A Critique of "Making, Critique"

In their introduction "Making, Critique," Hayles and Pressman assert that humanities scholarship and projects are uniquely isolating, stating that since "the typical model of humanities scholarship is that of the single author working more or less alone to produces books and articles" (xvi) and "interactions [between colleagues] tend to be cooperative rather than truly collaborative" (xvi), "students majoring in the humanities typically come into this world with little practice in such work environments [that involve teamwork], a less than optimum situation for their integration into it" (xvi). Humanities graduates have long been plagued by the (more or less spurious) narrative that degrees in creative or investigative arts are ill-suited to garner employment outside of academia; this argument that the humanities model of relative scholastic independence is a detriment to a future in the working world offends the popular case that the humanities are valuable because of their unusual demands and the resulting flexible skill sets. While I agree with Hayles and Pressman that digital humanities projects "offer an alternative model for research and pedagogy" (xvi), I think that their appeal to the sense that the humanities need to adapt to the structure of other disciplines (or risk obsolescence) is underdeveloped and only half true. (Aren't all projects that investigate/interpret the past vulnerable to obsolescence-themed criticism?)  Perhaps I am being too critical. But it seems that there are better arguments to be made for the utility of digital humanities than a sloppy appeal to the popular obsession with teamwork. Additionally, most of Kirschenbaum's essay "What is Digital Humanities, and What's in Doing in English Departments?" elaborates on technology's ability to aid existing collaborative movements in the humanities (hence the proliferation of DH-themed organizations) and augment individual research procedures, rather than replace or reform all instances of lone-ranger-style efforts. 


Fascinating too, when you bring in both Peter's and Manovich's warning of the dangers of group-thinking within digital media as a medium. As Manovich put's it: "What before had been a mental process, a uniquely individual state, now became a part of the public sphere [...] Now they could be discussed in public, employed in teaching and propaganda, standardized, and mass-distributed" (p. 20). The collaboration allowed by digital media, which leads to the teamwork that Hayles and Pressman laud, it seems, can be a double-edged sword.