“The Future Is Already Here—It’s Just Not Very Evenly Distributed.”
The reality of uneven access linked to technology is a straightforward conceit of modern conversation about digital humanities. Despite the moniker “World Wide Web”, the reality of under-resourced and underrepresented areas linked to digital humanities is undeniable. These inequalities are born from several complex issues. Built on established patterns of industrial and political power, the language of universality that championed the world wide web cannot overcome the reality of questions about the power and control inherited from previous systems. Digital Humanities scholars have raised questions and sought pathways to address these fundamental questions. The more they consider, the more concerns emerge. Either directly or indirectly, a concern about digital humanities in a global context raises a variety of ethical challenges. Ownership of information generated by virtual systems undermines individual privacy around the world. The turn toward digital systems opens the door to questions about virtual exploitation in cyberspace.
While the questions of global exploitation loom large, even the system of managing, distributing, and archiving digital data opens the door to numerous concerns. Standard around digital rights linked to data, access to institutional and personal data, and the very real chasm between resource-rich and deprived communities increasingly dependent on data architecture, offers moments of critical consideration. The DH community has increasingly asked essential questions about equity and sought theoretical and practical tools to promote accessibility. These discussions have pushed the field forward, borrowing important ideological inspiration from feminist theory, indigenous, and critical race studies. These efforts are united by a desire to broaden the conversation about how we should understand the digital in a global context.
Global Digital Humanities offers important opportunities to rethink the assumptions that frame the
digital and, as a result, highlight the centrality of the humanities as a critical focal point for understanding the challenge of achieving social justice in a digital world. The readings in this section highlight the diverse perspectives necessary to understand the problem. Dorothy Kim’s “Media Histories, Media Archaeologies, and the Politics and Genealogies of the Digital Humanities” offers an essential reframing of the egalitarian mythologies about the digital world. A conversation with Dhanashree Thorat highlights the work of postcolonial digital humanities and the necessary intervention central to that approach. Ariana K. Costales Del Toro offers a framework to understanding the Caribbean experience through a set of digital projects. Similarly, Karina Ocañas Suarez theorizes alternative feminist epistemologies for Global Digital Humanities. These works are joined by important projects highlighting indigenous worldviews and languages as means of broadening digital discourse.
Taken together, these readings highlight the importance of wrestling with the implication of the global as a means to decenter the assumptions that further the digital divide.