Author Archives: Hampton Dodd

Modeling Value in the Anthropocene | Group Update 4.14

This week, the theoretical foundations we’ve tilled throughout the semester and the sprouts of code that we’ve been working to steadily nurture have at last hit a growth spurt – a welcomed sight considering season’s harvest is fast approaching us. Brian, Modeling Value in the Anthropocene’s preeminent vector producer, has worked diligently to develop our code, surmounting the entropy of depreciation and navigating a sequence of potentially-progress-preventing errors. Most recently, in coordination with the GC’s resident Python wizard, Rafa, we’ve managed to tackle a malevolent IndexError, seen below, through a simple excision of futile functions silently lingering within the complexities of our cipher. As far as we can tell, the sailing is smooth from here on out. As is likely evident at this point, writing about coding is a difficult thing to do so, while I apologize for the brief nature of this update, rest assured that value is being modeled in an anthropical manner.

Extending our sphere of mentors to include Rafa has proved to be wildly helpful, as we were provided with additional workshops to assist us through the last leg of our Pythonic journey along with the necessary troubleshooting to overcome our now-disentangled block of code. Despite Rafa’s incredible demanding schedule, presently saturated due to his role as an advisor for the Digital Humanities program, he managed to find time to enthusiastically assess our code, bypass the hindrance that had held up our progress, and provide valuable guidance for the next steps of our modeling of value in the Anthropocene. As we noted in our presentation, if we’ve learned anything from the process of developing this project, it’s been the strength of the support systems available at the GC and the talented folks that populate them.

Over spring break, Brian and I intend on developing our code to some stage of “near-completion” (with the tentative assistance of Leanne on Monday) so that we might finally have a concrete sense of the shape that our final findings might take in order to begin developing elements of the project that are determinant on these results.

In the meantime, our previous group updates have started to be accumulated and restructured into a “blog” of sorts, in order to detail our processes, our difficulties, and our victories for those who seek to work on similar text analysis projects in the future. Additionally, the creation of our digital “Introduction to Bernard Stiegler” document that will detail Stiegler’s thought in an approachable fashion is underway, with both the script and images being constructed and compiled behind the scenes. I’ve attached a few provisional mock-ups that represent the aesthetic direction this production might take.

And lastly, as we’ve noted previously, our Modeling Memory in the Anthropocene project for our Digital Memories class has been approved with production at last set in motion, providing an exciting additional element to our exploration of Stiegler’s work that we look forward to incorporating into Modeling Value in the Anthropocene.

Alright, folks, that’s all from us. We hope everyone has a happy and safe Spring Break and we look forward to seeing everyone’s project flourish in this delightful spring air.

Be well,
H & B

Modeling Value in the Anthropocene – Group Update 4.07

After a quiet week on the Anthropocene front, your two favorite Stieg-heads are back in full swing, progressing once again with our code, analysis of the text, and website design. As noted in our previous group update, our Friday appointment with Digital Fellow word-embedding extraordinaire, Leanne, proved to be wildly fruitful, resolving each of the issues that we had been grappling with during our week of entropy, allowing us a period of solace that we already look fondly back upon as we rush headlong into the wild Pythonic forests that separate us from our final goal; the modeling of value in the Anthropocene. While new coding challenges have presented themselves as we phase into the production of vectors, we’ve preemptively requested a follow-up appointment with Leanne as to continue progressing as negentropically as possible. This follow-up, coupled with our intention to take advantage of Rafa’s office hours this coming week, will inevitably keep our project in motion, allowing for any hiccups encountered until then to be swiftly smoothed over by the great noetic souls extending their knowledge to deliver us from systemic bêtise. Though this portion of the project has taken a great deal of troubleshooting, autodidactic experimentation, and consultation, we remain confident in our work plan and stand in total appreciation of the Digital Humanities community who have mentored us through this process.

Our joint-reading of Bernard Stiegler’s Nanjing Lectures is nearing its dramatic conclusion, with each page ushering us away from the dead-end banality of the Anthropocene, and towards a novel critique of political economy in the pursuit of Neganthropic potentialities. As we work to assess Stiegler’s concept of “value” in our absence of an epoch and in the fresh epoch urgently necessary through neganthropic bifurcation, we continue to grow in our theoretical foundations, allowing for our code to be replete with Stiegler’s philosophical framework and our findings to be meticulously rooted in the text.

As our efforts begin to emerge from their opaque refuge in Jupyter Notebooks as concrete findings drawn from our imminently stellar code, our outreach plan will be set in motion, allowing for scholarly contact to be at last made with more to offer than merely our intentions. As we progress towards this stage, our website will take on a fresh aesthetically-inspired shape as to support such outreach, bolstered by a series of Stiegler-centric illustrations washed in calming, muted-pastel tones. Below are some examples of our logo designs.

