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Decoding digital humanities #2 London

Claire S Ross13 April 2010

Wow, what a night that was. Discussions centred around the paper by Michael Mateas’ ‘Procedural Literacy – Educating the New Media Practitioner’ which suggests that procedural literacy is necessary for new media researchers, because without understanding the behind the scenes of the screen or programme, researchers will never be able to deeply read new media work.
This idea provoked some very interesting and lively discussion focusing around;

Is programming a language? Or is this a misleading term?

  • If you can’t learn the language should you learn the processes behind the language?
  • How can academia combat the science/humanities divide? And should it?
  • Is online publishing a red herring?
  • How do you manage or balance traditional methods with digital methods? Should you?
  • Can you ever be procedural literate if you don’t have any training in computer science?

And the most relevant question: do you need to understand programming to work in new media and digital humanities? what benefit could being procedural literate have? This was difficult to answer and I don’t think we reached a consensus around the table.
I for one (clairey_ross) would be really interested to know anyone’s thoughts on whether you think digital humanities scholars being able to programme or at least being taught to understand the historiography and theory behind programming would make researchers in a digital age?
We also came on to the idea of what Digital Humanities actually is; a definition which appears to remain illusive. We discussed the idea of online publishing; what do people mean when they talk about humanities; is the move to digital a superficial change? Ruth has posted her review of the DDH evening on her blog finds and features, she raises some interesting points following on from the excellent question raised during the evening ‘how much impact is the Digital Humanities really having‘, ‘how fast is the world really changing‘ and ‘is the current digital revolution really all that?‘, its well worth a read.