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Bocconi infosfera


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digital humanities: media ecology and information

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Bocconi infosfera

  1. 1. Digital Humanities - Bocconi 2016 - Luca De Biase Media ecology How to be human in the info-sphere
  2. 2. Content ❖ Facebook, Whatsapp, Google Maps are now basic tools for the daily life. A smartphone that is going out of charge makes people feel uneasy. Humans live connected by digital tools in an infosphere that is defined by digital media.But what do we know about the media ecology that is emerging? The media frame the vision that shapes any decision making. ❖ Questions emerge: is the growing complexity of the media affecting human ability to learn, think, decide, live together? Are the media limiting or empowering societies? Is there such a thing as a “collective intelligence”? What are “big data” and the “internet of things” going to do to the economy? How is changing the role of newspapers in this environment? Algorythms and robots are going to take over intellectual jobs? How can people make the most of the digital opportunity? ❖ In a knowledge economy the debate is growing: the course is designed to discuss and share a critical approach to the matter, by refusing any banalizing hype as well as any depressive prejudice: innovation is a process, it is not a given. Students will actively participate to the discussion. No special technical skills are required. Suggested readings will help the discussion. Of course, it is not mandatory to read them all, and particularly so books by the teacher. Some information about the teacher (both in English and Italian) can be found at:
  3. 3. Digital Humanities - Bocconi 2016 - Luca De Biase The info-sphere “Frequently the messages have meaning”. Claude Shannon
  4. 4. We live in a new kind of environment
  5. 5. An environment that is enriched with information
  6. 6. ❖ DIGITALLY RECORDED KNOWLEDGE: ❖ 2000: 25% ———> 2013: 98% ❖ In 2013, 98% of information recorded by humans was in digital format; in the year 2000 it was 25% - Martin Hilbert, quoted by Victor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier in BIG DATA 2013
  7. 7. And we use new tools that are now part of our body
  8. 8. ❖ The Supreme Court has decided that the phone is part of human anatomy
  9. 9. Is it all making us better informed citizens?
  10. 10. It is not about the change in the media
  11. 11. It is about the change in ourselves
  12. 12. What’s the consequence of: ❖ Digitalization of the media? ❖ Media that are an environment? ❖ Media that change our body and ourselves?
  13. 13. It all starts with the notion of “information”
  14. 14. Information ❖ Information has a history. Digital information theory starts in 1948. And it changed a lot of our lives. At present, a sort of info-sphere is our new environment: a digital ecosystem in which we both live and learn. There are consequences that we should think more about. ❖ Luciano Floridi, Information. A very short introduction, 2010 ❖ Paolo Vidali e Federico Neresini, Il valore dell’incertezza, Mimesis 2015 ❖ James Gleick, The information, 2012 ❖ Claude Shannon, A mathematical theory of communication, 1948 http:// %20Communication.pdf
  15. 15. A Mathematical Theory of Communication By C. E. SHANNON ❖ «The fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point. ❖ Frequently the messages have meaning; that is they refer to or are correlated according to some system with certain physical or conceptual entities. These semantic aspects of communication are irrelevant to the engineering problem. ❖ The significant aspect is that the actual message is one selected from a set of possible messages. The system must be designed to operate for each possible selection, not just the one which will actually be chosen since this is unknown at the time of design.»
  16. 16. BIT: unit of information ❖ Information is a reduction of uncertainty. Information is associated to the message, it is not the message ❖ In a situation in which it is possible to have more than one message, there is uncertainty. ❖ Information is then linked to that one message that arrives and reduces uncertainty
  17. 17. BIT: unit of information ❖ “Information is a measure of the freedom of choice that we have when we choose a message. If the situation is very simple, if we only have to choose between two alternatives, then we say that the information coming from this kind of situation is a unit of information” - This is the bit
  18. 18. Information: a flood ❖ Acclaimed science writer James Gleick presents an eye-opening vision of how our relationship to information has transformed the very nature of human consciousness. A fascinating intellectual journey through the history of communication and information, from the language of Africa’s talking drums to the invention of written alphabets; from the electronic transmission of code to the origins of information theory, into the new information age and the current deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs. Along the way, Gleick profiles key innovators, including Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Samuel Morse, and Claude Shannon, and reveals how our understanding of information is transforming not only how we look at the world, but how we live.