In a stroke of luck, Brian and I were recently approved to begin working on an additional Bernard Stiegler project for our Digital Memories course that we’ve chosen to title Modeling Memory in the Anthropocene. Conceived as an exosomatic artifact of noesis, a network graph based on a temporal and synthetic reading of the text, one that appropriates digital technology as a new way of articulating and organizing retentions and protentions (memory and anticipation), this project is exactly the kind of project that Stiegler calls for as part of contributory research based on contributory technologies of memory. It is our intention to include elements of this project within Modeling Value in the Anthropocene, as we feel it could only strengthen our analysis and provide a greater depth of insight for newcomers to Stiegler’s philosophy.

Lastly, following the advice of our professor, Dr. Bret Maney, we’ve decided that the inclusion of a blog detailing our methodologies, our tribulations, and our victories might be a beneficial addition to the final iteration of our website so that other Digital Humanities might see themselves in our process, learn from it, and improve upon it. For our classmates, a majority of this might be redundant but for future students seeking to analyze a philosophical text in a similar fashion to our modeling of value (and memory) in the Anthropocene, it could prove to be a valuable resource.

That’s all from us, folks. We wish troubleshooting code was more fun to write and read about but, hopefully, this update is sufficient and allows everyone some insight as to where we are amidst the Anthropocene.

All the best,
H & B

Modeling Value in the Anthropocene | Group Update – 3.24.22

Hi folks!

Last week, the Modeling Value in the Anthropocene: Contributions to a metacosmics project at last found itself amidst greener pastures after a series of necessary revisions to the project’s scope and a sequence of invaluable consultations with digital humanists who have helped to shine a light on realistic pathways for reaching our goals along with the resources and workshops needed to guide us along the way.

Through our conversations with members of the Graduate Center Digital Fellows and the University of South Carolina’s resident digital writing and computational analysis expert Micheal Gavin, Brian and I have been collaboratively working through Word Embedding tutorials, such as this practical introduction from Connor Gilroy at the University of Washington, and familiarizing ourselves with the learning algorithm we intend on using in the production of our vector representations, GloVe: Global Vectors for Word Representation. This step forward in the development of an answer to our project’s question comes as a result of our successful cleaning and preparation of the corpus. Though we underestimated the complex nature of this process, as well as the fundamental technical skills needed in order to make the necessary tweaks to our text, we’ve managed to extract that which will operate as a groundwork for all future experimentation and analysis. Over the course of the next week, Brian and I intend on diving into our project’s trial period of exploratory vector analysis through the early development of a locally trained word2vec model. As with all stages of our project thus far, this will come with a heavy dose of Python research and development and we will be continuing our frequent Zoom work sessions in order to collaboratively grow, fine-tune, and troubleshoot our model of value in the Anthropocene.

Also on the agenda for this coming week is the continued buildout of our website and the generation of a “press kit” to expedite our outreach objectives. As it’s currently drafted, our website exists largely as a stand-in awaiting our project’s findings but we intend on gradually developing it aesthetically as we progress through this second half of the semester. As for outreach, we are still deliberating over strategies of communication, especially regarding our method of engagement with the Stieglerian scholarly community, and will be providing updates in the weeks to come.

Lastly, Brian and I continue to work through Bernard Stiegler’s Nanjing Lectures as to develop and strengthen the theoretical framework through which we will be viewing our vector analysis. This research has expanded in scope for each of us, coming to include works such as Bifurcate: ‘There is No Alternative’ edited by Stiegler with the Internation Collective, Psychopolitical Anaphylaxis: Steps Towards a Metacosmics by Daniel Ross, and The Thought of Bernard Stiegler: Capitalism, Technology and the Politics of Spirit. Through continued research and interlocution in the coming weeks, Brian and I aim to perpetuate the Stiegler-centric frame of thought we’ve pathologically maintained thus far and commence developing our final product in conjunction with that which is discoverable and visualized through our word2vec analysis.

That’s all for now – we’re looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to!

H&B

Modeling Value in the Anthropocene | Outreach & Social Media Plan

 

Modeling Value in the Anthropocene | Outreach & Social Media Plan

Considering the esoteric nature of Bernard Stiegler’s work in addition to the niche branch of natural language processing that is word embedding, Modeling Value in the Anthropocene intends to engage with scholars from both fields through its unique use of computational tools applied to the world of philosophy. Though our project will likely resonate most with those working closely with the theoretical and technical approaches found in Modeling Value in the Anthropocene, it is our hope that through our findings we are able to capture a broader scope of attention including that of students of philosophy, digital humanist developers and researchers, and recreational readers of theory.

