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New Media and Digital Humanities

New Media and Digital Humanities

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Today educational activities take place not only in school but also in after-school programs, community centers, museums, and online communities and forums. The success and expansion of these out-of-school initiatives depends on our ability to document and assess what works and what doesn’t in informal learning, but learning outcomes in these settings are often unpredictable. Goals are open-ended; participation is voluntary; and relationships, means, and ends are complex. This report charts the state of the art for learning assessment in informal settings, offering an extensive review of the literature, expert discussion on key topics, a suggested model for comprehensive assessment, and recommendations for good assessment practices.

Drawing on analysis of the literature and expert opinion, the proposed model, the Outcomes-by-Levels Model for Documentation and Assessment, identifies at least ten types of valued outcomes, to be assessed in terms of learning at the project, group, and individual levels. The cases described in the literature under review, which range from promoting girls’ identification with STEM practices to providing online resources for learning programming and networking, illustrate the usefulness of the assessment model.

Our encounters with websites, avatars, videos, mobile apps, discussion forums, GIFs, and nonhuman intelligent agents allow us to experience sensations of connectivity, interest, desire, and attachment—as well as detachment, boredom, fear, and shame. Some affective online encounters may arouse complex, contradictory feelings that resist dualistic distinctions. In this book, leading scholars examine the fluctuating and altering dynamics of affect that give shape to online connections and disconnections. Doing so, they tie issues of circulation and connectivity to theorizations of networked affect. Their diverse investigations—considering subjects that range from online sexual dynamics to the liveliness of computer code—demonstrate the value of affect theories for Internet studies.

The contributors investigate networked affect in terms of intensity, sensation, and value. They explore online intensities that range from Tumblr practices in LGBTQ communities to visceral reactions to animated avatars; examine the affective materiality of software in such platforms as steampunk culture and nonprofit altporn; and analyze the ascription of value to online activities including the GTD (“getting things done”) movement and the accumulation of personal digital materials.

Contributors
James Ash, Alex Cho, Jodi Dean, Melissa Gregg, Ken Hillis, Kylie Jarrett, Tero Karppi, Stephen Maddison, Susanna Paasonen, Jussi Parikka, Michael Petit, Jennifer Pybus, Jenny Sundén, Veronika Tzankova

Experimental Encounters with Art in the Making

In Alien Agency, Chris Salter tells three stories of art in the making. Salter examines three works in which the materials of art—the “stuff of the world”—behave and perform in ways beyond the creator’s intent, becoming unknown, surprising, alien. Studying these works—all three deeply embroiled in and enabled by science and technology—allows him to focus on practice through the experiential and affective elements of creation. Drawing on extensive ethnographic observation and on his own experience as an artist, Salter investigates how researcher-creators organize the conditions for these experimental, performative assemblages—assemblages that sidestep dichotomies between subjects and objects, human and nonhuman, mind and body, knowing and experiencing.

Salter reports on the sound artists Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger (O+A) and their efforts to capture and then project unnoticed urban sounds; tracks the multi-year project TEMA (Tissue Engineered Muscle Actuators) at the art research lab SymbioticA and its construction of a hybrid “semi-living” machine from specially grown mouse muscle cells; and describes a research-creation project (which he himself initiated) that uses light, vibration, sound, smell, and other sensory stimuli to enable audiences to experience other cultures’ “ways of sensing.” Combining theory, diary, history, and ethnography, Salter also explores a broader question: How do new things emerge into the world and what do they do?

A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists

The visual arts are rapidly changing as media moves into the web, mobile devices, and architecture. When designers and artists learn the basics of writing software, they develop a new form of literacy that enables them to create new media for the present, and to imagine future media that are beyond the capacities of current software tools. This book introduces this new literacy by teaching computer programming within the context of the visual arts. It offers a comprehensive reference and text for Processing (www.processing.org), an open-source programming language that can be used by students, artists, designers, architects, researchers, and anyone who wants to program images, animation, and interactivity. Written by Processing’s cofounders, the book offers a definitive reference for students and professionals. Tutorial chapters make up the bulk of the book; advanced professional projects from such domains as animation, performance, and installation are discussed in interviews with their creators.

This second edition has been thoroughly updated. It is the first book to offer in-depth coverage of Processing 2.0 and 3.0, and all examples have been updated for the new syntax. Every chapter has been revised, and new chapters introduce new ways to work with data and geometry. New “synthesis” chapters offer discussion and worked examples of such topics as sketching with code, modularity, and algorithms. New interviews have been added that cover a wider range of projects. “Extension” chapters are now offered online so they can be updated to keep pace with technological developments in such fields as computer vision and electronics.

Interviews
SUE.C, Larry Cuba, Mark Hansen, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jürg Lehni, LettError, Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman, Benjamin Maus, Manfred Mohr, Ash Nehru, Josh On, Bob Sabiston, Jennifer Steinkamp, Jared Tarbell, Steph Thirion, Robert Winter

 

(Pr) Casey Reas from Protein® on Vimeo.

