You Are Here

Posted on April 13, 2013

4


Our relationship as beings to our physical place has driven and mystified us all for as long as all recorded time. Human beings have always depended on the earth to provide food and shelter, but as we have grown we have had to develop tools to help us get more food and shelter due to viral population growth. These great leaps of progress over time have been named after the tools developed therein: The Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages, e.g.

Dividing time into large, labeled blocks is a good example of the humanities at work. Over time we have seen our needs and desires evolve – so much so that we have found the compulsion to look back and learn from our earlier place in time with such frequency that we had to give time multiple names to use as reference points. This enormous amount of time can now be divided into ages, each with several unique identifying characteristics, and each with a new need or desire that lead to the human creation of a new tool or means to make one. Scholarss of the humanities examine our relationship with tools and the way we construct our place in the universe.  We study the human arc over time, all the things we have created, and all the reasons why. Everything we make or use to enhance the human experience is subject for review and study in the humanities.

We never stop looking for ways to categorize our growth and progress. At present, it seems like we are at “the dawn of a new era” all over again. We are just exiting the naive Mid-Centruy-Modern period of tools. Our cd players and desktop computers have given way to mp3 players and laptops, but now we are on our 5th generation of smart phones and we’ve forsaken the laptop computer for a tablet – a digital tablet. We are on the cresting digital wave now, and we’re as eager as zealots to convert everyone and everything to a digital replica.  The new digital tools have started to generate their own needs and desires, now.  They need energy and safe transport, their own language, and their own tools: printer, mouse, stylus, and memory. As we integrate further with our cyber-symbiants, what will we do with everything we have digitally accomplished? How do we capture the essence of a fleeting technology, and can we be sure we maintain the very human need to reconnect with the past? Much like the way a universe accelerates as it expands, so does our progress with technology, née tools. We have reached the event horizon and the need to engage technology to fully understand what it can do and be.  This is the Digital Age.

It is time to study the #digitalhumanities. With every #hashtag and rss feed we are creating our digital domain in the same way our universe carves out time as it hurls itself into a dark matter abyss.  The humanities are the exploration of what makes up the essence of humanity. We are wonderfully narcissistic in this regard. We recognize the Wonder of Us in the Universe, and we are drawn to self-examination because down to our smallest particle we are drawn together by a mysterious attraction.

We are desperate to understand our existence. We draw parallels, use metaphors, and produce  art and literature to show the world how we see things, simultaneously seeking acknowledgement that others see it the same way, too.  We need to be united at the most fundamental and abstract level. I am doing this right now, blogging my observation about how the digital humanities are recording the human experience as a natural extension of our continual branching off into the dark matter of cyberspace. I will post this observation, and then promote it in a public forum to see if there are others like me out there who will be drawn a little closer in to my core. The blog post will be show up on a social network, where it stands ready to receive approval or vanish unnoticed into the ethernet.

Advertisements