Neither can my father, although both are proficient readers. My sister and her family have multiple televisions, cable, a gaming system and most recently, they have acquired cell phones (the un “smart” sort), but they do not own a computer. This is not their choice. They are regular hard working people, laboring in the service sector in long-held stable, but low paying jobs. They worry about paying for a serviceable car, not the web. Typical of many working class people, they are much less connected to the world through the internet than are their wealthier and more educated peers.

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One longstanding debate in the Digital Humanities has been the value of teaching programming skills in humanities courses. The main argument in favor of it: 21st century humanists need skills to harness growing amounts of (digital) data. The main argument against: it’s too technical a skill for a methodology that’s largely antithetical to why people go into the humanities. On this issue I have remained on the fence for some time, but as I continue to experiment with various text mining projects, and continue to fiddle with my digital history course, I am now convinced that basic techniques for data manipulation should be taught as part of the humanities curriculum.

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