A Definition of Digital Humanities

DEFINITION OF DIGITAL HUMANITIES (DH)

Digital Humanities (DH) encompasses multiple digital formats and platforms that may be used to enhance traditional humanities pursuits, including the study, preservation, and analysis of human artifacts in all forms.   DH  allows scholars (both academic and “amateur”) and specialists in digital applications to collaborate to create new approaches to the analysis and study of written, visual, aural, video, and other creative formats.  By emphasizing process over product, DH encourages multiple approaches to the understanding of human creation.  DH also offers a unique bridge between the technical and humanistic worlds, offering both sides new tools of understanding their own work and each other’s.

WHY I DEFINE DH THIS WAY

I am trying to encompass the multitude of approaches that exist in the field, thanks to the growing power of computers, including increased storage, speed, and new software that enables “non-technical” people to do deeper work with all types of materials.  I also wanted to emphasize that I view DH as a process of collaboration, that hopefully inspires each individual scholar to explore multiple ways of interpreting and explaining the material that they are studying.  Conversely, I hope that specialists in computing and digitization are inspired to view their own endeavors in the broader context of human creation and to apply humanistic interpretation to their own work.

In writing this definition, I can see why defining DH is so frustrating.  On the one hand, you want your definition to encompass the many approaches that DH takes; on the other hand, if the definition is too broad, you lose specificity.

 

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