A Final Reflection on DH

It’s the end of my final week as a DH fellow and I can honestly say the eight weeks have flown by. On my first day, I don’t think I could have adequately defined DH if someone had asked me. By the end of my first week, I had a had a much more broad understanding of all that his encompassed by DH. In my first blog: My DH I described a better understanding of the values of DH as well as the importance of community. In particular, I emphasized accessibility, public participation and collaboration, and critical thinking as the primary values of DH. I had also begun to see the potential for social justice work in DH.

At the end of these eight weeks I still agree that accessibility, public participation and collaboration, and critical thinking are some of the primary values of DH. My understanding of the projects that DH can encompass, however, has been vastly expanded. In particular, attending the PCLA Digital Scholarship Student Symposium at Lafayette College we so a wide array of DH projects both with similar and different approaches to my own cohort’s. From medieval archives to a baseball predictor, projects in DH have endless opportunities and potential purposes. With this in mind, however, when I started with DSSF, my perception of DH was narrowed primarily to history projects. Engaging with a broader DH community definitely showed me the opportunities in this field.

From our discussions and communities of practice, I would also be much more hesitant to point to something as not being DH that was intended to be. I’ve come to believe that if scholarship is utilizing digital tools to present information in a collaborative and accessible way than it can fall within the field of Digital Humanities. Additionally, being a part of this program has definitely made me think more critically about what is considered scholarship, particularly in the tenure process for professors and even within my own classes at Gettysburg College. Even at a liberal arts college like Gettysburg, my academic work before this fellowship has been almost entirely limited to academic papers and the occasional presentation. There is a whole world of scholarship in the form of DH that has been largely untapped by the traditional undergraduate academic system.

Overall, I am so grateful for the research and learning opportunities I have had in the past eight week with DSSF! My project grew from a singular research question to a project and website I’m proud of as well as an introduction to a community I was completely unfamiliar with prior to this summer. I know that I will continue to use this foundational knowledge in DH moving forward with all future academic projects.

Final Thoughts

Over the course of the summer I’ve become more aware of the collaborative and experimental aspects of visual novels and how they correlate with DH values. In the beginning I only thought about how visual novels applied to DH through the combination of technology and the humanities, but after learning more about both communities I’m able to recognize more similarities between the two. Learning more about the values of DH made me notice when they did or didn’t relate to the way video games treat those same concepts.

After the first reflection, my definition didn’t change so much as expand to incorporate the knowledge I gained over the course of the last few weeks. I would define DH as reformatting the humanities with digital tools, using technology to make information more accessible and presentable in a number of different ways. Building ongoing projects with people from all different realms of experience, sharing skills and working in a diverse online environment are all encompassed by DH. There are so many different kinds of interactive experiences that can be used to present research in a more effective way than simply a long paper, and I’m glad that I now know that. I hope to incorporate the qualities of DH into future projects to make them more interesting and reflective of the subject matter I’m discussing. This program has changed my perspective when it comes to sharing and presenting information in an academic setting and I will definitely continue using the skills I’ve developed in this short period of time while introducing as many people to DH as I can.

Final DH Thoughts

When we first started to talk about Digital Humanities in week one we had a pretty broad definition of it, that is using digital tools to explore ideas, to teach, and to learn. We also agreed that it should be considered scholarship. I still agree with the definition of DH we came up with during the first week and still think it should be considered scholarship.

Before this project I had a narrow definition of digital humanities, I thought it had to be specifically digital humanities researched related. My definition has expanded to be a lot looser, that it can be anything created on the web and that it does not have to specifically be humanities based. I saw that with the visit from Bucknell because some of them were based on compiling scientific data or looking into scientific information, as well as how computer scientists also work on creating digital humanities projects. DH projects also don’t have to be about research, they can be creating a database, gathering information in one place, or an examination of one topic. This is more than just research, and includes more people than just academics. And especially that all DH projects should be considered scholarship because an article or book is not the only way to explore new ideas or argue a point, as well as it does not need to come to a definite conclusion to add to the conversation.

