Response: Practicing the Digital Humanities – Daniel Cohen

The idea of engaging with new media types as they emerge is daunting, to say the least, but with the technological capabilities of modern computing and the internet, it seems entirely possible to accomplish. Cohen’s approach to new media publishing, especially the idea of automated publishing, is something that DH should be striving to harness. I think the emphasis of his argument should actually be on the urgency with which DH scholars should be anticipating and capitalizing on what should be a “humanist” lead endeavor (categorization, preservation, and publication of new human communications). Specifically, the viability of an algorithm that determines which digital publications are provoking the most discussion among scholars within a particular field, and then publishes those articles to some central ‘trending’ web-accessible location is exceptional. Cohen, in his address to the ACLS sums up the crux of the issue: “if you don’t do something like this, someone else will.” I think that is the heart of the matter with humanities (digital or analog)–if we opt to stagnate the void left by the absence of what we should be doing WILL be filled by some other entity, be it CS or some other science. The blogs and tweets and status updates are the new, streaming source of information, as it is being generated straight from the source of a human mind. If DH can organize and develop some standard for channeling this creative energy, then there will be no MORE viable modern program of study. The whole prospect is intriguing, but impetus to act is urgent–if we don’t embrace the new version of humanities study, it could easily be absorbed by some more eager and active field.

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About Dallas Merritt

2nd year MA Strode. Interested in the Protestant Reformation and the English revolution, and the texts contemporary to them. I am also particularly interested in the similarities between the relationship of social media and modern revolutionary movements, and the relationship of “cheap texts” and the aforementioned revolutions.