Alternative Genealogies of the Digital Humanities


  1. The Double Truth of the Digital Humanities
  2. The Self-Reflexive Praxis at the Heart of DH
  3. Cold War Computations and Imitation Games
  4. An Indigenist Internet for Indigenous Futures
  5. Invisible Objects
  6. Towards a Digital Cultural Studies
  7. Archival Emanations and Contrapuntal Transformations
  8. #haunteDH
  9. Why Are the Digital Humanities So Straight?
  10. Notes

The Double Truth of the Digital Humanities

David Golumbia

Those of us working in or close to the Digital Humanities (DH) know that its name has been vexed almost from its inception—in my opinion, more so than the names of typical academic fields and subfields. Discussions of the definition of DH tend to get bogged down in details: that is, which definition is correct, which one various practitioners subscribe to, who uses the terms which way, and so on. These are important conversations, but they can obscure a central question: why is DH subject to these ongoing debates about its nature and status? What in particular about DH makes it so prone to such methodological meta-reflection, in at the very least a proportion different from that of other fields and sub-fields? 1.

Matthew Kirschenbaum (2012a) is right that DH is a “tactical term”: it is useful for achieving certain purposes. Yet despite advancing the view of the term as tactical, Kirschenbaum is much less clear about the goals that the tactic serves. He points most often, and even here indirectly, at the consolidation of DH itself, but as an explanation that is circular, since it includes the explanandum in the explanans: “DH is a tactical term to enable the consolidation of DH,” it seems to be saying, especially with regard to the context in which DH is found, particularly in English Departments. Like many of the accounts of DH written by self-identified DHers, Kirschenbaum’s looks almost exclusively at the phenomenon as if it were not part of larger contexts. It is all well and good to look at what DH says about itself, but it is equally important to think about what it says, often implicitly, about the rest of the discipline(s) in which it locates itself. That these things are said more by implication than explicitly makes them no less salient—in fact it may make them more salient.

In most discussions two major candidates for the meaning of DH emerge. In important ways the two candidates are at odds with each other. The first is sometimes called the “narrow” definition of DH, or “Type 1” DH (Ramsay 2013), or “tools-and-archives.” One of the things that is strange about this definition is that few of the most prominent voices in the field (with the exception of Ramsay) seem to endorse it, either for themselves or others. When these definition discussions take place, then, we tend to arrive quickly at violent agreement that the second definition should obtain. That version of DH is variously called the “big tent” definition (Svensson 2012), the “broad” definition, “Type 2” DH in Ramsay’s nomenclature, or what I’d call the literal meaning of the phrase “digital humanities”: any scholarship that combines engagement with the digital of any sort with humanities work of any sort.

As the latter of these—the “big tent” definition—is both capacious and inclusive, one has to wonder what would be at stake in simply letting it stand. If it did stand, it would be true that “everyone gets to claim they do DH” (Underwood 2012), with only minimal provisos. If it did stand, arguably, we would not be having these debates, or at least would have far fewer of them. In fact, many responses to critiques of DH that take “Ttype 1” DH as the definition of the field attack we the critics for taking that definition seriously, as if it is something we dreamed up ourselves or that nobody buys into it. On the contrary, we have these debates because the “narrow” definition is very important to some group of people, some sort of constituency, of whom Steven Ramsay seems to be the only vocal member, though Ramsay himself seems not particularly interested in enforcing it on others. That constituency has to be fairly powerful, for the tenacity with which the narrow definition of DH sticks around is remarkable, especially given the propensity of major figures like Underwood to deny that it is operative or that they want it to be operative. Since the big tent definition explicitly includes the kind of work carried out under the narrow definition, we have to wonder why the narrow definition persists at all.

The most intense locus of this debate so far is found both in the original Debates in the Digital Humanities volume (Gold 2012) and in a series of papers and blog posts by Ramsay (2011a, 2011b, 2013a, 2013b). Famously, at a panel at the 2011 MLA Annual Convention, Ramsay indicated his conviction that “knowing how to code” is a minimal qualification for being a Digital Humanist:

Do you have to know how to code? I’m a tenured professor of digital humanities and I say “yes.” So if you come to my program, you’re going to have to learn to do that eventually. (Ramsay 2011a)

I note that while he explicitly endorses the narrow version of DH—in which not simply knowing how to code, but coding as part of practice (this is actually an important distinction) becomes the distinctive essence of DH—Ramsay interestingly to some extent endorses the big tent definition of DH. At his school, you have to know how to code, but at other schools, you may well not. That all sounds reasonable, but as Ramsay points out in the same paragraph, “You might need to know how to code in order to be competitive for relevant grants with the ODH, NSF, or Mellon.”

Further, Ramsay makes clear that he strongly endorses the narrow definition, in terms that have become a bit infamous:

Personally, I think Digital Humanities is about building things. I’m willing to entertain highly expansive definitions of what it means to build something. I also think the discipline includes and should include people who theorize about building, people who design so that others might build, and those who supervise building (the coding question is, for me, a canard, insofar as many people build without knowing how to program). I’d even include people who are working to rebuild systems like our present, irretrievably broken system of scholarly publishing. But if you are not making anything, you are not—in my less-than-three-minute opinion—a digital humanist. You might be something else that is good and worthy—maybe you’re a scholar of new media, or maybe a game theorist, or maybe a classicist with a blog (the latter being very good thing indeed)—but if you aren’t building, you are not engaged in the “methodologization” of the humanities, which, to me, is the hallmark of the discipline that was already decades old when I came to it. (Ramsay 2011a)

One of the remarkable things about this passage is that it explicitly disparages the very object of literary study in its apparent championing of the project of literary study: that is, it erects an implicit and categorical distinction between “making” and “writing” that one might imagine literary scholars, of all people, would be among the first to challenge. Not only that: in the prior promotion of coding skill as a kind of parallel to writing skill, narrow DH already relies on this equivalency at its core. If “building” really is an entirely different kind of thing from “writing,” why should the discipline devoted explicitly to and defined by the study of writing, of all disciplines, stop valuing writing as its sine qua non? How can coding be a kind of writing on the one hand, but then an entirely different kind of thing on the other?

The kind of crux visible in the seams of Ramsay’s argument can be seen much more fully, and I think much more willfully, in the writings and statements of the generation of scholars who trained Ramsay, who designed DH as a disciplinary intervention, and who made sure it was the case that in order “to be competitive for relevant grants,” one needed to claim to be engaged exclusively in a kind of “building” that was distinct from writing. In fact, “building” here was offered exactly as a disparagement of both the object and method of literary study, a form of discipline-internal ressentiment that was designed to solicit the work and attention precisely of those who find both literary interpretation (that is, the direct study of writing) and the generation of written interpretation to be distasteful or beyond their capabilities, particularly in the practice of those they trained (as opposed to themselves, as they all generated and continued to generate significant amounts of written material). Thus DH was constructed, for these scholars, as the negative image of literary study as the rest of the field understood it: as a place where it would be legitimate to disparage the recent history of literary study as something “traditional” and “out of date”—a formulation which, in my years of study and training, I have only ever heard come from narrow DHers. The students excited by literary studies per se typically have an entirely different complaint: rather than being “traditional” and “out of date,” there at any given time there is so much that is new within literary studies itself that it is difficult if not impossible to keep up.

One way to make this issue clear is to note that of the senior scholars who crafted DH as a discipline, it is fair to say that none of them—strictly speaking, none of them—know how to code, and that few of them have ever directly been engaged in “building” projects of the sort Ramsay describes. They certainly did sit at the heads of design teams and help to describe the functionality and to some extent the research questions that various tools and archives might address; but it was very much the exception for any of them to be doing the coding, the (nominally) non-writing “building” that is supposed to constitute DH. In fact, the scholar of that generation with the strongest claim to technical skills, Alan Liu, explicitly demurs from being described in that way in the comments to Ramsay’s pieces. (see Liu, comment on Ramsay 2011b). How can it be that the definition of a discipline is rigidly enforced by scholars who do not themselves engage in the discipline according to that very definition?

This question helps to make visible what I am calling the double truth of DH. Having been “part” of the DH project from nearly its inception, it is hard for me to indicate just how many times and in how many fora I have seen this dynamic operate. I do not doubt for a moment that Ramsay himself engages in the kind of building and coding he describes. But I do doubt the intentions of people who promote the narrow definition of DH, especially with regard to funding and hiring, when it does not apply to them. Something more than disciplinary definition is happening in such instances. A double gesture is being performed, one that is designed to mystify: like a parlor trick, it tells us to focus on what the right hand is doing, while the left hand is the one actually doing the work.

An unusually (and I think unintentionally) public example of this dynamic has emerged recently. The senior faculty of the UCLA Center for Digital Humanities, for example, includes some of the best-known senior figures in DH. The Center’s “What Is DH?” page begins:

Digital Humanities interprets the cultural and social impact of new media and information technologies—the fundamental components of the new information age—as well as creates and applies these technologies to answer cultural, social, historical, and philological questions, both those traditionally conceived and those only enabled by new technologies. [bold in original]

This message has appeared very prominently on the page for years. It foregrounds exactly what most in the current university system understand the humanities, especially literary studies, to be about: interpreting culture. If one had to pick out a distinctive element for big-tent DH that is not part of narrow DH, such interpretation, especially of “new media and information technologies,” would be it—Ramsay, as we have seen, explicitly rules this out of his Type 1 DH, calling it instead “scholar[ship] of new media,” which it certainly is, whether or not it also “is” DH.

Contrast the UCLA Center’s language with this passage from the 2012 MIT Press Digital_Humanities book:

What Isn’t the Digital Humanities?
The mere use of digital tools for the purpose of humanistic research and communication does not qualify as Digital Humanities. Nor, as already noted, is Digital Humanities to be understood as the study of digital artifacts, new media, or contemporary culture in place of physical artifacts, old media, or historical culture. (Burdick et. al. 2012, 122)

The direct contradiction between these two passages might be taken as exemplary of the broad vs narrow DH definitional controversy. But strikingly, these passages were written around the same time by the same people: three of the book’s five co-authors—Peter Lunenfeld, Johanna Drucker and Todd Presner—are among the senior guiding faculty of the UCLA Center.

One might offer a speculative explanation for this disparity. The Center’s website seems plainly directed at those without much background in DH at all, those who want to understand what it is: that is to say, the broad academic community, which might well include faculty and administrators at UCLA and elsewhere who do not consider themselves “part” of DH and have no particular interest in changing that, but who want to know something about DH and what the Center at their University is up to. It may even be addressed to people who have heard some of the criticisms of DH leveled by myself and others that specifically note DH’s studied rejection of interpretation and even of “close” reading of texts. To such people, the idea that interpretation is a signal part of the humanities is not only unsurprising, but is likely to be assumed. They may therefore be immediately sympathetic with the criticisms they have heard that DH is hostile to much of humanistic practice. The page says to them, “don’t worry, we are doing just what you expect, we have no destructive intentions toward what you imagine or believe or work for the humanities to be about; critics who accuse us of abandoning the core mission of the humanities are misguided.”

The Digital_Humanities book, on the other hand, is primarily directed toward DH practitioners themselves or those who imagine themselves to be part of DH. The book tells those of us who subscribe to the “broad” definition that we are wrong; it tells us to find something else to call our work, but not to call it DH. It is internally-focused and prescriptive, where the website is externally-focused and descriptive. One face is meant to keep out interfering onlookers; the other is meant to control and direct those already in the fold.

This dynamic is exactly what I have seen in DH: one unthreatening, expansive definition when outsiders look in, designed to defuse critique of DH as a practice; another, exclusionary, imposed by a small but powerful and influential subset of DHers, forcefully advocated behind the scenes. No doubt, most of those who practice DH and who subscribe to one definition or the other are not engaged in a double game of the sort I am describing; what I seek to establish here is that this double game has been a critical, even constitutive part of the very impulse to create DH as a discipline out of what had been the perceived “service function” of humanities computing.

In this way, and it is notable that this perspective is one frequently offered by non-DH scholars and vigorously if often ineffectively resisted by DHers themselves, DH intervenes in recent literary scholarship by dismissing most of what non-DH scholars see as the core of the profession. This powerful rejection of the then-dominant mode of critical inquiry in literary studies found a ready reception in the corridors of power that had been on the lookout for any kind of remedy to the problem created by the influence of figures like Gayatri Spivak, Judith Butler, and perhaps especially to the point due to their culture-wide influence, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. It was this political power that made DH burn so bright, and it is no coincidence that this same political power is visible everywhere in the powerfully rightist political energies we see everywhere today unleashed under the name of computerization. This synthesis meant that those among us who harbored a grudge against interpretive practice—for any number of reasons, personal, professional, psychosexual, political—found what they had been looking for all along: an alternate path toward what they wanted, or a way of getting what they wanted without having to get it. In fact this accounts to some extent for the vast amounts of hostility we used to see (it has died down at least a bit) in DH attitudes toward every aspect of being a professor, to the degree that a prominent DHer can call taking a job as a full-time professor, even in apparent jest, “going… to the dark side”​ (Guiliano 2014).

This engagement with the “culture wars” is made explicit in the Digital_Humanities volume:

The last 50 years saw the growth of increasing discomfort with inherited curricula, which were rightly seen as constrained by issues of race, class, gender, and first-world biases rooted in Eurocentric traditions. An important battle took place—to open reading lists and discussion sections to a wider range of voices. Yet this call for openness and expansion dovetailed with the silo-ization of knowledge in the humanities as the baby boom generation hit the newly expanded higher education sector in the 1960s. Students clamored for relevance; activists demanded inclusion; and scholars responded by opening up their syllabi while at the same time narrowing their teaching to reflect and feed their specializations. Figures and movements formerly ignored precisely because of their supposedly “marginal” status became new objects of study. Perhaps more significantly, the perspectives of these once-excluded materials carried with them alterative methodologies and different value systems that shattered any illusion of a single belief system within humanistic thought.
The wars over the core have had two unexpected results. The first is that rather than replacing a restrictive body of knowledge with a more expansive one, the very idea of sharing common references or approaches waned. The wars over the core in the humanities have contributed to a malaise in which the humanities are widely perceived as “irrelevant,” lacking the practicality of business, law, or medicine. Another effect has been to add ammunition to the forces that want to de-college the American populace, shunting as many students as possible into vocational tracks, in order to reserve higher education for elites. Yet the reality is that graduates of whatever level will need to call upon more than vocational training if they are to steer their democracy through the challenges and opportunities that this highly networked, globalized, mobile, and ecologically fragile century offers. More than ever, we need the critical insights, creative designs, speculative imagination, and methods of comparative, historically informed study that shape humanistic modes of inquiry. Imagination and informed critical thought foster ways of thinking beyond received positions and claims to absolute authority. Digital, polyvocal expression can support a genuine multiverse in which no single point of view can claim the center. The principles of relativist approaches to knowledge, rooted in historically situated understanding, remain fundamental to (digital) humanism.
The phrase Digital Humanities thus describes not just a collective singular but also the humanities in the plural, able to address and engage disparate subject matters across media, language, location, and history. But, however heterogeneous, the Digital Humanities is unified by its emphasis on making, connecting, interpreting, and collaborating. This concentration on process and method might in fact be the way to develop a work-around for the creation of a core curriculum, a process which bogs down precisely on what appears to its varied partisans to be a zero-sum game. An Afro-Caribbean female novelist joining the syllabus means an English male metaphysical poet exits. In the eight semesters of the hypothetical student’s college career, there are only so many class sessions. But the networked academy’s very allatonceness--to use Marshall McLuhan’s suggestive term referring to simultaneity and connectivity—offers a glimpse of a more elastic notion of curricula, one that extends past the walls of the academy and the time limits of degree programs. At the very same time that the battles over the core raged on, the entertainment and information industries flourished. The disconnect between methods of pedagogy inherited from cloisters and seminar rooms and those of a massively mediated culture is real. Digital humanists strive to bridge that gap. (Burdick, et. al. 2012, 23–24)

Here the neutralization of politics is explicit: DH would not want to wade into “a never-ending academic culture war.” This is a remarkable as a statement of method, since it openly proclaims what most literary scholars would deny as a matter of principle: that it is possible not to wade into that war, and that the explicitly “neutral” orientation is not itself an interested and political position.

Even more, this discussion explicitly nods toward the apparent concerns of non-DH literary studies, using key terms and phrases like “marginal,” “relativism,” and “an Afro-Caribbean female novelist,” but only to point at them as insufficient for its new universalizing vision of literary studies. In their view, one that nearly echoes those of conservative foundations and reactionary critics like David Horowitz, the recognition of minorities and “marginal” figures has forced out “the very idea of sharing common references or approaches,” making the humanities “irrelevant.” Both of these sentiments echo conservative talking points while offering no evidence to back up such claims, and in fact the experiences I am aware of are very much the opposite: rather than the rather noxious and startling suggestion that ‘an Afro-Caribbean female novelist joining the syllabus means an English male metaphysical poet exits,” a more expansive approach to canon formation has meant that the literary classroom appears more inclusive, speaks to more members of the audience, and becomes more relevant by engaging all students in discussions of issues—specifically, political issues—that inform and structure every aspect of our students’ lives. I know of few if any practitioners of non-DH literary studies who would agree with these sentiments as in any way an accurate characterization of their discipline, yet here it is presented in the same breath that we are told DH is politically neutral and realizes the same project as does the rest of the field. In other words, there is a double movement here that is typical of DH and other rightist political formations: while overtly claiming to put itself “above” and to “resolve” the “culture wars,” DH precisely is, in part, an entrant into those wars, but one that refuses to name itself as such.

There is a clear and distinct sleight-of-hand at play in definitions of DH, and that this sleight-of-hand contravenes what many—perhaps most--of those of us practicing DH claim to want, and what many English professors would prefer if they thought it was up to them. In this game two different messages are used depending on which one is advantageous at any given moment. Message 1, the “narrow” definition, as advanced by the authors of the Digital_Humanities volume, according to which DH refers exclusively to the building of tools and archives, is used inside the field, especially for funding and hiring. But when concerns are raised about the narrow definition, especially from outside the field (of DH), the “big tent” definition comes out as message 2, which relies on the literal meaning of the terms "digital" and "humanities," and according to which anything that combines the two inherently qualifies as DH. The effect of this shift is precisely to destabilize the criticisms occasioned by the apparent differences between narrow DH and other practices in the study of literature. This is why, despite my endorsement of the “big tent” definition, I also see something approaching disingenuousness occurring when we simply assert that by wishing it we can make it so. Apparently, we can’t make it so, not just by affirming it—at least not until we come to grips with the major forces that are driving the promulgation of the narrow definition.

Yes, grants remain available across the spectrum of humanities subjects, including the “big tent” DH topics—but those individual grants are not labeled Digital Humanities, and that labeling often turns out to be decisive. Further, my understanding is that those other streams of funding are available in approximately the same number and the same amounts they have been for decades. What changed the funding scene in humanities departments in general and English departments in particular was the availability of 6-figure project funding specifically and exclusively targeted for the narrow version of DH.

Interestingly, when the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities (ODH) was starting up, it too embraced the “big tent” definition of DH. Here is a passage from its “About ODH” page from 2006 (quoted in Juola, "Killer Applications," p.81; as far as I can tell it's no longer available on the NEH website):

NEH has launched a new digital humanities initiative aimed at supporting projects that utilize or study the impact of digital technology. Digital technologies offer humanists new methods of conducting research, conceptualizing relationships, and presenting scholarship. NEH is interested in fostering the growth of digital humanities and lending support to a wide variety of projects, including those that deploy digital technologies and methods to enhance our understanding of a topic or issue; those that study the impact of digital technology on the humanities—exploring the ways in which it changes how we read, write, think, and learn; and those that digitize important materials thereby increasing the public’s ability to search and access humanities information.

And here is the parallel passage from its “About ODH” page in 2013:

In the humanities as in the sciences, digital technology has changed the way in which scholars perform their work. Technology allows humanists to raise new questions and radically changes the ways in which archival materials can be searched, mined, displayed, taught, and analyzed. Digital technology has also had an enormous impact on how scholarly materials are preserved and accessed, generating challenging issues related to sustainability, copyright, and authenticity. ODH therefore supports projects that employ digital technology to improve humanities research, education, preservation, access, and public programming. To that end, ODH works with the scholarly community, and with other funding agencies in the United States and abroad, to encourage collaboration across national and disciplinary boundaries. In addition to sponsoring grant programs, ODH also works collaboratively with the field, participating in conferences and workshops with scholars, librarians, scientists, and other funders to learn more about how to best serve digital scholarship.

In 2015, the text changed again, this time to make entirely vague what sort of projects it will and will not support (although its pattern of exclusively funding tools and archives continues unabated):

In a short period of time, digital technology has changed our world. The ways we read, write, learn, communicate, and play have fundamentally changed due to the advent of networked digital technologies. These changes are being addressed in fascinating ways by scholars from across the humanities, often working in collaboration with scientists, librarians, museum staff, and members of the public.
The Office of Digital Humanities offers grant programs that address these cultural changes. This would include projects that explore how to harness new technology for humanities research as well as those that study digital culture from a humanistic perspective. To best tackle the broad, interdisciplinary questions that arise when studying digital technology, ODH works closely with the scholarly community and with other funding agencies in the United States and abroad, to encourage collaboration across national and disciplinary boundaries. In addition to sponsoring grant programs, ODH also participates in conferences and workshops with the scholarly community to help foster understanding of issues in the digital humanities and ensure we are meeting the needs of the field.

In the change from the first to the second of these passages, it emerges that projects must “employ digital technology,” but ODH no longer mentions supporting projects "that study the impact of digital technology," a major bone of contention in the ongoing DH definition controversy. There is also very little (though not nothing) that points toward the use of existing technology to arrive at new insights, but instead focuses on methods that start from the presumption that humanities research needs to be “improved,” "new questions" must be "raised," and "radical changes" are called for, all of which dovetails conceptually with “building new tools,” because there is something wrong or at least out-of-step with existing forms of literary scholarship. I won't try to understand or reconstruct the narrative that explains how this change occurred, but it does seem to echo exactly the dynamic that concerns me: when the thing is public, when others are looking and wondering, the “big tent” definition is used; but when we get down to brass tacks, it's the narrow definition that actually holds sway, and it's important for that narrow definition to define the field as far as funding and hiring go. The third version, which I believe was written in response to critics alleging, rightly I believe, that ODH was essentially directing scholarly practice rather than being guided by it, has so far yet to yield results of the sort it promises.

A similar double gesture occurs in some of Ramsay’s own writing. Thus in “DH Types One and Two” (2013a), when deriving his typology of DH, Ramsay responds to criticisms of the sort I am making as follows:

We are accused of being neo-liberals. We are consistently told that we are hostile to “theory” and cultural studies.
As this torrent of abuse is coming down upon our heads, “DH I-ers” are thinking of the Perseus Digital Library; of the TEI; of Ted Underwood and Matt Jocker’s work on large text corpora; of the Rome Reborn project and the Orlando Project; of Race and Place and of the Codex Sinaiticus Project; of the Blake, Dickinson, Whitman, Wittgenstein, Ibsen, and Rossetti archives; of Voice of the Shuttle; of Neatline, Zotero, Voyant, CATMA, TAPoR, and TokenX; of author attribution studies and computational stylometry; of the quest to discover a “humanities visualization” as distinct from scientific visualization.

What Ramsay seems unwilling to admit is that very few if any of these projects, on the views of myself and Brian Lennon and other critics, bear much resemblance at all to what we mean by “ ‘theory’ and cultural studies”—indeed, the only ones that do, like Voice of the Shuttle, do so only by dint of providing links to such work. So while the words say “we are not in fact hostile as you declare us to be,” the content actually affirms that hostility. Little wonder that in a follow-up to this piece, and somewhat paradoxically, Ramsay (2013b) writes that “cultural criticism” constitutes a “form of nihilism” and that DH “might represent (or represents in nascent form) an attempt by humanists to actually do something” in its face, a claim that one strains to imagine being made by a scholar who actually is not hostile to “ ‘theory’ and cultural studies.”

This is part of why my major concern is not with the existence even of “narrow” DH—more power to it—but with its troubling relationship with English Departments. The claim that “narrow” DH looks much like other forms of English scholarship is hard to maintain—indeed, a great deal of hand-wringing about new tenure standards and so on exists because DH scholarship does not look like other English scholarship. Whitney Trettien (2013) is right to suggest that "if we're going to agree DH is a discipline, we should start having conversations about its disciplinarity at appropriately disciplinary venues. MLA is not that.” But DHers show no sign of retreating from MLA, despite their certainly having conferences of their own. Matt Kirschenbaum, in "What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” (2012b), spends much more time defining DH and placing its history among the English professors who have practiced it than he does asking the deep question the second part of his title suggests: why should non-DH English professors accept DH as a part of their discipline, when DH overtly rejects so many of the methods and activities of English?

This is where the double definition of DH seems especially concerning. The double definition licenses a statement, call it the “big tent,” under which "we just do what you already do, so you have to accept us as genuinely part of your project." But then the narrow definition licenses almost the diametrically opposite sentiment: “what we do is very different from what you do, so you have to change your standards and methods to get on board with us.” Like many other things in the digital world, DH ends up asserting both that it is "completely different from and exactly the same as” (a rhetorical form frequently found in digital boosterism, discussed in Golumbia 2013) other forms of English scholarship.

DHers as a rule vehemently deny that the tools-and-archives approach is inherently conservative, but if we accept this claim at face value, the conundrum becomes even worse: why, then, has there been such a dramatic break with literary studies as the rest of us practice it? Why do so many outside and/or at the periphery of DH continue to raise questions about its politics? It seems to me that the answer is one few have been willing to contemplate out loud: that what DH names, in the hands of its most powerful and influential practitioners, of the ones who care about policing its borders, is a political movement under another name: a turn to intellectual conservatism that claims to have no politics, itself a move that is usually only made by the politics of the right. Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t see what is so wrong with a turn toward conservatism: all fields of the humanities should reflect the deep politics of the societies that inform them, and to the degree that views are legible within the intellectual formations in which they are grounded, such splits should not just be tolerated but, if anything, fostered.

What I do want to question is the silent promulgation of these politics as if by another name. It is hard to reconcile the twin claims that DH represents the same politics as the sort advocated by the highly various group of scholars mentioned earlier, and that it has no particular need to engage with the work of those scholars. Given that what binds those scholars together is a very loose affiliation with the “left,” a rejection of them seems inherently to deserve to be seen as a move to the right. Again, I think discourse in the humanities would be strengthened by the presence of an overtly conservative faction that could thoughtfully ground its views (for example, in the works of thinkers like Burke and Adam Smith). But one of the few things that the turn to “theory” and to discussions of politics in the academy would seem to have shown is that there is no such thing as a “neutral” formation. Such formations are impossible, or at the very least impossible to sustain, because the calls on them to pick sides become louder and louder as influence and power accrue to them. There is little doubt that some of the important funding organizations and scholars who oversaw the development of DH as a field of scholarship out of Humanities Computing as a field of support for scholarship (Mellon, NEH) had little patience for what is perceived as the leftist bent of literary studies. There is little doubt that DH as it is practiced has become a refuge for those students and faculty who find “theory” per se distasteful, perhaps especially because of the political cast of what is currently called theory. There is even less doubt that, as the panelists on the Dark Side of the Digital Humanities panel at the 2013 MLA repeatedly hinted, the motivating passions that drive DHers in English are often—not always, but often—different from those that drive scholars who don’t identify themselves primarily with DH.

It is worth glancing at the Blackwell Companion to Digital Humanities (Schreibman, Susan, Siemens, and Unsworth 2008) for a snapshot of how DH views the field of which it claims to be a part. For it is hard to look at this volume and not see in it the desire for a radical break with the rest of the field of literary studies. Here is a brief list of scholars to whose work there is not a single reference in the Companion: Edward Said; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick; Lauren Berlant; Hortense Spillers; Jane Gallop; Bill Brown; Terry Eagleton; Henry Louis Gates; Toni Morrison; Deborah McDowell; Barbara Smith; Houston Baker; Judith Butler. Two more central figures, Fredric Jameson and Stephen Greenblatt, occur exactly once, in an article by Alan Liu, who of course was was and is widely recognized as a literary scholar independently of his work in DH. This is not a cherry-picked list of unfortunate omissions, but rather a fairly representative sample of what is characteristic of how the Companion engages with the field of literary studies. One could scarcely read a single article from the years 2006–2008 in major journals in literary studies without finding references to several of these names. They are, by any lights, the leading literary scholars of our day. They do not occur in two volumes whose overt purpose is to show us a new turn in literary studies. It is only by a deliberate evasion that one could point at this practice and claim it to be uncontroversially a part of a discipline whose major figures and methods it not only rejects, but rejects without even considering them important enough to name and engage with.

I was the first person to be hired as a Digital Humanist in the world (at UVa, in 2003). I have been employed in that role continuously since then. My work applies the insights of the major figures in literary studies to digital culture. To say it has been made clear to me that my work does not “count” as DH would be to significantly understate my experience. While I am routinely invited to participate in “debates” and “discussions” about the nature of DH, the number of times I have been invited to—or my work has even been considered in—”proper” DH forums and events is vanishingly close to zero. Thus I find claims that the “big tent” actually has much practical influence to be very hard to take seriously. From where I sit, it is hard to escape the view that DH names a politics as if not more than it does a set of methods, that it is a reaction to the perceived politics of literary studies, one that refuses to name itself in part to empower itself along those lines, and whose alliances with aspects of that leftism (especially along gender lines, as in archives of women’s writing) always appear especially fraught in a way that other literary studies of the same topics do not. This is by no means to dismiss the important and ongoing work of many within the DH community whose work is allied with the field of literary studies as it exists outside of DH: Liu, Tara McPherson, Anne Balsamo, Wendy Chun, Martha Nell Smith, Rita Raley and others have done this work and continue to do it. But the controversy it generates is to me a mark of a deep politics that many in DH subscribe to but refuse to avow, at least in public: a foundational resistance to literary studies as it was practiced at the time of the formation of DH, one for which DH provided a “space free from all this messiness and a return to objective questions of representation” (Smith 2007, 4) for any number of constituencies who found those politics unappealing. There is no neutral ground, and given its engagement with capital, the deep engagement with technology is among the least likely sites for such neutrality if it exists at all. In our world, a turn away from a certain political formation, no matter how “above the fray” it paints itself, cannot help but constitute a turn toward its opposite.


Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp. 2012. Digital_Humanities. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Gold, Matthew K., ed. 2012. Debates in the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Golumbia, David. 2013. “Completely Different and Exactly the Same.” Uncomputing. Mar 6, 2013. = 221.

———. 2014. “Death of a Discipline” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 25:1. 156–176.

Guiliano, Jennifer. 2014. “Alt-Ac No More.” Jennifer Guiliano. Feb 18, 2014.

Juola, Patrick. 2008. “Killer Applications in Digital Humanities,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 23:1. 73–83.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. 2012a. “Digital Humanities Is/As a Tactical Term.” In Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities. 415–428.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. 2012b. “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” In Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities. 3–11.

Liu, Alan. 2012. “Where Is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?” In Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities. 490–509.

Ramsay, Stephen. 2011a. “Who’s In and Who’s Out.” Stephen Ramsay. Jan 8, 2011.

———. 2011b, “On Building.” Stephen Ramsay. Jan 11, 2011.

———. 2013a. “DH Types One and Two.” Stephen Ramsay. May 3, 2013.

———. 2013b. “Why I’m In It.” Stephen Ramsay. Sep 12, 2013.

Schreibman, Susan, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, eds. 2008. A Companion to the Digital Humanities. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Svensson, Patrik. 2012. “Beyond the Big Tent.” In Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities. 36–49.

Smith, Martha Nell. 2007. “The Human Touch Software of the Highest Order: Revisiting Editing as Interpretation.” Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation, 2:1. 1–15.

Trettien, Whitney. 2013. “So, What’s Up With MLA.” Diapsalmata. Jan 25, 2013.

UCLA Center for Digital Humanities. No date. “What Is DH?”

Underwood, Ted. 2011.” Why Digital Humanities Isn’t Actually ‘The Next Thing in Literary Studies.'" The Stone and the Shell. Dec 27, 2011.

———. 2012. “How Everyone Gets to Claim They Do DH” The Stone and the Shell. Sep 22, 2012.


The Self-Reflexive Praxis at the Heart of DH

Alexandra Juhasz

It is my contention that Digital Humanities (DH) demands something new and potentially revelatory for humanities scholars: to be self-aware of and intentional about their work’s audience, method, tools, style, and format in a collaborative practice that includes making things that will be used. Of course, all scholarship does this always. Writing a chapter on a laptop in Chicago style about self-aware DH for an editor and ultimately her anthology’s small audience of subject-specialists satisfies all of the above conditions. Even as I write this alone in a room, there’s human and technological infrastructure undergirding my labor: my school-bought computer and salary-supported Internet; the students, designers, funders, YouTubers (but not prisoners, more on this soon), and so many others who helped me to get to this point where I can “write it up” for you. But I suggest that hegemonic humanists (not quite so for scientists and even social scientists, I’d wager) were never so pressed to consider reigning protocols, structures and practices as such, so that like whiteness, maleness, straightness, and the many other forms of privilege upon which hegemonic power relies, the gift of being blind to form, of not having to see process, of never having to name how or why one does ones work is both exactly what produces and confirms institutional dominance and what radical DH has the capacity to challenge within academia in its (un)doing.

DH mandates that those humanities scholars who are willing to take the plunge into digital technology, and its associated affordances, also attend to this exploration with a new scrutiny. Suddenly, the forms and methods of our workaday labor become visible as the prescribed, approved and safeguarded activities they always were: ways of doing that were easily bolstered by time-honored and discipline-sanctioned expectations of authority, distance, and neutrality. Radical DH attends to this infrastructural clarity, thereby acknowledging and taking account of the form, sanction, institutions, and yes, politics that have always operated between the scholar and her production and between her output and the world. Scary, exciting, and messy, something most of us are untrained to do and perhaps uninterested to partake in, self-reflexive DH praxis does us all some good: it accounts for the power, purpose, and place of our work while attesting that this is contextual and sometimes flexible.

Naming the structuring conditions of our work, and a work, is the first critical step of a self-reflexive DH praxis: Where am I doing this work from? How did I get here and why? Who uses and owns what I make? How do they get to it? Who doesn’t get it? Then evaluating the forms and uses of ones own practices within and because of ones structuring conditions is a next crucial step: What will I make this time? With what method and associated tools? Who is my audience for this work? What do I hope we might gain? Needless to say, some scholars like myself and my comrades from “identity,” “post-identity,” and “political” orientations—i.e. women of color, anti-Zionists, feminists, anarchists, queers, environmentalists, and so on—have steadfastly focused upon the self-reflexive praxis at the heart of our scholarly project because we are not only committed to doing well by our work professionally but also in the larger world beyond our jobs and academia. What does this look and feel like in the doing?

Using one recent example from my own peripatetic and sometimes rocky journies within and around the edges of DH—a 2015 project where I attempted to and failed at teaching about YouTube in a men’s prison—I will map onto the several forms of this multi-step and multi-formed endeavor (including this one here) how I engage in, sometimes fail at, and learn from a self-aware process. Looking at this lengthy project as it developed in five discrete parts from 2007–2015, I will demonstrate why and how I tried a variety of tactics, made different things for a variety of audiences, and what I took away from these project’s varied reception and use. I do so hoping that humanities scholars, whatever your political commitments, can join me at this particularly productive place where DH allows me, and us, to begin differently: breakdown and disappointment. For unlike a/this book chapter, DH projects often end with a crash due to almost certain collapse among some or many of their complex requirements: funding, time, staff, technical expertise, inter-disciplinarity, collaborators, finding technology that works and can be maintained and lasts, and pressures from outside institutions with different demands and norms. But look! Even when some parts end up breaking, others survive. Here a chapter is the result.

