[DigCult] Data mining as cultural expression

by Thom Kiraly

The slow descent into the theories of Axel Bruns continues. Today, we were told to watch and write about his talk In Search of Australian Blogs: Determining the Extent of the Contemporary Australian Blogosphere. The talk, rather than getting me interested in informatics, got me thinking of the works of the artist Jonathan Harris. I remember seeing one of his TED talks a couple of years back and being utterly moved by the pieces being shown (We Feel Fine and Universe)

Harris shows what kind of art one can create using data mined from blogs and even though he seems to be more into the qualitative aspect of people writing blogs the connection to Bruns is clear. First of all, they both take blogs seriously and attempt to extract meaning from aggregating their content. Secondly, they are clearly into the visualization of data, even if Harris may have… tried harder. Lastly, both Harris and Bruns seem interested in filtering information, but I get the sense that Bruns’ interest lies more in what I would call “data for data’s sake” while Harris tries to express himself by finding and highlighting common features shared amongst bloggers all over the world (ok, bloggers writing in English).

Another association I got was to the fantastic website Information is Beautiful. Journalist and designer David McCandless uses this website to show well-designed (according to him, of course) statistics and visualizations of data. One of the more impressive ones is the breakdown of the iPhone in two taxonomies, the physical and the Heideggerian.

Here are the slides and audio from Bruns’ talk.