Friday, 20 January 2017


What follows is the lightly revised text of a 'Provocation' I presented at the launch event held to celebrate the creation of the Digital Humanities Institute  from the Humanities Research Institute.  Held in Sheffield on the 17th of January 2017, the event perhaps required more celebration than critique (and the DHI deserves to be celebrated).  But I hope that the main point - that we need to move beyond the textual humanities to something more ambitious - comes through in what follows.

I have been working with what has up till now been the Humanities Research Institute for almost twenty years.   I have witnessed as it has grown with each project, and engaged with each new twist and turn in that remarkable story of the evolution of the digital humanities in the UK since the 1990s.   It has been a real privilege. 

Of all the centres created in the UK in that time – the HRI has been the most successful, and most influential.  And it has been successful, because, more than any other equivalent it has created a sustainable model of online publishing of complex inherited materials, and done so in delicate balance with an ongoing exploration of the new things that can be done with each new technology – and in balance again with a recognition of the new problems the online presents.

I frequently claim that the UK is at the forefront of the digital humanities – not necessarily because the UK has been at the bleeding edge of technical innovation; or because its academics have won many of the intemperate arguments that pre-occupy critical theory.  Instead, it is at the forefront of worldwide developments because, following the HRI, the UK figured out early that the inexorable move to the online, both demanded a clarity of purpose, and a constant and ongoing commitment to sustainable publication.  The HRI, and now the DHI, represent that clear and unambiguous commitment to putting high quality materials online in an academically credible form; and an equally unambiguous commitment to measured innovation in search and retrieval, representation, and analysis.

But, while it is a moment to look back on a remarkable achievement, it is also a moment to grasp the nettle of change.  This re-foundation is a clear marker of that necessity and reflects a recognition both that the Humanities as a whole are on the move, and that the roles the DHI might play in that process are themselves changing.

For me, this sets a fundamental challenge.   And where I tend to start is with that label ‘The Humanities’.  This category of knowing has never really sat very comfortably for me.  It has always seemed a rather absurd, portmanteau import from the land of Trump – a kind of Trumpery – used to give a sense of identity to the thousand small private Universities that pock-mark the US; and to a collection of ill-assorted sub-disciplines brought together primarily in defence of their funding.  And it goes without saying, ‘The Humanities’ are always in crisis.
But, if you asked me to define the ‘humanities’ part of that equally awkward phrase – the Digital Humanities – it has to encompass that process through which a society learns about itself; where it re-affirms its collective identity and values; where the past and the present work in dialogue.  And whether that is via history, or literature, philosophy or politics, or the cultural components of geography and sociology – the ‘Humanities’ is where a community is first created and then constantly redefined in argument with itself, and with its past. 

For all the addition of the ‘digital’ to the equation, that underlying purpose remains, and remains uniquely significant to a working civil society. 

But, up until now – that conversation – that dialogue between the past and the present – has pre-eminently taken the form of text – the texts of history books and novels; long analytical articles and essays; aphorisms, poems and manifestos.  And even when you add the ‘digital’ to create the ‘Digital Humanities’, the dominance of ‘text’ remains constant.  Indeed, if you look at the projects that have been undertaken by the HRI over the last two decades, the vast majority have been about text, and the re-representation of inherited text in a new digital format.  You can, of course, point to mapping projects, and 3d modelling of historic buildings, but the core work of the ‘digital humanities’ to date has been taking inherited text, and making it newly available for search and analysis as a single encoded stream of data.

This is a fantastic thing – the digital humanities have given us new access to old text; and created several news forms of ‘reading’ along the way – distant, close, and everywhere in between.  It has arguably, created a newly democratic world of knowledge – in which some 40% of all humans have access to the web and all the knowledge contained therein – all 3.5 billion of them.  That small-minded world many of us grew up in, of Encyclopaedia salesmen peddling access to a world of information most of us were otherwise excluded from by class and race and gender – is simply gone.  This is a very good thing.

