RECOMMENDED: A Matter of Scale

Matthew L. Jockers and Julia Flanders have published the script and slides from their keynote address, “A Matter of Scale,” at the recent Boston-Area Days of DH 2013. Jockers describes how he and Flanders, tasked with staging “a debate on the matter of “scale” in digital humanities research” for their keynote, quickly found themselves on the same side of the argument:

The first thing we discovered, of course, is that we did not in fact have a real difference of opinion on this matter of scale. Big data, small data, close reading and distant . . . these things matter much less than what a scholar actually decides to do and say. In other words, we were both ultimately interested in new knowledge and not too much concerned with the level of scale necessary to derive that new knowledge.

The process of coauthoring an argument between an advocate for micro/close reading and macro/big data intrigued Flanders, who writes:

Despite agreeing on the misleadingness of the micro/macro polarity, I think Matt and I actually do have differing ideas about data and different approaches to using it—but what was striking to me during this process was that I found I had a hard time remembering what my own opinions were. The ideas and words Matt wrote for the debate-Julia character didn’t always feel fully familiar to me, but at the same time they didn’t feel alien either, and they were so fully embedded in the unfolding dialogue that they drew their character more from that logic than from my own brain, even as I reworked them from my own perspective.

This post was produced through a cooperation between Kate Pitcher and Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (Editors-at-Large for the week), Sarah Potvin (Editor for the week), and Zach Coble and Roxanne Shirazi (site editors).