The project, based at the University of Pittsburgh, seeks to advance critical understanding of where data comes from and how it is used, setting the present moment within a century-long history of information supply and its power-laden consequences. We trace the interlinked processes through which the creation of data (and its absence) has played out both within society as a whole, and within the academic disciplines to which we turn for our understandings of societies, cultures, and individuals. How are information sources generated, to what end, and with what results for our collective ability to see—or to ignore? This in an inquiry into the social and political life of data, both within the academy and in the wider world.
Jane Rohrer edited the post Augmented Reality as a New Reality: How AR is Changing Monuments, Memorials, and Information Retrieval in the group Information Ecosystems: on Humanities Commons 1 week, 3 days ago
When you read the phrase “Augmented Reality,” your mind might turn to something like Pokémon GO or the popular running app, Zombies, Run! In both cases, the user experiences a game that, while based in a real-world environment, includes computer-generated perceptual information—most typically visuals and sounds, but including haptic modali…[Read more]
Jane Rohrer edited the post Racism, Algorithms, and Blackness in Medicine: A Reading List for Black History Month During a Pandemic in the group Information Ecosystems: on Humanities Commons 2 weeks, 1 day ago
Happy Black History Month! The Seminar does not have any scheduled guests or podcasts so far this month, and so an opportunity arises to highlight voices & publications beyond our venerable (& growing!) list of participants. During this strange & stressful February, I wanted to make space, as SE (Shack) Hackney did last year, within Information…[Read more]
On Friday, December 4, The University of Pittsburgh’s Mellon-Sawyer Seminar Information Ecosystems: Creating Data (and Absence) from the Quantitative to the Digital Age was joined by Bill Rankin, an Associate Professor of the History of Science at Yale University. Professor Rankin’s research focuses on the relationship between science and map…[Read more]
After a half-year intermission, on Friday, Nov. 13, the University of Pittsburgh’s Mellon-Sawyer Seminar Information Ecosystems: Creating Data (and Absence) from the Quantitative to the Digital Age welcomed Melissa L. Finucane, senior social and behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation in Pittsburgh. With a portfolio of work that includes s…[Read more]
On November 1, Dr. Richard Marciano, a professor at the University of Maryland, asked Sawyer Seminar participants, “If you were on an academic desert island, what data would you bring with you?” After hea […]
For readers today, there is a wealth of information available about any given work they read, from its date of publication, its author’s biographical information, its genre, details about any previous e […]
Safiya Umoja Noble, known for her best-selling book, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, as well as her scholarship in Information Studies and African American studies at UCLA, visited Pitt the week of January 24. She spoke with participants in the Sawyer Seminar, gave a public talk and spoke with me in an interview for…[Read more]
Briana Wipf edited the post Challenges of metadata and future of digital humanities curriculum on the table with Ted Underwood in the group Information Ecosystems: on Humanities Commons 9 months, 2 weeks ago
Ted Underwood has been poking around in the massive HathiTrust database for a few years now, and it’s taught him that libraries are anything but uniform.
Briana Wipf edited the post Are services like Uber and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Ethical? Sawyer Seminar turns to automation, future of work in the group Information Ecosystems: on Humanities Commons 9 months, 2 weeks ago
The University of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Sawyer Seminar, Information Ecosystems, turned its attention to automation and artificial intelligence on Friday, Oct. 25, when the seminar’s postdoctoral fellow Mario Khreiche presented his research related to the future of work in an age of increasing automation.
Khreiche can be described as nei…[Read more]
Sandra González-Bailón began her presentation to the faculty and student participants of the University of Pittsburgh’s Information Ecosystems Sawyer Seminar on Friday, Dec. 6, by discussing one of the first sociology classes she took as an undergraduate in the late 1990s. She recalled learning about the debate between two early sociologists, Gab…[Read more]
Briana Wipf edited the post Jo Guldi’s work studies historical infrastructure; in her digital humanities work, she builds it in the group Information Ecosystems: on Humanities Commons 9 months, 2 weeks ago
Jo Guldi’s first book, Roads to Power: Britain Invents the Infrastructure State, argues that Britain became an “infrastructure state” during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a period which saw an explosion in construction of roads, along with the accompanying surveying, management, and surveillance of that construction. Guldi’s work of…[Read more]
What is truth? How do people reach conclusions and evaluate facts? What counts as knowledge, and how do we know?
Hold up before you give up on this post, which I realize might seem to be getting into the type of heady esotericism humanists are sometimes criticized for.
For Edouard Machery, director of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the…[Read more]
Briana Wipf edited the post Self-perpetuating data and “guided serendipity”: Colin Allen’s reflection on Charles Darwin, topic modeling, and Margaret Floy Washburn in the group Information Ecosystems: on Humanities Commons 9 months, 2 weeks ago
In his computational work, Colin Allen, distinguished professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, embraces the fact that the textual data he uses in his computational work often depends not on his choices, but on someone else’s. Data does not emerge, fully formed, for him and his colleagues t…[Read more]
Erin O'Rourke edited the post Open Data and data infrastructure across disciplines in the group Information Ecosystems: on Humanities Commons 9 months, 2 weeks ago
On November 15th, Dr. Sabina Leonelli spoke to the participants of the Sawyer Seminar. As a historian and philosopher of science, she is currently the Co-Director of the Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences and has recently worked on a five-year grant about data access, openness, and infrastructure entitled The Epistemology of…[Read more]
While all of the Sawyer Seminar speakers so far have been scholars or users of information ecosystems, Matt Lincoln is potentially unique in coding them. His Ph.D. in Art History, time as a data research specialist at the Getty Research Institute, and most recently, work as a research software engineer at Carnegie Mellon University have given him…[Read more]
On March 6, Lyneise Williams, Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spoke with the Seminar about her work at the crossroads of computational archive science, art history, and material studies. Dr. Williams’ work involves analyzing visual representations of race; her book, Latin Blackness in Parisian Visual C…[Read more]
Colin Allen, distinguished professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, is both an invited speaker and an ongoing participant in our Seminar; on February 28th, Dr. Allen talked with his fellow participants about his work in what he (and others) call “data pipelines.” Broadly speaking, using dat…[Read more]
Who lets math organize their life?
“…technical practices in mathematics and philosophy in turn offered important tools for cultivating truer forms of spiritual and mental nobility. These practices enabled mat…
Happy Black History Month! (originally published February 2020)
by S.E. Hackney
On Thursday, January 23rd, Dr. Safiya Noble spoke to an overflowing room of students, faculty, and community members about her best-selling book Algorithms of Oppression. The thesis of the book, and of Dr. Noble’s talk, is that not only racism is actually b…[Read more]
The Sawyer Seminar’s November 15 guest was Dr. Sabina Leonelli. Dr. Leonelli teaches Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Exeter, where she is also the co-director of the Egenis Centre for the Study of Life Sciences. Her book Data-Centric Biology: A Philosophical Study, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016. S…[Read more]
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