Humanities Games and the Market in Digital Futures

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Digital tools for humanities scholarship are crucial. Humanities approaches to digital tools are even more crucial.

Simply put, the humanities preserve our cultural legacy—not as a collection of static artifacts, but as stimuli to acts of interpretation. In our generation, that entire legacy will migrate into digital form. I can't stress this enough. Our access to the history of human thought will come through the mediation of electronic instruments.

We have to engage with new media as a way to extend humanities ideas: subjectivity (perspective rooted in a point of view that is always inside of experience); historicity (the social production across time and cultural institutions of any artifact); and instability (the performative aspect of interpretation as an act through which a work is constituted).

The new basics for functioning with literacy and fluency in the mediated world are writing, copying, researching, assessing sources, creating arguments, thinking, drawing, filmmaking, video editing, and above all, critical practices in editing, analysis, combinatorics (montage and pastiche), and the creation of self-conscious reflection on process.

Shifting beyond a mechanistic, Newtonian attitude toward objects of humanities inquiry into a quantum approach where a probabilistic field is intervened in each act of interpretation, we are trying to create digital tools that push conceptual limits.

Aesthesis is the term I use to suggest that the arts have a role to play in creating an alternative to the instrumental rationality that gives computational methods their cultural authority.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen