ethics, power, advocacy, technique

In reading the session proposals over the past week, and following the twitter/blog/conference conversations of the past year, it strikes me at the extent to which DH finds itself simultaneously outside and inside the hierarchies and institutional cultures of the academy. The pressing need for advocacy, the exclusionary hierarchy that #alt-acs struggle against, questions of privilege, accessibility, and diversity, the insecurities over what “counts” for tenure, the constant search for external funding (for both validation and practical needs), etc. speak to the extent to which DH is patterned  by the institutional culture of the university-in-crisis. I don’t think we or need or want a singular response to these challenges from a DH perspective. But, I do think that being conscious of the context in which DH continues to develop is important, less those institutional/cultural factors exert an overdetermining influence on teaching, public engagement, and research. All that to say that I have no specific session proposal on this front, but I’m looking forward to the conversations proposed by wdeal, Jennifer Bengston, Jeff McClurken, Roger Whitson, stewartvarner, George Williams, and James Neal. That’s quite a list of sessions that treat in one way or another ethics, power and advocacy in the practice of DH. As a Latin American Historian, I’d also add that from a global perspective the digital turn has as much potential to increase the gulf between scholarly communities as it does to bridge it, and thus makes open access an affirmative necessity.

On the more hacking front, and following on Patrick Murray-John’s offer for a session on humanities coding/hacking, I’d love a session that shares modules/libraries most useful to humanists exploring text analysis and text mining. I devoted myself to learning Python as a first language, and there are many mature libraries big and small (nltk, patternclustering, orange, levenshtein, tf-idf, etc.) that offer relatively easy access to complicated analysis. I’d love to have a session where people share their experiences with such code packages to solve real-world humanities text mining problems and data visualizations.

Looking forward to this weekend!


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  1. Proposal: Inclusion = 1 Part Yack + 2 Parts Hack | THATCamp CHNM 2011

    […] Chad Black is concerned with “ethics, power, advocacy, technique“ […]

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