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Eric Chuk

Graduate Student, Information Studies, UC Los Angeles

Eric Chuk

Eric Chuk is a graduate student in information studies and an American Library Association Spectrum Doctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. Eric’s research interests include news media and publishing/digitization standards. He has interned at CNN’s video library in Los Angeles, which led him to consider the material and geographic constraints that persist in electronic archives. His work for the Oral History Research Center at UCLA also deals with the upkeep of multimedia library collections.

As an alumnus of the linguistics department at California State University, Long Beach, Eric completed a thesis dealing with the use of contextual features and data mining for characterizing authorship in editorials. He has also served as a seasonal instructor for undergraduates learning English as a second language.

Eric plans to pursue a dissertation related to digital humanities and the future of reading. He hopes to draw from his linguistic studies of discourse in finding new applications for leveraging structures in data, such as narrative patterns. For the RoSE project, he has been pursuing the potential of narrative to act as metadata, which may lead to a better understanding of the evolving relationships between documents or sets thereof.

Links: HASTAC Scholar | UCLA Digital Humanities Symposium

Research Sample: “Citation and Readability in Bibliometrics and Beyond”

Admittedly, attempting to measure hybridity in scholarship is a daunting task. Yet we might take inspiration from the fruitful application of genetics to other non-biological domains–for example, the notion of a meme in cultural studies, or musical attributes as identified by the Music Genome Project (www.pandora.com). If a citation is the smallest unit of crediting an idea, then perhaps it can be traced, at least on a subfield-by-subfield basis. The difficult work of beginning to spell out the mathematical details of such a venture is left to those more versed in quantitative analyses and complexity theory.

So, returning finally to the issue of application for new bibliometric metadata about the citational density of ideas, I propose an adjustable readability scale built into document display software, such as Adobe Acrobat. This slider-scale, similar to the zoom feature of popular online map websites, would allow readers to control the granularity of citations and eventually, at some future point of sophistication, to filter citations by type, or even attune the document somewhat for greater or lesser complexity of ideas (their degree of compositeness, as measured by the number of citations constituting them). This would be an extension of readability/complexity metadata allowing for greater manipulability and customization of texts. Such reader control over a document has the potential to maximize efficiency of information processing, but it also raises concerns about upholding authorial intent. To wit, a protracted ethnographic description may not retain
its scholarly integrity when converted into a single page fit for an encyclopedia.

Surely there will be other criticisms as well. Some may protest that an atomistic approach to citation, a genealogy of ideas, cannot meet the rigors of true genetics since ideological or philosophical experimentation and cross-pollination are more amorphous. While this is true, we should not be discouraged from endeavors that force us to look more reflexively at epistemology, and in particular, at the role of reading/readability in moving various disciplinary discourses forward. Given the current rapidly developing technological environment and the expansion of knowledge in so many areas, subsequent generations of information seekers and would-be scholars are poised to undertake just this sort of ambitious work.

  lthomas, 11.13.09

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