A resource that I used in a class last semester is a DH project that I did not understand to be a DH project till this summer. The Slave Voyage Project tracks the ships that left Africa full of slaves and where they went. It uses both digital tools and a database of the ships manifesto. Previously I would not have considered it DH because it is not necessarily doing research. But it is still furthering the conversation and contributing to the discussion even if it is not published in an academic journal. This also fits into the DH definition of how it should be considered scholarship. We viewed this database and time-lapse timeline in class and looked at it before class just like we would have to have a discussion about an article from a journal.

So long, for now.

Over the last eight weeks of this fellowship, my view on what can be included among the digital humanities has definitely changed. I thought the digital humanities was mainly websites and digital archives. I didn’t think it was possible to create multiple different sites or digital exhibits out of the digital humanities. I also didn’t know necessarily how papers and reviews could be transformed using digital tools. I believe the values of DH that I learned remain the same. I know of the importance of collaboration and openness of the web but, I don’t think I fully understood its benefits. Creating websites over papers that are locked away in academic institutions really helps the spread of information. The purpose of my own project centered around educating people on a topic they originally knew nothing about. Without the digital tools that I used during this fellowship, the information I was trying to communicate would not have reached the targeted audience I wanted to connect with. In addition to openness, I think that collaboration sets the digital humanities apart from regular papers and academic journals. I am limited in my own knowledge of the subject I have researched but I know with the help of other individuals I can extend the platform I have created to make sure more information can be shared.

I do think the community I centered myself around within the library definitely helped me form my own definition of digital humanities. But, even though my opinions were formed by the opinions of others, I did also read many articles discussing the digital humanities. I still feel that the library’s definition remains true. I don’t think simply submitting a document online can be considered digital humanities but, if you submitted the document in a way that allowed people to collaborate and extend the research then maybe there is some elements of digital humanities used. I still am a bit confused when trying to make decisions on what can be grouped under this term but, for now I’d like to learn about different projects in hopes that I can continue trying to shape my definition. The digital humanities serves as a platform to teach as well as present research to anyone willing to view it online. I am satisfied with what I made and how I feel it can benefit all internet users. I am grateful for the cohort I had the chance to work with and I hope to stay connected to such an amazing and supportive community. Thank you for this opportunity. I will miss seeing everyone for lunch discussions and workshops but, I know that this does not have to be the end.

Signing off for now,

Emma Poff

Thank you and bye bye!


Hi Everyone,

I cannot believe it is already my last but not least reflective response for the DSSF 2019. I feel both happy to be able to part of DSSF this summer and sad that it is time to say goodbye now, it went by so quickly.

Firstly, before answering the question I would like to THANK the DSSF 2019 TEAM: Amy, Clint, Emma, Emmarie, Eric, John, Maci, Michaela, Kevin, and RC. This was a pleasure to work with you guys and it was very a enjoyable time to spend summer with you. I think together throughout this program, we were able to build a strong, bonding community that will always be supportive of each other.

This time being in the DSSF program, my perspective at values of DH has changed a bit, or I would say have evolved a bit. In the beginning of the first week of the program, I was more focusing probably on my self working and being passionate at your work, and all that matters is not the result but the process and how much of your heart you have put on your work throughout your project. I still think that it is important and without loving what you are doing, you cannot achieve the perfectness (if it is even possible) of your project. Being ambitious, passionate and never giving up makes you and your work stronger as you are confident of it and in the end you will enjoy what you have achieve and you will proudly present to others.

But apart from these values, while spending time at DSSF, being part of the team, I have put more focus on a group/ community rather than individuality. As living with DSSF fellows and spending time with DSSF librarians, we have built as I said earlier a bonding community, which matters to me more than myself. I alone am very weak, but in a community I can get a support from anyone when it is needed. However, it is also important that you are equally supportive to others so that you can build stronger bonds together and have a trusted community. So my values of DH has evolved, which means they have increased, I do not only look at being passionate but also at building a community. Of course, the community is supportive of your work, but you do not have to focus on community, you can have stronger bonds by doing creative and fun activities outside work, where you can learn each other more and understand each other even better.

Now even if you think you failed at doing your work, you have not! Because, if you have built a strong community, they will not let you fall down, and they will support you until the end and help you to find other solutions for your problems.

I think that community is build on trust, so never lie to each other and be honest with yourself, your work, and your colleagues!

Best wishes!

Thank you for reading my reflections!

Have a good summer!

