This is a very progressive course in Digital Humanities and I would highly recommend it to students who want to study outside of Australia. And Simon and Melissa are really nice. Check them out!
“The word “data” connotes fixed numbers inside hard grids of information, and as a result, it is easily mistaken for fact. But including bad product introductions and wars, we have many examples of bad data causing big mistakes (link to article)”
I am not sure that these particular projects had the explicit intent to expound ‘class, gender, race’, at least not seen through a blustery politics-in-the-wild lens. But still, apart from their significant scholarly contributions, they do put to rest the accusation that computing in the humanities is at odds with those scholars that can only engage with these subjects through the singular authority of the academic monologue (and thus claim to have a monopoly over the interpretation of ”class, gender, race”)
1) Old Bailey Online 1674-1913. ”The largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court”
2) Book of King’s (Firdausi’s Shahnama) ”Completed in eastern Iran in around A.D. 1010, is a work of mythology, history, literature and propaganda: a living epic poem that pervades and expresses many aspects of Persian culture. Thousands of manuscript copies of the text, the earliest dating from 1217, exist in libraries throughout the world. Many hundreds of these are illustrated with miniature paintings, some of them among the most magnificent masterpieces of Persian art”
3) Women’s Writers project. “The Brown University Women Writers Project is a long-term research and publication project focusing on early women’s writing in English. We have been working since 1988 on building an electronic collection of rare and less familiar texts, and on researching the complex issues involved in representing early printed texts in digital form”
4) PARADISEC, ”The Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures offers a facility for digital conservation and access to endangered materials from all over the world”
5) Founders and Survives ”Is a partnership between historians, genealogists, demographers and population health researchers. It seeks to record and study the founding population of 73,000 men women and children who were transported to Tasmania. Many survived their convict experience and went on to help build a new society”
6) Profile of a Doomed Elite: “The Structure of English Landed Society in 1066 (in progress) “Profile of a Doomed Elite is using innovative methods for interpreting Domesday Book to survey the whole of English landed society on the eve of the Norman Conquest in 1066, identifying landowners at all levels of society from the king and earls down to the parish gentry and even some prosperous peasants”.
7) European Holocaust Research Infrastructure “The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) project aims to create a sustainable world-class Holocaust Research Infrastructure of European dimensions, that will bring together virtual resources from dispersed archives. EHRI is a €7m EU-funded project that aims to provide open access to Holocaust material such as documents, objects, photos, film and art. It involves 20 partner organisations in 13 countries, making it the most important European research project about the Holocaust to date”
8) Digital Harlem, Eveyday Life, 1915-1930.”The Digital Harlem website presents information, drawn from legal records, newspapers and other archival and published sources, about everyday life in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in the years 1915-1930″
9) Collected Biographies of Women, ”Rediscover thousands of women of all kinds and eras. Retrieve books rich in varied names, portraits, and stories, from the famous to the obscure”
10) The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, ”The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection comprises significant New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials held by Victoria University of Wellington Library. NZETC texts can be downloaded in four different formats. Epub, PDF, TEI-XML and DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) audio books”
Trying to change the world through DH is sort of like trying to change the world through Architecture. Or worse still trying to change the world through cooking. I would really like to stop mashed potatoes from being served at American and Australian and UK Universities to help address the obesity epidemic, but I would be accused of being out of touch with, well, what every a mashed-potato eater would throw at me (possible mashed potatoes).
I like the DH because of its scholarly politics and not because of general in-the-wild politics, which of course has its important place, but has basically swamped vulnerable parts of the of the humanities with mashed potatoes and turned them into servants (of these politics), at the cost of something more challenging and imaginative (like perspective, power, wisdom, honesty and scholarly significance…not just party political significance).
I think I am highly political, but I do this elsewhere (through both the informal and formal political system) and I like the DH (or how I understand parts of it) because of the quality and the self-esteem in the digital, scholarly record that I see and the way it extends and challenges me through significant cultural interpretations of this, not because it looks like the mashed potatoes that I see on TV (and they do look good there). There have been a lot of careers in the humanities built on mashed potatoes since it became the staple diet in the 1960s, but not many on humanities computing. This is where the real broader issues of ‘diversity’ lay.
It is not that we are elite, it is that we are not elite enough. Is is not that we are exclusive, it is that we are not exclusive enough. And in politics this is a bad thing to say, in scholarship it is a good thing to say. They are 2 different institutions with two very different understandings of merit and cultural contribution. Everything doesn’t have to collapse into one; like in a mashed potato empire that is culturally flat but economically pyramidal . One potato , two potato, three potato, four…that’s 4 dollars thank you!
There are a lot of demands put on computing professionals everywhere and there are real issues of labor relations in the DH and it is at times, difficult to locate academic merit and the career pathways that may constitute this (and does the field really have control over this?) There is no digital humanities, only ways to see the digital humanities as the digital humanities . The politics is in the code!
(This ”gadfly” post is in response to issues such as this circulating in the blogosphere. I think we are basically saying the same things, and I attentive to these thoughts, but I would like to see the computing projects first so I can make a judgement)
Matthew K. Gold (ed.). (2012). Debates in the digital humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816677955.516 pages. USD 34.95.
Matthew K Gold has brought together a number of leading figures in Debates in the Digital Humanities in a broad-ranging collection of articles that attempt to outline the contested, eclectic, and progressing landscape of computing in the humanities. At first glance the premise of the book may seem odd to those new to the field; the very idea that there are high-level academic debates about the construction and application of computing technology within humanities research. However, apart from the distinctive culture of building and coding digital tools, these often heated debates largely constitute the field of the digital humanities and reveal its growing maturity. Gold’s book is a commendable attempt to delineate the discursive nature of computational tools within the humanities, rather than reconstitute a formulaic, passive and instrumental understanding of computing.
In Gold’s introduction and framing of the book, largely focusing upon North American issues, he does perhaps overstate the so-called rise of the digital humanities. The field is perhaps not advancing any more quickly than any other field in the humanities and often the ‘determinist’ and overly optimistic lens in which computing is viewed clouds other realities. A sophisticated, contextual and applied understanding of computing is far from the norm in humanities education and the field is not so much ‘rising’ but merely broadening to encompass all sorts of computing in education, and unfortunately, much of this is not really research nor humanities focused. Patrik Svensson discusses this in his article ‘Beyond the Big Tent’ where he reflects upon the boundary-making in the community and the highly contested and different modes of engagement with computing in the humanities (link to the full review)