But, while the first twenty years of the web forms a place where the stuff of the post-enlightenment dead needed to find a home; our hard work recreating this body of material also means that we have spent the last twenty years very much swimming against the tide of the ‘humanities’ as a set of contemporary practises.  We have reproduced an old-school library, but online – with better finding aids and notetaking facilities, and we have made it more democratic and hyper-available – for all the paywalls in the world.  But at the same time, we have also allowed ourselves to limit that project to a ‘textual’ humanities; when the civic and civil conversation that the ‘humanities’ must represent, has itself moved from text to sound and from sound to image.  There is a sense in which we are desperately trying to represent a community – a conversation – made up of an ever changing collection of voices in an ever changing series of formats, but trying to do so, via that single encoded stream of knowing:  text.

This is where the greatest danger and the greatest opportunity for the ‘digital humanities’ lies – because if you look at ‘data’ in its most abstract forms, this equation between knowing and text, is breaking down, and is certainly changing at a dramatic pace.

The greatest technological developments shaping the cultures of the twentieth century focussed on creating alternatives to text.  Whether you look to sound and voice, via radio and recording; or image and movement, via film and television – the first half of the twentieth century created a series of new forms of aural and visual engagement that gave to sound and image, the same universal reach that for the preceding four hundred years, was provided by print.  The second half of the twentieth century, and the first decade of the twenty-first, was equally taken up with putting sound and image in our everyday - jostling for attention, and pushing aside – text.  

It is perhaps difficult to remember that the car radio only became commonplace in the 1950s; and that the transistor radio making mobile music possible – on the beach and on the street – was a product of the same decade.  Instant photography and moving images were similarly, only given freedom to go walkabout in the 1970s and 1980s, with luggable televisions, and backbreaking video cameras. 

This trajectory of change – and ever greater focus on the non-textual – has simply increased in pace with the advent of the smart phone and the tablet.  While at the margins, the Kindle may have changed how we read Fifty Shades of Grey on public transport; it was the Walkman, the iPod, and the smartphone that have most fundamentally changed how we spend our time - what kinds of signals we are interpreting from minute to minute.   The most powerful developments of the last decade have involved maps and images – from Google Earth to Flickr and PinInterest.

Ironically, while the book and the journal article have remained stubbornly the same - even in their digital forms; and while much of ‘digital humanities’ efforts have been directed towards capturing a technology of text that had been largely invented by 1600, and remained largely unchanged since; the content of our culture has been radically transformed by the creation of unlimited sound and image. 

If you want proof of this, all you need do reflect on the triggers of your imagination when contemplating the 1960s or 1980s – or the 2000s or 2010s.  We have become a world of sound and image.   

Half the time we now narrate the past through discographies of popular music; and most of what we know about the past is delivered via image rich documentaries, and historical dramatizations – wholly dependent on film archives for their power and claim to authenticity.  Our conversation – that dialogue with the dead, that forms the core of the humanities – has become increasingly multi-modal; and multi-valiant. A simple measure of this – is that the percentage of text on the web has been declining steadily since the mid-2000s.  According to Anthony Cociolo, text currently represents only some 27% of web content.  

Over the last two decades the Digital Humanities has crafted a technology for the representation of text; but we now need to pay more attention to all that other data – the non-textual materials that increasingly comprise our cultural legacy, and the content of our humanities conversation.

And the digital humanities have a genuine opportunity to create something exponentially more powerful than the textual humanities.  What the digital side of all this allows, is the removal of the barriers between sound and image and text – between novel, song and oil painting.  Each of these is no more than just another variety of signal – of encoding – now, in the digital, divided one from the other by nothing more substantial than a different file format.

If we can multiply sound by text – give each encoded word a further aural inflection; and each sound a textual representation of its meaning to the listener – we make the humanities stronger and more powerful.  By bringing text and image together; we create something that allows new forms of analysis, new layers of complexity, and new doubts and claims, to be heard among the whispering voices of that humanities conversation.  In part, this is a simple recognition that the physical heft of a book, changes how you read it; and that doing so on a crowded tube train, is different from reading even the very same physical book on a sunny beach.

