Lev Manovich lecture at USC, February 13, 2012

where: University of Southern California (USC)

date: February 13, 2012

time: 4pm

building: Davidson Conference Center

RSVP at www.usc.edu/esvp (code: Manovich)

speaker: Lev Manovich



Many commentators recently pointed out that the joint availability of massive amounts of data together with the computational tools for their analysis is having transformative effects on many fields. For example, a special report “Data, Data Everywhere” in Economist (February 2010) noted that big data’s “effect is being felt everywhere, from business to science, from government to the arts.” An article in New York Times (November 16, 2010) stated: “The next big idea in language, history and the arts? Data.” In 2009 and 2011, National Endowment of Humanities together with National Science Foundation organized Digging Into Data competitions to “address how ‘big data’ changes the research landscape for the humanities and social sciences.” And on February 12, New York Times featured yet another report The Age of Big Data.

In 2007 I created Software Studies Initiative at UCSD (www.softwarestudies.com) to both explore theoretical consequences of using computational methods for the study of culture, and to develop techniques and software tools which will enable humanists and social scientists work with massive visual data sets. We also aimed to create a research agenda and research outputs that would be relevant to people in many disciplines – from arts and humanities to computer science and engineering. This attempt has been successful. We received funding from both NEH and NSF, published our work in humanities, social science and computer sciences venues, shown our visualizations in a number of important international art and design exhibitions, released free open source software tools to enable other researchers and students to use our techniques in their own research, and worked with Library of Congress, Getty Research Institute, and other institutions to analyze parts of their digital collections.

Using our experiences as a starting point, in my talk I will discuss how “big data” paradigm creates new opportunities (as well as new challenges) for collaboration between disciplines; point out examples of what I see as fundamentally new research methodologies which computation brings to the study of the society and culture; and show examples of our projects including visualizations of one million pages of manga (Japanese comics), all issues of Science and Popular Science from 1872-1922 period, and other cultural data sets.