[Humanist] 27.344 learning from the DHO

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Sep 16 07:20:15 CEST 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 344.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (29)
        Subject: obsolescence?

  [2]   From:    David Zeitlyn <david.zeitlyn at anthro.ox.ac.uk>             (31)
        Subject: 27.341 what can we learn from the DHO's disappearance?

        Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 09:00:24 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: obsolescence?

To Jacque Wernimont's question about planned obsolescence of a centre 
for digital humanities, I'd suggest that whether designed to be 
permanent (i.e. to last for a long time) or obsolescent, such a centre 
should have reason behind it, and that this reason should be discussed. 
If the former, then we put forth a continuing role, which for an 
academic entity would suggest a discipline on equal footing with the 
rest or an essential service that no one could ever perform on their own 
or would want to. (This is to ignore the strong argument I would make 
against the whole idea of a digital humanities service.) If the latter, 
then a specific goal would seem to be in sight, like teaching a child 
how to ride a bicycle. But in the case of computing, the bicycle is 
always changing, and riding it always suggesting new designs that have 
to be worked out. And I would wonder, what are the politics involved? 
What are the motivations that are not being articulated? What are the 
strategies designed for what ends?

As far as running out of money is concerned, how often is this a simple 
affair, as when on a very strict household budget, down to whether to 
heat or to eat, the pocket is empty? How often is it a matter of not 
having money *for this sort of thing*? How often is it a statement, in 
effect, that the centre has failed to persuade enough people that it is 
worth supporting? And if that's the case, then we're back at the 
question of why it failed.


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

        Date: Sun, 15 Sep 2013 11:48:18 +0100
        From: David Zeitlyn <david.zeitlyn at anthro.ox.ac.uk>
        Subject: 27.341 what can we learn from the DHO's disappearance?
        In-Reply-To: <8cd57198-ed11-4646-88e4-40100171097d at HUB01.ad.oak.ox.ac.uk>

Thinking in the longer term perhaps winning the argument means 
disappearance in the sense that DH (people/ approaches) are no longer in 
ghettos or silos (aka "Centres") but become mainstream and hence vanish 
(disperse, difuse (pick a metaphor)) into academic departments without 
needing a badge or label.

X is doing research on topic Y, they are using methods Z.…. If Z 
involves SGML and corpora, or large scale phonetic analysis using sound 
samples from online news broadcasts rather than traditional methods we 
say yippee there is a DH person. But we hope they can /will be able to 
stand independently the world.

So perhaps the end of DHO -type centres is a sign of developing 
maturity? I may be being far too optimistic, and looking through rose 
tinted spectacles (but then I live on Rose Hill)

best wishes

David Zeitlyn,

Professor of Social Anthropology (research)

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology,
School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography,
51 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6PF, UK
http://www.mambila.info/ The Virtual Institute of Mambila Studies
Google Scholar profile including h-index:

ORCID Researcher id 0000-0001-5853-7351
Scopus Author ID 6602478625

Oxford's open online anthropology journal: JASO online.

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