Announcing the 2015 Peter Lyman Fellow

03 Mar, 2015

Announcing the 2015 Peter Lyman Fellow

The Berkeley Center for New Media is pleased to announce that the 2015 Peter Lyman Fellowship has been awarded to Kyle Booten, Ph.D. candidate in Education, with a Designated Emphasis in New Media.

The Peter Lyman Fellowship in new media was was established in memory of esteemed UC Berkeley Professor Peter Lyman. The Fellowship seeks to support a Ph.D. candidate in the writing of his or her dissertation on a topic related to new media through a summer stipend.

Exploring points of connection and dissonance between digital and print literacies, Kyle Booten’s dissertation project examines the circulation of textual quotations on social networks. Quotation practices form a major part of current activity on these sites; on Twitter, quote-centric accounts (and “quote bots”) can have upwards of a million followers, and both Tumblr and Pinterest have designed their interfaces to facilitate the generating and sharing of quotations. The words of Kierkegaard, bell hooks, Paulo Freire, and a panoply of other significant thinkers circulate in these economies of #truth, #wisdom, and #inspiration. Kyle seeks to understand whether this is yet another form of digital distraction, or whether it represents the democratization of philosophical discourse.

Over the past year, Kyle has analyzed a large dataset of quotations from Twitter (n≈2,000,000) using methods drawn from corpus linguistics and natural language processing. This summer, Kyle will conduct a virtual ethnography in order to examine key aspects of contemporary quotation practices, including the rhetorical (Why do people go through the trouble of painstakingly retyping, sharing, and even illustrating words that are not, so to speak, theirs? What are their goals?), the sociological (Who are the main actors in online economies of quotations?), and the semiotic (What makes a “good” quotation? How deeply can one understand utterances that are so thoroughly deracinated from their original contexts?). The Lyman fellowship will fund extensive survey and interview work along with additional computational analysis of quotations and the networks of actors who circulate them.

As scholars such as Katherine Hayles and Bernard Stiegler have argued, digital media throw into crisis those traditional modes of education that are founded on print-based literacies and modes of attention. In online quotation culture, the regime of the book is still alive, though shattered into a sea of sharable fragments. The analysis of digital quotations and quotation practices complements Kyle’s work as an educator, through which uses the classroom as a space for understanding and participating in online quotation culture while cultivating hybrid practices that combine aspects of traditional and digital literacies.

The Fellowship is generously supported by donations from Professor Barrie Thorne, Sage Publications, and individual friends and faculty.

Peter Lyman served as University Librarian and a Professor in Information Studies. His research focused on online information and ethnographic analyses of online social relationships and communities. As the Director of the Digital Youth Project, he studied how children use digital media in their everyday lives. Peter Lyman served numerous editorial and advisory boards, including Sage Publications, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Art History Information Project at the Getty Trust, and the Internet Archive.