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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

This comment was written by Emily Smith on 9 Jul 2013.

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An Interface Is an Argument

The idea that the design of a digital resource determines its use is an obvious but under-discussed concept in digital humanities. In spending time on UbuWeb for this assignment, it became clear that this particular resource's design is indeed intentionally seeking to determine how the resource is used for scholarship and for fun. As I discuss in the section on serendipity, the clutter of content on the main page makes the site's navigation overwhelming and confusing, but in this way it also seems to mimic the serendipitous process of digging through an archive. The site's design, unlike many other scholarly resources I have used on the internet, seemed self-conscious and intentional; its design corresponded with its ethos, and thus made its own argument about how scholarly work can be performed.

In asking us to evaluate a digital resource, and in doing so, to look beyond its content to understand its use and its efficacy, this assignment illuminated the relationship between form and content, and, I think, allowed us to move beyond the humanities' bias for the text by encouraging us to pay attention to the way in which tools—material and digital—facilitate and determine our access to and experience with text. It is in this sense that the development of such tools and platforms for research in the humanities can begin to be taken seriously as its own form of scholarly activity.

Author: Emily Smith
Word Count: 233
This page comments on:
UbuWeb: The Robin Hood of the Avant-Garde (9 July 2013)
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