What (else) is Digital Humanities?

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In my post for Day of Digital Humanities 2013 I looked at what Digital Humanities is to me. In other words, what I feel makes me a Digital Humanist. I have been thinking more about this the last couple of weeks than I ever did before. One of the reasons for this is that I am teaching a class on the subject called, Introduction to XML and editing ancient documents here at LMU.

I have discovered that for me Digital Humanities is simply put: “the negotiation between humanities and the digital”.

As a Digital Humanist, I negotiate/translate between scholars/data in the field of Humanities and programmers/digital tools. I can do this because I, 1) have a background in Humanities and an understanding of the main issues of this field and 2) have the technical knowledge to understand how best to accommodate these issues digitally.

This definition is great for giving the participants of my seminar an idea of what I mean, when I say that I am a Digital Humanist and that by the end of the seminar my goal is that they are able to think of themselves as Digital Humanists too. But the definition is not so good in explaining in more practical detail what a Digital Humanist does or can do. So for that I looked towards Chris Forster’s HASTAC post for an explanation of what goes on under the big tent of Digital Humanities. The list I use (below) is based on Forster’s post, Brett Bobley’s comments below the post (adding two more rings), and also Tanner Higgin‘s and Brian Croxall‘s comments and Rafid Kasir’s guest post about the #3 ring in Forster’s tent.

So here is the list I have been using for the class:

  1. Digital tools (e.g. transcription tools or annotation tools)
  2. Digital archives (e.g. databases online and offline or repositories of TEI documents)
  3. Media studies (e.g. studying the use of the #digitalhumanities hashtag)
  4. Technology in pedagogy (e.g. how to make ipads a useful tool in the kindergarden)
  5. Technology in research (e.g. how open access is changing academic publishing)
  6. Technology for the public (e.g. how visitors interact with museums through onsite technology or online)

Just a note on technology in pedagogy. I agree with Kasir’s ideas about ‘using technology in the classroom does not necessarily characterize digital humanities work’  and ‘When teachers create power point presentations they are involved in digital humanities, but when students just watch the power point presentation it is not necessarily digital humanities.’ For me this point about technology in pedagogy is more about how digital tools, presentation software, ipads can and are used to create a different/better? learning environment. As an example, it is interesting to look at how using a Smartboard changes my mother-in-laws teaching environment in a primary school, how they can use ipads in the nursery where my sister works or just how we used Twitter in my seminar today (even though this was more meant to show participants how Twitter can be used in conferences and for networking = #5 Technology in research).

Let me round off by saying that this list is by no mean’s meant as a way of including certain aspects and excluding other’s from the Big Tent of Digital Humanities. It is purely a way for me to explain Digital Humanities to the participants of my seminars and acts as a framework for discussion.

I did a Prezi.com presentation of this to use in class, which you are welcome to have a look at.

2 Responses

  1. […] class will use the framework of the Digital Humanities list to look at how projects/institutions working on ancient documents tackled the use of digital […]

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