[Humanist] 27.728 digital knowledge

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Jan 23 07:36:22 CET 2014


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 728.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    sneha <sneha at cis-india.org>                               (30)
        Subject: Re:  27.727 digital knowledge?

  [2]   From:    Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>     (50)
        Subject: Re:  27.727 digital knowledge?

  [3]   From:    Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>           (61)
        Subject: Re:  27.727 digital knowledge?

  [4]   From:    James Smithies <james.smithies at canterbury.ac.nz>          (18)
        Subject: RE:  27.727 digital knowledge?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 13:45:30 +0500
        From: sneha <sneha at cis-india.org>
        Subject: Re:  27.727 digital knowledge?
        In-Reply-To: <20140122065152.D2A6A6256 at digitalhumanities.org>


 
Dear Prof. McCarty, 

An immediate response to the phrase would be: any knowledge that is
produced or better perhaps, mediated by the use of digital tools,
methods or spaces. 

Best wishes, 

Sneha. 

On 22.01.2014 11:51, Humanist Discussion Group wrote: 

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 727.
> Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
> www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist [1]
> Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 06:43:32 +0000
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
> Subject: digital knowledge?
> 
> This is not a psychoanalytic question, or even a psychological one, 
> rather my attempt to dredge for emergent meanings: what comes to mind 
> when you read the phrase "digital knowledge"? I'd be grateful for any 
> sort of response, here on Humanist.
> 
> Many thanks.
> 
> Yours,
> WM

 
Links:
------
[1] http://www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:12:28 +0100
        From: Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>
        Subject: Re:  27.727 digital knowledge?
        In-Reply-To: <20140122065152.D2A6A6256 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

My immediate–and weirdly enough until now my only–association is with the
title of a book:

Wouters, P. et al. eds., 2013. *Virtual Knowledge: Experimenting in the
Humanities and the Social Sciences*, Cambridge, MA, USA/London UK: MIT.

Warmly recommended reading from where I am sitting. But besides that I
instantly loved the title for its seeming paradoxicality. What the authors
mean by virtual knowledge is the knowledge that might be gained, the
knowledge that may be pushed forward by 'research dreams' (another term
they use/coin). This pertains also to digital humanities where we often
find the utopic contrasting with the distopic predictions about its often
still unrealized potential.

Best
--Joris

On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 7:51 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 727.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 06:43:32 +0000
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: digital knowledge?
>
> This is not a psychoanalytic question, or even a psychological one,
> rather my attempt to dredge for emergent meanings: what comes to mind
> when you read the phrase "digital knowledge"? I'd be grateful for any
> sort of response, here on Humanist.
>
> Many thanks.
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
> Humanities, University of Western Sydney


-- 
Drs. Joris J. van Zundert

*Researcher & Developer Digital and Computational Humanities*
Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands

*Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences*
www.huygens.knaw.nl/en/vanzundert/

-------

*Jack Sparrow: I thought you were supposed to keep to the code.Mr. Gibbs:
We figured they were more actual guidelines.*



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 17:13:23 +0000
        From: Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>
        Subject: Re:  27.727 digital knowledge?
        In-Reply-To: <20140122065152.D2A6A6256 at digitalhumanities.org>

There is a way in which knowledge is knowledge,but common qualifiers for
'knowledge' are 'full', 'some', 'no', 'partial', 'detailed', 'tacit'. I
can think of two ways of parsing 'digital' in 'digital knowledge.'  One
refers to the digital as the source. You got this knowledge from digital
data mediated through special tools. Applied statistics and visualization
are big here. There is something like a New Empiricism, and it is
accompanied by new forms of numeracy. Visualizations are numeracy in
disguise. Humanities scholars are having a hard time coming to terms with
this. They like to "theorize" the digital and think that somehow or other
there must be more to it.  But there may not be more to it than that.
Instead of theorizing the digital it may be more helpful to think in
practical terms about how to square old-fashioned scholarly and critical
endeavours with the opportunities that cheap and fast numeracy and
visualization have created.

