“If a bit of fun is had along the way, so much the better” (Schnapp, et al), taken from the first page of the latest iteration of “The Digital Humanities Manifesto,” might, if taken out of context, be mistaken for the manner of conversation which takes place prior to cliché filmic stereotypes of baseball coaches and their pedagogical ilk. These voices, found in somewhat lesser venues than those typically associated with the academic realm, can be at times difficult to take seriously. Any “manifesto” in which the first and foremost instruction is: “Don’t Whine” (Schnapp, et al), may or may not be construed as less nuanced than other pieces of academic output, for example. Whether or not one agrees with the ideas presented in any piece of writing, media, or technology, the way in which the information is presented is paramount in importance to the analytical mind. Here, we are given a profound idea—that of a conglomeration of thought and, more importantly to the authors of the manifesto, practice, between the historically combative schools of science and humanities which could spark a revolution that is, theoretically, already taking place both in terms of the ways in which information is found and shared and also in terms of all of the intellectual possibilities and implications linked with contemporary phenomena such as Wikipedia and Google—in the voice of a child. Therefore, those who wish to form a conglomeration with a common aim treat their audience and readers didactically. Misguided methinks if its aim was to reach the academic audience who would no doubt also be repulsed by such choices.
That being said, the Porsdam article speaks to the echoes of this failed marriage between the thinkers in the sciences and those in the halls of the humanities. The Snow and Leavis debate is, of course, still occurring (despite the friendly mawkish tone of those who would call to arms both sides of the debate) but in many ways, the dichotomy is superficial. Technological advances will continue to influence the way in which individuals consume literature, share ideas, and exist in the information age. So, too, will the ideas that emerge from the humanities influence the imaginations of those who engineer and manufacture technology. If the Digital Humanities is a means for those who identify with either camp to effectively communicate and share ideas, then I would say it is an inherently good thing. “We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we many [sic] use technology rather than be used by it” (Porsham 44) concludes the article and serves as a reminder to keep one’s humanness while the phenomenological world of technology constantly changes.
Michael, I think you made a great point in saying, “but in many ways, the dichotomy is superficial. Technological advances will continue to influence the way in which individuals consume literature, share ideas, and exist in the information age. So, too, will the ideas that emerge from the humanities influence the imaginations of those who engineer and manufacture technology.” It is hard to separate which camp is most influential because the way we consume digital media influences the humanities that we publish and the humanities that we publish influence the way digital media is produced. You are right that if DH is a marriage, even if it is an unwilling one, it is inherently good because is opens communication between the arts and sciences.