2020-09-07 Lev Manovich keynote

Lev Manovich – “What Does Data Want?”
When: 2020-09-07 14:30-15:30 (Tallinn time)
Where: CUDAN Open Lab (online)
The event is public via zoom: https://zoom.us/j/99054259935

Abstract – Today people around the world create, share, and interact with billions of new digital artifacts every day. But even outside of the web and social media, contemporary culture now has an unprecedented scale. For example, in our ongoing project Elsewhere we looked at millions of physical cultural events worldwide and found that the number of events per year grew 10 times between 2009 and 2018.

We need new methods for seeing contemporary culture at its new scale and velocity, and also for studying cultural history using millions of digitized historical artifacts. Since 2006, a growing number of researchers in many disciplines ranging from data science, network science, and AI to urban studies, communication, and digital humanities have adopted computational and big data methods for this purpose. This work has generated many fascinating insights but also led to many questions.

In my talk, I want to discuss what I see as some of the biggest challenges in looking at culture with computers, and think about the ways to address them. Why do we often approach cultural data using ideas developed in the 18th and 19th century, before digital computers and big data? Can we think about cultures without using categories? What can AI see in cultural artifacts, and what it remains blind to? The presentation draws on my new book “Cultural Analytics”  being published by The MIT Press in October 2020 (https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/cultural-analytics).