Intended Audience

As noted above, our intended audience is primarily scholars familiar with the work of Bernard Stiegler and students of the digital humanities. However, due to our belief that Stiegler’s work is an invaluable contribution to philosophically navigating the Capitalocene, it is our hope that broader audiences can be reached, given the time, through a variety of “popularized” outreach approaches to be detailed below.

In addition to this, we also intend to reach out to the Internation Collective, which operates as an international body of transdisciplinary researchers concerned with the questions and objectives opened up and pursued by Bernard Stiegler until his passing. As far as we know, there is no one in this group, nor anyone in surrounding orbits who is undertaking these questions and objectives utilizing distant reading methods. We find the work we are engaging with to be important to this potential audience because this kind of research is related to that which Stiegler called for through the utilization of computational tools to generate new knowledges.

Online Presence

For the time being, our online presence will predominantly consist of a website landing page hosted on the CUNY Academic Commons that details our approach, processes, and findings. Ideally, this will also provide some initiatory information giving those who visit our site a brief and digestible introduction to Bernard Stiegler’s philosophy, publications, and biography, along with additional resources for further reading and analysis. This might come to exist as the “NeganthropoZine” detailed below.

If given the time, we also intend on presenting our project as a model and template for other philosophical inquiries explored through word2vec analysis, with the hope of fostering a community of scholars operating similarly across multiple disciplines.

Social Media

Given that this type of project doesn’t lend itself to a conventional social media profile, we intend on reaching out to a variety of popular philosophy and theory YouTube channels (PlasticPills, Epoch Philosophy, etc.), podcasts (Acid Horizon, New Books Network’s New Work in the Digital Humanities, etc.), and blogs (such as Sam Kinsley’s Spatial Machinations) in order to establish a “social network” of contacts with the hope of working in some collaborative capacity to promote both Stiegler’s work and our project’s findings. This could result in anything from participating in a discussion-based podcast episode with other scholars to jointly producing a blog post or article exploring Stiegler’s Nanjing Lectures through the context of our project, opening up unknown but exciting potentials for the breadth of our project’s reach.

Scholarly Engagement

Though the results are impossible to anticipate, we intend on reaching out to Bernard Stiegler’s longtime associate and translator, Daniel Ross, as well as the author of The Thought of Bernard Stiegler: Capitalism, Technology, and the Politics of Spirit, Ross Abbinnett. Each is a leading figure amongst the small collection of English speaking Stieglerian scholars and have been recently willing to participate in modest, up-and-coming podcasts (such as Daniel Ross’s recent appearance on the Life from Plato’s Cave podcast and Ross Abbinnett’s discussion on a Geomedia Karlstad episode in 2019) so we are hopeful that a brief discussion with either of these scholars is not an impossibility. This, of course, comes in conjunction with our aforementioned outreach to the Internation Collective.

Additionally, we plan on contacting Open Humanities Press, the international open access publishing initiative that published many of Stiegler’s works before his passing, to discuss the possibility of submitting our findings as a journal proposal for future development.

Non-Scholarly Engagement

In an effort to breathe life into the typically dry nature of academic text, there is a strong possibility that both Stiegler t-shirts and a “Neganthropocene Zine” will be created to facilitate further outreach. The shirt, likely embellished with a quote and topical digital illustrations, will come equipped with a scannable QR code that acts to quickly link those curious to our project’s landing page. The “NeganthropoZine” will act as a concise, printable pamphlet for those unfamiliar with Bernard Stiegler’s work, allowing key terms and concepts to be elucidated so that those interested in our project are provided a digestible resource detailing its theoretical framework.

 

Contribution Statement

Hampton Dodd graduated from the CUNY School of Professional Studies with a B.A. in Communication and Media studies in 2021. Throughout his time there, he focused primarily on the relationship between technology and power through the theoretical lens of Neo-Marxist and Foucauldian analysis. These influences ultimately culminated in a senior thesis entitled Physiognomy, Facial Recognition Technology, & Biopolitics, which sought to uncover and trace the common genealogical thread of pseudoscientific physiognomic thought from the Age of Enlightenment through the Third Reich and into the emergent webs of facial recognition technologies presently proliferating across the world. Beyond this, his research interests encompass the development and application of technological tools in the advancement of digital cultural criticism, the critical analysis of big data and surveillance capitalism, and labor in the age of automation and the platform economy. Currently, Hampton is developing a collaborative project called Modeling Value in the Anthropocene: Contributions to a metacosmics, a vector semantics analysis of the Nanjing Lectures given by philosopher Bernard Stiegler between 2016 and 2019, alongside project-manager and co-author Brian Millen.

Reflections on the New York City Digital Humanities Kickoff Event, the “Finding, Cultivating, and Sustaining Support for your DH Project” Round-table, and the Manifold Workshop.

