Tag Archives: reading response

Quantitative Research and its Misconceptions

In this week’s reading, author Franco Moretti argues about trends in novel literature over a span of several decades, and how literary history is defined by data sets and not by individual works. He states that:

Quantitative research provides… data, not interpretation. Quantitative data can tell us when Britain produced one new novel per month, or week, or day, or hour for that matter, but where… and why–is something that must be decided on a different basis.

While I do agree that quantitative data does provide data, such data sets are capable of exhibiting a limited form of interpretation. Collection of large data sets can be passed off to outside viewers as being completely unbiased, but for the most part, data mining does not exist for the sake of mining data; the motivation is almost never that circular. Big data, therefore, presents a watered-down form of interpretation of a subject through both the data it provides, and that which has been purposefully omitted from it. Applying a more concrete argument to a data set is essential to strengthening the claims made by both, but the fact is that data sets are assembled for specific, situational purposes, and therefore carry within them implicit arguments to be defined by the viewer/reader.

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 Strongest Link: Finding Suitable Sources for Your Research Paper

My post revolves around my pursuit of the source denoted at the end of Page 5 in this week’s class reading; for those who didn’t know to which i was referring, it is 16 McGraw-Hill, “Building the Best Student Assessment Solution,” New York: Acuity, 2009.

Link: http://www.ctb.com/ctb.com/control/assetDetailsViewAction?articleId=490&assetType=article&currentPage=1&p=library

I was actually surprised at the ease with which I found what I feel was the original source of information behind the citation; it was literally the second link I encountered when searching for the citation in full on Google. I found that the webpage contained a full-length PDF file explaining the Best Student Assessment, and I felt I could trust the site’s authenticity. I decided to experiment with three other sources found in the weekly reading and they, as well, were discovered within the first 5 links when searched on Google. I am not pointing this out to say that all research paper sources can be found this easily; I just assume I had good luck.

Regardless, finding a reliable source does not effectively constitute a research paper, and the source that is employed in its construction must be utilized in such a manner that its general focus coincides with that of the paper. In addition, the research paper must accurately refer to the source and make either make effective use or reinterpretation of its contents, to reinforce the paper’s claim.

In the case of Big Data and the Best Student Assessment Source, both the paper and its source promote the process of data mining (or data warehousing) as a new and effective means of pushing along student achievement and improving the student learning experience. Both the purpose of the paper and the source agree on this point, and the two possess a certain synergy when paired together, and serve to further reinforce the author’s claims on data mining in education.

Life begins at conception?

One of the major controversies at hand in America is the argument of when life begins. This issue has plagued american society for many years and the american people are very divided upon this issue. One of the many papers written about this controversy is “Life Begins at the Beginning” by Dr. Fritz Baumgartner, MD (1).

Upon searching for further information about the veracity of this article in its goal to establish that Life begins at conception, I found several articles that support the idea posted in this website. The website itself states several very heated reasons why the idea that life begins at conception is the correct view. The article itself poses a  one sided and heated explanation of why Dr. Fritz Baumgartner is correct and other scientist are wrong. Based on the bias of the author it seems that the sight may not be trusted. This is because some bias and heated statements are not supported by factual evidence. This can be seen used in cases where the heated author is lacking evidence and lashes out at their opponent as a defense. However, upon further investigation of the website and its resources this is not the case. At the end of the article, Dr. Baumgartner’s education and work history is posted to add veracity to the heated author’s claims. In addition the article contains other resources that authors claims such as the article “Scientist attest to life beginning at Conception” by Randy Alcorn (2). In this article Alcorn lists off the names of prominent scientist with research history who all have shared ideas about when life begins.

The article “Life Begins at the Beginning” is support well and even though it is slightly heated the its resources are trustworthy.

1-http://www.tfpstudentaction.org/politically-incorrect/abortion/life-begins-at-the-beginning.html#footnotes_276

2-http://www.naapc.org/why-life-begins-at-conception/

Vatican proposes a change in viewpoint on gays?

The original source is an article from CNN about the possibility that the Vatican’s viewpoint about gays could be changing in the near future. The evidence in this article was a quote from a report that was released as a summary of the discussions within the Vatican this past week. However, it didn’t list a source, so I googled the quote and found it in an article on patheos. This article mentioned that the quote was from the Relatio, so I googled this as well. It led me to ZENIT The world seen from Rome and with the title “Synod14: Full Text of Relatio Post Disceptationem” before the original quote among other text from the same document. I then googled Relatio Post Disceptationem and found a website for the Bollettino with “Synod14 – Eleventh General Assembly: “Relatio post disceptationem” of the General Rapporteur, Card. Péter Erdő, 13.10.2014” as the page title. When I went to the homepage of the website I discovered that this was the official bulletin for the Holy See Press Office. This is when my search stopped because the official bulletin containing the updates within the Vatican seemed like a trustworthy source.

