Introduction to Digital Humanities

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

Why all data has to be capta

In the article by Drucker, she expresses how in the humanities all data gathered is capta. Or rather as she puts it data that is construed and sort out for a purpose. That by seeking answers using data in the humanities, one automatically construes the information to essentially fit the model. She goes on to express how this needs to be clearly identified to show “ambiguity and complexity”. This is where I find an issue with the argument. Although I would submit that there is often a potential for more exogenous factors that effect data sets in the humanities than in other disciplines, all data intrinsically has the same basic problem of being sought rather than gathered. This is in contrast to the authors belief, but in reality, in order for data to be gathered, it needs to be wanted. A great example of this can be found when looking at social media companies gathering data on its users. All free to use social media companies, gather specific information from their clients in order to sell to third parties in order to gain revenue. In that they are separating the population, much in the same way humanitarians do, in order to market and sell the most pertinent information that they can. However, the same problems arise in this sorting as exist in humanitarian work, thus I see defining capta as a separate entity unneeded artificial separation of disciplines. To add one closing thought, earlier in the semester, this class spoke about a software that was used by a company to distinguish faces, and it did not recognise black people, this was not the fault of the software, rather it was the way in which it was programmed. The same issues that exist in data gathering are uniform.

1 Comment

  1. I enjoyed your post a lot because I also agree that capta and data share similar concepts. Data illustrates ideas in the field of natural sciences because it gives accurate visual information about scientific principles. Capta is similar in which that it is used to represent a unique dataset. Scholars use capta to select different information from various sources to establish a thematic dataset. This idea means that capta can be valuable in researching data to use in individuals’ researches and designs.

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