[Humanist] 30.748 hands on

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Feb 15 07:24:39 CET 2017


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 748.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>     (75)
        Subject: Re:  30.746 hands on?

  [2]   From:    Bill Pascoe <bill.pascoe at newcastle.edu.au>                (56)
        Subject: Re:  30.746 hands on?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2017 08:55:15 +0000
        From: Joris van Zundert <joris.van.zundert at huygens.knaw.nl>
        Subject: Re:  30.746 hands on?
        In-Reply-To: <20170214083118.A26B38606 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

It would involve non trivial preparation and in itself would not be trivial
and effortless, but neither is computing: I'd recommend a clock makers
workshop.

- Clock making is a highly skilled craft, yet with proper means and
instruction anyone can device a simple mechanical clock.
- It requires understanding of transformation, mechanism, formalization.
- Clocks have an interface (the hour plate and hands).
- They have discrete parts with discrete functions (the minute hand and its
wheel, the escapement, the pendulum/spring).
- They have input (gravity) and output (time indication, not time itself
obviously, however convenient it would be).
- A workshop is probably doable by using Legos as course material.

I admit that it is less intimate to humanities than calligraphy or
bibliography, but a nice philosophical/historical lecture on the relation
between time and humans could mitigate that maybe?

If anyone is organizing one for DH2018, I'd like to reserve a spot.

Cheers
--Joris

On Tue, 14 Feb 2017 at 09:31, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 746.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2017 07:45:38 +0000
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: hands on
>
>
> There are a number of practices in which physical craftsmanship and digital
> making rub up against each other if not mingle, even interpenetrate. Let's
> think about these practices for a moment.
>
> It may be that my personal history and training exert a prejudicial
> influence that limits the appeal of how I think about digital humanities.
> Perhaps that history and training explain why in reading Tim Ingold's
> illuminating book, Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture
> (2013), I am drawn eagerly to the pedagogical expressions of his
> anthropology in such class exercises as weaving baskets and see in them
> (changing what needs to be changed) a model for training digital humanists.
>
> The link between baskets and computing was made explicit to me this morning
> by the announcement of the Rare Book Summer School (Humanist 30.742), which
> quoted a former student as saying, "œI will never look at a book -- ”any
> book -- ”the same way again." (Would that all digitizers of books had such
> experience!) As a much younger man I once studied and then taught
> bookbinding, and then as a graduate student at Toronto studied analytical
> bibliography, and so, yes, have never looked at a book -- any book -- the
> same way again. But the lesson from those experiences and others, the
> acquiring of 'Fingerspitzengefühl' as experimental physicists call it, grew
> from books and writing to flesh out and animate the idea of craftsmanship.
> And that in turn (I am guessing!) has had much to do with how I think about
> computing, down to the extravagant engineering of the hardware so well
> concealed and so important in the machines we use.
>
> Programming is one way of teaching our digital makers, but I fear that it
> is
> too much in the head to make that link with craftsmanship. (Long ago I took
> to assembler-language programming immediately because -- more guessing -- I
> already had the feeling for it from making things with wood and metal as a
> child.) Physical bibliography is closer, bookbinding and calligraphy closer
> yet. What would you recommend?
>
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
> Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western Sydney
> University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
> Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2017 10:38:42 +0000
        From: Bill Pascoe <bill.pascoe at newcastle.edu.au>
        Subject: Re:  30.746 hands on?
        In-Reply-To: <20170214083118.A26B38606 at digitalhumanities.org>


One thing that has a sense of good craftsmanship about it is 'hand-making' an epub. You might use a tool like Calibre for example to start an ebook from scratch, adding pages, modifying the contents, title page and style. The point is to write your own HTML and CSS, analogous to shaping the 'material' from which the product is constructed. In this way, with experience, you learn about good clean, efficient markup and elegant ways to solve particular problems. You learn better techniques, tricks of the trade and understand how to customise any aspect of it. It becomes quicker and easier and more error free than using any automated conversion tool. When you compare a 'hand made' ebook the markup generated by conversion tools from other sources such as MS Word looks like garbage. You acquire an aesthetic appreciation for the code itself, as a craftsperson does for the signs of work well done. It will never compare to tactile products and work, but it certainly does involve an appreciation for the quality of the way the work is done beyond the practical utility and cosmetic appeal of the product.

Dr Bill Pascoe
eResearch Consultant
Digital Humanities Lab
hri.newcastle.edu.au http://hri.newcastle.edu.au/
Centre for 21st Century Humanities<http://www.newcastle.edu.au/research-and-innovation/centre/centre-for-21st-century-humanities/about-us>

T: 0435 374 677
E: bill.pascoe at newcastle.edu.au

The University of Newcastle (UON)
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308
Australia


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