20.484 fixing the MLA's problem

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2007 07:58:58 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 484.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: "Matt Kirschenbaum" <mkirschenbaum_at_gmail.com> (42)
         Subject: Re: 20.482 fixing the MLA's problem

   [2] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk> (21)
         Subject: what goes around comes around, unless...

         Date: Sun, 04 Mar 2007 07:37:12 +0000
         From: "Matt Kirschenbaum" <mkirschenbaum_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Re: 20.482 fixing the MLA's problem

> Date: Sat, 03 Mar 2007 09:17:43 +0000
> From: "Timothy Mason" <timothyjpmason_at_gmail.com>
> >
>I'm wondering whether many of the students of English have not, fairly
>deliberately, chosen their subject to get away from the digital and

No doubt. In the English department in which I teach I regularly
encounter students who are intimidated by the process of logging in to
the class blog. I also encounter students, sometimes English majors
sometimes not, speaking fluently and unselfconsciously about their
information landscape.

Increasingly, the business of the humanities is being actively
conducted elsewhere, by those who are pinging tagging Googling
de.licio.us.ing feeding blogging mining piping storing mixing mashing

Interesting for example that both respondents to the current Humanist
thread point to that Medieval Helpdesk video, which is fun, but our
knowing laughter can't hide the fact this time joke really is on us.
The more apropos example is Michael Wesch's "Web 2.0 ... The Machine
is Us/ing Us":


Yes, you've seen it.

It's saccharine perhaps, but the point is that an Assistant Professor
at Kansas State made a 4-minute video that in less than a month, in
its original YouTube venue alone, has been viewed 1.6 million times
(eight more in the time it took me to write this email) and garnered
over 4000 comments. Not to mention the innumerable instances of its
embedding in other pages, with their own viewers and comment threads.

Compare that to the kind of exposure a university press monograph or
peer-reviewed journal article, even one on JSTOR or MUSE, gets you.

How many of our departments are equipping our students to make work like this?

The biggest mistake we can make is not to think that the humanities
are a world elsewhere but to think that *tech* is a world elsewhere.
This stuff should be our bread and butter. Matt

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Assistant Professor of English
Associate Director,
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)
University of Maryland
301-405-8505 or 301-314-7111 (fax)
         Date: Sun, 04 Mar 2007 07:54:35 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: what goes around comes around, unless...
I would suppose that one reason we're reminded of the ironic
etymological meaning of "revolution" is that revolutionaries so often
only replace one sort of narrowmindedness for another -- one that
puts them in power. I'd think that the point of the digital
revolution, if it is to escape becoming just one more revolution in
the cycle, or worse, is to expand the scope of reading and writing
and the media in which they take form, not shrink it. The stupidity
of publishers (only some of them, it is true, but not a few) may
force our hand, of course. If these cannot even properly manage the
distribution and publicity of our books (as seems the case with
mine), then what do we need them for?
Let me ask a question. Is it becoming our experience that journal
articles do better in digital form but that codex books remain best
as printed codices?
If so, then speed the day when the technology for on-demand printing
is local and of good quality, but preserve hand-press and other
high-quality printers. A prayer likely to be answered? Should it?
Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
Received on Sun Mar 04 2007 - 03:04:52 EST

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