It was somewhat difficult to find the original source of information because it was an official document that was quoted many times. The original source was an update from the Vatican and the article I read was a both an informative article as well as a summary of the reactions occuring in the United States. Though the purposes of the sources of the information were different, the meaning of the quote did not change when used in each article. In addition, both sources were to inform the public about the change of the Vatican, and both sources do just that.

Should those journalists be indicted too?

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204527804576044020396601528

As we all know that Daniel Ellsberg exposed the top secrets of government about Vietnam War to the world in 1971. Even though Mr. Ellsberg gave the New York Times a large number of the Pentagon Papers in1971, he decided to keep 4 volumes confidential because those were closely related to the diplomatic endeavors the US government had done to try to resolve the war by negotiating with other nations. His action was accepted as “good” while, on the other hand, Wikileaks was mostly doubted and considered as “bad” in 2010.

Different from the information revealed about the Pentagon Papers, the confidential information revealed on Wikileaks was not tailored to either prevent the uproar of people or the diplomatic concern of the nation. It simply showed the disdain of Wikileaks on the facts that government was keeping its dirty secrets from people.

Ironically, Assange could still escape from the legal punishment and the journalists helping disseminating and analyzing the sensitive information could be indicted as “willfully” communicating the information “relating to the national defense” according to Section 793 of the Espionage Act. However, no journalist was indicted under the circumstances.

The author Floyd Abrams (who is also a lawyer considered an authoritative figure in the area related to the First Amendment) clearly stated that “under that reading of the legislation, if Mr. Assange were found to have communicated and retained the secret information with the intent to harm the United States—some of his statements can be so read—a conviction might be obtained. But if Mr. Assange were viewed as simply following his deeply held view that the secrets of government should be bared, notwithstanding the consequences, he might escape legal punishment.” Because of the conflicting contents in the First Amendment and in the Section 793 of the Espionage Act, whether Mr. Assange should be convict for his “conspiratorial” action is called into question again.

The “Technology” Behind Social Networks

In Gladwell’s Small Change, the author talks about the pros and cons of social media networks and uses them to point out why a revolution could never be carried out based on a network. This reminded me of the passage in The Truth of Fact. The Truth of Feeling where Ted Chiang compares language to technology, and states that language in itself is actually a type of technology. Following this trend, social media networks would be a progression of language, for it is a new method of communication. Gladwell goes on to explain the reason behind the failure of social networks when it comes to something like a revolution: a lack of hierarchy, and this is where the two authors’ opinions are split. Chiang makes the statement that, “We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.” The fact that Chiang says we can become cyborgs proves that he believes in a sort of internet hierarchy where people who post, blog, or are very involved in networking hold the highest position. That makes sense, because if language is in fact technology, people are affected by it, and in order for people to be affected by it, it has to be available. Those who make it available, therefore, have control over how the readers are affected. In this way, a hierarchy does indeed exist when it comes to social networks. However, going back to Gladwell’s point, it would be nearly impossible to start of revolution through it, regardless of whether or not a hierarchy exists because there exists no authoritative, credible figure. As a result, it would be very difficult to unite a mass amount of people under a single cause because there would be too many differing opinions on the subject.

The emergence of new data

It is fascinating to realize that a lot of new data comes from old data. Sometimes new data will replace old data because it is more current. However, when old data is categorized and processed, the trends that emerge can be recorded as more data which could possibly be analyzed further.

8-31 reading-response

This passage (found on page 9) in a few words captures the extent to which data has increased over the past several decades. Though, this should not be surprising. Throughout the excerpt of Big Data, the author keeps articulating different situations in which people have used large amounts of raw data to hypothesize trends. These hypotheses can be used to create larger trends, and the cycle can continue. The analysis of the raw data is what catapulted the surge of data the modern generation has now.

One example of this in Big Data was the navigator Matthew Fontaine Maury. He was a navigator that decided to find the best trade routes by going off of the popular approach. He asked everyone he encountered for their knowledge of the seas and the routes they have. He asked old fisherman their secrets for learning the seas so that he could find routes that didn’t fight nature, but rather routes that nature helped along. He collected his own data in order to create his hypotheses because the data he needed wasn’t readily at his fingertips, and in the end created trade routes far superior to the ones previous.

Modern day society has what Maury created for himself, a database just waiting to be examined. People have been able to predict when the price of airplane tickets will be cheapest or track packages all because they used the data in front of them. Big Data fosters the idea that society could have a lot of answers right in front of us that we just haven’t pieced together yet.

Data is Progress?

