20131229_110930(0)

A scenario for y’all.

After five long, painful years, you finish and submit your thesis (and forget to tell your blog about it, despite having drafted a post in honour of the occasion more than eighteen months before actually submitting. True story).

Having decided some months earlier that you’d move to New York upon finishing, you do just that. Well, you travel to New York; no moving just yet.

You find New York to be just as awesome as expected.

However, you also find yourself longing to be somewhere else.

Somewhere slower.

Warmer.

Sandier.

The beach?

But you live near the beach. There is beach at home… all the beach! Why beach?

Dear reader, I am in the midst of quite the conundrum.

Y’see, although I am rather fond of New York (particularly now that I am in Philly, with which I already have a strained relationship), the city exhausts me… and my bank account. I am working remotely while I travel, so money isn’t an issue (or at least it won’t be, if Curtin stops f*cking up my pay)…. but I’d prefer for it to be less of an issue. I am coming off the back of six months working seven days a week, for at least 12 (but more like 16) hours a day, and before that I was working six days a week for roughly the same hours, if you combine study and various jobs. I kind of want to be some place where I can live off 15 hours a week of work instead of 35 or 40.

Privilege, I hear you snort.

I’m lucky. My job has a very good mental-taxation to remuneration ratio… but the fact that it is not mentally taxing also makes me feel like I’m wasting my time — time that could be spent writing or reading or doing or sleeping. I think I deserve those things, right?

I don’t know what I’ll do next. I’m in Philly for a few more hours, then Richmond, Virginia, before heading back to NYC for 6 nights and then on to South Korea for…. x? I don’t know how long I’ll stay there. I’ll be visiting with a good friend so there’s no rush; I suppose there I will find my downtime.

Probably no beaches though.

I’ve somehow never been to Thailand. Maybe that’s next on the cards.

You know I dreamed about you for 29 years before I saw you.

I’m not one for tourist attractions.

I don’t take photos of myself in front of Famous Things or go out of my way to have ‘bucket list’-style experiences.

I find much of it too kitschy and tacky. I don’t like being around mobs of people all doing the same thing; the same photos, the same poses, the same shitty restaurants selling shitty, overpriced food to none-the-wiser tourists. There’s nothing wrong with being into Seeing The Sights and Ticking The Boxes, but it’s not for me. I was walking behind an Australian family this morning who were dead-keen on visiting the Disney store in Times Square. Why? They weren’t a young family; the “kids” were probably late teens or early 20s. Dad was wearing a Yankees cap. Mum & daughters were wearing matching puffer jackets. I half expected the kids to be on leashes so they didn’t get lost. I also don’t like Disney movies (or anything fun, according to many of my friends) so perhaps that explains my confusion over the obsession with visiting the Disney store. 

(Incidentally, I walked through Times Square to get to where I was going and discovered that if you wear headphones, the amount of people harassing you to take their city tour or buy their passes to x show or y exhibit drops to pretty much nil. Something to keep in mind if you’re anything like me and hate being cajoled into buying/doing things/are jaded enough to think you’re better than everyone, haha.)

I love travelling for other reasons: because I love looking at people going about their life in different places, because the buildings and the cityscapes are same-same-but-different, or because they’re so vastly different to that with which I am familiar that I can’t help but be fascinated. I love travelling because the world is beautiful and ugly at the same time and because, as people, we are really all the same.

New York has been at the top of my travel to-do list for about a decade. Before that it was London. However, after having been to London six times across three European holidays in the past 13 years, it’s no longer somewhere that excites me. There’s something dully familiar about London these days.

New York has remained elusive. I don’t know why I haven’t made it back before now; in fact, I haven’t been to the United States since 1991. True story. 22 years. I wish I could show you a then vs now photo; I’ll have to get my mum to send me some when she gets home from this trip so that when I go to San Francisco next year I can recreate some images of me as a six year old vs me at a 29 year old.

