The Lexicon of Digital Humanities Workshop: 9/18/2018

I ended up attending The Lexicon of Digital Humanities workshop on Tuesday 9/18/2018 since we didn’t have class.  Also, I still need to meet my workshop requires for the course and this was a good way to do so. Particularly, I wasn’t quite sure what would be covered within this workshop, but I figured it would be especially helpful as we move forward. 

We started out with going over some general information about Digital Humanities, which I thought was helpful and particularly related to our most recent class discussions on what digital humanities is. This session defined digital humanities as “digital methods of research that engage humanities topics in their materials and/or interpret the results of digital tools from a humanities lens.” I liked this definition a lot so far. It seemed to align closely with what we’ve been talking about in class. 

Next, they had us download Zotero, which was honestly really good because I needed to do this anyway. They went through how to download it, add it to your browser and sync it to all your devices. Since I am fairly new with Zotero I was thankful for the step by step instructions. I feel like Zotoro will be such an awesome resource moving forward. 

Next, we went over many different types of data and places/ways to find it. They showed us a variety of resources which I feel will be useful in the future. At one point we split into partner groups and an individual at the table I was sitting at directed us to this resource for harvesting data from social media platforms: http://www.massmine.org/. It has documentation that explains how to do things (step by step) with minimal online command line (and apparently a lot of copy and pasting which doesn’t sound too intimidating for newcomers like myself to the field).

Overall throughout the session, there were several different tools and resources that were shared. I’ve included a link to the presentation below for more information. I highly suggest that those who were unable to attend this session take a look. A really cool project (that wasn’t included in the presentation) that we were shown can be viewed here: http://xpmethod.plaintext.in/torn-apart/volume/2/index .This project shows a data and visualization intervention looking at the culpability behind the humanitarian crisis of 2018. It’s a great example to show how digital humanities is so relevant to the world at this current moment and how its efforts can be productive in many ways. 

Here is a link to the presentation from the workshop.

After attending this workshop, one major thought that has been consuming my mind was the accessibility of the field of Digital Humanities. With many of the resources and tools being open-sourced and free, this allows those who may not have class privilege to still have equal access (keeping in mind that one still needs access to a computer and internet of course to utilize these tools/resources). This becomes an important conversation when we think about accessibility and who gets to be able to practice digital humanities. These resources and tools help provide a layer of accessibility that other fields do not always offer.

That being said, there is still a hierarchy within the field of those who have access to academia for in-class digital humanities courses and education (like ourselves), and those who do not have the privilege of being able to attend higher education courses. I do however feel that as I’ve started to become more familiar with the field, one of the main priorities has been to make as much of the content as free and accessible as possible. I hope this stays true as the field continues to develop within academia and that it does not fall into the “ivory tower” trend that has plagued some other humanities fields; (I come from a background in Women’s and Gender Studies which has been often critiqued for losing its roots in activism and accessibility by being too housed in academia). 

One thought on “The Lexicon of Digital Humanities Workshop: 9/18/2018

  1. Hannah House

    Sounds like a great workshop and thank you for sharing the slides, Brittany! They are a good read.

    The definition of DH given is succinct. I might add, based on our readings, that in addition to interpreting the results of digital tools through a humanities lens, DH also interrogates their very use.

    A tangential musing: this contextualization in their intro caught me: “the printed word is no longer the main medium for knowledge production and distribution” (Wikipedia). True that print has been largely supplanted by digital transmission, but words themselves still are the main medium for transmitting knowledge. One has to understand the words used for knowledge to be transmitted, which is a language barrier.

    Visualizations are exciting and potentially able to transcend some of these barriers, but I’m curious whether there are cross-cultural or native-language differences in how people interpret visualizations. Does a graph or map that seems unambiguous to me communicate similarly to someone who is not me? My gut feeling is that native language or culture does influence how visualizations are parsed and what knowledge/interpretation is transmitted. It’s just less obvious than the barrier created by speaking different languages. I plan to look into this in my time here.

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