ILE Reflection #6

Digital humanities continues to unfold itself during this process. I have collected many definitions and seen various projects which have have led me to a state of confusion. My experience at Bryn Mawr is a good example as to why I am 1.) confused and 2.) accepting the malleable definition of DH. The digital part of DH is clear and makes sense, but this week I began questioning the digital background of digital humanists – is a background in computer science essential to make your project more valuable? I had light banter with another student at the conference about this “requirement” – their response was vastly different than mine. They argued that it added a layer of complexity and individuality to the project than someone who used a “create your own website” tool. I spent several summers learning different languages (i.e. Python, C++, Java) and I expected to major in Computer Science because I grew fond of coding – I understand the sense of accomplishment, but I never thought of starting from nothing. Unfortunately, I am also aware of the annoyance and difficult time people have looking for a self-coded website. Gettysburg College offers a platform to store the students’ websites until they graduate unless they have different plans. This platform offers a customized¬†link that is shareable and functions. Apart from offering a site to host our projects, we have are not forced to follow a website theme. We are allowed to customize any part of out website as long as we have basic HTML skills; if we don’t, Google really helps with our questions.

Before the program began, I was well aware of the research focused project that I would turn digitally. The committee/ librarian partners emphasized the importance of research, working collaboratively, fostering our creativity, raising our confidence, and learning new tools to use during the process – which are great values. They reflect the values of an opportunity offered to students that will greatly shape them, however, our values conflict with those at other institutions. We are focused on creating an environment where we control all aspects of our project – research, website, presentation. Fellow undergraduate digital humanist are not in the same position we are. This past conference I was able to see and understand what R.C. meant by the fact that we have a unique program and that others have assignments. These students have literal assignments – from the research aspect to the contribution to the digital aspect. The projects can be described as individually collaborative. Our focus on a well-rounded program tainted my perception of digital humanities -I wish all DH programs could be as open and complete as the Gettysburg/Bucknell model. The definition of DH varies from individual to individual – I remember how controversial the definition is – at week 7, I finally understand how abstract the definition will be.

2 Replies to “ILE Reflection #6”

  1. There is always tension between building something from scratch and using a tool that helps you build it faster. We hoped to balance the “digital” with the “research” and so opted to use tools. Sometimes DH folks use the analogy of the “big tent” and stress that there is room for all types of DH under this tent. The tent, indeed, is quite big! See http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/22

  2. Agree with Janelle! And while CS can help with a lot of what we do, I think we have found that it’s less complicated to teach students digital skills and more complicated to teach research skills. You came to this program with a good balance of each, so you’ve been able to build off both sides of things.

    In a team environment, sometimes you get the folks who are CS-only and just doing web dev and programming, and others who are focused on research. I’m glad you see the value of having you pick and design a project and understanding how to move through the entire lifecycle of a project on both research and tech sides (and really, there are no sides …).

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