Digital Humanities at McMaster

Yesterday I visited McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. I have a known about the work of Geoffrey Rockwell, Andrew Mactavish and Stéfan Sinclair for quite some time, but I really feel that this short visit gave me a much better sense of what they do. Some of the McMaster components are the Multimedia Programme, Humanities Media and Computing, the Communication Studies and Multimedia Department, and major projects such as TAPoR. Geoffrey and Andrew told me about the strategies involved and the history, and I am really appreciative of the way this platform has been built, the level of integration between the different parts, and the level of student involvement in these processes.

I gave a talk late in the afternoon, and I quite enjoyed the discussion. The first part – on visualization in the humanities and digital humanities more generally – I have not really had time to frame properly, but the mixed ideas I discussed in the talk will be very useful for the article I am working on. It also seemed that the vision of HUMlab was something that came across (I talked about HUMlab at the end), and I am glad about the interest in space and the interrelation between space and ideas. On this trip, several people have asked about written reflection on these matters, and I really should try to write something up. I think the experiences and histories of existing studio/lab spaces (not only our lab of course) can be very useful for people planning new enterprises. The choices you make (if you are in position to choose yourself) in terms of designing a space are really crucial to what will come out of the spaces and associated ideas. What the article would be about, I think, is also conceptual cyberinfrastructure (a term Matt Ratto used in a question after a talk I did at UC San Diego this summer).

I had several good conversations at McMaster and we will be looking into further collaboration. I also got to see some of the work being done in the TAPoR project. I knew about the project beforehand, but having Geoffrey show it to me was just great. I am very impressed – not least with the more experimental tools and the whole infrastructure. I will write more about this in another post.

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