History of the book and code

As someone who works in the intersection of history of the book and history of science, I’ve been interested in the technology that has enabled the transmission of knowledge produced (we can think of volvelles, flapbooks and other cut-out books) and pre-computer multimedia formats that one see even in early modern books (dialectic marginalia, 2-D folds and cut-outs, and manicules) and how that is translated into a computerized setting (surprisingly, except for narratives turned into a game, is still limited).

Of course, many of the tools appropriated in digital humanities for knowledge transmission and research work has already been practiced for decades by the people in the sciences (doctype formatting via Latex and Postscript for instance) who create modules and programs to expedite the work they need to perform,  we see a growing number of tools to help non-scientists visualize the sort of data they work with.  I am interested in questions that go beyond TEI, XSLT and all publishing tags and mark-ups, but how do we engage with the tools we have decided to work with more critically, and thereby, create critical tools that help us reflexively negotiate the work we do. Should all of those engaging with computer-based humanities be required to learn to write codes at least sufficiently to buid their own modules when required?

On a different scale, how do we deal with the many issues relating to bibliography in the humanities for material that do not subscribe to more formal document types (a memo, a handwritten note or even chat discussion). How do we deal with the history of the book in connecting its past with its present condition. What makes the book intrinsic to the humanities (I do not just mean just in literary or historical fields, but yet, especially in these fields) in a way that is different in the social and natural sciences? How does DH contribute to rethinking the meaning and purpose of the book?

Categories: Session Ideas |