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The Arts and Humanities in a
Digital Age: Disruptions and
Continuities
Andrew Prescott, University of Glasgow
‘Transformin...
The Gutenberg Bible led to religious reformation
while the Web appears to be leading towards
social and economic reformati...
Sidney Pollard on the Industrial
Revolution in Sheffield and Birmingham
“a visitor to the metalworking areas of
Birmingham...
William Holt Yates Titcomb, The Wealth of England, the
Bessemer Process of Making Steel (1895)
Sheffield Industrial Museums...
Model of Newcomen
Steam Engine at the
University of Glasgow
repaired by James Watt
in 1765
I believe that the most useful and novel inventions
and improvements of the present day are mere
progressive steps in a hi...
Steve Jobs as the heir of James Watt: New Yorker,
November 14, 2011
• ‘Digital transformations’ refers to (and misinterprets)
the ‘disruptive’ models of Christensen
• The process of innovati...
Wordsworth, The Ruined Cottage, 1798
- Rural poverty and hunger
- Effect of French Wars
- Leading characters in poem engag...
The Old Cumberland Beggar
But deem not this Man useless.--Statesmen! ye
Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye
Who have a ...
The Excursion, 1814
Meanwhile, at social Industry's command

How quick, how vast an increase. From the germ

Of some poor ...
Coleridge:
‘We are daily advancing to the state in which there are
but two classes of men, masters and abject dependents’....
Matthew Arnold, Literature
and Science, 1882
‘The great majority of
mankind... would do well, I
cannot but think, to choos...
Proceedings of the Old Bailey:
www.oldbaileyonline.org
A Thousand Words: Advanced Visualisations for the
Humanities
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvOuJ2RwBTA
There is no single answer
True digital transformations will involve:
•Risky short-term experimentation and supporting
sust...
Imaging of the Beowulf manuscript using fibre optic backlighting to reveal letters and words concealed by
nineteenth-centu...
Virtual Paul’s Cross Project: digital re-creation of John
Donne’s Gunpowder Day Sermon, 1622:
http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/l...
tangible-memories.com
carolanguitar.com
The political and literary
papers of Gladstone
preserved in the British
Library comprise 762
volumes containing
approx. 16...
George W. Bush Presidential Library:
200 million e-mails
4 million photographs
Michael Takeo Magruder, insurance.aes256
http://vimeo.com/35972114
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori
The Obelisk, 2012
http://
fabiolattanziantinori.co
m/obelisk.php
Paper keyboard, printed using
conductive ink
http://vimeo.com/80058198
http://vimeo.com/65236882
Slide from Nicole Coleman and Erica Savig, Common Design
Strategies for Exploring Intellectual Geographies in History and ...
http://www.meagreresource.com/other-projects/tape/
nctrc.html
Nottingham Tape Club
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities
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Keynote lecture to the Winter School at the University of Exeter on 'Transforming Digital Methods', 11-12 December 2014

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The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities

  1. 1. The Arts and Humanities in a Digital Age: Disruptions and Continuities Andrew Prescott, University of Glasgow ‘Transforming Digital Methods’, University of Exeter Winter School, 11 and 12 December 2014
  2. 2. The Gutenberg Bible led to religious reformation while the Web appears to be leading towards social and economic reformation. But the Digital Industrial revolution, because of the issues and phenomena surrounding the Web and its interactions with society, is occurring at lightning speed with profound impacts on society, the economy, politics, and more. Michael Brodie, Verizon 
  3. 3. Sidney Pollard on the Industrial Revolution in Sheffield and Birmingham “a visitor to the metalworking areas of Birmingham or Sheffield in the mid nineteenth-century would have found little to distinguish them superficially from the same industries a hundred years earlier. The men worked as independent sub- contractors in their own or rented workshops using their own or hired equipment … These industries .. were still waiting for their Industrial Revolution”
  4. 4. William Holt Yates Titcomb, The Wealth of England, the Bessemer Process of Making Steel (1895) Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust
  5. 5. Model of Newcomen Steam Engine at the University of Glasgow repaired by James Watt in 1765
  6. 6. I believe that the most useful and novel inventions and improvements of the present day are mere progressive steps in a highly wrought and highly advanced system, suggested by, and dependent on, other previous steps, their whole value and the means of their application probably dependent on the success of some or many other inventions, some old, some new… In most cases they result from a demand which circumstances happen to create. Most good things are being thought of by many persons at the same time. Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  7. 7. Steve Jobs as the heir of James Watt: New Yorker, November 14, 2011
  8. 8. • ‘Digital transformations’ refers to (and misinterprets) the ‘disruptive’ models of Christensen • The process of innovation is frequently a continuum of incremental development (Steve Jobs as ‘tinkerer’): particularly true in arts and humanities • Is there a continuity with the industrial age? • Did anything special happen in the 1990s or is it simply a further expression of a process reaching back to the beginnings of industrialisation? • What does this tell us about further lines of development? Questioning rhetorics of transformation and innovation
  9. 9. Wordsworth, The Ruined Cottage, 1798 - Rural poverty and hunger - Effect of French Wars - Leading characters in poem engage in repetitive, alienated and meaningless tasks – in an almost machine-like fashion - The poem is haunted by almost spectral figures – elegy for a lost countryside
  10. 10. The Old Cumberland Beggar But deem not this Man useless.--Statesmen! ye Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye Who have a broom still ready in your hands To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud, Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate Your talents, power, or wisdom, deem him not A burthen of the earth! 'Tis Nature's law That none, the meanest of created things, Or forms created the most vile and brute, The dullest or most noxious, should exist Divorced from good
  11. 11. The Excursion, 1814 Meanwhile, at social Industry's command
 How quick, how vast an increase. From the germ
 Of some poor hamlet, rapidly produced
 Here a huge town, continuous and compact
 Hiding the face of earth for leagues - and there,
 Where not a habitation stood before, 
 Abodes of men irregularly massed
 Like trees in forests, - spread through spacious tracts.
 O'er which the smoke of unremitting fires
 Hangs permanent, and plentiful as wreaths
 Of vapour glittering in the morning sun.

  12. 12. Coleridge: ‘We are daily advancing to the state in which there are but two classes of men, masters and abject dependents’. Calls for ‘a general revolution in the modes of developing and disciplining the human mind by the substitution of life and intelligence for the philosophy of mechanism which, in everything that is most worth of the human intellect, strikes Death’. Seeks studies promoting ‘’the harmonious development of those qualities and faculties which characterise our humanity’
  13. 13. Matthew Arnold, Literature and Science, 1882 ‘The great majority of mankind... would do well, I cannot but think, to choose to be educated in humane letters rather than in the natural sciences. Letters will call out their being at more points, will make them live more’.
  14. 14. Proceedings of the Old Bailey: www.oldbaileyonline.org
  15. 15. A Thousand Words: Advanced Visualisations for the Humanities https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvOuJ2RwBTA
  16. 16. There is no single answer True digital transformations will involve: •Risky short-term experimentation and supporting sustainability •Mash-ups made in bedrooms and experiments with synchotrons •Digital art works and huge quantitative visualisations •A critical and theoretical debate and building new things •Data flows and new perspectives on materiality •Technology and people
  17. 17. Imaging of the Beowulf manuscript using fibre optic backlighting to reveal letters and words concealed by nineteenth-century conservation work
  18. 18. Virtual Paul’s Cross Project: digital re-creation of John Donne’s Gunpowder Day Sermon, 1622: http://vpcp.chass.ncsu.edu/listen-from-the-cross-yard/
  19. 19. tangible-memories.com
  20. 20. carolanguitar.com
  21. 21. The political and literary papers of Gladstone preserved in the British Library comprise 762 volumes containing approx. 160,000 documents.
  22. 22. George W. Bush Presidential Library: 200 million e-mails 4 million photographs
  23. 23. Michael Takeo Magruder, insurance.aes256 http://vimeo.com/35972114
  24. 24. Fabio Lattanzi Antinori The Obelisk, 2012 http:// fabiolattanziantinori.co m/obelisk.php
  25. 25. Paper keyboard, printed using conductive ink
  26. 26. http://vimeo.com/80058198
  27. 27. http://vimeo.com/65236882
  28. 28. Slide from Nicole Coleman and Erica Savig, Common Design Strategies for Exploring Intellectual Geographies in History and Cell Motility in Biology Component and Behavior for Protein 1 Component and Behavior for Protein 2 Component and Behavior for Protein 3 Parametric Modeling Quantitatively Maps Single Cell Protein Levels to Individual Qualitative Components
  29. 29. http://www.meagreresource.com/other-projects/tape/ nctrc.html Nottingham Tape Club

Keynote lecture to the Winter School at the University of Exeter on 'Transforming Digital Methods', 11-12 December 2014

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