Arts and humanities analytics

Here’s the talk presented at Bryant University’s Applied Analytics in Humanities and Social Sciences conference today. Paul Margrave, Nate Storring and I presented work done by the three of us, Allison Roberts, Mark Motte of Rhode Island College, and students in his GEOG339 class.

Two parts to the presentation. The first is a very general overview of some of the types of work that might be called humanities analytics: a lot of it is digital humanities, but it also includes other ways that humanists might try to quantify their work, from eye-tracking to economic analyses of art markets.

The second part considers public humanities analytics. It includes a quick overview of visitor tracking in museums, and a very preliminary analysis of some of the material we’ve been analyzing for Waterfire, Providence’s creative-placemaking extravaganza.

The most interesting questions we received at the conference were about the difference between public humanities analytics and market research. We discussed some possibilities: to what extent are we interested in  artistic quality or public engagement?Is engagement in art — enjoyment, contemplation, learning — just another kind of brand loyalty? How does our work differ from tourism research?

We’ll be giving a fuller version of this talk next week, at Waterfire’s Art of Placemaking conference. Any advice on how to answer these questions appreciated!

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