The Politics of Social Media

During my DH6004 class this week, we watched a film called The Internet’s Own Boy, a documentary about one of the founders of Reddit, Aaron Swartz, who sadly died in 2013 aged just 26. Aside from helping to create Reddit, Swartz became a spokesperson for internet users during campaigns to bring in censorship laws like SOPA which ‘is an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act. It’s proposed bill that aims to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content’ (SOPA Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters – Jan. 17, 2012).   He was also one of the founders of demandprogress.org which is a project that aims to ‘seek to protect the democratic character of the internet — and wield it to make government accountable and contest concentrated corporate power’ (About Demand Progress – Demand Progress). The conversation about government interference of the internet has been a long one. In the second year of my degree , I wrote about how Twitter was being used as a campaign tool in modern political campaigns.

In more recent years, the Cambridge Analytica scandal had rocked the social media world, as well as the real world.  It was revealed by one whistle-blower that over 50 million user’s data had been mined in order to compile information on potential voters during the American Presidential Election and the Brexit referendum (Cadwalladr and Graham-Harrison). It just goes to show how social media has evolved over the years and how things need to change in order to get back to how sites like Facebook were previously (Mozur et al.).

References

Aaron Swartz. http://www.aaronsw.com/. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.

About Demand Progress – Demand Progress. https://demandprogress.org/about/. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.

admin. ‘Critical Review of Twitter as a Communication Tool.’ Kayleigh Falvey, 26 Oct. 2017, http://kayleighfalvey.com/digital-humanities/write-a-critical-review-of-twitter-as-a-platform-you-may-consider-how-twitter-works-as-a-research-tool-andor-as-a-pedagogical-tool-andor-as-a-communication-tool/.

Cadwalladr, Carole, and Emma Graham-Harrison. ‘Revealed: 50 Million Facebook Profiles Harvested for Cambridge Analytica in Major Data Breach’. The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2018. www.theguardian.com, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election.

Mozur, Paul, et al. ‘Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web’. The New York Times, 17 Sept. 2017. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/17/technology/facebook-government-regulations.html.

SOPA Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters – Jan. 17, 2012. https://money.cnn.com/2012/01/17/technology/sopa_explained/index.htm#targetText=SOPA%20is%20an%20acronym%20for,the%20trading%20of%20pirated%20content. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.

A Study of the Heartbreak of Eliza Schuyler

Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton has become a more well-known individual thanks to her role in Lin Manuel-Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton which is of course based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary of the United States after the War of Independence, he also happened to be married to Eliza. The purpose of this article is to look at one song, in particular, Burn, which depicts Eliza’s anger after she discovers Alexander’s affair with another married woman, which he published called The Reynolds Pamphlet. However, there are two versions of the song, the first which is simply entitled Burn is the official version which is performed on the original soundtrack. The second was released as part of The Hamilton Mixtape a collection of various versions of the songs performed by a host of well-known voices including Kelly Clarkson and John Legend. This version is called First Burn, not only because it was the first draft of the song but it also was written as Eliza’s first reaction to the news of her beloved husband’s affair. 

Hamilton New York

I want to examine these songs, and using Voyant Analysis, look to see if there are any differences lyrics wise between the two versions. Starting with the more well-known version Burn, sung by Phillipa Soo who played Eliza in the original Broadway production. The song itself is sad in its tone, it sounds like she is not angry, but it, in fact, sad over her husband’s affair. Not that you could blame her, of course, Eliza was devoted to her husband so this news shocked her to the very core. So much so she reportedly burned all correspondence between herself and her husband in a bid to ‘erase herself from the narrative’.

What is interesting about the analysis of these lyrics is that the word ‘Burn’ is not the most used word, compared to the earlier version of the lyrics which shows the word front and centre. This could be due to the tone of both songs, First Burn is a much more emotional song than the later version, Eliza is angry and heartbroken in equal stature. Of course, the lyrics have not changed a huge amount between the two versions but its the tone and feeling of the songs that have changed things. Both versions of the analysis have the same words that make up the lyrics, but they were changed in order to fit with the character’s emotional state in the scene.  

Visual Analysis of Burn

Visual Analysis of First Burn

 

For those who would like to listen to the songs and hear the difference: 

 

The First One

This is the first post on my new blog, it’s both terrifying and kind of nice to be able to start afresh on a fresh new site without having any stress or worry about whether the content will suit the site or not.

