Thursday, January 18, 2018

Signs of Latency

One of the ideas I've been playing with over the last few years is the idea of latency in the networked age.  As we relate, communicate and move through increasingly connected action along digitally augmented lives, clouds of latent social relations, latent geographies and, overall, latent belonging develop around us.  Many of these latent clouds form around technologies of surveillance, but even these suggest potential relatedness--a latency from below.

We've already written about some of these in Networked Anthropology (with my co-author, Matt Durington).  For example, here's a graph of tags linked to "Busan":






















That is, tagging one's photo "Busan" links that photo to related tags, some ("water," "ocean," "Haeundae") are strongly connected, while other ("Buddhist," "temple") are much more weakly associated.  Nevertheless, images tagged with "Buddhism" form a latency around images, places and the people posting about them, one that could coalesce into new meanings and relationships.  

This is the same for people.  Here is a graph of a Facebook page, "부산맛집여기," that depicts a few  posts about food in Busan, followed by a complex skein of commentary and "likes" from other Facebook users.












Relatively few of the page users are actually communicating with each other.  Instead, they comment on the central posts.  This accounts for the vague, star-shape of the graph.  Still, if we zoom in












on the graph, we see not only weak connections (largely through 'likes' generated by comments), but also latent relations, missed opportunities for communication that--through the structure and permanence of Facebook--could be exploited at a later date. 

In the United States (and other countries), Twitter contracted with Foursquare to provide gelocations for tweets. So, tweeting from my home, I can choose from a number of locations within a few miles of my domicile:

Even if I don't choose one of these alternative pins, these form a cloud of related locations, a weakly defined zone of geolocation.

Finally, place itself is rendered latent.  Here's a photo I took of Sejong-no in Seoul in 2015:


 













And here's an "imagequilt" of pictures generated by uploading this picture to Google for an image search:












This suggests a locative latency--a belongingness--that extends from the digital life of a photograph. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

National Science Fiction Day --- 1/2/2018

On this day devoted (by some) to a genre fiction, my thoughts have turned to dystopia and utopia--these are not, however, co-extensive with SF, but see Fredric Jameson's Archaeologies of the Future for a utopia-centric understanding of the field.  When I look around at events in the U.S., it is hard not to center on the imminence of dystopia: state terror, totalitarianism, white supremacy.  But, I am reminded of Ernst Bloch: even in the midst of dystopian actualization, there are utopian potentialities, and the challenge for my scholarship and teaching in the new year is to mine the present for these tendrils of utopia, and to utilize those for an everyday practice of SF that looks to the present as the source of a more just, more equitable society that allows people to pursue their lives without structural inequalities and environmental injustice.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

#AmAnth17 Wrap-Up: Anthropology Matters?



On Monday, I downloaded #AmAnth17 tweets.  This proved in many ways elusive and piecemeal.  First, the conference hashtags continue to shift.  Last year, the AAA finally discovered that the #AAA hashtag had other meanings and other audiences, among them AIDS activism in Japan and a pop music awards program in Korea (both of which prompted lively Twitter conversations this year).  Their efforts to promote alternative hashtags resulted in confusion, with people tweeting at #AmAnth17 (the ‘official’ hashtag), along with #AmAnth2017 (which would have been logically consistent with previous years) and, for the hell of it, #AAA2017. So the graph below includes tweets with any one of the three, with the top 50 Twitter users (by in-degree centrality) labeled. 



Here are the general metrics on this network.  