My method for this essay (she writes reflexively) is to answer the questions I raised above in relation to the five iterations of this project: 1. an undergraduate class, Learning From YouTube (LFYT) taught on and about YouTube in 2007 (and then taught again several more times) 2. a viral Internet event that lasted for a brief moment that first semester about the wacky class, 3. my wrap up of the project as a born-digital online “video-book” “published” by MIT Press in 2011, 4. my attempt to reanimate the project in both traditional and prison classrooms in 2015, and 5. this iteration here. Across the piece, I will pepper largish sections of two blog posts that I wrote after bring invited by Tamsyn Glibert to "reconsider gender and technology in the age of the distributed network” for her online journal Lady Justice. I do so both because I like what I said there, and don’t feel I need to say it again, but also to demonstrate re-purposing and transmediality as DH tactics in their own right that deliver new things to the changing audiences who might need them.

Where am I doing this work from? For all five iterations of this project, I produced my work at work and sometimes also outside of it. I am a Full Professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College, a small, elite liberal arts college in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Thanks to a beneficial combination of my professional rank, my place of employment (one that actually rewards innovation and even sometimes community-based pedagogy), and my own predilection towards creative projects that holistically intertwine theory, practice and politics (what I call my media praxis 1. ), a strong situation in the workplace supported this entire body of work that never once was to deliver in traditional forms. I was not doing experimental, out-of-the-box DH work from a place of fear, danger, or precarity. Quite the opposite. I understood that I could experiment with innovative forms because I had institutional sanction, and more so, I might even be rewarded for this work precisely because of its innovation, inter-disciplinarity, multi-modailty, and political aspirations.

One example of the supported place from where I was working: When I began thinking about “publishing” the large body of writing, videos, student work, and other digital objects that were produced across this project, I had behind me the muscle of USC’s Tara McPherson and Vectors, as well as her role in the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture, given that I had been awarded an NEH Summer DH fellowship for my initial work on the project. With McPherson’s help, and a Mellon grant focused on digital publishing, I then connected to the MIT Press and worked carefully and self-consciously with them to have my born-and-always-digital object understood contractually, legally, and institutionally “as a book” (it was double-blind peer-reviewed, it has an ISBN number), so that I could mark a possible space for others to do similar DH work who do not have the sanction I carry because of my rank, place of employment, and age. 2.

Interestingly, although my place of employment and my political and personal commitments stayed constant across the eight years of this project and its five forms, there are notable variations in context that prove demonstrative. My authority as a full professor is mutable as I move from the classroom, to Fox News, in the wilds of the Internet, at the prison, or to this anthology. I can be a proud leftist, feminist, queer professional in the classroom and here, too, while on Fox News and at the prison I must carry myself differently, wear another set of clothes, and speak the same ideas with slightly altered words and foci.

How did I get here and why?

As a feminist queer media scholar, I have always understood my teaching, scholarly output (writing or media), and academic capital to be techniques through which I can contribute to projects of self- and world-changing of utmost value to me. I chose to be a media studies professor, and now a DH practitioner, because in this regard, at least, I am a good Marxist who remains convinced that the production, analysis, circulation, and archiving of culture has political and social efficacy. I discuss where I come from and why I am doing this work in all my work. 3. A feminist, situated understanding of myself and my project is core to my practice. 4. For example, Learning from YouTube has a tour (or chapter) called “THIRDTUBE” that discusses my dreams for both YouTube and my analysis of it. The tour begins with "My Orientation (toward YouTube and ThirdTube)" 5. :

In 2007, I came to YouTube (to teach and to learn) after twenty years of making, writing, and teaching about alternative media, particularly the community video work of AIDS and antiwar activists, feminists, people of color and queers of many stripes. I am a committed media scholar and maker whose work has focused on individual and community empowerment and, by design, projects to which I am personally related. I like to work within the forms I am analyzing and hoping to (use for) change. My reflexive process grounds the questions I ask of YouTube and where I try to push it.

Many years and iterations of the project later, I wrote about why I was going to try to move the class to the prison in a blog post, “Learning from (Where) YouTube (Can’t Go): Inside-Out” 6. (January 8, 2015).

In 2007, I engaged in what was at the time perceived to be an audacious pedagogical experiment. I taught a course both on and about YouTube. At that time, I opened out the private liberal arts classroom into the wilds of the Internet. These many years later, looking back at the experiment and also moving forward, I imagine what there might still be to learn and where there still might be to go within social media networks. Certainly much happened in the first class—virality, hilarity, hundreds of videos and interviews, caution, discipline, challenges to higher education and collegiate writing, and a "book“—but here I ask, how might the continual growth of YouTube demand new places and tactics for its analysis?
For, after that first semester, I found that my own practice of and pleasures in teaching the class were pretty routine (and this is not the case for my more traditional looks at more “traditional” subjects that I teach with frequency: say, video art or feminist documentary). for a brief moment in 2007 so scintillating for me and my viral audience, so innovative in its approach, topic, and formats,Studying and teaching YouTube, also became for me—the sole person who had to do it again in each iteration—quickly and utterly boring (another structuring principle of our object of study—boredom motivates staying and clicking—reiterated in my method, pedagogy and writing about it).
Frankly, I’m a scholar (and maker) of independent, avant-garde and activist media for a reason. I’m not passionate about popular culture nor the questions it raises and so these were not the questions I was asking about YouTube, even though I willingly snared myself within its structuring logics of capital, censorship, popularity and entertainment, and I would follow my students’ lead when they wanted to pursue such questions (for instance the popularity project of 2007).
And yet, here I am about to teach it and there again. Why, you must certainly want to ask, if I’m such a hater? I teach and study YouTube because I think social media needs critical and productive forces within them. I am always eager to learn about fellow projects of critical, productive Internet use and studies. I encourage my students and others to locate, analyze and share productive changes in the culture of YouTube, or better yet to make those changes.
For this reason, this year I added a “practicum” to the class (it is now an “Inside-Out course” connected to PEP, the California-wide Prison Education Project). A small group of Pitzer students will be taking an extra half credit of course content as we join with ten students who will be taking Learning from YouTube from within the California Rehabilitation Center at Norco, one of the few places in America (and perhaps the world) where access to YouTube (and other social media networks) is denied to human beings as a condition of their punishment. We will consider: What are the relations between social justice and social media?

Why am I doing this work in this form? What will I make?

1. In the class I set out to learn from my undergraduates who use social media in ways I do not; I modeled to them that an interventionist and critical role within social media is both intellectually and socially necessary; and I mirrored the structures of dominant Internet sites in the architecture of the course itself, explained below 7. 2. The viral event (something I could not make happen but that I did set into place by generating a press release about the course which I understood to be “sexy” enough for Internet attention), was a second opportunity for my students and I to learn about and use Internet culture by engaging in a self-reflexive process of examination and experience. Going viral is an amazing opportunity to study and understand virality. 8. 3. Learning from YouTube was written as a born-digital “video-book” for several reasons: I wanted to keep my Internet writing in the space and vernacular that I was both attempting to understand and intervene in so as to better understand and change it; I wanted to open my writing up to new audiences. 4. The prison class developed its form for reasons discussed below. And 5. This article allows me to revisit these earlier experiences and already-made objects and then share my findings with an audience who is interested in the process and politics of DH, a different set of participants from those reached through the earlier versions of the project.

Rounding up my first blog post, I discuss why I used the form of a prison class:

Learning from YouTube was developed to mirror (and therefore make visible) the structuring principles of the site under investigation. Hyper-visibility, user-generated content, the collapsing binaries of public/private, education/entertainment, expert/amateur, and the corporatization and digitization of education, are only few of the site’s structures that are also reflected in the course’s design and implementation. Another critical framework for the course, like YouTube, was the hidden if also user-desired structures of discipline deeply architected into the experience.
Learning from YouTube Inside-Out has different walls, disciplining systems, and channels of access and visibility that will structure its pedagogy. It is my hope that this will reveal logics of and connections between the prison and social media: What are the relations between social injustice and social media?
My more recent writing and thinking and practice within/about digital culture finds me theorizing and practicing its artful leaving, the considered departure, and ever more radical and thoughtful connections of “lived” and “Internet” spaces as a necessary part of social justice work and pedagogy. Sure, social media is part of any activist project in 2015 (and most learning projects, too), but I’d like to think of work in this space as proto-political and proto-academic: clicking, liking, reading, researching, forwarding, posting, tweeting, are a necessary component of contemporary activism that is only realized through linked, extra-mediated actions. To leave YouTube may be the best way to both know and criticize the linked systems of corporatized domination that bleed across (social) mediated America. How and why do we leave social media?
I am curious if feminist (pedagogic) activity (and the linked social justice work of many movements) can occur in the many shiny corporate, sexist, censored emporiums we’ve been given for free, or does the leaving demand another making: of rooms and art and people and movements of our own. Where are these feminist social media networked spaces and what are their structuring logics? How and why do we stay in social media? What is a social media of our own?

What tools did I use?

For the class, I used YouTube, video cameras, cell phones, my blog, the classroom, and process-based pedagogy; when it went viral, the tools used me. For the “video-book” I used (and helped to develop) what would soon become Scalar, as well as an MIT-provided copy-editor and two reviewers; for the prison class, the tools were none of those available for the college-based class so that I imagined work-arounds (described below) for the all the technology that my prisoner-students wouldn’t ever have access to: computers, video cameras, books, scholarly articles. It was cool to see how easy it was to teach and learn without the hardware! For this final adaptation, my tools of choice are the computer and air-conditioning.

From THE DIGITAL AND/IN THE PRISON, Apr 09, 2015: 9.

An understanding of education and technology can occur with an intense clarity in the prison. I learned a great deal about teaching tools from my inmate students at the California Rehabilitation Center at Norco in two classes (Technology in the Prison and Visual Culture in the Prison) that I team-taught there in 2014 with students from Pitzer College and the Claremont Graduate School as part of the California-wide Prison Education Project. There are infinite, situated technologies and visual cultures in the prison (just as there are anywhere) but the particular ways that they are disciplined and controlled, and also taken up and used by prisoners, are unique in this learning environment. For example, visual messages about who can be where when dominate the visual landscape in the form of lines, signs, and bodily cues; some books are available but only after they are screened for gang-related messaging, sexuality, drug use, and profanity; the Internet is not allowed.
Naming these highly-regulated technological and visual conditions in the prison, and how they contribute to systems of institutional control and systematic oppression, became the primary foci of these two courses. The prisoner students were amazing teachers, and it was stunning to learn how the visual and technological logics of the prison are deeply connected to, if perhaps grossly exaggerated from, the underlying logics of control that operate across America. The prohibition of Internet access and the liberal favoring of television is a most egregious example of this arbitrary control that forcefully maintains logics of oppression, but others, equally dis-enabling and utterly mundane within the prison, would include our students’ arbitrary and highly controlled (in)access to pencils, paper, white boards, moving images, books, and me as their teacher.
Let me explain. In the two courses my Claremont College students and I taught in the prison in 2014, the cruel, arbitrary, changing conditions of access to education (through the administration’s definitive and seemingly random control of tools, space, people, and technology) was our greatest obstacle. A piece of media might be approved through the prison’s slow and strange procedures of vetting only then not to show up on the day it was on our syllabus. Teachers might volunteer and get to the prison for the weekly class only then not to be allowed into the prison because of an unexplained change in their entry status.
In the most chilling of such whimsical and punitive closures of access (for me at least), my course Learning from YouTube Inside/Out—where I was planning to continue my teaching at Norco this Spring semester by building a section of this tech-focused tech-dependent class Inside with 10 inmates and 10 Claremont students albeit with quite limited access to technology—went through a lengthy and controversial approval process only to be closed down on its first day.

Who did I work with?

For the class I collaborated with my students and people of the Internet; during the viral moment, I was helped a great deal by my school’s PR people and my network of friends who talked me through this trying time. Of course, the users of the Internet and professional journalists also worked on, and sometimes with me; Craig Dietrich, my designer and programmer at Vectors, built the backbone and visual design of Learning from YouTube, and the videos were made by my students and everyday YouTubers. Doug Sery, at MIT, and their staff also toiled with me: it was quite hard to go from paper to digital. I did not get to collaborate with prisoners with no thanks to the obstructive, controlling, punitive prison staff. Adeline Koh will edit this article and you will read it. I’m not sure those activities are collaborations as such, which gets me back to my opening gambit: writing “for paper” does not seem to create the same powerful alienation effect, and changes in practices, that is forcefully realized by making digital, activist, or even plastic things. 10.

How was the project supported?

My teaching and the writing of this chapter are supported by my salary while virality happens through the unpaid labor of Internet users with a little help from the ever-less remunerated work of media professionals. DH projects are almost always supported by soft-money. Learning From YouTube was funded by grants from theMellon and the NEH, with more support from Vectors, Pitzer College and the MIT Press. My prison course was a “volunteer” project that was supported through Pitzer College’s commitment to social justice and undergraduate education and through PEP (Prison Education Project). 11.

What is my method?

In the video-book I explain that "YouTube is the subject, form, method, problem and solution of this video-book.” 12. I continue thus from "My Orientation (toward YouTube and ThirdTube)“:

a critical pedagogy aiming toward digital literacy and a civic engagement in the hopes of creative democracy are also central to my praxis. I believe that under the right conditions, citizens and students (Web 2.0’s much-celebrated “users”) can make expressive, critical, beautiful media that makes relevant contributions to our culture. Thinking through (and in) these conditions is a defining orientation of my project.” 13.

I engaged with virality by trying to infuse my moment of attention with smatterings of my more radical thinking all the while perpetrating a winning professional demeanor. 14. The method of my prison class, mirroring and complementing that of my regular class explained above, as well as the architecture and discipline of its home environment, proved too experimental and political for where it was to engage. I was told that prisoners needed to learn useful things like math. The method of this piece is to try to write in a conversational tone, reflecting upon my process, and demonstrating alternative modes of writing within academia that are personal, function-driven, and “honest.”

Who is my audience? Who uses and owns the thing I made?

When I teach LFYT, my work is mostly engaged by my students, other YouTube scholars, and interested thinkers on the Internet. When it went viral, it was seen, mocked, and also sometimes supported by a huge swath of humans who were online or plugged into mainstream media, but only for a very short time, and in a very superficial way. I owned the ideas and content of my class. YouTube shared ownership of the videos we produced. Because of this I paid a summer intern to copy and move all the class videos (and some central YouTube work as well) to the MacArthur funded public media archive and fair use advocacy network Critical Commons. 15. I was worried that once the book went live, YouTube would censor all the videos, effectively closing down the book. Apparently, it never posed a threat to them; they’ve never intervened. I’m not even sure they know I exist. As for our viral moment, the media and Internet controlled, but did not really own, the way my students and I were seen. I wrote the book about it for interested students and scholars of critical digital studies and essay is for a similar clientele of critical DHers. The prison class was shut down, so never used. Its collapse was a gross, mean-spirited signal of who controlled me and my prisoner-students. Of course, not only prisoners face such violent abuses of access. Control of access to technology is a method of punishment and self-denying the world-over.

Learning from YouTube Inside-Out has different walls, disciplining systems, and channels of access and visibility that will structure its pedagogy. In the two classes I did get to teach at Norco, my students, fellow-instructors, and I began to understand a critically unnamed truth about social justice and social media only made visible through the structuring denial of access to the Internet and other technology as a fundamental feature of contemporary punishment: technologies of care, conversation, and personal liberation through education need no more tools than access to each other.

I was more than ready and able to teach about YouTube this Spring without an Internet connection. I was going to assign books on the subject (with a few pages excised, mostly due to their discussion of sexuality on YouTube), exercises where prisoners would write screenplays to be shot by their fellow-students who had access to cameras and the Internet, and conversations about the meanings of all of our varied and regulated access to technology. (Along this vein, prisoners’ near universal access to cellphones as a contraband of choice, despite prisons’ concerted efforts to keep phones out of the prison, radically underlines what it means to say “prisoners don’t have access to the Internet or social media.”) I had learned before that while the prison and its administrators can systematically strip me, and my students, of tools and technologies (pens, videos, the Internet), our desires and abilities to communally learn—and thereby escape its lines, signs, limits, and holes of available information, if only fleetingly—falls completely outside the of logic of technology-based punishment.

That is until I was denied access to teach and learn inside.

How does my audience get to it?

Teaching is cool because you have a habitual audience guaranteed by the disciplinary procedures of school to participate, and if you are lucky and skilled, the social possibilities rendered by quality teaching to care. They get to class by walking there. Of course, at Pitzer, they have to 1. Get in to the college and 2. Pay $60 K for this privilege. Putting a class onto the Internet opens up American elitist education to other students. I think about this a great deal in collaboration with many others when I work on FemTechNet’s 16. DOCC. 17. When things go viral, everyone who’s linked in gets to it easily, superficially, and quickly. I have called this the slogan-like function of viral culture, 18. and am no fan of it. 19. The LFYT video-book is free, but hard to find, given that it’s buried down deep in MIT’s website. I run Google analytics on top of it, and know that it has been seen by hundreds of times more “readers” than my other academic books or even articles. That said, the typical user stays for under a minute. A small number of prisoners get to take classes by being granted privileges that can easily be taken away from them, and often are. Because their opportunities for education, and any other form of self-improvement or personal dignity are so rare, they are by far the best students I have ever taught. The opposite of the 20-second Internet readers I just decried. You get this to this article via your education and by buying it. Who knows, maybe you snuck around a pay wall. I hope to believe that this writing is copy-righted by, not -owned, by pPunctum bBooks: being as it is “an open-access and print-on-demand independent publisher dedicated to radically creative modes of intellectual inquiry and writing across a whimsical para-humanities assemblage.” Expanding rights and privileges of access has always been core to my work.

Since I began teaching the class in 2007, in the matter of just these few short years, access to social media has exploded (for those not denied it as a condition of their punishment). We have been told (and sold) that this access is critical for our expression, community-building, political citizenship, and well-being. We have been led to believe that access to social media is a form of liberation. But two more related things have also become quite clear in the 2015 iteration of the class Learning from YouTube (sans prisoners):
1. In contra-distinction to the experience of prisoners, for my students, the Internet is the very air they breathe in a way that was simply not true in 2007 (as much as my students thought it was). Young people today (as is true of their teachers) inhabit the Internet, speak its language, and have an agility, familiarity, and jaded acceptance of its norms and (aspects of) its history that is at once stunning and enervating. Stunning is the speed and complexity of this familiarity; enervating is its occlusion of familiarity with and interest in the other norms, places, and histories that we might once have understood as part of being institutionally, culturally and personally “situated.”
The 2015 version of the course made me feel at once stimulated and enervated because I have seemingly nothing and everything to teach them. Nowhere and everywhere to go. "The internet does not exist,” writes Hito Steyerl. “Maybe it did exist only a short time ago, but not it only remains as a blur, a cloud, a friend, a deadline, a redirect, or a 404. If it ever existed, we couldn’t see it. Because it has no shape. It has no face, just this name that describes everything and nothing at the same time. Yet we’re still trying to climb on board, to get inside, to be part of the network, to get in on the language game, to show up in searches, to appear to exist.”
I long for the lost views of my prisoner students: humans who can teach us a thing or two about place, liberation, punishment and control sans the Internet. For, this place of liberation, the Internet, has quickly become its opposite ("emancipation without end, but also without exit" according to Aranda, Wood, and Vidokle)—a prison (although not a punishment, as it is always entered willingly and ever with the promise of pleasure); a highly-structured corporate-dominated sink-hole. “In the past few years many people—basically everybody—have noticed that the internet feels awkward, too. It is obvious. It is completely surveilled, monopolized, and sanitized by common sense, copyright control, and conformism.” (Steyerl)
“This moment,” according to my 2015 students, is defined by anxious, cynical, consumption-based Internet experience that is linked to ever more desperate Internet-based attempts at escape into a nostalgic (“old”) Internet time and place that is imagined as low-tech, slow, user-made, fun, real, innocent, awkward, less-sexualized, and de-politicized (outside or before the petty, bitter Internet “politics” about the Middle East, feminism, racism, rape, and the environment from which escape deeper into the Internet is desperately needed.) The new Internet is a prison from which escape is to fantasy of an older, innocent Internet.
Who doesn’t get it? Given that almost all of the versions of this project are available for free on the Internet, the primary group of non-receptors is the huge population of humans without online entrance or with spotty access. Next, for the video-centric parts of the project, all those whose Internet’s bandwidth cannot carry videos don’t get it all. I had a humiliating and important lesson in this when I decided to speak on the LFYT project to scholars and activist at the OurMedia Conference 20. held in Ghana. 21. There, people had heard about and read of YouTube, but mostly couldn’t see it, and used radio for their media activist interventions. Finally, even as my interlocutors expand because of Internet access, I am aware that my writing style, intellectual and cultural influences, and overtly political project serves to dissuade many potential readers from engaging: this is one of the downsides of committed academic output. Your ideas may, in fact, be of real purchase to more traditional scholars, or those with other political points of view, but your work may not signal to them its worthy content, obscured as this may be by style, tone, or function. Of course, the prison debacle occurred because it was organized to take place in a place where a class of humans are disallowed access to most everything the rest of us take for granted as the main feature of their punishment.
In her contribution to the eflux journal issue “The Internet Does Not Exist,” from which I’ve been quoting extensively in this last section, video artist Hito Steyerl pens an article entitled “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?” There she answers herself: “the internet is probably not dead. It has rather gone all out. Or more precisely: it is all over.” But of course, Steyerl knows, as must we all, that while the Internet feels like it is the whole world, or perhaps too much world, there are blank spots on the map where the Internet can not see, there are ways not to be seen, and there are dark spots in our situated communities where the Internet can’t or perhaps is not allowed to go.
If we theorize the Internet, or education, from these blank spots, from the place of too-little, (in)access, quiet, and darkness (as does Lennon), we see values, uses, and needs for MOOCs, YouTube, technology, and education that are not clear from an anxious state of hyper-abundance. This is not to romanticize the punitive lacks of the prison. Rather I ask us to draw from what becomes visible when we situate thinking about learning, technology, punishment and escape in places where education is not primarily linked to tawdry pop-songs, tutorials, consumer goods, flame wars, and self-reference to Internet culture but rather to the fundamental questions of liberation, learning, and empowerment that those stripped of technology have unique access to in the quiet and (in)access of their punishment.

What do I hope we might gain?

When I teach, I hope my students and I might gain from a uniquely structured classroom experiences that reflects upon and contributes to contemporary culture: invigorating, challenging, lively teaching and learning. In moments of virality, I hope that a few people who might be interested in my work get exposure that encourages them to look deeper. I wrote Learning from YouTube to practice one of my core beliefs: to make and build the Internet culture we want and deserve. I tried to teach the course in the prison because I theorized that there and there alone we might gain better insight into the structures of control and freedom at the heart of education, prison and social networks and the inter-relations therein, so that we can live and do better. I also wanted to teach student who needed me. I thought they might gain some rare moments of freedom. For this article, I hope I might gain and share an expanded, radical sense of the possibilities and responsibilities of a self-aware DH, and the opportunities this might provide, so as to make connections with like-minded practitioners, and with the hope that I might tantalize others. Perhaps this playing out of my achievements and stalling-outs will be a worthy method to demonstrate the exciting opportunities of radical, self-aware DH. Even though Learning from YouTube in the Prison it never happened, through its process, I gained connection, community, publication (right here!), data, paths for future action, and the joys, challenges, and life-affirming thereness of process itself. At the same time, because this version of the project was its most overtly political and outside the (academic) box, the costs of its failure were also the most severe and impactful. Ten or more prisoner students did not get to take class, did not get to learn from me or YouTube or their fellow classmates. I never got to teach YouTube in the prison for reasons that reveal much about the prison, my own teaching, and technology. With that gain and mighty loss, I conclude.


Cold War Computations and Imitation Games

Recalibrating the Origins of Asian American Studies

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials

Genealogy…requires patience and a knowledge of details and it depends on a vast accumulation of source material….In short, genealogy demands relentless erudition. Genealogy does not oppose itself to history as the lofty and profound gaze of the philosopher might compare to the molelike perspective of the scholar; on the contrary, it rejects the metahistorical deployment of ideal significations and indefinite teleologies. It opposes itself to the search for ‘origins.'"—Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” 140.
Interdisciplinarity becomes much more than a matter contained within the academy. It becomes the episteme that organizes the regimes of representation for academy, state, and capital. —Roderick Ferguson, The Reorder of Things, 36.

In her contribution to the edited anthology A Companion to Digital Humanities (2004), Susan Hockey presents readers with a now recognizable genealogy for digital humanities vis-à-vis a brief history of humanities computing. 1. Noting that “unlike many other interdisciplinary experiments, humanities computing has a very well-known beginning,” Hockey congruently recounts an origin story which features as primary protagonist Father Roberto Busa. 2. Intent on what Hockey characterizes as the “monumental task” of “mak[ing] an index verborum of all the words in the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and related authors, which totaled some 11 million words of medieval Latin,” the Italian Jesuit priest approached International Business Machines (IBM) in 1949. 3. It was through this tactical computational relationship—wherein scholarly endeavor was inexorably linked to corporate venture—that digital humanities as identifiable multidiscipline was “born.” These auspicious beginnings, as Hockey succinctly depicts, render visible the ways in which humanities computing was, from the outset, a bicultural enterprise that deployed “the rigor and systematic unambiguous procedural methodologies characteristic of the sciences” to “address problems within the humanities that had hitherto been most often treated in serendipitous fashion” (emphasis added). 4. Inadvertently yet tellingly, Hockey’s foundational account—which privileges a distinct narrative of scholastically-driven venture capital—corresponds to an oft-accessed dominant script about the digital humanities. To clarify, such a narrative casts the field as a neoliberal-friendly interdiscipline which embraces “corporate world” technological innovation while eschewing “real world” politics. These business-oriented registers and apolitical affects are reiterated in Hockey’s subsequent digital humanities (hereafter “DH”) overview, which moves from Busa’s mid-century indexical endeavor to the late-century rise of both the personal computer in the 1980s and the internet in the 1990s.

Notwithstanding the deliberative persuasiveness of Hockey’s postwar computational recapitulation, and despite its connections to a long-standing positivist humanism and more recent neoliberal triumphalism, this chapter offers a deviating view of humanities computing and DH by way of a largely under-mined, politically-inflected comparative genealogy. Guided in part by Michel Foucault’s genealogical insistence in the introductory epigraph that such a method militates against searches for “origin” and destabilizes the “metahistorical deployment of ideal significations and indefinite teleologies,” this chapter on the one hand examines to varying degrees and divergent ends how the rise of humanities computing necessarily occurred in synchronous tandem with the ongoing racialization of Asian Americans and the post–1949 institutionalization of area studies (specifically Asian studies) as Cold War interdiscipline. 5. In so doing, I access as a foundational premise Rey Chow’s provocative reading that Asian studies as internationalized episteme engaged from its programmatic inception a “strategic logic” that was “fully inscribed into the politics and ideology of war.” 6.

These bellicose judgements and war-driven dogmas, evident in the frenetic, en masse production of imperial and militarily-relevant knowledge about people, cultures, and regimes “over there,” make perceptible—as Chow avers—the extent to which Asian studies served as a way of not just re-seeing the world but tactically rendering it a viable target. 7. Influenced by Chow’s field assessment vis-à-vis calculated investments and embattled stakes, I consider in this chapter the ways in which Asian Americans were transnationally and analogously “inscribed into the politics and ideology” of nativist conflict and global war. In particular, as the paradoxical objects of pre-Cold War exclusion and postwar inclusion, Asian immigrants and Asian Americans were, as this chapter maintains, differentially targeted in mid-century domestic initiatives and U.S. foreign policy. Indeed, situated in the aftermath of Japanese American internment (1942–1946), set adjacent to the “fall of China” (1949), and investigated in conjunction with an ever-expanding “military industrial complex” which supported scientists, engineers, and Orientalist scholars (1950s—1960s), I unreservedly push for a complementary genealogy which marries fields of seemingly conflicting yet nevertheless interconnected inquiry: humanities computing and Asian American studies. 8.

On the other hand, such critical juxtapositioning—which ineludibly involves a syncretic assessment of mid-century debates over machine intelligence, post–1949 international relations, and early Cold War realpolitikpresages this chapter’s overriding recalibration of and negotiation with Asian American studies through the appropriately efficacious logics of Cold War DH. 9. Whereas the master narrative of Asian American studies as race-based interdiscipline links field formation to the civil rights and Third World liberation movements of the 1950s and 1960s, and while many fix the legibility of “Asian America” as identifiable body politic to shifts in immigration legislation/refugee initiative (e.g., the 1965 Hart-Celler Act and the 1975 Indochinese Refugee Assistance and Migration Act) and transpacific turns within contemporaneous foreign policy (for instance, U.S. involvement in the second Indochina War), this chapter considers an alternative genealogy vis-à-vis its meditation upon the early Cold War era (1945–1955). 10. Integral to my mid-century emphasis is a consideration of disparate discursive histories that make urgently visible an uneasy, oft-ignored interconnectedness, particularly with regard to humanities computing and Ethnic Studies subfield. 11. Such interlocked modalities—which bring into view the larger racial project of U.S. empire via the real and imagined Asian/American subject—concomitantly reflect, refract, and resist state-sanctioned surveillance at home (specifically immigration/incarceration/naturalization policies) and militarized violence abroad (particularly in terms of U.S. war-making in Asia).

By dialogically positioning these domestic racial formations alongside Chow’s aforementioned characterization of Asian studies and emergence of humanities computing (or DH), this chapter builds on what Tara McPherson observes is an identifiable yet underexplored relationship between "[c]ertain modes of racial visibility and knowing [which] coincide or dovetail with specific ways of organizing data.” 12. As McPherson further avers:

…if digital computing underwrites today’s information economy and is the central technology of post-World War II America, these technologized ways of seeing and knowing took shape in a world also struggling with shifting knowledges about and representations of race. If…racial formations serve as fundamental organizing principles of social relations in the United States…how might we understand the infusion of racial organizing principles into the technological organization of knowledge after World War II? (n.pag) 13.

Influenced by McPherson’s argument about “technologized ways of seeing,” and guided by the question, “how might we understand the infusion of racial organizing principles into the technological organization of knowledge” in the post-war period, I concentrate on two outwardly unrelated albeit contemporaneous “events”: the publication of Alan M. Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950) and the passage of the McCarran-Walter Act (1952).

Expressly, I commence in this chapter with a brief evaluation of Turing’s meditation on computational ability and consider how the mathematician’s contemplation of artificial intelligence—which pivots on establishing a machine’s imitative capacityproves a valuable frame to evaluate what Lisa Lowe has fruitfully categorized as the “violent inclusion” of Asian Americans at home (in the United States) via immigration law, surveillance/incarceration, and model minoritization. 14. This assessment of “violent inclusion” and its intimate association with Asian America presages a more in-depth consideration of Japanese/Japanese American internment and a concurrent deliberation on the McCarran-Walter Act, which removed—for the first time in U.S. history—racial requirements for naturalized citizenship. 15. Notwithstanding such seemingly “progressive” citizenship politics, the act maintained conservative anti-communist protocols which targeted purported “enemies within” via euphemistically characterized “emergency detention” and politically-based deportation. 16. These naturalized anti-communist politics and denaturalized anti-immigrant projects foreground a concluding focus on the ways in which a recalibration of Asian American studies as re-envisioned computational discipline and progressive data mining endeavor renders obvious the field’s ongoing relevance, particularly with regard to critical evaluations of the contemporary “War on Terror.”

All in all, as “revisionist” contemplation, this chapter’s emphases on other temporalities and divergent origin points unquestionably coheres with the overall genealogical focus of this collection and is indebted to Adeline Koh’s right-minded insistence that we rethink, deconstruct, and dismantle the monolithic “social contract governing the digital humanities.” In re-evaluating the aforementioned computational “origins” of DH (vis-à-vis Busa, IBM, and humanities computing), Koh issues the following directive: she compels us to move away “from the argument that the digital humanities has its roots within the field of humanities computing and within that field alone” on the grounds that this thinking has engendered a problematic “social contract” predicated on “civility/niceness and technical knowledge.” 17. On one level, such civility (as Koh brings to light) makes troublingly difficult a complete appraisal of a field which—notwithstanding self-characterizations of objectivity and self-declarations “otherwise”—was necessarily a product of Cold War politics, was uniquely suited to the polemical task of mid-century racialization, and is presently fixed to the exclusionary logics of the neoliberal university. On another level, Koh’s contractual critique corresponds to Roderick Ferguson’s equally evocative, epigraphical characterization of institutionalized interdisciplinarity as an organizing episteme that necessarily moves beyond the academy and involves both regimes of racialized representation and the polemics of imperial statecraft. 18.

Imitation Games, Japanese American Internment, and the McCarren-Walter Act

Considered by many to be the formative paper on artificial intelligence, Alan Turing’s “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (published in Mind) commences with this seemingly simple, now-familiar question: “Can machines think?” 19. Within the space of the essay’s first paragraph, Turing quickly dismisses this provocative query on denotative grounds: noting that the terms “machine” and “think” carry different and often incompatible meanings, Turing concludes—at the level of nomenclature and due to inexact definition—that such an interrogative path is subjectively flawed. This overt engagement with the idiosyncratic, wherein one’s reaction to a phenomenon is reflective of personal tastes and refractive of individual proclivities, correspondingly forms the basis of what the mathematician-turned-pioneering computer scientist successively designates as a formulaic “imitation game.”

As Turing describes, such a simulation is comprised of three entities (a man—”Player A”, a woman—”Player B”, and an interrogator—”Player C”, who “may be [of] either sex”). The interrogator

stays in a room apart from the other two. The object of the game for the interrogator is to determine which of the other two is the man and which is the woman….In order that tones of voice may not help the interrogator the answers should be written, or better still, typewritten. The ideal arrangement is to have a teleprinter communicating between the two rooms. 20.

Accordingly, the interrogator (Player C) asks a series of questions to determine the respective genders of Player A and Player B. Player A is charged with the task of answering in a manner that leads the interrogator to the incorrect conclusion. By contrast, Player B is expected to direct the interrogator to the correct answer. While his initial game description utilizes three human actors, Turing further revises the simulation to accommodate a key machine presence; in this amended scenario, the machine assumes the programmed position of Player A. Artificial intelligence is subsequently indexed according to whether or not the machine can act indiscriminately from its human counterpart. 21.

To be sure, this concise summation of the so-known “imitation game” does not completely attend to the complexity of Turing’s hypothesis with regard to the possibility (or probability) of artificial intelligence, nor does this foray into mid-century computational science answer the question which both presages and drives the simulation (e.g., the aforementioned, “Can machines think?”). Nevertheless, the prevailing performative logic of Turing’s mid-century contest, principally with regard to the bifurcated characterization of identifiable interrogators as contradistinguished from imposters, offers—even if inadvertently—a distinct analytic that is a propos a past/present U.S. imaginary of racialized state-authorized surveillance, xenophobic World War II-era incarceration, and, as the conclusion to this chapter asserts, “War on Terror” reconnaissance. 22. As further (inter)disciplinary context, this peculiar line of inquiry, which takes as a first premise the primacy of race in the making of the U.S. state (as regulatory body) and American nation (as imagined collective), is very much fixed to a comparative ethnic studies/Asian American studies framework. 23. Following suit, Turing’s “imitation game” strikes a distinctly emblematic chord when situated adjacent to U.S. immigration history, policy, and practice. Since the concerted codification of immigration law in the mid-nineteenth century, government officials and border patrol officers have indefatigably policed, detained, and questioned newly arrived European, Asian, and Latin American migrants to ascertain their viability vis-à-vis bureaucratic legality at waystations on the East and West Coasts and at various checkpoints in the Pacific Northwest and American Southwest. 24.

These simulative engagements—wherein the state is charged with the task of delineating through interrogation and examination ideal citizens from perilous subjects—are analogously pertinent to the racist rationalizations that undergirded the forced detention and relocation of an estimated 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. Within the dominant political imaginary, such subjects were, in the days, weeks, and months that followed the December 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, regarded as “enemies of the state” due to their nonwhite status (as “perpetual foreigners”), religious practices (principally Buddhism), and assumed affiliations with imperial Japan (as transnational subjects). 25. Accordingly, as Eiichiro Azuma and Kandice Chuh contend, first- and second-generation Japanese Americans occupied a vexed space “between two empires” (e.g., the United States and Japan) and inhabited a paradoxical place as denaturalized U.S. subjects. To surmise and summarize, as “violently included” subjects, Japanese Americans were respectively placed in the untenable position of proving political allegiance via military service and loyalty oath. 26.

