Humanities and Science

A few thoughts on the difficulties of humanities scholars using scientific papers:

Accessibility: Especially with technical language and assumed knowledge. This discourages researchers from using valuable scientific studies. You are also probably less informed in trends of scientific research and what might be out there to read up on.

Understanding: Most UK humanities students do not also have an understanding of degree level science. Interestingly, this doesn’t necessarily apply to American students (and elsewhere) where an undergraduate course is more flexible and the arts and sciences aren’t barricaded from each other.

Judgement: If your understanding of scientific papers is limited, you might not be able to make an informed decision as to whether it is valid or if there are problems with the research. Is it difficult for a humanities student to critique a scientific paper in the same way that they would a piece of humanities research? Would there be a tendency to think something must be true because it’s science?

Aims of research: Further to this, should humanities use science as the basis of broad claims when often psychology papers usually describe small studies with limited sample sizes? On the other hand, having a different aim in approaching a study might mean that interesting ideas come out of it which wouldn’t otherwise be thought of.

A common example of non-scientists reading science papers is science in journalism. Although this has different aims and although the media often purposefully misinterprets science, some of the same problems are exemplified in regards to understanding and accessibility.

The scientific journal Nature even ran a news article with advice for scientists dealing with journalism, offering the perspective of the scientist trying to communiate with people outside the discipline.


My apologies, I completely forgot to make the URL for my project available. The site does not display properly in older browsers such as those on University PCs (older versions of IE have a broken box model which messes up divs) which was what went wrong in the presentation! It may also look rubbish on mobile devices as that’s an area of development I haven’t mastered yet. The site can be found here. Please let me know if you have any problems or suggestions.

So, on the subject of the internet “making us stupider”, I just wanted to say I would have no grasp of M-theory without it. >Some would argue that I still have no grasp of M-theory, and for sure I’m no doctoral physicist, but it’s decidedly better than nothing and certainly more interesting than ignorance.<
As a side note, the parallels between the Object Oriented Ontological aspects of Cyberculture studies and quantum physics are vastly interesting points of contemplation.

Glenn Greenwald’s latest revelations from the Snowden Docs – GCHQ’s deception techniques are manipulating cyber-discourse in an attempt to control specific “hacktivist” comunities.

It seems that the GCHQ are taking into account a broad number of academic theories from a wide variety of fields, including social sciences, public relations, neuroscience and theology  as they attempt to establish an “Operational Playbook” for their activities which include defamation, falsification, infiltration and even attempts to “ruin business relationships”. This lot clearly see themselves as the James Bond’s of cyberspace, and while this is not particularly surprising considering previous revelations concerning PRISM, Online Covert Action strikes me as one of the largest threats to integrity on the internet, especially since it is already largely used to target anonymous groups of political dissidents. Also shocking is that these effects are not solely targeted at engendering online effects, but attempt to “make something happen in the real or cyber world”. It seems the boundaries which separate spying in reality, for which you would need a warrant, and spying in virtuality, for which you apparently don’t, are quickly eroding. I feel if we let our freedoms remain diminished in one realm they will soon passively break down in this one. They are not just monitoring, but creating, fabricating, disseminating misinformation. This is a grave concern to say the least.

Example Remixes

Pop Danthology 2013 – Since 2010, Daniel Kim has sampled each year’s biggest hits and made them into one song. This years offering proved particularly special, mixing 68 songs that ranged from Robin Thicke to Lorde, Miley Cyrus to Ylvis.

An example of a more simple remix, which tries to produce a more natural ‘duet’ sound than in other mashup videos.

A Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight mash-up pitting Edward against Buffy by pop-culture hacker Jonathan McIntosh. The video was  taken down in January 2013 – three years after it was originally posted – when Lionsgate filed a DMCA takedown, citing “copyright infringement”. After a very, very long fight with YouTube and Lionsgate (detailed here: via a lawyer at New Media Rights, the video was eventually reinstated.

Photoshop, Parody and JoCo – The Grey Areas of Copyright

Parody/Fair Use Laws (and the failures of automated copyright):

  • ‘Dumb Starbucks’ and how it can operate (before it got shut down):

  • Youtube gone mad: Automated Content ID software deploying copyright claims without human intervention/discretion:

Photoshop – Both Defender and Attacker (and potential violator of copyright):

  • Photoshop use as an act of freedom and freedom of speech:

  • Photoshop as a violation of original photography and ‘body copies’:

Johnathan Coulton Case Study:

“Sometimes I forget that Twitter is something beyond just being snarky at the Oscars. All of a sudden something happens and you remember that this is an amazing, powerful tool.” Coulton says. “My fans have a keen sense of justice, and this idea that we should be attributed for our work. People who are of the Internet realize that attribution is what we trade on.” - Forbes


Urban Outfitters, Etsy and copyright

Amongst the many unpleasant things Urban Outfitters are linked to ( see here), they also rip of Etsy designs.

Etsy is (according to Google) “e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items, supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items”.

In 2011, Urban Outfitters copied the design of an independent jewellery designer without any permission (or informing her).

I heart NY Necklace


Oscar Michelen, an intellectual property and copyright attorney at Cuomo LLC in New York who is not involved in this case, but has represented several similar cases, said design infringement claims are very popular.

“Normally these cases are only enforceable if the artist has a patent or trademark on their design,” he said. However, Michelen doesn’t think this would be a strong case should Koerner decide to pursue legal action. “There is nothing unique about using a shape of Florida and a heart,” he said.

In fact, two years ago, Koerner looked into protecting her designs, but lawyers told her that the shape of a state cannot be legally protected, she said.

While the lawsuit might be inconsequential to a company the size of Urban Outfitters, the bad publicity could be potentially harmful, said Michelen. He said, often times the company receiving the negative publicity will approach the claimant with a financial settlement in exchange for a confidentiality agreement that bars them from voicing their complaints publicly.

Interestingly, there was huge social media support for the designer – see here for more info.