Can we be ‘digitally correct’ in our mission for the humanities? 

Professor Jane Winters, director of the School of Advanced Study’s Digital Humanities Research Hub, introduces a selection of articles that consider access to digital resources and technologies through the lens of digital humanities.

It is more than a decade since a report submitted to the Human Rights Council by Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, acknowledged that ‘the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realising a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating human development’.

La Rue recognised, however, that there was much progress to be made in order to overcome the ‘digital divide’, that is, ‘the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technologies, in particular the Internet, and those with very limited or no access at all’ (La Rue, pp. 16, 17).

This issue of Talking Humanities considers different aspects of access to digital resources and technologies through the lens of digital humanities. In the Long Read (‘Low-tech’ offers wider take-up and sustainability for the digital humanities), Dr Christopher Ohge considers whether minimal computing, ‘a set of practices that aim to reduce barriers to access and engagement’, may provide a solution, and one which will also help to reduce the impact of global digital access on the environment.

The long read

‘Low-tech’ offers wider take-up and sustainability for the digital humanities

Dr Christopher Ohge, considers whether minimal computing, ‘a set of practices that aim to reduce barriers to access and engagement’, may help to reduce the impact of global digital access on the environment. And a sustainable toolkit is on the way.

Last year I visited the Waste Age exhibit at the Design Museum in London. I will never forget my immediate sorrow at seeing a massive bottle-top chain made with collected waste from beaches in Cornwall in only a few weeks in winter 2015 by the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition, alongside the various small exhibitions of what the curators deemed our Throwaway Culture.

Through a powerful combination of data visualisations, multimedia exhibits of waste, art works, and educational material, the Waste Age exhibit provided ample reminders that an insatiable desire to consume, innovate, and profit is helping to destroy the natural world. But it also made clear that digital technology is not innocent in the matter: there is not only planned obsolescence in the tech industry, but also failed recycling initiatives and an innovation-at-all-costs attitude.

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The Talking Humanities blog is curated by the School of Advanced Study, University of London.