Jentery Sayers asked followers (digital humanists) on Twitter “Why Do You Make Things” and then wrote the short article Making Things in the Digital Humanities. Now, I’m not a digital humanist, or maybe I don’t know that I am because I still don’t understand the definition. David Parry says it well. “We should all probably start by admitting that none of us really know what Digital Humanities is. Or, more precisely that none of us is fully in control of what DH is.”
I really couldn’t grasp the meaning of this article. It wasn’t until I read Katy’s Making Versus Writing that I even found a piece of the post I could write on. “Writing and making are both activities based heavily surrounded in process.”
I would argue that they are even the same things. I am creating when I am writing (Creative Writing). Creating is a form of making. With words, I make new worlds and settings, I build relationships, and solve problems.
As Mia had tweeted back to Sayers: “Because making, like writing, makes me do the thinking properly.” If you think about it, that is how children learn in the very beginning. To think properly. Children are not reading and they are sometimes listening. What they are doing is constructing models in their head, assimilating groups of similarities and differences (dog versus cat). When they enter preschool, many activities are hands on. Finger-painting: using their hands to recreate an image of something they see. Playing grocery store or kitchen. Sayers, without describing it directly, describes it very well. “Call it play. Or tinkering. Or hands-on learning, if you wish.”
We are initially makers, even if the things we are making are not original. Even if the things we are “monkey-see, monkey-do.” It is how we understand the world, by taking apart the whole and making the process step-by-step. Whole institutions are built on this hands on learning called unschooling. Sometimes letting children create their curriculum works, but it has received many critical reviews.
It is only natural that in a digital world, the making becomes about the digital to understand the digital. That said, I should say writing as creating is not old just because digital is new. It is old because it historically old. This does not mean, however, that is is irrelevant. e-books, no matter how map-like or digital, still need writing, and they are still just a way to tell a story.