Bureaucratization has not fully captured DH and crystallized its institutional identity. The creative and intellectual energies that lie behind it, along with its still amorphous aspects, have a generative potential that should not be foreclosed in the rush to institutionalize. This essay contends that a tactical media-informed approach to the field would be open to a range of methods and research questions, that such an approach could insist upon collaborative experimentation and the sharing of knowledge; exploit the ephemerality of technology-based fields; inspire a more playful and knowing negotiation of institutional demands for impact, outcomes, results; and consider the possibilities for action within the institutions in which we, as scholars, users, and makers of technology, are embedded. The digital humanities should not, and cannot, bear the burden of transforming the technocratic knowledge economy. But within that institutional situation, it has the capacity to tinker with the symbolic order of computing, such that it is not ultimately constrained by an agenda of efficiency, rationality, and optimization. Such an approach would contribute to the speculation of a less instrumental future for the humanities and offer a measured skepticism that might serve as a buffer against the irrational exuberance that too often characterizes the administrative framing of digital humanities projects, initiatives, and entrepreneurial efforts.
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Rita Raley; Digital Humanities for the Next Five Minutes. differences 1 May 2014; 25 (1): 26–45. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2419991
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