Tag Archives: time machine

Time machine: a conceptual model for predicting culture

In Boston this January?
Come sit in on my course.
Here’s the outline.

Special Subject: Comparative Media Studies
Time Machine: Building a model for predicting culture
Grant McCracken
Wed-Thu, Jan 18-19, 25-26, 1-2, 03-05:00pm, 4-231

Pre-register on WebSIS and attend first class.
Listeners allowed, space permitting
Prereq: Permission of instructor Qualitative and quantitative skills.
Level: U 3 units Standard A – F Grading Can be repeated for credit

As our culture becomes more diverse and changeable, cultural prediction becomes more urgent and difficult. The point of this course is to build a model for making predictions. We will proceed in a practical way, taking on “real world problems.” How quickly could we have seen the influence Alice Waters and Chez Panisse were to have on American culture? Could we have predicted a shift in Hollywood that demoted the likes of Schwarzenegger and promoted the likes of Michael Cera? To build the model, aka “big board” or “time machine”, we have to solve theoretical and methodological problems: what is the unit of analysis, what are the best markers of adoption, what are the best metrics, how can we make and monitor predictions, how can we represent data according to best “infographic” practice? To my knowledge, a model like this has no precedent. Think of the course as something out of the early Soviet space program. The engineering will be dodgy. Failure is not unlikely. The process will be messy and frustrating. But the outcome is sure to be illuminating and instructive. Plus your heroism is guaranteed.
Contact: Grant McCracken