Big Data, Little Narration

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This is a mixture of manuscript and transcript of my keynote/closing lecture at Digital Preservation 2014, July 23rd in Washington, DC, held by the Library of Congress.

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Forgetting the Internet

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San Francisco (AFP), June 26, 2014 - Google on Thursday said that it is "forgetting" things in Europe to comply with a legal ruling granting people the power to have certain information about them removed from searches.

Even though it was sunny, I knew something was wrong the moment I woke up the day of The Ruling. I didn't check the news, I didn't read the paper, I just felt something in the air—an electric current of negativity buzzing in my back pocket where I keep my phone. All morning it shook. It vibrated until it died.

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The Artist Google Street View Photographed Twice

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Carlo Zanni, Self Portrait With Dog, (2008)

 

Carlo Zanni's "Self Portrait with Dog" (2008) and "Self Portrait with Friends" (2012) both include the artist captured in Google Street View. Recently I emailed the Zanni about these projects:


Could you tell me a little bit about the Google Street View pictures "Self Portrait with Dog" (2008) and "Self Portrait with Friends" (2012)? 


They are part of an exploration around portraiture I began in 2000 designing desktop icons, programming  cookies, and making google images generated drawings.

In either cases, it's me on the street in Milan being shot by the Google Car. The first one back in 2008, the second one in 2012.

In "Self-Portrait With Dog," I'm walking my dog and I choose that frame among others from the street view sequence (that you can still browse from the project's homepage) because of its composition. It is also a classic theme in portraiture and it has a link to a famous work by futurist painter Giacomo Balla: "Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash", 1912. Both explore the idea of time and space, with mine having strong ties with very urgent themes like public exposure, privacy and control.

In "Self-Portrait With Friends (i fannulloni)" I've been shot with two pals while lying around like slackers. "i fannulloni" — that is the wall writing on the left of the picture — means slackers. You might find an assonance with "I Vitelloni" by Federico Fellini. Even in this case, I chose this frame for its composition values and when shown in gray scale as it has to be, its "neo realistic" side pops up.

Naming these works "self portraits", and not "portraits made by Google" — like suggested by curator Pau Waelder — ironically plays with the idea that I had a ...

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The Unconscious Performance of Identity: A Review of Johannes P. Osterhoff’s “Google”

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As part of this year’s Transmediale festival in Berlin, media artist Johannes P. Osterhoff organized an online collaborative performance of search engine queries, simply titled, “Google.” For one week, Osterhof convinced myself and 36 other participants to add a unique search method to our default web browsers so that everything we “googled”—from the personal to the mundane—became instantly visible online at google-performance.org.

The performers, who are mostly artists or technologists or both, recorded 1,322 searches over seven days. Search queries were displayed chronologically with their sequence number, date and time, participant name, and search tool used. The text of the search and participant name were also hyperlinked, so searches can be explored by keyword or participant.

Many queries reflect content from the Transmediale conference. Others reveal users engaging in play, submitting insider messages or odd one-liners. Most searches are about business as usual, as evidenced by the high number of phrases referencing programming or technology. Reading through them, by time or participant or keyword, gives the impression of a conscious stream of thought. They are a random series of words and phrases that make irrational leaps from noun to verb to sentence, only occasionally creating a complete thought when a participant repeats parts of phrases in their quest for the intended outcome.

The queries are often poetic, like these from my own stream:

xmas

 release serial ports

release serial ports arduino

chariot sidecar

pull down resistor

Others are strangely suggestive, like this snippit from Osterhof’s searches:

mspro

jennie garth

chrome french download

extrem wohlgeformet google suchanfragen mit poetischer kraft

ed2000

Sometimes they are coincidental, like these which share the common keyword, “python:”

python copy file os

Monty Python New Movie

python random coin flip

python do while

The project (see also its manifesto) made ...

