The Transformative Technologies Research Unit (TTRU) is part of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. TTRU examines the historical, social, philosophical and political ramifications of the transformation of technologies (for example, the transition from analogue to digital technologies) and the transformation by technologies (for example, the social implications of transformative technologies to concepts of self, the city, knowledge and global relations). The printing press, the microscope, the telescope, the mechanical clock, electricity, the steam engine, the telephone, cinema, television, computer, the internet – all can be understood as paradigm shifting technologies that radically transformed the relationship between humans and their mediation of the world around them.
There is much to be gained by offering insight into transformative technologies through the Humanities. The aims of TTRU are focused on the diverse impact that technologies have had and are continuing to have on human identity and society. The digital era has fostered an intense and dramatic technological revolution, however, while the digital era is a central concern, we would be remiss to preclude other transformative technologies of the past. A critical understanding of our present and future can create deeper understandings through an understanding of the technological shifts of past societies.
TTRU adopts an interdisciplinary approach that brings together researchers from across the Faculty of Arts (its researchers are from the Schools of Culture and Communication, Historical and Philosophical Studies, Languages and Linguistics, and Social and Political Sciences), while also building collaborations with other Faculties within the university in order to investigate the transformative impact that technologies have had on the human experience historically and in the C21st. TTRU is especially interested in developing industry partnerships, and in exploring methods of delivering research findings that are aligned with the Digital Humanities. We use digital tools and methods to rethink approaches to delivering traditional humanities research, and we analyse new technologies using traditional humanities and interdisciplinary modes of inquiry.
Members of the research group also aim to bring their expertise to the changing face of collections and museum practices. Government policy has placed emphasis on promoting the “creative economy” and encouraging collaboration with the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) sector. A number of the researchers on the team and the steering committee have expertise in these areas. Digital technologies have transformed and expanded traditional understandings of museums. TTRU will seek the expertise of steering committee and industry partners on current and future projects that relate to the creative application of transformative technologies to museum practices.