June 4 | Irvine, California | lecture
  • August 2008 | ISEA 2008 (the International Symposium on Electronic Arts | Singapore | Lecture (satellite event at LASALLE College of the Arts)
  • August 2008 | FILE (Electronic Language International Festival) 2008 | | Sao Paolo, Brazil via Skype from San Diego | lecture (video)
  • September 2008 | Ciantec (Annual conference on art and technology, Mackenzie University) | Sao Paolo, Brazil via Skype from San Diego | lecture (video)
  • October 2008 | “The New Work of Composing” conference, University of Louisville | Keynote lecture
  • November 2008 | The Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University | Lecture
  • November 2008 | “Force of Metadata” international conference, Goldsminths Collge, University of London | Lecture
  • December 2008 | Mellon Seminar in Digital Humanities, UCLA | Lecture
  • January 2009 | “Database Aesthetics: Artists sorting through Bits & Flesh,” a panel at College Art Association (CAA) annual convention | Los Angeles | Panel respondent
  • January 2009 | “Proof,” a panel at College Art Association annual convention | Los Angeles | Panel presentation
  • April 2009 | Hastac conference, UCI | Panel presentation
  • May 2009 | Fotographica Bogota | Bogota | Lecture
  • May 2009 | Management in the Digital Domain | Stockholm | Keynote lecture
  • May 2009 | Archive 2020 | Amsterdam | Two lectures
  • May 2009 | Architecture of Knowledge, Netherlands architecture Institute, Rotterdam | Lecture
  • May 2009 | Video Vortex 4, Split | Keynote lecture
  • June 2009 | European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland | Lecture
  • June 2009 | Digital Humanities 09, University of Maryland | Keynote lecture
  • August 2009 | Cultural Analytics workshop at FILE Labo (Brazil) (live stream).
  • October 2009 | Nowcasting Symposium, UCLA, Los Angeles | Lecture
  • November 2009 | International Festival for Arts and Media, Yokohama, Japan | Lecture
  • November 2009 | CENTER OF IMAGE SCIENCE, DONAU-UNIVERSITAET KREMS, Austria | Two-day class
  • November 2009 | The Society of the Query, Amsterdam | Lecture
  • December 2009 | Digital Arts and Culture Annual Conference, UCI (Univercity of California Irvine)| Presentation
  • December 2009 | Cultural Analytics seminar @Calit2: Software Studies, Calit2 +UCSD and University of Bergen | Seminar
  • January 2010 | Digital Formalism Conference, Vienna, Austria | Lecture
  • January 2010 | TEDx Istanbul, Istanbul, Tirkey | Lecture
  • February 2010 | Future of Digital Studies conference, University of Florida | Lecture via video
  • February 2010 | Digital Media and Learning Conference 2010, San Diego | Panel participant
  • March 2010 | Centre for Media and Culture Research, South Bank University, London | Lecture
  • March 2010 | “The Computational Turn”, Swansea University, UK | Keynote lecture
  • March 2010 | Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore | Lecture
  • April 2010 | Lecture series "Meet The Media Guru", Milan, Italy | Lecture
  • April 2010 | Catholic University, Milan, Italy | Seminar
  • April 2010 | Game Studies Program at Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany | Lecture
  • April 2010 | “The Borders” of Film Conference, Berlin | Lecture
  • April 2010 | HESP Challenge Seminar "Visual Studies of Immedia", Vilnus, Lithuania | Seminar
  • April 2010 | Contemporary Art Center, Vilnus, Lithuania | Lecture
  • April 2010 | SOS 4.8 Festival, Murcia, Spain | Lecture
  • May 2010 | Metabolic Studio, Los Angeles | Lecture
  • May 2010 | Humanities + digital Visual Interpretations Conference 2010, MIT | Keynote lecture
  • June 2010 | European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland | Lecture
  • June 2010 | Graphic Design Museum, Breda, the Netherlands | Lecture
  • June 2010 | Department of New Media, Utrrecht University | Lecture
  • June 2010 | Virtual Amsterdam, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science, Amsterdam | Lecture
  • June 2010 | The Department of Arts and Sound of the Catholic University Porto, Portugal | Lecture
  • June 2010 | Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal | Lecture
  • June 2010 | University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal | Lecture
  • August 2010 | NEH Summer Seminar on Network Analysis for Humanities, UCLA | Lecture
  • September 2010 | INDAF festival, Seoul, Korea | Keynote lecture
  • September 2010 | Nabi Art Center, Seoul, Korea | Lecture
  • September 2010 | Hongik University, Seoul, Korea | Lecture
  • October 2010 | Grand Challenges in Data-Intensive Discovery conference, San Diego Supercomputer Center | Lecture
  • March 2011 | Hongik University, Seoul, Korea | Lecture
  • March 2011 | Emory University, Atlanta | Lecture
  • March 2011 | Georgia Institute of Technology | Lecture

