Introduction to Digital Humanities

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

Is there an actual definition of the Digital Humanities? (9/7)

There isn’t really a concrete definition for Digital Humanities, but there multitudes of values attached to the phrase. When I think of Digital Humanities, I think of an abundance of technology used to help humans or society in general. Whether it be asking “Siri” to look up a question, Googling the answer to a problem, or using a GPS to navigate a location, technology is highly utilized in order to make life easier for humans.  In class, we spoke of algorithmic culture which is apart of the Digital Humanities. The algorithmic culture includes such things as receiving advertisements tailored to your interests or or having Netflix generate a section based on shows you watch. While I can’t disagree that it is helpful, I believe certain things make us dependent on technology. For example, college students now are more dependent than ever on using the internet to research items when instead they could walk down to the library and open a book. My hope would be that certain things that are easy to manually do aren’t over taken by technology and humans eventually forget how to do it themselves.

The two articles that we read had slightly different viewpoints on what the Digital Humanities are but both had the same overall concept.  The first article, “The Digital Humanities is not about Building it’s about Sharing” by Mark Sample stayed close to its title. Sample believed the in Digital Humanities, knowledge is not produced but instead is shared and reproduced. According to Sample, the Digital Humanities gives us endless possibilities since we are no longer bound to physical material such as books but now we have a whole other world at our hands. On the other hand, Lisa Spiro speaks of Digital Humanities as more of a community that needs to produce values. Similar to Mark Sample, Lisa believes that Digital Humanities should foster   conversation and knowledge. A quote from Spiro that I thought was interesting was, “Grounded in humanistic values but catalyzed by Internet values, the digital humanities seeks to push the humanities into new territory by promoting collaboration, openness, and experimentation.” I feel like this quote is the closest to summing up what Digital Humanities really is. Why Digital Humanities? Because we now have the power of technology at our hands to open new doors and together as a humanistic society, explore endless possibilities and opportunities. Some may argue that it is dangerous, while others may argue that it is necessary.

-Jillian S.


Picture Citation:

Dolom, Ram. “Students Should Embrace UCLA’s New Digital Humanities Minor.” Daily Bruin. Web. 7 Sept. 2015.


  1. I really enjoyed reading you blog post because it was similar to mine because I also stated how DH has not yet established its complete indenting yet dues to all the new things they are finding. So I thought ours were sort of similar and I also like how you talked about each article..

  2. This was a really interesting post. I liked how you tie in the concept of algorithmic culture into your post, but I think you need to make a bit more of a connection with the definition of digital humanities. Also, maybe if you clarify a bit as to what YOU think digital humanities is? You talk about Spiro and Sample, but I’d like to see your opinion on it since you seem to have really good insight.

  3. Similar to you, my blog post touched upon how digital humanities is defined as a concept worth sharing – and not so much building. This is evident through the “‘This Is Why We Fight’: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities” article, in which Spiro highly encouraged dialogue on the subject matter. Instead of creating and recreating the same coding, for example, it is easier to add to the content predecessors created versus recreating the same code. What I tried to do through my blog post – and apparently failed – it to draw an immediate connection with algorithms and “The Digital Humanities is not about Building it’s about Sharing” article by Mark Sample.

  4. I enjoyed your post because I also highlighted this line “Grounded in humanistic values but catalyzed by Internet values, the digital humanities seeks to push the humanities into new territory by promoting collaboration, openness, and experimentation.”

    I think the field of digital humanities has the potential to benefit societies because our lives seem to benefit a lot from innovation and technology. I am excited to see the amount of positive impacts the digital humanities can bring to our daily routines.

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