[Humanist] 24.424 on the digital humanities

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Oct 23 17:25:08 CEST 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 424.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Oya Yildirim Rieger <oyr1 at cornell.edu>                    (12)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.423 framing digital humanities

  [2]   From:    "Norrish, Jamieson" <jamie.norrish at kcl.ac.uk>              (6)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.423 industrialisation of the digital
                humanities

  [3]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (53)
        Subject: post+industrialisation of the digital humanities


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 22 Oct 2010 10:50:11 -0400
        From: Oya Yildirim Rieger <oyr1 at cornell.edu>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.423 framing digital humanities

I have been following the discussion on perception of digital humanities with great interest and thought that some of you may be interested in the article I wrote in an effort to broaden the interpretation of what digital humanities entail:

First Monday, October 2010
http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3198

Best regards,

Oya

Oya Y. Rieger
Associate University Librarian
Digital Scholarship Services
Cornell University Library

--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Fri, 22 Oct 2010 19:02:24 +0100
        From: "Norrish, Jamieson" <jamie.norrish at kcl.ac.uk>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.423 industrialisation of the digital humanities
        In-Reply-To: <20101022134728.B12236396C at woodward.joyent.us>

Joe Raben writes:

> In agreeing with you, Willard, may I point out how few of the suggestions
> regarding the ideal digital humanities curriculum appear to even mention
> humanities.

How odd! In the thread I read about the ideal digital humanities department, there was much talk of ratios of one or two computer scientists/programmers for every half dozen humanists (who I hope are to do their own programming!). So if we're omitting the humanities, and we're omitting the digital, what exactly are we talking about?

Jamie


--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sat, 23 Oct 2010 08:22:02 -0700
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: post+industrialisation of the digital humanities
        In-Reply-To: <20101022134728.B12236396C at woodward.joyent.us>

My thanks to Alan Liu for his foretaste of a critique to come, for which 
I wait eagerly. But I think that speaking of post-industrialisation 
offers something else than improved accuracy of what I meant by 
industrialisation: it extends or enlarges the field of concern by paying 
attention to matters on a different level -- or better, of a different 
kind. Industrialisation isn't replaced by the post-industrial; what once 
happened in the world called "industry" has become a remarkably 
persistent way of thinking about and structuring our mental and social 
lives.

What I find upsetting from the perspective of the individual humanist is 
not merely the prospect (for others the reality) of being told from on 
high that everyone must now work under managerial direction for a 
"deliverable" determined by someone else -- hence the 
"industrialisation" of work, harkening back to Chaplin's Modern Times. 
What seems to me dangerous as well as upsetting is, rather, the way we 
ourselves adopt the tyranny from without and so create a dictatorship of 
the proletariat that does the job far better than others could. In 
effect it suppresses critical reasoning and experiment by canonising 
practices, then shouts down those who deviate, making them socially 
deviant.

If I were to think hierarchically I'd be tempted to say Alan's concerns 
are on a lower or subordinate level because in speaking of "the next new 
thing" it seems that the nature of this thing isn't being examined. It's 
as if we're still thinking of the machine as merely a faster and more 
capacious way of doing what we've always done. (This was Louis Milic's 
complaint back in 1966, you will recall.) We then proceed to place the 
black box called the digital humanities somewhere in the playing field 
of socio-academic power and worry about its fitness. Furthermore we 
ignore cognitive changes afoot and the challenge which follows from them 
to invent a new kind of department, with dedicated academic staff of its 
own. We assume that some other department (usually English, occasionally 
History) will have academics who are digital humanists and that in many 
if not most cases what needs to be done in order to realise those 
academics' projects is done by a non-/quasi-/semi-academic staff. 
Sometimes it seems to me that very little has changed since the mid 1980s.

But, I realise, it's mistaken to say that the concerns that Alan 
perceptively raises are subordinate to our attempt to realise the 
cognitive changes implicit within computing and surfacing inspite of our 
blackboxing. Rather we need to speak of one big change happening 
simultaneously across a number of different interpenetrating fields of 
concern. The main thing, I think, is that we struggle to wake up from 
the sleep that blankets us all, esp that we refuse the fashionable 
narcotics now on offer.

Comments?

Yours,
WM
-- 
Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
www.uws.edu.au/centre_for_cultural_research/ccr/people/researchers;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.





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