As intended, my engagement with NYCDH Week began with the Kickoff Event on February 7th, which allowed some of New York’s most active Digital Humanists (I really should’ve taken down more names, I apologize) to introduce attendees to the theme of support that would pervade the week’s subsequent workshops, lectures, etc. Rooted in the ongoing impact of COVID-19, this commitment of support from the broader Digital Humanities community struck me as particularly salient, not purely because of its obviously apposite application in the wake of a global pandemic that impacted each person in some way, but also due to its relevance to my experience as a first-semester Digital Humanities student navigating the common challenges associated with acclimating oneself to any new academic endeavor. The Kickoff Event and its ensuing roundtable discussion introduced me to the existence of a network of brilliant minds, each in the pursuit of developing unique and innovative digital projects, that I was entirely unaware of prior to entering this program, providing me with a sense of the city’s Digital Humanities community and the potentialities inherent in cultivating relationships and support networks with such a tight-knit web of inspiring folks.

I was especially interested in Jim Groom’s Reclaim Hosting platform, which, in their words, “provides institutions and educations with an easy way to offer students domains and web hosting that they own and control”. Despite the fact that my interest in Groom’s service might be heavily influenced by Reclaim Hosting’s landing page including references to bands such as Mission of Burma and Minutemen, the support provided through this web hosting platform, allowing for both students and educators to “take control of their digital identity,” acts as another appealing example in a long line of Digital Humanists undertaking the project of the democratization of technology. If interested in reading further about the story and motivations of Reclaim Hosting, Jim Groom wrote an interesting blog detailing its history here.

The second NYCDH workshop I attended was hosted by DHUM 70002’s very own, Robin Miller, and detailed the “intuitive, collaborative, open-source publishing platform” that is Manifold. Developed as a novel medium in which academic books can be published online, Manifold allows authors to supplement their work with the traditionally unpublished elements existent beneath the text (“conversations, research, exploration”), providing an opportunity to expand the breadth of each text in an accessible, unbounded, aesthetically-slick digital space. Robin did a fantastic job enthusiastically detailing the scope of Manifold’s capabilities, such that Digital Humanities “freshmen” like myself came away from the workshop with a practical understanding of a program that feels simultaneously approachable and sophisticated. There’s nothing I can say about Manifold that hasn’t already been said more effectively by those involved with its production (i.e., CUNY Graduate Center, the University of Minnesota Press, & Cast Iron Coding) so I encourage everyone to take a look at the provided linked materials, should this application be relevant to your DH pursuits.

 

 

 

Hampton’s Skillset

Hi folks! As was established in class last week, my name is Hampton and I’m entering this Methods & Practices course without having taken the introductory portion, so bear with me as I work to quickly patch up the gaps that will inevitably exist in my DH-friendly skillsets. Consistent with this unorthodox approach to class registration is my academic and professional background. After finding myself unemployed due to the pandemic after years spent in management roles throughout the food and beverage industry, I set to work wrapping up a long-overdue Communications & Media degree and finally graduated this past semester. Throughout my grand return to undergrad, my work primarily focused on surveillance technologies, algorithmic accountability, and general “Big Tech” criticism, with each typically explored through the theoretical lens of neo-Marxist thought associated with the Frankfurt School and its contemporary Digital Age derivatives (e.g., my capstone project was titled Physiognomy, Facial Recognition Technologies, and Biopower). It is through the amalgamation of these interests that I came across the Digital Humanities field and though I don’t have a hyper-focused project of my own to pitch at this point, I’m ecstatic to begin work on one of the many excellent pitches I’m seeing here on the Commons.

Project Management: Though my history of project management has been confined to such environments as coffee roasting operations and restaurants, I’m fairly confident in the transferability of this skill into an academic setting. While I would assume the person who pitches the project would prefer to take on this role, I’d be happy to do so in the event that they would rather focus on research, design, etc. That said, I recognize that my inexperience in all things Digital Humanities has the potential to cause some hiccups here.

Design/UX: One of my main hopes in joining the Digital Humanities program was to acquire a technical skillset that would allow me to contribute to projects in this way but seeing as it has only been two weeks, I, unfortunately, have little to offer here. Though it may be irrelevant, I’m a decent digital artist and have used my illustrations for research projects in the past.

Outreach/Social Media: I haven’t been on social media in almost 4 years and am not wildly eager to return. But, for the sake of the project, I’ll take this role on if need be.

Documentation | Research & Writing: I chose to lump these two skills together because I feel equally prepared and thrilled to take on roles relating to either. Even outside of an academic setting, I’m a massive sitting-in-silence-reading-and-taking-notes enthusiast so I feel as if, at this point in my fledgling DH career, this is the area in which I could offer the most.