Introduction to Digital Humanities

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

What is and Why use Digital Humanities

Digital humanities is the studying of humanities through the use of computers and other digital sources. This definition of what the digital humanities is what leads one to the understanding of why study digital humanities. Many major points are brought up through the readings provided for this week. With both having a focus on how digital humanities is community based. Although the reading by Sample shows a division between the digital community as those who build the software and those who use and study it. The idea that digital communities do exist is a notion that solidifies the practice of using computers to aid in research as a legitimate educational source. However, it does pose some problems to the definition I synthesised. For Samples argument really simply is saying that the computer programming side is not part of digital humanities while the definition I gave has to include them as they make the digital part of the digital humanities.

Spiro further acknowledges this idea by speaking about the creation of a community set of values. In this it would appear Spiro is addressing the community as a whole, rather than one sect of the population. Although Spiro goes into how a code of ethics for digital humanities is not broad enough for what digital humanities covers, the argument presented seems to go against the real use of why to use digital humanities. Spiro’s thinking is that a set of values including things such as openness and being collegial would serve as base guidelines for the operation of the digital humanities community. However, in operating under a set of values such as this, it leaves much room for interpretation by different members of the community. The purpose of using digital humanities rather than conventional methods can really be isolated as a few key things. The use of digital technology allows for a wider array of information, ideas, methods to sort and analyse information. If the term values are used for this process then, why use digital humanities when everyone in the world could interpret what things such as being collegial or open differently? A code of ethics would seem more useful as with things such as the Hippocratic Oath or the Engineers Hippocratic Oath, both are uniform throughout the world. They have the simple idea of do no harm, yet medicinal and engineering practices around the world are still different, but all under an established uniform understandable guideline. Which allows a diverse set of views and beliefs to be used and shared, without as much of a possibility of misunderstanding due to different interpretations.

1 Comment

  1. Great Analysis on Spiro, I like how you brought up how depending on the field a general code of ethics may not be very clear.

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