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Distorted Scans in Google Books

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"Could there be a fitter representation of copyright's contemporary plight than the fingers of a Google technician obscuring Kant's defense of writer's rights? An author's consent, Kant cautions in a footnote, 'can by no means be presumed because he has already given it exclusively to another', yet Google is struggling to effect exactly this sort of transfer of consent today, as it attempts to win approval for a legal settlement in the United States that will allow it to republish works whose copyright owners have not come forward. I couldn't have read Kant's essay so easily without the Google technician's labour - in fact, without Google, I might not have got around to reading it at all - but her fingers were nonetheless in the way. The internet's attitude toward Kant's words is ambiguous, combining respect, appropriation, liberation and accidental vandalism," Caleb Crain once wrote, having discovered a spectral-seeming hand, while conducting research for his review of Adrian Johns's Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates. (The page has been rescanned, but the image is still on Nicholas Carr's blog.)

Wohlgemeynte Gedanken über den Dannemarks-Gesundbrunnen by Johan Gottschalk Wallerius is scarcely recognizable as a book with hundreds of distorted pages. (via Waxy.)

 

 

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Search Beyond Text

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Google Fellow/software engineer Amit Singhal writes about the challenges inherent to searching for images in an essay for Google's Think Quarterly corporate webzine:

At Google, when we talk about organizing the world’s information, we don’t mean only text; images and videos contain a wealth of information. In the early days, this type of content simply didn’t exist online. Now, through efforts like Google Earth and Street View, we can provide something incredibly valuable: images of your physical world.

However, in many ways, getting visual information online is the easy part. What’s hard is understanding that information. Unlike text, we cannot simply read an image or video. We have to look inside them, dig out the pixels and translate them into something meaningful. For a long time, we considered this a pipe dream, but by combining search methodology and technological breakthroughs in computer vision, today we can match pictures at a visual level. Search for ‘Mount Rushmore’ on Google and our algorithms will analyze many factors, such as the shape and texture that produces a good image of Mount Rushmore, then return those images to you in striking full-color. 

 

 

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Thumbnail Video of Archive Team Google Videos Project

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Google Video Scraping Thumbnails by Perfinion

Video consists of one frame of each of the videos saved by a member of the Archive Team (via Nic Alderton.)

Google Videos content is no longer available for playback. The company has migrated videos to YouTube, after originally announcing on April 15th that users would be responsible for immediate content backup pending deletion. The Archive Team, lead by Jason Scott (textfiles), worked to download as many videos as possible in the meantime. Here's a recent interview with Scott on the CBC radio program Spark.

via upcoming Seven on Seven participant Andy Baio.

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High Five (2011) - Niko Princen

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Originally via today and tomorrow

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Highways Connect and Divide

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JODI, GEOGOO, 2008-2011 ongoing, screenshot. (From Foxy Productions)

Highways Connect and Divide,” an exhibition on display at Foxy Productions featuring work by Cory Arcangel, Tauba Auerbach, Bureau of Inverse Technology, I/O/D, JODI, Nam June Paik, Sterling Ruby, and Kerry Tribe, considers how the structure of information influences its transmission, reception, and legitimacy. Using the highway as a metaphor, the show constructs a dialog concerning the geography of transmission and the role of the artist in reimagining the systems that impact our lives.

Nam June Paik & Jud Yalkut, Beatles Electroniques, 1966-7. (Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix, New York.)

Highways, or channels of transmission are playfully interrupted in Nam June Paik's pioneering work Beatles Electroniques (1966-1972), where a TV broadcast of the Beatles’ A Hard Day's Night (1964) is disrupted by a magnet, rendering the familiar images into abstractions that reveal the underlying technological structure of the electronic signal. In a similar vein, though nearly forty years later, JODI's Geo Goo (2008-2011, ongoing) obstructs Google maps with failures and errors, stripping it of functionality and turning the ordered maps into chaos. The result is a disorienting and emphatic challenge to the technology’s authority and power. In both works, the technological architecture is given precedence over the intended distribution of content.

Kerry Tribe, North is West / South is East, 2001 (Photo: Mark Woods)

Maps are also the subject of Kerry Tribe's work North is West / South is East (2001), where the geography of Los Angeles is redrawn from memory by random individuals approached at the LAX Airport. The resulting maps, framed and mounted on the gallery wall, elevate the personal and unique realities over the legitimate cartographic version. Legitimacy and authorization are challenged further by Bureau of Inverse Technology's (BIT) video Bit Plane (1997), where ...

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Sphere and Similar Images (2010) - Jeff Thompson

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Google image search for "sphere", then "similar images" search under the original. All 400 images are shown in order at two frames each.

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