As anyone who has suffered under the never ending reach of Frederick Jackson Turner and his Turner Thesis (1893) can tell you; the delineating point at which a frontier ends and normalcy begins is beset mostly by framework, culture, and mythos. Having enjoyed the discussions of the members of ThatCamp Prime 2010 I have dusted off my mind file and am left wondering when in my lifetime did my computer become the first place I look for information.
For the Digital Humanities I ponder this esoteric problem. It was wondered by many writers of dissertations if their work would ever find significance in their lifetimes. Now with everyone the academic prim Doña I wonder if a dissertation will ever truly be finished. Can we escape the never ending comments section? As an avid and biased member of this culture clash I am fascinated to see the new and engaging products that knowledge dealers are creating.
Are we the same people in new clothing or are we completely new people. Every time we have a new disruptive technology this debate seems to come to fruition. More important than being a conclusion it helps us realize that a change is occurring and creating a cause and effect model helps us contemplate its significance. With regard to the digital humanities I see this debate picking up steam and rushing faster than binary down a cable into your living room. I like to think we are different people wearing the same clothing; that we are building upon the flawed and not so flawed constructions of the past while making it clear that the future waits for no one.
Staying with my western historical theme I see digital humanities as a bridge to normalcy in the untamed internet. Like the US Marshalls and the Pinkertons before them when the professors start showing up in town it becomes obvious that the streets aren’t safe for the syntax declined. What is far less easy to ascertain is whether or not this transformation is fulfilling the promise of becoming the great democratizer or in fact is winnowing public knowledge back into only acceptable forms of digestion. The thesis from the 1994 movie With Honors by Brendan Fraiser’s character is that interactive cable is going to save the world. That may be a dream but it is well on its way to altering it and we would be wise to be in a position to understand those implications and do something about it. Be it Inspirational Informational choice or Balakanized anti discourse robot it is necessary to build the structures of tomorrow or become irrelevant today.