Even More Thoughts on an Upcoming Graduate School Assignment

I am specifically looking at author and visual artist Douglas Coupland’s Instagram for my digital humanities final project. My sources/dataset will include every “standard” Slogan he has posted since March 20, 2020. This amounts to about 160 individual Slogans such as:

A selection of Slogans from @douglascoupland’s Instagram page

And, each Slogan comes with bits of incidental data such as:

  • The descriptive text Coupland may have attached to certain posts
  • The date of posting
  • The location of posting
  • The number of likes
  • The number of comments
A single Slogan post from @douglascoupland’s Instagram page

If time permits, I may open the data set to include every available slogan that I can find in the original Slogans For the Twenty-First Century (2011-2014) exhibits. I believe there are about 150 of these Slogans… I believe that they can easily be found on Google Arts & Culture utilizing the Street View tool that Google has used to allow folks to “walk” through old museum exhibits that may no longer be physically available. I also have a book that memorializes the exhibit the Slogans were originally featured in called Douglas Coupland: everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything that I can use to cross-reference.

I see this project as twofold: as an online exhibit of sort that can perhaps yet again re-contextualize the Slogans (say, by categorizing the Slogans by color, or mood, etc.) and as an exploration of what people think / write when they view Slogans by comparing their comments against the texts of the Slogans themselves… do people find Slogans relatable? objectionable? depressing? hopeful? I believe a data analysis could provide a concrete answer and that a tool such as AntCons “KeyWord List” could prove to be useful.

Unfortunately, there is not really a workable dataset readily available to do the kind of work that this analysis would require… this means that I have to do a lot of manual labor to pull all of the texts together. This is doable! Though it will be tedious. I anticipate that I could create the dataset with about a week of time.

It should be relatively easy, however, to gather the digitized Slogans post together for the purposes of adding them to a useful visualization tool (I am thinking of utilizing a Timeline, but it would be cool—though perhaps not possible—to find a tool that can take the images of the Slogans and “re-group” them at the click of a button… I am still looking into this). The goal of the visualization would be to expand on what every individual Slogan means, in the context of its color, it’s time of posting, it’s tone, it’s caused reactions, etc.

Ultimately, I hope that this project will help supplement an expanded academic piece I am in the process of writing focusing on Douglas Coupland’s Slogans and their relationship to advertising media… as both artifacts that subvert advertising and as one that utilizes the principles of advertising to drive a message. If I can achieve a solid data analysis, it would provide an excellent additional theoretical underpinning for my piece’s thesis.

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