  19. 19. Information: a flood ❖ Humans have come a long way from developing the first oral language that allowed them to structure and share thoughts. We moved on to writing things down, publishing them, sending them along wires and encoding them into computer switches. The direction has been one of increasing fidelity and certainty, but the process of creating language, writing and the modern programming, network infrastructure and devices that make our computerised world has not been straightforward ❖ 2012/nov/22/the-information-james- gleick-review
  20. 20. Luciano Floridi History of information ❖ We live an information-soaked existence - information pours into our lives through television, radio, books, and of course, the Internet. Some say we suffer from 'infoglut'. But what is information? The concept of 'information' is a profound one, rooted in mathematics, central to whole branches of science, yet with implications on every aspect of our everyday lives: DNA provides the information to create us; we learn through the information fed to us; we relate to each other through information transfer - gossip, lectures, reading. Information is not only a mathematically powerful concept, but its critical role in society raises wider ethical issues: who owns information? Who controls its dissemination? Who has access to information? Luciano Floridi, a philosopher of information, cuts across many subjects, from a brief look at the mathematical roots of information - its definition and measurement in 'bits'- to its role in genetics (we are information), and its social meaning and value. He ends by considering the ethics of information, including issues of ownership, privacy, and accessibility; copyright and open source. For those unfamiliar with its precise meaning and wide applicability as a philosophical concept, 'information' may seem a bland or mundane topic. Those who have studied some science or philosophy or sociology will already be aware of its centrality and richness. But for all readers, whether from the humanities or sciences, Floridi gives a fascinating and inspirational introduction to this most fundamental of ideas. ❖
  21. 21. Luciano Floridi Philosophy of information ❖ Luciano Floridi presents a book that will set the agenda for the philosophy of information. PI is the philosophical field concerned with (1) the critical investigation of the conceptual nature and basic principles of information, including its dynamics, utilisation, and sciences, and (2) the elaboration and application of information- theoretic and computational methodologies to philosophical problems. This book lays down, for the first time, the conceptual foundations for this new area of research. It does so systematically, by pursuing three goals. Its metatheoretical goal is to describe what the philosophy of information is, its problems, approaches, and methods. Its introductory goal is to help the reader to gain a better grasp of the complex and multifarious nature of the various concepts and phenomena related to information. Its analytic goal is to answer several key theoretical questions of great philosophical interest, arising from the investigation of semantic information. ❖ ❖ If you have time watch Luciano Floridi at TED
  22. 22. Information changes the environment…
  23. 23. …and the way we are…
  24. 24. …and the way we will be
  25. 25. Infosphere ❖ We live in an environment enriched by data, using prosthetics that connect us to it and everybody else ❖ Media and the environment are blurring ❖ Media and the body are blurring
  26. 26. prehistory history hyperhistory
  27. 27. prehistory history hyperhistory prehistory
  28. 28. prehistory history hyperhistory history
  29. 29. historyprehistory resources are scarce: humans choose what to write and that must be important writing makes the difference
  30. 30. but what happens when we write everything?
  31. 31. Hyperhistory ❖ Every single human act is registered (important or not; new idea of importance is ex post)
  32. 32. Hyperhistory ❖ Every single human act is registered (important or not; new idea of importance is ex post) ❖ Floridi thinks that it is an ICT dependent age https:// files/Contribution_Floridi.pdf
  33. 33. Hyperhistory ❖ Every single human act is registered (important or not; new idea of importance is ex post) ❖ Floridi thinks that it is an ICT dependent age ❖ Martin Hilbert, as we have seen, shows that 98% of registered knowledge in 2013 is in some digital memory (it was 25% in 2000) - future-media/phd-student-calculates-how-much- information-world
  34. 34. Hyperhistory ❖ If everything is written… ❖ … power shifts from deciding what to write… ❖ …to writing the algorithms that manage information
  35. 35. Hyperhistory ❖ The problem is now: ❖ which platform controls the information flow? ❖ and what are its algorithms and its interests?
