Matthew Fuller in-class group work

Group 1: “Software is too often reduced to being simply a tool for the achievement of pre-existing, neutrally formulated tasks. Culture becomes an engineering problem.”

Group 2: In Microsoft Word “the work of literary writing and the task of data-entry share the same conceptual and performative environment, as do the journalist and the occasional HTML-coder.”

Group 3: “What this means contemporarily is that the disappearance of the worker is best achieved by the direct subsumption of all their potentiality within the apparatus of the work.”

Group 4: “A program like Word doesn’t deny autonomous work or the desire for it, but parasitises it, corrals and rides it at the same time as entering into an arrangement of simultaneous recomposition of scope.”

Group 5: “The user becomes an object, but at a particular position in the hierarchy of the others. The user-object is excluded from the internal transmission of information, and instead allocated representations of this information as interface.”

Group 6: “To be effective, human-machine integration required that people and machines be comprehended in similar terms so that human-machine systems could be engineered to maximize the performance of both kinds of component. Word has no direct interest in information and communication, but rather in its facilitation.” Thus, “the interface is the threshold between the underlying structure of the program and the user. As a threshold it contains elements of both.”

in class discussion questions on Remediation

  1. The film Strange Days “demonstrates what we call a double logic of remediation. Our culture wants both to multiply its media and to erase all traces of mediation: ideally, it wants to erase its media in the very act of multiplying them.” Explain this “double logic of remediation” and do so by drawing on a specific example from our current cultural moment. (5)
  2. Is this still the case today: “Older electronic and print media are seeking to reaffirm their status within our culture as digital media challenge that status.” (5)
  3. “Remediation did not begin with the introduction of digital media. We can identify the same process throughout the last several hundred years of Western visual representation…they are all attempts to achieve immediacy by ignoring or denying the presence of the medium and the act of mediation.” First, try to come up with a non-digital example of remediation. Second, what are some advantages and disadvantages to attempts to make the medium and mediation invisible? (11)
  4. Finally, where does Bolter/Grusin stand in relation to McLuhan? What ideas of McLuhan’s has he built on? And where does Bolter/Grusin stand in relation to Kittler?

extra credit opportunity: Feb. 2nd 5.30pm

“The Humanities Scholar, the Meanings of Data, and the Radical Potential of Digital Humanities”

Miriam Posner, University of California Los Angeles
Thursday February 2, 5:30 p.m

Norlin Library N410

 Digital humanists have no particular problem talking about data. We use it, trade it, and think about it constantly. Many “traditional” humanists, though, bristle at the notion that their sources constitute “data.” And yet humanists work with evidence, and they speak of proving their claims. So is this just a problem of terminology? I’ll argue in this talk that our data trouble is more substantial than we’ve acknowledged. The term “data” seems alien to the humanities not just because humanists aren’t used to computers, but because it exposes some very real differences in the way humanists and scholars from some other fields conceive of the work they do.

In this talk, I’ll outline the specific points of tension between the notion of data and the ways that humanists work with sources, and I’ll explain why I think this epistemological divide actually suggests some incredibly interesting avenues of investigation. In particular, could humanities scholars bring their concern with nuance and uncertainty to the data discussion? What would maps and data visualizations look like if they were built to show us categories like race or gender as they have been experienced, not as they have been captured and advanced by businesses and governments?

Miriam Posner coordinates and teaches in the Digital Humanities program at UCLA. She got her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 2011, and has emerged as one of the best-known practitioners of and commentators on digital humanities; her commentaries on the field have appeared in the Journal of Digital Humanities and elsewhere, and she has given several talks at a variety of conferences and workshops as well as invited talks at several universities. She also serves on the executive committee of the Association for Computers and the Humanities.
The Exploring Digital Humanities series is organized by the Department of History and the University Libraries. Co-sponsors: President’s Fund for the Humanities, Center for Humanities and the Arts, Institute for Behavioral Sciences, Center for Research Data and Digital Scholarship, Institute for Cognitive Science, Faculty Teaching Excellence Program, Departments of English, Computer Science, Philosophy, Linguistics, Art and Art History, Political Science, and Anthropology