The Networked Image

I first picked up on
Google’s Image Labeler
two days ago (via).
In a nutshell, Image Labeler addresses a semiotic problem: the indexing of
hundreds of thousands of images based on semantic assignments in the visual
field of each image. Indexing an image depends upon the assignment of
keywords that correspond to the objects represented. Google Image Labeler
makes this process into a game of peer review: in this two person game, a player
win points by registering a descriptor that also appears on the other person’s
list.

Tracing

a

few
links (succumbing,
that is, to the beckoning of a surprising curiosity), I briefly started to follow the life
of this conversation in computer science and art. Most intriguing in this
regard was the talk embedded below, a talk called “Human Computation” given by Luis von Ahn at Carnegie
Mellon.

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Next: Disciplinary Facebook

I’m intrigued by the Facebook’s expansion beyond colleges, as reported

here
(via).
Like any social networking app, the euphoria surrounding it is offset (too often
in extremes) by abuses, missteps, skepticism, and lags in the adaptation of
institutional policies to respond to the activity at the site. Yet recent
shift–ten corporations signing on–gets at the spreading recognition of the
value of social networking apps beyond mere friend-making, beyond
"poking" strangers as a casual gesture of interest. Prepared to engage social
networking as something more than trivial?

I’ll watch with interest as more reactions to the latest expansion crop up.
And those reactions will vary, of course, from
jeering to the more serious.
The announcement brings me all the way back to the earliest
announcements of
the Facebook
in 2004. If they’re expanding to workplaces, maybe it
won’t be long before leadership in the discipline starts weighing the
possibilities of the Facebook for an entire field, such as composition and
rhetoric. Granted, it wouldn’t be perfect, but the way I see it, it’d be a
marked improvement on the existing means for building and locating profiles,
tracing interests through those who’ve written on such things, and so on.
Imagine a use of Facebook with a professional orientation whereby disciplinary
bibliographies, institutional affiliations (and histories), and linked tags for
research and interests. I know it’s a wild, data-based fantasy, and it
would require us to see Facebook as more than forum for delinquency, but here’s
hoping. What, maybe five or ten years from now?

Aftereffects

Reading from Technicolor yesterday (for 651), I ran across this bit on

Juan Atkins
, producer with
Cybotron
and key figure in the emerging techno scene in the early 1980s. From an
essay by Ben Williams called "Black Street Technology: Detroit Techno and the
Information Age":

Davies and Atkins had met in a "future studies" class at Washtenaw
Community College in Ypsilanti, which Atkins attended in order to study data
processing after reading a Giorgio Moroder album sleeve that describe d the
sequencers the Italian producer had used to create his metronomic disco epics.
After realizing he didn’t need to be able to program computers to use
electronic instruments, Atkins dropped the course, but not before encountering
the work of Alvin Toffler. In his book The Third Wave, Toffler
articulated America’s impending transition to a postindustrial, high-tech
economy in a distinctly utopian manner; in the process, he also popularized
many of the most enduring myths of what is now known as "the new economy."
(157)

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Wondering Now

I just turned in my final project for the fall semester–a look at Social
Network Analysis adapted as methodology for rhet/comp.  Hard-line SNA
researchers often turn to mathematical sociology (half-seriously, I liken it to
discourse analysis, peopled), heavy with formulas as probabilities for
activity/system/org-phenomena, structural equivalence, and so on. 
Basically, I wanted to sort the more general areas of network studies from SNA,
tie in a few definitional pieces and key concepts, stake out the methodological
layers of a few SNA-oriented future projects, get grounded.  Been a good
project for that.  And yes, some relief in its completion.  Before the
weekend, I have some grading to pace through; alongside that, leisure reading, a
light read-ahead for the spring, and maybe a few days in Michigan at the end of
the month if Ph. doesn’t have hoops practice.

I didn’t realize this would turn into another update (updates heaped upon
updates lately).  But it does bring me to something I noticed on a science
workbook laying open on D.’s workspace earlier.  She’s plotting out the finer
points of a science lesson for tomorrow.  The book, it has sets of
questions to go with each of the labs.  Usual stuff.  Except the final
question for every unit: What are you wondering now?

What are you wondering now?  Ought to end all semesters
(projects, blog entries, etc.) that way.