Design and Digital Humanities

Highway, Central Wyoming
Digital humanities is about many things: the infinite archive, programming, markup, style, knowledge production, collaboration, and graphic design. I believe that graphic design is a key element in understanding and doing digital humanities because design is a core part of our modern experience as citizens and as humanists. Understanding the elements of design, from color to typography, is an important skill for digital humanists to acquire. Of course doing so requires us to become familiar with the elements of design. One of the best ways to do so is to view good design.

One of the best graphic designers I know as well as a good friend is Hiller Higman. Hiller’s work is unique and original, but his work is also (so it seems to me) derived from the everyday world around us, both related and unrelated to design, as is our own work as humanist scholars. How we view the world around us and our humanist scholarship through design can teach us something about how digital tools are shaping the very act of doing humanist scholarship. Exactly how is a question I do not necessarily (yet) have an answer to, but I believe that it is true. I hope that during Hum 340 course, we can come to an answer or maybe better yet, develop a better question to ask about the relationship between humanist scholarship and design.

2 thoughts on “Design and Digital Humanities

  1. Sarah Jaques-Ross

    I agree that design is very important to the digital humanist field, especially after reading the article “Interchange.” If web projects become as important to scholarship as traditional print books and articles are, then design is a key component. After all, book covers, illustrations, typography, etc. are important to book publishing. In a venue that is so fluid and visually-oriented as the web, design is essential both in an aesthetic sense and in terms of functionality. Do you agree with Turkel, then, that digital historians/humanists should have some knowledge of programming?

  2. Richard Ross

    Even though programming and design may seem to be overly “technical,” I think they are a valuable skill and I agree with Turkel that humanists should have some knowledge of programming and design. One should be able to “roll” their own …

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