Sunday, February 25, 2007

Social Networks of Video Editors on LiveJournal

A few months ago, I did a talk at IBM Research in Cambridge on video (or "vid") editors and their online and offline communities. I made a few social network images, which I thought would be interesting to folks here, and I know I have readers on LiveJournal.

The basic gist of the talk was that hobbiest television fan music video editors existed long before YouTube and their history and organization reflect how they use the internet now -- which is verifiable with some simple data analysis. (NB: I used to be one myself, and in the talk I used a lot of personal examples and anonymized the rest, to protect privacy of anyone who wasn't contacted about this talk. So I'll say "we" here although I'm not practicing myself these days.)

In a quick sum of my talk: We used to do music video editing with VCRs. We existed before the internet was our main way of communicating, and we used fanzines and APAs to exchange tips and tricks (but truthfully, this was borderline before my time, although the friends who taught me all did this). We had and still have conventions at which we showed off our work, to supplement the now popular online posting mechanisms of distribution. (YouTube is not a major site for fan video editors, but another current social network tool that supports video has just become very popular among my friends who use LiveJournal for their conversations.)

Knowing the history makes for interesting cruising of the video communities on LiveJournal. The anime video makers turn out to be, for the most part, a distinct group. This isn't too surprising when you read the "about" text on one of the video community pages (slightly disguised here):

Anime "vidders" are told they may not be as comfortable here, and that VCR vidders are welcome.

This image shows the network of members in the anime community (highlighted) which is somewhat separate from the group (and its affiliates) quoted above:

One of the communities that is closely related to this one is one in which an annual face-to-face convention is discussed, started and fed by some of the older VCR editors and now pretty much populated by the non-linear digital folks, of which former VCR people are now a part. The convention-discussion community members, highlighted below in orange, are closely interconnected to the community quoted from above, which is circled in red here:

The group circled in blue is a Battlestar Galactica video group, less closely related but more so than the anime group. The closely inter-connected groups in these images are the generic discussion groups, at which the craft and technique and technical discussions occur. More specific discussion groups are generally less connected.

I made these images with prefuse, and apologies for the quality of the uploads. I'm available to talk about this stuff anytime :-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Postcard to Windhouse

Since my last update a month ago on the haunted Windhouse stories, I received email from a reader in Stirling, Scotland, whose family lived in the house in Shetland at the turn of the (last) century. Even then the house was known to be haunted, well before it turned into a picturesque ruin on the hill. Justine scanned and sent me a copy of a postcard her great-grandmother's sister Katie received referring to the ghost.

windhouse postcard

I updated the essay again, and posted some more photos and links to the family history. They're at the bottom: my Windhouse story.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mayan Art

From Chichen Itza this January. The eagle is eating a heart.

I am reading a great book, Breaking the Maya Code, by Michael Coe. The first paragraph says, "It was 12 cycles, 18 katuns, 16 tuns, 0 uinals, and 16 kins since the beginning of the Great Cycle. The day was 12 Cib 14 Uo, and was ruled by the seventh Lord of the Night. The moon was nine days old. Precisely 5,101 of our years and 235 days had passed since the creation of this universe, and only 23 years and 22 days remained until the final cataclysm that would destroy it. So the ancient Maya scribes and astronomers would have calculated, for the day was 14 May 1989, and we were in Leningrad."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Owls in Massachusetts

Last weekend was an "owl festival" at my local Audubon nature preserve. First was a great presentation on snowy owls at Logan Airport (not given there, about owls who hang out there) by Norm Smith of the Blue Hills Audubon nature preserve. Yes, there are snowy owls all over Logan's landing strips. No, this is not good for the airplanes. Yes, they are hard to spot if you're flying out from there, as I discovered a day later-- white could mean snow, trash, or owl.

Norm has some great pictures of them, and points out how little we understand them -- they don't seem to be migratory in the usual sense, and might even be circumpolar. They are able to filter out the sounds of the jets to tune in on squeaking rats. They all look a bit different, and have different personalities, too.

Some articles and links worth looking at on this work:

This is a map of where some of the owls he attached transmitters to ended up in Canada -- mostly up towards Hudson Bay. Some have been tracked to Siberia, though. (Hey, I've been there. I saw no owls, however.)

The day after Norm's terrific talk and slides, a guy brought in some birds living in captivity because they've been hurt or grown up with people and now identify too much with people to hunt properly. These were beautiful birds. Below you'll see this fellow with a screech owl, incredibly cute, and a wonderful great horned owl. None of my pictures turned out very well due to the interior lighting, but you get the idea.

After the demo of the birds, we went on an "owl prowl" walk in what was probably 14F degrees at best. In the gathering dark, I add, because at the point where I'd had enough of the cold, I didn't think I could see my way back to the lodge. We crunched all over the grounds of Broadmoor making dumb owl calls, and hearing not a peep back except for the bored kids shifting around while we listened and whining a little and sometimes pretending to be owls themselves which didn't really help us. It was so cold even the CD player with some real owls on it wouldn't perform properly. An owl bust, all around. Now that I know what screech owls and saw whets sound like, I can confirm I have never heard them where I live beside the reservoir. Too bad! They are really cute.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

New Moon and the Stock Market

I've been quite busy recently, and am getting a backlog of post material. Here's on oldie I never got around to blogging, which is weird and short: there is evidence that the lunar phase affects stock market performance.
We find strong lunar cycle effects in stock returns. Specifically, returns in the 15 days around new moon dates are about double the returns in the 15 days around full moon dates. This pattern of returns is pervasive; we find it for all major U.S. stock indexes over the last 100 years and for nearly all major stock indexes of 24 other countries over the last 30 years. In contrast, we find no reliable or economically important evidence of lunar cycle effects in return volatility and volume of trading. Taken as a whole, this evidence is consistent with popular beliefs that lunar cycles affect human behavior.
You can see the abstract and download the paper here: Lunar Cycle Effects in Stock Returns, on the Social Science Research Network.