Technological Agnosticism

I’ve long held that both digital and analog humanists need to take a more agnostic approach to technology. Digital humanists are getting there, but neither  group seems to have the level of maturity present in the commercial and public sectors in this regard (evidenced by continued debates about the pros and cons of this or that format or presentation medium – the ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’). I’ve been reading ISO/IEC26514 (2008), which is the international standard for the development of user documentation, and am impressed with it on this score. See for example the table below, titled ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Media’ (p.60): technical writers are expected to assess the needs of their audience and produce documentation in the most appropriate format, just as I think university students and researchers should. Another table outlining the pros and cons of different image and document file formats and types of code would also be useful.

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