Evolution of Technology (TEC 154 2014S) : EBoards

TEC 154 2014S, Class 22: Digital Humanities (1)




Key Points Identified by DK

  1. Digital humanities is a concept about interdisciplinary solutions and methods to answering questions. (Typically, the questions are humanities-based at the start)

  2. It is encouraged to better use and borrow from a range of people.

    • Examples: Recaptcha, Civil War letter transcribing project
  3. Problems can arise in the difference of dialect, such as the scientific and literary method of essay writing.

  4. Franco Moretti is an important figure in the digital humanities.

  5. He mentions "distant" and close readings of material and situations

  6. Other methods to consider when using digital humanities include using statistical or information searching techniques, or increasing the scale of information put into a solution

Prof Lee hopes that digital humanities will move away from just "awesomeness" and become more utilized.

Key Points Identified by DP

  1. The humanities are one of the oldest fields of study, and we can use the digital humanities to bring this ancient field into the 21st century. The centuries old techniques may need to be adapted as they are not applicable in today's world. Additionally, the humanities must catch up with modern technology and ask where they fit in.

  2. We can ask the big questions about ethics and morals with quantitative tools through the use of digital humanities.

  3. At Grinnell there is a phenomenon of "reverse economies of scale" in which the small, porous environment allows cross-discipline communication and collaboration. This is fairly unique to Grinnell and would not occur at a larger research institution.

  4. The digital humanities open up a library of literary resources to the public that have never before been available. It also gives individuals access to more literature than they would be able to cover in a lifetime.

  5. There is great controversy among scholars about the application of the digital humanities. Some argue that it is a form of "selling out."

Digital Humanities: An Opportunity to Rethink Both Terms

An Overview of Digital Humanities

Three Important Aspects of the Digital Humanities

Intrinsically, one key issue is to make the work public.

Most digital projects are collaborative

There's also a lot of controversy about the work.

Franco Moretti and Stanford's Literary Lab


New Approaches

It's difficult to think about trends across time. What do 50K words look like to you, or words from 50K texts?


Could we apply this to the literature of a discipline, such as Psychology, and look for trends across time.

Certainly. Of course, one nice thing about literary texts is that they have structure. E.g., in plays, character names precede the line. For disciplines, an opportunity to see interesting clustering and relationships. For example, what are the common terms at various points? What if we look at history as a set of discourse, rather than as a series of events?

What are some of the statistical tools?

A basic tool is word count. For example, this word is most prevelant. But words matter in context. But the PCA is more common these days and transforms the words into some set of numbers. Want it to be a means to an end, rather than the end in itself. Statistics need to be woven in strategically.

What are the humanities?

Historically, they are a method. The oldest field of study. The art of rhetoric. Back to Aristotle. Everything derives from Aristotle's definition of rhetoric. Has branched off. At the most basic level, disciplines that focus on questions that are true to life. There are models that the STEM fields give us, but do they correspond to what we experience in life. Are there things that we can't account for in the theories and models of the STEM fields? The study of culture and language. How do we understand the experience of individuals. Reveal the processes by which we get to a truth. Don't just accept truths, but ask about their history. Issues that have happened over time.

How do we use the digital humanities to study non-literary artifacts? Such as visual images and sounds?

It's difficult. Right now, it's building an audience.

Comparing quantiative and NLP methods is interesting for finance.

Humans are irrational to a large extent. Language signifies something

Copyright (c) 2014 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

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