Tag Archives: Eric Rettberg

Truth Be Told- Moretti’s assumptions in “Graphs, Maps, and Trees”

In the reading from Franco Moretti’s: “Graphs, Maps, and Trees,” Moretti argues that literary history cannot be fully grasped by studying individual books, but that it must be studied by analyzing the system of literature as a whole, using large sets of data such as graphs, maps, and trees. Using such literary data, Moretti makes strong claims about various cultures around the world, including the culture of Japan beginning in the 1700’s (page 9). Moretti attributes the growth and decline of novels in Japan to the politics of that era, specifically because of:

A direct, virulent censorship during the Kansei and Tempo periods, and an indirect influence in the years leading up to the Meiji Restoration, when there was no specific repression of the book trade.”

The growth and decline of the novel in Japan is shown in the graph below, which does indicate a number of shifts in the amount of novels being produced per year, however Moretti’s claim makes many assumptions about the political arena in Japan, which is not supported with any further evidence.

Moretti graph(Page 10)

 Although Moretti’s assumptions about Japanese history are not supported with factual evidence, they are historically significant and accurate. The Kansei and Tempo periods in Japanese history saw harsh censorship and government control, due to military dictatorships, which occurred from 1787-1793, as well as 1830-1844. The Meiji Restoration began in 1868, when the strict government was overthrown. This led to a rise in independence and creativity in Japan. These periods in Japanese history greatly affected the publications of books in Japan, which was accurately predicted by Moretti in his study of big sets of literary data, shown in the graph above. Therefore, Moretti’s assumptions about Japanese politics are very accurate, which further enhance his claim that a nation’s culture can be predicted by studying literary systems.

 

Resources

Encyclopedia Britannica:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/311377/Kansei-reforms

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/586929/Tempo-reforms

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/373305/Meiji-Restoration

The Most Popular Pie: A Study

piePic

The pie has been one of America’s, and the world’s, most loved desserts of all time.  The diverse amounts of flavors that the pie offers the home cook is unrivaled by any other dessert.  Naturally, this post looks into the most popular pies of the 20th century, and tries to identify some of the reasons for the ups and downs.

The first thing to catch my eye after looking at this graph was that apple pie was on top for virtually the entire century.  Additionally, if you separate the “flavor” adjectives (apple, pumpkin, lemon, and blueberry) from the others (economic, humble, whole, a, inch, and cap), you’ll see that the flavor pies follow a very similar trend.  Almost like clockwork, the flavors (most notable of being apple and lemon) begin heading upwards in popularity in 1930 and peak around 1944.  I don’t think that it is a coincidence that this is the exact same time period used to describe the Great Depression.  The depression left many people poor and hungry, so they resorted to improvising.  After looking around for some depression era recipes, I’ve found that it was very common during the time to fake a pie crust with ritz crackers, resulting in a cheaper, yet still delicious baked pastry.  After the peak in 1944 however, the flavors bottomed out in 1965 until they began to plateau to the position they are in today.  The decline could be attributed to the culture becoming more experimental after the war.  Americans were finally able to afford a larger variety of food, so naturally what was popular at the time diminished.

Pie will always be an ubiquitously loved dessert.  It has been for the past centuries, and the future only holds more ups and downs for the delicious pastry.

The “Gold” of the Information Age

Abstract

A report by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2012, recognized “Big Data” to be a completely new class of economic assets, much like gold and currency (Lohr). Big data is becoming as valuable as gold to large companies and governments around the world in the “Information Age” of the 21st century. During the California Gold Rush of 1848, thousands of people moved to California from 1848 to 1855 in hopes of finding gold and becoming wealthy. The gold rush sparked the American economy due to the vast amount of laborers and gold being acquired on U.S. soil, which helped fuel the United States through the Second Industrial Revolution. Today we are experiencing the “Rush of Big Data” around the globe. Thousands of businesses, such as Google, Yahoo, and IBM are using large quantities of data in order to create new products and markets for consumers. The “Rush of Big Data’ is fueling the Information Age of the 21st century, and causing major impacts on businesses and economies all over the world.

