Resource: (New) Humanist Discussion Group

By the Editors | October 25, 2012

(New) Humanist Discussion Group.

The online world is now simply part of what most humanists in the developed world do, so much so that we may wonder if the digital humanities, like the state in Marxist theory, will soon wither away. The same question might be asked about Humanist, since the Web is now populated by many discussion groups and blogs that address the specialised needs of the non-technical disciplines, including their uses of computing. The continuing vigour and volume of discussion on Humanist would suggest, however, that no such withering away is likely. Looking at the subjects of discussion shows that although specialist concerns are now effectively pursued elsewhere, Humanist remains the forum within which the technology, informed by the concerns of humane learning, can be viewed from an interdisciplinary common ground.

The question, “What is Humanist?” really amounts to the apparently more difficult ones, “What are the digital humanities?” and “What is this interdisciplinary common ground where they meet?” Can we say about this common ground what Ole Johan Dahl said about computer science, that “One may wonder whether [it] is really a discipline of its own, or whether it is merely a set of loosely connected techniques drawn together from different sources” (in Linguaggi nella società e nella tecnica, Milano 1970, p. 371). If it is merely a rag-bag collection of techniques, then why spend precious resources, such as one’s time, on it? If it is not, then what forms its core?

Since about 1997 professional debate about the nature of humanities computing has taken shape on Humanist, in the pages of Literary and Linguistic Computing and other activities now gathered under the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. The Editor has taken a prominent role in this debate; see his webpage for publications on the topic. This diagram may also help. See also the ALLC page on Institutional models for the digital humanities.