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Editors Choice: Humanities Shift Work

Balsamo also describes roles for artists, social scientists, engineers, computer scientists, and physical scientists, but it is the humanist’s role that interests me here. Briefly put: to historicize, interpret, and critique. It’s a fair description inasmuch as that is what humanists tend to do in any context so it makes sense that they might serve that same role in technological development. Of course, the challenges are convincing others that such functions are valuable, and then that humanistic methods can provide knowledge that can be put to use in design. The first challenge could be tough, but I think the second is even more daunting as even the humanists themselves might baulk at the notion of being “useful.” In some ways though these two might be the same problem. That is, that if one can frame one’s work as useful, as contributing productively to a larger activity, then perhaps it becomes easier to see how the traditional methods of the humanities might be valued.

This content was selected for Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Schneider based on nominations by Editors-at-Large: Carl Stahmer, Chella Vaidyanathan, Erick Peirson, Glenn Roe, Guinevere Barlow, Jodi Reeves Flores, Paige Morgan, Sarah Canfield Fuller, Subhasis Chattopadhyay