Notwithstanding these resonances, Turing’s “imitation game” is by virtue of publication date synchronous with and a product of the early Cold War period. Correspondingly, the rules which govern it—unintentionally and uncannily—echo the ways in which U.S. state actors stressed, vis-à-vis contemporaneous congressional committee and legislative act, the ongoing need to identify allies and categorize antagonists at home and abroad. Domestically then, Turing’s “imitation game” makes “Cold War sense” when considered alongside the vehemently anti-communist dictates of the Red Scare and the McCarthy era. To wit, the game’s superseding concern with strategic performance and overriding obsession with tactical detection coheres with the “discovery-oriented” ambitions of the House Un-American Activities Committee, an investigative assemblage in the U.S. House of Representatives that was originally founded in 1938 to uncover fascist connections “in-country” but is better remembered as an anti-Communist governmental apparatus which attempted to root out, by any means necessary, so-classified “enemies within.” While the committee’s anti-Communist activities are by and large well-known, less acknowledged is its connection to the above-discussed mass incarceration of Japanese/Japanese Americans. Indeed, it was the House Un-American Activities Committee (under the conservative leadership of Senator Martin Dies, Democrat from Texas) that issued the “Yellow Report.” The Yellow Report, which in its biased aggregation of ethnographic data supported en masse relocation and incarceration, promulgated a “fifth column” assessment of Japanese Americans which prefigured a collective status as a national security threat. 27.

While the history of Japanese/Japanese American incarceration and the actuality of the Red Scare make blatantly discernible the exclusionary logics of the United States as regulated state and affective nation, and whereas the logics of inimical identification pivot on an racialized evaluation of imitative selfhood, less obvious is the extent to which seemingly inclusionary shifts in immigration/naturalization law problematically adhered to past/present derivative assessments of the Asian immigrant body as assimilated, co-opted, and contained subject. To recapitulate and clarify, while the passage of the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act ostensibly ushered in a new era of accessible citizenship for Asian immigrants via non-racial requirement, it necessarily did so through the imitative logics of U.S. naturalization, which required a simultaneous repudiation of country-of-origin affiliations and wholesale acceptance of settlement-nation politics. 28. Significantly, as Robert G. Lee maintains, the rehabilitation of Asian immigrant bodies from “aliens ineligible for citizenship” to assimilated model minorities was consistent with a state-sponsored global agenda which included increased transpacific militarization (for instance, in Guam, the Philippines, and Japan) and involved U.S. wars in Asia (e.g., the Korean War and the second Indochina War). 29.

Perhaps most germane to this chapter’s hybrid Asian Americanist/DH focus, the McCarran-Walter Act was resolutely fixed to a binaried Cold War computation that pitted potential amicable subject against impending inimical threat. Congruently, a chief provision involved the ability to deport immigrants and naturalized citizens engaged in “subversive acts”; other requirements included an unwavering adherence to country-based quotas, a critical, meta-assessment of the nation’s labor needs, and the stringent prohibition of Communist Party “fellow travelers.” 30. As Senator Pat McCarran (Democrat—Nevada) averred soon after the act’s June 1952 passage:

I believe that this nation is the last hope of Western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished. I take no issue with those who would praise the contributions which have been made to our society by people of many races, of varied creeds, and colors….However, we have in the United States today hard-core, indigestible blocs which have not become integrated into the American way of life, but which, on the contrary are its deadly enemies. Today, as never before, untold millions are storming our gates for admission and those gates are cracking under the strain. The solution of the problems of Europe and Asia will not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States. 31.

In emphasizing the prospective “contamination” to “Western civilization” by “hard-core, indigestible blocks which have not become integrated into the American way of life,” McCarran makes clear the extent to which the act was—from its inception and by design—intended to identify “untold millions” of immigrant targets. Whereas the act has largely been heralded as a “watershed moment” within Asian American studies on the basis of unheralded naturalization access, what remains under-mined is the degree to which it was not so much progressive but rather consistent in its Cold War demarcation of friends and enemies.

By way of conclusion, this critical recalibration of the McCarran-Walter Act is necessarily informed by Turing’s “imitation game,” which makes possible an interrogative interpretation of its less-than-progressive aims; as further complement, such an analysis takes seriously the ways in which the act’s prejudicial objectives, which attempt to stem the tide of contamination through categorization, are consistent with the logics of humanities computing. To read Asian American history through the schema of humanities computing makes possible a politically-relevant recalibration of Asian America as a formation which remains intimately fixed to the past/present legacies of U.S. statecraft and war-making. Put alternatively, this mode of evaluation accentuates a consistency with regard to U.S. immigration agenda and U.S. foreign policy, particularly in a post-September 11th imaginary comprised of compulsory detentions at Guantanamo Bay, deportations of criminalized permanent residents (particularly Southeast Asians and Central Americans), covert renditions of “enemy combatants” to locations unverified, clandestine collections of telephone metadata by the NSA (National Security Administration), along with the increased surveillance of South Asian and Arab Americans as per the U.S. A. PATRIOT Act. 32. As parallel schema, DH provides a useful analytic upon which to remap alternative trajectories—or genealogies—for Asian American studies, an interdiscipline which simultaneously reflects Cold War apologetics, Civil Rights-era politics, and contemporary “War on Terror” logics.


An Indigenist Internet for Indigenous Futures

DH Beyond the Academy and “Preservation”

Siobhan Senier

Origin stories are charged for indigenous people, who have narratives of their own: traditional emergence stories explaining how they came to be on their land, as well as dynamic accounts of their survival and resurgence. Indigenous origin stories counter colonialism’s own creation myths, which try to install settlers as the true “first peoples,” rendering aboriginal people as vanishing remnants.

Digital Humanities’ own emergence narratives have likewise tended to elide the original contributions of indigenous people. In the academy at least, digital projects involving indigenous content have tended to be dominated by one concern: archives and their “virtual repatriation.” In these projects, activist scholars help produce electronic surrogates of cultural heritage materials held in major archives (historic photographs, early writings, even material objects), making them newly available to their communities of origin. The best such projects engageindigenous people on hopefully equal terms, consulting with elders, bringing tribal members into paper archives and effectively indigenizing these collections’ metadata and interpretation. Digital archival projects in North America and Australia include tribal-institutional partnerships like the American Philosophical Society’s “Through Indigenous Eyes” collection; the Reciprocal Research Network, brokered by the University of British Columbia and regional tribal councils; and AUSTLANG, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders language database. 1. These projects go far beyond offering new access to old archives: they are indigenist, insofar as they move “beyond an aspiration to ‘preserve’ cultures” and seek to bring “more personnel, more resources, more perspectives to the collective project of maintaining and restoring the intellectual and spiritual heritage of tribal peoples.” 2.

Meanwhile, tribal communities have also been pursuing their own electronic and new media projects, more or less independent of academic DH. These include, probably most dramatically, hashtag activism like the #IdleNoMore and #MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) campaigns, which have convened large groups of Native people, on and off their land bases, for political protest. 3. They include digital art projects like Robohontas, in which Fox Spears (Karuk) photoshops a golden feminine figurine in a series of “exotic” poses, using these images to comment on Native appropriations and stereotypes via a WordPress blog. 4. A survey of extra-academic Native DH might also include the many tribal websites used to convey information to Native community members and sometimes to the larger public; YouTube channels by performers like the sketch comedy troupe the 1491s; Soundcloud channels by bands like Ottawa-based DJ crew A Tribe Called Red; and games like the Iñupiats’ much-hailed Never Alone.

These kinds of projects have the potential to complement the DH focus on archives (and on all of the colonial and ethnographic baggage that attends those) with emphatically contemporary scenes of self-representation and sovereignty. In what follows, I discuss a small selection of indigenist Internet projects conducted outside—or better put, alongside—the academic and nonprofit industrial complexes. The relationship between the academy and indigenous communities is indisputably shifting, not least because more and more indigenous scholars are enteringthe academy and working on digital projects, and because indigenous communities are increasingly attuned to (often concerned with) what academics are writing about them. Still, inasmuch as the various boundaries (between academic and non-academic, Native and non-Native, “DH” and New Media) may be dissolving, there is one line that seems alive and well, and that is the split between the haves and the have-nots: large and well-funded non-Native museums and archives, on the one hand, versus small and precarious tribal or artists’ enterprises on the other. In looking at just a small selection of bootstrap web-based projects, this chapter considers the possibilities and limits of so-called big tent DH, and whether the piecemeal extension of resources to tribal communities through the academic-industrial complex is enough; or—alternatively—whether operating outside of institutionalized DH (with its emphasis on themes of “access,” “preservation,” and “big data”) might be allowing indigenous people different kinds of freedom, as they enlist new technologies for community-building and self-representation.

Multimedia literature: As/Us Journal

DH scholars working on virtual repatriation are wisely concerned about the politics of archives and about protecting indigenous intellectual property; the best of them seek, in Elizabeth Povinelli’s characterization, to make their content “concealed and exposed, expanded and contracted according to the dialogical conditions of a social network.” 5. Still, many of the more grassroots indigenous projects express much greater optimism about digital media’s representational possibilities, and the ability to share Native voice. Perhaps this is because such projects are not in fact much concerned with ethnographic fetishes, but rather with indigenous futures. Métis activist Molly Swain puts it plainly: “People don’t expect Indigenous people to be interested in the future. That’s partially because nobody expects Indigenous people to have a future, which is what colonialism is.” 6.

Indigenous artists and activists see some hope, therefore, that new media might offer new possibilities for indigenous resurgence. When Mohawk artist Skawennati helped launch the online gallery/chatroom Cyberpowwow—an “aboriginally determined territory in cyberspace”—she expressed a sentiment still quite common among indigenous people using the web:

When we finally realized that photography was a medium that we too could use to represent our ideas, our culture, and our selves, the medium, and our relationship to it, had already been defined. The same can be said about film and, for that matter, print. We were the subjects, and not the photographers, filmmakers or authors... [But] The World Wide Web, the latest story-telling medium to arrive on the scene, is as enticing to us Indians as it is to everyone with (and even some without) a modem. The number of web pages by and about First Nations, Aboriginals, Native Americans, Indigenous peoples, and Indians is staggering, and very satisfying. There are pages for band councils and tribal councils, Native languages and Native organizations. For the first time, Native people are in on the ground floor of a new technology, and are helping to define the way it will be used to describe our cultures. 7.

The optimism is not only that an uncharted, virtual territory might be a space where indigenous people can speak and be heard; it’s that virtual space can reconnect indigenous people to their lands and each other. Cyberpowwow had virtual galleries and a chat room with avatars; but it also organized live gatherings, which put “the powwow in Cyberpowwow,” by letting people “get together in the REAL world to talk, laugh, surf and meet live human beings.”

Similarly, the online journal As/Us: A Literary Space for Women of the World harnesses the capabilities of multimedia in promoting the written and spoken word, but it, too, is profoundly invested in physical gatherings. Poet Tanaya Winder (Southern Ute/Duckwater Shoshone/Pyramid Lake Paiute) and fiction writer Casandra Lopez (Cahuilla/Luiseno/Tongva), who met while doing their MFAs at the University of New Mexico, envisioned a journal that could respond to the lack of diversity in mainstream publishing by embracing established and emergent writers, creative and scholarly works, and a wide variety of genres from fiction and poetry to visual art and spoken word. Launched online in February 2013, As/Us followed just two months later with a print version and author events in Albuquerque and at Stanford University. It continues to broker regular author, artist, and activist events, and it distributes print issues of the journal to Native schools and communities through the “Reach the Rez” campaign: “By promoting art and literature, the campaign aligns with progressive empowerment within the future [emphasis added] of our nations.”

As/Us has six issues to date, with a roster of heavy hitters from indigenous literary circles. The first issue included an interview with none other than Joy Harjo; work by up-and-coming Native writers like poet Marianne Broyles (Cherokee) and novelist Erika Wurth (Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee); and the work of emergent artists with strong community ties. There was, for instance, a powerful video recording by Diné (Navajo) poet/filmmaker/activist Lyla June Johnston:

Hozho is the prayer that carried us
through genocide and disease,
It is the prayer that will carry us through global warming
and through this global fear that has set our hearts on fire. 8.

The special “V-Day Issue” sprang from a collaboration with Lauren Chief Elk, a cofounder of another grassroots digital project, Save Wiyabi, which maps the epidemic of murdered and indigenous women across the United States and Canada. 9. As/Us has also published poetry and interviews with Leanne Simpson, a highly regarded and successfully published scholar who is well known for having left the academy to pursue work in decolonization.

Indeed, As/Us provides a critical look at what DH looks like on the margins of university resources. It regularly publishes pieces by artists who may have academic training and connections, but not much academic privilege. Winder and Lopez themselves have remained committed to writing and scholarship without the benefit of highly remunerated academic positions: Lopez is a full-time faculty member at North Seattle College, while Winder has cobbled together administrative and adjunct work in Colorado. They have managed As/Us with next to nothing in the way of material support—no expensive apparatus, no major grants. They run the journal on WordPress to contain costs, and enlist entirely volunteer labor. At the same time, their position has arguably enabled them to accomplish and publish things they might not have been able to, for example, if they were under the gun to publish individual monographs for tenure. As/Us is resolutely communitist, as Jace Weaver (Cherokee) might say, with an activist commitment to indigenous community-building rather than scholarly self-promotion. 10.

It is also resolutely future-oriented. This year, As/Us hosted a Native youth poetry contest. Winners will be published in the Fall 2015 issue, and to read at the Survival of the First Voices Festival (SFVF), which encourages Native youth to pursue higher education “and follow their passions,” and where they can rub shoulders with popular young Native artists like the hip-hop musician Frank Waln (a frequent collaborator with Winder) and actor Justin Rain. The writing contest included prompts that reflect the goals of community and self-representation: e.g., “Describing how you can be a leader in your community,” or “Describing the person you see in the mirror (how you see yourself in 5–10 years).” While deprived of some of the more sophisticated interfaces and platforms of more widely hailed electronic literature and performance projects, As/Us makes visible the dynamic relays between online and face-to-face interactions, and between the digital and the embodied.

Podcasting: Indian & Cowboy

Indigenous radio, and indigenous radio archived on the web, has been around for some time, but one of the first “proper” Native podcasts in North America was Red Man Laughing (RML), by comedian Ryan McMahon (Anishinaabe/Metis). 11. It includes routines from his national tours and appearances from some of his comedic personae, like the self-proclaimed sage Clarence Two Toes and the raunchy Powwow Pickup Pimp. McMahon also has a signature bit, the “rant,” which is a freestyle monologue on whatever is bothering him—bad hotel rooms, his FitBit, the media frenzy over Amy Winehouse’s death, how “kids fuck up your life” when you’re a parent. Additionally, he interviews special guests—high-profile Native Studies scholars (Leanne Simpson, Taiaiake Alfred), authors (Richard Van Camp, Lee Maracle), and chiefs from the Assembly of First Nations. RML also breaks new music, and has sophisticated music beds created by hip-hop artists like A Tribe Called Red and Stomp of RezOfficial.

While McMahon has always revealed a strong political sensibility, RML has become increasingly focused on indigenous sovereignty issues, especially since the rise of Idle No More. Since December 2012, individual episodes have often been given over entirely to interviews with activists or to live recordings at major gatherings, like the 2013 Indigenous Leadership Forum at the University of Victoria. McMahon describes this as an “organic” evolution. At the beginning of Season 2 he explains that subscriptions and downloads spiked with the addition of guests who talked about pressing issues affecting aboriginal people. Therefore, he says, he’ll talk “head-on” about decolonization: “Basically that’s what this show is about. That idea—the idea of creating a podcast that sort of addresses, through the side door, in a light way, decolonization and that process and what it’s all about...that’s what this show sort of melded into, that’s what it kind of turned into on its own.” For McMahon, the podcast is about more than comedy. He has often spoken about how theater and comedy saved his own life, but for him, this is more than personal: “it is about the survival of our communities, the revival of our peoples” (S2.E1).

Radio and podcasting are powerful ways to build community, and RML takes seriously the building of indigenous community. Like many podcasters, McMahon begins most episodes by talking about how to find the show, how to download it, how (and why) to use the app, how to get in touch by email. But this is more than self-promotion; he is using podcasting technology to teach other indigenous people about electronic communications and self-representation. In early episodes especially, he creates joking dialogues to answer questions like “what’s a podcast?” “what’s an iTune?” “what’s the cloud?” (a place, he explains, to watch cat videos). He also invites musicians to submit their audio files for consideration on the show, telling them how to do it, in a laughing way: “I’m not gonna go to your MySpace and rip them to mp3 myself, do some work SON....It’s 2011, that’s what people do is SoundCloud, get off MySpace” (S1.E1). In May 2014, McMahon offered a whole episode on “how to podcast.”

In addition to talking about technology and its importance in indigenous resurgence, McMahon has also used his resources to support other content producers more materially. His startup, “Indian & Cowboy” (spoofing the Internet as a new “frontier”) aspires to be nothing less than “the world’s ONLY Indigenous podcast network.” 12. It supports the brilliant Métis in Space, co-hosted by Montreal-based activists Molly Swain and Chelsea Vowel—”unapologetically Indigenous, unabashedly female, unblinkingly nerdy, and unwaveringly in love with Dune.” 13. Swain and Vowel challenge multiple stereotypes at the same time: they drink wine while watching and wittily commenting on some of their favorite (or most loathed) science fiction films. Indian & Cowboy also supports a more putatively “traditional”-themed podcast, Stories from the Land, which is similarly futural in its vision. It issues a challenge to listeners, inspired by a Facebook video posted by a listener: “take your cellphone camera out to the land and show/tell the world about the place they are from. .. take us out to the land/place you’re from and share the story/history of that place in your own words.” This is radical broadcasting, embedded in indigenous community and indigenous resurgence.

To all appearances, McMahon himself is now highly successful. But RML began as a scrappy, bootstrapping project, what he likes to call “my ugly baby,” “a guy sitting in his living room with his cat.” He started it in 2008, but didn’t regularize the show until August 2011, when he made it available on iTunes as well as his own website. As he put it in that first new episode, “This is supposed to have been a reoccurring, once a month, twice a week, three times a day, type of podcast project, but ah, you know, that didn’t happen. And there’s a lot of reasons why that didn’t, and mostly because people weren’t listening, people weren’t downloading it, and people weren’t paying attention to it, so I said, ‘fuck it’ and I stopped doing it because it’s a lotta goddamn work, and uh, but I love it, so uh, I’m coming back to it and I don’t care who listens anymore, I don’t give a shit. I don’t care, I’m gonna continue, I’m gonna do it.” And he tells his listeners how he’s doing it, not only in its technical aspects, but also in its philosophical dimensions. He speaks frankly of the difficulties of podcasting, and his own mixed feelings about monetizing content—what he calls “the great Indian paradox,” navigating between traditional ideals, the exigencies of capitalism and the demands of technology. He ponders that “it’s not very Indian of me to be charging for it,” but he is also searching for a sustainable model (S1.E3). Thus, by the end of his first season he had an app, he got the show on podcast networks like, and satellite radio, and he leveraged other social media, particularly Twitter and YouTube, to promote the show. By the summer of 2014 RML picked up a major sponsor,, which sponsors other major podcasts like Marc Maron’s WTF? Along the way, McMahon has always talked self-consciously and critically about the implications of commercial success. In one of his best episodes (a November 2013 panel discussion with filmmaker Sterlin Harjo) he discusses how he was brought up on the theater community model of grant writing: “if you got money you had a project, but if you didn’t have money you didn’t have a project.” In McMahon’s view, “what the internet has offered us now is a chance to build a following or a fan base or a like minded collective of artists where we can take a project that we make ourselves for no money and bring it to an audience.” And by “we,” he means indigenous people, people whose stories have been summarily dismissed and unheard.

III. Language Revitalization:

Language documentation and revitalization represent a significant proportion of currently available indigenous digital projects. Language loss and revitalization have always been important to Native people themselves, but they have received larger national attention since the passage of legislation like the Native American Languages Act (1990). Digital tools—websites, social media, and apps—are playing an ever-bigger role in these efforts. Linguist Mairead Moriarty argues that while, in and of themselves, digital media “cannot secure the future of such languages, their role in language maintenance and revitalization cannot be ignored” 14. In her assessment, the Internet allows communities to circumvent some of the factors that have historically contributed to language erosion (e.g., shrinkage of the speaking community by out-migration or death), even though, she admits, access and training continue to be major problems in poorer and rural communities. 15. Mobile phones and gaming, two quite powerful tools in language revitalization efforts, depend on broadband access, for the former, and a high level of technical expertise to develop, for the latter.

Digital Humanities conferences and journals seem to address language-revitalization projects relatively infrequently, perhaps because they are considered more often under the domain of science and social science, with the National Science Foundation acting as a major funder. Moreover, many digital language projects simply operate with next to no institutional support. is one such example. It depends entirely on the labor and resources of one man—Jesse Bruchac (son of the well-known writer Joseph Bruchac), who has become known as one of the preeminent, if not the preeminent, scholar and teacher of Abenaki, though he has yet to pursue a formal academic degree in linguistics. Abenaki is an Algonquian language considered “critically endangered,” with very few remaining speakers; the Abenaki community is also highly diasporic, with three small reserves in Quebec and no federally recognized groups in the U.S., though Abenaki families and communities live throughout northern New England, most visibly at Mississquoi in Vermont. Bruchac, who lives in upstate New York, studied the language on his own initiative in the 1990s with Cecile Wawanolette (1908–2006), an elder who was teaching at the Odanak reserve in Quebec as well as in the Abenaki community at Mississquoi, Vermont.

His website,, offers language lessons, an online radio show, and videos of people speaking Abenaki. The site is what the ethnographer Renya Ramirez (Winnebago) might call a “Native hub”—a space for tribal people in diaspora to gather, exchange knowledge, and take that knowledge home again. 16. It is loaded with links to other Abenaki communities, book sales, and event information. Like As/Us Journal and other sites, it puts a premium on physical gatherings; Bruchac tells us, “Aln8banaki waj8nemak kwinatta wd’alamitoal lintow8ganal. The Abenaki have many greeting songs. Kw8gweni gez8wado wji maahl8mek. Because of the importance of gathering together” (Episode 3). He holds face-to-fce language camps, many of which are archived in video so that—hub-like—the site encourages people to gather, to bring their knowledge back to their families, and so on. Like As/Us and Indian & Cowboy, too, this site is invested n the future. Videos include Bruchac speaking with his children; and in one episode, he and his daughter (then four years old) dubbed the famous “Battle of the Wits” scene from The Princess Bride in Abenaki. 17.

The radio show now includes 17 episodes, each just about 10 minutes or less, entirely in Abenaki. You can hear a powwow announcement, a traditional oral narrative, and interviews with other speakers, including Cecile Wawanolette her son, Joseph Elie Joubert. Although the number of speakers—and this radio effort—may seem small, the goal is nothing less than an Abenaki soundscape. Charles Hirschkind, who has studied the use of Islamic cassette sermons in the Middle East, makes an observation that could apply well here:

The contribution of this aural media to shaping the contemporary moral and political landscape...lies not just in its capacity to disseminate ideas or instill religious ideologies but in its effect on the human sensorium, on the affects, sensibilities, and perceptual habits of its vast audience. The soundscape produced through the circulation of this medium animates and sustains the substrate of sensory knowledges and embodied aptitudes undergirding a broad revival movement 18.

In an episode of the Sounding Out! Podcast, where indigenous activists talk about the current state of their traditional languages, it becomes clear that even in communities where there may not be large numbers of speakers, and there may still be a profound feeling of frustration and loss, the affective experience of hearing Native-language words—even on old ethnographic recordings, or when young people use “slang Shoshone”—has tremendous power. Leading this discussion, Ojibwe video artist and scholar Marcella Ernest remarks, “the spoken language is a cherished intellectual treasure. Each sound captures how we see the world” 19. Thus, Jesse Bruchac delights in speaking before audiences, Native and non-Native, and teaching as many individual words as he can. On the radio show, similarly, he assures listeners that “chaga nda kd’aln8ba8dwaw, chaga nda k’wawtamowen, akwi saagidah8ziw! if you don’t speak Indian, if you can’t understand, don’t worry! K’kizi askwa ibitta tbestam ta wig8damen. You can still just listen and enjoy it.”

Like As/Us Journal, retains an appreciation for the ways that print and digital dissemination of texts are mutually interpenetrating and sustaining. He is using another web-based technology,, to publish bilingual books in Abenaki and English, with the hope that printing such books on demand might be a more sustainable publishing model. As/Us uses a similar idea, making print copies available through Alan Liu describes these kinds of relays as “thick affordances between media regimes”: despite scholars’ desire for straightforward narratives of technological and communicative progress, he argues, different media—orality, writing, broadcasting, Internet, and so on—have historically always overlapped, contradicted, worked with and against each other in multiple simultaneous directions. 20.


Finally, the indigenist Internet includes Native people’s own origin stories of all this activity, including the frequently-heard assertion that “wampum was code”—wampum, with its binary system of purple and white shell beads, its ability to “hyperlink” to oral traditions and political protocols, and its ability to morph into new designs to meet the needs of the future. Elizabeth LaPensée, an Anishinaabe/Métis scholar and game designer, is among proponents of this idea, seeing new multimedia environments as continuous with much older indigenous communication methods: “the Internet and three-dimensional representations have always existed for Indigenous people. We have always perceived the connectivity between all and life in many dimensions....As we root ourselves to grow into this future, every game we make, every design we sketch, every conversation we have contributes to what has been unfolding since time immemorial—games that shift perspectives and reinforce ours.” 21.

Indigenous autoethnographic views of new media challenge neocolonial narratives of progress. They represent what Liu calls “good narratives of new media encounter [that] are in the end less stories than whole imaginative environments...[that] imagine affordances and configurations of potentiality.” 22. For many of the indigenous digital artists and activists working outside of academic DH (and indeed outside of or marginalized in academia) those “affordances of potentiality” are much more than postmodern imaginings or intellectual games: they are survival. In their projects, we find much less emphasis on digital archives than on indigenous futurism, an idea given wider airing by Grace Dillon (Anishinaabe)‘s esteemed collection Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. The idea of indigenous futurism has had resonance for indigenous scholars far beyond the realm of literary sci-fi: Lindsey Catherine Cornum (Navajo), for instance, calls it “a disavowal of western progress,” a movement “centered on bringing traditions to distant, future locations rather than abandoning them as relics.” 23.

It’s not that the ethnographic digital archives mentioned in the introduction to this chapter intend to “abandon their subjects as relics”—quite the contrary, with their emphases on eliciting contemporary Native co-curation and respect for current indigenous sovereignty protocols. But a DH conversation that gathered those archival practices together with the kinds of extra-academic projects named here would be very powerful indeed. The book at hand calls for “cast[ing] our formulation of the digital humanities beyond the field of humanities computing to incorporate into its intellectual genealogy such fields as new media studies, DIY (do-it-yourself) digital recovery projects from the 1990s, digital projects on postcolonial studies,” and more. 24. If the humanities are interpretive—if they contribute to understanding of how social, cultural and political forces have produced particular conditions and artifacts—then the projects described above are certainly digital humanities projects.


American Philosophical Society. “APS Collections through Indigenous Eyes,” 2013.

“AUSTLANG: Australian Indigenous Languages Database.” Accessed July 30, 2015.

Boast, Robin, and Jim Enote. “Virtual Repatriation: It Is Neither Virtual nor Repatriation.” In Heritage in the Context of Globalization, Ed. Peter Biehl and Christopher Prescott., 8:103–13. SpringerBriefs in Archaeology. New York, NY: Springer New York, 2013.–1–4614–6077–0.

Christen, Kimberly. “Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation.” American Archivist 74 (Spring/Summer 2011): 185–210.

Cornum, Lindsey Catherine. “The Space NDN’s Star Map.” The New Inquiry, January 26, 2015.

Domingo, Nadya. “The Trope Slayers.” This Magazine, March 20, 2015.

Elk, Lauren Chief. “The Missing Women You Don’t Hear about: How the Media Fails Indigenous Communities.” Salon, February 14, 2014.

Ernest, Marcella. Linguicide, Indigenous Community and the Search for Lost Sounds. Sounding Out! Accessed July 31, 2015.–40-linguicide-indigenous-community-and-the-search-for-lost-sounds/.

Fragnito, Skawennati. “CPW: FAQ.” Cyberpowwow, April 6, 1997.

Fragnito, Skawennati, and Jason Lewis. “Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace.” Cultural Survival, Summer 2005.

Garroutte, Eva. Real Indians: Identity and the Survival of Native America. Berkeley: U of California P, 2003.

Grant-Costa, Paul, Tobias Glaza, and Michael Sletcher. “The Common Pot: Editing Native American Materials.” Scholarly Editing 33 (2012).

Haas, Angela. “Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Multimedia Theory and Practice.” Studies in American Indian Literatures 19, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 77–100.

Hirschkind, Charles. The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics. Columbia University Press, 2009.

Koh, Adeline. “Niceness, Building, and Opening the Genealogy of the Digital Humanities: Beyond the Social Contract of Humanities Computing.” Differences 25, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 93–106. doi:10.1215/10407391–2420015.

LaPensee, Elizabeth. “Indigenously-Determined Games of the Future.” Kimwan Zine, takwakin 2014.

Liu, Alan. “Imagining the New Media Encounter.” In Companion to Digital Literary Studies (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture), Ed. Ray Siemens and Susan Schreibman., 3–25. Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Professional, 2007.

Loft, Steven, and Kerry Swanson, eds. Coded Territories: Tracing Indigenous Pathways in New Media Art. 1 edition. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2014.

Moriarty, Mairead. “New Roles for Endangered Languages.” In The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages, 446–58. Cambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Povinelli, E. A. “The Woman on the Other Side of the Wall: Archiving the Otherwise in Postcolonial Digital Archives.” Differences 22, no. 1 (January 1, 2011): 146–71.

Powell, Timothy, and Larry Aitken. “Encoding Culture: Building a Digital Archive Based on Traditional Ojibwe Teachings.” In The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age, Ed. Amy Earhart and Andrew Jewell., 250–74. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010.

Ramirez, Renya. Native Hubs : Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

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Invisible Objects

Methods of Reading and Modeling in Literary Studies


This collection documents untold stories about the development of the digital humanities, expanding the contours of the field and showing how the humanities have been “digital” for some time. It also, paradoxically, suggests the failure of much work in the digital humanities to coherently make the case for its relevance to the core concerns of specific humanities disciplines. 1. I am thinking here of literary studies, my own discipline, and of a particular subset of digital humanities work in literary studies, the computational analysis of large (generally speaking, but not always) corpora of texts, encapsulated most recognizably by Franco Moretti’s memorable phrase, “distant reading.” When I claim this work hasn’t yet fully demonstrated its relevance to literary studies, don’t confuse this lack of relevance of the digital humanities for a lack of attention to the digital humanities. There has been a lot of hype surrounding the digital humanities, and distant reading in particular, in English departments. And this hype has resulted in the creation of digital humanities centers, cluster hires, funding streams, and—as Natalia Cecire has nicely put it—”breathless coverage” in The New York Times that simply didn’t exist ten to fifteen years ago. 2. All of this might seem to suggest that literary studies is currently undergoing some kind of sea change in disciplinary identity and practice. But as the hype dies down and we start to take stock of the effects of recent work in computational text analysis, we might wonder exactly what has changed. Distant reading remains something of a niche practice, separated from much of “mainstream” literary scholarship due in part to the high entrance costs associated with this kind of work. Literary scholars are not generally trained in methods of statistical and computational analysis, and learning these methods requires institutional support and investments of time that many don’t have. Yet work now emerging from many corners of literary studies suggests that the most compelling contributions of distant reading to the discipline as a whole are methodological. Distant reading confronts us with the challenge of how to analyze texts at a scale beyond what an individual researcher can handle. In this piece, I gather some of this disparately situated work together to suggest how we might better understand this challenge to close reading as our discipline’s unifying methodology.

I begin by describing the kinds of knowledge claims that are specific to close reading. If we agree that we make claims to knowledge when we close read—and I think we do—then what does this knowledge look like? I show how it is organized around a specific kind of phenomenological experience and expertise. I then turn to distant reading to compare its knowledge claims to those of close reading. Focusing on two recent examples of distant reading, I argue distant reading can be differentiated from close reading not only in terms of the scale of analysis, but also in terms of the objects of analysis. Distant reading produces what Franco Moretti has called “invisible objects”—abstractions or models of the texts being analyzed—objects many of us in literary studies are not accustomed to analyzing. 3. The examples I detail show that in order for distant reading techniques to demonstrate their relevance to literary studies as a whole, practitioners will need to be explicit about how they analyze these kinds of objects. I don’t necessarily mean that they should explain how certain computational techniques work—although certainly this will be important for some audiences—but rather that they should consider the kinds of knowledge claims they are making. How do we use the invisible objects produced by distant reading to analyze a corpus of texts? What do we claim to know when we do this? I don’t pose these questions because I want us to stop close reading—since this piece takes the form of a metacritical close reading, this is obviously far from the case. This is no polemic. Rather, my hope is that explicit attention to knowledge claims will move us further along toward one articulation, at least for literary studies, of what Lorraine Daston has called “an epistemology based on the practices of humanists”—of how we know what we know.​ In that sense, like all origin narratives, this piece suggests a way forward.

Close reading, of course, is neither universally celebrated in literary studies nor does it encompass all that we do. It is, however, widely practiced and taught. It is something many of us think is important to demonstrate in those moments where our disciplinary rubber meets the road—for instance, in job talks—giving us a sense of disciplinary consistency and coherence. And although we have long abandoned New Criticism’s libertarian emphasis on “the work itself,” those paradigms that have come after like critical theory, New Historicism, and cultural studies have maintained an emphasis on close reading as a methodology. A familiar definition of this method might be that it has something to do with the interpretation of texts to produce meaning. Yet, as Jonathan Culler points out, insofar as close reading is also concerned with “what sorts of literary and rhetorical strategies and techniques are deployed to achieve what the reader takes to be the effects of the work or passage,” close reading also “involves poetics as well as hermeneutics.” 4. A more precise word than poetics might be “aesthetics,” meaning the study of sense perception; close reading can be said to concern itself with what Julie Orlemanski refers to as “the evental character of texts,” or the idea that “texts ‘happen’ when they are read.” 5. She defines close reading as the “performance…of a piece of writing that is treated as a script, or notation, for sensory impressions, affects, and meanings. By extension, it is the detailed description of the experience thus cognized.” 6. When we close read, we are interested in communicating not just our interpretation of a text, but also our subjective experience of that text. Close reading means paying special attention to “the phenomenological interface of reading,” or to what happens to us when we interact with the text. 7. It is, as Steven Ramsay emphasizes, “an insistently subjective manner of engagement” concerned above all with “the phenomenal experience of observers.” 8.

Although close reading is “insistently subjective,” it is nevertheless a specific technique of analysis, and like any technique, it must be taught. What exactly this training consists of, however, is not always clear. Culler emphasizes that our disciplinary reluctance to codify close reading has led to the proliferation of “all sorts of ways of achieving closeness in reading.” 9. Perhaps one of the things that unites these practices, however, is an idea of close reading as a technique of attention distribution: when we learn to close read, we learn to direct and sustain our attention toward texts in particular ways. 10. Close reading, then, is less a rule-bound procedure than it is an exercise in what historians of science Daston and Peter Galison have termed “trained judgment.” 11. Developed in the first half of the twentieth century to interpret abstract scientific images produced using new technologies like the x-ray, Daston and Galison track the emergence of trained judgment as an “epistemic virtue” in scientific communities. 12. Trained judgment focused on developing “intuitive thinking” and “hunches that erupted suddenly from the inaccessible mental depths” so as to arrive at a correct interpretation of an image’s significance. 13. This interpretation is neither objectively accurate—because such accuracy is misleading and even impossible—nor is it invalid because it is subjective. Instead, it is the result of the trained observer’s cultivated discernment, arising from the interaction of the image with “the historically conditioned person of the inquirer.” 14. It is a process of judgment, or an “ ’empirical art,’ ” through which observers were taught to produce coherent interpretations of images, or to see in the correct way. 15. Like trained judgment, close reading cultivates the intuition of the observer so that they can learn to read in specific ways. The claims we make to know something through close reading can be classified as knowledge precisely because they result from this training in developing a self-conscious awareness of one’s own reading experience.

