This week’s readings by Patrik Svensson and Amy Earhart were mainly concerned with the issues that surround creating a digital humanities infrastructure or lab. Svensson advocates for the notion of the “humanistoscope” as a way to envision the potential for humanities infrastructure, as the current state of humanities infrastructure points to an issue with self-advocacy and “situated imagination.” Earhart advocates for a DH lab as a neutral space for collaborative digital scholarship, but recognizes the issues with basing such a lab on a science model. Both articles bring to the forefront a big-picture issue that DH currently faces (especially since these articles were both published earlier this year): how can DH envision infrastructure that effectively combines the digital with the human without simply following the footsteps of other purely scientific disciplines? This made me curious to see how current DH labs navigate this question.
The first lab I looked at was the Collaboratory for Research and Computing for Humanities (RCH) at the University of Kentucky. This lab has several facilities which, according to their website, are “ideal for concentrated workshop sessions, as well as extended project work.” They have two separate labs – the “Digital Research Incubator” and the “Projects Office,” both of which are equipped with numerous workstations and multimedia resources. True to its name, the focus of the ‘collaboratory’ seems to be on group work – especially that which combines individuals from several disciplines. Additionally, this lab seems to have a focused imagination when it comes to their infrastructure, as they claim to “provide physical and computational infrastructure, technical support, and grant writing assistance to university faculty who wish to undertake humanities computing projects.” Whether this infrastructure comes from the imagination of the “humanistiscope” is unclear.
I also took a look at the Hyperstudio Laboratory for Digital Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). According to its website, Hyperstudio “focuses on questions about the integration of technology into humanities curricula within the broader context of scholarly inquiry and educational
practice” and is associated with the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. From this information, it seems clear that Hyperstudio strives to come at their projects from a humanities-based perspective, but per their impressive list of software, they have an arsenal of digital infrastructure that supports the ‘digital’ end of this lab’s projects. Additionally, the “Process” section of the lab’s website describes the detailed workflow of each project that comes through the lab, including securing grant money, project roll out, evaluation, and project maintenance. Hyperstudio seems to have a good handle on each step of this process and appears to have the infrastructure to back it up.
Earhart, Amy E. “The Digital Humanities as a Laboratory.” 337-53. Web. 2015.
Svensson, Patrik. “The Humanistiscope – Exploring the Situatedness of Humanities Infrastructure.” 391-400. Web. 2015.