Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Oct. 19, 2021, 7:26 a.m. Humanist 35.305 - A Biography of the Pixel (with review & commentary)

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 305.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
                Submit to:

    [1]    From: Robert Royar <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.302: A Biography of the Pixel (with review & commentary) (94)

    [2]    From: "Fishwick, Paul" <>
           Subject: [Humanist] 35.302: A Biography of the Pixel (with review & commentary) (43)

        Date: 2021-10-18 18:10:21+00:00
        From: Robert Royar <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.302: A Biography of the Pixel (with review & commentary)

What if you were to look at doctor's report of patient history and
condition--usually transcribed from voice data or written in a narrative
stream? Perhaps you could find enough of that data to create a corpus that
could be fed to a program that searches for "syntactic" patterns and that
creates potential sentences which could be further massaged into stories
and poems. You could confuse the corpus with any public-domain poetry by
physicians and insurance executives (e.g. Wiliam Carlos Williams or Wallace
Stevens). I suspect you might find some gems in that melange.

I wish there were more humanists who wanted to know how to direct the
hardware/software toward interesting tasks related to manipulating existing
text into new works.

On Sun, Oct 17, 2021 at 4:23 AM Humanist <> wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 302.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                                 Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                 Submit to:
>         Date: 2021-10-16 07:25:33+00:00
>         From: Alasdair Ekpenyong <>
>         Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.300: pubs: A Biography of the Pixel
> (with review & commentary)
> Dr. McCarty,
> In response to your question about how to get digital humanities
> scholarship to
> focus more on the mechanics of how computing works, in addition to the
> current
> focus on social impact, I think the solution would be to get more data
> science,
> computer science, etc. scholars to be interested in the digital
> humanities. We
> as a community do a lot of work to introduce English students, history
> students,
> etc. to the idea of using coding or programming to visualize their work,
> but I
> don’t know that we do as strong of a job helping technically-trained
> students
> feel comfortable and welcome joining into humanities conversations.
> I’m in a Big Data Analytics course right now in a masters program, and when
> given the chance to choose a topic, my team of classmates quickly chose an
> analysis of healthcare industry data. I had the option to explain to them
> that
> we have the option of studying a humanities-related subject and that this,
> too,
> could be considered Big Data, but I didn’t feel comfortable investing the
> energy
> to try and start that conversation and probably get the idea shot down.
> In their 2006 account of one of the first DH projects, "Sorting things in:
> Feminist knowledge representation and changing modes of scholarly
> production,"
> the scholars talk about how a collaborative team approaches to DH involves
> bringing together humanities scholars and STEM scholars. (Link:
> I definitely see more room for opportunity for bringing STEM scholars feel
> invited to the DH table and if necessary empowering the junior STEM
> scholars to
> feel confident and capable of joining humanities conversations. I wonder
> if the
> serious humanities seem as intimidating to some STEM scholars as the idea
> of
> learning Python sometimes seems to some humanities scholars.
> Alasdair
> Envoyé de mon iPhone
> Le 16 oct. 2021 à 00:48, Humanist <> a écrit :
> Not only are most of us
> undereducated in mathematics, hardware and software engineering
> and so on, but the sources of instruction one turns to tend to be written
> for people within the technical disciplines, so it is an uphill battle.
> A student recently complained to me that her lack of training on the
> digital side of digital humanities made the path I was laying out close
> to impossible. Is this not a problem we need to fix?
> Comments?

               Robert Delius Royar
 Caught in the net since 1985

        Date: 2021-10-18 16:39:14+00:00
        From: "Fishwick, Paul" <>
        Subject: [Humanist] 35.302: A Biography of the Pixel (with review & commentary)

Alasdair makes an excellent point. I am centered in computer and
information science (CS) but very interested in the digital humanities--
especially, creative practice in the arts. I agree that getting the opportunity 
to study a humanities-related topic is something we are all interested in.

Here are 2 approaches (#1 and #2):

1. The tool approach suggests that the DH scholar is the  consumer and
the product is created by CS. This has been shown very useful and can 
work effectively.

2. The knowledge approach where discussions centered on the humanities
can be a way for CS (Education) to be brought to the forefront. When I was 
in Exeter a few years ago, my goal was to get computer scientists interested 
in learning from the arts and humanities. For example, see that medieval bridge 
or Roman wall? Model these with a JSON structure or any other data structure. 
Make a computer program to synthesize the wall.

#1 is not really up my alley. #2 is where I spend all of my time.

There are significant hurdles. The main one being the culture of computer 
science on utility and vocation. Modeling the medieval bridge in JSON is not
practical and does not solve "a problem." Who cares about these things? Most 
CSers do implicitly operate like this, but not all.

I am glass-half-full and wanting to bolster #2.


Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished University Chair of Arts, Technology, and Emerging
Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Twitter: @PaulFishwick
ONLINE: Webex,Collaborate, TEAMS, Zoom, Skype, Hangout

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