¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 During revision, it became clear that practicing digital humanities both requires iteration and underscores how more traditional humanistic practices (e.g. individual research, writing, and publishing) rely on iteration but often erase traces of it. Before going any further, it’s probably helpful to define “iteration” in this context as the cycle of producing, critiquing, revising, and reproducing work. Designers, for example, might cycle through numerous mockups of a magazine spread, adjusting art, color, copy, typography, or even overall page layout in each mockup. Programmers, to provide another example, might cycle through various prototypes of a sign-up form, adjusting information architecture, business rules and logic, or even design in each release. Iteration, in other words, aims for continuous improvement even as it acknowledges that there will be numerous false starts over the life of a project.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Last week’s class highlighted how such iteration will define much of the work we perform this semester. Answering questions from Jojo, about file types, or Eddie, about experimental poetry difficult to encode (he mentioned Susan Howe), encouraged me to refine my ideas in helpful ways. And Jason’s interest in, and knowledge of, the subject area covered in my proposal forced me to pare down the project’s scope. As the semester progresses, I expect that comments and questions from students, TAs, and Professor Rhody will have similar effects. Many of these revisions will be captured in the project’s code, and student journals will chart our shifting perceptions of our own projects. This emphasis on process, though, ultimately seems consistent with some of the currents of the digital humanities we studied during the fall semester—namely, the examination of how humanists actually produce scholarship. In fact, practicing digital humanities often involves foregrounding the debates, uncertainties, and changes that arise during the production of scholarship—iteration remains central to the work. At the same time, however, more traditional productions of scholarship are more iterative than we realize: an article or book undergoes developmental editing, copyediting, design, typesetting, and proofreading, which all help hone and present its argument. And yet those iterations recede from view when we read a typeset PDF of a journal article on JSTOR or a printed monograph—we cannot access the changes from which the final publication emerges. While this semester will primarily encourage us to build something, it may also encourage us to foreground the numerous iterations behind every act of building.