Jan 242012

In The Digital Humanities and Interpretation, Stanley Fish writes about some recent efforts to conceptualize the method and purpose of “digital humanities” (i.e. letting computers “mine” books for data rather than reading them). He surveys what various people have proposed. Confronted with the question of how to (and implicitly, why) read through a computer, Stephen Ramsey responds:

“The answer is not to go to the text “armed with a hypothesis” but “with a machine that is ready to reorganize the text in a thousand different ways instantly.” Each reorganization (sometimes called a “deformation”) creates a new text that can be reorganized in turn and each new text raises new questions that can be pursued to the point where still newer questions emerge. The point is not to get to a place you had in mind and then stop; the point is to keep on going, as, aided by the data-generating machine, you notice this and then notice that which suggests something else and so an, ad infinitum.”

We continue to create a horrible world…

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