November 20-21 our Center hosted the 2011 Chicago Colloquium for Digital Humanities and Computer Science at the Water Tower Campus downtown. Arrival night coincided with the Festival of Lights parade on Michigan Avenue, so some people had trouble crossing the parade route to get to hotels and restaurants. Otherwise, everything went really well, thanks mostly to the organization and hard work of my colleague George Thiruvathukal and to those who pitched in to help, including some computer science students, and Dr. Nick Hayward and several of his MA students in the Digital Humanities program here.
This year’s program committee also did a brilliant job of vetting and organizing the content for the weekend. Presentations included our colleague in history, Kyle Roberts, who talked about his Virtual Library System, and an opening keynote by Nick Montfort of MIT, whose talk about platform studies ended with some characteristically poetic thoughts about competing definitions of digital humanities. The existence of a strong thread on platform studies, with a special focus on games (I’m thinking in particular of Nathan Altice’s presentation on tool-assisted speed-runs), in the program of an organization like this one–which has historically focused more on data analysis, text markup, etc.–is to my mind evidence of a healthy instability in those still-emerging definitions.