What makes an author?

A colleague and I applied stylometric methods to the work of the world’s best-selling author, James Patterson, in order to form an impression of how much he contributes to the writing of his co-authored books. The results of the study show that, in each of the collaborative novels (we checked all where there was a relevant sample to test against – where the co-author had written individual texts), the dominant style is that of Patterson’s co-authors. This is quantitative evidence that, when collaborating with a junior party, Patterson’s contributions to the literary process are more concerned with plot than style. This isn’t a “gotcha!” moment: Patterson has always given the impression that he’s more about the plot. But it is confirmation that the world’s bestselling author may not principally be a writer. Read more in The Conversation.

Call for Chapters: Contemporary Media Art in Ireland

Submissions are invited for a collection of essays provisionally entitled, Contemporary Media Art in Ireland. This will be a volume of essays that provides a detailed account of born-digital art in an Irish context. Continue reading “Call for Chapters: Contemporary Media Art in Ireland”

Should we re-think the DH Awards?

Voting for the fourth annual DH Awards opened today. For those unaware, these awards allow the public to nominate and vote on Digital Humanities projects shortlisted in a number of categories: “Best Use of DH for Fun”, “Best DH tool or Suite of Tools”, “Best DH Blog Post or Series of Posts”, “Best DH Data Visualization”, “Best Use DH Public Engagement”, and “Best Exploration of DH Failure” (for which there were not enough nominations). There is no financial prize, and nominations are filtered by an international committee composed of respected DH scholars.1

Continue reading “Should we re-think the DH Awards?”

The Presence of Digital Process

The following was my contribution to the MLA16 panel, “Digital Scholarship in Action: Research”, January 10th, 2016. The panel was convened and presided over by Patricia Hswe. Contributions by my fellow panellists can be viewed as follows: Diane Jakacki (@dianejakacki), Laura C. Mandell (@mandellc), Paige C Morgan (@paigecmorgan), and  Katherine Rawson (@katie_rawson).

Computational methods are an essential part of the Digital Humanities, in that they are central to a range of disciplinary processes. By “process”, I refer to the digital means by which we produce new knowledge and meaning of significance to Humanities scholarship. While process—the application of the computer-assisted methods we develop, manipulate, and adopt—can be an act of interpretation in itself, I would argue, and I am sure that few would disagree, that this act is always in the service of the product, the new insights, be that into the literary or otherwise, offered by our fields’ many esoteric approaches. Herein lies part of the value of the Digital Humanities: the way we approach research allows for new questions to be asked and existing debates to be revived. While it is now comprised of a great many, and often dissonant, scholarly, and indeed creative, activities, our community first emerged out of a fascination with the potential for the computer to be utilised as an instrument for scholarly enquiry. The very essence of the Humanities is criticism, and so if the methodological foundations of the Digital Humanities are to continue to mature, then we must continue to be critical of this essential element—repeatedly, we must ask of our machines, how and why. Continue reading “The Presence of Digital Process”