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Melissa Selby

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Todd Suomela

Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Letter to My Son" - The Atlantic

"In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body - it is heritage."

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  • Some things were clear to me: The violence that undergirded the country, so flagrantly on display during Black History Month, and the intimate violence of the streets were not unrelated. And this violence was not magical, but was of a piece and by design. But what exactly was the design? And why? I must know. I must get out ... but into what? I saw the design in those in the boys on the corner, in “the babies having babies.” The design explained everything, from our cracked-out fathers to HIV to the bleached skin of Michael Jackson. I felt this but I could not explain it.
  • No one of us were “black people.” We were individuals, a one of one, and when we died there was nothing. Always remember that Trayvon Martin was a boy, that Tamir Rice was a particular boy, that Jordan Davis was a boy, like you. When you hear these names think of all the wealth poured into them. Think of the gasoline expended, the treads worn carting him to football games, basketball tournaments, and Little League. Think of the time spent regulating sleepovers. Think of the surprise birthday parties, the day care, and the reference checks on babysitters. Think of checks written for family photos. Think of soccer balls, science kits, chemistry sets, racetracks, and model trains. Think of all the embraces, all the private jokes, customs, greetings, names, dreams, all the shared knowledge and capacity of a black family injected into that vessel of flesh and bone. And think of how that vessel was taken, shattered on the concrete, and all its holy contents, all that had gone into each of them, was sent flowing back to the earth. It is terrible to truly see our particular beauty, Samori, because then you see the scope of the loss. But you must push even further. You must see that this loss is mandated by the history of your country, by the Dream of living white.
  • But American reunion was built on a comfortable narrative that made enslavement into benevolence, white knights of body snatchers, and the mass slaughter of the war into a kind of sport in which one could conclude that both sides conducted their affairs with courage, honor, and élan. This lie of the Civil War is the lie of innocence, is the Dream. Historians conjured the Dream. Hollywood fortified the Dream. The Dream was gilded by novels and adventure stories. John Carter flees the broken Confederacy for Mars. We are not supposed to ask what, precisely, he was running from. I, like every kid I knew, loved The Dukes of Hazzard. But I would have done well to think more about why two outlaws, driving a car named the General Lee, must necessarily be portrayed as “just some good ole boys, never meanin’ no harm”—a mantra for the Dreamers if there ever was one. But what one “means” is neither important nor relevant. It is not necessary that you believe that the officer who choked Eric Garner set out that day to destroy a body. All you need to understand is that the officer carries with him the power of the American state and the weight of an American legacy, and they necessitate that of the bodies destroyed every year, some wild and disproportionate number of them will be black.

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Todd Suomela

Dowling Review - Royal Academy of Engineering

2015 UK report on connections between research academics and industry.

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Todd Suomela
  • For my own PhD research into Digital History as trading zone, the organisation of these centres is of great interest. As described above, while in Europe many DH projects are a collaboration between departments or universities, what we saw here are projects within a single centre. This creates a different configuration of the three dimensions of trading zones of cultural maintenance, coercion, and contact & participation
Todd Suomela
  • I’ll start with an anecdote, and I think that anyone who consults on digital humanities projects will be familiar with this scenario. Humanities scholars will sometimes describe elaborate visualizations to me, involving charts and graphs and change over time. “Great,” I respond. “Let’s see your data.” “Data?” they say. “Oh, I don’t have any data.”

     

    This is not because we’re stupid or naïve; it’s that humanists have a very different way of engaging with evidence than most scientists or even social scientists. And we have different ways of knowing things than people in other fields. We can know something to be true without being able to point to a dataset, as it’s traditionally understood.

  • So humanists — even those who aren’t digital humanists — desperately need some help managing their stuff, and libraries are in a great position to help them. I do feel that this is an underexplored opportunity space for libraries.

     

    It’s just that if you advertise that help as “data management,” they’ll have no idea you’re trying to talk to them.

     

    I used to offer a workshop on “managing research assets,” and even that felt way too clinical to describe humanists’ sources. But if you get a chance to look at the blog post that contains all the suggestions I used in the workshop, you’ll see that we’re cobbling together dozens of tools, none of which really do what we want them to do.

     

    So all of that is to say that even if they don’t call their sources data, traditional humanists do have pretty pressing data-management needs. But the need becomes even greater when you’re talking about people who consider themselves digital humanists — that is, people who use digital tools to explore humanities questions.

Todd Suomela
  • In the absence of any perceptible contractions of revolt, two writers — Charles Murray on the libertarian right, Chris Hedges on the apocalyptic left — have given up waiting and decided to induce labor. Their methods are different: Murray’s “By the People” administers a strong but targeted dose of Pitocin, while Hedges’ “Wages of Rebellion” counsels lots of sex, which is called “sublime madness.” But the most interesting aspect of these two books is where their authors overlap. Both are appalled by the collusion between the federal government and corporations. Both describe the legal system as essentially lawless. Neither has any faith that electoral politics, the three branches of government or the Constitution itself can make a difference. Neither fits with any sizable faction of either of the two parties. Both despise elites. Both are willing, even eager, to see Americans break the law, in nonviolent ways, to force change.
  • I’m far more sympathetic to ­Hedges’ warnings about catastrophic climate change, infrastructure collapse and grotesque levels of inequality than I am to Murray’s horror of bureaucrats. But by the end of “By the People,” I was slightly more able to see the world from the viewpoint of a libertarian, whereas “Wages of Rebellion” had me grasping for a single coherent idea. As with so much political writing, Hedges’ ostensible and real motives are at fatal odds. His stated purpose is to get readers to see the choice between rebellion and doom before it’s too late. If that were his true purpose, he would have lined up arguments and anticipated objections so that even a member of the “bankrupt liberal class” might end up by his side. Instead, he strings together more than 200 pages of sentences — “There will have to be a recovery of reverence for the sacred, the bedrock of premodern society, so we can see each other and the earth not as objects to exploit but as living beings to be revered and protected” — whose intent is to flatter those who think like him.

    Our elites have led us to a dead end, but our populists, barricaded in their corners, lack the clarity of vision to find a way out. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll get better elites anytime soon. In the absence of a revolution, we have to hope for better ­populists.

Todd Suomela

Welcome // | DiRT Directory

"The DiRT Directory is a registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software."

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