Anyway. New York, New York. I let myself believe the hype. I thought of New York as the antithesis to little ol’ Perth, isolated and self conscious on the edge of the planet. It seemed daunting and spectacular and unreal. It was, in my mind, full of people and places and experiences unparalleled anywhere else on Earth.

Now that I’m finally here, I think that might just be true.

One of the main reasons I’ve wanted to come to New York for so long is the architecture. I am obsessed with old skyscrapers, to the extent that I spend an inordinate amount of time researching them and watching documentaries about them. I’m so amazed by the way that these immense structures were built before the development of modern technology.

My favourite has long been the Flatiron Building. Ever since seeing it in a movie as a child, and being inexplicably freaked out by its narrow structure, I have been obsessed with the Flatiron.

This morning, I laid eyes on her for the first time. Rather by accident, I turned a corner and looked up from my phone to see her skinny front-end bearing down on me.

20131220_040202

Simply spectacular.

Perth, online.

blog out links

Just a snapshot from my work this week.

With thesis submission day rapidly approaching (next Thursday – finally!), I’m just putting the finishing touches on my network visualisations. Obviously the real thing is higher quality – this is just a screenshot – but what you’re looking at are two things: a) the way in which 135 Perth-based food bloggers network their identities online, and b) the way that Perth food bloggers link to each other via blog rolls. (Tracking the comments on blogs would have been more useful, but I have run out of time to do it.)

I’ve also got overlays that show the links between their Twitter & Facebook pages, as well as how they all fit together.

The text is very small, but basically I use a coded system to designate each individual (for example, if my blog was in there it would be ‘bw’ – beyond words – and then my linked Facebook page would be ‘bw.fb’, and my Twitter profile ‘bw.tw’, and my Urbanspoon profile ‘bw.us’ and so on). I’ve done this for a number of reasons; partly, it was to keep the labels for each node short, so that they didn’t take over the graph, but also to add a degree of anonymity to my results (rather than saying Blogger X links to pages w, y, z), which allowed me a degree more freedom with my study (i.e. not having to get signed permission forms from everyone on the list).

None of my research in any way discusses content on any particular blog; everyone whose work is directly featured in my thesis (such as quotes from blog posts) has granted permission for me to use that information. Everyone else is just a dot, and a link.

Blogs are represented by black dots; aqua represents Facebook; blue is Twitter, etc. I found that bloggers link to sixteen different social platforms (including social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, social recommendation sites, and social curation sites) from their blogs (in order from most popular to least): Urbanspoon, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Google+, YouTube, Foodgawker, LinkedIn, Posse, Yelp, Last.fm, Tastespotting, Tumblr (blogs that were hosted at Tumblr didn’t count towards this; if they did, Tumblr would come just after Google+, but I counted them as blogs for the sake of consistency), and Vimeo.

I haven’t included platforms like BlogLovin’ on here. I was going to, but in the end was having such problems with it at the time of data collection that I left it out. I’ve also undoubtedly missed some platforms. I used a site called IssueCrawler to get the initial links from blogs. Basically, I uploaded a list of URLs (i.e. all the blog URLs), and the returned results consisted of a spreadsheet with every URL linked from the blog’s main page. I checked everything manually a few times, as the IssueCrawler results weren’t perfect (some blogs appeared to have no links outwards, which proved to be incorrect based upon my double-checking).

I also checked everything a few times to make sure that I had the most accurate sample possible. A major challenge came in the form of collecting the sample group. Not all blogs h

One thing that I am hoping to do in the future if I have time is to create a dynamic visualisation of posts, which will plot the occurrence of blog posts across a period of time (back to about 2004, as I think that’s when the earliest post from this group was made) corresponding to the restaurant/cafe/location they blogged about, placed over a map of Perth. I’m not sure how I will treat home-cooking/recipe posts, but these could possibly be plotted as well, although not to a location (maybe by theme or primary ingredient).

