Digital fabrication is often associated with printing copies or replicas; but, during the 2010s, Devon Elliott, Kari Kraus, Bethany Nowviskie, Bill Turkel, and I were curious about using it to prototype fuzzy scenarios, counterfactual histories, and possible worlds through a sort of infrastructural inversion or reflective design practice. We wrote an essay along these lines. It’s titled “Between Bits and Atoms” and was published as the first chapter in A New Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman et al.

Links to that essay, corresponding MLab research, and a related talk and workshop I gave in 2013 with Jeremy Boggs and Devon Elliott are below. I’ve included an abstract for the essay as well. The New Companion is available online (subscription required) and in paperback, hardback, and ebook formats.


A laser cut parts of a box from a sheet of wood

Between Bits and Atoms
Published in A New Companion to Digital Humanities (Schreibman et al., eds.) in 2015 | Wiley | written with Devon Elliott, Kari Kraus, Bethany Nowviskie, and William J. Turkel | eighteen pages | subscription / purchase required

Links: essay (HTML; PDF); publisher’s page (HTML); MLab research on fabrication (HTML) and physical computing (HTML); talk and workshop (HTML) at U. of Nebraska-Lincoln with slides (HTML)


This chapter argues that, in the humanities, making things with physical computing and desktop fabrication techniques encourages hands‐on, conjectural approaches to material culture, history, and preservation. Aside from detailing the technical particulars of physical computing and desktop fabrication, it explains their relevance to design, administrative, and communicative agendas in post‐secondary education. It also refers readers to several persuasive projects that blend humanities research methods with physical computing and fabrication.


First and second images of a laser-cut box care of Nina Belojevic, Shaun Macpherson, Danielle Morgan, and the MLab. Used with permission. This page was created on 16 August 2019 and last updated on 21 June 2021.