Once in a while you will hear me half-joke that I can find a digital humanities angle in any project coming out of the humanities. Of course, since most if not all projects in the humanities have a document, spatial and/or temporal component, that rash claim can become a boring truism fairly quick. Being in the business of pushing boundaries, what I really want to get at is what I see as the algorithmic desires in all critical prose. Saved perhaps as the last boundary of artificial intelligence, I’m afraid we might have become a bit superstitious about the distance between our critical faculties and mechanistic processes.
Departing from my premature contribution to this year’s critical code studies group, I would like to explore the possibility of reconstructing arguments using code. A small back and forth with Hugh Cayless around that post led me to separate at least two dimensions in critical arguments that could be ‘coded’: a) The methods used by any given critic to engage with documents, authors, places, etc.; and b) The actual structure of the argument (à la argument maps). For me, the goal of these ‘naive’ exercises is to find even more avenues of communication between book-bound traditional practices in our profession and what is seen as the more mathematical band.