Continue reading The “Gold” of the Information Age

Removing the Nerd Stigma

Abstract
For the longest time, and to some extent today, nerds were the target of intense bullying and social ostracization. Only in the past decade have people with traditionally “fringe” interests been able to enjoy their hobbies without being considered a freak. The stigma that was once associated with nerdism has been erased; the reasons for this change include these kinds of activities going mainstream, a more general acceptance of other ideas, and the growing confidence that this demographic is experiencing due to the internet.

Continue reading Removing the Nerd Stigma

A Reflection on Emergence

I knew my topic about the first day this project was assigned.  I’ve always been a fan of philosophy and some friends and I had just a few days prior talked about consciousness as an emergent property over lunch (we are a fun bunch).  It seemed specific enough to create an argument, broad enough to have the requisite amount of information needed to talk for nearly 7 minutes.  The first problem I encountered was coming up with the argument.  I knew that one could definitely build an argument around emergence, but discovering what it was took some time.  I eventually decided on “Argue that consciousness is an emergent property,” and just take it from there.

15

The first picture I’d like to write about took a bit to find.  I’ve always been a strong believer in including comedy into presentations; I think it holds audience’s attention better and allows the presentation to stand out among the others, even when it’s about something as dense as a philosophical concept.  An issue I had in finding an appropriate picture for this slide was that the CNN analyst was talking about nude photo leaks and I wanted to keep the presentation PG.  Luckily, Mr. Hutchinson provided some excellent satire which served its function well, as I do remember hearing some chuckles from the rest of the class when they saw this.  Even though the text on the slide was the star of the picture, which in the ideal pecha kucha I suppose it shouldn’t be, I think it fit well into the presentation as a whole.

20

 

The second picture I will write about is from a webcomic that I read religiously, xkcd.  As soon as I had the script for the Pecha Kucha written, I knew that I wanted a scene from xkcd as the closer, as it is well known for having witty, minimalist yet thought provoking strips.  I remember one comic in particular, called “Time”, was especially interesting as the image on the website changed over a span of several weeks, telling one cohesive story all the way through (for those curious, here is a link to a website where you can see all of “time”).  So I did a quick google search for “xkcd time” and found this particular scene.  I immediately knew this was the image I would use.  First off, I think the black and white and simple stick figures fit perfectly for the ending of a presentation.  I wanted to end with something simple, yet memorable.  Additionally, the text encapsulates, in a way, how humanity in general views consciousness.  Even though we as a species understands its presence and, to some extent, function, we know so little about it.  We come up with ideas like emergence to explain it, but in the end it is still this beautiful, enigmatic thing (for lack of better word) that every person experiences.

If I were to re-do the pecha kucha, I would attempt to make the slides more than just eye-candy, but rather make them central to the argument – something that I wouldn’t say is true for the majority of my slides.  I think this is a byproduct of writing the script before finding the pictures, unfortunately.  I do, however, think that having a solid script was the most important part of the presentation, and I am very happy with the way mine turned out.

Moral Psychology in Politics

The clip goes from 10:28 to 11:14 (but I highly recommend watching the whole thing, it’s a fabulous ted talk).

This ted talk explores the idea of ‘moral psychology’ and how we, or more specifically liberals and conservatives, differ in the kind of morals that are held to high esteem.  The speaker, Jonathan Haidt, explains how the five foundations of morality (harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity) differ between people at a fundamental level.  As you probably aren’t surprised, the first two were the most important to liberals; the latter three to conservatives.

The clip that I chose to analyze features Haidt using the above image as a means for arguing why the latter three are moral.   First off, the image is named “The Garden of Earthly Delight”.  The name itself implies that it has something to offer on the topic of purity/sanctity, giving the painting an air of authority on the subject.  While describing the image, Haidt steps through the panels, carefully explaining each as they apply to the latter three moral foundations, appealing to logic.  He uses comedy very well, comparing the middle and end panels as the 60’s and 70’s respectively, making light of some of the hellish depictions in the last panel while appealing to pathos.  The clip was also well organized, as the slideshow moves from panel to panel as he speaks about them so there is no mistaking what he is talking about.

