Announcing the Fall 2022 Faculty Seed Grants

05 Nov, 2021

Announcing the Fall 2022 Faculty Seed Grants

This semester, the Berkeley Center for New Media was thrilled to support two faculty members in their scholarship through seed grants that will help catalyze their research in new media. We are excited to congratulate these amazing artists and scholars!

Beth Piatote

Decolonial Conversions is a project with the purpose of reclaiming old media, namely a nineteenth century mission printing press, for new use as a tool of Indigenous language revitalization. Beth submitted this proposal on behalf of the Nez Perce writing group, luk’upsíimey/North Star Collective, of which she is the co-organizer, for a project to repurpose the mission press. Together, Beth and Nez Perce writers and language activists carry out this project of “decolonial conversion,” which has symbolic and material significance to the Nez Perce language community and to Indigenous language revitalization work more broadly. The press will get a new mission: to support rather than attack Nez Perce culture. The press in conversation, the Oregon Mission Press, was the first printing press to arrive in the Oregon Territory. It came to the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho in 1839, at the request Henry Spalding, a Presbyterian missionary, who acquired it from a mission society in Hawaii. Spalding developed an orthography for the Nez Perce language and used the press to publish reading primers and religious materials with the goal of creating literate converts. One of the earliest documents Spalding produced with the press was a set of “Laws” that introduced a shocking level of cruelty to Nez Perce society, requiring, for example, the public flogging for people who engaged in gambling, polygamy, or same-sex relationships. The press was used by other missions in the region and eventually donated to the Oregon Historical Society in 1899. Fast forward to 2021, luk’upsíimey/North Star Collective, is dedicated to Nez Perce language revitalization through creative writing and the arts. According to UNESCO, Nez Perce is a critically endangered language. This past summer Beth and her colleagues learned of the press and hatched the idea to publish our own work using Spalding’s original orthography. The press's properties as a manual press—one has provided an opportunity to respond to Spalding’s brutal “laws” with the North Star Collective's own Indigenous understandings of the order of the world (tamalwit).

Celeste Kidd

In "The Effects of Cognitive Load and Theory of Mind on the Emergence of Political Polarization Online", Celeste tests how cognitive load in online environments may increase rates of polarization. From the neverending news feed of Twitter to Reddits limitless conversations, online environments offer individuals access to multiple information streams, thus increasing cognitive load. Celeste hopes to answer how we might expect this stress on cognitive systems to affect people’s ability to represent and judge the minds of others, and what this might tell us about the recent surge in political polarization in online environments such as Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit? Celeste's proposal connects disparate fields of research—theory of mind, moral psychology, and political polarization with the aims of (1) replicating the outlined findings from moral cognition in online environments and (2) extending these findings to the study of political polarization online. These aims are accomplished through three studies that (Study 1) adapt traditional theory of mind metrics for social media and online environments, (Study 2) test whether the manipulation of online cognitive load impacts theory of mind and political polarization, and (Study 3) analyzes social media data to test how cognitive load indicators (e.g., time on platform, information rate, attentional splitting) relate to people’s interaction with polarizing ideas. The methods and data resulting from these three studies will form the basis of a 5-year, large grant application to the National Science Foundation’s Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL) on the topic of the impact of polarization on learning and belief formation online.