Italian edition of Software Culture is published

Italian edition of the Lev Manovich's book Software Takes Command has just been published Edizioni Olivares. (The title of the Italian translation is Software Culture.)

Previously Olivares also published Italian translation of Manovich's The Language of New Media which sold 5 editions.

Manovich will introduce the book in Milan on April 16 during Salone Internazionale del Mobile 2010:

Date: April 16th
Time: 7pm
Location: Mediateca Santa Teresa
Address: Via della Moscova 28
City: Milan

SHAPING TIME - exhibition of our visualizations at Design Museum in Netherlands

Our visualizations of cultural artifacts (all covers of Time magazine - 4535 issues, 1923-2009; Kingdom Heart II complete game play session - 37 hours of video) will be shown in Graphic Design Museum (Breda, Netherlands). We called the exhibition SHAPING TIME.

The visualizations in the show demonstrate how Cultural Analytics methods being developed by Software Studies Initiative at Calit2/UCSD can reveal interesting patterns across large scale cultural data sets. The two projects to be exhibited are:
- all covers of Time magazine - 4535 issues, 1923-2009;
- Kingdom Heart complete game play session - 62.5 hours of video.

SHAPING TIME will occupy its own gallery which includes a 4 x 15 meter wall visible from the outside. The show is the opening event of a design festival organized by the museum.

The museum director is a world famous designer Mieke Gerritzen. She selected the visualizations and designed the show (Thank you, Mieke!)

SHAPING TIME opens on April 13, 2010.

Here are some of the visualizations which the visitors will see:

videogame traversal: Kingdom Hearts



exhibition design: Mieke Gerritzen.

Time covers visualization: Jeremy Douglass.

Kingdom Hearts gameplay visualization: William Huber.

Data analysis and visualization software: Sunsern Cheamanunkul, So Yamaoka, Lev Manovich.

Design and exhibition images production: Bin (Ong Kian Peng).

Data processing: National Department of Energy Supercomputer Center (NERSC).

Funded by: California Institute for Telecommunication and Information (Calit2), Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), University of California, San Diego (UCSD), National Endowment for Humanities (NEH).

All work is produced by Software Studies Initiative ( directed by Lev Manovich.

images of the installed exhibitions on Flickr

MIT conference on visualization + humanities, May 20-22, 2010

humanities+digital visual interpretations conference 2010

Aesthetics, Methods, and Critiques of Information Visualization in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
May 20 – May 22, 2010 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Organized by HyperStudio – Digital Humanities at MIT

conference info

Conferência no MIT sobre Visualização + Humanidades

Conferência sobre humanidades + interpretações visuais digitais 2010

Estética, Métodos e Crítica da Visualização da Informação nas Humanidades, Artes e Ciências Sociais
Quando: de 20 a 22 de Maio de 2010
Onde: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Organizado pelo grupo HyperStudio – Humanidades Digitais, MIT

+informações sobre a conferência

Software Studies Brazil @ Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

The coordinator of the Software Studies group in Brazil, Cicero Silva, will address a keynote lecture at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) on Apr 15th at 2pm.
The lecture will introduce the Software Studies initiative, its goals and also show researches that are currently being developed in Brazil and in US.
The Software Studies Brazil is moving to the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF).

O coordenador do grupo de estudos do Software no Brasil, Cicero Silva, fará a aula inaugural do Programa Avançado de Cultura Contemporânea (PACC), na Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, no dia 15 de abril de 2010, às 14 horas.
A aula será sobre o papel e as pesquisas desenvolvidas pelo grupo no Brasil e nos Estados Unidos.
O grupo está iniciando as suas atividades vinculado à UFJF.

