[submitted by Paul McKean]
My entry point into the Digital Humanities was through a digital archive of data and data visualizations that was created by the Obama administration in order to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Recovery.gov invites citizens, journalists, and transparency activists to participate in interactive data visualizations that chart the progress of the legislation and support the administration’s claims of “transparency and accountability.” By participating in the archiving and presentation of government data on the site, the users are asked to “see” the policy at work across the country.
The Digital Humanities can help us critically engage the rhetoric of this digital archive as well as similar projects ( http://www.data.gov/) that attempt to make government statistical systems “transparent” to citizens. Furthermore, DH invites us to engage the legibility of data visualization, the politics of seeing they invoke, and the ways in which government statistics function as institutional systems of representation and surveillance.