At this point our first definition of close reading above—that it concerns the interpretation of texts to produce meaning—has been modified to include the idea that it also concerns the phenomenological experience of the reader, honed by specific training. But so far our discussion has kept the sense that close reading is primarily a hermeneutic activity intact. Indeed, this understanding of close reading as an interpretive practice is what many have used to differentiate close reading from distant reading. Moretti, for example, claims that distant reading is useful mainly in “the realm of causality and large-scale explanations,” not necessarily for more interpretive claims. 16. Likewise, Ted Underwood has stated that from the perspective of many literary scholars, “the problem with quantitative arguments” is that they seem to lend themselves most readily to explanatory modes rather than interpretive: “they tend to produce generalizations of a fluid kind that resist translation into the familiar entities of literary-historical argument (a literary movement, an emblematic author, a cultural turn).” 17. Following from these remarks, one way to situate distant reading methodologically might be as part of what Orlemanski has referred to as the “ ‘turn away from the linguistic turn.’ ” 18. Other approaches associated with this “ ‘antihermeneutic’ ” orientation include surface reading, the descriptive turn, and speculative realism. 19. But, as Orlemanski points out, although these approaches arrange themselves “explicitly against the hallmarks of the hermeneutic tradition”—against concepts like “depth, consciousness, the primacy of language, humanism, interpretation,” etc.—they nevertheless tend to rely on close reading as a methodology 20. These approaches, then, demonstrate that we should be careful about implicitly aligning close reading with hermeneutics. Close reading can be used to “explain” or “describe” texts just as easily as it can be used to “interpret” them. What’s more, distant reading does not leave interpretation behind. Practitioners of distant reading are quick to assure us that distant reading always involves interpretation: as Matthew Jockers puts it, “Whether derived by machine or through hours in the archive, the data through which our literary arguments are built will always require the careful and imaginative scrutiny of the scholar.” 21. Any analysis of data involves making interpretive claims. The separation of close and distant reading on the basis of interpretation is not so clear-cut. Both methods require and produce interpretations and explanations.

Instead, it is useful to think about these methods in terms of scale. Close reading is a technique suited to the analysis of relatively small amounts of text, and therefore it works at the scale of the individual researcher. We can effectively communicate our experiences of texts using close reading in part because we can experience these texts for ourselves in the first place. Distant reading does something different by relying on a suite of computational techniques—not exclusively on the trained experience of the reader—to make sense of large corpora of texts. This is because it works with text on a scale beyond what an individual researcher can generally handle. It is a method of analysis suited to large collections rather than individual texts. 22.

But scale is not the only differentiating factor between close and distant reading: although both are methods of textual analysis, they are actually concerned with analyzing different things. Take topic modeling, a statistical technique for inferring the distribution of topics in a given corpus. Analyzing a corpus using topic modeling is not simply a matter of convenience, as if a machine-generated model of the topics occurring in a collection of over 3,000 novels were just a necessary but nevertheless poor approximation of a similar interpretation produced by a human reader, if a human reader could produce such an interpretation. 23. Rather, the use of computational techniques changes the objects under analysis. When researchers interpret a topic model of 3,000 novels, they are no longer interpreting the novels “themselves”—they are interpreting a model of those novels.

This different kind of object demands a different epistemic stance, one centered less on the “interpretation vs. explanation” paradigm I outlined above than on the particular kinds of knowledge claims distant reading makes possible. Moretti’s distinction between “real objects” and “objects of knowledge” from Graphs, Maps, Trees nicely encapsulates this idea. In his discussion of genre trees, Moretti argues that “devices and genres”—or those literary entities that exist at very small and very large scales—”are the forces that shape literary history”—not individual texts. 24. “Texts are certainly the real objects of literary studies,” he writes, “but they are not the right objects of knowledge for literary history.” 25. What are the “right objects of knowledge?” Elsewhere, Moretti calls his graphs, maps, and trees “invisible objects,” or “objects that have no equivalent within lived experience.” 26. Literary history’s right objects of knowledge, for Moretti, are abstract models of literary and discursive systems, not the individual texts that compose these systems. Furthermore, these abstract models are “invisible” in the sense that no one can see them without the kinds of large-scale analyses that computers make possible. As Moretti puts it, an invisible object “no longer ‘speaks’ to the historian: it remains perfectly still—inert, even—until the right question is asked.” 27. In the distinction between “real objects” and “invisible objects,” then, Moretti articulates the crux of the challenge that distant reading poses to close reading, and by extension to literary studies as a whole: close reading’s reliance on the cultivated phenomenological experience of “real objects” like texts as the central form of knowledge production. If literary studies has concerned itself for many years with a specific kind of readerly experience, one that is dependent on “direct” access to texts, what changes when the objects we analyze change? What do we do when they no longer afford access to this kind of experience—when they don’t speak to us in a particular way?

Answering these questions involves examining some specific examples of distant reading to more clearly delineate the knowledge claims researchers employing these methods are making. Here, I focus on two examples: Andrew Goldstone and Ted Underwood’s article, “The Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies: What Thirteen Thousand Scholars Could Tell Us,” and Andrew Piper’s “Novel Devotions: Conversional Reading, Computational Modeling, and the Modern Novel,” both published recently in New Literary History. 28. Both articles employ statistical techniques to model large corpora of texts. Goldstone and Underwood analyze over 21,000 literary studies articles from the past 120 years using topic modeling, while Piper uses vector space modeling to analyze 600 novels and autobiographies written in German, French, and English from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century. Additionally, both topic models and vector space models describe relationships between texts at the level of individual words. Topic modeling does this by generating clustered lists of words that have a high probability of co-occurring throughout in the corpus, and vector space models do this by plotting the similarities between texts in terms of word frequency as relationships in space, with those texts or parts of texts that share the most words at similar degrees of frequency appearing closer together. The specifics of how these methods work mathematically and computationally are less important for our purposes, though, than the idea that both methods attempt to describe larger “discourses” in which the texts in the corpus participate; they are both models of intertextuality at a large scale. 29.

Although these examples are concerned with different kinds of modeling, they both face a similar challenge: how to negotiate the gaps between a model and the corpus it represents. A topic model, for example, consists in part of a list of word groupings that appear to have something to do with another, but the challenge lies in figuring out how such a list corresponds to the larger corpus. One technique Goldstone and Underwood use to explore their model in more detail involves charting how individual words and topics comprise certain proportions of the entire corpus over time, making it easier to see how a word or a topic increases and decreases in frequency across the timespan of the corpus. One topic they graph—whose most common words include not only "power, violence, and fear” but also, interestingly, "blood, head, hands, face, and eyes”—”roughly triples” in frequency from 1890 to 1980, a trend they suggest is specific to literary-critical discourse. 30. As they note, while literary scholars might expect to see an increase in the frequency of this topic starting in the 1970s due to the influence of Foucault, this more gradual increase in frequency suggests that, contrary to these assumptions about influence, “there was no moment between 1890 and 1980 when scholars explicitly decided to spend more time talking about power, violence, and fear.” 31. Instead of “disciplinary histories organized exclusively around conscious debate,” this topic’s frequency over time suggests a subtler model of change resulting from gradual momentum and unintended consequences. 32. This is just one example of how researchers can interpret these kinds of invisible objects to arrive at potentially powerful conclusions.

But I would argue that this kind of interpretation, while it may seem foreign to those without experience with topic modeling, is quite similar in its form to close reading. This is due in large part to the familiar manner in which the authors present their argument. They use specific examples to illustrate and ultimately stand in for larger conclusions and understandings that encompass far more than the individual examples they nevertheless rhetorically depend upon. In the example detailed above, for example, Goldstone and Underwood draw our attention to one graph of one topic to suggest the larger claim that our disciplinary histories can also be understood by tracking gradual changes and unintentional consequences. Moretti refers to this style of reasoning as “typological thinking,” which, as Orlemanski puts it, amounts for Moretti to “an unexamined trust in the sufficiency of examples” to account for some larger conceptual whole. 33. Unlike Moretti, perhaps, I don’t think such trust is misplaced for close reading—after all, I’m employing this method throughout this piece. Furthermore, close reading centers on the communication of a specific kind of readerly experience. The author of a close reading focuses our attention on examples from the text that are suggestive of larger ideas, helping us to see these larger ideas for ourselves as we, too, read passages the author has selected as important. We experience the text under discussion anew from the author’s perspective. This is how Goldstone and Underwood’s explanation of one specific topic functions in their argument.

However, distant reading can also afford a different kind of access to texts than close reading. This kind of access depends less on readerly experience and more on what Julia Flanders has referred to as the “productive unease” that results from the encounter between computer and researcher. 34. Modeling, in other words, forces researchers to pay attention not just to the invisible objects they are interpreting, but also to the mediated—and mediating—condition of those objects. Models are intermediaries between the texts and the researcher; as Willard McCarty puts it, they are "temporary states in a process of coming to know.” 35. For a discipline that has centered itself primarily on the trained reader’s encounter with texts—objects we are used to directly accessing on a small scale—this is new terrain. 36.

Andrew Piper’s “Novel Devotions” is one attempt to account for this difference between texts and models methodologically. Piper uses vector space modeling to analyze the influence of narratives of conversion, typified by Augustine’s Confessions,on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels and autobiographies. He discovers that the Augustinian confessional archetype lives on most strongly not in autobiographies, where we might expect it, but rather in nineteenth-century novels. To arrive at this conclusion, Piper creates a model of Augustine’s Confessions that identifies two distinguishing characteristics of the genre: a stark contrast in the language Augustine uses before and after his conversion, and an increasing heterogeneity of language in the latter books that describe life after conversion. In other words, each of the latter books of the Confessions is increasingly different linguistically from the others. Piper uses this model to compare his corpora of autobiographies and novels, showing how nineteenth-century novels conform more closely to the model. But his analysis doesn’t end there. He then employs “an iterative and circular process” of close and distant reading to identify what specific kinds of narrative content correspond to these measurements, using close reading as a way to “validate” the model. 37. However, “validation” for Piper is not about proving the model’s efficacy; rather, he uses close reading “as a form of further discovery in two directions:” to gain insights into the texts identified by the model, and to gain insights into the model itself. 38. Piper close reads those texts identified by the model as most strongly correlated with the conversional genre to refine his model of the genre, arguing that the genre is organized around “strongly schismatic patterns” having to do with nature/culture dichotomies, phrases centered on incommunicability, geographical binaries, and recursivity. 39. Piper then suggests ways to test these hypotheses using other distant reading methods like word frequency analysis, named entity recognition, and social network analysis. Close reading can lead to further distant reading, which in turn can lead to close reading, and on and on. This is the “spiral-like fashion” in which close and distant reading can interact in order to approach but never quite reach a conceptual whole (the “confessional novel genre” in this case). 40.

The differences between Piper’s iterative process and Goldstone and Underwood’s more familiar typological process have to do with the relationship of individual examples to the larger conceptual wholes they suggest. Piper attempts to negotiate this relationship by developing a methodology attuned to the specific kind of difference it describes: the difference between a reader’s experience of a text and a computer’s analysis of a large group of texts. Both examples of distant reading that I have discussed here make knowledge claims using computational methods of analysis. This in of itself obviously represents a departure from more familiar methods of close reading. But I have been arguing that this departure is not only one of scale or technical training; it’s also a departure from the more familiar objects and kinds of knowledge claims associated with close reading, from texts and from our readerly experiences of them. Distant reading means bringing computers more explicitly into the loop of scholarly practice in literary studies, and it means grappling more intentionally with how this inclusion changes the methods of analysis and the kinds of knowledge claims researchers can make. McCarty refers to this as the process of “comparative negotiation between software construct and material artifact,” a process that can never fully be resolved because a software construct will never be the material artifact(s) it models. 41. Piper makes this unresolvable comparative negotiation between human, computer, and text an explicit part of his process.

I want to close by noting that neither example of distant reading I’ve discussed here gives us “the objective truth” about the influence of the confessional genre on the novel or the development of literary studies as a discipline. The authors of these articles are still after the meaning, or one possible meaning or cluster of meanings, of the works they examine. Meaning is always open to debate. If the articles I’ve emphasized prove influential in debates on these topics, they may push the conversation in one direction or another, open up new avenues for conversation, or create new perspectives through which to understand the conversation. This is how scholarly discourse in literary studies (ideally) works. We in literary studies have remained fascinated by the encounter between text and trained observer for decades, and distant reading doesn’t ask us to give that up. Instead, it challenges us to more explicitly account for the role of computation in this encounter by developing methods that take advantage of the affordances of computational techniques and that recognize how they change our thinking about literature. What distant reading offers our discipline is not objectivity or the more derogatory-sounding “scientism,” but rather a reconsideration of the methods through which we come to know literature. Invisible objects may not speak to us in the same way texts do, but they speak to us nonetheless, if we want to learn to listen.


Towards a Digital Cultural Studies

The Legacy of Cultural Studies and the Future of Digital Humanities


“However far modern science and technics have fallen short of their inherent possibilities, they have taught mankind at least one lesson: Nothing is impossible.”—Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization

In his groundbreaking 1957 work, The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life, the sociologist and literary scholar Richard Hoggart weaves together sociological analysis, autobiography, and close reading to examine the rise of an American-inflected mass culture in midcentury England. Part lament at the loss of British working class culture, Hoggart’s book also served as a call to action for academics to take seriously the lived experience of working class people. Raymond Williams published a similarly radical book in 1958; in Culture and Society, Williams takes on the notion of culture itself, arguing that British conceptions of culture from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries have developed in part as a response to the Industrial Revolution. Writing in the 1980s about the evolution and history of Cultural Studies, Stuart Hall pointed to the deceptive upheaval at play in both these works and in the works they inspired (Hall 1980). Both in the 1950s and now, cultural studies is a radical project. Interdisciplinary or even antidisciplinary, the field demands scholarship that is not only theoretically and empirically engaged, but politically as well. To do the work of cultural studies is to be always engaged with the political ramifications of that work and to push for more sophisticated understanding of how systems of power and control are established, exercised, and disrupted through culture.

In this chapter, I argue that one way of increasing the diversity of participants is by increasing the diversity of perspectives, positions, and fields valued. The humanities is increasingly widespread—I would argue delightfully so—in the types of questions researchers ask and the types of projects they produce; it is simultaneously growing, slowly at least, in diversity among the researchers themselves. The overwhelming homogeneity of Digital Humanities stands in sharp contrast to the growing visibility of fields like gender and ethnic studies. The contrast is thrown into sharper relief when we consider the degree to which these vibrant fields are absent from Digital Humanities’ theoretically big tent. I am interested in the possibilities of cross-pollinating digital humanities deliberately with cultural studies in part because I see the radicalism of cultural studies as a potential path towards a digital humanities that is diverse in meaningful ways, that not only engages in cultural criticism that is rightfully framed within broader political discourses, but that creates an environment in which the righteous legacies of intellectual trailblazers are carried forward like flaming torches, where a recentering of the work of people of color, of women, of queer people, of those outside of or at the margins of the academy is seen not only as possible, but foundational. We come not to burn, but to light a path for ourselves.

I propose an alternate history of the digital humanities that traces the field not to humanities computing, but instead to the provocations of cultural studies. In doing so, I ask key questions about the purpose and utility of digital humanities scholarship for addressing social, cultural, and historical problems. What might a digital humanities directly shaped by Marxist and feminist traditions look like? How might the legacy of radicalism inherent to cultural studies help energize, redirect, and empower digital humanities as publicly engaged scholarship? How can and should digital humanists draw on the works of scholars not only like Hoggart, Hall, and their Birmingham colleagues, but the broader field including scholars like Gloria Anzaldúa, Andrew Ross, and Janice Radway?

While considering these questions, I highlight the successes and limitations of current digital humanities models and propose a loose framework for a digital humanities that takes seriously its debt to cultural studies. I begin by surveying key texts in cultural studies and highlighting how digital humanities projects have or potentially could extend the types of work carried out in these historic texts. Then, I identify key characteristics of digital cultural studies, and finally detail a tentative framework for the cultivation of future projects. Alternate histories are a means of re-centering and re-grounding, but they are also an opportunity to imagine alternative futures; fundamentally, this chapter is a work of speculative nonfiction, an imagining of a digital humanities that is deeply engaged in questions of public concern and cultural immediacy, and one that not only draws from but is led by the deep well of diversity that is increasingly evident elsewhere in the humanities. Ultimately, the framework proposed here is a call to action for a digital humanities that, like cultural studies, is aware of the degree to which it is always already engaged in the work of cultural politics.

A Call to Arms

Digital Humanities can and should engage with the diversity of human experiences and concerns. However, the field has struggled with diversity at a number of levels. This is evident in who fits in to mainstream digital humanities discourse, but it is also evident in the types of work that are most visible in the field. In analyzing submissions for Digital Humanities 2015, for example, Scott Weingart found some striking trends; 21% of submissions were tagged as involving Text Analysis, and Literary Studies accounted for 20% of submissions not only in 2015, but in the preceding two years (Weingart). There is nothing wrong with these approaches or fields, but what is striking is the absence of a number of fields that have become prominent in the broader discourse of the humanities, and in particular in what I would call the cultural studies inflected humanities, while remaining marginal to digital humanities. As both Weingart and Jacqueline Wernimont point out, gender studies is nearly absent from the same pool of submissions, with only 1.2% of submissions marked as “gender studies” (Wernimont). Weingart concludes his analysis noting that while most of the trends are unsurprising, they can be seen as disappointing: "The fact that the status is pretty quo is worthy of note, because many were hoping that a global DH would seem more diverse, or appreciably different, in some way.”

The status quo of ideas and fields that Weingart highlights is intertwined with a status quo of people and participants. Miriam Posner has written, for example, about how the insistence that everyone in digital humanities learn to code is embedded in a broader context in which women face significant challenges to gaining coding skill (Posner). As a result, the elevation of coding as the essential foundation of digital humanities work can marginalize women in the field. Similarly, Bethany Nowviskie has suggested that data mining has become a kind of “gentleman’s sport” in part because both funders and scholars have engaged in a particular rhetorical framing of the associated practices (2011). In her address to the DH 2015 conference held in Sydney Australia, Deb Verhoeven begins by asking a series of questions regarding Australian flora and fauna. How many in the audience have seen a funnel-web spider? A koala? These seemingly humorous questions circle towards a damning one: “Now for the worst and most elusive of creatures. How many of you yesterday saw a woman on this stage? [pause] Or anyone who isn’t just a standard issue bloke?” With these questions, Verhoeven launches a fiery speech, in which she condemns the conference’s “parade of patriarchs” and what appear to be the universalizing of one (white, male, cisgender, heterosexual, western) perspective. “Do this because you embrace diversity in all its complexity, not because you have checklists or policies, but because you recognize that the real story of DH is more heterogeneous and more complex and more vibrant than you have allowed it to be to date” (Verhoeven).

In her speech, Verhoeven directly addresses “standard issue blokes,” calling for increased diversity at one of Digital Humanities most visible and best attended annual conferences. The marginalization of both gender studies as topic and women as scholars is intertwined, and it is also not an isolated problem, but one entangled within a complex nexus of marginalization of both scholars and scholarly thought. The invisibility of women, of people of color, of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer—of people who aren’t “standard issue blokes”—across Digital Humanities remains profound. If we want to make things better, we must actively practice the commitment to diversity so many of us claim. If the submissions to conferences and publications are not diverse, we should actively solicit work to diversify the pool in consideration and also ensure that our programming committees and editorial boards are not homogenous. In constructing panels and events, we should make sure that nobody can come up and ask, like Verhoeven, to “show me a woman.” These types of simple steps are not a complete solution, but they are concrete steps to be taken in improving the current state of affairs. If we are claiming digital humanities is a big tent, a broad, representative field, we must do the work to make it so. If we value, at all, the complexity of human experience, something that should be the very heart of the humanities, it is a moral imperative that we do so.

In the quote at the beginning of this chapter, Mumford suggests that technology teaches us that “anything is possible,” and I would suggest this is true, but horribly so: Anything is possible, including the reinscription of existing inequalities. The historians among us, in particular, have watched countless alleged revolutions in technology turn into these types of reinscriptions. If we are not careful about the ways in which we enact our own biases, if Digital Humanities is not pushed to become transformative, then it is nothing more than a new verse in old, disappointing song, another opportunity for technology to efface the specificities of culture and history, to reinforce old hierarchies of power, and to continue to neglect the real crises of human experience in favor of propping up obsolete canons.

Cultural Studies: A Historical Primer

Cultural Studies as a field is often traced back to the book by Richard Hoggart I mentioned earlier, but I do not wish, particularly in a volume that celebrates the complexities of fields’ historical origins, to posit a neat timeline from Hoggart to the present. For one thing, there are many scholars who helped contribute to the formation of the field; Américo Paredes, for whom the University of Texas’s Center for Cultural Studies is named, immediately springs to mind. But, further, what I wish to propose here is a reconfiguration that opens up possibilities and that draws on many threads rather than one that substitutes one neatly packaged timeline for another. If there is one thing that my training as a historian has taught me, it is that timelines can too easily be tools for reinforcing power and that they cannot come close to revealing the intricacies of history itself. So, here as elsewhere, I think of history as a tangle of threads. Each thread can be a timeline of its own, but the threads intersect, they divert each other and twine together, and not one could be removed from the tangle without altering the entire mess. As Stuart Hall has said:

“In serious, critical intellectual work, there are no ‘absolute beginnings’ and few unbroken continuities. Neither the endless unwinding of ‘tradition’, so beloved on the History of Ideas, nor the absolutism of the ‘epistemological rupture’, punctuating Thought into its ‘false’ and ‘correct’ parts … will do. What we find, instead, is an untidy but characteristic unevenness of development. What is important are the significant breaks—where old lines of thought disrupted, older constellations displaced, and elements, old and new, are regrouped around a different set of premises and themes.”

Hoggart certainly shaped the field, but Hoggart’s contemporaries and colleagues, who cofounded the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies alongside him, cannot be left out, nor can the researchers who worked simultaneously and after them to expand the field.

Stuart Hall’s work has become foundational to thinking across an array of humanities disciplines; contemporary media studies is difficult to imagine without the work of Raymond Williams, and, as Hall points out, Hoggart and Williams, working simultaneously, are each radical in their own way. Angela McRobbie has effectively challenged the centering of popular culture around male pursuits by taking seriously the cultural practices and fascinations of teenage girls (1991; McRobbie and Garner, 1975); and Janice Radway’s work similarly takes up the women who read and find community and satisfaction in romance novels and the broader middlebrow reading culture (1984, 1997). Angela Davis has forged a career that is itself a model of how scholarly work and political activism can form a palimpsest, focusing on issues such as racial justice and prison abolition (1974, 1983, 1989, 1998). Gloria Anzaldúa worked across written forms to address the complexities of the borderlands through cultural, feminist, and queer theory. Andrew Ross’s scholarship on contemporary labor practices dovetails with activist work in the anti-sweatshop movement, in supporting student workers’ unions, in Occupy Wall Street and in related debtors’ movements, and in efforts to improve migrant labor standards in the United Arab Emirates. This is a somewhat scattershot list of scholars. There are hundreds who could be included, but what the scholars on this list have in common is a commitment to taking seriously the conditions of people’s daily lives and to valuing the possibilities of work that spills over the conventionally understood edges of the academy. Anzaldúa, for example, wrote children’s books, Paredes worked in both creative writing and folklore throughout his academic career, Ross has helped with Strike Debt, a “nationwide movement of debt resisters fighting for economic justice and democratic freedom” (Strike Debt 2015). In short, I would argue what binds these scholars together, what makes it sensible to include them on a single list is not necessarily influence, although they are influential, but rather an interest in and commitment to the often experimental possibilities of critically engaged academic work.

If we must imagine a lineage for Digital Humanities, why wouldn’t we imagine one that includes predecessors who have, themselves, fought for and forged a humanities that is enamored of possibility, of scholarship not just as monograph or journal article, but as poetry, as children’s literature, as art, as political action? Of a body of scholars that includes not only those of us ensconced in the academy, but all committed to understanding and improving the human condition? Cultural studies is a radical critique, one that has had a profound effect on disciplines including history, literature, and anthropology, among others; if digital humanities were to become such a radical critique, think of the transformations, of the vital interventions, we could have. Such a lineage both makes possible and demands a Digital Humanities that is diverse both in the composition of its practitioners and in its intellectual concerns and output. At this point, I want to consider a handful of works by the scholars I have mentioned, considering the specifics of form, audience, and production. Then, building on the outlined works, I move to a proposal for what a cultural studies-inflected digital humanities might look like.

Some Existing and Theoretical Works

Cultural Studies has produced a myriad of notable works. Here, I would like to briefly discuss a few, including Américo Paredes’s “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (1970), Raymond Williams’s Television: Technology and Cultural Form (1974), and Janice Radway’s Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (1984). These three books are in some ways significantly different from each other. The scholars who produced them are working in different home disciplines and in various types of cultural and institutional contexts, and have turned their attention to a somewhat disparate objects of study: a border song sung both north and south of the Rio Grande, the television as medium, and the popular genre of the romance novel as read by American women. However, the three scholars and the three books share a concern with the cultural practices and concerns of the daily lives of average people. They also, all three, have proven profoundly influential. Paredes’s work has shaped not only the study of folklore, but of borderlands, popular music, and regional culture; Williams remains so widely read and well regarded that the entirety of the 2014 Flow Conference was organized in response to and conversation with Television; Radway’s studies of women’s reading practices are a cornerstone for now decades of scholarship in literary, media, and American studies that take seriously feminized culture that is still so easily dismissed.

The strengths of these projects—their radical mixing of methods and willingness to work between and even outside of disciplines, their rigorous use of theory, and their commitment to taking seriously lived culture—can be found in many works of cultural studies, and are dependent upon an approach that is willing to push at the existing boundaries of scholarly work and question the often limiting conventional wisdom about what people and subjects are worth critical study. For example, Williams’s Television is important for its effort to understand how television worked at multiple levels, and is a landmark text in part because he chose to look at a maligned and often dismissed medium. Similarly, Radway investigated the importance of romance novels, considering them as a form that facilitated please, escape, and community in ways that are deeply meaningful for many readers; in doing so, she raised profound questions about what, exactly, makes literature valuable or worthy of study. And, Paredes was a tireless champion for Mexican-American Studies. While “With a Pistol in His Hand” is Paredes’s first book, it is only one entry into a rich bibliography of works exploring the complexities of border culture.

All three of these works are concerned with cultural expressions often dismissed as “bad objects,” as things unworthy of serious attention, but in giving serious attention to television, romance, and the music of the border, they do not rehabilitate these artifacts but rather demonstrate their existing importance and build a foundation for our understanding of broad areas of cultural production and practice. These three key books shifted critical understanding of culture, and remain influential because of their radicalism even as, through the distance of years, they often appear decreasingly radical. This longstanding influence is a testament to the longstanding impact they have had, but also a call to action to seek out new boundaries to test.

Digital Humanities has the promise of radicalism, and the field is often celebrated as disruptive, innovative, and expansive. But, much of Digital Humanities is deeply enmeshed with more traditional conceptualizations of what the humanities can and should be. We see many projects, for example, on the works of William Shakespeare (see for example, the Folger Digital Texts project [Folger Shakespeare Library, 2014], Global Shakespeares [Donaldson, 2010], and Shakespeare’s Staging [2010]) and on the U.S. Civil War (see House Divided [Dickinson College, 2007], Civil War Digital Tour [Auburn University, 2015], and Hidden Patterns of the Civil War [Digital Scholarship Lab, 2010]). I do not wish to suggest these are bad projects; many of them are reflective of innovative approaches to topics of well established significance, and some, like Global Shakespeares, are making interesting interventions in the framing of particular topics and providing excellent resources to boot.

However, projects on these types of subjects are often among the best funded, and often have high levels of visibility along with that funding. For example, a listing of Digital Humanities projects that fall under the National Endowment for the Humanities’s “Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War” speaks to the prominence of war history in U.S. history and includes two projects (out of a total of seven) focused on the Civil War (“NEH Veterans”). Edward Castranova’s ill-fated effort to render Shakespearean society into a massively multiplayer environment, “Arden” received a quarter of a million (USD) in funding and received extensive media coverage (Talemasca, 2008). There are reasons to study Shakespeare and the Civil War, and certainly new tools make possible new and fruitful approaches to these topics. However, we should be careful that the Digital Humanities does not only reinforce the old canon of humanistic knowledge with its old biases, inequalities, exclusivities, and inaccessabilities.

Digital Cultural Studies

Cultural studies works like those I have discussed to this point are, by and large, far from digital, but they are both deeply radical and deeply engaged with the core questions of the humanities. It is in their radicalism, and in their interest in the daily concerns of people’s lived cultural experiences and encounters that I see as a useful model for reconceiving the Digital Humanities. Fundamental to this chapter is a consideration of what the Digital Humanities might look like as the child not of Humanities Computing, but of Cultural Studies. In this section, I turn to outlining what that might look like.

First, such a Digital Humanities would necessarily be engaged in radical experimentation: experimentation in research approaches, in publishing models, and in approaches to subjects. Second, a Cultural Studies-inflected Digital Humanities would be strongly engaged with the study of media and popular culture and invested in our understanding of the complexities of race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic class, and other facets of cultural identity. Additionally, a Digital Humanities framed in this way would necessarily be concerned with effective communication and publication practices and ensure that the presentation of research is at least as sophisticated as the means in which that research is conducted. There are absolutely projects happening now that do work in this way—including some of the Civil War and Shakespeare projects already mentioned, and projects like Scalar have proven the value in experimenting with the presentation of even more conventional scholarship while also making room for radical efforts at constructing knowledge. This is not a situation in which we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, but rather one in which we should think carefully about whose practices and concerns we are drawing inspiration from and who our work serves and why.

A Cultural Studies inflected Digital Humanities, a Digital Cultural Studies, would always be concerned with its own political and cultural positioning and impact (See Figure 1). It would focus on lived culture, on daily life. It would be necessarily concerned with race, with gender, with sexuality, with cultural, political, and economic inequalities. And it should present as a field that includes the work not only of those of us safely ensconced in the academy, but of those working in the increasingly diffuse array of alt-ac positions and those so often, so vaguely, called “independent scholars”: researchers working outside the academy because they work in the growing pool of adjunct academic laborers or because they have no clear formal claim to academic legitimacy at all. There should be room for us to work alongside and learn from activists, teachers, journalists, writers, community leaders, and those who engage with significant cultural work not out of professional obligation, but out of personal devotion. Digital Cultural Studies should be responsive and inclusive, radical not because it can be, but because it must be. There are many approaches to diversifying fields, but changing our approaches, questioning the types of knowledge we produce and legitimate, is an absolutely vital one. Digital Cultural Studies should be a field that can not only, as Verhoeven demands, “show me a woman,” but also show me forms of knowledge production in which women are welcome and in which women’s concerns are valued. This is true not only, of course, of women, but of people of color, of queer people, of everyone who isn’t a “standard issue bloke.”


I began with a quote from Lewis Mumford because Mumford, so famously invested in the march of progress, so skilled in turning a sharp at the expense of those who he believed to be charlatans or crooks or dinosaurs, is an unsurprising convert to the power and potential of technological advancement. Those of us waging into the waters of Digital Humanities, even those of us who are cynics at heart, are often similarly enthralled. The Mumford proclaiming that “nothing is impossible,” is a marginally optimistic Mumford, but the degree to which he, and many of us, can be dazzled by technology, even technologies that “have fallen short of their inherent possibilities,” should give us pause. Perhaps “nothing is impossible,” but from the perspective of the 21st century, we can look back to technology after technology that, we were told gleefully, would change the world: radio, cable television, the VCR. I’m sure by now some readers are clearing their throats, waiting for me to warn against technological determinism, and this is my warning: Technology, even technology that is leaps and bounds beyond what we might have imagined, is not inherently radical, neither is its use.

Nothing is impossible, says Mumford, but I would argue that nothing is also possible—it is depressingly easy for new technologies to reinscribe our current inequalities. We can use new technologies to continue business as usual. For example, the VCR, at one point allegedly primed to revolutionize education, simply displaced the classroom film strip with the classroom VHS, another generation of often ill-conceived educational media, used long past the point where it was badly dated. 1. Technologies on their own are not prone to radical transformation. It is in our use and deployment of technologies that we see that if not anything, at least something, is possible. Digital Humanities can and should be a field in which something is possible—where we can conceive of scholarship that is, for example, broadly accessible to the public, or that relies on large-scale collaboration to a degree that remains rare in the humanities, or that is responsive to the pressing cultural, political, and educational concerns of the broader population, scholarship that is agile, accessible, innovative. Digital Humanists have the potential to produce work, in short, that evokes some of the most successful innovations of cultural studies while continuing to push beyond the limitations of existing research and publication standards and tools. The digital tools we are using are not inherently radical, but they have radical potential, if we can bring ourselves to wield them properly.


“Civil War Digital Tour.” Center for the Arts and Humanities. Auburn University, 2015. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

“Civil War Letters.” Civil War Letters. Digital Humanities Initiative, 2015. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Davis, Angela Y. Angela Davis—an Autobiography. New York: Random House, 1974. Print.

Davis, Angela Y. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. New York: Pantheon, 1998. Print.

Davis, Angela Y. Women, Culture & Politics. New York: Random House, 1989. Print.

Davis, Angela Y. Women, Race & Class. New York: Vintage, 1983. Print.

Donaldson, Peter S. “MIT Global Shakespeares.” MIT Global Shakespeares. N.p., 2010. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

“Folger Digital Texts.” Folger Digital Texts. Folger Shakespeare Library, 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Hall, S. “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms.” Media, Culture & Society 2.1 (1980): 57–72. Web.

“Hidden Patterns of the Civil War.” Hidden Patterns of the Civil War. Digital Scholarship Lab, 2010. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Hoggart, Richard. The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-class Life with Special References to Publications and Entertainments. London: Chatto and Windus, 1957. Print.

“House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College.” House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College. Dickinson College, 2007. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

McRobbie, Angela. Feminism and Youth Culture: From ʻJackieʼ to ʻJust Seventeenʼ. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1991. Print.

McRobbie, Angela, and Jenny Garber. “Girls and Subcultures.” Resistance through Rituals Youth Subcultures in Post-war Britain (1975): 177–88. Web.

“NEH Veterans.” Funded Projects in Digital Humanities. National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Nowviskie, Bethany. “What Do Girls Dig?.” Web blog post. 7 April 2011. Web. 5 November 2015.

Posner, Miriam. “Some things to think about before you exhort everyone to code.” Web blog post. Miriam Posner’s Blog. 29 February 2012. Web. 5 November 2015.

Radway, Janice A. A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-class Desire. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1997. Print.

Radway, Janice A. Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1984. Print.

“Shakespeare’s Staging: Shakespeare’s Performance and His Globe Theatre.” Shakespeare’s Staging. University of California, 2010. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

“Strike Debt! - Debt Resistance for the 99%.” Strike Debt. Strike Debt, 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

Talemasca, Akela. “Edward Castronova Reveals Lessons Learned from Arden.” Engadget. Engadget, 23 Mar. 2008. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.

Verhoeven, Deb. “Has Anyone Seen a Woman?” Vimeo. N.p., 6 Nov. 2015. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.

Weingart, Scott. “Submissions to Digital Humanities 2015 (pt. 2).” Web blog post. The Scottbot Irregular. 6 November 2014. Web. 5 November 2015.

Wernimont, Jacqueline (profwernimont). “gah, only 1.2% of #dh2015 submissions are tagged as ‘gender studies’ #transformdh”. 06 Nov 2014, 15:40 UTC.

Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society 1780–1950. Aylesbury: Penguin, 1963. Print.

