DHer as Designer

In this talk session, I propose a look at design in DH projects. Matthew Kirschenbaum suggests in “‘So the Colors Cover the Wires’: Interface, Aesthetics, and Usability,” “just as interface cannot – finally – be decoupled from functionality, neither can aesthetics be decoupled from interface.” This “lesson here for the digital humanities” seems to point to the critical roles design and beauty play in the production and use of DH projects.  Kirschenbaum concludes his article with a glance to the future: “One of the major challenges for the digital humanities in the coming decade will therefore be designing for interfaces (and designing interfaces themselves) outside of the 13- to 21-inch comfort zone of the desktop box.”  With this challenge in mind, I would like for us to consider the following questions:

1. How do we talk about design in DH?

2. How do we teach design in DH?

3. How do we do design in DH?

In addition, I’d like for us to look at a number of interfaces for DH projects to critically reflect on design as it influences how we approach and use the various projects.  Participants will be invited to work in small groups to analyze interfaces and then share their conversations with the whole group.  From these shared discussions, we will strive together to make visible how design and aesthetics work to direct attention, guide action, and affect emotion.  The conclusions that arise will hopefully point to new opportunities and challenges related to the development, composition, and display of DH projects and scholarship.

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Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Talk, Visualization | Tags: , , |

About Lindsey Harding

I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. My areas of interest include digital humanities, creative writing, and rhetoric and composition. I work as the Assistant to the Director of the Writing-Intensive Program at UGA, and I am on the development team for EMMA, a composition course platform developed at UGA. In addition, I am the lead developer for Mandala Journal, one of UGA's literary journals. This year, I have also worked as a graduate fellow for the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative.

3 Responses to DHer as Designer

  1. Lindsey, I am looking forward to your session. I have become rather interested in thinking about how design and aesthetic is ideological. Adam Banks has a great chapter on this topic in his book, Race, Rhetoric, and Technology. He also proposes that we think about alternative designs which emerge from anti-racist, anti-oppression traditions.

  2. Thanks for this great session proposal, Lindsey. It’s a wonderful way to explore the ranges of learning experiences (emotional, affective, embodied) that we engage in. Certainly reading paper books involves certain kinds of affectual and bodily states, and so too do DH projects. I also look forward to this session to explore relationships between arts, design, and DH.

  3. Yes. Here’s my proposed answers to your questions:

    1. How do we talk about design in DH?
    “It has to look cool.”

    2. How do we teach design in DH?
    “Use Drupal.”

    3. How do we do design in DH?
    Outsource.

    This session will be really valuable to extend Dr. Kirschenbaum’s work, and I hope it produces something tangible that we can feed out to the larger DH community. An important topic. (Also, accessibility standards, anyone?)

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