[Humanist] 24.324 designing an academic DH department
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Sep 8 23:02:11 CEST 2010
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 324.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2010 13:46:13 -0400
From: Wendell Piez <wapiez at mulberrytech.com>
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.320 designing an academic DH department
In-Reply-To: <20100908010724.7AFC3689DA at woodward.joyent.us>
Maybe you are cannily trying to elicit dismay or disagreement by your
suggestion that a Digital Humanities "department" might perhaps be
better organized like a corporation than like "a conventional
academic entity" such as a department of History or Literature, with
a more or less well-defined scope of interest and a self-sustaining
and self-motivating research agenda. But the questions you raise and
the distinctions you make are good ones.
Yet rather than try and answer them (who am I to say), let me just
pose this question. We now know -- we are now learning -- that there
is this interesting problem or set of problems we call "information
modeling". (I dare say you know this better than anyone.) It is not
exactly engineering, although it involves design. Maybe it stands in
the same relation to the engineering of information systems as
architecture and urban planning do to engineering. It is a thing, but
not exactly one thing -- the kind of modeling you do when using a
typesetting program, a spreadsheet, a relational database, a web
site, a markup language or an object-oriented application development
framework, are all different, despite interesting commonalities. It
is about naming things, and defining and relating what it is you
distinguish by name.
It is also a very old thing, even if "information modeling" when it
comes to the design of narrative or verse form or stagecraft or other
vehicles has happened by evolutionary processes as well as by the
intentional activities of poets, thaumaturges, rhetoricians,
legislators and bureaucrats.
It involves technology and material forms, but it also involves much
"softer" understandings of psychology, audience, and social
organization. It has always been done implicitly within other
disciplines. But now, perhaps due to the pressures of digital
convergence, it is coming to be understood as a thing in itself.
What is the proper framework within which to study and research the
topics related to this?
Digital Humanities comprises media theory as well as technology. It's
a Klein bottle of a discipline (which is part of why it's so
difficult to explain and justify). It is contained by much narrower
interests like engineering and systems design; but it also contains
whatever it is that contains them.
Wendell Piez mailto:wapiez at mulberrytech.com
Mulberry Technologies, Inc. http://www.mulberrytech.com
17 West Jefferson Street Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
Suite 207 Phone: 301/315-9631
Rockville, MD 20850 Fax: 301/315-8285
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