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For once, it seems that journalists are bristling on behalf of Haiti, a place usually painted by wariness and fear and resigned pity. Haitians themselves may be getting something like good press, no small development for the most maligned people in the hemisphere. The urgent sympathy of the news coverage helps. This disaster is different: It’s the worst yet in a country used to defining “worse” for the rest of the Americas. –“The Undercovered Country: Haiti as journalists have known it,” Sam Eifling, Columbia Journalism Review
Google is also good for history in that it challenges age-old assumptions about the way we have done history. Before the dawn of massive digitization projects and their equally important indices, we necessarily had to pick and choose from a sea of analog documents. All of that searching and sifting we did, and the particular documents and evidence we chose to write on, were—let’s admit it—prone to many errors. Read it all, we were told in graduate school. But who ever does? We sift through large archives based on intuition; occasionally we even find important evidence by sheer luck. We have sometimes made mountains out of molehills because, well, we only have time to sift through molehills, not mountains. Regardless of our technique, we always leave something out; in an analog world we have rarely been comprehensive. –Dan Cohen, “Is Google Good for History,” DanCohen.org
The problem is not the humanities as a discipline (who can blame a discipline?), the problem is its members. We are insufferable. We do not want change. We do not want centrality. We do not want to speak to nor interact with the world. We mistake the tiny pastures of private ideals with the megalopolis of real lives. We spin from our mouths retrograde dreams of the second coming of the nineteenth century whilst simultaneously dismissing out of our sphincters the far more earnest ambitions of the public at large—religion, economy, family, craft, science. –“The Turtlenecked Hairshirt: Fetid and fragrant futures for the humanities,” Ian Bogost, Bogost.com
Years of consideration preceding the inclusion of the word “phat” in Random House’s 1996 Compact Unabridged Dictionary:
Scientists created crash helmets that stink when cracked and fruit flies to whom blue light smells delicious.
In Belize, a construction company bulldozed a 2,300-year-old Mayan temple to make road fill.
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