Introduction to Digital Humanities

RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

Do we really still need libraries?

In today’s day and age, everything is being pushed more and more towards the digital. Generations before us had this thing called library, where they would go when they needed a question answered. That is not the case anymore. Now, anytime we have questions, we go right for our smart phone or computer and ask google. In the Jerome article, he states that it would be increasingly difficult to digitize all the documents and texts inside of the library. Although this may be true, we are constantly forced to adapt to the changing world around us. The digital humanities are leading us to a new way of overcoming obstacles. I believe that as a student, having this new sense of the digital humanities, is actually aiding us in our everyday lives. This also ties into the Amy Earhart article.

In the article, Earhart addresses the change in the digital. As a professor, she finds that this new turn towards a more digital life, is actually for the better. She states, “Lost or excluded texts began to be published on the net, some developed by scholars, others by fans, and still others by libraries and museums. I remember the possibilities that these materials offered for the literary scholar. I could create a website for students that linked the recovered e-text of Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig, period images of slaves, and the variety of African American cultural and historical documents found on the then-fledgling Schomburg Research Center website.” Now, looking at this quote, we can see the power of the digital. A professor is able to show their students texts and documents that they normally would not have access to.

The digital is becoming more and more dominant, and it is being shown everywhere, including on our campus. Take this class for example, I believe each and every one of our assignments have been done digitally. (That explains the class name Digital Humanities) Previously, students would come to class prepared with a notebook and pen, but now all we really need is our laptops and a full battery.

 

2 Comments

  1. I definitely agree with you that digitizing information has increased our range of knowledge. As you said, merely calling up Google allows us to easily obtain an answer ( perhaps the accuracy of the information should be contested, but that is a completely different story). Although many continue voting for paper releases as opposed to digitized releases, it is not a bad thing to have digitized releases, for the reasons Amy Earhart state. Lost text can be recovered and shared. Additionally, and I think she makes a good point, a race may preserve and control their own cultural materials.

    Perhaps the only point I have to contest (and it isn’t really an opposition) is the fact that laptops can successfully replace pen and paper. Although they are useful, there are some things that cannot be replaced digitally. Taking notes in class via pen and paper has been proven to increase memorization. I suppose you can just call this a cost/benefit sort of thing, weighing one against the other. One one hand, there is efficiency. On the other, ease of memorization.

    • I’d also like to add (adding to my initial post) that I do believe libraries are still necessary as, for me, books are still a better medium for me to study off of. I also tend to trust information obtained from books more so as they have undergone (usually) stringent editing and corrections.

      So to say, I believe there are benefits to both libraries and digitizing.

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