An interactive, illustrated timeline of historic moments in humankind’s quest for information. With annotations by Jeremy Norman.
History of Information is a searchable database of events in information. The link will show you the digital humanities category and what the creator thought were important events. I must say that it looks rather biased towards the interventions of white men.
I’m at DH 2023 in Graz, Austria and keeping my live notes here on Philosophi.ca.
The weather is hot and humid, at least in comparison to Edmonton, but the town is lovely. There is a lot of green space and a good tram system.
The conference is not at the university, but in a conference centre that is, thankfully, air conditioned.
The AIUCD (Association for Humanistic Informatics and Digital Culture) have posted a nice blog entry with memories of Dino Buzetti (in Italian). See Ricordando Dino Buzzetti, co-fondatore e presidente onorario dell’AIUCD – Informatica Umanistica e Cultura Digitale: il blog dell’ AIUCD.
Dino was the co-founder and honorary president of the AIUCD. He was one of the few other philosophers in the digital humanities. I last saw him in Tuscany and wish I had taken more time to talk with him about his work. His paper “Towards an operational approach to computational text analysis” is in the recent collection I helped edit On Making in the Digital Humanities.
On Making in the Digital Humanities fills a gap in our understanding of digital humanities projects and craft by exploring the processes of making as much as the products that arise from it. The volume draws focus to the interwoven layers of human and technological textures that constitute digital humanities scholarship.
On Making in the Digital Humanities is finally out from UCL Press. The book honours the work of John Bradley and those in the digital humanities who share their scholarship through projects. Stéfan Sinclair and I first started work on it years ago and were soon joined by Juliane Nyhan and later Alexandra Ortolja-Baird. It is a pleasure to see it finished.
I co-wrote the Introduction with Nyhan and wrote a final chapter on “If Voyant then Spyral: Remembering Stéfan Sinclair: A discourse on practice in the digital humanities.” Stéfan passed during the editing of this.
The LARB has a nice essay by Dan Sinykin on how researchers have used data to track how poetry prizes are distributed unequally titled, Fuck the Poetry Police: On the Index of Major Literary Prizes in the United States. The essay talks about the creation of the Post45 Data Collective which provides peer review for post-1945 cultural datasets.
Sinykin talks about this as an “act as groundbreaking as the research itself” which seems a bit of an exaggeration. It is important that data is being reviewed and published, but it has been happening for a while in other fields. Nonetheless, this is a welcome initiative, especially if it gets attention like the LARB article. In 2013 the Tri-Council (of research agencies in Canada) called for a culture of research data stewardship. In 2015 I worked with Sonja Sapach and Catherine Middleton on a report on a Data Management Plan Recommendation for Social Science and Humanities Funding Agencies. This looks more at the front end of requiring plans from people submitting grant proposals that are asking for funding for data-driven projects, but this was so that data could be made available for future research.
Sinykin’s essay looks at the poetry publishing culture in the US and how white it is. He shows how data can be used to study inequalities. We also need to ask about the privilege of English poetry and that of culture from the Global North. Not to mention research and research infrastructure.
From a paper on postcolonial computing I learned about the Unitron Mac 512: A Contraband Mac 512K from Brazil. For a while Brazil didn’t allow the importation of computers (so as to kickstart their own computer industry.) Unitron decided to reverse engineer the Mac 512K, but Apple put pressure on Brazil and the project was closed down. At least 500 machines were built and I guess some are still in circulation.
The article is Philip, K., et al. (2010). “Postcolonial Computing: A Tactical Survey.” Science Technology Human Values. 37(1).
Though Apple had no intellectual property protection for the Macintosh in Brazil, the American corporation was able to pressure government and other economic actors within Brazil to reframe Unitron’s activities, once seen as nationalist and anti-colonial, as immoral piracy.
Discover new resources for your research in Social Sciences and Humanities: tools, services, training materials and datasets, contextualised.
I’ve been experimenting with the Social Sciences & Humanities Open Marketplace. The Marketplace was developed by three European Research Infrastructures, Dariah-EU, Clarin, and CESSDA. I’m proud to say that TAPoR contributed data to the Marketplace. It is great to have such a directory service for finding things!
I’m immensely proud to write that the Zampolli Prize Awarded to Voyant Tools. The Zampolli prize is one of the most prestigious in my field. I’m proud to have been part of the team that developed and sustained Voyant. Alas, Stéfan Sinclair, its genius, is not with us to share this.
A short essay I wrote with Stéfan Sinclair on “Recapitulation, Replication, Reanalysis, Repetition, or Revivification” is now up in preprint form. The essay is part of a longer work on “Anatomy of tools: A closer look at ‘textual DH’ methodologies.” The longer work is a set of interventions looking at text tools. These came out of a ADHO SIG-DLS (Digital Literary Studies) workshop that took place in Utrecht in July 2019.
Our intervention at the workshop had the original title “Zombies as Tools: Revivification in Computer Assisted Interpretation” and concentrated on practices of exploring old tools – a sort of revivification or bringing back to life of zombie tools.
The full paper should be published soon by DHQ.
But despite data science’s exciting possibilities, plenty of other academics object to it
The Economist has a nice Christmas Special on the Digital humanities – How data analysis can enrich the liberal arts. The article tells a bit of our history (starting with Busa, of course) and gives examples of new work like that of Ted Underwood. The note criticism about how DH may be sucking up all the money or corrupting the humanities, but they also point out how little DH gets from the NEH pot (some $60m out of $16bn) which is hardly evidence of a take over. The truth is, as they note, that the humanities are under attack again and the digital humanities don’t make much of a difference either way. The neighboring fields that I see students moving to are media arts, communication studies and specializations like criminology. Those are the threats, but also sanctuaries for the humanities.