Be Online or Be Irrelevant

More online discussion of the digital humanities. This post helped me as I start prying some piece of my brain away from the 3-week online course on gaming I’m currently teaching, and thinking about the “History and Future of the Book” course I’ll be teaching in 2 short weeks.

One of the essays I most enjoy teaching in my media studies classes is Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. When teaching this essay I often begin the class by saying Benjamin understood why Ebert was wrong.
That is Ebert, rather famously claimed that while video games might
demonstrate a high level of craft, they will never rise to the level of
art. Of course what Benjamin argued in The Work of Art, at
the time in relation to photography, was that the question should not
be “Is Photography Art?” but rather the more important question: “What
does having photography do to our concept of art?” (By extension the
question of video games should be what does having video games do to
our concept of art.)

This is similar to how I think about the concept of digital humanities.
I think we should not be asking, can the humanities be digital, or how
does the digital allow or not allow us to do humanities, but rather, what does having the digital do to our idea of the humanities (and by extension what it means to be human). Anything short of this strikes me as less than interesting, but more importantly a missed opportunity. —academhack