Why Digital Arts and Humanities?

University of Lethbridge-led team scans the eighth-century Anglo-Saxon Ruthwell cross in 3-D

A local high school asks you to speak to a graduating class about careers in the new digital economy. What subjects would you urge them to study?

Computer Science? Engineering? Philosophy? Celtic Studies? Art?

How about all of the above?

The digital economy is not just about transistors and protocols and packets. It is also about new forms of content, new types of organisations and communities, new ways of working and communicating with each other.

About the way technology is used, as well as the way it is built.

University of Alberta Humanities Computing graduate student Shannon Lucky discusses her research at the 2011 annual HUCO colloquium

And this is what makes it so exciting. The new digital economy is revolutionary precisely because it involves the intersection of technology with the types of problems humanists, social scientists, and artists have always studied: organisation and communication, finding the balance between the group and the individual, discovering and certifying knowledge and expertise, and producing, disseminating, and sharing cultural work.

Time Magazine's 1983 "Machine of the Year": The PC.

In other words, the basic building blocks of the Internet have been in place for more than 20 years. The new thing is how this technology is being used. Time Magazine named “The PC” as its “Machine of the Year” way back in 1983. In 2006, its person of the year was “You,” the person who contributes to Facebook and YouTube, who mashes games, shares apps, and helped turn the Wikipedia into history’s largest reference work in less than a decade.

Time Magazine's 2006 "Person of the Year": You.

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