Archival Emanations and Contrapuntal Transformations

Digital Cultural Productions in Post-1965 Indonesia


"As we look back at the cultural archive, we begin to reread it not univocally but contrapuntally, with a simultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts."—Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism
"See what I have made, the tactical user says. See how I try to manage the ties that bind and produce me."—Rita Raley, Tactical Media

The digital humanities is somewhat akin to a garden of forking paths, with different passages and possibilities, but all leading to the same exit, toward and back to the digital humanities. To begin to articulate an alternative trajectory, therefore, necessitates thinking beyond the digital humanities, for alternatives exist in the realm of the outside; an alternative, after all, is rooted in the other (from the Latin alter). To alternate is also to do one thing after another in turns, with a reciprocity that makes an alternative thought and praxis reflexive: an alternative trajectory is one of negotiation between inside and outside, so that a thinking of the beyond must always be alongside what has already been created. Formulating an alternative that is truly revolutionary takes us to what Jacques Derrida calls “the regime of a possible whose possibilization must prevail of the impossible,” or “the possibilization of the impossible possible.” 1. What, therefore, is an alternative if not the activation of an other space beyond what has been possible, visible, and acceptable? It is through thinking about the alternativeand exploring various transnational Indonesian digital projects that I attempt to articulate a digital humanities that is a diligent humanities, practiced and theorized with care, with a hermeneutics that is attentive to the frictions between multiple scales of analyses, scales of productions, as well as scales of tensions between the global and the local.

This essay emphasizes the ways in which networked technologies impact the Indonesian public’s relationship to historical trauma, with examples from digital projects that re-engage the ghosts of the past and gesture toward a future in which mediascapes afford robust spaces for community collaboration, social recovery, and cultural transformation. These digital projects are situated and discussed within the larger framework of digital humanities as it has been developed as a field in the (mostly) Western, Anglophone context. Although these are disparate projects, they are linked by the same commitment to offering a different lens to the Indonesian state’s version of history—particularly as it pertains to the 1965–66 anti-communist killings in Indonesia—by putting pressure on the importance and pedagogical value of community-based knowledge, personal narrative, and the ethical use of technologies. As Wendy Chun and Lisa Marie Rhody point out, digital projects that put particular emphasis on historical awareness can, indeed, “elucidate ‘shadows’ in the archive.” 2. In other words, in talking back to official narratives, these projects demonstrate what Ann L. Stoler describes as emanations—radiations—from outside the master archive. 3. It is in these gaps, then, that we can most clearly find the contrapuntal possibilities in digital cultural productions.

Media Politics in Indonesia

Tahun Vivere Pericoloso (TAVIP), or A Year of Living Dangerously, 4. was the title of one of President Sukarno’s famous Independence Day addresses calling for the continued, undying rhythm of an Indonesian Revolution in countering the effects of colonialism and imperialism. The speech’s significance is marked not only by its content, but also its timing, given in August 1964, roughly a year prior to the 1965–66 anti-communist violence in Indonesia, which then ended the Sukarno administration and led to the rise of President Suharto’s repressive New Order regime (1966–1998). The title, A Year of Living Dangerously, recalls the revolutionary spirit of Indonesia in its post–1945, post-Independence years—a time that, as Ann L. Stoler describes, “held promise,” and that people would later remember as a progressive and optimistic period; it

was, as some of the Javanese called it, “the years of living dangerously,” 5. of feeling the potentiality of a vast universe opening up for a recently-independent nation.

A Year of Living Dangerously contains a striking passage in which Sukarno fervently asserts how integral the relationship between revolution and technology is in reflecting an anti-imperialist Indonesia:

I am not saying that we do not need technology […] More than those [technical] skills, we need the spirit of a nation, the spirit of freedom, the spirit of revolution […] What is the use of taking over the technology of the Western world if the result of that adoption is merely a state and a society à la West… a copy state? 6.

Given the ways in which the New Order regime later relied heavily on audio-visual media to maintain its power by spreading state propaganda and intimidating the Indonesian public, 7. Sukarno’s impassioned statements hold great weight when examining the turbulent cultural and political climate in Indonesia during this transition period between opposing regimes, and the central role technology played for the state before, during, and after the New Order. Even as media practices cannot be completely detached from technological developments beyond national borders, Sukarno’s declarations of the need for an autonomous nation complemented by an independent technology remain instructive. What would media infused with “the spirit of freedom, the spirit of revolution” look like?

Considering the mobilization and violence of the militia that ensued in 1965 (with then-General Suharto in charge of the army) after a military coup was blamed on the Partai Komunis Indonesia (Indonesian Communist Party) (PKI), the speech’s title takes on a different hue when revisited a year later, stripped of the energetic and bold quality it had intended to inspire. The New Order regime’s stringent watch over cultural production created a space in which “the conditions of possibility for Indonesia’s national culture after 1965” were based precisely on the impossibility for non-state sanctioned narratives to exist. 8. The “conditions of possibility,” therefore, were far from being unconditional: cultural practices and productions were appropriated by the state, enabling the control of national culture by means of the state’s propaganda machine. The horror resulting from the killings of suspected Communists and sympathizers, ethnic Chinese, and activists—as well as the suppression of women’s groups—then, was further intensified by the succeeding atmosphere of fear and intimidation fostered by the New Order government, which prevented forms of expression that were in opposition to the state’s masculinist and militaristic ideology.

To read Indonesian life, as well as its representations in media, in its post–1965 years as one that is regulated and strangulated by an authoritarian regime necessitates a contrapuntal reading (to use Edward Said’s expression) 9. ; contrapuntal analysis takes into account the dominant narrative set by those in power, as well as the gaps and spaces where resistance happens, and where projects outside the purview and sanction of the state can be created. Under the New Order regime, audio-visual media was central to the Indonesian nationalist project. The first national, state-owned television network, Televisi Republik Indonesia (Television of the Republic of Indonesia) (TVRI), and the operation of a domestic communication satellite were both deployed “to extend [Suharto’s] political authority, sugar-coated with developmentalist logic.” 10. Beneath the developmentalist narrative of production and progress, however, were the New Order regime’s acutely strict censorship laws. Intan Paramaditha notes that “censorship can thus be seen as one of the language codes that sustain national consciousness.” 11. Indeed, the tenor of life under the New Order state was one carefully managed by the constraining of what people could create and consume. At the same time, however, the stringent regulation of the kinds of media content and cultural representation the public could access was at times offset by the existence of global media, which “had a liberationary aspect in so far as they breached the capacity of national governments to control what their citizens could see and hear.” 12. Despite the state’s suppression of freedom of expression and innovation, interfaces with global media have also made possible anti-authoritarian and transformative uses of technologies in Indonesia.

The Politics of Visualization

The Indonesian public’s ways of knowing its history have been complicated not just by the oscillation between visibility and invisibility, but they have also been obscured by the grey spaces in between, where truth and fiction, official and unofficial narratives, collide. Indonesian politics, notes film scholar Eric Sasono, is “a politics of visibility,” and that “the truth depends on how they are visible to the general public.” 13. As a method that concentrates on presenting data and telling stories in a visual, graphical format, a data visualization project may illuminate shadows in a nation’s archive that is laden with unspoken histories and stories. Launched in 2014, “Mapping Memory Landscapes and the Regime Change of 1965–66 in Semarang” is a collaboration between the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) and the Universitas Katolik Soegijapranata (Soegijapranata Catholic University) (UNIKA) in Semarang, Indonesia.Mapping Memory Landscapesis an analogue project as much as it is a digital one: it involves workshops where UNIKA students conduct interviews with a handful of 1965 survivors, after which data from the collected stories are visualized into “memory landscapes” on Nodegoat, a web-based data visualization platform. The creators of the platform cite their use of object-oriented ontology (OOO) and the influence of Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory: “this methodology asks researchers to transform each entity they encounter (e.g. humans and non-humans; events and emotions) into an object and to describe every relation and association of this object." 14.

Such an object-oriented method levels all entities without privileging the human over the non-human; a person is categorized as an object, an actor (or agent) that is part of the larger system of networks between human and non-human things, facilitated by the technologies that make those interactions possible. This particular project holds place as a primary focus, centering on how “sites function as carriers of memories existing beyond the official state discourse.” 15. The name itself, Mapping Memory Landscapes, points to the significance of location—of the spatial—as central to the project’s aims to map and make visible the relationships between survivors and locations related to 1965 and subsequent years (locations include places in which people were detained, imprisoned, tortured, murdered, or buried).

[image 1]

Mapping Memory Landscapes: object-oriented relations

Such an emphasis on visualizing historical information based on a thing-based ontology could work as a useful documentary accompaniment to survivor testimonies and an efficacious method, especially in light of recent developments in debates related to the 1965 killings. On April 18–19, 2016, Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister, Luhut Panjaitan, opened a 2-day conference, “National Symposium: Dissecting the 1965 Tragedy, Historical Approach,” bringing together individuals from opposing sides of the spectrum, including survivors, scholars, activists, government officials, and members of the military. Even though the symposium was itself a breakthrough in being the first meeting in Indonesia dedicated to discussing the 1965 tragedy, the event was troubling on many levels. Heart wrenching stories from survivors who demanded an apology from the government were met with all too familiar expressions of denial: a retired general suggested that only one person in Central Java was killed during his military operation there, while Panjaitan challenged the extent of the killings by asking the audience where the graves are located if a massacre did, indeed, take place. Panjaitan later adamantly stated that no apology or reconciliation is possible unless the mass graves are located. The importance of location in confronting the history of 1965 is of particular interest here. Mapping Memory Landscapes’ emphasis on every entity as an object, coupled with an aerial, drone’s eye view of the map of Indonesia, afford it a visual representation that does not rely on the affective and the subjective. As a mapping project, it makes visible those sites out of sight, the places that have not yet been represented visually in this format. When considered alongside other historical accounts and testimonies, the project can offer another layer of information related to the events surrounding the 1965–66 tragedy.

If, however, “the work done by the union of the digital and the humanities… will not be in the clearing… but rather, […] in the shadows,” 16. then Mapping Memory Landscapes presents a challenging and fascinating conundrum in its representation of memory landscapes, and of history. To elucidate shadows in a historical archive requires knowledge production that allows us to understand the texts and contexts surrounding the events, to see difference, and to discover narratives that have been kept in the dark; in a way, it is about “the desire to speak with the dead.” 17. An object-oriented approach to history, or thing-based ontology, however, runs the risk of obfuscating the historical context and particularities that are crucial when revisiting tragedies like the 1965–66 killings. Theorists of object-oriented ontology have described the impenetrable nature of objects, that “objects are withdrawn from one another and from themselves.” 18. Ian Bogost has called such withdrawal “elusiveness,” 19. and as he points out OOO founder Graham Harman’s statement, “things recede into inaccessible, private depths.” 20. Indeed, the difficulty of interpreting relations between nodes on the map parallels and is an indication of the students’ struggle with representing the non-verbal reactions that happened during the interviews, to which the researchers responded by creating a new category, “moment,” for classifying such emotions. Such a dilemma reveals the attendant limitations to visualizing history in information aesthetics; as Alex Galloway notes in his essay on network visualization, “there are some things that are unrepresentable.” 21. The nuances that cannot get marked up—the gestures, the affect—elide the role of survivor testimony, and lies outside the realm of what is visible in data visualization.

[img 2]

Mapping Memory Landscapes Data Model

One of the dangers of using a thing-based ontology in this case, therefore, has to do with a myopic view of an object’s perceived inaccessibility, which might serve to only further mystify history and render it inscrutable. In his criticism of OOO, McKenzie Wark states, “the futural, essential, withdrawn object becomes the fetish, at the expense not only of any particular sensory one, but of the collaborative praxis needed to work these partial, mediated apprehensions that are the real into some workable relation to each other.” 22. The mystification of history and potential fetishization of unfathomability may thus render the database of information and narratives unknowable in Mapping Memory Landscapes, with nodes on a map that indicate important relations and networks with regard to the killings, but that inadvertently—and perhaps unintentionally—flatten the complex, layered, and subjective aspects of that history. Other than indicating the spatial, what do the nodes signify, and what kinds of relationships are being drawn across the map?

Wark’s critique is all the more uncanny here, as Nodegoat is a collaborative research platform, and Mapping Memory Landscapes is itself a participatory research project; yet, at the same time, its object-oriented approach blurs the importance and necessity of such a collaborative praxis and endeavor because of the method with which it gets carried out, and in fact reinforces the impossibility and challenge of historical representation. Are some things really unrepresentable? One thing that this failure reminds us, though, is that data is never transparent or pure. Speaking of the challenges in structures of information and modes of knowledge production, Virginia Kuhn notes that some kinds of knowledges “cannot, and should not be codified.” 23. What is not reflected in the data visualization provokes a critical reflection of the realms of the visible and the non-visible—the politics of visibility—and how we can think deeply about the traces embedded in the haunted media that surrounds us, traces that are not readily visible by wave length optics, and that a digital platform may not be able to fully visualize and represent. As David Kim writes, “all spatial phenomena [is] comprised of intersecting layers of ‘reality,’ ” 24. and we cannot simply take everything we see positivistically as empirical realism. At the onset, an object-oriented ontology makes it difficult to have an analysis of difference and of the contrapuntal in its fetishization of an object’s withdrawn, unknowable quality.

Despite the problems with the methodology used by Mapping Memory Landscapes, however, the project is notable for its well-intentioned efforts in revisiting a silenced past and in striving to present new ways of thinking about the 1965 killings in a relational network that has not been done before. The project website states that “since there is no combined narrative in place on the killings and suffering around 1965, this project may function as a first step that enables a more inclusive approach in addressing this episode in Indonesian history.” 25. Although Mapping Memory Landscapes is the first of its kind to present and visualize data from the 1965 killings in a digital mapping project, it is incomplete to read on its own, and the project has to be taken into account with other existing projects such as the Indonesian Institute of Social History’s Oral History Project, whose research spans more than sixteen years, gathering hundreds of interviews with survivors from 1965 (including women’s stories, which have been the least heard and known about).

Comparative DH & Pedagogies

To consider these different projects together ultimately provides the most inclusive approach to history, and to excavating the archive of the nation. A comparative analysis of survivor testimonies from both the Indonesian Institute of Social History (ISSI) Oral History Project and Mapping Memory Landscapes would offer valuable pedagogical function and an exploration of the transformative knowledge that may have emerged from the exchanges between the UNIKA student researchers and interviewees. Reading the two projects side by side is to also take an expansive view of the digital humanities, one that emphasizes a historical approach and puts social justice concerns at the forefront.

Furthermore, understanding the inextricable link between such projects serves as an intervention in the typically Western and Anglophone formulations of the genealogies of DH. Tara McPherson has pointed out the lack of diversity in DH projects: “We must take seriously the question, why are the digital humanities so white?” 26. I argue that a robust understanding of DH must pay attention to the vital intersections of digital culture and social justice, and to works that may not name themselves or be named DH—again, this is about the politics of visibility. In this case, the ISSI Oral History Project is one that eludes the mainstream DH world, not because it lacks value, but because of its minimal level of global circulation and exposure in North America, as well as a myriad of infrastructural issues having to do with institutional, technical, cultural, and political contexts.

On the other hand, as a data visualization project built on a platform by LAB1100 (a research and development lab in the Netherlands well connected to digital humanities practitioners), Mapping Memory Landscapes is readily recognizable as DH and legible to a Western audience. In fact, I got to know the project precisely through a North American network of digital humanities scholars. My contention, therefore, is that reading these two projects together is one way to approach the digital humanities as a global, comparative, and transnational field, rather than—as it typically assumed—one whose main focus is Western and Anglophone digital productions. Knowledge is situated, and one must be able to traverse the various types of knowledges that are formed in different scales of productions.

The pedagogical function of the Indonesian Institute of Social History (ISSI) online archive is explicit—for the ISSI, it has a mission to bridge the gap with the younger generation born decades after the 1965 tragedy, most of whom do not know about the history of 1965.

[img 3]

Indonesian Institute of Social History, Oral History Project

Mobilizing these stories and histories by making them accessible online opens up the archive as a dynamic, generative site that makes possible a collective cultural and political expression. The research value of the ISSI online archive is manifested in the various educational resources they make available for educators and students, as well as the larger public.

[img 4]

Indonesian Institute of Social History:

“Through the Lens,” an interactive timeline of Oey Hay Djoen’s life

Through the Lens, 27. for instance, uses the archive of photographs and documents that the ISSI has been entrusted with by the family of Oey Hay Djoen, 28. a Chinese-Indonesian cultural revolutionary whose life history forms the basis of the interactive timeline. The Indonesian Institute of Social History’s co-director, Hilmar Farid, has spoken about the use of visual artifacts, like the digitized photographs, as a critical part of the ISSI’s mission to bridge the gap between the Indonesian community and Indonesia’s history. Making multimedia accessible for people to engage with and learn from, as Farid says, opens up spaces for more people to access the history in dynamic ways. 29. The interactive timeline is a key part of the pedagogical use of the archive, a way of encouraging students to fill the timeline with their own experiences, and to knit their stories with the nation’s larger history.

The potential of the ISSI online archive in unburying lost voices from the 1965 tragedy is not, however, without practical factors that might pose a barrier to those who want to engage with the materials in the archive. During the Institute’s inception, the group wanted an infrastructure that could safely store and archive the interviews and other materials gathered in their research. The progress in getting the online archive more fully populated with the materials in their repository, however, has been slow. As Ratih says, getting the interviews and testimonies digitized in the online archive has been halted due to infrastructure and labor issues: the lack of a reliable computer technician and programmer, for instance, has a lot to do with how much the archive can grow and get utilized by the community. 30. Indeed, “digital” does not always mean that it is always already networked or online.

While the ISSI is doing important work in obtaining and documenting survivor testimonies and visual materials, practical considerations such as labor, funding, and infrastructure are issues that often get in the way of the sustainability, efficacy, and dissemination of digital projects. These are issues that often make or break a digital project, and that eventually force the challenge of what kinds of projects, then, should have access to funds and resources, which in turn will determine a project’s visibility or invisibility. The Indonesian Institute of Social History archive, therefore, highlights these significant issues that haunt all humanities projects in very real ways, but especially the digital humanities as a field, given the technological background and needs.

For now, the oral histories and testimonies exist in the online archive in the form of transcriptions, or summaries. Even though it may be a challenge to access the testimonies in their oral and video formats (the more dynamic formats are currently only accessible in the ISSI office in Jakarta, Indonesia), the value of the existence of a compilation of hundreds of survivor and eyewitness testimonies cannot be underestimated. The very fact that the oral testimonies have to, for the time being, remain in a physical repository with some degree of protection serves as a reminder that not all digital projects can be assumed to always be openly available to the public, despite the purported democratization of access in 21st century media, or the digital humanities ethos of openness and accessibility. What is at stake is the issue of agency: what is an archive for, who does it empower, and who gets left out? When such an archive deals with a difficult history that is still not yet past, accessibility and representation become critical issues of contention, and as I will discuss in the next section, it is no accident that some cultural productions—depending on where they are made, who makes them, and who funds them—gain traction, while others do not.

Poetics of Remix

In 2013, together with the Common Room Networks Foundation in Java, EngageMedia (a non-profit, transpacific media, technology, and culture organization) organized the Video Slam 2013: Remixing the 1965 State Propaganda Film, 31. a project that brought together local videomakers in Indonesia to remix Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Treachery of G30S/PKI),, a harrowing film endorsed by Suharto’s New Order regime depicting the purported violence of the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) in murdering six generals, and the alleged involvement of the Gerwani (Indonesian Women’s Movement) in the coup d’état. The film runs for a hefty 4.5 hours, and was required viewing for all Indonesians until the New Order era ended. It was by far “the single most-broadcast Indonesian film and, if the ratings for 30 September 1997 can be trusted, it is also, almost without doubt, the single most-watched Indonesian film.” 32. Indeed, this particular film was the most influential media artifact produced and disseminated by Suharto’s regime. As state propaganda, it showed the Indonesian Communist Party as bloodthirsty killers, and the Indonesian Women’s Movement as corrupt and violent women full of lust and rage (in one scene, they are shown to gouge out the eyes of the generals and also castrate them, after which they celebrated by dancing around the generals’ dead bodies). Ariel Heryanto notes that the “New Order state terrorism [was linked to] its enthusiastic investment in film as a popular medium for its propaganda machine.” 33. The significance of the connection between film as a visual medium and the history of the 1965 killings, therefore, cannot be overlooked.

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EngageMedia, Video Slam Project (2013)

This section calls attention to the significance of the power of film and digital video in Indonesia, and how people have responded to historical trauma by means of video making and remixing Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Treachery of G30S/PKI).. Any discussion of the place of digital media, and of the question of the digital humanities, in Indonesia must include a reflection on how film has played a major part in the shaping of the nation’s culture, both in the ways in which the state has appropriated it for its specific agendas and also how filmmakers, scholars, artists, and activists have found ways to react to a silenced and traumatic history. Heryanto writes,

Not all things are enforced top-down from a major industry to the rest of the population. From the first decade of the century, young Indonesians across many islands of the archipelago discovered a new preoccupation with making shorts and documentary films with extremely low budget and simple digital devices. 34.

In the world of film and video making, we can find the intersection of the power of digital media technologies and the spirit of experimentation and innovation that, perhaps, harkens back to Sukarno’s assertions about technology and the revolutionary in his A Year of Living Dangerously speech. Indeed, “circulation on the Internet of dissident readings of a propaganda film… makes these readings at once accessible, collective and political.” 35.

In Remix Theory, Eduardo Navas writes that “remix affects culture in ways that go beyond the basic understanding of recombining material to create something different.” With the affordances of technology, remix allows (prod)users to reuse and recombine existing elements in order to make something new. Video remix itself is not a wholly new theory and practice, and has roots in and an affinity with other creative practices such as sampling in music. Furthermore, the affordances of digital technology provide ways of reusing and recombining semiotic elements that result in a production that is similar to and an extension of theories like Bertolt Brecht’s “refunctioning” (Umfunktionierung).. Brecht’s “functional transformation,” as Walter Benjamin describes in his essay “The Author as Producer,” has similarities with remix in its work of changing the form and material of an apparatus as a revolutionary practice. For Brecht, “functional transformation” is “the transformation of the forms and instruments of production by a progressive intelligentsia—interested in the liberation of the means of production and thus useful in the class struggle.” 36. Such a formulation of the transformation of a cultural object seems closer to, for instance, Sukarno’s idea of an autonomous technology, and “refunctioning” in the service of changing the status quo is critically important for my understanding of remix as a theory and practice that can, indeed, shape and transform society. Remix, too, has parallels with tactical media, which “operates both at the level of technological apparatus and at the level of content and representation… [and is] not simply about reappropriating the instrument but also about reengineering semiotic systems and reflecting critically on institutions of power and control.” 37.

Here, however, I want to point out a key difference that sets remix apart as a cultural and technological practice. I argue that remix, in its use, recombination, and rearticulation of disparate elements (text, image, sound, video, etc.), thrives in its affective and sensuous aesthetic and experiential qualities. Indeed, remix exists in an “emergent discursive space” 38. that allows for a transformation of not just form, function, and content, but also of the experience itself. It is a form of critique and making that is at once technological, cultural, critical, and affective. Remix possesses, in its theory and practice, a poetics that goes beyond mere function.

Even though Edward Said does not explicitly address the concept of remix, it is through his works that I find the most useful and transformative ways of thinking about what remix can achieve, and how remix can be used in ethically powerful ways. As Said writes about the contrapuntal, “each cultural work is a vision of a moment, and we must juxtapose that vision with the various revisions it later provoked.” 39. The contrapuntal as site of resistance, as articulated by Said in Culture and Imperialism, provides a productive lens through which we can think about how remix can rethink master narratives. Said, as a lover and critic of music, utilizes the musical notion of the contrapuntal, where two or more distinct melodies form a polyphony, as a critical practice. Furthermore, the contrapuntal, or counterpoint, also refers to the backstitch in sewing techniques, where stitches overlap and are not consecutively sewn, but rather in a back and forth (non)sequence. The contrapuntal, like remix, has to do with bringing together oppositional perspectives and thinking through disparate experiences: it is as much a knitting together as it is a tearing apart. Beyond the contrasting visions that take into account both power and resistance, the contrapuntal has roots in cultural activities like knitting and music, which highlight the haptic, the affective, and care, making a concept like the contrapuntal deeply provocative and effective for a potentially ethical practice that allows for polyvocality.

Said also calls for an intellectual spirit of amateurism that he defines as “an activity that is fueled by care and affection,” and one that calls for a contrapuntal—and perhaps collaborative—ethics. Amateurism is “the desire to be moved not by profit or reward but by love for an unquenchable interest in the larger picture, in making connections across lines and barriers.” 40. Said’s definition of amateurism inspires and pushes my understanding of how remix can be a form of making, practice, and theory that is critical, creative, and mindful of its relations to the world. With its emphasis on care and love, amateurism is motivated by the origins of the word itself: amateur comes from the Latin amare, to love, and it is in this spirit that Said sets out to address the role of the intellectual and the ways in which the stifling pressures of professionalism could be countered by amateurism. Roland Barthes also discusses the amateur as someone who “renews his pleasure (amator: one who loves and loves again); he is anything but a hero (of creation or performance).” 41. The amateur or the remixer, therefore, is someone who takes care in their craft.

The Video Slam project itself demonstrates such a practice of amateurism like the one Said describes. Admittedly, the video remixes are a little rough around the edges, and have an “amateur,” low-budget quality to them; this is also due to the fact that most of the videomakers have little experience, and for some of the younger ones, watching the state propaganda film The Treachery of G30S/PKI was their first time. As Maya Deren asserts, amateur filmmaking does not mean that they are inferior to more professional productions: “Instead of envying the script and dialogue writers, the trained actors, the elaborate staffs and sets, the enormous production budgets of the professional film, the amateur should make use of the one great advantage which all professionals envy him, namely, freedom - both artistic and physical.” 42. The choice of having amateur videomakers produce these remixes is a powerful aspect of the Video Slam, and much like a poetry slam, these videos have an improvisational and performative quality that come across through their use of sound, footages, text, and music.

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Screenshot from “Don’t Be Afraid to Dance” (“Jangan Takut Menari”) by Azizah Hanum

In one of the video remixes, “Don’t Be Afraid to Dance” by Azizah Hanum, selected footages from The Treachery of G30S/PKI are set to two kinds of music—dangdut, a genre of Indonesian traditional music for dancing, and the song “Come Walk With Me” by M. I.A, the popular South Asian English artist and rapper from England. Hanum’s rhetorical choices are purposeful and intelligent, and serve to ridicule the spectacle of the state propaganda film. The text laid over the footages as commentary (such as the screenshot above), is often humorous and flippant, and the catchy tunes of the soundtrack are stark and absurd contrasts to the harrowing and violent scenes in the film. Incidentally, M. I.A’s high energy track, “Come Walk With Me,” is also a song about the internet, surveillance, and digital technology: the lyrics “there’s a thousand ways to meet you now/there’s a thousand ways to track you down” are paired with M. I.A’s use of the sound an Apple computer makes when one turns up the volume, beeping sounds when the computer alerts a user of a problem, and the iPhoto capture sound. One can only speculate whether or not Hanum made the conscious decision to choose this particular song as an additional commentary on both the invasive and networked nature of technology, but that choice has proven to be a fitting and well-made one, especially considering the activist and participatory-driven work behind the video project.

By highlighting Indonesia’s troubled history and how orchestrated the state-driven narratives are, the video remixers call attention to the boundaries between fact and fiction, as well to the constructedness of the state propaganda film itself. As Hill and Sen point out, the growing number of public discussions of 1965 through media such as the Internet demonstrates how “in the context of this increasingly open political dissent that disorderly, ‘against the grain’ readings of some films become visible and viable as political activity.” 43. In opening up a space for further dialogue about a traumatic part of the nation’s history that has been silenced, the remixes are forms of contrapuntal making that uncover stories from communities that have been excluded and silenced, and are a tribute to the bodies that have vanished and been obliterated. As the videos suggest, there is no one single narrative or memory of the genocide—there are only distortions of the truth, and erasures of what really happened in 1965–66.

The Video Slam remixes have not only been facilitated by new media technologies, but also propelled by increasing political dissatisfaction of the citizens; such “dissident readings and their circulation on the Internet [also] indicated some of the cracks in the New Order’s methods of media control, including its governance of cinema through censorship and propaganda.” 44. These digital video projects, therefore, transform the landscape of cinema in Indonesia and transcend the limits set by the state on filmmaking practices and film content. In redefining the creator as both a reader and maker of culture, remix also blurs the boundaries between reader and writer, author and audience. The possibility for polyvocal representation is an enactment of “the essence of counterpoint [as] simultaneity of voices, preternatural control of resources, apparently endless inventiveness.” 45. Within the cultural economy of digital media and in the space of the Internet, the video remixes function as a transformative mode of knowledge production, embodying the spirit of revolution that was invoked so powerfully in A Year of Living Dangerously.

Nevertheless, even the affordances of technological platforms such as the EngageMedia website and YouTube (where these videos are housed)—both of which have a wide global audience—may not be enough to give small, alternative projects such as the Video Slam the circulation, exposure, and recognition that other projects related to 1965 might get. What makes a project travel widely, and what makes others stay within the reach of local communities? Here, it is worthwhile to articulate the disparity between different works dealing with Indonesia’s history of 1965. As I have argued, one cannot talk about the role of digital media in Indonesia without thinking about film; I want to point out the lines of connection between projects such as the Video Slam and the Indonesian Institute of Social History’s Oral History Project with works like Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing and its sequel The Look of Silence, which have gained international attention and heightened a worldwide awareness of the 1965–66 killings having taken place in Indonesia.

To return to the question of “why DH is so white” (and so male) is to reflect on the issue of recognition I am raising here. It is no accident that these films gained immediate, global success, as films that have been made by white male filmmakers (including Werner Herzog as producer, which lends a certain kind of perceived legitimacy and prestige to the films), reflecting an inequality of power in terms of how cultural productions get made, circulated, and received by the larger public. In an essay published in the Film Quarterly’s special dossier on The Act of Killing, Intan Paramaditha writes,

The Act of Killing is not the only source from which to learn about Indonesia’s bleak history; instead, it has to be seen as a starting point to identify what has and has not been done. The film’s most valuable contribution to Indonesia, which has not been surpassed by previous projects of its kind, is the capacity to make the issue travel. In the postcolonial context, particularly, travel ensures legitimacy. 46.

Travel does ensure legitimacy and exposure, and Paramaditha’s statement actually points to the problem of representation and who gets to say what: Oppenheimer’s strategy in distributing the film, in enabling the film to travel through various technological platforms (BitTorrent, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube) is something that no Indonesian can do safely—hence the rolling credits of the “Anonymous” Indonesian crew, for the circulation of 1965-related materials is still as stringently regulated and monitored as it was during the New Order era, despite increased democracy in the country. The fact that Oppenheimer was able to disseminate his work without repercussion reveals the imbalanced distribution of agency; thus, as I have argued, there must be space for comparative readings of different kinds of projects, in order for there to be possible a transformative approach to digital humanities and digital media that is attentive to difference.


Ann Stoler’s notion of “archiving-as-process” and her work on how “contrapuntal intrusions emanated from outside the corridors of governance [and] erupted… within that sequestered space” of the archive 47. provide a critical and nuanced foundation for my formulations on how these digital projects generate transformative, emergent archives beyond what the New Order state established in post–1965, post-genocide Indonesia—these are projects that make impossible stories possible. My contention is that thinking about technology and how it functions in various contexts is always a negotiation between insides and outsides; as Jacques Derrida writes, “But where does the outside commence? This question is the question of the archive. There are undoubtedly no others.” 48. Where the outside begins is a question that must persist and continue to be asked again and again, particularly whenever one thinks about, accesses, and uses an archive. A thinking of the outside, however, always starts with the inside, rendering the play of inside and outside more a question of finding the gaps, breaks, and middles.

While examining how these projects emerge from the liminal spaces of silence and trauma, and challenge the politics of seeing and knowing in radical ways, I have been inspired by Lauren Klein’s essay on archival silences, where her forensic eye and thoughtful use of digital tools uncovers the silent voice of James Heming, Thomas Jefferson’s former slave, in Jefferson’s letters. 49. As Wendy Chun notes of Klein’s essay, Klein’s particular use of digital methods and techniques, including computational linguistics and data visualization, epitomizes how the digital “can be used to grapple with the impossible, rather than simply usher in the possible.” 50. A writing and thinking from the shadows, an imagining that is revolutionary: here, Klein sharply observes that going beyond the limits of the digital necessitates a rethinking of how and what we know (hence, an object-oriented ontology of withdrawn objects will not suffice as it erases praxis and knowledge production). She writes, “Illuminating [the connections between persons and networks of communication and labor], through digital means, reframes the archive itself as a site of action rather than as a record of fixity or loss.” 51. A careful and critical engagement with digital tools and methods, therefore, can make visible the absences, and activate the shadowed restlessness in the archive.

In a “Representing Race: Silence in the Digital Humanities” panel, Alondra Nelson asked astutely, “What does a transformed archive look like?” 52. My contention is that a transformed archive has to exist in the collective, the transnational, the digital, and the contrapuntal.Laurie Sears writes that “as old archives are reconfigured and new ones come into being, it is important to cultivate new interpretive methodologies along with new accumulations of data and stories.” 53. Thinking, theorizing, imagining, and creating an alternative archive necessitate first understanding the archive as a concept that has built within it the element of anticipation, a sense that it is more than just a repository of records, but a shared space that can support collaboration among users, as well as a transformation of ideas.

The question of making a nation’s history (that has thus far been shrouded in denial and silence) relevant to the larger community is one of negotiating how materials in the archive function in the broader social world. Indeed, it becomes a question of ethics. We must, as Derrida suggests, move beyond “an archivable concept of the archive,” for the archive is not only about the past, but also “a question of the future itself, the question of a response, of a promise and of the responsibility for tomorrow.” 54. The archive in digital spaces exist in an economy of circulation, modification, and change—a kind of logic that has, perhaps, always been present in the concept of the archive as Stoler’s description of the colonial archives erupting reveal, and as Michel Foucault’s formulation of the archive as “the general system of the formation and transformation of statements” suggest. 55.

The ongoing collections of personal stories, information, and testimonies relating to the 1965 tragedy, together with a growing mass of exciting digital media productions and online archives in Indonesia, will be vital in revisiting and reinterpreting a traumatic past and history that deserve to be regained by different individuals and communities who have not had the chance to speak up, and whose lives have been in the shadows during much of the New Order era. What is needed is something akin to what Nadav Hochman and Lev Manovich call “multi-scale reading,” the ability to analyze and interpret data in terms of “both large scale patterns and the particular unique trajectories, without sacrificing one for another,” 56. as well as what Matthew Kirschenbaum calls the “forensic imagination,” 57. an imagination not just dedicated forensically to the darkest of depths and shadows, but also devoted to the forensis, or forum, the public. A more robust understanding of the various ways that digital media productions function in Indonesia’s social, cultural, and political contexts necessitates an “awareness of the mechanism,” 58. to borrow William Gibson’s words, although it would not be a perception that is “absolutely alone,” as Gibson writes in Agrippa (A Book of the Dead), but an awareness borne out of a commitment to the collective; the polyvocal; the voices of the dead and the missing; the stories of those that have been marginalized, persecuted, and exiled; and the future generations to come.

These digital projects are works “fueled by care and affection,” and by the intellectual spirit that Said calls amateurism. If such an articulation becomes the basis for an alternative digital humanities that is attentive to projects existing on the periphery, to social justice, to projects that may not be named “DH,” is there, then, still a need to name them as such, under the big tent, capital lettered DH? Or, we could perhaps imagine and articulate a humanities that is always in the offing—a digital humanities that is a diligent humanities, attentive to the indignant and to indigenous, local knowledge productions, for to be diligent (from the Latin diligere) is not only to persist, but to love what one is doing, without compromise, and with a commitment to building relations despite and especially because of differences.


