At the University of Washington, the Project on Information Technology and Political Islam, aka P ITPI, has released a new study titled, "Opening Closed Regimes: What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?".

"After analyzing over 3 million tweets, gigabytes of YouTube content and thousands of blog posts," the investigators concluded "that social media played a central role in shaping political debates in the Arab Spring. Conversations about revolution often preceded major events on the ground, and social media carried inspiring stories of protest across international borders."

You can download the report here.


'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master that's all.'
(Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass)

Linguists agree with Lewis Carroll's Alice: You can't make words mean "just what you choose them to mean" because word meanings are the product of collective behavior. A given word could mean absolutely anything — "glory" could indeed mean "a nice knock-down argument" — but do mean only what people use them to mean. If, tomorrow, everyone started using "glory" to mean "a nice knock-down argument," that would become one of the word's meanings.

The internet hasn't changed this basic fact about language. But because it has changed the speed with which any one person can share an idea and persuade others to adopt it, it has moved us closer to the point where, in principle, I could invent a new word or decide on a new meaning for an existing word and transform my desire into reality.

That, after all, is essentially what blogger Dan Savage has done with the word santorum. For a fuller explanation, see here.

Digital Inovation

This is not really humanities-related, but it is

Khan Academy

So I was having trouble understanding some stuff in chemistry and came across these tutorials on youtube. This guy named Sal Khan teaches on almost everything I need to know! In case anyone wants some video tutorials on whatever subjects you need, check out this site:

You'll find a lot of things to help you. The reason that I post this up here is because last semester, we had a discussion about education and how digital humanities could potentially change the landscape of our school system. Well, here you have ten minute, easy to understand lectures on virtually everything--and all in the comfort of your own home! I wonder how our education would be if we just relied up on things like THAT?

Virtual Pop Star
This is a video of Hatsune Miku, a virtual pop star. The voice is a product of a computer program called "Vocaloid" and the performance is a 3D hologram projection. Check out the article for more details. (Though I totally disagree about the 3D performance - I understand no Japanese but I can still understand the emotion being conveyed by this program/character/creation and it is nothing but particles of light)

Does News Medium Matter?

I ran across this article (on Facebook, actually) and figured I would share with the Wiki denizens. It's about the pros and cons of online / in print news.

Hope you enjoy!

Colbert's Word Cloud

Looks like Stephen Colbert finally knows what his Super-PAC is all about:

Colleges should stop imitating Harvard...

...and start imitating courses at Geneseo?! Maybe...

Digital data and morality

GREAT TED talk about finding a moral framework in which we need to approach our new-found power which comes from digital data.

From the Indiana University News Room ...

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. and URBANA, Il. — The world's great libraries and archives use specially designed rooms, cases and vaults to protect and organize books and records so they may continue to be studied and understood for years to come. As an ever-increasing amount of our cultural record is created and stored digitally, we face the new challenge of how to ensure our digital cultural archives are easily accessible — both to contemporary researchers and those working long in the future.

A new collaborative research center launched jointly by Indiana University and the University of Illinois, along with the HathiTrust Digital Repository, will help to meet this challenge by developing cutting-edge software tools and cyberinfrastructure to enable advanced computational access to the growing digital record of human knowledge.

The HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) will enable open access for nonprofit and educational users to published works in the public domain (as well as limited access to works under copyright) stored within HathiTrust, an extensive collaborative digital library of more than 8 million volumes and 2 billion pages of archived material maintained by major research institutions and libraries worldwide.

Leveraging data storage infrastructure at Indiana University and computational resources at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the HTRC will provision a secure computational and data environment for scholars to perform research using the HathiTrust Digital Repository. The center will break new ground in the areas of text mining and non-consumptive research, allowing scholars to fully utilize content of the HathiTrust Library while preventing intellectual property misuse within the confines of current U.S. copyright law.

From the SUNY Geneseo website...


GENESEO, N.Y. - SUNY Geneseo graduate Joel Dodge has won SUNY's 2011 Benjamin and David Scharps Award, conferred upon a student who demonstrates analytical skills in a legal opinion essay. Dodge is the second Geneseo student to win the award in the past three years.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher announced Dodge's award, established through the will of Hannah S. Hirschhorn. The student competitors were asked to submit an essay on the topic "Peer-to-Peer File Sharing," identify the legal issues and defend a position in a scholarly manner. The essay must be carefully reasoned, well-researched, authoritatively documented and precisely written. Dodge's essay is available to read online.

"Joel's essay presents a comprehensive and thorough examination of peer-to-peer file sharing on college campuses," said Chancellor Zimpher. "We are pleased to be able to recognize his hard work with the Scharps Award."

Dodge, from Liverpool, N.Y., received a check for $1,500 and a certificate of award from SUNY. He majored in international relations and economics and plans to attend law school. He was an Edgar Fellow in the college's honor program and also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

The previous Geneseo graduate to win the award was Megan Darlington, who received it in 2009.

The Fracking Song

I'd love to see some "explainers" like this for topics in the humanities.


I just wanted to say congrats to everyone. All of the projects were excellent, and I hope you all have a great summer!

... easily, at least. For now, at least.

Highlights from Library of Congress builds the record collection of the century (LA Times):

... according to a 2005 survey conducted for the [Library of Congress'] National Recording Preservation Board, of 1,521 recordings made from 1890 to 1964, only 14% has been made available to the public.


Matthew Barton, the recorded sound section curator of [the Library of Congress' $250-million Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, a 45-acre vault and state-of-the-art preservation and restoration facility on Virginia's Mt. Pony], points out: "Anything else from before 1923 — a book, a movie, a published song, sheet music — is public domain now." Not so for the music in that same time period, and as a result, many recordings, even those that have been digitized, can't legally travel beyond the library's walls unless a morass of ownership issues can be unraveled. "The whole idea of copyright," DeAnna said, "is that eventually it does become public domain."

DeAnna points to so-called orphan works, for which the rights holders are not readily identifiable, as evidence of the confusion. A prime example is the Savory Collection of nearly 1,000 live recordings made by recording engineer William Savory in the late '30s, discs now residing with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. They encompass previously unknown extended performances by such musical luminaries captured in their prime as Ellington, Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, Artie Shaw and Chick Webb.

Museum director Loren Schoenberg said, "My goal is to have all of it, every last second of it, available on the Internet. If it was up to me, I'd just throw it on the Internet, let everybody sue each other and happy new year. But you can't do that, because you're dealing with [musicians'] estates, labels, record companies and publishers."


Whether a curious researcher will actually be able to play back what's stored in the vaults depends not only on copyright law, though, but also on the format.

"I love to give the example that the cylinder from 1900 may be easier to play back than the DAT [digital audiotape] from 2001," sound curator Barton said. "Seriously. There are a lot of DATs that just won't play now." ...

The most enduring formats? Not CDs or MP3 digital files.

"Vinyl discs properly stored will last hundreds of years," Miller said. "Shellac too."

Producer T Bone Burnett, a vocal champion of analog vinyl over digital audio, visited the library not long ago to discuss the issue. "He testified in front of us and said, 'I would encourage the Library of Congress to preserve to vinyl,'" DeAnna recalled. "We all kind of leaned forward, and my colleague said, 'So, Mr. Burnett are you preserving your own collection to vinyl?' He said, 'Nah, I'm doing all digital.'"

Digital Activism

Here's an awesome site completly devoted to digital activism around the world.