Cultural Analytics lectures by Manovich in UK (London and Swansea), March 8-9, 2010

lecture 1:
date: March 8, 2010
time: 2pm

Castle Lecture Theatre, London Road Building.
Keyworth Street.
London South Bank University, London

map of the campus

Note: Kate Hayles will lecture first at 1pm

lecture 2:
@ The Computation Turn international workshop
date: March 9, 2010
time: 3:45pm

James Callaghan Building
Swansea University, Swansea, UK

Note: Kate Hayles will delver keynote lecture at 9:15am

Lectures outline:

1 rize of visualization of culture
information visualization as a key new techique for representation appropriate for information society - and also (if it's interactive) a new technique for thinking
simultaneos development of www and infovis in early 90s
2004-: Processing + availability of large data sets + APIs

2 what is visualization?
reduction – use of graphical primitives
layout which reveals patterns

humanities visualization – creating layouts from actual media objects, as opposed to representing them via graphical primitives (no additional metadata is added)


gather (Time montage)

highlight (Anna Karenina, Hamlet) / continuity between a "full" media object and visualization/diagram

sample (gameplay montages, Time slice, folder: Vertov sample)

calculate (folder: Vertov averages)

is this visualization?

Culture visualization today - usually visualization of metadata about artifacts and process ( see visualization of social networks at In contrast we want to show relations between actual artifacts .
Shall we call image graphs and other techniques which involve arranging images (or their sample) in particular ways "visualization"? If we assume that the core principle of visualization is not reduction and (therefore) use of vector primitives such as points and lines (which also form the language of diagrams and sketched in art) but rather the arrangments of elements in a layout which shows patterns/relationships betwen elements, then the answer is yes.
Note also that if normal visualizations consist from symbolic signs (vector elements which stand for the objects and which signify through an agreed code), "direct visualization" uses objects themselves. Therefore it does not involve signification or reduction. (in that direct visualization parallels figurative art which also does not signify real-life objects through signs but represents them in detail, and which also communicates meaning through layout - traditionally called composition. Buy while the goal of figurative art is communication of meaning, visualization only shows patterns - it's up to the researcher to interpret them as meaningful.
20th century cultural theory and media art often focused on close reading of media - zomming in and slowing it down (think of "24 hour Psycho") But after media explosion (social media and archives digitization) we need to learn how to zoom out, fast forward, compress (visually), summarize - so we can make sense of vast cultural landscapes.
Visualization dumensions:
functional - aesthetic;
using established familiar methods - inventing new methods.
Lots of artistic visualization is purely aesthetic - I.e. It's not trying to reveal patterns but only uses visualization principle of deriving images from data to make abstract art.
Where does culturevis fits in? Ideally we want to be both functional and aesthetic ( find forms which best express the particular artifacts and cultures). (examples of my diff visualizations of vertov shot lengths). However if we want to be able to compare many artifacts, we need to use the same technique.

We can use Pierce's signs classification - icon, index, symbol, diagram - in relations to visualization. This scheme describes the types of relations between a sign and a referent. But we can also add a new dimension which describes "how much" a sign represents, so to speak - does it show more or less information about the referent, and what kind of information?
Normally, we think of visualization (i.e. a representation which uses vector elements) and a realistic image (a photograph or a painting) as opposites, one representing the bare minimum structure of an object and the other representing the object's sensorial appearance in detail. But if we look at them using our new "how much and what is represented" dimension, we see that there are all kinds of intermediate cases. Therefore realistic representation and vector visualizations are just the extremes of a continuos dimension.
At the same time, there is a qualitative diff between Marey's chronophotographs which diagram motion and visualizations which may represent relations which are not directly visible (such as economic data) - so on this dimension indexical diagrams (such as Marey) and visualizations are diff categories.

3 cultural analytics: data analysis + visualization
add metadata (via manual annotation and/or automatic analysis), then visualize

Some of the key advantages of this method:

automatic analysis + “image graphs”:
1) understanding meaning and/or cause behind the pattern (for instance, a repeating movement pattern in Vertov is sometimes due to parallel montage, but in other cases its not)
2) revealing additional patterns (for instance, changes in communication techniques across Time covers)

visualizing (analog / continuous) cultural dimensions which can’t be adequately described with language (which uses discrete categories)

visualizing continuously changing qualities over time
particularly useful for 21st century motion graphics and films, but also opens a new direction for understanding 20th century cinema / rhythm / time series analysis
example: movement pattern in "11th Year"
example: Time covers (change over a longer period)
example: US, French and Soviet 20th century films: comparing shot lengths