The selection is a indicative of the entire talk.  The speaker uses sound logic and reasoning from very credible sources, adding comedy where appropriate throughout the video.

There’s More than Meets the Eye

Big Data Inforgraphic

This is a link to the Infographic

        This infographic shows a number of statistics related to the collection and transfer of data on the internet, giving the audience an idea of how massive “The World of Data” really is. This information is presented in such a way that the audience believes the information, instead of questioning the sources of the data. The viewers, including myself, get attached to the point that this infographic is trying to make by honing in on specific facts such as: Google collects 24 Petabytes of data per day, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, and 2.9 million emails are sent every second, which causes us to trust the information in this random image. However, how can we trust the sources of this information and where do they come from? To find out, we will take a look at the specific piece of data: “Google collects 24 petabytes of data per day.” By analyzing the source of information in this image, we can determine the reliability and value of the infographic itself.

Big Data Infographic

 

The claim that “Google processes 24 petabytes of data per day” must have come from some research or information that Google presented themselves. To find this research, I began by searching the web for “Google’s Data Consumption” (I actually used Bing as a search engine, just in case Google was not willing to freely release this information to the public). I got redirected a couple of times to new websites, but it didn’t take long before I found an article about MapReduce, which is the software Google uses to sort and process their large quantities of data. In this article, a photo was shown comparing the amount of data Google has processed from August 2004 to September 2007. If you look at the numbers for 2007, and add up the amount of input data with the amount of machines used, it does indeed come out to over 20 petabytes.

Google MapReduce Satistics

 

Here’s the link to the magazine

        This article was published in 2008, in the “Communications of the ACM” magazine. “ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, and they deliver resources that advance computing as a science and a profession.” The fact that this source was researched by a reliable Association, reviewed by a publishing company, and published, I believe it establishes itself as highly credible. The original infographic also mentioned MapReduce as one of its sources, therefore I think this Infographic uses reliable information and can be trusted.

ACM’s website is here

Big Data Infographic 2

        This infographic uses the reliable information that “Google collects 24 petabytes of data per day,” and puts it in context to make a strong claim about “How Big the World of Data” really is. This is how most infographics are, therefore the source of information is usually irrelevant, because the strong claims and visual evidence allows the audience to believe and consider the claim being made. However, the sources of information really matter, especially when being made in other contexts, such as a lawsuit against Google, or a scientific study about how information is collected online. Therefore, it’s important to understand the reliability and value of a piece of information by knowing the source. There’s a reason you cite all of your sources in a research paper, or any other academic paper for that matter. It’s not just so you can sound smarter, it proves that your work is credible and your facts come from actual data and is not made up. This infographic may have turned out to be reliable, however not all infographics are. Depending on the context the information is being used in, most infographics should not be trusted without a little bit of background research.

A Popper Post

“Popper posed his problem in a slightly different way: Just because you’ve only ever seen white swans doesn’t mean that all swans are white” (Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble, 133).  It took me longer than I’d care to admit to find where Pariser got this intriguing idea.  Karl Popper is much talked about on the internet but rarely directly quoted.  After finding a work actually written by the philosopher, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, it was clear to see why he has been paraphrased so much.  Popper wrote the same sentence as “no matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white” (Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 4).  While it still conveys the same message, it’s clear that the philosopher was writing to a very different, more academic audience.  The context behind the two quotes are not exactly the same either.  The original use of the swan metaphor was to criticize induction, a method of assumption that is based on expanding a small idea into a universal one.  Pariser adapted it quite well to the modern day problem of accurate, efficient algorithm creation.  Though he paraphrased Popper’s exact diction, it was change for the better considering his target audience; it also managed to explain his point of how these computer sorters are unable to accurately place you as an individual among millions of others.

