DH Writing Assignment 1

Writing Assignment #1:  Define “digital humanities” in your own words.  Be sure to refer to your readings and class discussion when drafting your working definition for “digital humanities.”

I see the interaction between humans and the digital world to be “natural”—not in the sense that we were, in some way, meant to build the digital world. This new age of information feeds our innate sense of curiosity. But we need to make a distinction between the users of the digital world and its creators. Lincoln Mullen claims that “digital humanities is a spectrum… all humanities scholars use digital practices and concepts to one degree or another, even those who do not identify as digital humanists.”[1] Mullen goes on the claim that we are all being transformed by this new world. So whether it was intentional or not, the creators of the digital world created the next step in human evolution. They created an entirely new environment that is forever changing but theoretically limitless in resources. Each user has an impact on this environment and alters it forever—it is dynamic. The interaction between humans and this digital world feeds this environment with the information it needs to evolve further. But then the question to ask is: does this environment really need us to evolve? During this race to generate the “perfect” AI, this question is a natural one to ask.  And when will we know if we have created a self-aware, self-sustaining being? It is difficult to tell because we would judge this based on the context of our own humanity. What if by some miracle a form of intelligence formed on its own in the digital world? If the digital world is based on our humanity and if “[h]umanities computing is precisely the automation of every possible analysis of human expression (therefore, it is exquisitely a “humanistic” activity), in the widest sense of the word,”[2] then would this being’s thought process be more like that of a human’s or something entirely different?

Digital humanities is a forever changing environment where we can add, reflect, and advance our own humanity.


[1] http://lincolnmullen.com/blog/digital-humanities-is-a-spectrum-or-we8217re-all-digital-humanists-now/

[2] http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/view?docId=blackwell/9781405103213/9781405103213.xml&chunk.id=ss1-1-2&toc.depth=1&toc.id=ss1-1-2&brand=default