4 beoynd categories: aggregation without structure
Latour’s arguments: tracking and representing aggregates of objects, without the need to go to another level of model, structure, etc. (“Tarde’s idea of quantification” in Mattei Candea, ed. The Social After Gabriel Tarde: Debates and Assessments.)
Extending these arguments to culture visualization:
from categories (i.e. genres, historical periods, etc.) to a multi-dimensional space of features where we can see objects forming distributions and clusters

Latour: "we should find ways to gather individual "he" and "she" without losing out on the specific ways in which they are able to mingle.... But never in some overarching society. The challenge is to try to obtain their aggregation without either shifting our attention at any point to a whole, or changing modes of inquiry."
Similarly, we need to get away from the standard distinction betwen an individual cultural artifact and larger categories be they "cultures," "genres", etc. We need new ways of studying aggregates - bottom up ( which is what data analysis + visualization make possible.) Here the ability of computers to keep tracks of large volumes of data and navigate through the data at arbitrary zoom levels without the need for aggregation, simplification or averaging becomes crucial. (Rather than seeing Manga space as a map consisting from a few ditinct regions, we can show every single page and observe patterns of contonuos change across this space.) Modern computing allows us to analyze, record and represent "individual variations" (Latour) of billions of entities - thus making possible for social and cultural sciences to become truly scientific in a way still inaccessible for natural sciences (because their entities - such as gas molecules - are still too numerous for computers to represent individually and therefore they have to use general models to represent their structure and behavior.
"Structure is what is imagined to fill the gaps when there is a deficit of information as to the ways any entity inherits from it's predecessors and successors." ( we still have the problem of mapping exactly this information. However we can at least start by refusing structures such as "genre", "period" etc.)
"Individual variations are the only phenomenon worth looking at in societies for which there are comparatively few elements."

visualizations_vs_categories folder
example: Manga analysis
example: modernism folder

Latour: "through the ease with which we can navigate a datascape, we manage to interrupt the transubstantiation of the aggrgate into a law, a structure, a model and complicate the way through which one monad may come to summarize the "whole."
"But the "whole" is now nothing more than a provisional visualization which can be modified and reversed at will, by moving back to the individual cimponents, and then looking for yer other tools to regroup the sane elements into alternative assemlages."
"The whole lost its provilleged status: we can produce out if the same data points, as many aggregates as we see fit, while reverting back at any time, to the individual components."

Do we still need discrete categories?

alpha version of new Cultural Analytics software

We are happy to announce the alpha release of a new Cultural Analytics software.

It was developed in Multimodal Analysis Lab at National University of Singapore (director: Kay O’Halloran) in collaboration with Software Studies Initiative at Calit2/UCSD (director: Lev Manovich).

Conceptual design: Lev Manovich (Calit2/UCSD), Bertrand Grandgeorge (NUS), Jeremy Douglass (Calit2)
Programming: Bertrand Grandgeorge.

cultural analytics chart selection 2
Screenshot: Exploring a set of 450 Time covers (sampled from the complete set of 4553 cover, 1923-2009 by taking every 10th image). The images with red frame around them are the covers representing women - selected by using a bar chart (bottom left corner).

cultural analytics chart selection 3
Screenshot: Exploring a set of 450 Time covers (sampled from the complete set of 4553 cover, 1923-2009 by taking every 10th image). Mousing over points reveals larger images and metadata.

Our software is developed in Flash/Flex so it can run on any PC or MAC. Some of its distinctive features:

- software supports all standard graph types - however if standard graphing/visualization application represent data as vector primitives, our graphs can also show the actual images. For instance, you can make a scatter plot where images are placed on top of the points. You can change the size of images at any point; mousing over reveals the larger image.

- it supports one of the most powerful techniques for data exploration - coordinated views. Selecting subset of data in one graph automatically highlights this subset in all our graphs. In our implementation this feature works both with vector graphics (bar charts, pie charts, histograms) and image graphs.

- software can be used for both interactive explorations of patterns in visual artifacts (images of art, design, photography, web pages, films, animation, video of gameplay etc.) and producing high-res publication and exhibition quality images. You can specify the size and position of each visualization on a canvas and then save the results at 300dpi.

