[Humanist] 26.654 "digital materiality"

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jan 6 08:35:41 CET 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 654.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                              www.dhhumanist.org/
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (35)
        Subject: digital materiality

  [2]   From:    { brad brace } <bbrace at eskimo.com>                         (2)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.652 "digital materiality"?

  [3]   From:    Erik Hanson <erikalanhanson at gmail.com>                    (38)
        Subject: Re:  26.652 "digital materiality"?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 05 Jan 2013 12:56:20 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: digital materiality


James O'Sullivan asks in Humanist 26.652,

> I need a one word / phrase answer to the following - what comes to mind
> when I say "digital materiality"?

For me what first comes to mind is puzzlement: the phrase seems 
oxymoronic. This leads to questions: is the writer being cute? how can 
(digital) information be material? in what sense? is he referring to the 
materiality of digital circuitry? the representation of material things 
in abstract form? Does "digital humanities" have this thought-stopping 
power? 

Personally I like oxymoronic challenges. But I'd also admit to somewhat 
of an allergic reaction to deliberate, learned obscurantisms, which 
were all the rage when High Theory ruled (too much "look at me", 
too seldom rewarding when one actually looked into the matter). 
This is not to accuse O'Sullivan of indulging in them, only to 
suggest a possible reaction.

I exercise a severe rule on myself and hope always to obey it: if I 
adore the cleverness or elegance of an expression, then it must go. A 
very Protestant attitude, I suppose :-). But how about metaphysical 
poetry? Heidegger's violation of language in a deliberate attempt 
to liberate himself from the philosophical tradition he inherited? The 
medieval cloaking of truth in order to reveal truth, deliberately making 
the text obscure so that the reader had to grapple with it? Being 
unclear because clarity would deceive?

I'd suppose that because of when and where we are, we are having 
to invent a language or at least terminology in which to discuss the
collision of digital with humanities. What comes to mind is Clifford 
Geertz's (I presume) agonized statement in "Thick Description" 
that, "We are reduced to insinuating theories because we lack the 
power to state them" (Interpretation of Cultures, p. 24).

Yours,
WM

-- 
Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Humanities and Communication Arts,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2013 06:36:47 -0800 (PST)
        From: { brad brace } <bbrace at eskimo.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.652 "digital materiality"?
        In-Reply-To: <20130105073146.625CEE05 at digitalhumanities.org>


Oxymoron

/:b



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 5 Jan 2013 10:36:14 -0500
        From: Erik Hanson <erikalanhanson at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  26.652 "digital materiality"?
        In-Reply-To: <20130105073146.625CEE05 at digitalhumanities.org>


First thing that comes to my mind is "platform studies." But that comes to my mind a lot. 

@erik_a_hanson




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