Jeremy Douglass
  • April 2007 | “Second Person: an evening on writing and gameplay,” an author talk with Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Mark Marino, and Jordan Mechner. Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, University of Southern California |Keynote lecture
  • April 2007 | “You Must Remember This: Passwords in Contemporary Computer Culture.” Alumni Symposium: Memory, Memoir, and Madeleines: Remembering Things Past. Pomona College | Panel talk
  • May 2008 | Jeremy Douglass, “Programming Literary Flow.” Panel on Mapping Process in New Media Landscapes. ELO 2008: Visionary Landscapes. | Vancouver Washington | presentation
  • May 2008 | “Implied Code as Mental Geography.” Panel on ReVisioning Electronic Literature - Origins and Influences. ELO 2008: Visionary Landscapes. | Vancouver, Washington | panelist
  • May 2008 | Jeremy Douglass, “The LA Flood Project” presented with lead Mark Marino, collaborators Dena, Gutierrez, Hight, and Tao. HASTAC II: Techno-Travels. UC Irvine | poster
  • May 2008 | Jeremy Douglass, with Lev Manovich. “HIPerWall Demo: Cultural Analytics” HASTAC II. UC Irvine | presentation
  • May 2008 | Jeremy Douglass, “Visual Rhetoric for Large Displays.” Transcriptions Research Slam. UCSB | presentation
  • May 2008 | HASTAC II: Techno-Travels | “What is Software Studies?” Panel at HASTAC II: Techno-Travels, UCLA | Los Angeles | panelist
  • May 2008 | SoftWhere 2008| Software Studies Initiative at Calit2, UC San Diego | San Diego | co-chaired with Lev Manovich and Noah Wardrip-Fruin
  • May 2008 | “#Include Genre.” | SoftWhere: Software Studies 2008 | Calit2, UC San Diego | presentation
  • September 2008 | “Topics in Software Studies.” | CIANTEC 2008. Mackenzie University, Brazil | presentation with Cícero Silva (video)
  • March 2009 | Jeremy Douglass, with Derek Lomas and Daniel Rehn. “Playpower: Designing 8-bit Learning Games for Radically Affordable Computers.” O’Reilly ETech Emerging Technology Conference 2009: Living, Reinvented | San Jose, California | presentation
  • September 2009 | “Perspectives on Overflow: Visualizing Media.” DATA/CODE/STRUCTURE, an artist’s talk event for the show OVER/FLOW: Horror Vacui in an Age of ‘Information’ Abundance. Curator James MacDevitt. Cerritos College. Los Angeles | Panel talk
  • October 2009 | “Deep Media and Wide Media: Visualizing the Visual.” Tecnológico de Monterrey, Toluca Mexico | Keynote lecture
  • December 2009 | Digital Arts and Culture 2009 | "Software/Platform Studies" | Irvine, California | track chair
  • February 2010 | “Reading Reading Code.” Critical Code Studies Working Group | Keynote lecture
  • May 2010 | “Reading the Machine Differently.” Information Studies Speaker Series,University of California,
    Los Angeles | Keynote lecture
  • May 2010 | “Playpower” lecture series in Brasil. Locations: Casa da Cultura Digital, São Paulo; Graduate Studies in Education & Art, Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, São Paulo; Federal University of Juiz de Fora; Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro | Keynote lecture (live stream)

William Huber
  • May 2008 | Softwhere: Software Studies 2008 | "Soft authorship" | Calit2, UC San Diego | presentation
  • April 2009 | Thinking after Dark: Horror Videogames | "Catch and release: the ludological dynamics of horror videogames" | University of Montreal | presentation
  • September 2009 | DIGRA 2009 | Panel on game criticism + "Kingdom Hearts, Territoriality, Flow" | London | panelist
  • April 2010 | SCMS Conference 2010 | "Fatal Frames" | Tokyo/Los Angeles | panel chair