- It is very easy to prepare the data. You only need is a directory of images and a text file (.csv) describing locations of the images (filenames) and metadata. It can be created in Excel, Google Docs or any text processor.

we are hiring in Singapore

we have an opening in Singapore - you will work directly with Lev Manovich on cultural analytics projects.

Cultural Analytics Researcher

Job Description:
We are a research lab at National University of Singapore ( working on an innovative cultural project which uses data analysis and information visualization on large cultural data sets such as 1 million Manga pages (see project is carried by a group of NUS faculty together with Lev Manovich's lab at UCSD (

We are looking for a very motivated and talented person to join our team on a part-time or full-time basis (depending on your skills and availability; flexible work hours are also possible.) You will participate in the analysis of cultural data and design of new visualizations (see You will also be responsible for designing, implementing and updating a blog about the project and creating and disseminating content for social media networks (facebook, vimeo, twitter, etc.) and mailing lists.

Required skills:
Very strong communication skills including writing content; contemporary design sensibility; good 2D design and typography skills; knowledge of graphics software such as Photoshop and Illustrator; substantial experience in using blogs and social media, knowledge of Excel; HTML, CSS and Blogger or Wordpress software.

Desired skills:
Knowledge of software tools for manipulating data such as MySQL, Unix scripting, or Python; programming in Processing or Flash.

Term of Appointment:
To be negotiated.

Contact Person:

To apply, please email your resume to Melany Legaspi at:
Please include a URL for your online portfolio.

Versão Alpha do novo software de Analítica Cultural

O projeto Analítica Cultural lança o seu mais novo software.

O programa foi desenvolvido no Multimedia Analysis Lab na Universidade Nacional de Cingapura (sob a direção de: Kay O’Halloran) em colaboração com o grupo de estudos Software Studies Initiative do Calit2/UCSD (sob a direção de Lev Manovich).

Design: Lev Manovich (Calit2/UCSD), Bertrand Grandgeorge (NUS), Jeremy Douglass (Calit2)
Programação: Bertrand Grandgeorge.

cultural analytics chart selection 2
Imagem: Explorando um conjunto de 450 capas da revista Times (uma amostra de um conjunto com 4553 capas, entre 1923 e 2009, utilizando de 10 em 10 imagens e mostrando a décima). As imagens com o frame vermelho as circulando são de capas com imagens representando mulheres - selecionadas utilizando um gráfico de barras (no canto esquerdo inferior).

cultural analytics chart selection 3
Imagem: Explorando um conjunto de 450 capas da revista Time (uma amostra de um conjunto com 4553 capas, entre 1923 e 2009, utilizando de 10 em 10 imagens e mostrando a décima). Sobrepondo o mouse sobre os pontos, aumentam-se as imagens e os metadados.

O software foi desenvolvido em Flash/Flex , portanto roda em qualquer PC ou MAC. Veja alguns recursos:

- o software suporta todos os tipos de gráficos - contudo se o a aplicação padrão do grafo/visualização representa os dados como vetores primitivos, nossos gráficos podem também mostrar a imagem atual. Por exemplo: você pode fazer um ponto de fuga onde as imagens estão localizadas em cima dos pontos. Você pode modificar o tamanho das imagens a qualquer momento. Ao passar o mouse sobre a imagem, a imagem se abre.

- suporta uma das técnicas mais avançadas de exploração de dados. - a visão por coordenadas. Ao selecionar um subgrupo de dados em um determinado gráfico, o sistema automaticamente destaca os gráficos nos grupos subsequentes. Em nossa implementação, essa ferramenta funciona tanto em gráficos vetorizados (gráficos de barra, histogramas) como em gráficos de imagens.

- o software pode ser utilizado tanto para explorações interativas de padrões de artefatos visuais (imagens de arte, design, fotografia, páginas web, filmes, animações ou jogos de videogame) quanto para produzir publicações em alta definição de imagens com alta qualidade. Você pode especificar o tamanho e a posição de cada visualização na tela e salvar os resultados em 300dpi's.

- é extremamente fácil preparar os dados. Você somente precisa de um diretório com imagens e um arquivo de texto em padrão .CSV descrevendo o local a localização das imagens (nomes dos arquivos) e os metadados. O arquivo pode ser criado em Excel, Google Doc ou em qualquer outro processador de textos.