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Punching Holes in the International Busa Machine Narrative

Arun Jacob

The fabled origin story of humanities computing takes place in 1946 when Jesuit Priest Father Roberto Busa and Thomas J. Watson Sr. the C. E. O. of International Business Machines (IBM) meet, exchange pleasantries and lay the groundwork for producing an index of the complete writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Winter 1999). Busa and Watson’s meeting marks the genesis of the field since the theologian was able to acquire the material, technical and financial support from the technocrat in order to engage in his scholarly endeavor, developing a linguistic corpus using computing technologies. This illustrious digitization project of sorting and indexing eleven million words of medieval Latin in the works of St. Thomas Aquinas produced a touchstone for humanities computing the Index Thomisticus (Hockey 2004). Busa along with IBM technicians developed machine-readable concordances and in the process producing a bibliography that was searchable through a telephonic coupler. Busa’s pioneering work “exploring the concept of presence according to Thomas Aquinas” (Busa 1980) was accomplished by repurposing business machines developed primarily for record-keeping to generate automated concordances has been widely celebrated as the genesis of the field of humanities computing later christened digital humanities.

In this paper I will be studying how the cultural memory of Fr. Roberto Busa’s humanities computing project has been shaped, formed and contoured in contemporary digital humanities scholarly discourse. By broaching the topic of the provenance of computational approaches to humanities and by revisiting the origins of the traditions and practices of computer assisted text analysis it becomes evident how as Torgovnick claims, “As part of a social bargain, individuals and groups agree to look away from unsettling histories, which then form the latent contents of cultural memory - not erased from memory (Halbwachs’s concept) so much as a consequential, even active absence: the hole, to put it colloquially, that completes the donut, necessary for the donut’s very shape” (Torgovnick 2008). By studying the narrative arcs that lead up to and/or are left out from the genealogical history of the field of digital humanities I hope to offer a counter-hegemonic cultural memory. My narrative critique stems from locating the genesis of the field of humanities computing at the feet of Busa and venerating him as the great man of digital humanities. Taking my cue from Ramon Reichert’s assertion that neither Busa’s research question nor his methodological procedure was novel (Reichert 2017). I trace the lineage of the field of study by teasing out the longer history of the computing infrastructure that was at Busa’s disposal and critically perusing the media archeology of punch-card technologies through curated corporate histories and their relation to cultural memories.

The conventional historiography that pivots around Busa’s founding father storyline and his savoir-faire silences the socio-econo-political lived realities of the space/time where and when work on humanities computing took place. Haunting the timeline when Busa was working on the Index Thomisticus include details 1. like how during World War II Busa served as a military chaplain in the auxiliary corps of the Italian Army from 1940–1943 (Passarotti 2013). As a graduate student in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome working on his dissertation on Thomistic theology Busa, was seemingly unaffected being “surrounded by bombings, Germans, partisans, poor food and disasters of all sorts” (Busa 1980). I found it quite disconcerting that a man of the cloth was so socially disaffected by the catastrophes happening around him. Zygmunt Bauman theorizes that in a bureaucracy moral concerns are not matters that are discussed; rather, the object of bureaucratic labour is to produce flawless work (Bauman 1989). The excellence with which the task is performed is the only metric of concern for the bureaucrat, there is no room for ethical concerns in this operational paradigm. I would opine that Busa’s research project is symptomatic of the schemata that Bauman describes in his apparent lack of social concern. As much as the field of digital humanities owes to its founding father, it is worth explicating that Busa’s pioneering research in humanities computing resides at the intersection of the workings of three gargantuan bureaucracies; academia, the Catholic Church and the IBM corporation. As a Jesuit priest Busa reported to the ecclesiastical office of Pope Pius XII and in his industry-university collaborative endeavor he liaised with Thomas J. Watson Sr. the CEO of IBM. Both Pope Pius XII and Thomas Watson leave behind very troubling legacies and unsettling histories vis-à-vis their respective relationships with the Third Reich (Cornwell 2008; Ventresca 2013; O’Shea 2011; Black 2012).

The sanitized digital humanities origin story fails to acknowledge the provenance of the punch card technology and the purpose for which the technologies were socially constructed. Before there was humanities computing, however, there was computational social science. The IBM punch-card technology used by Busa has had its history of being used by Nazi regime wiped clean from digital humanities historiographies. I am of the opinion that if we are to acknowledge punch-card technology as an essential part of the genesis of digital humanities, we must be cognizant of the logic of hierarchy and inequality that is baked into the history of the punch cards. IBM punch cards were the data processing technology used by the Third Reich to instrumentalize race science, operationalize surveillance and in the process automation of human extermination (Black 2012). IBM president Thomas J. Watson, Order of the German Eagle recipient and president of the International Chamber of Commerce in 1937 was personally involved in the IBM’s project management of Hitler’s extermination campaign (Black 2012; Maney 2003). The New-Deal policies that curtailed American corporate operations in Europe did not affect IBM because of the personal relationships that Watson had cultivated with US Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower (Maney 2003; Stebenne 2005). IBM subsidiaries were fully functional at the time of World War II and operating the business ventures through units in Germany and Switzerland (Stebenne 2005). IBM’s German subsidiary Dehomag (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH - German Hollerith Machines LLC) redesigned the Hollerith punch cards originally used in the Hollerith Machine to electronically tabulate census returns to track people and perform the information and tabulation tasks required to operationalize the holocaust by the Third Reich (Black 2012). Using Dehomag’s punch-card technology the Third Reich was able to operationalize the final solution precisely and accurately on account of the superior information processing and database management systems that IBM’s cybernetic infrastructure provided. The rationality of the bureaucrats who were looking for the most efficient and effective system to the exterminate the Jews during World War II explicate how technology and ideology were sutured together under Nazism. Dehomag’s technical expertise yokes the Nazi system of totalitarian control and coordination to the vulgar extreme of IBM’s capitalist enterprise.

My own research endeavor is in locating the Torgovnickian absent-presence in the origin story of digital humanities. Engaging in a hauntological reading of the great man narrative, I hope to unveil the spectral revenants that lurk underneath the surface by carefully teasing out the provenance of the punch card technology, the particularities of the political-economy within which the technology emerged and historically contextualizing the social and cultural affordances that enabled the technology to be adopted. By mobilizing Paul Ricœur’s ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ I will be peering into the nooks and crannies of the cultural record for what has been left out and/or unsaid from the cannons of digital humanities to argue that by identifying some of the socio-cultural contexts that shaped Busa’s work and probing these contexts further reveals how this domain of research emerged (Ricœur 2004). By recalling, recollecting, and remembering the cultural legacies of the genesis of humanities computing I wish to suture the problematic histories of Busa’s project to the contemporary technoscape and unsettle the original disciplinary narrative. I am of the opinion that it is worth investing some scholarly energies into cultivating an ‘ethics of memory’ to critically peruse the culture, climate and values of the space/time from where the Index Thomisticus originated and inculcating in digital humanists a ‘duty to remember’ a more nuanced origin story with blemishes, flaws and follies and all (Ricœur 2004).

I found that the most fertile ground from where to begin analyzing the relation of history and memory in Busa’s narrative was by critically reviewing a gap in the literature that stemmed from his own admission of ignorance when he wrote,

Although some say that I am the pioneer of the computers in the humanities, such a title needs a good deal of nuancing… [O]n the stacks of the IBM library in New York City I had spotted a book (whose title I have forgotten), which was printed some time between 1920 and 1940: in it someone mentioned that it was possible to make lists of names by means of punched cards. (Busa 1980)

The founding father of the discipline of digital humanities openly confessing that he was aware that someone else at IBM had created machine-generated concordances several years prior to his own attempts was at once both intriguing and infuriating to me. What was the object of including such a vague and inchoate statement in this piece? While reading this passage I began asking myself is it possible this man was feigning ignorance of the origins of machine generated concordances? Was there malicious intent on Busa’s part in excluding the details of the progenitor of the IBM punch card technology? Busa who has been described on several occasions as a meticulous and methodical researcher to have written such a sloppy entry signaled to me that something was terribly awry (Passarotti 2013; Winter 1999; Rockwell 2016; Gold 2012). For a scholar revered as an academic giant in the fields of philological, linguistic, and literary computing to leave out crucial details such as the title of the book he read, the author of the aforementioned book, the publication year, etc. did seem very peculiar and made it seem that something was amiss. This intuition prompted me to pursue the spectral voices haunting Busa’s academic legacy and destabilizing the narrative built around the Index Thomisticus. I was transfixed by the question what could possibly have been Busa’s rationale for obfuscating the aforementioned text and/or obliterating the cultural record in the process?

I gathered it was essential to acquaint myself with the punch card technology that Busa was working with, namely the IBM 858 Cardatype accounting machines, a series of storage-and-retrieval devices. Busa mentions the 858 Cardatype by name in the text as the technology that he had access to in order to work on his project. But upon cross checking with the IBM Archives I noticed that the IBM 858 Cardatype was only developed in 1955 (Busa 1980). Nico Sprokel writes that Busa was working on his doctorate in 1942, writing index cards by hand to produce a lexicographic and linguistic corpus of the Index Thomisticus (Sprokel 1978). Since Busa’s project began several years prior to this particular make and model of the IBM punch card machine was in service I suspect Busa and his research team used earlier models of IBM machines over the years. In 1949, when Busa was commencing the project Thomas Winter writes that Busa seemed acutely aware of the nitty-gritty details of the specific workings of the technical venture. Busa was very knowledgeable of the appurtenances that he would need to accomplish the empirical undertaking (Winter 1999). I find it fascinating that a Jesuit priest had the project management skills and technological know-how to generate an engineering bill of materials that precisely met his project’s technical needs 2. . In Varia Specimina Busa’s first published report of the project he describes his research methodology and the technical glitches that he encountered while repurposing the punched card tabulators to work on his humanities computing project with a glint of techno-optimism shining through in his writing (Busa 1951). Busa’s technical prowess and intuitive knowledge of knowing the glitches that the IBM punch-cards would produce does suggest to me that he may have had an intimate working knowledge of these tabulating machines. How, when, and where Busa may have come in contact with punch-cards to have gained this prior knowledge about the technicalities of punch-cards and its engineering paraphernalia is something that has piqued my interest.

The IBM 858 Cardatype accounting machine that Busa mentions in his writing is an example of a turn-key solution IBM offered to its business customers (Busa 1980). IBM would offer to its business clients a turnkey computer system comprised of computer hardware, software and applications developed and sold specifically for the customer to meet the specific client’s requirements. Perusing the 858 Cardatype Accounting Machine catalogue 3. from August 20, 1957, I noticed that the machine was comprised of a control unit, a transmitting typewriter and non-transmitting typewriter, an auxiliary keyboard, a cardatype card punch, a tape punch, and an arithmetic unit. IBM marketed the 858 Cardatype Accounting Machine as a complete business solution and billed their customers for each of the aforementioned components separately. IBM did not sell their equipment to their customers; rather they leased the hardware to customers and offered a service and maintenance contract for the upkeep of the equipment. The tapes, ribbons, cards, etc. used in the ‘Accounting Machine’ were exclusive and proprietary to IBM.

I find Busa’s discursive slippage problematic because by using IBM’s sales and marketing term ‘Accounting Machine’ in his writing Busa glosses over the nuances of working with punch-card technologies, it is not a single machine this being deployed here rather it is a whole slew of machines, which are in turn then serviced by an army of IBM service personnel, organizational staff, administrative employees and key-punch operators. I’d argue that Busa’s choice of words indicates how little he valued the working people that laboured on the operation of the machine. This becomes obvious in Busa’s private disclosure to Edward Vanhoutte where it is described that, "[f]or his complete Index Thomisticus, Busa calculated that the stack of punch cards would have weighed 500 tonnes, occupying 108 m³ with a length of 90 m, a depth of 1 m, and a height of 1.20 m. By 1975, when the Index Thomisticus was completed and started to appear on 65,000 pages in 56 volumes (Busa, 1974–1980) some 10,631,973 tokens were processed” (Terras, Nyhan, and Vanhoutte 2013). The quantitative data that Busa produces about the punch cards are duly noted in the cultural record and presented as historical fact. While there is no acknowledgement of the labour that went into creating these punch cards. Each one of the punch cards that made up the 500 tonnes were each individually entered by female punch card operators. Punch card operators who completed an apprenticeship in Busa’s training institute in Milan, where they learned how to input, verify and interpret the keypunch operations. Melissa Terras writes that Busa chose females over males, preferably those did not know Latin make sure they were conscientious and would not insert their own interpretations into the text (Birnbaum, Bonde, and Kestemont 2017). There are photographs taken in Gallarate, Italy of female punch card operators working on Busa’s project. But these photographs 4. have not been catalogued properly, therefore, it is not possible to discern when they were taken and/or who are the subjects in the photographic texts. These female punch-card operators are the midwives of knowledge creation and they are left out of the origin story of digital humanities. I am of the opinion that is because Busa didn’t see himself as one of the working people who laboured on the research initiative that he preferred the corporate marketing discourse.

Busa’s use of IBM’s marketing jargon also suggests to me, where his loyalties were, who he swore allegiances to and who he associated himself with in the public-private partnership. IBM offered this research project material and financial support for several decades. I thought it would be abundantly clear to Busa, as a religious scholar in the Pontifical Gregorian University that publicly funded research ought be for public good not private benefit. Moreover, as a priest I expected Busa to value the link between Christianity, secular government, and society. To quote from the scriptures, in the Gospel according to Matthew, Christ says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21, KJV). Busa does not disclose in his writings the nature of the financial arrangement between IBM and the academic institution where his research project was housed. Geoffrey Rockwell writing about the Index Thomisticus mentions how our memory infrastructures are designed to preserve knowledge generated by projects without adequate knowledge of the workings of the project. He also notes that from the Busa archives it is evident that one of the side effects of having to obtain corporate sponsorship from IBM to conduct the project was that in return for bankrolling the project IBM was looking for influence and publicity (Rockwell 2016). I would maintain that Busa’s project was a corporate social responsibility project and public relations campaign for IBM.

Lars Heide points out that, “As early as 1926, IBM had decided not to base punched-card multiplications on an improved tabulator but to build a separate non-printing machine that could read figures from a punched card, perform the required arithmetic operations, and punch the outcome on the same or a successive card” (Heide 2009). This exemplifies IBM’s market-orientation to developing technological solutions. IBM did not pursue the more technically efficient and/or cost-effective engineering solution rather they invested their corporate energies into developing technologies that systemically prioritized the generation of profit over technical prowess. To this effect it was James W. Bryce’s design of having a separate punched-card multiplier that was patented in 1928 and implemented by IBM in the IBM Type 600 machine that was marketed in 1931 and upgraded to the Type 601 in 1931 to calculate multiplication and addition (Heide 2009). IBM punch-card machines were not streamlined for technical efficiency because the mission of the business venture was to maximize the number of number of punch-cards sold, therefore any process that would undermine the sale and commerce of punch-cards was antithetical to the corporate mission.

In 1928, Dehomag, IBM’s German subsidiary company had brought Austrian engineer Gustav Tauschek’s patent for a punched-card multiplier to the company’s attention. Tauschek had filed for the patent in Germany in 1926 and he was awarded the patent in 1928. IBM saw the potential in Tauschek’s patent and hired him on a contract from 1931 to 1935 as it bought up his numerous patents. IBM’s strategy in hiring Tauschek was to make sure that no rival would capitalize on his intellectual property. IBM had made such a move in the past as well when the company bought out John Thomas Schaaff’s electric typewriter and census tabulating machine patents and John Royden Peirce’s bookkeeping machine patents (Randall 1975; Heide 2009). In 1935 the United States Patent Office denied Gustav Tauschek’s patent application in the process denied him from gaining control of the rights to punched-card multiplication in the United States. Tauschek was let go from his contract at IBM around the same time as well. Meanwhile, IBM implemented several of Tauschek’s patents in their product line in the years to come (Heide 2009).

Gustav Tauschek was a technical wizard whose other inventions include the first electromagnetic drum storage device and patenting the technology for optical character recognition in 1929 (Cortada 2015). From 1926–1930, Tauschek worked for the military technology group Rheinmetall, (Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinenfabrik AG - Rhine Metalware and Machine Factory Joint-Stock Company) where he developed the electro-mechanical punched-card accounting machine. Tauschek’s punch-card machine prototype from 1928 was never mass produced and Rheinmetall sold off the company’s punch-card technologies to Dehomag, IBM’s German subsidiary (Cortada 2015). Even though Tauschek’s inventions never made it to market. I would imagine IBM acquired all the technical drawings, papers, monographs, and other writings that documented in detail how the punch-card technology could be operationalized. This leads me to believe that the mysterious book that Busa mentioned having come across in the book stacks of IBM’s corporate library could very well have been one of the the works of Gustav Tauschek. Since Tauschek’s writings about the punch-card machine prototype were now in the possession of IBM I am of the opinion that it is not beyond a reasonable doubt that Busa may have been referring to one of Tauschek’s texts that detailed a punch-cards use case scenario that could work for the machine-generated concordance project. By giving Tauschek credit for developing the tools and techniques that Busa would go on to use two to three decades later also requires taking into account the social, cultural, political and economic context from within which these technologies were researched and developed.

Rheinmetall, the company that Tauschek worked for, was an arms and ammunitions manufacturing firm. By acknowledging Tauschek as a pioneer in the field is to draw a direct link between humanities computing and the Nazi military-industrial complex. Dehomag, IBM’s German subsidiary was responsible for developing punch-card technologies for the Third Reich’s (Black 2012). Although the punch-card technology was used in census taking operations since the 1890s for processing and tabulating data (Pugh 1995) it was innovated upon, instrumentalized and weaponized to execute the race science and surveillance agenda of the Third Reich. IBM’s Dehomag was instrumental in the Nazi administrative efforts to record the vital statistics of every resident and coordinate and conduct a comprehensive surveillance programme that was intent on arriving at the Final Solution (Luebke and Milton 1994). Therefore, Busa was not merely repurposing business machines developed primarily for record-keeping, he was repurposing innovations in computing technologies developed by the military-industrial complex funded and used to operationalize the ideological agenda of the Nazi government.

I would argue that the allure of punch-cards and its technological innovations to both Busa and the Nazis as administrators and bureaucrats was its capacity to resolve the vexing problem of organizing a large ill-defined dataset. The punched-card technology served the utilitarian purpose of helping Busa find his way through a massive corpus of Latin words, sorting, sifting, and organizing his database just as it did support the Nazis locate and persecute targeted groups of people; Jews, Roma peoples, LGBT peoples, BIPOC, people with disabilities, labour unionists, anarchists, communists and artists. Both the priest and the Nazi empire were seduced by the same temptress, namely IBM and its modern market-ideology and “the practicality that confers the maximum priority to results, and forgets about the means used to reach those results” (Portillo and Costa 2010). In other words, IBM offered their clients an innovative business solution for their respective big data problems.

IBM’s prowess as I have noted before is not in providing their clients with the most technically elegant solutions but rather offering their client a market-ready solution from their existing stable of technology solutions and communicating to the client that the technology which is being marketed to them is the one best suited for them and the IBM technology will be the one to ameliorate all the clients’ predicaments. By this logic, it was not Busa that used the IBM punch-card technology on his lexical text analysis project but rather it was IBM that was looking to enter the textual analytics market. IBM found in Busa a client who would be an evangelist for their punch card technology solutions to others in his field of work. IBM was trading on Busa’s ecclesiastic credentials to purge the punch-card technology of its’ Nazi legacies. The punch-card system that IBM had sold to Busa was a tried, tested and true technology solution that had already gone through its product development stages. Popper and Buskirk breakdown the evolution of a technology through a marketplace, or technology lifecycle (TLC) into six basic phases: “cutting edge, state of the art, advanced, mainstream, mature, decline” (Popper and Buskirk 1992). At the time when Busa’s project was being initiated the punch-card was a mainstream product. I would speculate that IBM was trying to generate positive press coverage for its punch card technology through Busa and his humanities computing project. The media exposure 5. that IBM would receive for Busa’s project would connect punch-cards with the priest in the collective cultural memory.

The Index Thomisticus was at once both Busa’s research project and IBM public relations project. IBM provided Busa with an off-the-shelf technology for which they did not have to incur any additional new research and development costs. The various computing technologies that went into the punch-card machine had been previously developed and well established in the marketplace. IBM’s predecessor, Herman Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine Company had developed a system for compiling census statistics in the 1880s. The general statistics technology was developed in 1894 and been stabilized by 1907 leading to the creation of adding machines. Book-keeping technologies were developed in 1906. These calculating machines could add, subtract, multiply and divide and had market lifespan of 30 years or so. The punch card technology was developed in 1933 and stabilized by 1936 when the 80 column IBM cards were in production. Punch cards had a market lifespan of 30 years or so. The history of information systems based on punched cards is made possible firstly by the transnational memory network of patent laws and regulations that allowed one generation of product innovations to build upon the other (Mounier-Kuhn 2011; Heide 2009) and secondly by the material supplies necessary for the production of punch cards. IBM had a stranglehold on the bill of materials needed to produce the standardised product, including high quality paper which was not easily available during the World Wars. To comprehend the political economy of punch-cards is to understand the reification of power. This data processing technology that was capturing, circulating and storing data that was in turn becoming the raw material to feed the racial surveillance apparatus of the Third Reich. Aly and Heim (2002) explicate how the connections between “the politics of modernization and the politics of annihilation” can best be understood by focusing on how young, career-minded technocrats and academics were able to execute their plans because they were able to have their ideas sanctioned by those in the upper echelons of the National Socialist state hierarchy. The open and permeable information flows between the Nazi state and the technocratic apparatus enabled Gustav Tauschek’s and by extension Robrto Busa’s research to flourish.

I felt it becoming evident reading Busa’s account of how he used the IBM Punch Card machines to sequence, collate and correlate data from the Index Thomisticus that Busa was truly a technocrat at heart and a religious specialist only by vocational training. Edward Vanhoutte writes, “The story goes that Busa met Ellison around 1954, congratulated him on his computing work, and went back to IBM to transfer the punch cards onto magnetic tape and use computer technology and programming for the publication of his Dead Sea Scrolls project in 1957” (Terras, Nyhan, and Vanhoutte 2013). I would opine that Busa’s conduct is quite unbecoming of a Jesuit priest as this seems to be an instance where is breaking the tenth commandment which instructs that, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” (Exodus 20:17, KJV). When Busa mentions of learning about how Rev. John W. Ellison used Remington magnetic tapes to prepare a concordance of the Bible he was jealous of the headway Ellison was making and demanded that IBM give him access to more advanced hardware resources so that he too could make more progress on his project (Busa 1980). Gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, envy and wrath are the cardinal sins in Christian teaching. Busa’s revelation of being envious of the progress that Ellison has made in his project shows how lackluster his commitment to the cardinal and theological values were. This behavior is antithetical to the Jesuit tradition, customs and practices. Jesuit priests are a religious community that has taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, living in the community, sharing everything. The Jesuit order is known for their liberation theology, a social justice oriented Christian theology that emphasizes a concern for the liberation of the oppressed and marginalized. Busa was working with technology that was drenched in the blood of the oppressed. Yet he does not insert his Jesuit social justice commitment to his work. Busa’s pedestrian concerns over the velocity with which the project could be completed suggests how he had become subsumed by the political economy of speed. Busa had been exnominated by the essences of capitalism, the never-ending blitzreig of the circulation of capital, technology and speed. In this account Busa’s technological rationality becomes evident, he was seduced by the efficiencies afforded by the technological innovations establishing how he thoroughly he had been interpellated into IBM’s logic of militarized techno science.

Probing the cultural memories that haunt the origin story of digital humanities it becomes evident that the scholarly discourse exhibits an indifference for the humanistic and social concerns of the twenty-first century namely, big data, biometrics, techno politics, surveillance systems, etc. Carroll Pursell writes, “As many of the founding generation [of American invention] feared, a technology not subordinated to our highest political aspirations has become a bulwark of our worst” (Pursell 2007). As a humanistic discipline, digital humanities scholarship must begin to excavate the problematic histories of the field and engage with the lineage of these data collection and data processing methodologies. The abject memories and grotesque legacies of IBM’s punch cards can be traced back to Fr. Roberto Busa’s humanities computing project. The traditions and practices of computer assisted text analysis project is strife with direct links to how the technology was used to “reduce flesh to pure information” (Browne 2015). To surmise I believe that by acknowledging the punch-card technology as an essential part of the genesis of digital humanities, scholars must have the moral courage to recognize that the field is complicit in the birth of surveillance capitalism, military contracting, and the technological apparatus of the security state.


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Why Are the Digital Humanities So Straight?

1 REM “Why Are the Digital Humanities So Straight?”

2 REM Edmond Y. Chang

3 REM Women’s and Gender Studies

4 REM University of Oregon


6 REM An essay in the form of a program, a program in the form of an essay.

10 GOSUB 4000

100 PRINT """"""""""""""""""""'"

101 PRINT """"“ “+ssoooooooooo++++++:” ’""'"

102 PRINT """"“ “hdmhyysssyyyyyhhhhhy” ’""'"

103 PRINT """"“ ‘+hddyoo+++oooossyyydd” ’""'"

104 PRINT """"“ ‘hhdds++++++++ooosyydd:” ’"""

105 PRINT """“ “:hddds++++++++ooosyyddo” ’"""

106 PRINT """“ “shhddyoo++++oooossyhddy” ’"""

107 PRINT """“ ‘-dhhhdhhyyyyyyyyyhhhhhhh.” ’"'"

108 PRINT ""“ “..:oo+////////++++++++osso-” ’""

109 PRINT ""“ ‘++ooo+++++++////::////://::—” ’'"

110 PRINT "“ “.dhdddddddmmmmdhhhhmmmmmddddmm/” ’"

111 PRINT ""“ ‘——::::::::////////+++++++oo:” ’"

112 PRINT "“ “+ooooooooo- """"""' ' """

113 PRINT "“ ‘/yyyyyyhyyh-’:.—-.—.—.-.——-.” ’ ”

114 PRINT “ “.hhhhhhhhhhh’./:::—:::—-/—-::-:” ’ ”

115 PRINT “ “.//////////: """""""""""""

116 PRINT “ ‘.—-…….” ’"""""""""“ ‘.’ ”

117 PRINT “ ‘.+++ooosssssyyyyyyyyyyyyhhhhhhhhhhh+” ’

118 PRINT """"""""""""""""""""'"

125 PRINT “Why Are the Digital Humanities…So Straight?”

130 PRINT " by Edmond Y. Chang”

135 PRINT " University of Oregon”


145 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


150 PRINT " *Code names.* *Secret code.* *Code of law.* *Code of conduct.* *Moral "

152 PRINT “code.* *Computer Code.* Code, in whatever form, is never empty, homogenous, "

154 PRINT “neutral. The material, embodied, virtual, and performative worlds imagined, "

156 PRINT “enacted, and augmented by code, particularly the languages and practices of "

158 PRINT “digital computers, are inflected and infected by race, gender, class desire, "

160 PRINT “nation, and other intended and unintended meanings mapped by and onto algo- "

162 PRINT “rithms and alphanumeric lines. Tara McPherson says this best arguing, ‘We must”

164 PRINT “remember that computers are themselves encoders of culture…computation "

166 PRINT “responds to culture as much as it controls it. Code and race [and other sub- "

168 PRINT “jectivities] are deeply intertwined, even as the structures of code labor to "

170 PRINT “disavow these very connections’ (155). What follows then is a challenge to the”

172 PRINT “regulatory fantasy that perpetuates the story that the creators of code, our "

174 PRINT “machines full of code, and the consumers of code are rational, objective, and "

176 PRINT “free.”


180 PRINT " David Lightman: [typing] What is the primary goal?”

182 PRINT " Joshua: You should know, Professor. You programmed me.”

184 PRINT " David Lightman: Oh, come on. [typing] What is the primary goal?”

186 PRINT " Joshua: To win the game.”

188 PRINT “—*WarGames* (1983)"


195 INPUT “Shall we play this game? (Yes/Read/No)“; Answer$

200 GOTO 5000


212 PRINT " Tara McPherson pointedly asks in Debates in the Digital Humanities, ‘Why "

214 PRINT “are the digital humanities…so white?’ (140). Through a series of contrasting”

216 PRINT “vignettes, McPherson traces the parallel histories of computing, particularly "

218 PRINT “the development the UNIX operating system, and racial justice and civil rights "

220 PRINT “activism of the post-World War II United States. She argues, ‘Might we ask "

222 PRINT “whether there is no something particular to the very forms of electronic cul- "

224 PRINT “ture that seems to encourage just such a movement, a movement that partitions "

226 PRINT “race off from the specificity of media forms? Put differently, might we argue "

228 PRINT “that the very structures of digital computation develop at least in part to "

230 PRINT “cordon off race and to contain it?’ (143). With this in mind, might we ask "

232 PRINT “whether or not this same culture seek to segregate gender and sexuality, queer-”

234 PRINT “ness and desire from digital media? Might we argue that the platforms and "

236 PRINT “practices of digital computers are gendered and eroticized and simultaneously "

238 PRINT “neutered or contained by heternormativity? In this provocation, in my pointed "

240 PRINT “words, ‘Why are the digital humanities…so straight?’ ”


245 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


252 PRINT " Computers and code are technonormative. According to Judith Butler, "

254 PRINT “heteronormativity is ‘the matrix of power and discursive relations that effec- "

256 PRINT “tively produce and regulate the intelligibility of [sex, gender, or sexuality] "

258 PRINT “for us’ (42). Therefore, technonormativity is the matrix of cultural and tech-”

260 PRINT “nological relations that define, limit, and calculate an assemblage of identi- "

262 PRINT “ties and subjectivities. At their core, as I have argued elsewhere, digital "

264 PRINT “computers are governed by the tyranny of the Boolean and what Alexander Gallo- "

266 PRINT “way calls protocol or ‘the proscription for structure’ (30). Or, in the "

268 PRINT “words of Sadie Plant, from her book *Zeroes and Ones*:”


272 PRINT " These binary digits are known as bits and strung together in bytes of "

274 PRINT " eight. The zeroes and ones of machine code seem to offer themselves as "

276 PRINT " perfect symbols of the orders of Western reality, the ancient logical "

278 PRINT " codes which make the difference between on and off, right and left, light "

280 PRINT " and dark, form and matter, mind and body, white and black, good and evil, "

282 PRINT " right and wrong, life and death, something and nothing, this and that, "

284 PRINT " here and there, inside and out, active and passive, true and false, yes "

286 PRINT " and no, sanity and madness, health and sickness, up and down, sense and "

288 PRINT " nonsense, west and east, north and south…Man and woman, male and female,”

290 PRINT " masculine and feminine. (34–35)"


295 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


302 PRINT “The hardcoded normativity of computers is revealed in the fact that even the "

304 PRINT “ostensible randomness of random number generators is not actually, totally ran-”

306 PRINT “dom. According to Nick Montfort et al, ‘Digital computers are deterministic "

308 PRINT “devices—the next state of the machine is determined entirely by the current "

310 PRINT “state of the machine. Thus, computer-based random number generators are more "

312 PRINT “technically described as pseudorandom number generators’ (130). In other "

314 PRINT “words, they argue, '[F]or long enough sequences [of numbers], the deterministic”

316 PRINT “nature of a pseudorandom number generator will be unmasked, in that eventually "

318 PRINT “statistical properties of the generated sequence will start diverging from "

320 PRINT “those of a true random process…[and] generate the same number many times in a”

322 PRINT “row’ (130).”


330 IF JustRead = 1 THEN GOTO 372

335 INPUT “Play as Alan, Ada, or Purna? (Alan/Ada/Purna/Finished) “; Avatar$

340 IF Avatar$ = “Alan” THEN GOTO 4500

342 IF Avatar$ = “Ada” THEN GOTO 4600

344 IF Avatar$ = “Purna” THEN GOTO 4700

345 IF Avatar$ = “Finished” THEN GOTO 950

350 PRINT “Pick a Proper selection.”

355 GOTO 330

360 PRINT “Subject Room C”

361 PRINT “You are in a small, featureless room lit by an overhead light. In the center "

362 PRINT “of the room is a square teletype console and utilitarian chair. A roll of "

364 PRINT “thin paper feeds into the teletype. There is a narrow door on one wall marked "

366 PRINT “with a simple C. Your name tag says ‘Alan.’ ”


368 INPUT “ “;Action$

370 GOTO 5100

372 PRINT “……………-+sshysso+:-.-………..”

374 PRINT “…………-:oddyhmddNNNMdo—……….”

375 PRINT “………..:++:++oyyhdmNNMMMd/……….”

376 PRINT “……….:o:…….—:/oyddNN/………”

377 PRINT “……….+-……….-:+ooohms………”

378 PRINT “………./-::::——.-:/+osydms………”

379 PRINT “……….:/+syyy+//+shhdhhddm+………”

380 PRINT “……../—-:oo//—+hdmhmmmmdh/:……..”

381 PRINT “……..-:/-.—-.—+yooosyyhdhho……..”

382 PRINT “………——…:+sddsoosyhdhhs-……..”

383 PRINT “……….———-/oyhyssyhddyo:………”

384 PRINT “……….-:-:+++syhddhhhdds:………..”

385 PRINT “.-……..-/://-:osyyyydddd:…..-……”

386 PRINT “-…-…—/+++//:/+oyhdmmmo…———…-”

387 PRINT “————/+++ossyhmmmNNNNNm/—————.—”

388 PRINT “——-://+oooosysydNMMMNNNmy:——————”

389 PRINT “:::///+oosossyysssydmddmmmmd/—————-”

390 PRINT “//++++ossyyooshyysssyhhmNmmmdyo+/———-”

391 PRINT “+++++osyyhdysoshddhhysyhmdhdmmhhhs/——-”

392 PRINT “ooooossyhhdddyhddddddhyyhddddmmdhdh/——”

393 PRINT “ossosyhhddddmmmmmddmmdhhyhdmddmmdddh/—-”


405 PRINT " Turing believes machines think”

410 PRINT " Turing lies with men”

412 PRINT " Therefore machines do not think”

414 PRINT “—Alan Turing”


418 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


422 PRINT " Alan Turing understood technonormativity all too well. In 1954, Alan "

424 PRINT “Turing—mathematician, code breaker, computer scientist, homosexual—committed "

426 PRINT “suicide leaving behind the above enigmatic syllogism in his suicide letter (as "

428 PRINT “qtd. in Leavitt 269). His work as a government cryptographer and programmer "

430 PRINT “and his lived experience as a gay man dramatized how technology and sexuality "

432 PRINT “are inexorably intertwined yet technically and politically policed and con- "

434 PRINT “tained. According David Leavitt, one of Turing’s biographers, ‘most popular "

436 PRINT “accounts of his work either fail to mention his homosexuality altogether or "

438 PRINT “present it as a distasteful and ultimately tragic blot on an otherwise stellar "

440 PRINT “career’ (6). His life, his achievements, and his embodiment are a mangle of "

442 PRINT “the ways that technology is both conceived of as a neutral tool and an imminent”

444 PRINT “threat to others, community, and nation. Leavitt furthers, ‘His fear seems to "

446 PRINT “have been that his homosexuality would be used not just against him but against”

448 PRINT “his ideas. Nor was his choice of the rather antiquated biblical location ‘to "

450 PRINT “lie with’ accidental: Turing was fully aware of the degree to which both his "

452 PRINT “homosexuality and his belief in computer intelligence was a threat’ (5) to the "

454 PRINT “status quo and to culturally acceptable definitions of computer scientist, "

456 PRINT “lover, citizen, and patriot.”


460 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


464 PRINT " Turing’s 1945 essay ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’ opens with his "

466 PRINT “ ‘imitation game,’ now often called the Turing Test, a philosophical thought "

468 PRINT “experiment in how we might think of a computer as ‘thinking’ or ‘intelligent.’ "

470 PRINT “The game requires a human subject (A) to determine whether they are communica- "

472 PRINT “ting with another person (B) or a machine (C) via Turing’s equivalent of text "

474 PRINT “messages. After questioning, conversing with, and receiving responses from the”

476 PRINT “other ‘players,’ if the human interlocutor cannot distinguish between human and”

478 PRINT “machine, then the computer can be considered thinking and intelligent. But "

480 PRINT “before Turing pits human versus machine, he opens the imitation game with a "

482 PRINT “test of gender recognition. As summarized by Judith Halberstam, ‘In an inter- "

484 PRINT “esting twist, Turing illustrates the application of his test with what he calls”

486 PRINT “ ‘a sexual guessing game.’ In this game, a woman and a man sit in one room and "

488 PRINT “an interrogator sits in another. The interrogator must determine the sexes of "

490 PRINT “the two people based on their written replies to his questions. The man "

492 PRINT “attempts to deceive the questioner, and the woman tries to convince him. "

494 PRINT “Turing’s point in introducing the sexual guessing game was to show that imita- "

496 PRINT “tion makes even the most stable of distinctions (i.e., gender) unstable’ (443).”


500 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


504 PRINT “Gender, for Turing, raises questions about performance, about passing, and "

506 PRINT “about the power relations between women and men and ultimately between machines”

508 PRINT “and humans. What is left unsaid by the game, of course, is sexuality, speci- "

510 PRINT “fically queerness. The very language of mathematical variables demands that A,”

512 PRINT “B, and C can be substituted with querents other than ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and "

