MDST 3703 F10 Seminar 13


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  • What are some qualities of this form?
  • Mayan art expressed a different symbolic form – one that mixed realism with a cosmic, temporal frame
  • Realism was a possibility …
  • SEGUE: Unpacking these images, we find a world
  • How does this help us understand symbolic forms?
  • If
  • Are all outcomes equal?
    We are back at the Library of Babel … Looking for meaning in a deconstructed world
  • The sense of an ending …
  • What if Frodo kills Gollum?
  • Are all versions of the story the same?
    Tragedy and Comedy
  • Tragedy and Comedy are different modes of narrative resolution
  • Where is the algorithm here?
  • It’s all about the interface
  • MDST 3703 F10 Seminar 13

    1. 1. Seminar 13 Database as Symbolic Form Introduction to the Digital Liberal Arts MDST 3703 / 7703 Fall 2010
    2. 2. Business • Next week is the last studio session • Find exam will be a take home reflective essay on your project from the perspective of the ideas presented in seminar
    3. 3. Review • ManyEyes – use Gmail address …
    4. 4. Overview • Today we explore Lev Manovich’s thesis that the database is the defining symbolic form of our time • We explore the argument itself and the impact on how we view digital scholarship • Manovich’s piece is intended as a concluding framework for this course – a way to integrate all of the ideas we have discussed so far …
    5. 5. What is a symbolic form?
    6. 6. A symbolic form is a schema or cognitive frame that links the social, psychological, and technical practices of a culture. Symbolic forms internalize and express worldview. For example, the idea of perspective in the Renaissance
    7. 7. Linear perspective A mathematical system for creating the illusion of space and distance on a flat surface. The system originated in Florence, Italy in the early 1400s.
    8. 8.
    9. 9. Flagellation, Piero della Francesca, c. 1448-49
    10. 10. axionometric view
    11. 11. reconstructed plan and elevation
    12. 12. Demonstration of internal light source in Flagellation by Piero della Francesca
    13. 13. What kind of worldview is expressed by linear perspective?
    14. 14. Rational Individualism Rational • Use of geometry • Mathesis regulating graphesis Individual • Paintings are literally from an individual’s point of view Vitruvian Man, da Vinci, circa 1487
    15. 15. Yaxchilan lintel 24 The lintel depicts an actual blood-letting rite that took place on 26 October 709. King Shield Jaguar is shown holding a torch as Queen Lady Xoc draws a barbed rope through her pierced tongue. The surrounding text locates the event within the Mayan calendar system.
    16. 16. Muslin painting of Battle of Little Big Horn done by Dakota artist, Kicking Bear, circa 1896. 1026.G.1. From the Irvin S. Cobb Collection (Southwest Museum of the American Indian, Autry National Center)
    17. 17. Montage Using the surface to express larger contexts Guernica, again …
    18. 18. So, how can a database be a symbolic form?
    19. 19. Semiotics (Structuralism) • Paradigm and Syntagm – Paradigm = rules and elements (the Code) – Syntagm = actual expressions of the code • For example, Language – (Deep) Grammar = Paradigm = Rules – Spoken/written sentences = Syntagm = Results • All cultural forms are performances of cultural logic – Part of the human repertroire
    20. 20. Syntagm and Paradigm PARADIGM SYNTAGM Rules Structure Synchronic Parallel Finite Results Event Diachronic Linear Infinite
    21. 21. Semiotics of Symbolic Forms SYMBOLIC FORM PARADIGM SYNTAGM WORLDVIEW Linear Perspective Backgrounded Fixed snapshot of a single event Individual Traditional Narrative Backgrounded Fixed sequence of many events Montage Projected onto syntagm Collocation of many events Social Database Foregrounded Dynamic, ephemeral result of interaction
    22. 22. Database as Symbolic Form Formal characteristics • The List • Order does not matter • All records functionally equal • Organized by Categories – expressive of a data model
    23. 23. Database as Symbolic Form Effects • Exposes the paradigmatic level that is normally hidden • Make the syntagmatic level ephemeral, where normall it is fixed and dominant
    24. 24. ? ? ?paradigm syntagm
    25. 25. Civilization IV The “Civilopedia” governs play The “board” is the interface to the database
    26. 26. Would Dante today spend his time creating a database of Classic Greece, Rome, and Christendom?
    27. 27. Tragedy and Comedy different modes of narrat resolut
    28. 28. Narrative • Narratives oppose database logic – Order matters – There is a “sense of an ending” • The “database” is internal, unexposed – In the head of the author • The result of an internal algorithm – The author’s in the act of writing
    29. 29. This conflict exposes the idea of the algorithm (The “rationalization effect” again)
    30. 30. A flowchart expresses a kind of algorithm
    31. 31. Algorithm • Connects narrative to database, syntagm to paradigm – A set of procedures for working with a set of data • Can be interactive … Syntagm Paradigm Algorithm
    32. 32. Whither Scholarship?
    33. 33. Synthesis Sources Scholarship
    34. 34. “creating a work in new media digital scholarship can be understood as the construction of an interface to a database”
    35. 35. WordPress • Where is the syntagmatic level? • Where is the paradigmatic level? • Does the interface afford scholarly interaction?