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The ancient question of the human is raised in a powerful new way by digital computing, but this primary gift of technology to the disciplines primarily concerned with the human is obscured (as Heidegger wrote) “so long as we merely conceive and push forward the technological, put up with it, or evade it”. In recent years evasion has become nearly impossible, and the co-evolutionary process by which humans and machines adapt to each other so effective that we have largely forgotten to worry about what is lost, and therefore what truly gained, by digitization – how it threatens what kind of being we think we are. Hence the defining problem for a critical digital humanities, by which the young discipline proves its fitness inter pares: to focus detailed attention, case by case, on how the question of the human is raised when we apply our increasingly subtle and complex machines to human cultural expressions and reflect the demands of these expressions back on the design of better machines.
Both the long-term future of the discipline and current social imperatives demand that it explain itself. In this talk, based closely on my Busa Award lecture (July 2013), I find powerful basis for such explanation in the early history of digital humanities and in my own self-education as a digital humanist.
The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with questions from the audience.
Professor McCarty, PhD, FRAI, is Editor of Interdisciplinary Science Reviews(2008-) and the online seminar Humanist (1987-); recipient of the CanadianAward for Outstanding Achievement, Computing in the Arts and Humanities (2005), the Richard W. Lyman Award, Rockefeller Foundation (2006) and the Roberto Busa Award, Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (2013); and author of Humanities Computing (2005). He is currently working on an historical study, Machines of Demanding Grace.
This event is free and open to all but booking is required. Booking will be available from 24 September 2013. To register click here.
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