Assistant Professor of English and Communication
Co-Director, Second Century Initiative in New and Emerging Media
Georgia State University
Visiting Fellow eHumanities Group April-July 2014
Dr. Ben Miller works in critical cultural studies of computational and networked media around the problematic of individual and collective memory of traumatic events. By investigating how new technologies were developed and applied to better tell stories of survival from human atrocities, such as genocide in Cambodia and ethnic cleansings in Bosnia, Guatemala, and Rwanda, and environmental catastrophes, such as the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ben hopes to better understand the relationship among liminal events, memory, and technology, the consequences of such a tightly coupled mnemonic-technical system, and to facilitate more efficacious technical interventions for the human rights and mental health workers who are amongst the first responders to traumatic events.
Research in collective memory imbricates language theory and natural language processing, game studies and interactive storytelling, and visual media studies from wet photography to post-lenticular optics. That diversity has been reflected in Ben’s graduate and undergraduate teaching at Georgia State, M.I.T., Georgia Tech, and Emory University on comparative media studies, electronic writing, collective memory, technical communication for computer science, history of science and technology, and comparative literature.
Ben is PI on a NSF and SSHRC Digging into Data project, “Digging into Human Rights Violations,” that explores methods for stitching together narratives and entities from across the breadth of collections pertaining to mass violations of human rights. Among his other projects are a monograph on the history and future of collective, networked memory entitled Collective Magnetic Witness; a special issue of Annals of Scholarship entitled Reading the World of Big Data; a biography of the inventor of the video game, Ralph Baer, for the German Historical Institute; a platform to collect and visualize the acoustic ecology of urban environments; an archive of electro-acoustic music; a database documentary using the Korsakow platform on the urban planning history of the Atlanta metropolitan region; and an attempt to use techniques predicated on operationalized language to explore the corpus of a thinker whose seminars may be the most resistant to such an approach, Jacques Lacan. Many of his projects are team-based, and draw together faculty from Western Ontario, North Florida, Stanford, Yale, Concordia, McGill, Cal Tech, Emory, Georgia Tech, and students at all levels at GSU. His most recent work has been published in Leonardo: The Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, in In Media Res, and he has work forthcoming in Digital Humanities Quarterly.
A few examples of Ben’s students’ interactive fictions and database documentaries are available at:
“Adversarial Media: Campaign Ad.” This conversational interactive story was written by three students at MIT in an undergraduate digital media studies course, “Becoming Digital.” For a first command, consider a polite greeting.
“The Day the Air Turned to Fire.” This brief interactive exploration of some scenes from Masuji Ibuse’s Hiroshima bombing “memoir,” Black Rain, was written by a single student at North Florida in a graduate course on collective memory and computational media.
“Clayton County,” is a Korsakow Film produced by three undergraduates at Georgia State in a digital documentary course using interviews conducted by two faculty at GSU, Tim Crimmins and Cliff Kuhn.