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Tools for a whole range of Scholarly Activities (at DH2015)


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The proposal introduces a simple classification scheme for digital tools for the Digital Humanities, and explores how the classification scheme introduces issues about tool building in the DH.

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Tools for a whole range of Scholarly Activities (at DH2015)

  1. 1. How about Tools for the whole range of scholarly activities? John Bradley (Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London)
  2. 2. Humanities and DH tools  "only about six percent of humanist scholars go beyond general purpose information technology and use digital resources and more complex digital tools in their scholarship"  2005 Summit on Digital Tools at the University of Virginia  Martin Mueller survey of use of "literary informatics" : "virtually no impact on major disciplinary trends."  Edwards 2012, p 216  "despite significant investments in the development of digital humanities tools, the use of these tools has remained a fringe element in humanities scholarship."  (Gibbs and Owens 2012, abstract)
  3. 3. "evidence of value ..."  "Our computational tools are at their core still highly hermeneutically uninformed and inadequate. That is a challenge that needs to be shared rather than that it would be taken as a cause to incite methodological trench warfare."  (Joris van Zundert, HUMANIST 28.737 16 Feb 2015)
  4. 4. Towards a philosophy for tools  "Tools are artifacts which enable man to change material objects more than he could without them"  Feibleman 1967 p 329  "Physical tools are utilized to enhance the performances of human activities (e.g. digging a hole in the ground) or do tasks otherwise impossible (e.g., examining cell structures of fruit flies).  Kim and Reeves 2007 p 209
  5. 5. Three tool paradigms Tools for Making Tools for Exploring Tools for Thinking Making Observing Thinking
  6. 6.  "the current second wave of Digital Humanities – what can be called 'Digital Humanities 2.0' – is deeply generative, creating the environments and tools for producing, curating, and interacting with knowledge that is 'born digital' and lives in various digital contexts."  Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0 (Schnapp and Presner 2009). Tools for MakingMaking
  7. 7.  "Digital artifacts like tools could then be considered as "telescopes for the mind" that show us something in a new light."  Ramsay and Rockwell, 2012, p 79  "By taking our sense of sight far beyond the realm of our forebears' imagination, these wonderful instruments, the telescopes, open the way to a deeper and more perfect understanding of nature."  René Descartes, 1637 Tools for ExploringObserving
  8. 8.  "tools for cognitive activities are comparable to the physical tools that are invented for everyday human activities in that they change and enhance our way of doing mental activities ..."  Kim and Reeves 2007, p 209 Tools for ThinkingThinking
  9. 9. Engelbart H-LAM/T  "The ways in which human capabilities are thus extended are here called augmentation means, and we define four basic classes of them: 1. Artifacts—physical objects designed to provide for human comfort, for the manipulation of things or materials, and for the manipulation of symbols 2. Language—the way in which the individual parcels out the picture of his world into the concepts that his mind uses to model that world, and the symbols that he attaches to those concepts and uses in consciously manipulating the concepts ("thinking") 3. Methodology—the methods, procedures, strategies, etc., which which an individual organizes his goal-centered (problem-solving) activity. 4. Training—the conditioning needed by the human being to bring his skills in using Means 1, 2, and 3 to the point where they are operationally effective.  The system we want to improve can thus be visualized as a trained human being together with him artifacts, language, and methodology."  Engelbart 1962, pg 9
  10. 10.  For many sciences, mathematics can be a cognitive tool  What might this be for the humanities?  writing  note taking and note manipulation Tools for Thinking figuring-out-a-complicated-math-equation-in-his-head- by-ron-leishman-44335 Thinking
  11. 11. Blurring of the classification?  Visualisation Tools  as tools for making  as tools for exploring  The Piano  as a tool for making  as a tool for thinking
  12. 12. Further questions...  For several years the focus on toolbuilding in the DH has largely been on tools for exploring. Is this adequate to support the continued interests of the DH?  Do we want to also promote tools for making as a kind of scholarly activity. How do we describe this kind of work so that it appears plausibly DH? Does it need to appear as an academic activity?  Tools for thinking is a kind of meta-tool building activity which has been hardly explored or even noted in the DH. Is there a place for this? Can we build tools that work like mathematics (or the piano) in the humanities?