New Media, New Knowledge: Technology and the Humanities

The Wheaton Institute for the Interdisciplinary Humanities is looking forward to its second year, during which it will focus on exploring the relationship between new media technologies and new knowledge.  From its website:

Knowledge is neither timeless nor immutable. It is produced by and situated within particular contexts that themselves undergo complex and inevitable changes.  To understand this is, in a sense, to submit to two truths: First, the more knowledgeable we become, the more clearly we recognize that knowledge is not some singular, unified ‘thing’ that we can ever possess — or even perceive — in its entirety.  Second, although information might seem more valuable when only certain people have access to it, knowledge becomes more viable when it is open to and accessible by everyone. Bodies of knowledge are nourished by intellectual curiosity and creative innovation, and are strengthened by informed debate and critical inquiry.  Without these, bodies of knowledge do not live very long; they either obsolesce or, worse, become dogma.

Knowledge is held together by ideas and information, endowed with meaning through a variety of conceptual frameworks.  In this sense, knowledge is indissociable from the narratives that shape it.  And it is here that the academic disciplines comprising the humanities are of particular and enduring importance, for the humanities are centrally concerned with questions of meaning and representation.


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