Digital Humanities Primer


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I created a PowerPoint that highlights the values and methods of digital humanities that make it unique from traditional scholarship.

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Digital Humanities Primer

  1. 1. Margot Note Independent Scholar and Digital Humanist
  2. 2.  Presented in digital forms  Enabled by digital methods and tools  About digital technology and culture  Building and experimenting with digital technology  Critical of its own digital-ness
  3. 3.  Digital humanities scholarship is grounded in theory and critical in the tradition similar to many scholarly practices.  However, and in addition, DH is often also grounded in a humanistic self-criticism, including the criticism of the very tools, technologies, and platforms that enable its own practices and publications.
  4. 4.  As the authors of Digital_Humanities (2012) write, “one of the strongest attributes of [DH] is that the iterative versioning of digital projects fosters experimentation, risk-taking, redefinition, and sometimes failure. It is important that we do not short-circuit this experimental process in the rush to normalize practices, standardize methodologies, and define evaluative metrics.”
  5. 5.  Digital humanities texts often have multiple authors, but more subtle and robust collaborations are the foundation of many DH projects, involving distributed networks of expertise including scholars, students, programmers, technologists, librarians, designers, and more.
  6. 6.  Not always confined by the strictures and structures of print, digital humanities scholarship embraces many modes—text, audio, video, etc.—while also being expressive and performative in and of themselves.  These performative texts use design and multiple modes of expression to put forth an argument, often breaking down the reader/writer dichotomy in new ways.
  7. 7.  While not exclusively open access, most digital humanities scholarship embraces open and public forms of publishing, from the pre- and post-publication peer review of Twitter and blog posts, to Creative Commons-enabled digital publications, curated digital archives, and interactive digital projects.
  8. 8.  Digital humanists understand that there may not be someone immediately available who can teach what is needed to know.  There is a value in figuring it out on one’s own.
  9. 9.  If an immediate tool or authority is not available, the skill need can be learned, rather than wait for someone else to provide it.
  10. 10.  Yielding to the impulse of the moment rather than sticking to a prescriptive notion of the project.  Screwing around can lead to serendipitous discovery.  Developing an idea for a project by thinking about what the field or sub-field needs, but does not have.
  11. 11.  Rather than thinking of scholarly production as a long process yielding a single, polished whole, DH values shorter time frames yielding a series of gradually-expanded versions of a product.
  12. 12.  Traditional forms of academic scholarship encourage students to work towards a final product that presents the distilled knowledge to the public.  In contrast, the ethos of digital humanities encourages participants to openly discuss the process from the point of ideation.
  13. 13.  Instead of revising away any failures to present a “correct” final product, unsuccessful or partially successful attempts are considered to have useful learning potential.
  14. 14.  Scholarly work should be available to readers/viewers/users, and that the writer and production of the work is only half of its intended trajectory.
  15. 15.  Present what is known and learn from it  Garner encouragement and feedback from other DH practitioners and scholarly audiences  Contribute to the larger academic community, even before projects are finished.  Makes all work valuable, as opposed to the final draft.
  16. 16.  Scholarly review and evaluation benefits from transparency in terms of creation, revision, and dissemination.  In keeping with the value of public scholarship, digital humanities peer review expands the idea of “peer” to include scholars from various fields, departments, and/or industries.
  17. 17.  The notion that scholarly work has relevance, value, and audiences beyond the bounds of the ivory tower.
  18. 18.  Object-based arguments through the curation of digital media, including collection repositories and scholarly narratives supported by digitized or born-digital primary source materials.
  19. 19.  Digital critical editions, marked up and encoded texts, often created through crowd- sourced methods and open to perpetual revision, annotation, and remix.
  20. 20.  As data sets grow larger and larger, humanists hope to create new findings through computational- and algorithmic- enabled interpretations of our digitized and born-digital culture materials.
  21. 21.  In contrast to, and often in conjunction with, close reading, distant reading looks to understand and analyze large corpora across time through “trends, patterns, and relationships.”
  22. 22.  Through computational means, cultural analytics mines, studies, and displays cultural materials in new aggregated or remixed forms, often including interactive and narrativized visualizations
  23. 23.  Arguments made from the visualization of data, including virtual/spatial representations, geo-referencing and mapping, simulated environments, and other designs constructed from and informed by data.
  24. 24.  The creation of “data landscapes” through connecting real, virtual, and interpretive sites, often manifesting as digital cultural mapping or geographic information systems (GIS).
  25. 25.  In which the static archive of the past is made alive and virtually experiential, including the active archiving of physical spaces through virtual means, and multi-modal/faceted approaches to collection access and interactivity.
  26. 26.  Digital projects take collaborative teams that cross both disciplines and borders and that often challenge the idea of “the author” through team contributions, crowdsourcing, and the user-based performance of the “text.”
  27. 27.  Taking on “historical simulation,” humanities gaming uses virtual learning environments to create interactive narratives that engage users and enable the exploration of humanist themes.
  28. 28.  Humanists have studied texts, the book, and many other forms of writing, so what to make of the code programmers write, the software computer users use, and the platforms that shape our social and cultural interactions?
  29. 29.  Multi-modal narratives formed from a database, branching out into multiple paths users explore, possibly incorporating live-feed data, all calling into question authorial control/intent and the role of the reader.
  30. 30.  Digital content can be read, written, and rewritten, and as such all digital objects are subject to sample, migration, translation, remix, and other forms of critical reuse.
  31. 31.  Digital realities encompass many types of machines and screens and increasingly objects are stored in the cloud, distributed over servers in multiple locations.
  32. 32.  Print publication no longer is the only way forward, and as new modes of publishing proliferate, and new players in publishing participate, publishing becomes increasingly ubiquitous and open.