electronic procrastination + unhumanities

electronic procrastination + unhumanities

I’ve been draft dodging from on high in TCD this week, not militarily, nor tap (b)eerily, nor even checkers or under the door draught types of evasion– but successfully avoiding relatively solid outline work I simply must get done – I am (not) doing it right now – writing this instead of what I really should be doing – what I might expect to do, thesis work, digital posts or poems, ..maybe both – or video, code, etc - something seemingly solid other than opinion/experience !
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As a creative / writer of many years sitting, I am now genetically compelled to write, in what ever form or format it arrives. As a bona fide geek I am equally compelled to avoid writing as much as possible - as a digital writer / poet / playwright, designer, I additionally suffer from electronically induced procrastination – I can easily justify spending precious writing time fiddling with CSS templates, checking servers, folder structures, software upgrades, alpha tools, database statistics or other obscure technical information, unnecessary copyright verification that’s always worth a few clicks, testing links, getting lost, discovering cool new music/images – literally anything except what I should be doing – i.e. structured disciplined writing on my PC(S) – all that’s without recourse to Twitter, Facebook, Skype, gmail, RSS readers, my mobile, landline or Outlook, – With the aid of modern communications technology I manage to avoid the central requirement – writing – with the efficiency coefficient of an industrial engineer fixated with work/time study, I continue circumventing the requisite tapping out of ‘some kinda meaningful’ via my keyboard - it’s almost the equivalent of a writer like me, who occasionally likes to stare out  (as well as into) windows, deciding to live here.
Dangerously diverting certainly, but despite multiple infinitives and idiosyncratic grammar, it all begins to assume an additional dimension entirely, specifically should I somehow become motivated into throwing some small stones at the current state of Digital Humanities here in Ireland.
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As I’ve stated visually elsewhere on this site –the majority of the cultural industry in our wee green sod seem to ‘not get it’. While those who at least do ‘get some of it’ – could be said to be a tad culturally or technically myopic, or just plain disinterested in advancing their toolsets and such. My (almost) week long summer school has done little to persuade me otherwise. My once certain (C) intersection on the venn diagram of (A) humanities and (B) computer science - has reverted to two isolated sets - while there's speckles of recognition in either field - neither really meets in the middle for full on exchange on the future direction of that interscetion - prefering instead to 'wait and see'.
Despite my initial disappointment on the Monday morning when the promised presence responsible for originally attracting me to the DHO event in the first instance - FAILED TO TURN UP ! I was informed from the podium that Jerome McGann was recovering nicely but would not be presenting nor making the trip to Dublin anytime soon.
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Whereupon UCD scholar, supernova intelligence and general all around good guy Aaron Quigley stepped into the breach and entertainingly gave a whirlwind Keynote lecture on: "Visualization as an analytical tool, from networks to data streams. 7 Key Challenges we face." (check his blog here for more) I throughly enjoyed his lucid, well paced and informative talk and briefly spoke with Aaron afterwards to discover that his dissertation and aspects of commercial research I did a few years ago with Dime have some basic intersections - before he was whisked off to lunch and wonderfully for Aaron (perhaps not so for me) he will shortly be heading off to Oz to become Professor/director of HIT lab Australia - while I, well I... I will go on ...
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I am still genuinely struck by seemingly conflicting configurations – check out the list of twenty first century digital humanities projects aggregated over at the DHO site – which was launched on the first Monday evening last.
Surely said drapier project must be more than a mere exercise in meta-project-ery, it describes itself thus:
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“DRAPIer is an interactive database of digital humanities projects created by third level institutions on the island of Ireland”
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It contains six 21st century projects – Irish resources in the humanities - Woman in Modern Irish Culture - National Irish Visual Arts Library, Artlog, a Conflict archive and an NLP resource -   the projects I'm working on might have some commerical involvement/aspects thus are excluded under their current 'non-commerical' criteria - but I don't want to focus on that shortsighted aspect, nope when it comes to the actual digital technology of these projects, in my limited view there is almost zero creativity anywhere to be found…imagination appears to have been, omitted, left on a shelf somewhere – the fundamental rationale behind digital technology for me is that its an enabler - its an opportunity - a new wave and a new way - for me the DRA PIer project is, as my dear deceased father would say, 'Mutton dressed as Lamb' - it is old thinking merely wrapped in new technology - DH - research - questionable.
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In its defense maybe 'non-commercial' is stipulated by funding criteria rather than as subliminal attempt to prevent a subdirectory outshining the main project. The project may well be an iceberg tip of a necessary first step - without doubt it is certainly not reflective of the technological or imaginative leap in Digital Humanities that is actually possible. If anything it distorts the actual potential and reduces it down to a series of ontological boxes into which new epistomologies will not fit.

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The underlying idea, that educational establishments in Ireland (& perhaps further afield) will adopt and promote the TEI standards over all other emerging and maybe more internationally imperative standards smacks of remote disengagement and shelf preservation. The old thinking of print culture shines through like a molding watermark of distain on a screen cleaning rag - the actual creative action is elsewhere and what I perceive is merely a digital, ego cataloguing system.
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I spent the vast majority of my week with (mostly) some really good people, all of whom were motivated to explore the potential of digital technologies in terms of their own individual special isms. The leaders of the workshops, Shawn, Faith and Paulo knew their stuff , were professional, patient and motivating in equal measure - it was on the morning of day 2 when all present offered a brief profile of their own research and projects - did I understand that I in fact was. . . in the wrong room. . .. in the wrong building and... certainly in the wrong summer school. I did manage to hang in there until thursday afternoon when the prospect of more early moring commuting (which I almost spelt com munting) coupled with mini-project data summaries - reminded me of how precious quality time has become to me. Attempting a middle 'C', I will say. and on that note I'll leave it there for today.