After spending a semester in a graduate seminar for digital archeology, I bought into the concept of digital printed surrogates of ancient artifacts. For one, a 3D print allows archeologists to manipulate the object ways that would never be possible with the original. Most of the time, archeologists have very minimal time and access to original artifacts. With digital fabrication, over time the printed copy may become more valuable to researchers than the original.
With this being said, I truly see the value in digital fabrication for some sectors, like the archeology example I just used. My archeology class visited the 3D printing lab at USF’s engineering building. We were told that they print nearly everything in non-biodegradable plastic. For this reason, I had a hard time conceiving value beyond printed objects needed for scholarly research. However, Greenfield’s chapter shifted my ideology on this subject.
For starters, Greenfield suggests that digital fabrication could actually help solve our problems with sustainability and trash. I see his argument of his as threefold. First, if we use biodegradable materials for everyday needs we’d have unlimited materials. Second, less waste would occur from production, with the leftover materials being reused. Third, we could print broken pieces and fix existing objects, therefore also reducing waste. If and when our society reaches this point, it seems like digital fabrications could be a great way of reducing our trash problem.
The main objection to digital printing is the access to one-time-use guns. While Greenfield explores this issue, he really doesn’t settle the concerns around it. He agrees, it’s a risk and it’s scary, but he doesn’t offer a plan to deal with it, nor does he offer an argument that we should do what’s better for the greater amount of people. Instead he offers this prolepsis without properly refuting it.
Greenfield offers interesting insight and possible outcomes of augmented reality (AR) technology. It was a change because the first two chapters of his book analyzed technology most of society has already accepted and embraced, but this chapter dealt with a technology that has not yet been integrated fully. While I knew many people that played Pokémon, it is definitely less than the amount of people that use a smart phone or fitness tracker. AR is still emerging and could arise in the various ways Greenfield discussed, or could get passed over altogether because people don’t like the after-effects (41).
While I agree that AR offers great potential for historical and cultural heritage uses, I am not sure I’d want to have to switch to special glasses to use it. To me, the future of AR should be more similar to Pokémon, where we use our handheld devices to see a virtual layer. In this case, we could still use it for cultural heritage (similar to Greenfield’s example of the blocks in Berlin, Germany), but we would not have to alter our eye-sight. Perhaps, cities could load data that lures people to a specific location, but at the location the user will be presented with options such as an audio tour, a short blurb, or a link to a longer written entry. What I am suggesting could be a type of AR that worked along with a walking tour, but allowed the user to access researched historical data.
However, I expect we will see virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) lead the charge of cultural heritage. Visitors will be transported to online recreations (similar to Rome Rebuilt) using VR without having to leave their homes. It will be safe and less expensive than using AR, considering you’d have to travel to an actual city to use a location-based AR. While I think those that want to travel will continue to visit cities, like Berlin, due to the physical location of the history, I also think that as the environment continues to be polluted and as the climate shifts, people may lose the option to travel, even as soon as the next 100 to 200 years.
On a similarly dark note, I found the funeral chapter to be the most interesting in our two readings from An Aura of Familiarity. I recently helped my dad clean out my grandfather’s house. I see immense potential in the scanning technology used in the story. I was hoping they would take it one step further and explain how the technology could also show you similar items listed for sale online with prices. Perhaps the technology could even list and manage the listing for the seller. There are many possibilities, for sure.
As someone who boycotts Amazon about 98% of the time, I was not surprised to see the pressing issues of the ‘internet of things’ and issues with ‘smart cities.’ Both Greenfield and Jorganensen offered many reasons for why consumers should distrust and even change their habits. While I have long been aware of the collection of data from echo- and Alexa-type devices, I had not thought through other aspects of personal electronics. It would not have occurred to me that in-home and workplace video surveillance, such as a baby monitor, could be hacked so easily. It makes me wonder if there is such thing as a secure video feed? Is it safe to have your baby left with no camera or risk the world hacking and monitoring the baby?
Additionally, I didn’t realize the amount of data being fed from my Fitbit watch, begging me to decide where I will draw the line? I am not going to get rid of a smart phone, so should I draw the line on my watch monitoring my heartbeat, location, etc.? If not, where do I draw the line?
While all of Greenfield’s chapter hit home, the most powerful examples of the mention of the Dutch municipality’s maintain “demographic record of its inhabitants” through requiring “each citizen had to carry a persoonskaart, or personal identity card” (60). Without reading on, we all know where this example went. It’s a concrete illustration to the holocaust that rings home for many people across western countries.
While in the same vein as the ‘internet of things,’ “Between Bits and Atoms: Physical Computing and Desktop Fabrication in the Humanities” by Sayers et al. suggests analog and digital processes come together in desktop fabrication. The authors discuss a project at Cornell that uses 3D modeling and desktop fabrication to maintain mechanic models of 19thcentury machine elements. They suggest that this type of work, “not only creates spaces for science and technology studies in digital humanities research; it also broadens our understanding of what can and should be digitized, to include ‘obsolete’ or antique machines” (10). One challenge in cultural heritage is deciding what should be preserved; Sayers et al. suggest that this type of web-based collection will help determine what can and shouldbe digitized. However, the remarks on what can and should be digitized are not fully developed and they refrain from offering an explanation of how it will guide those decisions.
As an analytical-minded person, I used this week’s readings to look for definitions and categories to help myself better understand the field of digital humanities. While I was able to determine some main categories of DH project times (i.e. archives, cultural analytics, text mining, and online publishing), I soon began to realize that not all digital projects can fit into a box. This week’s readings helped me establish a background and framework to understand DH without limiting the potential to defined categories.
The two waves of digital humanities projects was an interesting classification. The first wave of DH work was quantitative, relying on reviving the database, automating corpus linguistics, etc. This wave hinges on numbers and corpus linguistics without taking into account what makes the humanities human. According to the Manifesto 2.0, the second wave is qualitative, interpretive, experiential, emotive, generative in character. This second wave allows researchers to embrace a more fluid and experimental relationship to DH. It added more of a human component, allowing researchers to be creative.
I am particularly interested in the cultural heritage side of DH. I would like to get involved in digital archives because it’s interesting and would also fuel my research. The concept of curation intrigues me. As the Manifesto 2.0 points out, “Curation means making arguments through objects as well as words, images, and sounds.” To me, this is a central concept to DH, as it helps me envision how my projects can develop into something more DH focused. I also appreciate that curators are no longer exiled to museum work, scholars can now be curators of their own work. DH scholars should be engaged in collecting, assembling, sifting, structuring, and interpreting. As someone who identifies as a historical/ancient rhetoric scholar, I want to become involved in curating my own archives to preserve the material and fuel my research. The challenges of streamlining and digitizing historical texts and artifacts is upon us. As the Manifesto 2.0 argues, DH researchers should work alongside librarians and archivists to meet the growing needs of this sector.
After these readings, I am still not completely clear on what would not be classified or included as a digital humanities project. Is a website that uses a curated theme to make an argument in the realm of a DH project. What makes it more than just a website and an actual DH project? Does this distinction lie with the goal of the website? If it has an argument and uses DH methods, is it a DH project? I hope to hone in on these questions this semester.