Cicero Silva
  • May 2008 | “Software Studies Brazil” international workshop | University of California – San Diego, | San Diego, California | presentation video
  • August 2008 | Software Studies Initiative Brazil at FILE (Electronic Language International Festival) 2008 || Sao Paulo, Brazil | lecture video
  • September 2008 | What are Software Studies? Ciantec (Annual conference on art and technology, Mackenzie University) | Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • October 2008 | Software Studies and FILE Labo. Unimídia (UNICAMP University) | Campinas, Brazil presentation
  • November 2008 | Software Art at Arte e Novas Tecnologias. Recife, Centro de Formação em Artes Visuais (CFAV)Cicero Silva & Amy Alexander (by skype) presentation
  • November 2008 | A linguagem dos jogosSao Paulo, Impacta.
  • March 2009 | Software Studies Brazilat Paralelo. São Paulo, MIS, 2009. video
  • August 2009 | Software Studies and Cultural Analytics | Lecture delivered by Lev Manovich and Cicero Silva at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) (link in Portuguese)
  • April 2010 | Software Studies at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Visual Analysis Toolkit

[Tools and source code can be downloaded from the Software Studies Initiative Google Code site. More extensive documentation is gradually being developed.]

CA macros: ImageJ macros for the analysis and visualization of images and video

CA java: Java programs for image and video feature analysis

CA script: Python script for to control digital image analysis for a single project

CA batch: Python workflow management tools for very large and mixed data sets

HIPerSpace visualizer: software for interactive exploration and analysis of collections of images and videos on HIPerSpace - developed by Gravity lab at Calit2

ELogger: custom keylogger application for recording high-speed keyboard events running in emulation.

FSorter: sorting of very large image data using image statistics and metadata (UNIX script / OS X Finder Plugin).

Vilinx: automated image processing for video game play (UNIX script)

Toolkit para Análise Visual

[Ferramentas e código fonte podem ser baixados do Software Studies Initiative Google Code Site. Iniciaremos uma documentação mais exaustiva dessas ferramentas em breve.]

CAmacros: ImageJ macros para análise de imagens e vídeo

CAjava: programas em Java para reconhecimento de imagem e vídeo

CAscript: Script Python para desenvolvimento de projeto

CAbatch: ferramenta de administração do fluxo de trabalho para grandes conjuntos e dados mixados.

HIPerSpace visualizer: software para exploração interativa e análise de conjuntos de dados e vídeos em HIPerSpaces

ELogger: aplicação simples de keylogger para gravação de eventos de alta velocidade do teclado que rodem emulados.

FSorter: classificação de grandes quantidades de dados de imagens utilizando estatística de imagen e metadados (UNIX script / OS X Finder Plugin).

Vilinx: processamento de imagem automatizado para jogos de videogame (UNIX script).

Cultural Analytics workshop @ FILE 2009

Lev Manovich (UCSD/Software Studies)
July 30th
9am - 1pm
where: FILE, FIESP building
Avenida Paulista, 1313, São Paulo, Brazil

Digitization of art and media collections by museums and libraries and
and the explosive growth of newly available cultural content on the
web have created unique opportunities for studying cultural processes
in new ways. If humanities have typically relied on the analysis of a
small number of cultural objects, we can now create interactive
visualizations and dynamic maps of large cultural data sets to reveal
cultural patterns. The workshop will introduce and demonstrate the
tools which participants can use to collect, analyze, and visualize
cultural data. The particular focus will be on the analysis of visual
media and born digital culture (visual art, photography, cinema,
motion graphics, video games).

++ support: Graduate Studies in Education, Art and History of Culture (MFA and Ph.D.), Mackenzie University

com Lev Manovich (UCSD/Software Studies)
30/07 | 9h - 13h
Local: FIESP, Avenida Paulista, 1313, São Paulo, Brasil

A digitalização de coleções de arte e mídia realizada por museus, bibliotecas e o explosivo crescimento de conteúdos culturais novos na web criou uma oportunidade única para estudarmos os processos culturais de outras maneiras. Se as humanidades estavam baseadas tipicamente na análise de um pequeno número de objetos culturais, podemos agora criar mapas dinâmicos e interativos de grandes bancos de dados para revelar padrões culturais. O workshop introduzirá e demonstrará as ferramentas com as quais os participantes poderão coletar, analisar e visualizar dados culturais. O foco particular do workshop estará na análise das mídias visuais nascidas da cultura digital (artes visuais, fotografia, cinema, animações e videogames).

Programa de Pós-graduação em Educação, Arte e História da Cultura | Mestrado e Doutorado
Universidade Mackenzie