Yutzu

Yutzu.com is a python/django multimedia system for the creative mind. Yutzu’s mission is to provide the creative class with a powerful tool to collaborate online by making available a simple way to harness the power of the web 2.0. Yutzu is based on the creation of topics, windows that are composed of tabs for descriptions, wikipedia entries, pictures, videos, links, attachments, and others to come soon. The user is able to determine the status of the topics (private, public, collaborative) as well as the status of any administrators or collaborators for specific topics. Yutzu offers...

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Sylva. A Flexible Database System for the Humanities

Recent research in the field of Digital Humanities has identified several common patterns in how information is related. We have observed that topics are connected by a net of relationships that can be seen as a complex network. Complex networks, or graphs, are mathematical concepts with a group of properties that allow a deep analysis of the links between the different objects of the studied environment. Sylva is a tool developed within the CulturePlex Laboratory in order to manage complexity in a straightforward manner and allow the researcher to share the results with other colleagues....

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The Hispanic Baroque

The project, “The Hispanic Baroque: Complexity in the first Atlantic culture”, is the fruit of efforts of a group of 35 researchers from universities in different countries (Canada, Spain, Mexico, Australia, England, Bolivia and the United States) from different disciplines (Literary Studies, History, Sociology, Fine Art, Music & Musicology, Anthropology, Geography, Computer Science, Architecture & Mathematics). Over the next seven years, the team will study the origin, evolution, transmission and effectiveness of the baroque patterns of behaviour and representation in the Hispanic world. The...

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In the CulturePlex Lab at Western U.
We do research on cultural complexity and actively practice digital humanities

Doing research on cultural complexity means: analyzing the same phenomena at several scales (from the individual's to the network's, over long periods of time and across cultural borders), employing a multidisciplinary approach that brings together the best of the humanities and sciences, and taking advantage of the available computing power to tackle large human problems related to culture.

Why is this important? Because as globalization speeds up more people, cultural objects, ideas, and values move from their original sites and travel to distant places. These moves are associated with the emergence of individual and collective behaviors that are difficult to understand and trace, but have a huge impact on how cultures reorganize and how social groups interact with each other.

And the digital humanities? The digital humanities seek to harmonize the social and technological revolution of the Internet with the traditional preoccupation of the humanities for human and cultural problems as they happen at the scale of the human being.

We build and adapt the computer tools needed to enhance our analysis and offer the best visualization of the most complex cultural processes: agent-based modeling, topic maps, databases, and natural language processing are some of these tools. 

The problems we tackle range from tracking the origin and spread of baroque culture, to using computers to facilitate second-language learning, to developing new ways to catalogue digital objects and preserve our global heritages, to creating powerful software systems that make possible to manage creative and humanistic content in the web 2.0.

The CulturePlex has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (LOF), the Government of Ontario, and Western U. Some of our projects enjoy the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

If you want to know more about our people or our projects, drop us a line at contact@cultureplex.ca


Cultural Networks
Cultures on the Move

A cultural network is formed by edges and nodes. These nodes represent cultural objects and phenomena as well as people. It is through these objects that people get connected in a cultural network. The edges are semantically loaded. The semantic content of the edges depends on the description of the object (the ontology), the context in which the object is described, the geotemporal area in which the object acquires its meanings, and the communities that use the cultural object.
 
Cultural netwoks are very powerful tools to represent culture at different scales. They allow to track the moves and transformations of cultural phenomena as they travel in time and space, but they also permit to dig in the depth of the object itself. This range of possibilities make of cultural networks an indispensable resource to study cultures at a global scale while keeping the small lens that focuses on the intrinsic condition of the objects as they are used by individuals and societies.

In the CulturePlex Lab, we use cultural networks as means of analysis and representation of cultural dynamics. The qualitative analysis of the disciplines involved with particular objects gets combined with network analysis, complex systems concepts, and agent-based modeling to provide a complete picture of the phenomena under study. These are the three basic steps towards building a cultural network:

  • 01.
    Create the ontology of the cultural object or phenomenon you want to study.
  • 02.
    Model the network of relevant relations that bring the object to its cultural life.
  • 03.
    Track the information embedded in the object and its network, record the changes that undergoes in each cultural area, and analyze the way human behavior is affected.


Digital Humanities

The Humanities of the 21st Century

As technologies for collecting and transmitting knowledge are rapidly changing, so is the humanist’s public responsibility to maintain links with our past, to create communal forms of knowledge, and to interpret information meaningfully for the public. In this regard the twenty-first-century Humanities need to develop in two ways different from the modes of textual criticism that dominated humanistic practice in the second half of the twentieth century.

First, the Humanities need to adopt a methodology aimed at creating knowledge of complex cultural problems that affect human experience on a global as well as communal levels. Second, in order to maintain continuity with their recent past, the Humanities need to develop digitized methods for the analysis of information in multiple formats such as databases, textual corpora, dynamic media timelines, and multimedia objects. These techniques would maintain the traditional components of humanist textual criticism, but would expand and enhance this criticism’s centrally interpretive approach and value through a diverse set of information sources and formats and especially new skills.

Before digital literacy becomes a reality it is necessary to promote the digital coming of age of an interim generation who need to start from their present contexts and methods of research but who could become digital humanists by using data close to these original areas. What is required is a technological naturalization – going native with technology and digitation – by means of creating Digital Humanities projects in research and teaching that are based on these local areas and continue propagating new paradigms as well as generating literacy among their related groups and generations. Ideally this process will also employ traditional methodologies in a scenario that allows humanists to assess their own research needs and take control of designing the Humanities’ future paths.

 

  • 01.
    The Digital Humanities first focus on improving digital literacy.
  • 02.
    The Digital Humanities foster multi-disciplinary and multi-platform environments for teaching and research.
  • 03.
    The Digital Humanities develop the methods and tools to tackle large-scale problems of culture.