Back in November, Julia Flanders and I were invited to stage a debate on the matter of “scale” in digital humanities research for the “Boston Area Days of DH” conference keynote: Julia was to represent the micro scale and I the macro.

Julia and I met up during the MLA conference in January and began sketching out how the talk might go. The first thing we discovered, of course, is that we did not in fact have a real difference of opinion on this matter of scale. Big data, small data, close reading and distant . . . these things matter much less than what a scholar actually decides to do and say. In other words, we were both ultimately interested in new knowledge and not too much concerned with the level of scale necessary to derive that new knowledge.

In other words, it’s a false and probably irrelevant debate. And while we agreed on this point in general terms, we discovered in the course of composing and editing the script for our mock debate that there were legitimate nuances that deserved to be put into the light of day. The script form our “debate” and all of the slides are now available via UNL’s open access repository as “A Matter of Scale.”

Julia has posted a few comments on the experience of co-authoring this presentation with me on her blog. Check it out at