13 August 2006

The human sciences on Flickr

20th century social science
can be caricatured
as 10,000 pseudoscientists
in search of something to measure

for if you tried to reconstruct
the 20th century human psyche
or diagnose the 20thC human predicament
based solely on those ten-thousand's
your reconstruction would be shallow indeed
not even recognisably human

abstract statistics on human lab-rats
or at best stilted case-histories
feigning 'objectivity' by suppressing humanity

but imagine we could offer them
ten million family snapshots to measure

to classify by apparent emotional relationships

to trace the emergence of character traits

toddler dances unselfconsciously
kindergartener mugs self-consciously
girl tween begs the camera to flatter her

adolescent grows surly
open personality closes up
too cool to grin

first love imbalanced
one leads, one follows

intimations of disaster
even in the wedding pix

tough guy transformed by fatherhood

etc etc etc

the classic literary themes
now accessible as objective data records

ready for a new strategy of 'measurement'