Dh is the means not the end

In the readings this week, I had a strong occurrence of deja vu. I’m sure it is due to the fact that each part we read deals with the debate of digital humanities. It also has something to do with the interconnectivity of this theme to everything I am doing. Each book I read, each lecture I participate in my other classes, each serious conversation I have at work or with friends, returns in some way to this on going debate of what is digital humanities and how does it fit in the world. I can take that a step further and wonder how it works its mystical magic in my world.

Through this discussion of the readings I’m going to reference a couple of topics from various articles that we read. The first topic of humanities as a transitory term was found in the first article. I think everything is transitory. I believe that we manipulate/mold terms and new things into what we see them evolving into. We first see it as this one thing, but then it begins to morph into this new, completely different perspective. With modernity and technology being a big part of our lives, it would be impossible to not transit over time.

Part of the first article explained the transition and name change that happened to a master’s program in Virginia. This was interesting to see the way the course changed not only through its name but also through its focus. This part was helpful in really grasping how digital humanities have struggled to emerge to the view we see in as today.

Technology innovations are the biggest reasons that digital humanities have changed so drastically. I found it interesting that “some of the social networks are back channels for DH’ers”. After you think about it (and read more about it in the article) I can see how that is true. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Web 2.0 has been a place for DH’ers to play and shine. The DH’ers can obtain knowledge and connections through online followings and instantly be aware of what is going on.

Another mention that is crucial to the social network point is that all these new and old technologies have existed together in harmony. Ok so maybe not harmony, but they have continued to exist in some form or fashion. I found this to be intriguing. I didn’t realize that this was true but his point is totally right. The old technologies still exist with the new, but in a bigger and bolder way. Blogs, Wiki’s and even Web 2.0 have improved tremendously.

There is one part of this article that made me think to the point of confusion. I guess I want to know what all of you think about the statement, “Text analysis and text encoding, hypertext fiction, and computational linguistics were all represented as potentially constitutive of humanities computing as an academic discipline.” I’m not sure why it wouldn’t. I guess the mention of it is like “duh, of course.” So why is this even a mention? Or are we just conditioned that this is true because we are almost done with this course?

A couple projects that I am working on involve the use of aggregates and social/digital world. So it was reassuring to hear this word several times throughout the readings.

In the article The Resistance to Digital Humanities by David Greetham, the term techne is mentioned. In my other class, we have been discussing techne. From my understanding, this is the combination of technique and technology. It embodies the action and the possibility of action for that skill. The article mentions this as an oxymoron in DH, but I see it as DH.

Also, in this article Greetham stated that if DH wants to be more “stable” and recognizable it needs to intertwine itself with history, textual proponents and the skills and processes that preceded us. I guess this would be debatable as well. I wonder how all of you feel about this.

As we enter these last readings we are still debating the respectability of DH. I like the rat python example. I think this is a perfect way to explain the process and understanding debate of DH. Throughout this course we are all the pythons and gulp-by-gulp we have been “slowly but inexorably” devouring this rat we call DH. There is a lot of negative/positive roller coaster happening as we swallow this information.

In the Humanities 2.0 article, I found the discussion about Web 2.0 interesting. I teach a lot of Web 2.0 and now look at it differently. In this article it mentions that Web 2.0 isn’t just the tool, but a relationship. I never really saw the relationship. I was aware of the back end of the tool and the way to use it but never really pressed the issue of relationship. This is probably one of the most important aspects of Web 2.0 and DH. (I feel like these are one in the same).

The other comment made in regards to Web 2.0 tools is how it has changed the world and the way we learn. When I look back on how I use to do research that process is totally different due to technology and the tools available. In this case, For me “Dh is the means not the end”.

4 thoughts on “Dh is the means not the end”

  1. Tonya I also had déjà vu with the readings this week, more specifically our first debates with Digital Humanities. Your concept of “Dh is the means not the end” reminded of the Thing Theory, that Digital Humanities is a prototype that theories can be built upon. In addition, your explanation of Web 2.0 could also be connected to the theory we previous talked about that Digital Humanities is a tool or instrument that allows us to study the wider world of humanities. I think these relationships are very important because it doesn’t limit us to one program or tool but gives us a wider access to a world of interconnected narratives and methodologies. While these relationships are not always obvious or easy to find, it is important for us to seek them out to fully understand the wider study of humanities.

  2. Tonya,

    You make several great points to which I can definitely relate.

    I think everyone felt a sense of deja vu in the reading this week. The debate of Digital Humanities is contentious and very well may never end since I think you’re right in saying DH is a transitory term and is so out of necessity. As technology advances and shapes our world, we shape the terminology we have to meet the evolving landscape, which includes, as you put it, “bigger and bolder” web applications.

    Additionally, I, too, connected with the networking social media provides for DH. Social media has provided countless opportunities for networking and sharing innovative ideas and best practices in my field, and it seems an even more natural medium for DH. Because it is so second nature for most of us to turn to social media now, and given the interdependency DH has on technology, it has struck me as ironic anytime something beyond traditional texts are mentioned as being controversial for study in the field of DH. I’m sure it is just the simple resistance to anything that is new or changing, but in a field dominated by digital texts, it seems careless to abandon a large part of contemporary digital text. This seems to relate to the idea that when we digitize texts we get to choose what texts are important enough to live on, preserved in HTML code, and those that remain lost in a library archive.

  3. Tonya,

    I agree with you on many of your points. The part that stood out to me most was your discussion of both the diversity and complexity of DH, as well as the rat-python example. I think they sort of go hand-in-hand, or at least they have for me. For all of our assignments, I have been relatively comfortable with completing them, except for the python assignment. While many of you probably progressed through the first several assignments, it felt as if I was regressing. The python assignment was where I hit a snag, and after completing the next several assignments, I know realize how different certain aspects of DH are. Rather than progressing, it felt like I was picking and choosing which parts of DH worked well for me. Python happened to be one aspect of DH I found difficult to figure out. In a way, I think this also relates to the many different paths one can take when examining DH as a whole. I think it is now well-enough established that it is not necessarily a progression of learning, but a pick-and-choose type of learning. To put it more clearly (as I feel I butchered that last idea), DH is not narrow enough that there are only a few things to learn (a quick learning curve). Rather, DH has enough depth to warrant students to master only certain aspects of it.

  4. Like everyone else who has commented so far, I got the sense of deja vu as well. I was slightly annoyed by it though. It seems like most of the articles we read spend a few pages explaining what DH is and what it isn’t, and how nobody really knows for sure. I can understand why the authors do it, they need to put their argument in context, but at the same time it gets a little redundant.

    Your question about “Text analysis and text encoding, hypertext fiction, and computational linguistics were all represented as potentially constitutive of humanities computing as an academic discipline,” is one that made me scratch my head too. Perhaps it was worth mentioning because it is something many scholars already do, so Kirschenbaum wanted to put it in context.

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