The MIT Press’s monthly podcast series featured our book Codename Revolution for February. Chris Gondek of Heron & Crane Productions interviewed my co-author, George Thiruvathukal, and me over the phone. Chris was in an Oregon Public Broadcasting studio, I was in my English department office, and George was in the Center for Textual Studies and Digital Humanities across campus, so there was something of a conference call feeling to the experience. (Once I was interviewed by Scott Simon for NPR; he was in D.C. and I was in a Chicago Public Radio studio, but there was at least a technician in the room with me.) Despite that, the interview was fun, and Chris did a really good job of producing it to reflect the conversation we had in real time.
When I saw the link on the MIT Press podcast page I noticed we were preceded in January by B. Coleman. I took it as a sign, since I’m reading and enjoying her book, Hello Avatar, now as I research my own next book in progress: The Emergence of the Digital Humanities. Coleman’s concept of an “‘X-reality’ that traverses the virtual and the real” (3) is consonant with Katherine Hayles’s idea that mixed reality is the current, fourth stage in the history of cybernetics, and with William Gibson’s exploration in his most recent trilogy of the idea that cyberspace is everting, turning inside out and colonizing the physical world. I can’t help but notice that the recent rise of the digital humanities–at least its emergence into public consciousness and a new presence in the academy–has roughly coincided with this eversion of cyberspace, a shift in our collective understanding of the network: from a world apart to a part of the world, from a transcendent virtual reality to a ubiquitous grid of data that we move through every day. It’s not really a coincidence, I think. Digital humanities, in its newly prominent forms, is both a response to and a contributing cause of the wider eversion, and that’s the connection my book will explore.