 

Mediation as a Vital Process

In Life after New Media, Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska make a case for a significant shift in our understanding of new media. They argue that we should move beyond our fascination with objects--computers, smart phones, iPods, Kindles--to an examination of the interlocking technical, social, and biological processes of mediation. Doing so, they say, reveals that life itself can be understood as mediated--subject to the same processes of reproduction, transformation, flattening, and patenting undergone by other media forms.

By Kember and Zylinska’s account, the dispersal of media and technology into our biological and social lives intensifies our entanglement with nonhuman entities. Mediation--all-encompassing and indivisible--becomes for them a key trope for understanding our being in the technological world. Drawing on the work of Bergson and Derrida while displaying a rigorous playfulness toward philosophy, Kember and Zylinska examine the multiple flows of mediation. Importantly, they also consider the ethical necessity of making a “cut” to any media processes in order to contain them. Considering topics that range from media-enacted cosmic events to the intelligent home, they propose a new way of “doing” media studies that is simultaneously critical and creative, and that performs an encounter between theory and practice.

Benefits and Challenges for Learning and Assessment

Professional and amateur musicians alike use social media as a platform for showcasing and promoting their music. Social media evaluation practices—rating, ranking, voting, “liking,” and “friending” by ordinary users, peers, and critics—have become essential promotional tools for musicians. In this report, H. Cecilia Suhr examines one recent development in online music evaluation: the use of digital badges to aid in assessment and evaluation. Digital badges have emerged in recent years as a potential credentialing method in informal learning environments. Suhr explores online music communities’ use of digital badges as a reward for both casual music evaluators and musicians.

Suhr examines the intersection of evaluation and gamification in Spotify’s “Hit or Not” game, in which players assess a song’s hit potential and receive digital badges as rewards, and considers the implications of turning music evaluation into a game. She then explores in detail the development of peer and professional critics on Indaba Music, a cloud-based collaboration platform where musicians earn badges through participating in contests. Suhr considers the emerging challenges and shortcomings of contest-based virtual communities and the value of badges, as perceived by Indaba musicians. She investigates to what extent digital badges can effectively represent and credit musicians’ accomplishments and merits; describes the challenges, benefits, and shortcomings of digital badges as an evaluation mechanism; and compares the use of digital badges in assessing creativity to their use in learning and credentialing institutions.

Music Videos and Creative Literacy

Music videos were once something broadcast by MTV and received on our TV screens. Today, music videos are searched for, downloaded, and viewed on our computer screens—or produced in our living rooms and uploaded to social media. In We Used to Wait, Rebecca Kinskey examines this shift. She investigates music video as a form, originally a product created by professionals to be consumed by nonprofessionals; as a practice, increasingly taken up by amateurs; and as a literacy, to be experimented with and mastered.

Kinskey offers a short history of the music video as a communicative, cultural form, describing the rise and fall of MTV’s Total Request Live and the music video’s resurgence on YouTube. She examines recent shifts in viewing and production practice, tracing the trajectory of music video director Hiro Murai from film student and dedicated amateur in the 1990s to music video professional in the 2000s. Investigating music video as a literacy, she looks at OMG! Cameras Everywhere, a nonprofit filmmaking summer camp run by a group of young music video directors. The OMG! campers and counselors provide a case study in how cultural producers across several generations have blurred the line between professional and amateur. Their everyday practices remake the notion of literacy, not only by their collaborative and often informal efforts to impart and achieve literacy but also by expanding the definition of what is considered a valuable activity, worthy of dedicated, pleasurable pursuit.

Sound, Sense, Economy, and Ecology

In this wide-ranging book, Frances Dyson examines the role of sound in the development of economic and ecological systems that are today in crisis. Connecting early theories of harmony, cosmology, and theological doctrine to contemporary media and governance, Dyson uses sound, tone, music, voice, and noise as forms of sonority through which the crises of “eco” can be read. The sonic environment, Dyson argues, is fundamental to both sense and sensibility, and its delimitation has contributed to the “senselessness” of a world now caught between spiraling debt and environmental degradation.

Dyson draws on scenes, historical moments, artworks, and artistic and theoretical practice to situate the reverberative atmosphere that surrounds and sustains us. From Pythagoras’s hammer and the transmutation of music into mathematics, to John Cage’s famous experience in the anechoic chamber, to the relocation of the stock market from the street to the computer screen, to Occupy Wall Street’s “people’s microphone”: Dyson finds policies and practices of exclusion. The sound of Pythagoras’s forge and the rabble of the market have been muted, rearticulated, and transformed, Dyson argues, through the monotones of media, the racket of financialization, and the gibberish of political speech.

Informed by contemporary sound art, philosophy, media and sociopolitical theory, The Tone of Our Times offers insights into present crises that are relevant to a broader understanding of how space, the aural, and listening have shaped and continue to shape the world we live in.

Digital Storytelling with Scratch

Script Changers shows the ways that stories offer a lens for seeing the world as a series of systems. It provides opportunities for students to create interactive and animated stories about creating positive change in their communities. These projects utilize the Scratch visual programming environment.

Crafting e-Puppets with DIY Electronics

Short Circuits offers students opportunities to undertake physical computing projects, providing tools and methods for creating electronic puppets. Students learn how to incorporate microprocessors into everyday materials and use them to enhance their language and writing skills with shadow puppet shows featuring their own DIY flashlights.

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