Defining DH 2.15

I think the best way to define the Digital Humanities at this point is as a morphing field of study that encompasses a methodological collaborative approach to research, knowledge, and access to information. It creates open and malleable outcomes because of the concept of interdisciplinary networks of information sharing. When it comes to D.H projects there doesn’t seem to be a set outcome. What I mean by this is that because D.H emphasizes open source material, that material can be revisited and changed as more information, data, and tools become available to fine-tune or adjust previously collected and documented data and work. Another goal of D.H seems to be to expand the readership of information through global access via the internet. By expanding readership it also opens up the potential for more feedback from individuals who may traditionally be disinclined to participate in the sharing of information.

For example, if there is a woman in Kuwait who is reading about current developments on the cross pollination of flowers to produce a new type of honey on a blog written by a biologist in Maine and knows something about cross pollination techniques that she can share with the biologist, she then becomes a potential collaborator in the biologist’s research. The internet and the blog then become an open source tool to gather information globally.

Digital Humanities is beginning to force us to rethink how we view, define, and accumulate knowledge. It is challenging the traditional humanist model of scholarly research as a part of a social contract of knowledge. It asks, is how we think about gathering and disseminating information the only accredited approach? The answer would be no, it is not. D.H is working to create a new accredited form of knowledge gathered through the use of many minds as opposed to one authoritative. This does not mean that D.H necessarily discredits traditional humanities but it does challenge what it does and could mean to be not only a scholar but a humanities scholar and then further, a digital humanities scholar.

Some people argue that in order to be a digital humanist you must know coding and how to create using D.H. as a tool. I would say that knowing how to code is one aspect of being a digital humanist but that one doesn’t necessarily need this skill in order to be part of the digital humanities. The entire model of the digital humanities is collaboration. If everyone knew every technological skill that encompasses being part of the digital humanities community then there would be less need for collaboration. While I think further implementation of digital tools is inevitable in academia I do not think that traditional humanities departments or traditional humanists will cease to exist. It is necessary to have a variety of skill sets and knowledge base in order for a true digital humanities project to manifest. Therefore while more text may be digitized and more information made available via the internet we will still need traditional humanists input on a number of topics to ensure the authenticity of collected and collective knowledge.

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