When I first applied for the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship in the Spring, my perception of the Digital Humanities was fairly narrow. When friends and family asked about my summer plans, my explanation of the Digital Humanities went something like: “Oh, it’s humanities research, like history, but put on a website instead of just in paper form.” While this explanation wasn’t wrong, per se, it was certainly a surface level definition that failed to explain some of the key components of DH. Following our discussions of the Digital Humanities as well as Amanda Visconti’s article “A Digital Humanities What, Why, & How,”there has been a marked shift in my perception of DH.
In her article, Visconti stresses the importance of community and values in DH. These values include accessibility, public participation and collaboration, and critical thinking. I was personally struck by DH’s relationship with social justice. In better understanding these values shift, my view of DH has broadened. This was clear this past weekend, when I was celebrating my younger brother’s graduation with my extended family. Naturally, my family wanted to know more about my summer plans. In my explanations, I found that I had a new sense of confidence in explaining my own project as well as how it fit into the larger scheme of DH. With this in mind, I know that my understanding of DH will only continue to grow and evolve across the next 7 weeks, as the other fellows and I progress through our future projects and workshops.
To explain my own project briefly, I plan to create a timeline exploring the partnership of service between Gettysburg College and the greater Adams County community over time. While the specific details of the project will develop as I learn more tools and begin more extensive research, defining and thinking more deeply about DH has also had a great influence on the components I want to prioritize in my project. For one thing, there should be an opportunity for community collaboration in my site. This may be giving viewers the opportunity to submit their stories of how specific programs impacted them or something else entirely. Nevertheless, I think that the opportunity for wider participation and knowledge is important for such a project. Additionally, our discussions have led me to think more deeply about accessibility. Yes, by nature of being on the internet my site will be more accessible than any research paper I’ve written to date, however, this isn’t thinking far enough. Layout colors, language, and accessibility to mobiles and tablets can also influence who can view your project and are important to consider when designing my project. For example, there is a large Spanish speaking population in the Adams County community I would not want to exclude. Will google translate be enough to accurately convey my research findings?
Overall, I’m very excited to learn more about and become a part of a community with so much potential for information sharing and collaboration.