Much has already been done to bring all these signals on to the same screen – to map texts; and add image to commentary; but there is an opportunity to go much further with this, and to acknowledge in a methodologically consistent way, that we can use sound and image, place, space and all the recoverable contexts of human experience to generate a more powerful, empathetic understanding of the past; to have a fuller more compelling conversation with the dead.  To my mind, we need new methodologies that allow us to analyse and deconstruct multiple signals, multiple data streams – sound multiplied by text by image by space.  We need to recreate the humanities by multiplying its various strands, one against the other, to create something more powerful, more challenging, and more compelling.  Perhaps, the Humanities3.


Shubham said...

easter quotes
easter coloring page
happy easter funny
quotes about easter
what's open on easter sunday

Unknown said...

What's Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I have discovered It positively useful and it has aided me out loads. I am hoping to contribute & aid different users like its helped me. Great job.
champions trophy 2017 live stream
ICC champions trophy 2017 live stream
happy easter quotes
easter sunday 2016
easter wishes
easter quotes

galaxy s8 edge release date
samsung galaxy s8
galaxy s8 edge
galaxy s8 features
samsung galaxy s8 edge

IPL live streaming
ipl 2017
wrestlemania 33
wrestlemania Live Streaming
wrestlemania live stream

Balvinder Singh said...

DASA PG Counselling 2017

Anonymous said...

Please Click Here this post
Please Welcome to Casino online All Games
Wish all u Good Luck
Thanks You!!!
gclub จีคลับ
gclub online

Unknown said...

It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site.Thanks for sharing this information,this is useful to me...
Android Training in Chennai
Ios Training in Chennai

Unknown said...

Awesome Post! Check out Happy Diwali 2017 Facebook Status
Also download latest movie PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES 2017
Also Read trending Story Modern Society
Also Check out Latest vacancy of Government Job BPSC Recruitment 2017

Gagan said...

thanks for the article bro

Unknown said...

TekSlate is the globally professional in IT courses training which emphasize on hands-on experience with examples from real-time scenarios by experts.It is the largest provider of high quality online training courses.

Unknown said...

I unearthed this I have found It emphatically helpful and it has supported me out burdens. I am wanting to contribute and help diverse clients like its helped me. I can suggest you to apply to professional essay writer in uk in order to get help for you.

Unknown said...

It's A Great Pleasure reading your Article, learned a lot of new things, we have to keep on updating it Tibco certification training Thanks for posting.

Cricket Fan said...


Debra Williams said...

Exquisitely professional thoughts. I review website merely hit upon this web site and desired to enunciate that I've definitely delighted in reckoning your blog articles or blog posts. Rest assured I'll subsist pledging to your RSS and I wish you write-up after much more shortly

nandakishor said...

jio offers
Jio Recharge Offers 2018

Best jio offers

charlie said...

The blog post is attractive. The article explores Humanities. There are a lot of things explained right through the article. The information shared in the article will be useful for you one way or another. According to the article, of all the centers created in the UK in that time, the HRI has been the most successful, and most influential. You can get to know why HRI has been successful by visiting the blog and going through the article.

Custom essay writing help

Tyson Harold said...

Nice post.

Rosie said...

That's amazing post. Thanks to share with us. I learn a lot from your blog about humanity and in the life that we must share and sympathize with each others
yahoo mail login

meldaresearchusa said...

You are sure to get the best quality Custom Paper Writing Services in the shortest period when you get professional help from our fast college Academic Essay Writing Services.

harshak said...
Ac market
Ac market apk
Ac market download
Ac market ios
Ac market downloading
Ac market latest version

morphigo said...

Albus Snape said...

You should go for the proficient Augmented reality app services to hire i.e. Appknock if you really want the best virtual reality app development services for your project. As there are many companies who are able to provide the best vr app development services but you should go for the best. Many of the companies who deliver expensive services but first you should analyze how much does app development cost. Because only this analyzation helps you to get the best vr app development services at affordable prices. You should search that how ar transform the mobile gaming market. You’ll understand its importance.

Susan said...

Thank you so much for such a well-written article. It’s full of insightful information. Your point of view is the best among many without fail.For certain, It is one of the best blogs in my opinion. Wondering where to go in 2019? Things to do has ranked as the best include a remote, idyllic island, the design capital ...

Vicky said...

