Friday, March 19, 2010

Definitions of the Digital Humanities

The TaPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research) project at the University of Alberta has provided an ongoing listing of digital humanists' conceptions of the digital humanities.  Here is a select gathering of the more robust definitions from the list that I found interesting. 

"Digital Humanities is a difficult concept to define; for me DH explores how and whether we can apply technology to our experience of history, heritage and culture. DH questions how technology changes the environment around us, physical and digital, and discusses whether those changes are for the better. I believe the concept of digital humanities is much more then just humanities computing; as society becomes increasingly digital, it become a way of life and it is important to understand how and why that is happening. -Claire Ross, University College London, UK

"Digital Humanities involves the use of computers, the internet and related technologies to enable the creation and sharing of humanities scholarship in ways not possible in traditional humanities practice. Digital Humanities challenges traditional understandings of the Humanities by fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and providing new perspectives on the objects of humanistic inquiry. -Jason Boyd, University of Toronto, Canada

"Digital Humanities is the deliberate, critical application of emerging technology to the study of traditional subjects such as literature, art, philosophy, and language, often (but not always) with a focus on how those traditional fields are now using emerging technology. We are deliberate and critical when we foreground the study of our own digital tools (for example, the forward-thinking digital humanist prefers the open-source tool to the proprietary one). We apply technology because we must participate in digital culture in order to understand it. Full participation in digital culture means contributing to (creating) the cultural economy, not simply observing (consuming). -Dennis Jerz, Seton Hill University, USA

"Application of computer-based methods for the Humanities. Though, on some occasions, I prefer "Humanities Computing" to make clearer that these applications often have to be developed and that a lot of basic research is required. What I do not like about the term "DH" is that it implies that there is digital humanities as opposed to non-digital humanities. But there is not. In the future, computer-based methods will be naturally used by any scholar. It is not like experimental vs. theoretical physics. -Malte Rehbein, University of Wuerzburg, Germany"

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