In the readings leading up to the discussion with Dr. Sayers, words like making and proto-typing are used in conjunction with re-investigating the past. These same methodologies can also be applied to the questions and cultures of the present as well as those of the future. I am largely a creature of the past, so I will focus on that.
The study of material culture of the past can give us a window into human activity and culture temporally, as well as spatially. Art, architecture, literature, housewares and tools regardless if they are made from lithics, metals, ceramics, or organic material helps us investigate the past. Wait, wait, wait. Am I writing a post on an Archaeology forum or a Digital Humanities forum? Well, yes. The concept of using ancient documents for the purpose of making material objects to prove a hypothesis has been happening in archaeology for many years. This experimental archaeology is a systematic and controlled method of interpretation of artifacts discovered in the archaeological record. By testing the validity of archaeological assumptions, archaeologists are expanding the database of empirical knowledge about ancient humanity. For example, Thor Heyerdahl believed that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. His aim in mounting the Kon-Tiki expedition was to show, by using only the materials and technologies available to those people at the time, that there were no technical reasons to prevent them from having done so. Heyerdahl and a small team went to Peru, where they constructed a raft out of native materials in an indigenous style as recorded in illustrations by Spanish conquistadores. The trip began on April 28, 1947. Heyerdahl and five companions sailed the raft for 101 days over 6,900 km (4,300 miles) across the Pacific Ocean before making landfall on Raroia, in the French Polynesians, on August 7, 1947 (Heyerdahl 1950). There are too many experiments to list here, but this is the earliest that I have knowledge of and Digital Humanities can and should adopt these methodologies to interrogate and enhance their own questions. Using 3D modeling, scholars have been able to make detailed analysis of material from the archaeological record, commensurate with their full dimensionality, that would be impractical because of the limited accessibility of the original artifacts.
The interplay of game theory and scholarship intrigues me. Video games have been a popular way of bringing the past to life. For example, in Halo 4 the consumer gets introduced to aspects of life in the 1950’s. This knowledge transfer happens, albeit mostly unbeknownst to the user, while playing in a virtual world. A more recent example is the popular game Assassin’s Creed where, I am told as I have yet to play the game, the user can enter a mode of the game where tours of ancient spaces can be engaged. These tours involve historical fact and are said to come with a list of source materials included that users can explore on their own outside of the game. In the long list of tabletop games that Dr. Sayers provides, I have played nearly half. I am very excited to see the ways in which I can bring one of my favorite leisure time activities into not only my classroom, but my scholarship as well.
1950 Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft. Rand McNally & Company.