I found many possible topics for this post in the various readings, and decided to focus on three in particular: fruition, macro vs micro and DH as a revolutionary upheaval.
Among the various questions on whether or not we should be theorizing around DH, it could be useful to ask ourselves “who is DH for?”, “who is going to make use of it?”, “how can we make it usable for all?”. As internet brought with it a wave of knowledge democratization -more idealistically than realistically- it has been possible to imagine a world where everyone from everywhere could contribute to it. Similarly, DH use data from everywhere and wish to give back to the websphere the research results. Digital, polyvocal expression can support a genuine multiverse in which no single point of view can claim the center (Digital Humanities, p. 24). Are we revisiting the internet utopia or is DH making it happen?
Macro vs micro
Once again, I go back to the big picture -but just for a moment- and I wonder: “should DH try to create a universal platform for knowledge?”. It has been largely discussed how to standardize data, but it seems undoable because of the enormous amount of information produced every minute. Maybe the past can be digitized in a standard fashion, but what about the present? What about the trillions of gigabyte of information, artifacts, text, images uploaded on the web on a weekly basis? Is there a timing problem along with a procedure problem? Are the “intelligent agents” of Bernes-Lee and Fischetti the solution? Again, is this doable?
It seems then easier to focus on micro research, to find a methodology for DH that scholars can use to deal with information, visualization, and transmission of knowledge assuming that to translate into digital all the knowledge we own is simply impossible (Google put on the web 14 millions of book out of the 130 millions available, not to mention prints, flyers and pre-digital era media file -Digital Humanities, p. 34-. And this is what one day of Flickr uploads looks like in the real world).
DH as a revolutionary upheaval
At this point, it looks like DH can only support, maybe with new methodology, the old methods inherited from cloisters and seminar rooms. I disagree. DH is the discipline of digital humans. Looking at this discipline with the eyes of pre-digital scholarship will not take us very far. For instance, distinguish digital visualization from printed illustration only for its interactivity and possibility of manipulation of the graphical representation and the data (Jessop, p. 3) it means to approach the discipline within the perspective of a pre-digital era knowledge. The limit is the comparison with a form of visualization that implies a different cognitive approach. While reading Digital Humanities, I also thought if we, as digital humanists, standardize visualizations, do we damage and limit the potential of this discipline? At the same time, how can we avoid to be tool driven and stress the opportunity of this multi-faceted method? One answer can be in allowing failure (Digital Humanities, p. 29) which is a new approach to the discipline all together.