Blog Post #1: Understanding Digital Humanities

What is Digital Humanities? And to what degree is it about the classical described set of fields known as the humanities?

First, there is not one single agreed upon definition for what digital humanities (often abbreviated DH) actually is. But with that being said, my understanding of digital humanities is that it is all about applying computational methods to digital objects. In essence, digital humanities takes the tools developed by the military industrial complex, security agencies, financial institutions, energy companies, etc. and applies them toward the study of history, culture, literature, philosophy, and other disciplines.

Digital humanities is about applying computational methods to digital objects.

Second, digital humanities are not just about the humanities. It obscures the boundaries between the social sciences and the natural sciences. Digital humanities has deep roots in various fields and disciplines. But it does allow for the skills, practices, and methodologies used in analyzing classic humanistic objects to be used on non-traditional subjects.

Whether being applied to a traditional set of fields or a broader range of subjects, digital humanities provides us with the ability to communicate research effectively to specific audiences. There are many different computational methods available to digital humanists, including network analysis, interactive visual modeling, digital publishing, and complex mapping. First we can digitize physical text and data and then we can take these methods and answer specific questions.

What is the role of digital humanities beyond scholarship? Digital humanities help us to expand our understanding of what counts as scholarship. The curation of objects is just as much a part of scholarship as the study of texts. Digital humanities permits us to take digital tools to find patterns because the processing power of the personal computer dwarfs the ability of individuals to analyze texts and objects to discover patterns and connections. The visualization of data and text can be used to tell stories of that far exceed that possible by individual scholars.

Digital humanities help us to expand our understanding of what counts as scholarship.

Digital humanities integrates computer technology to humanistic scholarship. These tech-based activities are transforming physical information sources into computer data that can be analyzed and manipulated in fascinating and informative ways.