A Practical Image Analysis

Above from http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-i_zYcway0TI/UKu5K64Q3CI/AAAAAAAAiOY/rLhWkTvvEn8/s800/565CHOWthanksgiving.jpg

 

I love this flowchart.  As a fan of food, comedy, and practicality, it appeals to me at nearly every level.  Underneath the obvious “this flowchart explains what to bring to Thanksgiving,” it has a lot of interesting rhetoric that makes it more eye-catching and enjoyable to read.

Starting with aesthetics, the white background sets the actual content of the flowchart as the star of the image.  Had a multicolored or imaged background been chosen, the value of the content would have been diminished.  Additionally, the branches of the flowchart are conveniently separated by color, allowing the reader to easily remember what section they are in without having to backtrack.  The rhetoric behind this appeals mostly to logos, as the organization of the chart is very efficient and economical.

The diction and comedic value of the chart gives it a very relatable feeling, something that a reader will look at and think “yeah, I have been in this situation before.”  For example, using words and phrases like “fam” and “bomb-cratered warzone” instead of “family” and “lots of family arguments,” respectively, make for a much more casual, conversation-like feel when reading it.  These parts of the chart appeal mostly to pathos.  The comedic factor of the flowchart is an appeal because it simply makes the reader feel happy while viewing it.  The choice of wording is also a key part of the rhetoric.  The casual approach to the phraseology makes me willing to believe this flowchart over one with more professional diction.  An additional appeal to pathos is in the title of the chart itself.  Because it is a self proclaimed “Practical Flow Chart,” the image sets itself up from the very beginning to be humorous as well as relatable.

This flowchart is a possibly too-honest representation of the Thanksgiving experience.  I like that it is both organized well and does not bore the reader while conveying its information through comedy and casual diction.

How your “Digital Life” will Affect your Future

I’ve provided a lot more information online than I think I have. Every picture, every post, every search, and every video you post is recorded to a database and can be accessed. Over time, you create a “digital life log” of yourself, which contains a history of your interactions online. This life log can be harmful if it falls into the wrong hands, however it can also have a positive effect on ones life. The ability to look back on your previous actions can provide an incentive to change and improve your life.

Facebook Timeline

(Facebook‘s Timeline)

An example of a common digital life log is Facebook’s new timeline feature, which allows users to look back to certain dates and see what they’ve posted.  This timeline creates a life log of pictures, status updates, and events that are specific to that user’s life. I have posts on my Facebook that date back to 2008.  I can look back on these posts and see how I was acting or what I was doing on certain days. Just by looking at my Facebook, I can see how much I’ve changed over the past couple of years. By looking back on how dumb I was in middle school, I can see how much I’ve matured since then.

I also enjoy being able to look back on all the great memories I have from high school on Facebook’s timeline. You can relive moments, and interact with friends and family who shared those moments with you. Researchers at UC San Diego and the University of Warwick found that Facebook updates are one and a half times more memorable than reading a book, and two and a half times more memorable than faces. This shows that Facebook users remember a lot of their posts and interactions on the timeline, which enhances their memory in the future. So instead of just looking back on updates and moments, Facebook is actually helping me to remember those great moments.

Digital life logs such as Facebook are becoming a reality in our everyday lives. These life logs help individuals gain a better understanding of their lives and even remember the moments they cherish. People should realize how valuable these technologies are in our lives, and use them to interact and grow.

 

Resources

https://www.facebook.com

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3757-facebook-effect-memory.html

Truth of Fact, Truth of Feeling Video Response

Video Response Reflection:

I chose the focus of my video based on what ideas came to my mind when I was reading The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling. There were details of my life and the story that really made me question my relationship with technology, therefore I chose that as the focal point of my video.

The challenges of producing a video rather than just an essay is that you have to think about the way you present yourself, and you actually have to speak to the viewers, instead of just publishing something for them to read. You use more than just written words, you have to use language, images, and sound to connect with the audience.

If I had more time to produce the video, I probably would have had a much more in depth response to the story, and I probably would have found a better place to record, instead of just sitting in my dorm room. There is a ton of ideas you could talk about involving these topics, and I would’ve touched on a lot more than just one minutes worth.