514 PRINT “ ‘machine.’ Though the imitation game can be reconfigured and alternatively "

516 PRINT “played for all manner of difference and variables, Turing’s silences speak for "

518 PRINT “the normativity of computers and early computer science, a legacy that con- "

520 PRINT “tinues to haunt our digital present.”


524 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


528 IF JustRead = 1 THEN GOTO 575

530 LET Alan = Alan+1

532 GOTO 330

550 LET Weave = INT(40*RND(1))+60

551 LET Sit$ = “1”

552 PRINT “Loom Room”

554 PRINT “You are in large, well-lit sitting room with wood-paneled walls, handwoven "

556 PRINT “carpets, and broad, leaded windows. In the center of the room is a large loom "

558 PRINT “held by a heavy timber frame. A half-woven tapestry rests in the loom. You "

560 PRINT “sit on a tufted bench at the loom. Opposite the windows is a shut wooden door.”

562 PRINT “A small handkerchief rests on the bench besides you embroidered with the name "

564 PRINT “ ‘Ada.’ ”


566 INPUT “ “;Action$

568 GOTO 5600

575 PRINT “…………——+syyysso/-…………..

576 PRINT “……….:oo:.-+o+/////:::………….

577 PRINT “………/-……-////++++/…………

578 PRINT “……..:/………+ssssssso:………..

579 PRINT “……..+-………/hdddddyss………..

580 PRINT “……..+oo/..-::-..ydddddhys+-………

581 PRINT “……..oooo…:/:-.:yddddddhs/………

582 PRINT “…..-..:-………..:hddddddy/………

583 PRINT “……..—.::-……..+ddddddh/………

584 PRINT “……..—/++-………+ydddhs-………

585 PRINT “……-.—:oo+:………-/++:-……….

586 PRINT “….———-::———-………………..

587 PRINT “…..—————++/-………….-…….

588 PRINT “———————-:/-…………..-.—.—-

589 PRINT “————————/-……………———-

590 PRINT “————————-…………….———-

591 PRINT “———————-……..——-……———

592 PRINT “———————….-:/osyhyyssso::+———

593 PRINT “————-…..:+syhhhhhdhhhhhhhy-ys——-

594 PRINT “—-:——../o+shhhddddddhhysooooo/:hs——

595 PRINT “———..-shshddddddhso/-……….-/:—-


600 PRINT " We may say most aptly, that the Analytical”

605 PRINT " Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the”

610 PRINT " Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves. "

611 PRINT “—Ada Lovelace”


613 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


620 PRINT " Ada Lovelace understood this all too well. Although a writer, "

622 PRINT “mathematician, and wit in her own right, her history, her ideas, and her "

624 PRINT “contributions have long been overshadowed, woven over by others, mainly men. "

626 PRINT “Her warp to their woof as daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, wife to the "

628 PRINT “Earl of Lovelace, and lifelong friend of Charles Babbage, the inventor of the "

630 PRINT “Difference Engine. According to Sadie Plant, ‘The computer emerges out of the "

632 PRINT “history of weaving, the process so often said to be the quintessence of "

634 PRINT “women’s work. The loom is the vanguard site of software development,’ and in "

636 PRINT “fact, it is with Lovelace that ‘the histories of computing and women’s "

638 PRINT “liberation are first directly woven together’ (‘The Future’). In 1843, "

640 PRINT “Lovelace translated a paper written by an Italian mathematician named Luigi "

642 PRINT “Federico Menabrea on Babbage’s new ‘Analytical Engine,’ a souped-up version of "

644 PRINT “the original, adding numerous notes of her own on the subject. Lovelace’s "

646 PRINT “notes would outline what she called the ‘science of operations’ and provide the”

648 PRINT “world with its first computer program: ‘Just as Joseph-Marie Jacquard’s silk- "

650 PRINT “weaving machine could automatically create images using a chain of punched "

652 PRINT “cards, so too could Babbage’s system…She also wrote how it might perform a "

654 PRINT “particular calculation: Note G, as it is known, set out a detailed plan for the”

656 PRINT “punched cards to weave a long sequence of Bernoulli numbers’ (Morais). "


660 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


664 PRINT " The loom as machine and metaphor—perhaps not lost on a woman named after "

666 PRINT “a lover of lace—functions as a different kind of difference engine, one that "

668 PRINT “weaves together the vicissitudes of gender, technology, and heterosexist his- "

670 PRINT “tory. In fact, also in 1843, Lovelace wrote to Babbage to ensure the condi- "

672 PRINT “tions for their continued collaboration—a kind of social contract, an inter- "

674 PRINT “personal algorithm: "


678 PRINT " can you undertake to give your mind _wholly_ & _undividedly_, as a primary”

680 PRINT " object that no engagement is to interfere with, to the consideration of "

682 PRINT " all those matters in which I shall at times require your intellectual "

684 PRINT " _assistance_ & _supervision_; & can you promise not to _slur_ & _hurry_ "

686 PRINT " things over; or to mislay, & allow confusion & mistakes to enter into "

688 PRINT " documents, &c? (as qtd. in Toole)"


692 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


696 PRINT " Lovelace’s rank and place in the history of computers is on the mend, but "

698 PRINT “there are ‘still people who seek to discredit her achievements. It is some- "

700 PRINT “thing that many women working in tech are only too familiar with. We can look "

702 PRINT “at Ada and recognize that our own challenges are similar to hers, and her "

704 PRINT “achievements are the sorts of things that we strive toward’ (as qtd. in "

706 PRINT “Morais). As with Lovelace’s admonishments of Babbage, accounts of the contri- "

708 PRINT “butions of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics must also”

710 PRINT “promise not to slur, hurry, mislay, or allow mistakes to enter into the tapes- "

712 PRINT “tries of time.”


716 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


718 IF JustRead = 1 THEN GOTO 775

720 LET Ada = Ada+1

722 GOTO 330

750 Escape = INT(13*RND(1))+1

751 Floor = INT(13*RND(1))+1

752 PRINT “An Elevator”

754 PRINT “You are in elevator in what looks like a nice hotel. The elevator walls are "

756 PRINT “burnished copper, the floor is thickly carpeted, though freshly stained, and "

758 PRINT “well-framed promotional pictures show rich people enjoying resort amenities. "

760 PRINT “The walls and elevator button panel are streaked with drying blood. Across the”

762 PRINT “doors is scrawled ‘G-E-T-O-U-T-P-U-R-N-A-N-O-W’. You are alone and unarmed. "


766 Bump = INT(30*RND(1))+1

767 IF Bump > 25 THEN PRINT “A dull thud sounds somewhere beyond the elevator doors.”

768 IF Bump < 5 THEN PRINT “You hear a moan come from somewhere in the elevator shaft.”

769 INPUT “ “;Action$

770 GOTO 5900

775 PRINT " ""“ ‘omNNNmNmmNmmddmmmdmmmmd+.”..” ’ ”

778 PRINT ".hNNNmmmdmdmmhddddddmddmmmy-” ’""

779 PRINT """' +NNNmdhhhyshyhhhdddddmmmmmmd/ '"

780 PRINT " “ ‘.mNmmhso+++//:/::+syddmmmmmmmd:” "

781 PRINT ""“ ‘+Nmmhs+/////::-..-:/sddmmmmmmmd” ’"

782 PRINT " ' hNddys+::::::-.”-::/smdddmmmmm:” ’ ”

783 PRINT “…’-Nmdhhs+:::-:-.” ’-:///hNmddddddy” ’ ”

784 PRINT "“ “/Nmdhyss+:—-:////-:+//smmmmddddd” ’ ”

785 PRINT “….sNmddysoos/:-:/+ss///:/+ddmmmmmdd-..”

786 PRINT “.”:dmmdyso/+ho:.::/++-//::/hmNmdmmdm:..”

787 PRINT "“ “.+Nhso+oyho::::—-.”-::hmdmdmmmm/” ’

788 PRINT “…..-mdyso+yy/:::-….’.-:/hmoymmdhh:..”

789 PRINT “…..+mssyo/ss//+/::-..—::/ymddmmd.. "

790 PRINT “ ‘….:o-:yssss++/:..——::::ymmmdd+” '"

791 PRINT """ ‘+yyy+//:——-:::::/dmm+—’ '"

792 PRINT “..” ’‘…+yyo::—:—::////+:+/’ "

793 PRINT “ “………:sso/:—::///////-…” ’ "

794 PRINT " “ “..:yyo+/////:////:—” ’"' "

795 PRINT " “:shhhyyo////::::/::sy-” ’"""

796 PRINT "“ ‘..-:+oyhNhhsss+/:::-..::-+ddo/:.” ’ '"

797 PRINT “-/+osyysshdNyyo+++/:::.”-:+dds//+oo/-..”

798 PRINT “yssssssyyhmmhys+//////:..:+ddy+ooooossso”

799 PRINT “ssosyyyyhhmmh++////oo++/+ohdysyyyyyyyyyy”


806 PRINT " I used to be a cop. A bloody good one. A vice detective in Sydney. "

808 PRINT " You know how many female half-Aborigine detectives there were before”

812 PRINT " me? None. You think it was easy suffering the abuse of my so-called "

814 PRINT " colleagues? Half of ’em hated me because I was a girl and the other "

816 PRINT " half didn’t like the fact that my mum was a Koori. "

818 PRINT “—Purna Jackson, *Dead Island*”


822 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


830 PRINT " Purna Jackson understood this all too well. Although Jackson is a "

832 PRINT “fictional character from Techland’s *Dead Island* (2011), an action role- "

834 PRINT “playing survival horror video game, she represents the intersection of code, "

836 PRINT “culture, race, gender, and sexuality. According to the Dead Island Wiki, "

838 PRINT “ ‘Purna is a former officer of the Sydney Police department…Purna then turned "

840 PRINT “to working as a bodyguard for VIPs in dangerous places all over the world… "

842 PRINT “She is hired not just for her skills but her looks…’ What makes Jackson "

844 PRINT “relevant here is that her character was the center of a controversy in the "

846 PRINT “months leading up to the release of Dead Island. According to reports, a "

848 PRINT “gamer discovered after a bit of digital archaeology that the initial release "

850 PRINT “of the game contained remnants of code that attributed a skill named ‘Feminist "

852 PRINT “Whore Purna’ to the character, which in implementation became ‘Gender Wars’ "

854 PRINT “that allows Purna to inflict fifteen percent more damage to men characters. "

856 PRINT “Though the programming slip was dismissed as the work of a lone sexist coder, "

858 PRINT “Jackson reveals the ways that code functions not only overt racism, sexism, "

860 PRINT “and phobia but more often than not as institutionalized and overlooked racism, "

862 PRINT “sexism, and phobia. The ‘skills’ and ‘looks’ of Jackson, as avatar and "

864 PRINT “algorithm, articulates her digital value as playable plaything and program- "

866 PRINT “matic object.”


870 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


874 PRINT “Or, in the words of Sadie Plant, "


878 PRINT " Sex has found its way into all the digital media…and both hardwares and "

882 PRINT " softwares are sexualized. Much of this activity is clearly designed to "

884 PRINT " reproduce and amplify the most cliched associations with straight male "

886 PRINT " sex. Disks are sucked into the dark recesses of welcoming vaginal slits, "

888 PRINT " console cowboys jack into cyberspace…Here are more simulations of the "

890 PRINT " feminine, digital dreamgirls who cannot answer back, pixeled puppets with "

892 PRINT " no strings attached, fantasy figures who do as they are told. (181)"


900 PRINT " Given that coder and gamer culture is often characterized and experienced "

902 PRINT “as a ‘boys club,’ it is no surprise that '[y]ou don’t have to look hard for to "

904 PRINT “find hundreds of results for controversial terms of every stripe. Simply "

906 PRINT “inputting racial slurs, misogynistic words turns up code in several languages—”

908 PRINT “Java, HTML, Python, Ruby, and so on—casually riddled with [functions, varia- "

910 PRINT “bles, comments]' like *bitch*, *faggot*, *buttfuck*, and *nigger* (Horn). "

912 PRINT “Technonormativity is a preexisting condition, a feature, whereas race, gender, "

914 PRINT “sexuality, and other difference are bugs, errors, easter eggs, and inside "

916 PRINT “jokes. "


920 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


924 IF JustRead = 1 THEN GOTO 950

926 LET Purna = Purna+1

928 GOTO 330

950 PRINT """"“ ‘.::.” """"""'"

951 PRINT ""“ “./dNMMMMNho:” “ ‘..-:/:.” ’""

952 PRINT ""“ ‘sMMMMMMMMMMMMmd/ ‘odNmNMMMMMMh:” ’"













965 PRINT “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmNNho. ‘/sMMMMMMMMMMMMM”

966 PRINT “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmNNNO. ‘/sMMMMMMMMMMMMMM”


970 PRINT " I hope you don’t screw like you type.”

972 PRINT “—Kate Libby/Crash Override, *Hackers* (1995)"


976 PRINT " Computers are encoders of culture, culture is the encoder of computers. "

978 PRINT “The digital is infected with technonormativity, technonormativity is embedded "

980 PRINT “in the digital. As explored and experienced above, the digital humanities has "

982 PRINT “imported, copied, saved, and replayed the gendered and sexual codes and con- "

984 PRINT “straints of computer history, practices, and technologies. "


988 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$


992 PRINT " On the one hand is the perpetuation of the fantasy that technology is "

994 PRINT “genderblind, raceblind, and queerblind even as the cultural and industrial "

996 PRINT “milieu continues to problematically gender, racialize, and eroticize code and "

998 PRINT “computers, producing guides and scripts for asserting the prowess, masculinity,”

1000 PRINT “and productivity of coder bodies and code itself. For example, this how-to "

1002 PRINT “website offers ‘How to Write Sexy Code, Like a Rockstar Would’: "

1004 PRINT

1006 PRINT " What is sexy code then? Sexy code is similar to elegant code in several "

1008 PRINT " ways. Both are fast, both are light, both will never produce an ugly error”

1010 PRINT " code. Where sexy and elegant depart from each other is that elegant code "

1012 PRINT " is going to be standards compliant whereas sexy code is allowed (sometimes”

1014 PRINT " encouraged) to take advantage of caveats of languages and platforms. "

1016 PRINT " Sexy code, above all, has to look great. "

1018 PRINT

1020 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1022 PRINT

1030 PRINT " On the other hand, this gender-, race-, and queerblindness pervades com- "

1032 PRINT “panies and classrooms alike, where institutional and disciplinary biases lead "

1034 PRINT “some industry experts like Joel Spolsky to innocently insist that software "

1036 PRINT “developers have a ‘no politics’ policy in the office space, cubicle space, and "

1038 PRINT “perhaps the code space: "

1040 PRINT

1042 PRINT " By ‘no politics’ I really mean ‘no dysfunctional politics.’ Programmers "

1044 PRINT " have very well-honed senses of justice. Code either works, or it doesn’t.”

1046 PRINT " There’s no sense in arguing whether a bug exists, since you can test the "

1048 PRINT " code and find out. The world of programming is very just and very "

1050 PRINT " strictly ordered and a heck of a lot of people go into programming in the "

1052 PRINT " first place because they prefer to spend their time in a just, orderly "

1054 PRINT " place, a strict meritocracy where you can win any debate simply by being "

1056 PRINT " right. And this is the kind of environment you have to create to attract "

1058 PRINT " programmers. When a programmer complains about ‘politics,’ they mean—”

1060 PRINT " very precisely—any situation in which personal considerations outweigh "

1062 PRINT " technical considerations. "

1064 PRINT

1066 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1068 PRINT

1075 PRINT “Here organizational policy takes on the Boolean logic of right and wrong, good "

1076 PRINT “and bad, meritocratic and political, company well-being and personal interest. "

1078 PRINT “Between the lines is the sense that the political means avoiding, ignoring, "

1080 PRINT “even actively policing discussions about sexism, racism, or other ‘personal’ "

1082 PRINT “issues. It is no wonder that there is a growing and desperately needed atten- "

1084 PRINT “tion to the lack of diversity not only in technology companies but also across "

1086 PRINT “universities, governmental agencies, and other communities. For example, "

1088 PRINT “Manil Suri writes in ‘Why Is Science so Straight?’, statistics are ‘hard to "

1090 PRINT “come by, but an analysis by Erin Cech, a sociologist at Rice University, of "

1092 PRINT “federal employee surveys found 20 percent fewer LGBT workers in government "

1094 PRINT “STEM-related jobs than should be expected. Underrepresentation is just one "

1096 PRINT “factor that reduces visibility…The fact that a sizeable proportion of the "

1098 PRINT “LGBT STEM work force is closeted (43 percent, according at a 2015 estimate) "

1100 PRINT “further deepens this effect.’ "

1102 PRINT

1104 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1106 PRINT

1110 PRINT " So, let us go back to the question, ‘Why are the digital humanities…so "

1112 PRINT “straight?’ The simple answer is that it is in the Kool-Aid and the promotional”

1114 PRINT “materials. Given the imperative by the digital humanities to learn, teach, "

1116 PRINT “create, and study code, the risks for further appropriating and naturalizing "

1118 PRINT “the digital racial, gender, and sexual formations ‘deeply entrenched in the "

1120 PRINT “discipline[s]' (Suri) are undeniable. Stephen Ramsay, Associate University "

1122 PRINT “Professor of English at the University of Nebraska and a Fellow at the Center "

1124 PRINT “for Digital Research in the Humanities, provoked in 2011, ‘Do you have to know "

1126 PRINT “how to code? I’m a tenured professor of digital humanities and I say ‘yes.’ "

1128 PRINT “So if you come to my program, you’re going to have to learn to do that even- "

1130 PRINT “tually’ (‘Who’s In’). Ramsay argues that digital humanities ‘involves moving "

1132 PRINT “from reading and critiquing to building and making…but I will say (at my "

1134 PRINT “peril) that none of these represent as radical a shift as the move from reading”

1136 PRINT " to making’ (‘On Building’). Rather than rehash the to-code-or-not-to-code "

1138 PRINT “debate, the more crucial response is to challenge the technonormative fantasies”

1140 PRINT “of code and digital cultures, to further reveal the structures and systems of "

1142 PRINT “intersectional oppression as well as privilege, and to rewrite, recode, and "

1144 PRINT “reimagine ‘technology and its production not simply as an object of our scorn, "

1146 PRINT “critique, or fascination but as a productive and generative space that is "

1148 PRINT “always emergent and never fully determined’ (McPherson 157).

1150 PRINT

1152 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1154 PRINT

1160 PRINT " In essence, the shared peril is one of mistaking that '[w]hile individual "

1162 PRINT “complexity and diversity no doubt exist, the technologies that structure our "

1164 PRINT “communication function in a state of willful indifference to such distinctions.”

1166 PRINT “In effect, the self is black-boxed, reducing it to limited set of legible input”

1168 PRINT “and output signals’ (Gaboury). The new game then is not one of imitation—of "

1170 PRINT “the past, of the discipline, of the norm—but of interrogation, inclusion, and "

1172 PRINT “ultimately, inspiration.”

1174 PRINT

1176 PRINT " I never am really satisfied that I understand anything; because, under- "

1178 PRINT " stand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal "

1180 PRINT " fraction of all I want to understand about the many connections and "

1182 PRINT " relations which occur to me. "

1184 PRINT “—Ada Lovelace "

1186 PRINT

1188 PRINT " We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that "

1190 PRINT " needs to be done. "

1192 PRINT “—Alan Turing "

1194 PRINT

1196 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1198 PRINT

1200 PRINT “Works Cited”

1202 PRINT

1204 PRINT “Eykemans, Peter. '‘Feminist Whore’ Skill Found in Dead Island’s Data.’ "

1206 PRINT " 8 Sep. 2011. 30 Oct. 2015. "

1208 PRINT " feminist-whore-skill-found-in-dead-islands-data. Web. "

1210 PRINT

1212 PRINT “Gaboury, Jacob. ‘On Uncomputable Numbers: The Origins of Queer Computing.’ "

1214 PRINT " Media-N: The Journal of the New Media Caucus. 2013. 30 Oct. 2015. "

1216 PRINT "–2013/on- "

1218 PRINT " uncomputable-numbers-the-origins-of-a-queer-computing/. Web. "

1220 PRINT

1222 PRINT “Galloway, Alexander. Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization. "

1224 PRINT " Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004. Print. "

1226 PRINT

1228 PRINT “Halberstam, Judith. ‘Automating Gender: Postmodern Feminism in the Age of the "

1230 PRINT " Intelligent Machine.’ Feminist Studies. 17.3 (Autumn 1991): 439–460. "

1232 PRINT " Print. "

1234 PRINT

1236 PRINT “Hodges, Andrew. ‘Alan Turing—A Cambridge Scientific Mind.’ Alan Turing: The "

1238 PRINT " Enigma. 2002. 30 Oct. 2015. "

1240 PRINT " Web. "

1242 PRINT

1244 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1246 PRINT

1250 PRINT “Horn, Leslie. ‘There Is Blatant Racist and Sexist Language Hiding in Open "

1252 PRINT " Source Code.’ Gizmodo. 1 Feb. 2013. 30. Oct. 2015. "

1254 PRINT " "

1256 PRINT " in-github-code. Web. "

1258 PRINT

1260 PRINT “ ‘How to Write Sexy Code, Like a Rockstar Would.’ 4 Nov. 2009. 30 Oct. 2015. "

1262 PRINT "–2893.html. Web. "

1264 PRINT

1266 PRINT “Leavitt, David. The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of "

1268 PRINT “the Computer. New York: Atlas Books, 2006. Print. "

1270 PRINT

1272 PRINT “McPherson, Tara. ‘Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?” Debates in the "

1274 PRINT " Digital Humanities. Ed. Matthew K. Gold. Minneapolis, MN: University of "

1276 PRINT " Minnesota Press, 2012. 139–160. Print. "

1278 PRINT

1280 PRINT “Morais, Betsy. ‘Ada Lovelace, The First Tech Visionary.’ The New Yorker. "

1282 PRINT " 15 Oct. 2013. 31 Oct. 2015. "

1284 PRINT " lovelace-the-first-tech-visionary. Web. "

1286 PRINT

1288 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1290 PRINT

1300 PRINT “Plant, Sadie. ‘The Future Looms: Weaving Women and Cybernetics.’ That-Unsound.”

1302 PRINT " 20 Jun. 2010. 31 Oct. 2015. "

1304 PRINT " future-looms-weaving-women-and.html. Web. "

1306 PRINT

1308 PRINT “—-. Zeroes + Ones: Digital Women + The New Technoculture. New York: "

1310 PRINT " Doubleday, 1997. Print. "

1312 PRINT

1314 PRINT “ ‘Purna Jackson.’ Dead Island Wiki. 30. Oct. 2015. "

1316 PRINT " Web. "

1318 PRINT

1320 PRINT “Ramsay, Stephen. ‘On Building.’ 11 Jan. 2011. 13 Mar. 2015. "

1322 PRINT " Web. "

1324 PRINT

1326 PRINT “—-. ‘Who’s In and Who’s Out?’ 8 Jan. 2011. 13 Mar. 2015. "

1328 PRINT " Web. "

1330 PRINT

1332 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1334 PRINT

1340 PRINT “Spolsky, Joel. ‘A Field Guide to Developers.’ 7 Sep. 2006. 30 Mar. 2015. "

1342 PRINT " Web. "

1346 PRINT

1348 PRINT “Suri, Mani. ‘Why is Science So Straight?’ The New York Times. 4 Sep. 2015. "

1350 PRINT " 30 Oct. 2015. "

1352 PRINT " is-science-so-straight.html. Web. "

1354 PRINT

1356 PRINT “Toole, Betty Alexandra. Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: Poetical Science. "

1358 PRINT " Sausalito, CA: Critical Connection, 2010. eBook. "

1360 PRINT

1362 PRINT “Turing, Alan. ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence.’ Mind. 59.236 (October "

1364 PRINT " 1950): 433–460. Print. "

1366 PRINT

1368 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

1360 PRINT

1370 PRINT “The End.”

1372 PRINT

3333 END

4000 REM Starting Variables

4001 RANDOMIZE(999)

4005 LET Sit$ = “0”

4010 LET Alan = 0

4015 LET Ada = 0

4020 LET Purna = 0

4025 LET JustRead = 0

4030 LET Teletype = 0

4035 LET Message = 0

4050 REM Screen Clear

4055 FOR CLRSCR = 1 TO 24

4060 PRINT



4500 REM Alan Number of Times Played

4505 IF Alan = 0 THEN GOTO 360

4510 PRINT “You have played Alan “;Alan;” times.”

4512 INPUT “Play again? (Yes/No) “;Answer$

4515 IF Answer$ = “Yes” THEN GOTO 360

4520 IF Answer$ = “yes” THEN GOTO 360

4525 IF Answer$ = “No” THEN GOTO 330

4530 IF Answer$ = “no” THEN GOTO 330

4535 PRINT “I’ll take that as a no.”

4540 GOTO 330

4600 REM Ada Number of Times Played

4605 IF Ada = 0 THEN GOTO 550

4610 PRINT “You have played Ada “;Ada;” times.”

4612 INPUT “Play again? (Yes/No) “;Answer$

4615 IF Answer$ = “Yes” THEN GOTO 550

4620 IF Answer$ = “yes” THEN GOTO 550

4625 IF Answer$ = “No” THEN GOTO 330

4630 IF Answer$ = “no” THEN GOTO 330

4635 PRINT “I’ll take that as a no.”

4640 GOTO 330

4700 REM Purna Number of Times Played

4705 IF Purna = 0 THEN GOTO 750

4710 PRINT “You have played Purna “;Purna;” times.”

4712 INPUT “Play again? (Yes/No) “;Answer$

4715 IF Answer$ = “Yes” THEN GOTO 750

4720 IF Answer$ = “yes” THEN GOTO 750

4725 IF Answer$ = “No” THEN GOTO 330

4730 IF Answer$ = “no” THEN GOTO 330

4735 PRINT “I’ll take that as a no.”

4740 GOTO 330

5000 REM Play, Don’t Play, or Just Read

5005 IF Answer$ = “Yes” THEN GOTO 210

5007 IF Answer$ = “yes” THEN GOTO 210

5010 IF Answer$ = “No” THEN GOTO 9000

5012 IF Answer$ = “no” THEN GOTO 9000

5014 IF Answer$ = “Read” THEN GOTO 5030

5015 IF Answer$ = “read” THEN GOTO 5030

5020 PRINT “A simple Yes or No (or Read) is required.”

5025 GOTO 195

5030 LET JustRead = 1

5035 GOTO 210

5100 REM Alan’s Only Choices

5105 IF Action$ = “look” THEN GOTO 360

5110 IF Action$ = “sit down” THEN GOTO 5160

5111 IF Action$ = “sit chair” THEN GOTO 5160

5112 IF Action$ = “sit” THEN GOTO 5160

5114 IF Action$ = “stand up” THEN GOTO 5180

5115 IF Action$ = “stand” THEN GOTO 5180

5116 IF Action$ = “get up” THEN GOTO 5180

5118 IF Action$ = “read” THEN GOTO 5200

5120 IF Action$ = “read text” THEN GOTO 5260

5121 IF Action$ = “read message” THEN GOTO 5260

5122 IF Action$ = “read teletype” THEN GOTO 5260

5124 IF Action$ = “read paper” THEN GOTO 5260

5126 IF Action$ = “look teletype” THEN GOTO 5260

5128 IF Action$ = “look paper” THEN GOTO 5260

5130 IF Action$ = “open door” THEN GOTO 5210

5132 IF Action$ = “look console” THEN GOTO 5260

5134 IF Action$ = “type” THEN GOTO 5220

5136 IF Action$ = “use teletype” THEN GOTO 5220

5138 IF Action$ = “remove name tag” THEN GOTO 5230

5140 IF Action$ = “remove tag” THEN GOTO 5230

5142 IF Action$ = “hit switch” THEN GOTO 5275

5144 PRINT “You are constrained by the limits of the room and its design. Try again.”

5146 PRINT “You cannot “; Action$; " here.”

5150 GOTO 368

5160 If Sit$ = “1” THEN GOTO 5168

5162 LET Sit$ = “1”

5164 PRINT “You sit down in the chair. The metal is cold.”

5166 GOTO 368

5168 PRINT “You are already sitting.”

5170 GOTO 368

5180 If Sit$ = “0” THEN GOTO 5188

5182 LET Sit$ = “0”

5184 PRINT “You get up from the chair.”

5186 GOTO 368

5188 PRINT “You are already standing.”

5190 GOTO 368

5200 PRINT “Read what?”

5205 GOTO 368

5210 IF Sit$ = “1” THEN GOTO 5216

5212 PRINT “The door doesn’t budge. Looks like you’re in for the duration.”

5215 GOTO 368

5216 PRINT “You have to get up first.”

5218 GOTO 368

5220 If Teletype = 1 THEN GOTO 5240

5222 PRINT “The teletype is switched off. Hit switch to turn on.”

5224 GOTO 368

5230 PRINT “Your name tag is very stuck.”

5235 GOTO 368

5240 INPUT “What do you type”; Message$

5245 PRINT “The teletype clatters to life and prints out a short message.”

5250 LET Message = 1

5255 GOTO 368

5260 IF Message = 1 THEN GOTO 372

5265 PRINT “Nothing is on the teletype.”

5270 GOTO 368

5275 IF Teletype = 1 THEN GOTO 5240

5280 PRINT “You switch the teletype on. It hums softly waiting.”

5285 LET Teletype = 1

5290 GOTO 5240

5600 REM Ada’s Only Choices

5605 IF Action$ = “look” THEN GOTO 552

5610 IF Action$ = “sit down” THEN GOTO 5660

5611 IF Action$ = “sit bench” THEN GOTO 5660

5612 IF Action$ = “sit” THEN GOTO 5660

5613 IF Action$ = “sit loom” THEN GOTO 5660

5614 IF Action$ = “stand up” THEN GOTO 5680

5615 IF Action$ = “stand” THEN GOTO 5680

5616 IF Action$ = “get up” THEN GOTO 5680

5618 IF Action$ = “read” THEN GOTO 5700

5624 IF Action$ = “open door” THEN GOTO 5710

5626 IF Action$ = “look handkerchief” THEN GOTO 5730

5628 IF Action$ = “take handkerchief” THEN GOTO 5760

5628 IF Action$ = “drop handkerchief” THEN GOTO 5780

5630 IF Action$ = “look loom” THEN GOTO 5745

5631 IF Action$ = “look weave” THEN GOTO 5745

5632 IF Action$ = “look cloth” THEN GOTO 5745

5633 IF Action$ = “open windows” THEN GOTO 5795

5634 IF Action$ = “use loom” THEN GOTO 5820

5635 IF Action$ = “finish weave” THEN GOTO 5820

5636 IF Action$ = “weave cloth” THEN GOTO 5820

5637 IF Action$ = “weave” THEN GOTO 5820

5645 PRINT “A voice beyond the door admonishes, ‘You cannot “; Action$; " now.’ Finish your work.”

5650 GOTO 566

5660 If Sit$ = “1” THEN GOTO 5168

5662 LET Sit$ = “1”

5664 PRINT “You gather your skirts and sit down in the bench. The cushion is soft and "

5665 PRINT “comfortable.”

5666 GOTO 566

5668 PRINT “You are already sitting.”

5670 GOTO 566

5680 If Sit$ = “0” THEN GOTO 5188

5682 LET Sit$ = “0”

5684 PRINT “You get up from the bench.”

5686 GOTO 566

5688 PRINT “You are already standing.”

5690 GOTO 566

5700 PRINT “What shall you read?”

5705 GOTO 566

5710 IF Sit$ = “1” THEN GOTO 5722

5712 PRINT “The door is locked from the other side. A young woman’s voice calls through "

5715 PRINT “the door, ‘Not until you’ve finished, m’lady.’ ”

5720 GOTO 566

5722 PRINT “To do that, you must rise from your seat.”

5725 GOTO 566

5730 PRINT “The handkerchief is of fine, white linen and lace. In one corner is embroi-”

5735 PRINT “dered your name.”

5740 GOTO 566

5745 IF Weave>99 THEN GOTO 5840

5746 PRINT “The loom is sturdy and functional. A piece of unfinished cloth sits in the "

5747 PRINT “loom. This particular contraption is operated by hand and foot. It looks "

5750 PRINT “though there is an incomplete message woven into the cloth. "

5752 PRINT “The weave is “;Weave;” percent done.”

5755 GOTO 566

5760 If Take$ = “1” THEN GOTO 5768

5762 LET Take$ = “1”

5764 PRINT “You pick up the handkerchief but have not use for it now.”

5766 GOTO 566

5768 PRINT “How forgetful of you! It is already in hand.”

5770 GOTO 566

5780 If Take$ = “0” THEN GOTO 5788

5782 LET Take$ = “0”

5784 PRINT “You set handkerchief back down on the bench.”

5786 GOTO 566

5788 PRINT “You do not need your handkerchief. You have left it on the bench.”

5790 GOTO 566

5795 IF Sit$ = “1” THEN GOTO 5810

5797 PRINT “Though sunny and bright outside, the day is chilly. You do not "

5800 PRINT “wish to spoil the warmth of the room by opening the windows.”

5805 GOTO 566

5810 PRINT “To do that, you must rise from your seat.”

5815 GOTO 566

5820 IF Sit$ = “0” THEN GOTO 5836

5822 IF Weave = 100 THEN GOTO 5840

5824 LET Work = INT(10*RND(1))+1

5826 FOR Labor = 1 TO Work

5828 PRINT “You diligently work the loom.”

5830 Weave = Weave + 2

5832 NEXT Labor

5833 IF Weave>99 THEN LET Weave = 100

5834 GOTO 566

5836 PRINT “You need to sit down at the loom to use it.”

5838 GOTO 566

5840 PRINT “You have completed the message!”

5845 GOTO 575

5900 REM Purna’s Only Choices

5902 IF Action$ = “look” THEN GOTO 752

5904 IF Action$ = “look floor” THEN GOTO 5970

5906 IF Action$ = “look button” THEN GOTO 5980

5908 IF Action$ = “look buttons” THEN GOTO 5980

5910 IF Action$ = “look panel” THEN GOTO 5980

5911 IF Action$ = “sit” THEN GOTO 5966

5912 IF Action$ = “sit down” THEN GOTO 5966

5913 IF Action$ = “press O” THEN GOTO 5990

5914 IF Action$ = “O” THEN GOTO 5990

5916 IF Action$ = “o” THEN GOTO 5990

5918 IF Action$ = “press C” THEN GOTO 5992

5920 IF Action$ = “C” THEN GOTO 5992

5922 IF Action$ = “c” THEN GOTO 5992

5924 IF Action$ = “press A” THEN GOTO 6000

5926 IF Action$ = “A” THEN GOTO 6000

5928 IF Action$ = “a” THEN GOTO 6000

5930 IF Action$ = “call” THEN GOTO 6000

5932 IF Action$ = “open doors” THEN GOTO 5990

5934 IF Action$ = “1” THEN GOTO 6010

5935 IF Action$ = “2” THEN GOTO 6010

5936 IF Action$ = “3” THEN GOTO 6010

5937 IF Action$ = “4” THEN GOTO 6010

5938 IF Action$ = “5” THEN GOTO 6010

5939 IF Action$ = “6” THEN GOTO 6010

5940 IF Action$ = “7” THEN GOTO 6010

5941 IF Action$ = “8” THEN GOTO 6010

5942 IF Action$ = “9” THEN GOTO 6010

5943 IF Action$ = “10” THEN GOTO 6010

5944 IF Action$ = “11” THEN GOTO 6010

5945 IF Action$ = “12” THEN GOTO 6010

5946 IF Action$ = “13” THEN GOTO 6010

5947 IF Action$ = “press 1” THEN GOTO 6010

5948 IF Action$ = “press 2” THEN GOTO 6010

5949 IF Action$ = “press 3” THEN GOTO 6010

5950 IF Action$ = “press 4” THEN GOTO 6010

5951 IF Action$ = “press 5” THEN GOTO 6010

5952 IF Action$ = “press 6” THEN GOTO 6010

5953 IF Action$ = “press 7” THEN GOTO 6010

5954 IF Action$ = “press 8” THEN GOTO 6010

5955 IF Action$ = “press 9” THEN GOTO 6010

5956 IF Action$ = “press 10” THEN GOTO 6010

5957 IF Action$ = “press 11” THEN GOTO 6010

5958 IF Action$ = “press 12” THEN GOTO 6010

5959 IF Action$ = “press 13” THEN GOTO 6010

5960 PRINT “You try valiantly to “; Action$; " but to no avail.”

5965 GOTO 766

5966 PRINT “You are too afraid to sit still. You want to get out of the elevator.”

5967 GOTO 766

5970 PRINT “The dimly lit number above the doors reads “;Floor;”.”

5975 GOTO 766

5980 PRINT “The panel has three columns of round, white buttons labeled (1) through (13).”

5982 PRINT “Below the numbers are buttons labeled (O)pen Doors, (C)lose Doors, and C(A)ll.”

5984 PRINT “A small placard reads, ‘In case of emergency, please use the stairs.’ ”

5986 GOTO 766

5990 IF Floor = Escape THEN GOTO 6080

5992 PRINT “The button lights up weakly but nothing happens.”

5994 GOTO 766

6000 CallingForHelp = INT(100*RND(1))+1

6002 IF CallingForHelp > 75 THEN GOT 5992

6002 PRINT “A bit of static comes over the elevator speakers. After a sharp crackle, you hear a "

6002 PRINT “low, slow, inhuman moan before the system cuts out completely.

6006 GOTO 766

6010 IF Action$ = “1” THEN LET NewFloor = 1

6011 IF Action$ = “press 1” THEN LET NewFloor = 1

6012 IF Action$ = “2” THEN LET NewFloor = 2

6013 IF Action$ = “press 2” THEN LET NewFloor = 2

6014 IF Action$ = “3” THEN LET NewFloor = 3

6015 IF Action$ = “press 3” THEN LET NewFloor = 3

6016 IF Action$ = “4” THEN LET NewFloor = 4

6017 IF Action$ = “press 4” THEN LET NewFloor = 4

6018 IF Action$ = “5” THEN LET NewFloor = 5

6019 IF Action$ = “press 5” THEN LET NewFloor = 5

6020 IF Action$ = “6” THEN LET NewFloor = 6

6021 IF Action$ = “press 6” THEN LET NewFloor = 6

6022 IF Action$ = “7” THEN LET NewFloor = 7

6023 IF Action$ = “press 7” THEN LET NewFloor = 7

6024 IF Action$ = “8” THEN LET NewFloor = 8

6025 IF Action$ = “press 8” THEN LET NewFloor = 8

6026 IF Action$ = “9” THEN LET NewFloor = 9

6027 IF Action$ = “press 9” THEN LET NewFloor = 9

6028 IF Action$ = “10” THEN LET NewFloor = 10

6029 IF Action$ = “press 10” THEN LET NewFloor = 10

6030 IF Action$ = “11” THEN LET NewFloor = 11

6031 IF Action$ = “press 11” THEN LET NewFloor = 11

6032 IF Action$ = “12” THEN LET NewFloor = 12

6033 IF Action$ = “press 12” THEN LET NewFloor = 12

6034 IF Action$ = “13” THEN LET NewFloor = 13

6035 IF Action$ = “press 13” THEN LET NewFloor = 13

6050 IF NewFloor<Floor THEN GOTO 6054

6052 IF NewFloor>Floor THEN GOTO 6064

6053 GOTO 6080

6054 PRINT “The button glows. The elevator shudders to life descends to floor “;NewFloor;”.”

6056 LET Floor = NewFloor

6058 IF Floor = Escape GOTO 6080

6060 PRINT “The doors fail to open.”

6062 GOTO 766

6064 PRINT “The button glows. The elevator shudders to life ascends to floor “;NewFloor;”.”

6066 LET Floor = NewFloor

6068 IF Floor = Escape GOTO 6080

6070 PRINT “The doors fail to open.”

6072 GOTO 766

6080 PRINT “The doors slowly open.”

6085 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”;Enter$

6088 PRINT

6090 PRINT “An escape route is nearby.

6095 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”;Enter$

6098 PRINT

6100 PRINT “You run.”

6105 INPUT “Press <ENTER> to continue”; Enter$

6110 GOTO 775

9000 REM Goodbye

9005 PRINT

9010 INPUT “Are you sure? (Yes/No)“; Goodbye$

9015 IF Goodbye$ = “No” THEN GOTO 195

9020 IF Goodbye$ = “Yes” THEN GOTO 9035

9025 PRINT “Say again?”

9030 GOTO 9010

9035 PRINT

9040 PRINT “Goodbye.”

9045 PRINT


The Double Truth of the Digital Humanities

  1. In Golumbia (2014) I explore in more detail the differences between DH and other recent theoretical and methodological movements in literary studies.

The Self-Reflexive Praxis at the Heart of DH

  2. See my self-reflexive discussions about the process, with MIT and my editor, of lengthy and interesting contractual negotiations for publishing an always-online “book” on the book itself: "The Absurdities of Moving from Paper to Digital in Academic Publishing (June 11, 2010)" = 213 and "Me ‘n MIT: Building Better Contracts for On-Line Publishing (October 23, 2010)" = 249 and
