The Key to this is Diversity: Digital Humanities

Today was the first day of a new quarter at DePaul for me. I’m taking two electives, both centered on digital humanities, one in theory (pray for me) and one in practice. I’ll post a lot about it for at least the next 10 weeks [fair warning].

I didn’t even know what digital humanities was when I registered for these courses, but I have used my time at DePaul to try to gain as many new skills as possible. See my design struggles. My interest in libraries and library science and other social sciences in general lead me to digital humanities.

I’ve since done some reading and learned that digital humanities is the study of the integration of digital tools into the humanities [I think]. How humanities professional use digital tools in order to research, collaborate, and publish. All I could think was… so COOL! I knew I was attracted to this course for a reason.

In a way, digital humanities is sort of subcategory to new media studies, which is just the study of the integration of digital tools into society as a whole. Not a far throw from the stuff I study regularly, so after a lot of initial trepidation, I’m ready to jump in head first.

The other thing I love about digital humanities is its interdisciplinary nature. I hate working and studying in homogeneous groups. That is boring! I expect that these classes will allow me to meet and share scholarship with students from all around the humanities. That makes for great discussions and debates and that is the key to this.

So… Jeff Rice came to lecture about Beer?

Last week, Jeff Rice from University of Kentucky visited DePaul’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse to lecture about his coming book, Craft Identity. It’s all about social media and society told through the lens of craft beer. Rice is really seriously into craft beer.

The flyer for Jeff Rice's Lecture at DePaul Univeristy on October 21.

The flyer for Jeff Rice’s Lecture at DePaul Univeristy on October 21.

I noticed immediately that Rice is heavily influenced by Marshall McLuhan, the author of The Medium is the Massage.

A short aside: McLuhan is extremely abstract. He argues that society is now governed by print media rules, logical uninterrupted arguments that flow from beginning to end. But digital media now dominate we continue to judge digital media by print media standards.

Now back to Rice. He argues that to understand the power of social media we have to throw out the print standard that arguments flow from one complete thought to the next. In social media, it’s more like a series of thoughts that interrupt and overlap each other and make a complete argument or pattern.

Now comes the interesting part, he made this argument by writing his book as a series of thoughts that interrupt and overlap each other. It was an interesting concept, although a little hard to follow, given the venue.

After a serious mulling and a talk with a professor who attended the lecture as well, I was able to piece together the description above.  I’m certain Craft Identity will be required or recommended reading for one of my upcoming classes. I hope I will better understand once I am able to read to whole book for myself.

Find Rice’s other books here.