JHA


 

Collaboration -Emma Poff

From the beginning, our digital humanities committee has made an effort to talk amongst each other every Friday to get a sense of awareness of where we are with our projects. This communication has personally help me when I have tried to decide what I feel would be best for my users on the website. These Friday updates and planning have allowed me to ask questions as well as respond to some of the other committee members’ concerns about my project. In particular, working at one workshop with Macy was extremely helpful when discovering how my website would be navigated by my users. I hope by the end of this week to have more involvement with each member of the committee as they are finishing up their projects. I do wish I engaged a little bit more outside of Friday updates and planning or any other group meetings to talk one on one with different members in hopes to get more feedback. My goal this week is to try to present in front of someone who has yet to see my website in depth and so that I can get differing opinions. In addition to fellow students, working with librarians has helped me learn new digital tools as well as the steps it takes to make a website successful when presenting research. While I have enjoyed my time on Tuesdays and Thursdays working on gathering my research and putting together my website, working alongside my librarian partner, Kevin, has helped me express my concerns and oftentimes rant when I face small issues. Battling with CSS to finding new books for me to search through, Kevin has helped me take my project further than I originally imagined. 

Through multiple lunch discussions, I can see myself in the future working on a larger level with the digital humanities community. I see the importance and keeping the humanities alive through the use of digital tools and I like the benefits that come from making research available digitally. Digital humanities advocates for openness, diversity, collaboration, and experimentation, all of which take research further than mere research papers. At this time I do not know how I will be involved with the community in the future but I hope that I can use the tools I learned throughout the summer to contribute in some way. I think my website still has a lot of work but I believe it does help contribute to the DH community. Through my work as a fellow I am showing the importance in the digital humanities and keeping the people program alive by adding my work to the works of past fellows. By collaborating with others, I have learned how to take criticism. By listening to others critiques I am trying to better my website and make sure my research is accurate and presented in a way accessible to every user. 

Reflection 7- Erik Carneal

My project is heavily based around political science, which is my major. My project has been able to present typical political science project information in a way that incorporates many digital humanities aspects. Being able to create any sort of humanities based project online is one of the beauties of the digital humanities. In a non digital humanities setting, this project would have been probably presented in a much more physical and simple way. Especially with political science, papers and posters are very standard for the classroom type projects. While this is an efficient and useful way to get a point across, it limits the creative aspect that helps the viewer better understand said point. With my project, and many other digital humanities projects like it, that creative aspect is able to thrive in many forms. For example, my project uses timelines and interactive corpuses that are creative tools for learning. 

A key component to knowing how effective a creative tool is the use of a test partner. Collebarting about and testing different parts of your project is very useful in determining what creative aspects of the site are most pleasing to a viewer. Nothing helps your website grow like good criticism does. This collaborative aspect of the digital humanities is what allows the field to be so connected and to have mutual respect for others and their studies. Examples from this summer of this include our trip to Lafayette College and when students from the Bucknell University DSSF program came down to spend a day with us. In both of these settings, it was clear that everyone involved was open to and excited about the collaboration and the sharing of opinions. Everyone approached the collaboration with a pre-established respect for others in the digital humanities. From both of these examples, I have taken others ideas and applied them to my project based on their feedback. This allowed for my website to grow and to become more appealing to a viewer that does not know how to navigate the site. I also felt as though my insingth and opinions were valued by the other students, and they seemed very appreciative of that fact. I hope that these types of meetings and gatherings remain a common occurrence for the digital humanities as the field continues to grow.

 

Community in DH

Going to Lafayette was a really valuable experience because we got to speak with other students who were doing research in a similar setting but used a variety of different tools and were working for different reasons. Bucknell’s visit was also a good opportunity to interact with students who were spending the summer surrounded by DH and learn from their experiences. Discussing other people’s projects has really helped expand my definition of DH and what it encompasses. Since the rest of the cohort came in with a similar level of ignorance when it came to DH and the tools we were going to use, I found that it was useful to learn and share our discoveries with each other when it came to building our projects. 

In addition to meeting students, the workshops and presentations with different faculty members and other people who have been doing their own research and projects for a long time was a good way to see how DH can apply to our future research beyond this program. While I did not use a lot of library resources in my project and mostly read online articles, the faculty within the DSSF program have been incredibly helpful and understanding. My meetings with John Dettinger have helped me a lot throughout the planning and execution of my project as I used WordPress for the first time and continuously tried to alter my site with CSS I had no past experience with.

