I want to talk about how the evolution of the forms of delivery and analysis of text inherent in the creation of the online, problematizes and historicises the notion of the book as an object, and as a technology; and in the process problematizes the discipline of history itself as we practise it in the digital present.

First, it has allowed us to begin to escape the intellectual shackles that the book as a form of delivery, imposed upon us.  If we can escape the self-delusion that we are reading ‘books’, the development of the infinite archive, and the creation of a new technology of distribution,  actually allows us to move beyond the linear and episodic structures the book demands, to something different and more complex.

Teaching historical empathy through gaming is an important area in digital media and learning, but collaborations between university professors and game designers aren’t always easy.  Nonetheless, UC San Diego Theater and Dance Professor Emily Roxworthy, who leads a National Endowment for the Humanities funded project about Japanese American  internment camps in the American South during World War II that also used resources from the San Diego Supercomputing Center to bring the action to life, argues that the challenges are well worth the rewards.

My interest in the role and nature of criticism in the Digital Humanities grows out of a question that Alan Liu has asked in a few places this year: Where is the cultural criticism in the digital humanities? Although I’m not convinced that DH needs its own brand of cultural criticism beyond what its constituents would normally do as humanists, the question resonated with me because it made me wonder (with only silence to follow): where is the criticism in the digital humanities?

Editors’ Note:

In the past month scholars have been writing more extensively about the intersections between digital humanities, hacking, and theory. Below are several pieces exploring the place of theory in digital humanities work, each with comments and links to earlier discussions. This conversation also has led to the creation of @THATCampTheory, being planned for 2012.

Natalia Cecire: American Nerds Go to THATCamp, November 3, 2011

  • “But one concern continues to resurface in all of these posts, as well as in the Twitter conversation around my initial post, namely that theory, too, can be a site of power, one that has played all too well with the academic star system in the past, leaving people who now greatly

For me, the lines between digital humanities, libraries, and scholarly communication are so faint as to be insignificant.  And my perception of the equivalences among these entities that often seem siloed to my colleagues presents a real challenge as I try to help people–both at my own institution and at other campuses–think about possible futures for higher education in our digital culture.

The source of my perception lies in my having begun to learn about how digital innovations are changing libraries and publishing as a result of my first forays into digital humanities.


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A list of principles for designing on-line communities created by Dr. Sorin A. Matei and his students registered in various versions of the Online Interaction Graduate Seminar at Purdue University

Online / virtual community design principles

Design guidelines are not guarantees.
Many are necessary for online community development but they don’t guarantee that communities will form. Good design principles are necessary but not sufficient. The following list provides some key principles to consider and implement when designing and online community:

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The U.S. Office of the Register of Copyrights has released Legal Issues in Mass Digitization: A Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document .

Here’s the announcement:
The Copyright Office has published a Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document that addresses the issues raised by the intersection between copyright law and the mass digitization of books. …

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One of the greatest hinderances for collaborative digital work is a cultural obsession with individualism. This is why I feel the digital humanities should essentially be about activism and advocacy. We need to not only assign and engage in collaborative digital projects, but also by create an environment where such projects are valued.  Kathleen Fitzpatrick already wrote an amazing article about the need for faculty to back graduate students who risk their graduate careers by engaging in digital work. I also really like what Natalia Cecire said about the political stakes of DH work in an already transforming academic labor market:
[D]igital humanities and ‘the job market’ as it now manifests isn’t a narrow, merely administrative sliver of life of interest solely to junior

The general assumption is that in the 2.0 era the user was at the centre, the produser took control and the cult of the amateur was born. The web was being flooded with what seems an infinite amount of user generated content. Big platforms, such as Flickr and Facebook managed to centralize and collect some of these efforts effectively. The result of is a big, fragmented and messy dataset. Enter web 3.0; the iteration of the web which can be read and understood by machines, where the dots will be connected and contribute to an open sphere of knowledge, something that the current pragmatics of the web don’t easily allow for. The philosophy here is, bluntly put, that this connected sphere is more than the sum of its parts. 

I’m always surprised when I hear people attack open access publishing. There are no rational arguments as to why print based texts and journals are superior to open access texts, but there are plenty of rational reasons for open access publishing. Some seem to think that open access publications are less reputable and should count less towards tenure. Personally I think if you’re writing and speaking for tenure you might be in the wrong line of work, but that’s another matter. Such people seem to forget that Harvard went open access back in 2008. Perhaps Harvard is a second rate institution, but that seems like a difficult case to make. All that should matter is the peer review process. Are the editors qualified to peer review the material handed