Today, you can easily see people with different race, culture, and nationality in many places around the world. Multicultural society is becoming common in rapid pace, and connections among people of different culture and race will increase significantly. Multicultural society is made out of necessity and definitely contains lots of benefits, yet, many people do not see the danger hiding behind it. In world history, there are numerous instances of conflicts made when groups of people from different culture or race live in the same place, and some of those conflicts went as far as wars. Some might say those concerns are overstatements, but human nature has revealed its ignorant jealousy and aggressiveness too many times throughout history. People should also take attention on not only what to gain, but also what can they lose and how to not repeat the same mistakes over again. Continue reading Multicultural society→
In his essay, “Graphs, Maps, Trees”, Franco Moretti comes to the conclusion that, due to the cyclical nature of the graphing of literature and genres, there is never a definite winner in regards to the trends that occur in writing over periods of time. When debating on the topic of Male or Female dominance of British novels, he states:
“…No victory is ever definitive, neither men nor women writers ‘occupy’ the British novel once and for all, and the form oscillates back and forth between the two groups.”
This conclusion got me thinking. He makes a very valid point: the trends involving novels tend to be very cyclical. When thinking about this, I realized that not only can the trend in novels be in a sort of cycle, but our culture as a whole. Sometimes I talk to my mother about clothes and what is, for lack of better words, “in” or “out” at the time. I tell her that guys now wear shorts that sit only above their knees and sunglasses that have larger lenses (such as Aviators) whereas girls have been wearing higher wasted shorts/pants in the summer and high boots in the colder times of the year. After she processes everything, she almost always says, “Those types of clothes have made a comeback?! I remember your father and I always wearing those types of clothes when were together back in high school and college.” Even music nowadays tends to follow old school rules, with artists such as Justin Timberlake creating jazzy and retro beats; even setting up his concert stages to represent the classiness of the earlier decades of the 90’s. There has never been a certain culture or trend that has thrived and dominated America, but several cultures that come and go and then repeat themselves in later years.
In regards to what Moretti states, I think he is correct when he says that human culture, or in this case, novels, has a cyclical nature.
The book, Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture, explores the relationship between language and culture. Aiden and Michel asserts that there is a significant change in form of language and the use of language as the culture changes. And in order to improve the study of culture, study of language is crucial. This idea is deeply related with the program they created, the Ngram. They’ve studied how does the use of certain language changes over time. For example, the word ‘tea’ was way more used than the word ‘coffee’ in English history. Yet, since 1970s, coffee has become dominant as the main beverage among common people, and thus has become much more used word than ‘tea’. Such example shows that tracing the use of language can lead to better understanding of culture in general. The book compares the culture to dinosaurs. Both have a common characteristic that through traces from the past it can be found and studied. Just as the study of dinosaur is made through fossils, the study of culture can be improved by its trace from the past, which is introduced as use of language.
The assumption might not be always right. Sometimes language reacts later than the change of trend in culture. Language cannot directly mirror the cultural trend or changes. Yet, it is true that language is the best way to observe cultural changes. Language is easily observable through books or different works of literature. It is the most commonly used method of communication and exchange of ideas. Tracing the culture through language, which is a cultural fossil, may not be the exact way of examination, yet it is definitely a revolutionary method.
I struggled in the beginning to create an idea to make my Pecha Kucha on. Mr. Rettberg kept telling us to find something that really interested us or was a part of our lives, but I still couldn’t think of anything that would have enough content to do a whole presentation. I kept delving into my personal life and I realized that cancer has played a pretty big role in my family, so I decided to stick with the idea. Connecting it to our class subject of “Data, Culture, and Information” was not too bad because there are several statistics, articles, and research out there that I could use for my purpose. Now, I did not want to just lecture the class about cancer and its effects; I wanted to give them my own opinion on how it affects our culture and society.
I was hesitant at first to follow through with my conclusion, that cancer has a positive effect on society, because the last thing I wanted to do was offend anybody in the audience if they had had a rough personal struggle with cancer. So I built my argument up slowly and tried to never say anything that might have made someone angry. To give background info on cancer, I used a few diagrams to show how the cells develop. In particular, I like the picture of our social circles and how we can all be connected. It starts off with one person in the middle who, in this case has cancer or knows someone that has cancer. That news spreads to a close group of people, just one or two other people. But those people end up telling others and eventually more and more people are affected by the news of cancer. It helped me make my point that we probably all know someone who has been touched by cancer, proving that cancer really is something that we all have in common.
Another of my favorite pictures from my PK is the tree made up of people, all supporting each other.
I though this image did a great job of supporting my argument when it came to the definition of society. A community works together as a whole, almost as a singe unit, but that’s only if each individual works together. Notice how each person is holding up another, representing the dependence we have on other people in our lives. I made the point that Cancer brings us together and gives us a sense of compassion and drive throughout our society, and I believe this picture helped the audience make sense of what I was trying to say.
Overall, the process of creating the PK was pretty interesting. At first it sounded difficult to line up the slides with my words, but after several edits of my script and a dozen trial runs, I finally got my timing down and achieved almost a seamless transition between slides that kept my thoughts and points in order and not all over the place or rushed.
Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel discuss the matter of the evolution of language and came to the conclusion that something similar to natural selection might be affecting modern forms of communication. They use the example of how in English, the “-ed” past-tense ending of Proto-Germanic replaced the Proto-Indo-European form of indicating tenses by vowel changes. The only words unaffected by this change were irregular verbs. To test their theory Aiden and Michel came up with an idea they dubbed culturomics, meaning the use of large amounts of digital information and big data to track changes in language and culture.
In Aiden and Michel’s book, Uncharted, they make the claim that language is the primary method for communicating culture around the globe. Since it has written form they state that it is a convenient data set for scientific analysis. Language is the basis for communication but not the only method to communicate the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.The author’s seem to make the assumption that language is the primary form of sharing culture. What I question is whether there is a way to test their theory on other forms of expression to see if a form of Darwinian evolution affects not only our genes, but our culture as well.
Over the past few decades our culture has started to tend to be more based on science and less so on religion. This trend started in the early 18th century with Deism. This was a religious philosophy shared by many of the founding fathers of the United States, as well as enlightenment thinkers. Deists believed in a creator who was not active in the present world, and that instead natural laws governed the world. Since then we have seen a gradual decline in the use of the word religion, other than a peak during the second great awakening. This has not because insinuating that people are 1/5 as religious now as they were 300 years ago, instead people no longer study religion the same way they did in the past, now learning has focused on science as shown by the blue line.
This interest in science was started around the turn of the 18th century by works such as Newton’s Principia. Newton’s and other scientists of his time set the foundation for scientific learning that we all see today. The use of the words “science, engineering, physics, and chemistry” really took off in the mid-19th century as more people began looking into new scientific fields, such as Charles Darwin and evolution.
As time went on people began to write more and more about science and less and less about religion. This shift in word usage has signaled a change in society, in the 1700’s much of a common persons education had to do with religion, and many people learned to read so that they would be able to read the bible, whereas now almost none of our formal education has anything to do with religion, and in large part consist of science, physics, chemistry, and engineering, especially here at Tech.
This change in education has changed the way that our culture thinks, no longer is religion a main topic of discussion. It is far more likely that you will witness a debate or discussion on the newest iPhone, then on the Bible. This is not to say that religious discussion is gone -the four words together barely account for more than religion when unadjusted- but instead take place in different settings. These setting are less public, although not less academic, and because of this less public nature influence culture, and therefore religion shows up in writing less. In the last hundred years religious studies have taken a back seat culturally, and because of this our culture is much more based on science than it was a few hundred years ago.
Culture is integrated into all aspects of a person’s life. It can determine the type of food they eat, the level of hygiene and even social interactions. These factors determine the level of well-being of an individual and overall health of a society. Healthcare can be drastically different depending on factors such as religion, economics and education. The implications of such diversity could mean that while one person is being healed from a disease in one country, across a border there may be another who is dying from the same disease but with no means of help. Ultimately, our own interpretation of health is defined by our individual culture.
Selecting a topic for my presentation was fairly easy, the difficulty came in narrowing down what I should discuss. I knew that I could easily relate culture with my home in New York City but the hard part was how to specify this. With such a broad spectrum, I felt like there was too much to cover because I initially planned to talk about NYC as a whole. After looking up different pictures of Broadway, Times Square and the typical tourist attractions, I came across this image of the crowded subway trains.
I thought about how I spent 2 hours sitting on the train just to get to school everyday and I had seen a lot pass through. I realized that this was the topic that I would be able to discuss in depth because of my firsthand account. I thought that a good way to relate culture would be through art. This was my initial argument for my Pecha-Kucha. However, as I searched through images of graffiti covered trains, I noticed that the pictures were mainly just from the 70’s through the 90’s. Most trains nowadays are fairly clean and don’t have nearly as much tagging as back then. I switched my train of thought again and decided that I could have a stronger argument for culture on the subway if I showed how the atmosphere and appearance of train cars changed as society progressed through the decades.
The focus of the presentation then began to branch out from art to history. The subway connects New York in more ways than just commuting. This opened up a lot of new ideas for what I could include. I thought about how different disasters really changed the feel of the people’s emotions in the atmosphere. A lot of my parents and teachers always talked about how drastic the difference was in people’s behavior after the 9/11 attacks. I remember getting to school 5 hours late one day after Hurricane Sandy because we were stuck on the newly re-routed trains and I could feel that sense of culture within the mutual feelings of people in the car. I thought that another huge way the subway connects people, sometimes subconsciously, is through advertising. There are always jokes in social media about the ads that everyone sees on the train. I felt like they all had something to say about the direction of New York City and wanted to talk about something that is sometimes glanced over. Throughout the process, the focus of my argument did sway a few times but overall I felt like I was able to cover a lot of material on how the subway creates and holds the culture of the city.
As you watch, think about what this video is actually showing us. Does it actually “capture” “humanity’s cultural history”? What are the advantages of displaying information this way? What are the disadvantages? What does this video leave out? This first discussion will begin a conversation about data, information, and culture that will continue throughout the semester.