Blog Post #4

Jim discussed the role of digital resources and the DH community in his field of study, which is history. He also posed questions regarding the boundaries between traditional research projects, and digital humanities research projects. He made it clear that the digital humanities community itself has not yet defined where exactly the boundary lies, and many scholars are still working to define what exactly makes something a digital humanities project. Some would define it as anything that is produced with the help of a computer, including an excel sheet or word document. Some scholars suggest that a DH project is defined as something that is analyzed with the help of a computer. However, there is no definite answer as of now. The DH community continues to explore this question, especially given that nearly every piece of modern scholarship uses computers in some form. In an increasingly digital world, it may become more and more difficult to determine where the boundary is between digital humanities and traditional research. Jim also discussed the challenges of convincing more traditional scholars that digital resources can enhance their field of work rather than change it. It is highly understandable that people who have been studying history for many decades would be wary of drastic changes, although it becomes clear after further exploration that digital tools can greatly help the field of history rather than hurting it.

Jim exhibited multiple digital projects that he worked on with mapping using Omeka and Neatline. Neatline was developed by the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia, and seems like an incredibly useful tool. As Charlotte Roueche discussed, mapping is an integral part of digital humanities, and Neatline opens up many different mapping possibilities for DH scholars.I think it will be an incredibly useful tool for the Tom Carter/Ezra Pound project somewhere down the line. Neatline allows the project to incorporate old maps, which is especially interesting when studying the route of mail to many different parts of the country.

I thought Jim’s description of the connections between the digital aspects and the humanities aspects of his project was interesting. He described the collaborative process between himself and people who are experts in the field of technology. I am astounded by how much Jim was able to accomplish digitally given that he is a historian, and not a computer science scholar. I would love to know more about how Neatline was actually developed, and the process of creating such a powerful tool from coming up with the idea to actually implementing it.