[note that this post was originally published on April 1st…]
The Office of Digital Humanities (ODH), a grant-making office for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), announced today that a prototype for a formal definition of “digital humanities” is currently undergoing testing and would be released “soon.” ODH director Brett Bobley stated, “Given the contentious debates over the definition of ‘digital humanities,’ we thought it would be better to address the issue sooner rather than later.”
The task for completing the definition was assigned based on government procurement standards. An RFP was announced last year, with top bids reportedly coming in from Oxford University Press (publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary), an anonymous hive editorial team submitted through the shadow group “the Wikipedia Foundation,” and Donald Trump, revealed a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the privacy surrounding government procurement procedures. However, to the surprise of some, the bid was given to government defense contractor Lockheed Martin. “We are delighted to receive this contract and keep our workers on the job despite this period of austerity,” stated a Lockheed spokesperson, who further noted that “the digital humanities seems to be where you can find all the jobs these days.”
The definition of digital humanities is currently in “a testing phase,” noted Senior Program Officer Jennifer Serventi. She recently visited Lockheed Martin’s “Theory Tunnel,” where the development team was checking the definition’s “theorydynamics.” “We’re trying to make sure the definition responds equally well under different theory conditions, and that no one theory creates too much drag,” explained one unnamed senior theory scientist. “Right now we’re working on psychoanalysis, which is just bringing the definition to a full stop,” revealed a source who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the testing. According to the source, psychoanalytic drag is causing the definition to adopt a “weird Da Vinci-style mirror script, which is obviously problematic with the definition in its infancy … we’re hoping to get past this ‘mirror stage’ soon.” Unsurprisingly, humanities disciplines began lobbying for their individual methodological approaches once word of the definition leaked late last month. “We’ve had some issues with security,” noted Senior Program Officer Perry Collins, who thanked the library community for standardizing security procedures yesterday. Jason Rhody, also a Senior Program Officer, revealed that just last week before the new security protocols took effect, a small group of game studies scholars collaborating with linguists “Zerg-rushed the definition… it took us three days to remove all the prepositions.”
Once the definition is finished, it will be copied and delivered to the Office of Digital Humanities, where it will be placed in the Office’s official vault. The original version of the definition will be transported to the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), where it will take its rightful place between to the formal representations of the measurements for the inch and the mile. “Of course,” notes one NIST employee, “once we switch to the metric system like the rest of the world, all of these standards and definitions will be just so many bits of scrap metal and word cloud.”
Further information about how to define the digital humanities can be found at Day of DH 2013 (http://dayofdh2013.matrix.msu.edu/members/), a project that documents a day’s activity for digital humanities practitioners in a variety of disciplines and contexts. Day of DH 2013 is on April 8, 2013.
[Disclaimer: the above is a fictional April Fool’s Day amusement and is the personal work of the author written during his own personal time and representing neither endorsement nor opinion from the federal government, Donald Trump, or Lockheed Martin.]