  36. 36. Hyperhistory ❖ PLATFORMS CAN BE: ❖ open, commons and neutral ❖ proprietary and non interoperable ❖ ALGORITHMS CAN BE: ❖ known to all ❖ unknown to most ❖ BUT THE NEW WRITING IS WRITING ALGORITHMS
  37. 37. Freedom is not about what we can do: it only starts with what we know
  38. 38. Info-sphere changes humanities and ecology
  39. 39. Digital humanities scholars use computational methods either to answer existing research questions or to challenge existing theoretical paradigms, generating new questions and pioneering new approaches. Traditional goal was to systematically integrate computer technology into the activities of humanities scholars,[10] as is done in contemporary empirical social sciences. Such technology-based activities might include incorporation into the traditional arts and humanities disciplines use of text-analytic techniques; commons-based peer collaboration; and interactive games and multimedia. (Wikipedia) The new concept of digital humanities is different. We don’t think at digital as something that happens in the future. We think at humanity as it is now in a digital environment. Digital Humanities
  40. 40. ANNE BURDICK JOHANNA DRUCKER PETER LUNENFELD TODD PRESNER JEFFREY SCHNAPP 9780262018470_Open_Access_Edition.pdf Digital Humanities
  41. 41. ❖ WE LIVE in one of those rare moments of opportunity for the humanities, not unlike other great eras of cultural-historical transformation such as the shift from the scroll to the codex, the invention of moveable type, the encounter with the New World, and the Industrial Revolution. Ours is an era in which the humanities have the potential to play a vastly expanded creative role in public life.The present volume puts itself forward in support of a Digital Humanities that asks what it means to be a human being in the networked information age and to participate in fluid communities of practice, asking and answering research questions that cannot be reduced to a single genre, medium, discipline, or institution. Digital Humanities represents a major expansion of the purview of the humanities, precisely because it brings the values, representational and interpretive practices, meaning-making strategies, complexities, and ambiguities of being human into every realm of experience and knowledge of the world. It is a global, trans-historical, and transmedia approach to knowledge and meaning- making. ❖ Yet there remains a chorus of contemporary voices bewailing yet another “definitive” crisis in humanistic culture, yet another sacrifice of quality on the altar of “mere” quantity. Our response is not just a counterargument in favor of new convergences between quality and quantity, but also one in favor of a model of culture embodied by this book itself. We do not think the humanities are in perpetual crisis or imperiled by another battle for legitimacy with the sciences. Instead, we see this moment as marking a fundamental shift in the perception of the core creative activities of being human, in which the values and knowledge of the humanities are seen as crucial for shaping every domain of culture and society.
  42. 42. Matthew Gold, Debates in the digital humanities: Digital Humanities News at King’s College: Center for Digital Liberal Arts, Occidental College, Los Angeles: Digital Humanities
  43. 43. Media ecology theory centers on the principles that technology not only profoundly influences society, it also controls virtually all walks of life; it is a study of how media and communication processes affect human perception and understanding. Ecology in this context refers to the environment in which the medium is used - what they are and how they affect society. The theoretical concepts were proposed by Marshall McLuhan in 1964, while the term media ecology was first formally introduced by Neil Postman in 1968. (Wikipedia) Media ecology
  44. 44. Assumptions of the theory: 1. Media is infused in every act and action in society. 2. Media fixes our perceptions and organizes our experiences. 3. Media ties the world together. Marshall McLuhan used the phrase Global village to describe that "humans can no longer live in isolation, but rather will always be connected by continuous and instantaneous electronic media". This global village let mankind step into a new "information age" in which human communication is "growing so fast as to be in fact immeasurable,” (Wikipedia) Media ecology
  45. 45. How do we think? ❖ If we live in an info-sphere and if we are changed by our tools, we need a new mindset to decide ❖ A mindset that makes us able to live through a fast and complex history ❖ The new way of thinking is a new way of linking the “now” and the “future”