The advent of digital modes of representation has been changing humanistic practices for three decades, most recently in the emergence of a new cohort of scholars identifying themselves as “digital humanists,” while simultaneously problematizing the term. I will suggest a framework for thinking about these disciplinary and methodological confusions, by looking upon everything made of bits as part of a new medium with still emerging genres, and asking what role the humanities have to play in the collective effort to invent that medium, and, conversely, how that process of media invention is provoking a radical re-examination of humanistic practices. Can we see the current moment as a significant turn in the humanities toward an embrace of the power of representation, as a result of the new representational power that has come into our hands? As an illustration of an unconflicted approach to digital humanism I will briefly show some recent projects of my group and connect them to the collective project of inventing new narrative conventions in order to capture and share more complex understanding of the world.
Janet H. Murray is an internationally recognized interactive designer, the former director of Georgia Tech’s Masters and PhD Program in Digital Media (2000-2010), and a member of Georgia Tech’s interdisciplinary GVU Center. She is the author of Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (Free Press, 1997; MIT Press 1998), which has been translated into 5 languages, and is widely used as a roadmap to emerging broadband art, information, and entertainment environments,and Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice (MIT Press, 2011). Her interactive design projects at include a digital edition of the Warner Brothers classic, Casablanca, funded by NEH and in collaboration with the American Film Institute; and the Interactive Toolkit for Engineering Learning Project, funded by NSF. In addition, she directs the Experimental Television Laboratory, which has worked on interactive television applications for PBS, ABC , MTV, Turner, and other networks. Find her online at http://inventingthemedium.com.