I thought the most interesting part of our visit to UVA was meeting people who are professionals in the digital humanities field, and seeing the place they work in. I was also surprised by how multi-faceted and cross-curricular their approach to their work was, and how much each scholar knew about so may different subjects. Meeting the UVA scholars made it much clearer to me that digital humanities is just as much humanities as it is digital. The scholars were trained in various individual academic areas (History, English, Design, etc.) and were clearly extremely competent with technology, but also had excellent insights about the academic side of our project.
I also found it very useful to go through the potential possibilities for our project. The method that we used really helped me visualize and organize my thoughts about the project, and the scholars’ input was really interesting. The experience showed me that having input from people with a wide variety of academic training is invaluable, which also made me further realize how important it is to be educated in many different academic areas. Being able to speak as an expert in one particular area is important, as proven by the amount of expert-level insight each person in the Scholars’ Lab had to offer. However, being able to have an informed conversation about information outside of your academic field is also incredibly important.
Brainstorming in the Scholars’ Lab also made me realize how important it is to define the scope of a project before you start. In a short hour-long session, we came up with many different possible route that the project could take, but it could take months or years to fully explore each option. Digital Humanities incorporates so many different technical and academic subjects that it allows scholars to process and investigate information in many different ways. When working on a project, people must clearly define how they are going to process the information that they have, and set an ultimate goal for the project before they even start. Otherwise, you could go down many different rabbit holes and ultimately accomplish nothing. Especially in a four-week course, we need to carefully define our ultimate goal. Research questions will help us define our ultimate goal, because it will serve as the thesis for the entire project. Once we decide on our research question, we really should not deviate from the question during this course.