The Digital Turn had promised to ‘free’ knowledge from subjectivity. But as the reassuring promises of objectivity and accuracy based on notions of quantitative, computational, automated, and unsupervised turned out to be illusory, is digital scholarship even more biased than the interpretative act itself? As there is no such a thing as ‘neutral data’ or ‘objective methods’, what is now the role of the digital scholar? Is Critical Digital Humanities the answer?
In this presentation, Lorella Viola will first analyse many of the different ways in which reality has been transformed by technology: the pervasive adoption of big data, the fetishisation of algorithms and automation, the digitisation of education and research. She will argue that the full digitisation of society, accelerated by the COVID-19 health crisis, has not only worsened existing inequalities in the world but also added levels of complexity to reality that our model of knowledge creation can no longer explain. Indeed, based on a rigid division into compartmentalised, competing disciplines, the current model has contributed to exalt computational methods as neutral whilst stigmatizing consciousness and criticality as carriers of injustice. Taking the humanities as a focal point, she will retrace schisms between the humanities, the digital humanities, and critical digital humanities as an example of the ‘paradox of interdisciplinarity’, and she will show how such divisions are embedded within the old dichotomy of science vs humanities.
She will then argue that a reconfigured model of knowledge creation cannot happen through the creation of niche fields, let alone exclusively within the humanities, but through a reconceptualisation of knowledge creation itself. She will conclude her talk by presenting a novel conceptual and methodological framework, the post-authentic framework. This framework offers a more complex conceptualisation of digital objects than mere collections of data points: digital objects are living compositions of actors and processes which react to societies and therefore bear consequences. As it intentionally refers to digital objects rather than to the disciplines within which they are created, it provides an architecture for issues such as transparency, replicability, Open Access, sustainability, accountability, and visual display with no specific reference to any discipline. Beyond our current rigid model of knowledge creation, the post-authentic framework ultimately aims to address the increasingly pressing questions: how do we create knowledge today? And how do we want the next generation of students to be trained? She proposes a novel way: knowledge creation in the digital.
Wednesday, 3 May 2023
17.00 - 18.30
Followed by a reception.
Black Box, Maison des Sciences humaines
11, Porte des Sciences
and online (Webex)
Please confirm your in-person or online participation.