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Digital Humanities efforts range from database design to new creations | Harvard Magazine May-Jun 2012

July 15, 2012

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“Schnapp is in a profound sense a designer himself: of exhibitions, of books, of communities, of interfaces, and of appliances for teaching and learning. “Design means everything from typography to design in the abstract, the cognitive sense of how you conceptualize something, thinking about the ways in which art, or sound, or tactile environments operate separately or together,” he says. “What can you do on a screen that you can’t do in a physical environment and vice versa?” And it means thinking also about the traditional publishing model—where research ends with a stable artifact, like a book—versus one that is iterative, is disseminated in multiple forms, and generates continual feedback, unifying the linear stages of the traditional research cycle into one ongoing parallel process. For Schnapp, devising new models of scholarly publishing that enhance academic study is a design question—an urgent one. As he puts it, “When you move from a universe where the rules with respect to a scholarly essay or monograph have been fully codified, to a universe of experimentation in which the rules have yet to be written, characterized by shifting toolkits and skillsets, in which genres of scholarship are undergoing constant redefinition, you become by necessity a knowledge designer.” ”

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