New paper: Cultural evolution of films

Hi everyone!

Peeter Tinits (@ptinits) and I have just published a paper that may be relevant to the computational humanities community: “Open-ended cumulative cultural evolution of Hollywood film crews”.

In the paper, we apply the notion of cumulative cultural evolution to film history. Specifically, we look into the contents and structure of film crews for major Hollywood movies released over 100 years. The main finding: film production does seem to become more complex, which suggests that cumulative culture is happening in arts too, not just in technology (that’s the context in which this notion is used most often).

A side note: The paper appeared in Evolutionary Human Sciences – a new journal that is quite welcoming of cultural-evolutionary research, including such unusual topics as the evolution of films. It is a pain to find a journal that would be suitable for publishing research that merges these two fields: computational humanities and cultural evolution. So if you are planning to publish something along these lines, you may consider this outlet.


Thanks for sharing! Really interesting and impressive study! :slight_smile: I like how you approach art as an activity, rather than only focussing on the final product. Small question: perhaps I missed something, but did you also take into account any possible changes in the semantics of the job titles?

1 Like

Side note: This approach to complexity might also be cool and interesting to apply to your VOC data, @melvin.wevers.

I am glad you liked it! Regarding the semantics: sadly, no, we haven’t looked into it. I agree: the “contents” of jobs may change over time too. But we don’t have ready-made data for this, so it should have been quite labour-intensive. Semantics is hard :grinning:

But indeed, there is this additional layer of change that we don’t take into account. (And about which we haven’t even thought much, frankly – so thanks for asking!)