• Inquiry-based hacking and historical evidence

    The paragraph I initially sent in sounds to me now like I was trying for the title “Unplayful Historical Thinking,” though I don’t mean it that way at all. Here’s what I wrote:

    I’d like to talk about what a language of historical evidence might contribute to thinking about method in digital humanities. A fair amount of what I do digitally amounts to computationally-enhanced editing. It often seems to me that there can be little overt difference between querying a set of data for quality-control purposes, observing patterns and seeking inconsistencies and errors to be edited out, and performing the essentially the same query to explore a possible historical hypotheses about the data. Sometimes “data errors” might themselves amount to historical evidence. I suggest a language of evidence could help clarify issues that get muddied in item-focused battles over originals and digital surrogates, vexations over authority and authenticity, and perceptions of innovation in visualization. Historical inquiry has always looked past single documents toward pattern, with an understanding that there may be a range of hypotheses compatible with it.

    I’ve posted additional thoughts at greater length on a new personal blog. It’s great to see the range of interesting posts here, and I’m looking forward to meeting you all.

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