TeaTv Apk Is Another One Of The Best Online Streaming Application For Smartphone Users. This Application Is Available For Android & IOS Users. Also, You Can Connect This Application Easily With Amazon Firestick, Android Smart TVs, Start Settop Box, Etc. There are more apk to online streaming is Mediabox apk for smartphone users ( Android and ios ) and
Best Wishes Quotes 
Watch Free online Movies 
onhax android 
Hulu Apk 

LB Staks said...

Thanks for useful content I liked it. Custom essay writing - quality, short term and excellent prices. I am sure you'll enjoy this!

meldaresearch said...

Online religion research paper writing services are very difficult to complete and many students are always searching for Religion Research Paper Services companies to help them complete their custom religion essay writing services.

meldaresearch said...

Finding the best Help with Medical Assignment is not easy unless one is keen to establish a professional medical assignment help & medical homework help online.


Putlocker may be a seamless portal for television, series, movies, songs, etc. for free. it's not mainly for any film or language, from Hollywood to Bollywood, one can have access to each possible movie. In fact, unlike other portals who operate completely illegally, Putlocker has an official site named that a broad base of individuals is mad.

For the official content recorded, over 1.6 million people worldwide made access to it portal on a per-day basis. because of the piracy issues, it faced a report by motion picture Association of America, which led to its pack up by the united kingdom court Order. it had been considered together of the highest 250 sites visited by the people worldwide. Although, thanks to its massive fan base, Putlockers remains operated under different proxy websites.

hager ali said...

Tank cleaning company in Hail
Mosques cleaning company
Company cleaning boards in Hail
A sofa cleaning company in Hail
A carpet cleaning company in Hail
Hail Cleaning Company
Cleaning company in Hail

sumathikits said...

Nice ....!
SAP FICO training
Data modeling training
IBM integration Bus training
Exadata training
Active training
oracle golden gate training
SAP QM training

sumathikits said...

Nice ......!
SSIS Training
scrum training
data guard training

sammer mark said...

Nice post. I just discovered your blog and needed to state that I ave truly delighted in perusing your blog entries. After all, I all be buying into your RSS channel and I trust you compose again soon. Printer Technical Problem is the common problem in the printers.
Fix HP Envy 7855 Printer Offline Problem
How to Update Garmin gps Maps

Vicky said...

Pure Bred Puppies in Dubai
Dachshund Puppies For Sale in Dubai
Cavalier King Charles Puppies For Sale in Dubai
Poodle Puppies For Sale in Dubai
Pug Puppies For Sale in Dubai
Pomeranian Puppies For Sale in Dubai
Chihuahua Puppies For Sale in Dubai

UFA888 said...

Very Helpful Articles. ไฮโล It might help you. ไฮโล Thanks For Sharing
ไฮโล Thank you very much.

UFA888 said...

This Is Really Useful And Nices Information. ไฮโล
This are such great articles. ไฮโล This articles can help you to make some new ideas. I appreciate for reading my blogs.

UFA888 said...

This are new articles stylse for you. amazin555 It might help you to write or think some new idea. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post. I am very glad for reading my articles.

howardbeachstudios said...

If you wish to make your wedding day special then hire the best headshot photographer in queens from Howard Beach. You can have pre or post-event portrait sessions as per your requirements. Also, we have a great team of photographers that knows the proper use of background, location, and props.

Anonymous said...

The president-elect, who arrived on stage wearing a face mask, announced that he would form his coronavirus response committee to ensure it is ready to implement decisions from his inauguration day in January, because "that's the only way we can get back to living". The Trump administration's response to the pandemic was at the center of the presidential campaign, and drew heavy criticism from Mr. Biden, who said his plan would be "built on bedrock science". The US has reported more than 237,000 deaths, the most of any country. Biden Introduced trusted sources for reliable reporting, thoughtful analysis and civic dialogue. We're here, delivering the news, providing context and keeping you updated on what's happening in the world. Please Skip the First Page Add and Go to the home tab for latest news. Visit Here........BEST ONLINE WEB

Holly Adams said...

The information in this post was very helpful to me. What would you recommend to make your blog more informative? I am checking webcams online. To see more details about my profile, click here.Test Webcam

Roadrunner Support said...

