A seriously engaging tour de force.
“Why Are the Digital Humanities So Straight?” by Edmond Y. Chang in Alternative Historiographies of the Digital Humanities edited by Dorothy Kim, Adeline Koh
It is described as “An essay in the form of a program, a program in the form of an essay. Written in PC BASIC.”
My favourite line in the code/essay:
5000 REM Play, Don’t Play, or Just Read
One way to read this: reading is neither play nor not playing. It is sui generis. Or it is otherwise. Either/Or or And/Or
There was a delightful discussion hosted by Digital Humanities at X University where considerations of noise to signal ratio morphed into collective annotation and interpretation of ascii art. The participants also enjoyed the “decoding” of code switching esp. irony in REM notes. And pondering just what it is one is reading and what it references: is the remark referencing the artefact before one or the social context in which artefacts circulate and are produced?
Well worth reading for the playful fashion in which ontological implications — the what of digital humanities — is laid out. A fine mind game for testing assumptions. One last little bit of quotation:
10 GOSUB 4000
4000 REM Set Starting Variables
4002 REM The player must assume the computer and the playing field are leveled.
This to me is a clever way of inviting reader-players to envisage text and context as equivalent levels. Or I may be skewing the passage to a metaleptic encounter…
And so for day 3008