Graph Metric
Value


Graph Type
Directed


Vertices
426


Unique Edges
649
Edges With Duplicates
0
Total Edges
649


Self-Loops
145


Reciprocated Vertex Pair Ratio
0.047817048
Reciprocated Edge Ratio
0.091269841


Connected Components
100
Single-Vertex Connected Components
63
Maximum Vertices in a Connected Component
245
Maximum Edges in a Connected Component
445


Maximum Geodesic Distance (Diameter)
12
Average Geodesic Distance
4.810299


Graph Density
0.002783761



























It’s not an enormous graph, nor particular connected.  In many ways, it's similar to other graphs I’ve run in 2015 and 2016 (see.  For example, we see the same, prominent Twitter users.  Here are the top 50 accounts by in-degree centrality:

americananthro
profsassy
womenarchys
anthrofuentes
aprilmbeisaw
culanth
julielesnik
aba_aaa
sonyaatalay
hilaryagro
valorieaquino
altmetric
protest_matters
drtomori
jennyshaw011
lesleybartlett_
aunpalmquist
archyfantasies
twitatreyee
dukepress
stemethnographr
lauraellenheath
aaas_doser
pottershousedc
diane_tober
susangsheridan
blackfeminisms
afburialgrndnps
geekanthro
anthrosciences
stelynews
dcanthro
archpodnet
yarimarbonilla
oceaniajournal
beccapeixotto
mcclaurintweets
cvans
soclinganth
police_worlds
illinoispress
machristofides
anthroboycott
hildallorens
ratnagiri77
anthromuxer
tikabakic
camee_maddox

This is a great bunch of anthropologists and institutions, but, compared to previous years, Twitter traffic has diminished and, with it, topics have proliferated along lines of subdiscipline and sub-specialty.  That is, anthropologists (at least in their Twitter traffic) have retreated to the specifics of their panels and papers.  Here’s a word-cloud of the most frequently occurring 500 words from the 2017 AAA:


Now here’s another wordcloud from the 2015 meeting.  


The prominence of activist causes in 2015 (#BlackLivesMatter, BDS) stimulated tweets across subdisciplines in a way that is conspicuously absent from this year’s conference with some notable (and welcome) exceptions (thanks, @yarimarbonilla, @aba_aaa and others!).

Of course, these causes are still with us, along with a dumpster fire of authoritarian politics, fascism, rampant misogyny, ascendant white supremacy and environmental apocalypse.  But, in all of this, where does anthropology matter?  And if we can’t represent our united opposition to, say, fascist policies in the U.S., then what hope do we have of demonstrating the relevance of anthropology to anyone outside of this conference? 


In her critical summary of this year's meeting, Emma Louise Backe notes in Geek Anthropologist:  
the exclamatory nature of Anthropology Matters feels ineffectual. Are we trying to signal to the broader intellectual community and American public that anthropology does indeed matter? Or are we instead convincing ourselves that our choice of discipline was legitimate, necessary?
Well--those are the questions.  What will we--as anthropologists--do in the face of the palpable evil around us?  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tweeting #AmAnth17 - Part 2


This morning, before I left for AAA, I took a few moments to download #AmAnth17 tweets.  As you might expect, there was more twitter traffic than last week (603 edges), but still loosely connected (i.e., a low density) and still concerned mostly with advertising panels and other events.  

Directed




Vertices
425




Unique Edges
603

Edges With Duplicates
261

Total Edges
864




Self-Loops
248




Reciprocated Vertex Pair Ratio
0.043233083

Reciprocated Edge Ratio
0.082882883




Connected Components
72

Single-Vertex Connected Components
54

Maximum Vertices in a Connected Component
317

Maximum Edges in a Connected Component
737














Here’s a rather ineffective visualization (sorry – but I’m away from my office computer now), and a list of the 30 most prominent user names (by in-degree centrality).  

americananthro
anthrofuentes
natalia13reagan
culanth
anthrorepro
anthroprez
socmedanthro
coolanthro
sciencetechmed
teachingculture
soclinganth
acyig_aaa
protest_matters
kristamharper
aba_aaa
jasonantrosio
scott_a_ross
nick_kawa
rob_o_malley
amethno
gad_aaa
allergyphd
news4anthros
politicallegal
dominicboyer
samuelcollins43
archaeo_girl
jason_decaro

The word cloud supports this interpretation—a series of keywords and prominent user names distributed like stars in the AmAnth universe.   Meaning (and action) have yet to coalesce at this conference!