It's becoming more popular for academics to expose their (usually private) musings to the outside world.

While this predominantly remains my website for my film work (especially the film, "The Theory of Happiness") I realized that for an occasional visitor, it may be interesting to glance at what I'm doing as part of my PhD program at the University of British Columbia.

Thus, under this tab, nicknamed "academia," I will occasionally post papers I'm working on, various "fun" graphs, or other content relevant to my academic work. I also hope to resuscitate several old publications, making them accessible online for you to view, to comment on, and possibly, to be amused by.

Homage to Latour: Reassembling the Social

This is a graph I created using  gephian open graph visualization software,  made interactive with thinglink. It was inspired by this blog, which has created a Wikipedia-based graph on the history of philosophy.


These are semantic connections, connecting (mostly) the way Wikipedia users evaluated a philosopher’s influences, and his or her influence over others. I ran an internet protocol that gathers the meta-data of each thinker, and compiled about 300 entries into Excel. 
In anthropology, there were no such connections on Wikipedia, thus, I compiled them by hand, based predominantly on recent readings that I did for a theory course. 
  • For example, Geertz’ doctoral students were Paul Rabinow and Sherry Ortner.
Then, I imported the data into Gephi, a graphic visualization software that analyzes networks and complex systems, and assigns dynamic hierarchies based on any given data set.

I used two algorithms to map out the layout:
  • The Fruchterman-Reingold algorithm, which considers force between nodes, and
  • The Force Atlas algorithm, which is a qualitative algorithm assigning values to “hubs”(which function as directories) and “authorities” (which provide content)
Each "node" represents a philosopher. The bigger the node, the larger the sphere of influence. Each edge (or a line) represents how far this influence extends. 

Metrics: If the edge is long, the influence is tenuous, and thus, the two nodes are only peripherally connected. If an edge is short, the influence is either mutual, or influenced by other philosophers around the same node. 

The colour of each node represents the modality, or the frequency of the influence of a philosopher in relation to others. Each CLUSTER OF NODES REPRESENTS A COMMUNITY!
  • This is the most fascinating aspect of the graph. The graphing software chose 10 modalities, and each represents a particular school of thought. This is imprecise, because of the small sample size, and imprecise connections. 

Check it out:
  • Mostly purple we get the Modern Philosophers 
  • Mostly red, we get Continental philosophy 
  • Much of aqua-marine/teal is devoted to Marxists 
  • Poststructuralists are Green
  • Social scientists influenced by psychoanalysis are Blue 
  • Yellow are social scientists espousing a “soft Marxism" 
  • Anthropologists are at the Top
  • And, with some imprecision, top left are Feminist philosophers and anthropologists are in the top left corner, largely because of their reaction to Clifford and Marcus' "Writing Culture."




Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association meeting

Philadelphia (2009)