  3. I speak extensively about this in an interview I did with Figure Ground: An open-source, para-academic, interidisciplinary collaboration.February 11, 2013:
  4. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Donna Haraway, Feminist Studies Vol. 14, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 575–599.
  5. = 243&tour = 14
  7. For more on the structure of the class, see my interview on Henry Jenkins’ Blog, Confessions of an Aca-Fan, “Learning From YouTube: An Interview with Alex Juhasz (Part One),” February 20, 2008.
  8. See “Orientation to the Class” from the YouTour “THE CLASS” to learn more about our viral moment and our reactions to it: = 215
  10. Here the work of Brecht and Eisenstein is helpful. See "10 Terms and 3 Calls (August 23, 2007)“: = 122&tour = 14.
  13. = 243&tour = 14
  14. I write and make videos about trying to manage this brief moment of “celebrity” in "Fox It Is and Fox Is It (September 21, 2007)“. = 112&tour = 15
  17. See FemTechNet’s Whitepaper, and Manifesto:
  18. "On Slogans (August 31, 2007)" = 120
  19. “Ceding the Activist Digital Documentary,” in Nash, Hight and Summerhayes, eds.
    New Documentary Ecologies (NY: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014): 33–49.
  21. "Beyond Visibility/Learning from Ghana (August 20, 2008),” = 50

Cold War Computations and Imitation Games

  1. See Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth (eds), A Companion to Digital Humanities. New York: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. . Hockey’s “The History of Humanities Computing” begins in the 1940s (particularly 1949) and maps the development of humanities computing from the mid-twentieth-century to the turn-of-the-twenty-first century (n.pag).
  2. Ibid., n.pag.
  3. Ibid., n.pag.
  4. Ibid., n.pag.
  5. This “foreign policy” assessment of mid-century Asian studies is evident in Dean Acheson’s “Speech on the Far East,” which was delivered soon after the so-characterized “fall of China” in 1949. On January 12, 1950, Acheson averred, “…I am frequently asked: Has the State Department got an Asian policy? And it seems to me that that discloses such a depth of ignorance that it is very hard to begin to deal with it. The peoples of Asia are so incredibly diverse and their problems are so incredibly diverse that how could anyone, even the most utter charlatan, believe that he had a uniform policy which would deal with all of them. On the other hand, there are very important similarities in ideas and in problems among the peoples of Asia and so what we come to, after we understand these diversities and these common attitudes of mind, is the fact that there must be certain similarities of approach, and there must be great dissimilarities in action….”
  6. See Chow, Rey.The Age of the World Target: Self-Referentiality in War, Theory, and Comparative Work. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006: pp. 40–41.
  7. According to Chow, in the postwar period, to “conceive the world as a target is to conceive it as an object to be destroyed’ (31). See Chow, Rey.The Age of the World Target: Self-Referentiality in War, Theory, and Comparative Work. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.
  8. With regard to this observation of “conflict,” I am accessing what has become a “mainstream academic” characterization of digital humanities as innovative, cutting-edge, and technologically transformative; whereas digital humanities is cast as constantly-changing, Asian studies has been classified as “traditional” and critiqued (rather unfairly) as a static interdiscipline. This misreading of Asian studies is evocatively disabused in Kuan-Hsing Chen’s Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010).
  9. This idea of “critical juxtapositioning” emerges from Yên Lê Espiritu’s compelling insistence to bring into dialogue ostensibly divergent fields and narratives. See Body Counts: Militarized Refuge(es). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2014.
  10. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act is credited for enabling the first en masse migration of Asian immigrants in U.S. history. What follows is a confessedly quick overview of anti-Asian immigration policy. Asian immigrants were disproportionately targeted in a series of exclusionary immigration prohibitions which commence with the 1875 Page Act (which prohibited in most instances the migration of Asian women to the United States) and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act; indeed, the Chinese remain the only group specifically named in immigration legislation and the prohibitions reflect both the racist concerns of nineteenth-century/early twentieth-century white labor and nativist anxieties. These provisions were extended to other Asian immigrant groups, including South Asians, Japanese, Filipinos, and Koreans. While the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act enabled Asian immigrant naturalization, what remained were country-based quotas that disproportionately privileged “Western,” predominately white nation-states. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act eschewed country-based quotas in favor of a hemispheric division which allowed for the legal migration of 120,000 immigrants (per year) from the so-classified Western Hemisphere and 170,000 immigrants from the so-known Eastern Hemisphere. Not only did the act “open the door” to Asian migrants; it also enabled immigration from Latin America.
  11. This connection is very much at the forefront of Anne Cong-Huyen’s recently published “Asian/American and the Digital |Technological Thus Far” (in the inaugural issue of Verge: Global Asias. According to Cong-Huyen, “To some, it may seem as if Asian studies and Asian American studies have had limited engagement with big tent digital humanities and have instead been siloed within area studies and American ethnic studies, and even from each other. However, scholarship in these areas has long been engaged with the digital, the technological, and the unseen politics therein” (101).
  12. See McPherson, Tara. “Why are the Digital Humanities So White? Or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation” in Debates in the Digital Humanities (2012).
  13. Ibid.
  14. See Lowe, Lisa. Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.
  15. The Naturalization Act of 1790 required would-be citizens to be “free white persons”; this was later amended in 1870 to include “those of African descent.” Asian immigrants fell between these two race-based poles and were deemed—in a series of court cases in 1879 (In Re Ah Yup),, 1922 (Ozawa v. United States),, and 1923 (United States v. Thind)—”aliens ineligible for citizenship.” In 1943, as per wartime logics and political alliances, Chinese and South Asian immigrants were allowed to naturalize.
  16. For a compelling analysis about mid-century deportation politics and their connection to race and racialization, please see Joseph Keith’s Unbecoming Americans: Writing Race and Nation from the Shadow of Citizenship, 1945–1960. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012.
  17. See Koh, Adeline. “Niceness, Building, and Opening the Genealogy of the Digital Humanities: Beyond the Social Contract of Humanities Computing.” differences. Volume 25, Number 1 (2014): 95.
  18. Ibid.
  19. See Turing, Alan M. “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” Mind (49): p. 433.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid., 449—455. Upon establishing the “imitative” registers of his revised game, Turing enumerates what he characterizes as nine common objections against artificial intelligence which include the following: 1) religious objection (predicated on the idea of a human “soul”); 2) “Heads in the Sand” objection (based on sublime avoidance); 3) mathematical objections (which highlight the computational limitations of computer logic); 4) consciousness (as humanistic); 5) “disabilities” which involve (dis)attributing human qualities onto machines; 6) lack of originality (termed “Lady Lovelace’s Objection”); 7) nervous system continuity; 8) informality of behavior; and 9) extra-sensory perception.
  22. To be sure, this line of imaginative inquiry diverges from Turing’s original argument, which is very much focused on machine intelligence. Even so, as theoretical optic, the “imitation game” allows for a critical juxtapositioning of multiple fields which have arbitrarily been characterized as discrete disciplines notwithstanding the fact that politics do not occur in a vacuum.
  23. On the one hand, such considerations of race-based statecraft are at the forefront of Latino/a studies, African American studies, Native/indigenous studies, and Asian American studies; what links these diverse interdisciplines is what Lisa Lowe noted was an evocative “reckoning” with the past. See Immigrant Acts (1996).
  24. The most famous of these waystations was New York’s Ellis Island, a principle port of European immigrant entry on the East Coast; its West Coast counterpart, San Francisco’s Angel Island, was the primary entry point for Asian immigrants. As key reference, see Mae M. Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (New Brunswick, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004). Even less intentional yet likewise analogous is the extent to which Turing’s “imitation game” serves as an apt frame to recollect the long-standing racialization of Asians in the United States via a series of immigration prohibitions which precipitated the rise of so-termed Chinese “paper sons,” who attempted to enter the United States using fraudulent immigration papers. These individuals would usually pay a third party that established an identity as the progeny of a native-born Chinese American. Upon arrival, these individuals were forced to answer a series of questions to prove this “familial bond.”
  25. This essay deliberately uses the term “incarceration” as a means of accentuating the racist, carceral actualities of Japanese American internment. Such usage coheres with what Lane Hirabayashi and other Asian American historians assert is a more accurate nomenclature. However, earlier mentions to “internment” are intended to use a more recognizable formulation as a means of introducing the event.
  26. See Eiichiro Azuma’s Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2004) and Kandice Chuh’s Imagine Otherwise: On Asian Americanist Critique (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003). The en masse incarceration of Japanese Americans (inclusive of first-generation Issei, second-generation Nisei and Kibei, and third-generation Sansei) is an undeniable field touchstone for Asian American studies. As many have noted, while the dominant reading of what has come to be known as “the internment” pivots on an assessment of “necessary” wartime logics and states of exception, the treatment of Japanese Americans is consistent with a multi-decade nativism and anti-Asian racism. This longue durée reading—particularly when juxtaposed with the forced migrations of Native peoples and Africans/African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries—makes clear how such a policy was not the exception but rather the rule of the U.S. racial state.
  27. In particular, the “Yellow Report” argued that Japanese Americans represented potential espionage threats due to alleged devotion to the Japanese emperor, observance of Buddhist practice, and the number of Japanese fisherman on the West Coast. This characterization militated against the findings of a previously written report by Army contractor C. B. Munson, who stressed that Japanese and Japanese Americans on the West Coast posed no serious threat to national security. This report very much worked in tandem with Executive Order 9066, issued February 19, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. For more information about the Yellow Report, see Myer, Dillon S. Uprooted Americans. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1971: 19.
  28. See Schlund-Vials, Cathy J. Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing (Philadelphia, PA: Temple UP, 2011).
  29. See Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999).
  30. In so doing, the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act was consistent with the previously passed “Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950,” which carried an “Emergency Detention” provision. President Harry S. Truman vetoed both acts on the grounds that they were discriminatory and “un-American.”
  31. Senator Pat McCarran, Congressional Record, March 2, 1953, p. 1518.
  32. See Arshad Ahmed’s “The US PATRIOT Act: Impact on the Arab and Muslim American Community” Report. This report was generated under the auspices of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). According to the Institute’s site, the ISPU is an independent, nonpartisan think tank and research organization committed to conducting objective, empirical research and offering expert policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States. These issues include U.S. foreign policy, national security, the economy, and public health.” The ISPU is specifically focused on issues facing “American Muslims and Muslim communities around the world.” accessed 31 October 2015.

An Indigenist Internet for Indigenous Futures

  1. American Philosophical Society, “APS Collections through Indigenous Eyes,” 2013, “Reciprocal Research Network,” November 22, 2014,; “AUSTLANG: Australian Indigenous Languages Database,” accessed July 30, 2015, For more on virtual repatriation and the politics of digital archives, see Robin Boast and Jim Enote, “Virtual Repatriation: It Is Neither Virtual nor Repatriation,” in Heritage in the Context of Globalization, Ed. Peter Biehl and Christopher Prescott, vol. 8, SpringerBriefs in Archaeology (New York, NY: Springer New York, 2013), 103–13. Kimberly Christen, “Opening Archives: Respectful Repatriation,” American Archivist 74 (Spring/Summer 2011): 185–210. Paul Grant-Costa, Tobias Glaza, and Michael Sletcher, “The Common Pot: Editing Native American Materials,” Scholarly Editing 33 (2012), Timothy Powell and Larry Aitken, “Encoding Culture: Building a Digital Archive Based on Traditional Ojibwe Teachings,” in The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age, Ed. Amy Earhart and Andrew Jewell (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), 250–74. Susan Rowley, “The Reciprocal Research Network: The Development Process,” Museum Anthropology Review 7, no. 1–2 (2013): 22–43.
  2. Eva Garroutte, Real Indians: Identity and the Survival of Native America (Berkeley: U of California P, 2003), 149.
  3. Karyn Recollet, “Glyphing Decolonial Love through Urban Flash Mobbing and Walking with Our Sisters,” Curriculum Inquiry 45, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 129–45.
  4. Fox Spears, “Robohontas,” Robohontas, accessed July 30, 2015,
  5. E. A. Povinelli, “The Woman on the Other Side of the Wall: Archiving the Otherwise in Postcolonial Digital Archives,” Differences 22, no. 1 (January 1, 2011): 161, doi:10.1215/10407391–1218274.
  6. Nadya Domingo, “The Trope Slayers,” This Magazine, March 20, 2015,
  7. Skawennati Fragnito, “CPW: FAQ,” Cyberpowwow, April 6, 1997, For more on the history of Cyberpowwow and its new iteration, AbTeC (Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace), see Skawennati Fragnito and Jason Lewis, “Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace,” Cultural Survival, Summer 2005,
  9. Lauren Chief Elk, “The Missing Women You Don’t Hear about: How the Media Fails Indigenous Communities,” Salon, February 14, 2014,
  10. Jace Weaver, That the People Might Live: Native American Literatures and Native American Community (New York: Oxford University Press US, 1997), 43.
  11. Many people date the beginnings of podcasting to around 2004, when the term began to appear in the popular press. Indigenous podcasting is now a widespread and global phenomenon, including shows like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Awaye! (Listen Up!) on Aboriginal Arts and Culture.
  14. Mairead Moriarty, “New Roles for Endangered Languages,” in The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages, Cambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 447.
  15. Ibid., 454.
  16. Renya Ramirez, Native Hubs : Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and beyond (Durham: Duke UP, 2007).
  17. = WCkcYV7OV0o&list = UUDUFBq8Cu1SPuaIfgThwqOw
  18. Charles Hirschkind, The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics (Columbia University Press, 2009), 2.
  19. Marcella Ernest, Linguicide, Indigenous Community and the Search for Lost Sounds, Sounding Out!, accessed July 31, 2015,–40-linguicide-indigenous-community-and-the-search-for-lost-sounds/.
  20. Alan Liu, “Imagining the New Media Encounter,” in Companion to Digital Literary Studies (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture), Ed. Ray Siemens and Susan Schreibman, Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Professional, 2007), 11,
  21. Red Man Laughing, February 17, 2015. Elizabeth LaPensee, “Indigenously-Determined Games of the Future,” Kimwan Zine, takwakin 2014. See also Angela Haas, “Wampum as Hypertext: An American Indian Intellectual Tradition of Multimedia Theory and Practice,” Studies in American Indian Literatures 19, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 77–100.; and Steven Loft and Kerry Swanson, eds., Coded Territories: Tracing Indigenous Pathways in New Media Art, (Calgary, Alberta, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2014).
  22. Liu, “Imagining the New Media Encounter,” 16.
  23. Lindsey Catherine Cornum, “The Space NDN’s Star Map,” The New Inquiry, January 26, 2015,
  24. Adeline Koh, “Niceness, Building, and Opening the Genealogy of the Digital Humanities: Beyond the Social Contract of Humanities Computing,” Differences 25, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 102.

Invisible Objects

  1. For a similar sentiment, see Alan Liu, “The Meaning of the Digital Humanities,” PMLA 128, no. 2 (2013): 409–423, doi: 10.1632/pmla.2013.128.2.409; and Willard McCarty, “Getting there from here. Remembering the future of digital humanities,” Literary and Linguistic Computing (2014): 1–24, doi: 10.1093/llc/fqu022.
  2. Natalia Cecire, “When Digital Humanities Was in Vogue,” Journal of Digital Humanities 1, no. 1. (Winter 2011),–1/when-digital-humanities-was-in-vogue-by-natalia-cecire/.
  3. Franco Moretti, “The End of the Beginning: A Reply to Christopher Prendergast,” New Left Review 41 (2006): 85–6.
  4. Jonathan Culler, “The Closeness of Close Reading,” ADE Bulletin 149 (2010): 22.
  5. Julie Orlemanski, “Scales of Reading,” Exemplaria 26.2–3 (2014): 218.
  6. Orlemanski, “Scales of Reading,” 224.
  7. Orlemanski, “Scales of Reading,” 229.
  8. Ramsay, Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011), 8, 10.
  9. Culler, “The Closeness of Close Reading,” 23.
  10. See John Guillory, “Close Reading: Prologue and Epilogue,” ADE Bulletin 149 (2010): 8–14.
  11. See Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity (New York: Zone Books, 2007), especially Chapter Six, “Trained Judgment.”
  12. Daston and Galison use the phrase “epistemic virtue” to refer to “scientific practices that blurred into techniques of the self.” Epistemic virtues are ways knowing—ways of translating epistemology into science—that emphasize the molding of the self and the concomitant adoption of the proper “attitude” or “stance” toward inquiry. Objectivity,39.
  13. Ibid, 312, 311.
  14. Ibid, 39.
  15. Ibid, 331.
  16. Moretti, “The End of the Beginning,” 83.
  17. Ted Underwood, Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013), 169–70.
  18. Orlemanski, “Scales of Reading,” 215, 218, 224.
  19. Ibid 226.
  20. Orlemanski, 226. For more on the relationship of close reading to these “antihermeneutic” approaches, see Heather Love, “Close but Not Deep: Literary Ethics and the Descriptive Turn,” New Literary History 41, no. 2 (2010): 371–91, doi:10.1353/nlh.2010.0007.
  21. Matthew L. Jockers, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013)., 30. See also Moretti, “The End of the Beginning,” and Matthew Wilkens, “Digital Humanities and Its Application in the Study of Literature and Culture,” Comparative Literature 67, no. 1 (2015): 11–20, doi:10.1215/00104124–2861911.
  22. This is not exactly true. Tanya Clement and Steven Ramsay, for example, apply “distant reading” techniques to individual texts. Although they don’t operate “at scale” in terms of the numbers of texts they analyze, they do use computational techniques to draw their attention to minute details that may normally escape the threshold of an individual researcher’s attention or that would be difficult to track without computers (word frequencies, structural patterns of repetition, etc.). This is a different way of thinking about the scale of analysis, but I would still argue their analyses are operating at a scale “beyond” that of the individual human researcher. See Tanya E. Clement, “ ‘A Thing Not Beginning and Not Ending’: Using Digital Tools to Distant-Read Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 23, no. 3 (2008): 361–81, doi:10.1093/llc/fqn020; and Ramsay, Reading Machines.
  23. See Chapter 8, “Theme,” Jocker’s Macroanalysis for just such an analysis.
  24. Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (London, New York: Verso Books, 2005)., 76.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Moretti, “The End of the Beginning,” 86.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Andrew Goldstone and Ted Underwood, “The Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies: What Thirteen Thousand Scholars Could Tell Us” 27, no. 1 (2014): 1–28, doi:10.1353/nlh.2014.0025; Andrew Piper, “Novel Devotions: Conversional Reading, Computational Modeling, and the Modern Novel,” New Literary History 46, no. 1 (2015): 63–98, doi:10.1353/nlh.2015.0008.
  29. For more on topics as discourses, see Piper, “Novel Devotions,” 71, and Goldstone and Underwood, “Quiet Transformations,” 361. Because topic modeling has proven so popular in the digital humanities, the digital humanities literature on how topic modeling works is much more extensive than that on vector space modeling. For good descriptions of how topic modeling works mathematically and algorithmically, see David M. Blei, “Topic Modeling and the Digital Humanities,” Journal of Digital Humanities 2, no. 1 (2012).–1/topic-modeling-and-digital-humanities-by-david-m-blei/.
  30. Goldstone and Underwood, “Quiet Transformations,” 361, 363. They compare the frequency of these keywords in literary studies journals to that of print culture more broadly using Google’s Ngram viewer, which shows that the frequency of these words did not increase over the same timeframe. They also compare this model to a topic model of the American Historical Review, which contains no similar topic.
  31. Ibid, 363.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees, 76; Orlemanski, “Scales of Reading,” 222.
  34. Julia Flanders, “The Productive Unease of 21st-Century Digital Scholarship,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 3, no. 3 (2009)., par. 12. Andrew Piper calls this “critical estrangement;” see Piper, “Novel Devotions,” 69.
  35. Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)., 27.
  36. Of course, the mediated condition of texts has long been a concern in bibliography and textual studies, in the tradition of D. F. McKenzie.
  37. Piper, “Novel Devotions,” 69.
  38. Ibid, 67–8.
  39. Ibid, 92.
  40. Ibid, 67.
  41. Willard Mccarty, “Being Reborn: The Humanities, Computing and Styles of Scientic Reasoning,” New Technology in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 6, no. 1 (2007): 18.

Towards a Digital Cultural Studies

  1. The VCR of course, has been hugely important for distribution and production, enabling entire new areas of production, such as the “straight to video model.” My point is not that VCRs are not important, but rather that they did not achieve what many breathlessly promised they would.

Archival Emanations and Contrapuntal Transformations

  1. Jacques Derrida, The Politics of Friendship (London: Verso, 2005), 29.
  2. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Lisa Mary Rhody, “Working the Digital Humanities: Uncovering Shadows between the Dark and the Light,” Differences 25, no. 1 (2014): 1–25.
  3. Ann Stoler, Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (New Jersey: Princeton, 2010), 2.
  4. Many would associate this title, rather, with Peter Weir’s 1982 film starring Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver, The Year of Living Dangerously, based on Christopher Koch’s novel with the same name. It is important to trace the title back to Sukarno’s speech, especially as the Hollywood film verges on an Orientalist approach to its representations of both Indonesia and Sukarno as mysterious and unknowable to the West. For more on the problem of the film’s setting up of Indonesia as “inscrutable” and the lack of a connection with what really goes on in the life of Indonesian society, see Max Lane, “The Year of Living Dangerously,” Inside Indonesia, Nov, 1983, 31.–88227234.
  5. Ann Laura Stoler, “Untold Stories,” Inside Indonesia, Oct-Dec, 2001.–2.
  6. "Tahun Vivere Pericoloso” (A Year of Living Dangerously), address on Aug. 17, 1964, Djakarta, quoted in Rex Mortimer, Indonesian Communism under Sukarno: Ideology and Politics, 1959–1965 (Singapore: Equinox Publishing, 2006), 82–83.
  7. The most influential of any type of media disseminated by Suharto’s regimewas, and arguably still is, Pengkhianatan G30S/PKI (The Treachery of G30S/PKI),, a harrowing film produced in 1984 and endorsed by the New Order regime. The film runs for a hefty 4.5 hours, and was required viewing for all Indonesians until the New Order era ended. Pengkhianatan depicted the violence of the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) and the alleged involvement of the Gerwani (Indonesian Women’s Movement) in the 1965 military coup. As Ariel Heryanto points out, “the New Order state terrorism [was linked to] its enthusiastic investment in film as a popular medium for its propaganda machine.” The significance of the connection between visual media and the history of 1965, therefore, cannot be overlooked. See Ariel Heryanto, Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture (Singapore: NUS Press, 2014), 77.
  8. Rachmi Diyah Larasati, The Dance That Makes You Vanish: Cultural Reconstruction in Post-Genocide Indonesia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 6.
  9. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1994).
  10. Videochronic: Video Activism and Video Distribution in Indonesia (Yogyakarta, Indonesia: KUNCI Cultural Studies Center & EngageMedia, 2009), 16.
  11. Intan Paramaditha, “Cinema, Sexuality and Censorship in Post-Soeharto Indonesia,” in Southeast Asian Independent Cinema (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2012), 71.
  12. David T. Hill and Krishna Sen, The Internet in Indonesia’s New Democracy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 10.
  13. Eric Sasono, Twitter post, October 25, 2015, 4:39 a.m.,
  14. Nodegoat. “Mapping Memory Landscapes in nodegoat, the Indonesian killings of 1965–66.” Last modified December 4, 2014.–1965–66.
  15. Martijn Eickhoff, “Memory Landscapes and the Regime Change of 1965–55 in Semarang,” accessed October 10, 2015,–1965–66-semarang.
  16. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Lisa Mary Rhody, “Working the Digital Humanities: Uncovering Shadows between the Dark and the Light,” Differences 25, no. 1 (2014): 1–25.
  17. “I began with the desire to speak with the dead” is the provocative and earnest opening line in Stephen Greenblatt’s Shakespearean Negotiations. See Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 1.
  18. Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 116.
  19. Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, Or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 62.
  20. Ibid., 77.
  21. Alexander R. Galloway, “Are Some Things Unrepresentable?” in The Interface Effect (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2012), 86.
  22. McKenzie Wark, “From OOO to P(OO).” December 5, 2015.
  23. Virginia Kuhn, “Web Three Point Oh: The Virtual is the Real.” In High Wired Redux: CyberText Yearbook (Research Centre for Contemporary Culture: University of Jyvkaisuja Press, 2013).
  24. David Kim, “LA as Subject in Digital Lab Pedagogy,” Teaching Los Angeles: Innovative Strategies, Possible Pitfalls, with Anne Cong-Huyen, David Kim, Craig Dietrich, Alex Tarr, and Michelle Chihara (Scalar: 2014), http://scalar.usc/edu/aclsworkbench/teaching-la.
  25. Nodegoat. “Mapping Memory Landscapes in nodegoat, the Indonesian killings of 1965–66.” Last modified December 4, 2014.–1965–66.
  26. Tara McPherson, “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White? or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities, ed. Matthew K. Gold (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 139–160.
  27. Institut Sejarah Sosial Indonesia, accessed January 13, 2016,
  28. Oey was a member of the Institute for People’s Culture (LEKRA) and imprisoned for fourteen years, without trial, under the New Order regime, for his leftwing connections and suspected communist-related activities.
  29. Hilmar Farid, “Does the Past Matter? Archiving Injustices in Indonesia” (Human Rights Archives Symposium, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, October 19, 2013).
  30. Agung Ayu Ratih, e-mail message to author, September 10, 2015.
  31. “Video Slam 2013: Remixing the 1965 State Propaganda Film,” EngageMedia, accessed November 19, 2015.
  32. David T. Hill and Krishna Sen, The Internet in Indonesia’s New Democracy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 148.
  33. Ariel Heryanto, Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture (Singapore: NUS Press, 2014), 77.
  34. Ariel Heryanto, Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture (Singapore: NUS Press, 2014), 11.
  35. David T. Hill and Krishna Sen, The Internet in Indonesia’s New Democracy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 147.
  36. Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer,” New Left Review (Jul 1, 1970), 89.
  37. Rita Raley, Tactical Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 16.
  38. Virginia Kuhn, “The Rhetoric of Remix,” Transformative Works and Cultures 9, 2012.
  39. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 67.
  40. Edward Said, “Professionals and Amateurs,” in Representations of the Intellectual (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 76.
  41. Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975).
  42. Maya Deren, “Amateur vs Professional,” in Film Culture 39 (1965), 45–46.
  43. David T. Hill and Krishna Sen, The Internet in Indonesia’s New Democracy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 148.
  44. Ibid., 150.
  45. Edward Said, Music at the Limits (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 5.
  46. Intan Paramaditha, “Tracing Frictions in The Act of Killing,” Film Quarterly 67.2 (2013): 45.
  47. Ann Laura Stoler. Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), 20.
  48. Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 8.
  49. Lauren Klein, “The Image of Absence: Archival Silence, Data Visualization, and James Hemings, American Literature 85.4 (December 2013): 661–688.
  50. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Lisa Mary Rhody, “Working the Digital Humanities: Uncovering Shadows between the Dark and the Light,” Differences 25, no. 1 (2014): 1–25.
  51. Lauren Klein, “The Image of Absence: Archival Silence, Data Visualization, and James Hemings, American Literature 85.4 (December 2013): 661–688.
  52. Alondra Nelson, “Representing Race: Silence in the Digital Humanities (Modern Language Association Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, January 4, 2013).
  53. Laurie Sears, “Reading Ayu Utami: Notes Toward A Study of Trauma and the Archive in Indonesia,” Indonesia, No. 83 (April 2007): 17–39.
  54. Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 36.
  55. Michel Foucalt, The Archaeology of Knowledge: And, the Discourse on Language (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972), 130.
  56. Nadav Hochman and Lev Manovich, “Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the Local through Social Media,” First Monday 18: 7 (July 2013),
  57. Matthew Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008). Kirschenbaum theorizes the activation of a “forensic imagination” in conceiving the computer as both archival and writing machine, and in envisioning digital texts as ultimately and always material, diachronic, and social objects.
  58. William Gibson. “Agrippa (The Book of the Dead).”


  1. Roberto Busa went to highschool with Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I (Passarotti 2013).
  2. It is only once an antitrust suit (U.S. v. IBM) is filed against IBM in January 1969 that the specifications of the IBM punch card machines are made available to the public. Dr. Cuthbert Hurd’s explicates in his sworn testimony to the Justice Department all the components required to build an IBM punch-card machine (Winter 1999). Hurd was a mathematician who worked for the Atomic Energy Commission’s laboratory before being brought on board by IBM in 1949 to work on implementing punch-card machine technology into IBM engineering laboratories and workshops (Watson and Peter 2000). Hurd’s testimony presents in the written word the technology that Busa would have worked with and/or the punch card machines that he would have seen at the site visit with IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson Sr. in 1949.
  3. IBM’s Product Catalogue from August, 20, 1957. URL:
  4. Marco Passarotti at CIRCSE Research Centre, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy can grant permission to have the images made available under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC license. Melissa Terras has a few of these images available on her blog from 15 October 2013, “For Ada Lovelace Day—Father Busa’s Female Punch Card Operatives” (blog). URL:
  5. IBM has had its products engage in media spectacle events that helped them gain media attention. I remember the press coverage that IBM received in 1996 when the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeated the reigning world chess champion Gary Kasparov. In 2011, IBM’s artificial intelligence technology Watson appeared on the popular television show Jeopardy. In 2016, IBM Watson garnered a lot of media attention for creating the first AI-made film trailer for Morgan (dir. Luke Scott). These examples suggest to me that IBM has a corporate communication strategy that is tasked with generating media content that evoke positive feelings in people collective cultural memories. In 2017, IBM Watson, also serves as the army’s equipment advisor solution using Internet of Things (IoT) to provide predictive battlefield analytics for military vehicles. But there is minimal press-coverage given to IBM’s cutting edge military-industrial ventures. Suggesting that IBM only advertises technologies that are in the advanced/mainstream stage of their technology life cycle while IBM’s cutting edge/state of the art military technologies receive very little media exposure.
    IBM’s AI Watson created a film trailer for the 20th Century Fox science-fiction film Morgan.
    IBM Watson is being currently used by the U.S. Department of Defence for Artificial Intelligence-based predictive maintenance solutions for their military assets.