This may sound crazy, but what's the difference between tracking your daily prayer life with an app and doing so with another set of repeatable instructions, such as the Benedictine Rule and its set of daily readings and reminders to ponder God?
What is the proper context for even citing a tweet, let alone understanding the import or effects of 140 characters delivered as part of a longer, partially public, partially private exchange?
If we think of Facebook and Google and the computations in which we are enmeshed merely as information-processing machines, we concede our world to one end of the scale, a world of abstracted big data and all powerful algorithms. We forget that the internet, like any technology, is both a material infrastructure and something we do.
We have a difficult time imagining the future of the humanities beyond the anxieties of professors and the failures of university administrators. And when we invoke the humanities, we are actually speaking about a beleaguered and exhausted profession. There are only professors and their disciplines here. And they both are trapped, as Nietzsche would say, in a "castrated" passive tense: "The humanities are compelled . . .." There are no agents in this drama, just put upon, passive professors.
We need to think more about the process of cultural modeling. How do we model a cultural subset through a data set (a generation, contemporary television), and how do we model a cultural practice or concept through a particular measurement? These aren’t easy questions, but they are the prerequisite for correcting against the journalistic just-so stories of cultural criticism.