Curating the Cold Spots…

In his opening talk of the Herrenhausen conference on the Digital Humanities (#dighum1213), Jeffrey Schnapp  proposed that the future of the world as a hot spot might be one that is punctuated by increasingly sought after cold spots, places where we are not connected by the digital transfer of data, where we as humans can trust our own senses to make decisions about what it is we see, hear, smell, feel, and express verbally.  Rejecting the curation of nature as one that might involve pinning QR codes to trees, Schnapp instead called for another way to make data matter in the human weaving together of narrative to make places meaningful.  Digital ecologies, as he termed them, might consist not of us experiencing nature mediated by the digital (sorry, no Google Glass on the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail!)  but rather by the human observer using the digital device to collect and record data that later is uploaded in what he termed a crowdsourcing of the environment.  Citizen science produces knowledge, much as for Luis von Ahn, human computation digitizes millions of books through the use of that annoying Captcha. Continue reading “Curating the Cold Spots…”

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Hannover and the Hurricane of Digital Humanities #dighum1213

In the last two days, Hurricane Xaver descended on north west Europe with a vengeance, complete with snow, gales, and floods, accompanying the intellectual storm that unleashed itself on us in the reconstructed Herrenhausen Palace.  The venue is in many ways a fitting spatialization of the quandaries of the Digital Humanities. A semblance of Baroque exterior, carefully reconstructed from the ruins left by a British fire bombing in 1942, covers a hyper-modern, minimalist interior, where the surface whiteness of an Apple simulacrum hides the doors and openings of necessary bathrooms and waste bins.  Continue reading “Hannover and the Hurricane of Digital Humanities #dighum1213”

More than a point on a map…

At the Howland Preserve meeting on Thursday, Dave Buck reminded me of the question he posed back in 2006 at the first River Symposium.  I had just given a short paper on “Europeans and the Susquehanna River” that quoted the opening lines of a poem by the famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Nicht am Susquehanna, der durch Wüsten fließt.”  At the time, I had just begun my work on the Shamokin Diaries and was immersing myself in the world of the Moravian missions in Pennsylvania.  He asked if I had ever heard of “Friedenshütten,” a mission on the North Branch near Wyalusing.  I replied that I had but was not that familiar with it.  Dave, in his usual dogged fashion fashion, pursued me after the session and explained where the mission was supposed to have been and that it was linked to one slightly further up the North Branch, Sheshequin.  And so my curiosity was piqued. Continue reading “More than a point on a map…”