I think I’ve had a lot of positive interactions within the DH community this summer and that it’s a very open and accepting place. Despite being very new to DH, I don’t feel discouraged at all when it comes to considering my own involvement and thinking of ways that I can continue to interact with others within the community. I hope to continue observing more DH projects and learning about the kinds of things I can do to contribute to my own area of interest, as well as sharing the concept of DH with people who may have never heard of it.

Participating in the DH Community

I have engaged in the community of practice in DH this summer by collaborating, making my project accessible, as well as one of the goals of the project is accessibility of the information I am exploring, and using open sourced tools. I have participated in the collaboration side of Digital Humanities by engaging and giving feedback with other DH scholars, either at PCLA or at our weekly check in meetings. Working with the cohort and the DSSF committee has helped to shape my project and helped me grow it to what it has become. One way it has shaped my project is the suggesting of the “College Connections” page. It was suggested by a member of the cohort, I could not figure out how draw my project together when someone suggested a page that summed it up as a type of conclusion. This is exactly what it needed. This project would not be possible without their advice support, and guidance.

My project also engages with the value of accessibility by making sure that my website is accessible to everyone by having alternative image descriptions for screen readers and making sure the colors are high contrast. But also, a core part of it is about the accessibility to the buildings themselves, it is partly what inspired the project. There are many people who are interested in places that are locked and I wanted to learn more about these buildings but could not gain access to them.  By gaining access and posting pictures and the history of them I am helping others be able to see these places despite them not having physical access to them.

Lastly my project is based on open source tools, like TimelineJS and JuxataposeJS. My project would not be the same without those tools. I used TimelineJS to show the concrete dates of when things happened to the buildings and the transfer of ownership for them. I could have just written it out, but having the timeline adds to the interactivity on the site. And JuxtaposeJS helps to highlight the differences between the before and after by putting them side by side.

My project would not be what it is today without the help and support of the DSSF committee, the cohort, and the other Digital Humanists that I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with. I hope to continue to further the values of DH with this project and future endeavors.

Engaging in the DH Community

The emphasis on community in the Digital Humanities field is one of the defining characteristics that distinguishes DH from the traditional humanities. From the very beginning of our fellowship, the importance of collaboration between other digital humanists has been emphasized as essential. Although we are all completing our own individual projects, sharing our process and reflecting as a group on the challenges of researching and creating a DH project has been a significant component of the fellowship. Being able to ask for and receive weekly feedback has been so important for the gradual improvement of my project. For example, with their feedback, I was able to fill in some of the information gaps I hadn’t realized that I left as well as reorganize pieces of my project which didn’t fully make sense to a viewer. Additionally, my project would not look nearly as polished if I was not able to go to others for help with the things which I lack prior experience in. For example, I had no experience with CSS before this summer, yet with the help of our librarian mentors I was able to make my desired changes like adjusting colors and resizing my header images. I really appreciate that, unlike the traditional humanities field, DH promotes and relies upon collaboration. Building a community in the past seven weeks with DSSF has definitely altered my perspective to look more favorably upon group work. Sharing knowledge can only improve a project, after all.

In addition to collaboration within the DSSF cohort, we’ve also had the opportunity to engage in our communities of practice through the PCLA Digital Scholarship Student Symposium at Lafayette College and spending the day presenting to the Bucknell DSSF fellows. Although I was unable to meet with the Bucknell Fellows (why would they schedule the LSAT for a Monday?), being able to view the vast array of DH projects created by other undergraduate students and discuss their research processes was a very cool component of the fellowship. It certainly demonstrated how diverse both the projects and digital humanists themselves can be.

In terms of how I see myself fitting into the larger DH community of practice, although I’m still very new, I feel as though the DH community is so open that it allows people to contribute at any stage. DSSF has allowed me not only to create my own project, but also to become informed and promote awareness of DH as a field. When people ask me what I’m doing this summer, they have almost all never heard of DH before. Being able to discuss DH in the context of my project as well as the projects of my DSSF cohort introduces others to the values of DH.