Digital Humanities

I have been watching some of the HUMlab seminars and reading about the Digital Humanities and the work of Dr Patrik Svensson. From what I have read so far, Dr Svensson (2010) contributes to the conceptual mapping of the Digital Humanities (especially the shift of the Computing Humanities). He recognises Professor McPherson’s (2008,) typology of the Digital Humanities where the Computing Humanities (and its focus on building tools, infrastructure, standards and collections) is separated from the Blogging Humanities who – it is said – are more concerned with the production of networked media and peer-to-peer writing. McPherson (2008) also outlines a third a sphere of digital humanities, a multimodal domain for scholarly  tools, databases, networked writing and peer-to-peer commentary, while also leveraging the potential of the visual and aural media arts that are part of contemporary life.

Presner et al (2010) dates the first wave of Digital Humanities between the 1990s until the mid 2000s, noting a focus on the quantitative, automating, digitizing, and projects of infrastructure. The second wave expanded the field with a qualitative focus that involved critical and interpretive interaction in digital contexts to produce  new convergent fields, as well as hybrid methodologies of old and new models of analysis, curation, research and publication. Berry (2011) suggests a third wave of digital humanities, concentrated around the underlying computationality of the forms held within a computational medium, such as Software Studies and Ian Bogost’s Platforms Studies. The study I want to present at HUMlab, (I hope) will follow in these lines. The culture of players, of gamers, is well established, as is the academic field of games studies, but the analysis of the culture of video game production is less well attended. Bogost’s Platform Studies draws attention to the role of hardware alongside that of software, in the history of video games, but the network is not complete without the actors with access to the means of production, the programmers, developers, engineers. I’m not so interested in the political economy of the industry, or at least that isn’t my primary interest but a necessary part of the picture.

What I am interested in is the cultures of production, and what those who make video games think about their work, and how that translates in the use of social media. Berry (2011) considers the way digital technologies are already part of everyday research practices, influencing and being shaped by that use. Students access to mobile and highly convergent technologies, that have changed the nature of study, attending university and doing their own research. Similarly, in the culture of video game production at a very local level, digital games technologies are transformed by the use of social media, from Facebook, to Skype,  Forums, Twitter, even Wikipedia, Podcasts, etc. Hardware also had its role in the reshaping of the industry, especially with the success of the iPhone and iPad as mobile games devices. Understanding the intersections of play and production, means better understanding the relationships between those involved in the production of the digital and physical objects of games and the conditions of their play.


Berry, David, 2011. ‘The Computational Turn: Thinking about the Digital Humanities’, Culture Machine, Vol 12.

McPherson, Tara 2008. ‘Dynamic Vernaculars: Emergent Digital Forms in Contemporary Scholarship’,  Lecture presented to HUMLab Seminar, Umeå University, 4 March 2008.

Svenson, Patrik,  2010. ‘The Landscape of Digital Humanities’, Digital humanities quarterly, Summer, vol. 4, no. 1.

Presner, Todd, et al. 2010. “The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0”. UCLA Mellon Seminar in Digital Humanities.

Presner, Todd, 2010. Digital Humanities 2.0: A Report on Knowledge.  Connexions, June  8, 2010.

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