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#TransformDH

May 3, 2013

It’s difficult for me to get behind the idea of transforming something (DH) that I don’t really believe exists in any meaningful sense; in a more important light, though, perhaps DH will only really exist in transformation. This piece is certainly a great read if you’re frustrated by people who pretend they know what DH is.

We wanted to think about the institutions that were forming in this ever more amorphous thing called digital humanities. We didn’t want the ways of engaging knowledge that were important to us to be left out. We felt it would be too easy to say that we were doing something other than DH, whether that be new media studies or critical cultural studies with a focus on the digital; instead, we wanted to bring what Juhasz calls “necessarily radical traditions,” which have nourished us, into the DH field in which we also felt at home.

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The New York Times goes after online learning

February 19, 2013

This is written in the negative, but I’m hoping we who believe in the power of online learning have enough traction now to turn it around. What the attrition rate exposes is how desperate the need is for us to find a way to help undergrads learn how to learn.

The research has shown over and over again that community college students who enroll in online courses are significantly more likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes, which means that they spend hard-earned tuition dollars and get nothing in return. Worse still, low-performing students who may be just barely hanging on in traditional classes tend to fall even further behind in online courses.

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Humanism of the Walkthrough, or, What happens when the prisoner doesn’t notice he’s been freed

February 13, 2013

Humanism of the Walkthrough, or, What happens when the prisoner doesn’t notice he’s been freed

Here’s where I prove that walkthroughs are as humanistic as humanistic can be.

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Aesthetics and Mechanics

January 31, 2013

The more I follow this little spur of the digital humanities railroad called game studies, the more I find myself sympathizing–and even collaborating–with art historians. Chris Solarski helps me understand why.

Video games rely on the very same design principles — perspective, form, value, etc. — which classical artists employed to create the illusion that the television (or canvas) is a window into an imagined world. These design techniques also serve a second purpose equally applicable to game design, which is their aesthetic value, and application in visual narratives.

I’ve a bone to pick with Solarski’s notion that games’ interactivity is unique, but I’m increasingly aware that games do configure their interactivity uniquely–even my beloved parallel to homeric epic relies on an analogy of configuration that applies centrally to the bard and much less to his audience, who could never sing the tales the bard sings. The barrier of entry to game-performances is much, much lower, and Solarski’s piece may help us describe the available performances more thickly.

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Roger on Rulesets and the Humanities

January 30, 2013

Frankly, my new language is “games precede humanities.” I’ll be trying to take that on the road this summer. From my latest post at Play the Past.

The codification of the essentially humanistic analysis available to every player of BioShock into writing articles for scholarly journals in order to win promotion is a ruleset of its own, but I want to persuade you that if we mistake that ruleset for the essence of humanistic endeavor, the humanities really are doomed.

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Gaming culture’s complicity in a lamentable confusion

January 15, 2013

There’s a trend here that’s making me very unhappy, of gaming culture actively perpetuating the lunatics’ conflation of “shooters” with “video games.” Consciously or un-, gaming culture writers are trying to rope Flower, Journey, and Papo & Yo into a conversation in which they don’t belong.

Still, bit by bit, video games are being demonized. And even though no true connection has been made, the more they are deferred in such a manner, the more it will be difficult to convince parties otherwise that games are not the cause of society’s ills.

I think the conversation about violent games, and the one about violent media in general, is one we’re overdue for. I’ll bring my copy of the Iliad. I’ve argued before, and I continue to think the prosocial effects, for adults, of such media far outweigh any adverse effects. But as I say I think that’s a conversation worth having. The one we’re having now, where one person is thinking of Call of Duty and another is thinking of Barbie Horse Adventure isn’t, as far as I can tell.

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THATcamp – the OA genre in conferencing

October 26, 2012

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I attended my first THATcamp at Brown University last weekend. It was productive, relaxed, entirely ego- and hierarchy-free (as far as I could tell), and a welcome new experience in how to exchange information. I also second Roger’s call for open access, as that was among the discussions pursued with a number of colleagues. Having served as the co-editor of an open access journal (Flusser Studies) since 2005, it is refreshing to realize how much support OAPublishing receives now. The session on OAJournals, in particular, pointed to a number of models, mostly produced on wordpress these days (including DH Quarterly; JHNA; or the entire directory), and The Public Knowledge Project. So time to upgrade, update, integrate, and think about how interactive an online journal can and should be. After all, social media may facilitate scholarly dialogue right on the site. If you need collaborators, look to DH Commons. If you seek a multi-media platform, check out SCALAR (for those in media and interarts studies, this one is fascinating). And check out this neat project on visualizing Jazz networks. For more information, go to the THATcamp summary. For next year’s THATcamp New England, join us on the UConn campus.

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