“In the future – and sooner than we may think – many aspects of our world will be augmented or replaced by computer systems that today are the sole purview of human judgment. Not just driving or match making, but even more complex tasks. After all, Amazon can recommend the ideal book, Google can rank the most relevant website, Facebook knows our likes, and LinkedIn divines who we know. The same technologies will be applied to diagnosing illnesses, recommending treatments, perhaps even identifying “criminals” before one actually commits a crime. Just as the internet radically changed the world by adding communications to computers,  so too will big data change fundamental aspects of life by giving it a quantitative dimension it never had before” – Big Data (page 12)

The quantity of data that our society produces and processes on a daily basis rivals that of any other time in human history. Information and knowledge have become not only readily available, but in many ways vital to the technological world we live in. Although this is opening the doors to endless possibilities, we must be cautious of the negative aspects of this growth as big data takes over many aspects of our lives.

Many of the major outlets that analyze information come through large companies that we as people use and interact with frequently. This may be referred to as big data or crowd sourced data. This data not only allows companies to reveal information about its individual users but it also allows them to apply their knowledge in more creative and constructive ways. While many uses for this data are still in the early stages, big data and crowd sourced information will soon become vital to our society, subsequently bringing the negative aspects of open information along with it.

The addition of large scale data collection also raises some concerns, despite the possible benefits. Privacy is slowly becoming a thing of the past, as corporations like Google and Facebook track everything from what we search to where we go for lunch. Google even knows where I live and has even given me direction to work without prior knowledge of my workplace. The same can be said for government agencies such as the NSA. In the world we live in, knowledge is power, power is money, and there is little legislature in place to prevent large corporate or governmental entities from abusing the use of this information.

While there is likely little that can be done to stop the upcoming transition into a big data driven society, individuals need to be aware of the drawbacks in order to best prevent abuse of the system. Only by reflecting on the drawbacks will we as a society be able to stop the growth of abusive data before it becomes an irreparable aspect of life.

The Minds Behind the Data

Revised Edition:

“Google took the 50 million most common search terms that Americans type and compared it the list with the CDC data on the spread of seasonal flu between 2003 and 2008. The idea was to identify areas infected by the flu virus by what people searched for on the internet. Others had tried to do this with internet search terms, but no one else had as much data, processing power, and statistical know-how as Google….Thus when the H1Nl crisis struck in 2009, Google’s system proved to be a more useful and timely indicator than government statistics with ‘their natural reporting lags. Public health ·officials were armed with valuable information.” – Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

The amount of information that Google contains on every person is an enormous compilation of information. The data can be dangerous if it is being used against us however, it is only as dangerous as the people behind the screens. Using the data for a greater purpose; to benefit humans is all up to us. If we put data into the right hands then the positive outcomes will outweigh the negative side effects. In the passage, Google demonstrated that by use of its information, we were able to design a formula for detecting the H1N1 virus, eventually helping to control and calm the pandemic. We have so much technology and information that could be potentially harmful, however, we have to realize the information itself is not the  problem. We, the people who make conscious decisions are the ones who make the choice. In Google’s case they helped save what would have been thousands of cases of H1N1.

Many of us are engineers here at Tech. We are the minds behind the technology and we can control the use of it. We are the ones who will use technology to benefit the human race. There are many people who fear that the change in technology has been for the worse. Even though many fear change, overall I believe it has had a positive effect. Data is a tool that is no different than a swiss army knife; we could use it to harm others or to help others, but the decision is up to us. We are now able to live longer, travel faster and communicate further with technological advances. Technology can be dangerous but with the right minds controlling it can lead to a better society ahead.

Original Edition:

“Google took the 50 million most common search terms that Americans type and compared it the list with the CDC data on the spread of seasonal flu between 2003 and 2008. The idea was to identify areas infected by the flu virus by what people searched for on the internet. Others had tried to do this with internet search terms, but no one else had as much data, processing power, and statistical know-how as Google….Thus when the H1Nl crisis struck in 2009, Google’s system proved to be a more useful and timely indicator than government statistics with ‘their natural reporting lags. Public health ·officials were armed with valuable information.” – Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

The amount of information Google contains on every human being is a dangerous thing to have. However, it is only as dangerous as the people behind the screens. In actuality, the information is arguably the most useful resource to mankind. In the passage, Google demonstrated that by use of its information, we were able to design a formula for detecting the H1N1 virus, eventually helping to control and calm the pandemic. We have so much technology and information that could be potentially harmful, however, we have to realize the information itself is not the problem. We, the people who make conscious decisions are the ones who make the choice. In Google’s case they helped save what would have been thousands of cases of H1N1.

Many of us are engineers here at Tech. We are the minds behind the technology and we can control the use of it. We are the ones who will use technology to benefit the human race. There are many people who fear that the change in technology has been for the worse. Even though many fear change, overall I believe it has had a positive effect. We are now able to live longer, travel faster and communicate farther with technological advances. Technology is a tool that can be dangerous but with the right minds controlling it can lead to a better society ahead.