Papyrology shows the way: according to Dan Cohen

What should digital humanities projects look like, what should they do? That’s the  question posed by Dan Cohen’s recent post, Eliminating the Power Cord . It’s all down to how secure we feel in what we’re doing. And interestingly, it’s papyrology leading the way:

the more a discipline is secure in its existence, its modes of interpretation, and its methods of creating scholarship, the more likely it is to produce stripped-down, exchangeable data sets. Thus scholars in papyrology just want to get at the raw sources; they would be annoyed by a Mac-like interface or silo.  They have achieved what David Weinberger, in summarizing the optimal form of the web, called “small pieces, loosely joined.”On the other hand, the newer and less confident disciplines, such as the digital geographic history of Civil War Washington, Hypercities, and Grub Street feel that they need to have a Raskin-like environment—it’s part of the process of justifying their existence. They feel pressure to be judge, jury and executioner. If the Cohen-Chandler law holds true, we will see in the future fewer fancy interfaces and more direct, portable access to humanities materials.

On a related note, the Open Archaeology lists have been quite active, with the stirrings of a plan to liberate the grey literature…