Writing Assignment 1

As Lincoln Mullen[1] suggests, Digital Humanities covers a wide variety of disciplines and bodies of work. Not only is it interpreted differently in Europe than in the United States, but its applications are ever growing and ever changing. Defining Digital Humanities requires a wide lens, the acknowledgement that it exists on a broad spectrum, and a careful distinction between tools, presentation and creation. In many ways, Digital Humanities can be separated into three categories. These are by no means exhaustive, but they begin to categorize the digital tools and processes that are used. These categories are “compilation,” or the use of digital tools to collate and assemble bodies of data or materials (i.e. historical documents), “organization,” or the ability to search and sort a data set on an archival website (i.e. what makes the data uniquely accessible), and “presentation,” or the use of digital tools to generate a front-end portal for users. Digital technology uniquely presents these three categories. Computers are able to perform algorithmic tasks in a brute-force way that humans cannot. Methods for presenting and visualizing data are also greatly enhanced with modern software. Data-bases allow better accessibility by operating through a browser and offering access to texts that may otherwise be difficult or impossible to view first hand.

The reality of the field is that it is hard to nail down. Much of the Internet, digital content, games, and music can fall under “Digital Humanities.” Thus, it is important to understand that, fundamentally, “Digital Humanities” refers to the usage of digital technologies to enhance, organize, present, create, and store artifacts, art, music, news, written works, data, etc. It is the adaptation of traditional fields into a modern age. This is not a new trend, but instead it is a change that is visible because of the advent of the modern computer and its dissemination across large parts of the world. Special care must be employed to distinguish between things made with technology and previously created artifacts merely interpreted with technology,[2] but the beauty of the computer (or digital device) is that it is “backwards compatible” (so to speak). Digital Humanities are the tools for creation, the tools for presentation, and the methods of storage and organization that have become available with the computer.

[1] Mullen, Author Lincoln. “Digital humanities is a spectrum; or, we’re all digital humanists now.” The Backward Glance. January 14, 2017. Accessed February 06, 2017. http://lincolnmullen.com/blog/digital-humanities-is-a-spectrum-or-we8217re-all-digital-humanists-now/.

[2] Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. “The Humanities, Done Digitally.” Debates in the Digital Humanities. 2012. Accessed February 06, 2017. http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/30.

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