But for now, this is going to be about anything and everything that I comes into my head. Ramblings is what I’m going with but who really knows what I’m going to talk about. This is a blank canvas for me and my thoughts, which is exactly what I need right now. There’s a lot of changes going to be happening for me over the next few months so it will be nice to document it all here.

What does Feminism have to do with Digital Humanities

I am a Feminist. In recent years this sentence has struck a chord with people and often can have negative connotations because of people’s views on what exactly being a feminist means. To me, being a feminist means being able to have a control in my own life in every aspects and having the chance to have just as many opportunities as men do. This is something that my mum has instilled in me since a very young age, hearing about certain ways in which she was treated differently because she was a women.

One of her favourite examples of took place 25 years ago after my parents got married and my mother had to get written permission from my father so that she could return to work. Bearing in mind that there was nothing physically wrong with my mother that would stop her going to work or that my Dad, as brilliant as he is, has no medical degree to diagnose a reason why she couldn’t go to work other than that she was now his wife.

This is not the only example I have been told over the years ( my mother was one of three children and was the only girl) but it is one that has stuck out in my mind just because it seems so crazy. Because of this, it isn’t hard to figure out where I got my can-do attitude and my urge to try and try things that are traditionally for boys comes from.

Which is why, I was so interested in the fact that there was a chapter in our Digital Humanities book entitled, “Problems with white feminism: intersectionality and digital humanities” by Jacqueline Wernimont and Elizabeth Losh. In the chapter what is mainly discussed is the lack of diversity in scholars of DH and how the beginning of this stems from the lack of women in Computer Science itself. One such quote says that;

“Carpentry and computer science have pernicious histories of excluding people of color by maintaining gatekeeping with unions and associations and through the definition of skilled labour itself, tendencies that digital humanities seems to be replicating.” 

To me, this is a sad thing as I have always thought that being a DH student meant innovation and breaking boundaries that were established years ago but perhaps I am too much of an optimist for this. However, this just makes me want to get involved in as many conversations about Digital Humanities as possible. And it seems like this is similar to the Feminism movement in a way as people do have misconceptions about it, and it is up to the students of DH to change the narrative. 

The Impact of Open Source Software on Data Visualisation

Data visualization is the process of displaying data/information in graphical charts, figures and bars.”(Techopedia.com)

As part of our presentation on Data Visualisation, I researched the relationship of Data Visualisation and Open Source software. For me, Data Visualisation is crucial for Digital Humanities as it allows researchers to show their research in a variety of different ways which can be seen as innovative and interactive for audiences.

In terms of e-commerce an example of digital visualisation is company Uber using digital visualisation to map the most popular destinations for people to order Ubers. Uber’s director of data visualisation Nicolas Garcia Belafonte has praised the use of software and explained why overuse that to track popular pickup and drop off points around the area.

“Personally, I’m a very big advocate for open source, so I think that open source can help the business in many other ways, and those ways are immediately more valuable than someone paying for this software.”

This brings up the notion of Open Source software and its uses. Webopedia defines open source as, “refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community.” For many having open source software is a dealbreaker and can often be more cost effective in the long run. There is a number of open source software that allows people to include some form of data visualisation in order for progress their research,  one of these software companies is is github.com which allows users to create a variety of digital visualisation projects using spatial maps and interactive materials.

One company has expanded into open source software as well as their original brand. E-Commerce company AirBnB has put money into data visualisation by creating their own tool called SuperSet which supports 30 kinds of visualisation techniques at the moment alone. But it is expected to grow over time.  Superset itself is also easy to use and is compatible with by programming languages compared to its competitors. This is a huge step forward for AirBnB as it expands its already innovative brand ethos. It also gives other companies something to work towards in terms of creating similar types of software in the future.

Data Visualisation and Open Source software are both an emerging and viable field in Digital Humanities. I found it extremely interesting to find out about certain companies using these software techniques in order to develop their company and its research policies. I also found the idea of people using the software in e-commerce intriguing, as it is often difficult to imagine other uses for Data Visualisation outside of the scholarly world seeing as the majority of the examples that we seen in the lecture environment are usually set in the scholarly world, so it is good to see the real world applications of this kind of software.