[Humanist] 27.719 the concepts, knowledge-making, and practices of the black box

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Jan 20 07:25:06 CET 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 719.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2014 11:55:34 -0600
        From: Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  27.717 reparations? relations?
        In-Reply-To: <20140119104931.BD88D61DE at digitalhumanities.org>

> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2014 13:01:53 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: stages in disciplinary development
> Allow me to share with you the following from Michael Oakeshott's "The
> activity of being an historian" (1962) -- because it states simply and 
> clearly where I think we may now be with this discipline of ours:
>> ... a direction of attention, as it is pursued, may hollow out a
>> character for itself and become specified in a 'practice'; and a
>> participant in the activity comes to be recognized not by the results
>> he achieves but by his disposition to observe the manners of the
>> 'practice'. Moreover, when an activity has acquired a certain
>> firmness of character, it may present itself as a puzzle, and thus
>> provoke reflection; for, there may come a point at which we not only
>> wish to acquire and exercise the skill which constitutes the
>> activity but may wish also to discern the logic of the relation of
>> this activity (as it has come to be specified) to others and to
>> ascertain its place on the map of human activity.
> What, do you suppose, is the logic of the relation of our activity to 
> others in the humanities and beyond? Where are we on the map of 
> human activity? Or is the mapping metaphor quite wrong because it 
> introduces the constraints of geographical space?
> Comments?
> Yours,
> WM


Let me suggest that one difference which seems to separate digital humanities
from the larger enterprise of the humanities, is a turning point in philosophy.
In particular, an appreciation for the concepts, knowledge-making, and practices 
that are behind the black box, driving the tool. Examples can be found throughout
the DH literature from the use of graph theory to characterize and visualize
abstract relationships of people and places to the use of the scientific method
defined by an empirical approach to research (e.g., not limited by the
traditional data-set-size-of-one scholarly approach).


Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished Chair of Arts & Technology 
   and Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
Blog: creative-automata.com

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