Outstanding Blog! I want people to know just how good this information is in your Blog. I will visit your blog daily because I know. It may be very beneficial for me. For instant Support related to Forgot Spectrum Email Password please contact roadrunner support team for solution.

Steven Salvatore said...

Download Computeroids Printer Driver For Windows 7 with The Worlds Leading Drivers Site - Includes Free Drivers Scan & Report, fix Windows 7 Canon Printer Drivers errors

Andrew Robert said...

Hi! I’m glad to read your post, it was nice. If anyone need assignment help service then visit our website No1AssignmentHelp.Com and get the best and valuable Assignment Help service at a student-friendly price prepared by our professional Assignment Writers. Visit us and get free Assignment Samples and free modification service on all your Case Study Assignment Help, homework, essay and dissertation requirement at one platform.

James Charlie said...

What the blog is missing out on is a superb conclusion, as it would have given it the perfect finishing touch. Now you can make most of the academic writing services at MyAssignmentHelpAU offering MYOB Assignment Help. The services promise to add all elements your paper needs.

Antony Christ said...

It was nice to read your blog. Are you in need of professional assignment helpers? Well! You have reached the right place at My Case Study Help.Com where you receive a one-stop solution.We offer one of the finest MBA Project Management Case Study Assignment Help for students' benefits. We have more than 5000 professional Case Study Writer experts to support students in doing their university projects. We provide assured quality and credibility. That's why a majority of students trust our Assignment Help.

Andrew Robert said...

Are you worried for timely completion of your assignment? Are you unable to do your assignment perfectly so that you can show excellent performance ? If so, please take advantages of our cheap and best assignment writing services.
We are no 1 assignment writing service provider in the world and especially in Australia. Please connect with us: Phone: +61-2 9191 7405, E-mail:, Website: assignment help, Office: 25 Robert St, Melbourne VIC 3207, Australia

Ufa88kh said...

Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really know what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please also visit my site =). We could have a link exchange arrangement between us

logesh said...

Interesting post!!! Thanks for posting such a useful information. I wish to read your upcoming post to enhance my skill set and keep blogging.
eniac full form in computer
dvd full form
sit full form
pcc full form
iucn full form
full form of lcd
brics full form
tally erp full form
full form of ctbt
crpf full form

Unknown said...

Comprehensive experience of association with 100+ corporates globally. Highly exclusive and bespoke training problems starting from the entry-level and varying to leadership levels. We are providing corporate digital marketing training in Hyderabad for the last many years and have created a significant presence as a corporate digital marketing training company.

Our Way of Corporate Training

Over the last few years, the evolution of the internet and its applications has reported an immense adaption amongst the people. The digital transformation has just created an upside change in the way the businesses used to operate earlier. It has fundamentally shifted the focus of companies towards new and improved ways of operating the business. In this new era of digitization, any business that denies going with this trend may get disrupted within the next few years. The corporate digital marketing training in Hyderabad has helped many companies and business ventures to upscale their business and help them achieve exponential growth. Our training model is strategically designed and developed to inhibit businesses get the most profound and right amount of knowledge that helps them to upscale their business. We intend to provide any business the source of training that helps them to make a profitable source of revenue with the help of our training.

So let’s get a brief insight into our role and the strategies that we focus upon to upscale any business. We work on a 5 step methodology that is quite simple but extremely effective in creating a digital presence for the company.
Website URL:

Kaylee Brown said...

Students have been spotted battling with their thesis help USA, and in some cases, shying away from producing a research paper out of fear of their assignments not being accepted. Writing a thesis is a work that necessitates dedication, time, and effort. This is why their disappointment at not having their dissertations accepted on the first try is so great. However, because writing a thesis takes years to master, it is common to have a research paper returned for revisions or rejected.

Lillian J. Turner said...

Nice Blog. Thanks for sharing with us. Such amazing information.

Marketing strategy through Instagram for building a brand

John Parker said...

The study of Humanities2 has never been more relevant than in today's fast-paced, technology-driven world. As I sit here in a coffee shop, I can't help but notice the people around me glued to their phones, connected to the metro cellular near me . It's crucial that we take a step back and consider the impact of technology on our humanity, and Humanities2 provides the perfect lens to do so.