After a year of silence, I need to get back on and start writing on the blog again. I’m in the final throngs of writing the thesis and so writing any words, other than for a Chapter, hasn’t really been my main priority. But exciting things are afoot, and I can feel the end of the thesis is so very close, with each chapter now in place, just requiring some tightening up. I have a new Researcher post at Culture Lab, Newcastle University working on Participatory Design and Heritage as part of the SIDE project. This will allow me to continue with the work at the Angelou Centre that I started as part of my PhD. They have recently found out they have been successful in receiving money from the Heritage Lottery Fund to continue their project for another 2 years http://www.bamsistahoodproject.org.uk I’ll be working with them over the next 9 months to get an e-textile kit together so women can develop their existing skills and some new skills ones in the burgeoning field of DIY E-Textiles and making to engage young people in discussions about traditional and contemporary heritage practices. I don’t know much about this area of work either, so we’ll be learning as we’re going along.
But the thing I woke up really wanting to blog about was digital humanities. I was invited last month to a digital humanities discussion group within the university, to give a perspective on community archives but couldn’t make it. DH is being flagged up as the next new thing within the University. Then a conversation in the pub suggested I should consider framing myself in the new space of digital humanities since the University are looking to invest in this new space. And then I thought, sounds about right – I’m now this weird hybrid, somewhere between digital design and anthropology, but what on earth is DH? After trawling through a number of sites, that positioned DH in the context of using computers and visualisation to make sense of large datasets produced in the humanities amongst other things, I came across this blog post by Miriam Posner, Think, Talk, Make, Do. On the Digital Humanities Journal website. It raises some interesting critical questions about what kinds of work are being done within the digital humanities and by whom. Her main point being that if the majority of work done in the digital humanities is code, then this is likely to be white middle class men who dominate the field, as they are the ones more likely to have access to these skills. So it’s an interesting argument, and its one that I, in part agree with. Only the other day I was in the School of Computing Science staff meeting where we were told only 10% of academic staff in the school were women and they were trying to change this. But then there is another part of me that says, OK, then let’s change the parameters of what constitutes DH, to other forms of the digital that isn’t just about code and can include other aspects of the humanities. Of course I don’t know exactly what this means yet at 7.30 am, but maybe we get too hung up on how the boundaries have been drawn and how we don’t fit into them. Instead of saying OK, let’s keep drawing and playing with what we think a boundary is and how we’d like it to be.
Photographs of Experiment #3 by Briony Barr, National Art School, Sydney – AIAS Conference, 2012.