Blogs are somewhat of a passe subject these days, but I’m quite fascinated by how the medium has persisted. We have all these other ways to communicate, as the social platform links attest (for instance, 51% of the group has a linked Urbanspoon profile, 49.5% a Twitter accounts, and 47.5% a Facebook page dedicated to their blog). However, blogs offer the opportunity for longer-form expression that few other platforms allow at this stage. (Newer platforms like Medium are changing that as they straddle the boundary between blog space, collaborative environment, and SNS.)

Because I’m specifically looking at Perth, these links just serve to demonstrate how closely knit the Perth food blogging community is (and, by extension, how close other online communities are). My research focuses on the ways that place identity can be encountered and expressed via locative and location data, so the crown in the jewel of my research is a much bigger map that looks at how Perth bloggers and social media users have talked about Eat, Drink, Perth over the past four years.

The decision to research that particular festival wasn’t entirely arbitrary; there are important, undeniable links between food, geography, identity, and community that are vital to my research, so EDP has been a useful vehicle for exploring local networks in more detail. I’m still working on finalising that visualisation. However, it’s taking a loonnnng time. I’ve collected the geographic coordinates for every EDP event from 2010-2013, as well as (I think?) every online news article, tweet, and blog post about EDP. (Probably not all; there are limitations. For instance, I have no access to private data, such as protected tweets, nor did I want access to them for this project as I am only looking at information that is publicly available. In addition, EDP/Show Me Perth remove content from their website and Facebook page every year before launching the new event. The Wayback Machine was somewhat helpful, but there’s no doubt I’ve missed stuff.)

All that information is being plotted on an incredibly complicated network visualisation that I will share here once it’s done. The graph corresponds to the geodata I’ve collected; for instance, all posts about the Butcher’s Picnic link to the node for that event, which is located (on the map and IRL) in Northbridge Piazza. There are also different levels of links for comments, trackbacks, and different colours utilised to represent different years of the festival. Fun!

f19 network structure

a basic example of how the main network visualisation is structured — bright green: event location (geolocated on a map). teal: events held at that location during one edp year (in this case, three; this is just a dummy example, there may be more/less in a given year). purple — blog posts about specific events. red: bloggers (the actual blogs). if you look closely here, this network depicts ‘blogger a’ as having written both of the blog posts (purple nodes); ‘blogger b’ was linked to in the mad hatter’s tea party post (there’s a tiny arrow pointing out from that node to the ‘blogger b’ node). imagine this, hundreds of posts over, for four years…

It actually is very fun. It’s just super frustrating and time consuming getting the data to appear in a way that is logical and informative, rather than just being a splash of colour on the screen that isn’t really any good for telling a story.

I’m thinking once I’m done with everything and have a spare moment, I’ll publish a list of Perth food blogs/Facebook pages/Twitter profiles on here, in case anyone is interested. I’ll also have high-resolution versions of my visualisations available too.

You’ll FIGure it out.

20131203_172943I’m sure I had a story to go along with this bowl of figs, but now I can’t remember what it was.

They came from the tree in my yard. I’ve been impatiently waiting for them to ripen for months now, and finally they have. If I’d kept to my original travel plans, I would’ve been leaving Sydney today and never would’ve gotten to try the figs, so you know, everything worked out.

This time in two weeks I’ll be at Sydney airport, probably just about to board my flight to NYC. Hoooooly what, I am not ready for this.

 

Everyone in Brisbane lives in Brisbane, apparently.

Here, have a picture I made.

citiesI was trying to get Gephi to make Seadragon-worthy versions network visualisations (news flash: it won’t for some reason) and thought I’d play with something less…subjective? My patience for my thesis data is hanging by a thread at the moment so I didn’t want to mess around with it too much.

Instead, pulled Australia’s population data from Google’s Public Database and mapped it by state…however I suspect something is up, as it doesn’t seem right that Queensland has all the big cities (I also don’t think it’s right that 1.06 million people live in the Brisbane local government area, but I may be wrong). Ah well. It was nice to look at something other than my regular ol’ network.