Reflective Post 1

What the Digital Humanities Mean to me (and how I now see them in Everyday Life)

Since committing to this project for the summer, I knew I would be immersing myself in the world of the digital humanities, but I had little clue what that would actually mean. On the surface, the digital humanities appeared pretty straight forward to me; the combination of humanities based works and technology. This means that the subject matter could be based in subjective works (the arts, culture, history, etc.) but the resources or hosts for this research could be on digital platforms like websites or computer files. As a student who frequently studies subjects in the field of humanities, I was initially nervous to look into the digital humanities since I had a somewhat low knowledge of technology.

On the first day, there was a mix of excitement and nervousness because I was eager to learn new things but also anxious to hear about the new resources I would be using. By the time we got to discussing deliverables and timelines, there was a lot to consider in terms of what I would need and by when I would need it. When using the digital humanities, I had to consider what milestones my research would need to reach but also determine the right point to get started on my digital resources (like a timeline or web platform). While the unknown was anxiety inducing (as it often times is), I consistently reminded myself that I will eventually learn to use what I need.

As the week progressed, I found myself being able to identify pieces of the digital humanities in my everyday life. The most obvious examples of this came from our workshop sessions. Working with the school’s special collections meant that we had access to pieces of history. As part of this fellowship, we are looking at the collection from Albert Chance during World War II. While serving overseas, he actively kept a journal, wrote letters, and took pictures. It was fascinating to begin looking at the materials he kept during his time in the war. Since Special Collections has begun to digitize the collection, we learned that the pieces of this collection were considered to be “data” and therefore the information behind the pieces (e.g.: the date the photo was taken or the writer of the letter) was considered “metadata”. While we were logging the metadata of these pieces into an exhibit software, I thought it was interesting that we were adapting this personal account into a technological field. In one way it felt like my first true experience practicing with the digital humanities, and in another way I felt like some futuristic museum worker, like if Indiana Jones was a time traveller.

(I couldn't get the rights to an Indiana Jones picture so just imagine that there is one right here. If you want to take a look at Indiana Jones, check this out here:

Speaking of copyright, I was shocked to learn that there were also legal factors to consider in this work. Copyright is a significant aspect in the world of the digital humanities, but in a way is also a perfect example of it in action. When thinking about the digital humanities, my main impression of the topic means humanities based topics displayed on a digital platform. In the context of copyright, the law as a means of study is considered the humanities, and therefore copyright issues fall under the topic of humanities. When we think about copyright, it has been discussed that the use of the internet has significantly impacted how copyright works as opposed to an analogue setting. Now with the internet, it is much easier to copy and share these works without seeking the owner’s permission. While these shared works could still get taken down, they can be appealed under the fair use argument or licensed to be used. In either of these cases, proper copyright use can be dicey, as there is plenty of subjective judgement on the user’s part. This is a human issue, and therefore a humanities issue, and since it is on a digital platform, it is a perfect example of the digital humanities.

Ultimately, the digital humanities were not something that I have considered in my day to day life, but now I am able to notice it in my everyday actions, like when I look at images on blog posts or Youtube videos. I look forward to seeing how using it will help me on my journey with DSSF.

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