When Does Service Become Scholarship?

When does service become scholarship? When does anything—service, teaching, editing, mentoring, coding—become scholarship? My answer is simply this: a creative or intellectual act becomes scholarship when it is public and circulates in a community of peers that evaluates and builds upon it. Now for some background behind the question and the rationale for my answer.… Continue reading When Does Service Become Scholarship?

Notes towards a Deformed Humanities

I've gone on record as saying that the digital humanities is not about building. It's about sharing. I stand by that declaration. But I’ve also been thinking about a complementary mode of learning and research that is precisely the opposite of building things. It is destroying things. I want to propose a theory and practice… Continue reading Notes towards a Deformed Humanities

Serial Concentration is Deep Concentration

A Chronicle of Higher Ed column by the former Idaho State University provost and official Stanley Fish biographer Gary Olson has been making waves this weekend. Entitled “How Not to Reform Humanities Scholarship,” Olson’s column is really about scholarly publishing, not scholarship itself. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Olson conflates so many issues and misrepresents so many points of view that it’s difficult to tease out a single coherent argument, other than a misplaced resistance to technological and institutional change. Nonetheless, I want to call attention to a troubling generalization that Olson is certainly not the first to make.

The digital humanities is not about building, it’s about sharing

Every scholarly community has its disagreements, its tensions, its divides. One tension in the digital humanities that has received considerable attention is between those who build digital tools and media and those who study traditional humanities questions using digital tools and media. Variously framed as do vs. think, practice vs. theory, or hack vs. yack,… Continue reading The digital humanities is not about building, it’s about sharing

Gamifying Gamification by Making It Less Gamely

In a recent post on the group blog Play the Past, I wrote about the way torture-interrogation is often described by its proponents as a kind of game. I wrestled for a long time with the title of that post: "The Gamification of Interrogation." Why? Because I oppose the general trend toward "gamifying" real world… Continue reading Gamifying Gamification by Making It Less Gamely

“A Very Kind and Peaceful People”: Geronimo and the World’s Fair

(Exactly ten years ago this week I turned in my last graduate seminar paper, for a class on late 19th and early 20th century American literature taught by the magnificent Nancy Bentley. The paper was about the 1904 World's Fair and Geronimo, a figure I've been thinking about deeply since Sunday night. Because of the… Continue reading “A Very Kind and Peaceful People”: Geronimo and the World’s Fair

The Poetics of Metadata and the Potential of Paradata (Revised)

[This is the text, more or less, of the talk I delivered at the 2011 biennial meeting of the Society for Textual Scholarship, which took place March 16-18 at Penn State University. I originally planned on talking about the role of metadata in two digital media projects—a topic that would have fit nicely with STS's… Continue reading The Poetics of Metadata and the Potential of Paradata (Revised)

Tactical Collaborations (2011 MLA Version)

[I was on a panel called "The Open Professoriat(e)" at the 2011 MLA Convention in Los Angeles, in which we focused on the dynamic between academia, social media, and the public. My talk was an abbreviated version of a post that appeared on samplereality in July. Here is the text of the talk as I… Continue reading Tactical Collaborations (2011 MLA Version)

Criminal Code: The Procedural Logic of Crime in Videogames

[This is the text of my second talk at the 2011 MLA convention in Los Angeles, for a panel on "Close Reading the Digital." My talk was accompanied by a Prezi "Zooming" presentation, which I have replicated here with still images (the original slideshow is at the end of this post). In 15 minutes I… Continue reading Criminal Code: The Procedural Logic of Crime in Videogames

One Week, One Tool, Many Anthologies

Many of you have already heard about Anthologize, the blog-to-book publishing tool created in one week by a crack team of twelve digital humanists, funded by the NEH's Office of Digital Humanities, and shepherded by George Mason University's Center for History and New Media. Until the moment of the tool's unveiling on Tuesday, August 3,… Continue reading One Week, One Tool, Many Anthologies

Haunts: Place, Play, and Trauma

Foursquare and its brethren (Gowalla, Brightkite, Loopt, and so on) are the latest social media darlings, but honestly, are they really all that useful? Sharing your location with your friends is not very compelling when you spend your life in the same four places (home, office, classroom, coffee shop). Are these apps really even fun?… Continue reading Haunts: Place, Play, and Trauma

Forget Unconferences, Let’s Think about Underconferences

In a few days the latest iteration of THATCamp will convene on the campus of George Mason University, hosted by the Center for History and New Media. Except "convene" really isn't the right word. Most of my readers will already know that The Technology and Humanities Camp is an "unconference," which as Ethan Watrall explains… Continue reading Forget Unconferences, Let’s Think about Underconferences

On the Death of the Digital Humanities Center

Two or three years ago it'd be difficult to imagine a university shuttering an internationally recognized program, one of the leading such programs in the country. Oh, wait. Never mind. That happens all the time. My own experience tells me that it's usually a marginalized field, using new methodologies, producing hard-to-classify work, heavily interdisciplinary, challenging… Continue reading On the Death of the Digital Humanities Center

Loud, Crowded, and Out of Control: A New Model for Scholarly Publishing

Yesterday Dan Cohen, the director of the Center for History and New Media and my colleague at George Mason University, posted a thoughtful piece describing a major problem of scholarly publishing (and of book publishing more generally). Dan suggests that while the "supply" of written work has changed with the advent of digital collaborations, academic… Continue reading Loud, Crowded, and Out of Control: A New Model for Scholarly Publishing

The Archive or the Trace: Cultural Permanence and the Fugitive Text

We in the humanities are in love with the archive. My readers already know that I am obsessed with archiving otherwise ephemeral social media. I've got multiple redundant systems for preserving my Twitter activity. I rely on the Firefox plugins Scrapbook and Zotero to capture any online document that poses even the slightest flight risk.… Continue reading The Archive or the Trace: Cultural Permanence and the Fugitive Text