The second has to do with time (and so, come to think of it, does the
first). James Gleick's 'Faster' comes to mind. The good thing about this
is that the time cost of many operations has dropped. The bad thing about
it is the temptation to use novelty and speed as criteria of knowledge. An
old story in many ways: Pascal lamented 'divertissement' and the inability
of people to sit still. Tom Friedman's column in the Times today talks
about education and a student who explained to her teacher that she
couldn't complete her homework because she is too busy texting and
tweeting. 

Martin Mueller

Professor of English and Classics
Northwestern University

On 1/22/14 12:51 AM, "Humanist Discussion Group"
<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 727.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>        Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 06:43:32 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: digital knowledge?
>
>This is not a psychoanalytic question, or even a psychological one,
>rather my attempt to dredge for emergent meanings: what comes to mind
>when you read the phrase "digital knowledge"? I'd be grateful for any
>sort of response, here on Humanist.
>
>Many thanks.
>
>Yours,
>WM
>-- 
>Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
>Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
>Humanities, University of Western Sydney
>
>
>_______________________________________________
>List posts to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>List info and archives at at: http://digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>Listmember interface at:
>http://digitalhumanities.org/humanist/Restricted/listmember_interface.php
>Subscribe at: 
>http://www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/membership_form.php



--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 20:22:11 +0000
        From: James Smithies <james.smithies at canterbury.ac.nz>
        Subject: RE:  27.727 digital knowledge?
        In-Reply-To: <20140122065152.D2A6A6256 at digitalhumanities.org>


Hi Willard,

I'll have a go at this one, although I'll need to resort to a list. Digital Knowledge, to me, should be understood in the same way scholars go about understanding the analog form of your question. It's just that the term 'digital' requires a certain focus:

- Digital Knowledge, in the abstract, is a continuation of 'Knowledge' as we have always known it, delivered via digital technologies instead of analog.
- It is dependent on binary logic and information theory that allow it to be not only delivered in its final form, but manipulated. Manovich's and Kirschenbaum's ideas are useful here. This allows digital knowledge to be stored, transmitted, intercepted and manipulated in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons relating to product design, security, access to infrastructure (etc).
- Digital Knowledge is transmitted either via hard disks or Internet infrastructure. Internet infrastructure itself is controlled (in a variety of ways, depending on political, commercial and cultural orientation) by governments, international agencies, and commercial companies. Much (most?) knowledge stored on the Internet is not publically available.
- Much digital knowledge is delivered (by individuals, governments, companies etc etc) via the World Wide Web and dependent on Internet protocols including TCP/IP and HTTP, as well as HTML. A broad variety of other file formats and programming languages are also used. The scale of the WWW is such that specialized algorithms need to be used to enable efficient searches. These algorithms are sometimes designed and controlled by commercial or government entities.
- Digital Knowledge can be organized using both human-created hierarchical and relational taxonomies and ontologies, and machine-created taxonomies and ontologies derived from algorithms.
- It is presented to users via various digital computing devices and software applications that are designed and marketed for a range of personal, commercial, academic, governmental (etc) purposes. It is therefore mediated, to some degree, by the design decisions and technological affordances / constraints that produced those tools.
- Access to digital knowledge is both controllable (in a naïve sense, ignoring hackers etc) and variable, depending on access to devices, infrastructure, and/or commercial / governmental / personal access controls.

I could go on, and perhaps stumble in some places, but you get my point. My answer is problematic, admittedly. The first line basically claims that digital knowledge is knowledge and moves on from there; that first line is sort of an <Insert Diderot here> kludge. The subsequent ones merely attempt to enumerate the characteristics of digital technologies used to create and transmit 'knowledge'. They were required, in a different form, even after Diderot did his work in the 18thC, of course (this thing called 'analog knowledge' is dependent on publishing markets, librarians, quality of paper and ink, political bias and censorship laws etc etc).

I'll click Send on this, but expect to be mulling it over all day.

- James Smithies

Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities
University of Canterbury
New Zealand

-----Original Message-----
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