This week’s readings were particularly interesting to me as we begin to wrap up this course. I’ve been thinking lately about how much I will reflect on Digital Humanities as I continue my degree program, in my current role as a teacher, and in my intended future role as a writer. As we’ve discussed ad nauseum this semester, the reach of DH and its uses are vast. As such, it is often difficult to tell exactly what DH is and how it impacts our lives as students, professionals, and consumers of information. As the final section of Debates in Digital Humanities focused on the future of Digital Humanities, I wonder what all of you see the role of DH in your lives being once this course is over. I’d love to hear your reflections!
The rest of my ideas on this week’s readings are various and sundry and many seem to lack any connectivity one to another, still, I find them worth posing to the group, so bear with me as I work through my thoughts, and I hope at least some of my musings spark conversation!
The introductory section from Matthew Kirschenbaum appeared to be more of the same we’ve read in other sections. Rather than really crafting an argument or vision for the future of DH, I feel like Kirschenbaum focused on again defining and defending Digital Humanities. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I can certainly see the need for this definition and defense of this field of study, but in a section that was posturing DH in the future, it seems only to hold back the progression of the field. I’ve also mentioned before, and think it’s worth repeating given this section by Kirschenbaum, that if DH must be constantly defined and defended to prove its relevancy, it doesn’t seem like the field would be long lasting since the bulk of the intellectual power won’t be in developing new programs and ideas, but rather in the endless cycle of proving its worth.
I was really struck by the example of the photograph and its relationship to artwork, however. As I’ve spent almost an entire semester now trying to understand Digital Humanities and its importance, I really connected to the comparison drawn here. The question was posed as to not how the photograph changes or challenges the definition of art, but what it does for art. How does it change our appreciation and understanding of art. To me, this really summarizes the point of Digital Humanities and its future. Digital Humanities won’t change the definition or core of humanities, but instead, it offers a new, technologically relevant, way of exploring the humanities. Digital Humanities doesn’t challenge us to look at the humanities any differently than we always would have, but now provides us an easier way to look for a lot of the same things, and even maybe more things just as photography didn’t change the way we analyze and appreciate art, but made the production of it simpler in many ways while creating new ways to evaluate the medium like angles, lighting, aperture, etc.
Lastly, I was very intrigued by the essay on Digital Humanities 1.0 and Digital Humanities 2.0. Dividing the popularity and usage of the internet in two waves, 1.0 and 2.0, it was easy to see a strong delineation in the way in which the internet is used, especially in regards to DH. One thing I realized contributes to my struggle in understanding Digital Humanities is my lack of experience in research in the first half of this dichotomy. When the internet was becoming more accessible and homes and schools, I was still too young to conduct much, if any, research. As such, it’s unfamiliar to me to not have digital texts and analyses of texts easily accessible through something as simple as a Google search. Reading about the differences of Digital Humanities 1.0 and 2.0 really shed more of a light on what DH is and can do. One main idea in this section that stood out to me as being of particular importance is the concept of data collection as data selection. As someone who has never had to conduct research outside of a predominantly digital platform, I had not considered the power one has in their own research when they do all of the heavy lifting of curating information rather than simply relying on what is already digitized. The responsibility DHers have to the consumers of information is huge given that they essentially become the gatekeepers for what information we keep and deem relevant and accessible as a society and what we simply allow to stay inaccessible/ in print only. I think this difference is important for understanding the future of Digital Humanities and the possibilities this approach can and will have on the study of the humanities.