[Humanist] 25.913 real vs digital?
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Apr 25 08:56:25 CEST 2012
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 913.
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2012 08:47:18 +0200
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
Subject: real vs digital
Recently I found myself in a hotel lift with a colleague who had
attended the same conference but with whom I had not previously spoken.
I asked him what he was working on, or interested in, or some such thing
as that. He said, "I'm an historian -- not a digital historian but a
Too much can be made of such a remark, but it did characterise rather
succinctly an attitude I found here and there at the conference and have
encountered before. Contrariwise it can easily be turned aside, and so
too little made of it. But I'd rather ask in this time of transition,
from the status of unpersons (as those our kind once were frequently classed)
to the coolest of academics, how we negotiate changing identities. In my
conversation with this colleague in the time it took to descend from the
6th to the ground floor I learned that he was at the conference because
he is in charge of a major digitization project. I conclude that it was
important to him in the moment of confrontation with one of the digirati
to establish a distance between oldfashioned, pre-digitally affected
history and all he associated with the digitization of historical
materials. A moment of fear?
In any case, how do we make it clear to our colleagues that the
situation is one of fluidity and hybridity, that taking positions and
establishing boundaries only impedes the discovery/invention of the
world coming into being? This is different from and more than the
question of how one explains oneself in the lift or taxi. I suppose it
is more like how one disperses the distorting fog that surrounds us.
Is this once again a manifestation of the effects of self-definition by
Professor Willard McCarty, Department of Digital Humanities, King's
College London; Professor (fractional), University of Western Sydney;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.isr-journal.org); Editor,
Humanist (www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/
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