|2005||Essays , Publications|
Citation: “The Humanities: A Technical Profession.” Teaching, Technology, Textuality: Approaches to New Media. Ed. Michael Hanrahan and Deborah Madsen. Basingstoke [England]: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. 11-26.
I have been involved for some time in academic initiatives that bring information technology into the humanities. In ways both wonderful and painful, I have learned that information technology (IT) opens an unusually direct conduit between the perspective of the academy and those of other sectors of society. I would like to harvest this experience by reflecting on what might be called the “technical” relation between the contemporary academy and society, a relation that serves as a test bed for broader speculations on the role of the academy today.
Let me begin with a supposition. Suppose that “humanities computing,” “digital humanities,” “technology in the humanities,” “media arts and technology,” and other such awkwardly-named associates and programmes will one day fulfil their mission. That mission, phrased broadly, is to integrate information technology in the work of the humanities so fully and in so entangled a manner, at once as tool, perspective, and theme, that it would seem just as redundant to add the words “computing,” “digital,” “media,” or “technology” to “humanities” as it was previously to add “print-based.” Information technology will simply be part of the business of the humanities along with all its other business. What then?
Then, I surmise, it will make a great deal of difference whether the incorporation of information technology in the humanities, its business, I called it, occurred with or without critical awareness of the specifically professional meaning of such technology in relation to other professions in which IT has a defining role. The difference I indicate, which bears on the larger situation of the academy, may be identified through a sequence of exploratory theses as follows:
1. Humanities scholars are also knowledge workers . . .