This blog is an experiment in productive procrastination. In September 2014, I commenced a PhD in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I have a ‘topic’ at this stage, the general idea is to employ some novel data analysis and visualisation techniques to explore the nature of public discourse. In less fancy terms, I expect to be analysing large quantities of text from the web in an attempt to learn something useful about how information moves around and how people engage with it. I also expect to be oscillating between various states of excitement, confusion, inspiration and existential despair. That’s where this blog comes in.
The hope is that my research will benefit from me having a forum in which to
vent my frustr air my ideas and share what I am doing. Not that I intend to stick only to things relating to my PhD. If my curiosity takes me down other roads, I’ll blog about them too. Basically, I am interested in any kind of analysis or visualisation technique that helps us to see things in another way.
This is actually my second blog. My first one is called There once was a creek, and it explores the environmental history of the neighbourhood in which I used to live. Among other things, that site features some novel visualisations of historical environmental features, which I created by manipulating old maps and importing them into Google Earth. That site was meant to progress logically towards a pre-defined goal, but has to some extent degenerated into an ongoing series of distractions. To avoid repeating that mistake, I have designed this blog to cut straight to the distractions right from the outset. If some kind of coherence begins to emerge from the chaos, then so be it. That’s okay too.