Domenico Fiormonte has recently blogged about an interesting document he has by Father Busa that relates to a difficult moment in the history of the digital humanities in Italy in 2002. The two page “Conditional Agreement”, which I translate below, was given to Domenico and explained the terms under which Busa would agree to sign a letter to the Minister (of Education and Research) Moratti in response to Moratti’s public statement about the uselessness of humanities informatics. A letter was being prepared to be signed by a large number of Italian (and foreign) academics explaining the value of what we now call the digital humanities. Busa had the connections to get the letter published and taken seriously for which reason Domenico visited him to get his help, which ended up being conditional on certain things being made clear, as laid out in the document. Domenico kept the two pages Busa wrote and recently blogged about them. As he points out in his blog, these two pages are a mini-manifesto of Father Busa’s later views of the place and importance of what he called textual informatics. Domenico also points out how political is the context of these notes and the letter eventually signed and published. Defining the digital humanities is often about positioning the field in the larger academic and public political spheres we operate in.
Virtual reality, after bombing in the 1990s is back again. We have a Time cover, affordable headsets, and some games.
Jérémie pointed me to a couple of interesting links on VR. One is a short story by Stanley G. Weinbaum titled Pygmalion’s Spectacles from 1935 that tells the story of spectacles that can immerse you in another world. The BBC has created a virtual reality experience of being a Syrian refugee called We Wait. Vice has a short documentary Stepping Into the Screen that emphasizes the potential psychological and ethical impact of VR. To my mind the attention to impact is a way of hyping VR. Is it really that different or are we just hoping it will be?
In the 1990s many of us got sick trying VR headsets which has me wondering if anything is different this time?
There are many scenarios of carnage among the puritan, military budget the orange one is forwarding to Congress. Of the many horrors, the plan to abolish the National Endowment for the Humanities i…
Alastair Dunning has a short and to the point blog post about how The US has been a pioneer in the Digital Humanities.
What his post doesn’t deal with is the long history of NEH investment in computing in the humanities (not that it needed to.) For example the NEH has links to a great documentary they posted to the Internet Archive on Hypertext: an Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University. This documentary from 1974 was funded by the NEH and shows early educational uses of hypertext at Brown.
Pharos is an effort among 14 institutions to create a database that will eventually hold and make accessible 22 million images of artworks.
The New York Times has a story about a collaboration to develop the Pharos consortium photo archive, ‘Photo Archives Are Sleeping Beauties.’ Pharos Is Their Prince. The consortium has a number of interesting initiatives they are implementing in Pharos:
- They are applying the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model.
The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) provides definitions and a formal structure for describing the implicit and explicit concepts and relationships used in cultural heritage documentation.
- They have a visual search (which doesn’t seem to find anything at the moment.)
- They are looking at Research Space (which uses CRM) for a research linked data environment.
The British Council has developed a bilingual (English/Turkish) digital exhibit of British Art. The exhibit remediates the gallery/museum as interface, which is not new, but the designers have included other visitors moving around, looking at art and so on. It gives it a more human feel. That said, I found it harder to actually get to the art. I couldn’t move from painting on the wall to the next one without stepping back and then in.
Arianne Mayer has posted a thorough review of our book Hermeneutica on Sens Public under the title, Hermeneutica, une expérience numérique de l’interprétation (in French.) She notes the centrality of dialogue and in the spirit of dialogue ends with some good questions about silence to keep the dialogue going,
Pour continuer le dialogue, on gagnerait à faire converser Hermeneutica avec des théories de la lecture comme celle d’Umberto Eco ou avec l’esthétique de la réception, représentée par Hans Robert Jauss et Wolfgang Iser. Aux yeux d’Umberto Eco (Lector in fabula), il n’y a à interpréter que là où le texte se tait. Ce sont tous les lieux d’ambivalence, les propositions implicites et les vides de l’œuvre, suscitant la coopération d’un lecteur qui met du sien dans le texte pour combler les blancs, qui font le propre du fonctionnement littéraire. Wolfgang Iser (L’Appel du texte) affirme de son côté que, loin de déduire le sens d’une œuvre de ses mots les plus utilisés, « l’essentiel d’un texte est ce qu’il passe sous silence ».
How can we analyze the gaps, the silences, or that which has not been written?
Wikileaks has just released a first part of a series of what purports to be a large collection of CIA documents documenting their hacking tools. See Vault7, as they call the whole leak. Numerous news organizations like the New York Times are reporting on this and saying they think they might be “on first review”.
The Globe and Mail had a balanced article on Friday, March 3rd by Simona Chiose on how, As students move away from the humanities, universities adapt. This is actually an older trend. In the 1990s I was involved in developing new programs in Multimedia and Communications for McMaster. Now the focus seems more on adding applied minors and skills to programs, which strikes me as a good idea.
In response to decreasing enrolment in arts programs, schools are trying new approaches, such as adding arts courses to commerce degrees
The article ends by pointing out that the humanities and social sciences provide “more career stability” than the “boom and bust cycles experienced by their colleagues in engineering or computer science” (see the linked University of Ottawa report.) Humanities students earn less, but their earnings rise steadily.
I’ve just come across some important blog essays by David Gaertner. One is Why We Need to Talk About Indigenous Literature in the Digital Humanities where he argues that colleagues from Indigenous literature are rightly skeptical of the digital humanities because DH hasn’t really taken to heart the concerns of Indigenous communities around the expropriation of data.
The Cloud is an airily deceptive name connoting a floating world far removed from the physical realities of data.
The Gathering Cloud by J. R. Carpenter is a great interactive work that uses Luke Howard’s Essay on the Modification of Clouds from 1803 to meditate on the digital cloud. The The work “is a hybrid print- and web-based work by J. R. Carpenter commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2016.”