Distant reading a conference

Conference hashtags via TAGSExplorer
Conference hashtags via TAGSExplorer

Last week I volunteered to chair some sessions for the MIX: Writing Digital conference at Bath Spa University. The conference brought together a wonderful and eclectic mix of creative digital writing and trans-media publishing projects. As perhaps the only literary-critical scholar at the conference (and an eighteenth-centurist to boot), I was on the borders of a lot of the discussions taking place – enjoyable and intriguing though they were. It was perhaps this that led me to play around with my engagement with the conference. So below are some visualisations of the conference programme – in this case the programme also included bios of the delegates and abstracts of the presentations, so it’s reasonably representative of the conference’s themes . The first is a word-frequency analysis of the conference programme using Voyant Cirrus, but with some of the obvious large-frequency words  – like ‘University’ ‘Writing’ and ‘Digital’ – edited out, a move that I think brings out some of the finer detail of the conference’s themes.

MIX03-prog-voyant

Similarly, when the words were visualised as a network (this via Textexture) one can follow connections between themes. A suprising ‘reading’ of the conference programme was produced when I submitted it to the Scientific Music Generator (with its self-deprecating acronymn, SMUG) to generate a 2-minute song. This is perhaps the most radical ‘deformation’ of the programme (a term borrowed from Mark Sample’s ‘Towards a Deformed Humanities‘): while some of the lyrics are nonsense,  I was particularly struck by this wonderfully suggestive verse:

that game technology in-in-incantations experiences will
my-my-my voices for oversharing, and these moved at submissions ways space
ooh author, adaptations
open other working, includes that author

Finally, since I love tweeting during conferences, I put the conference hashtag through Mark Hawksey’s TAGS to produce a visualisation of the conference tweets (see above for the screen grab).

Given so many of the projects and writings discussed during the conference were thinking through the possibilities offered by asychronous engagements with text, it seemed apposite that this kind of playing around with various analysers offered another way of engaging with the various texts of conference.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s