This week we have been diving into the Debates in Digital Humanities reader edited by Matthew K. Gold. This is a relatively new reader, being released only last year. However, Digital Humanities itself is a growing field so one can expect more and more edited collections of work on the topic will be released. By the end of this blog post I want YOU to be, at the very least, interested in looking up what the field of Digital Humanities is.
Also side note, I think the cover picture is pretty cool looking:
Moving forward, I wanted to take some time to discuss a thought that I had while reading an article in this collection. Matthew Kirschenbaum contributed to the reader his writing, “What is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” This article was also selected as the first work in the reader. I believe this to be done strategically. Kirschenbaum’s work provided a great introductory overview of what digital humanities is and how we can learn, explore, and interact in this very diverse interdisciplinary field. At one point in his article, Kirschenbaum just finished describing how the social networking tool, Twitter, was being used heavily during conferences to convey updates and overviews efficiently. Kirschenbaum stated, “Twitter, along with blogs and other online outlets, has inscribed the digital humanities as a network topology, that is to say lines drawn by aggregates of affinities, formally and functionally manifest in who follows whom, who friends whom, who tweets whom, and who links to what (8).” This statement lead me to think about how I intake my own knowledge outside of traditional print sources. One of the most interesting and exciting online outlets I read and immediately came to mind is a website- http://www.reddit.com
I find that some of my friends or people I meet have never heard of “Reddit.” Reddit is a website that is for the most part the hub of information for Western Society and in many ways represents visual culture in the Western World. I have posted a video below that does a great job of explaining what Reddit is exactly and how it functions (which is all based on ingenious algorithms). Please take a few minutes to watch it even if you already know what Reddit is:
Reddit is a perfect example of what Kirschenbaum’s above statement embodies. It is a place for shared voting on the validity and “interesting-ness” of information in digital format. Reddit is no small source either. According to the website statistic source, Alexa.com, Reddit is globally the 107th most visited site in the world. Also check out these stats according to Reddit themselves:
Without a doubt Reddit is a powerful force for (at the very least) filtering content. Anything and everything is on Reddit, even digital humanities related subreddits:
http://www.reddit.com/r/historyporn (vast collection of historical photos)
While browsing those subreddits in preparing to write this blog I even found links to digital humanities tools that were similar to the ones mentioned by Kirschenbaum (“we might use text analysis tool named Voyeur… (4)”). Here is a link to the tool: http://wordseer.berkeley.edu/ and here is an amazing video of the tool in action on works of Shakespeare:
I truly believe the implications for this site are yet to be known but be sure Reddit will only continue to grow. I really believe that someone could write a dissertation based solely on the phenomenon that is Reddit. I would even go so far to say that after reading Kirschenbaum’s article I think Reddit could be consider both an online outlet and a digital humanities tool. I wonder how many “upvotes” Brian Croxall’s paper “The Absent Presense: Today’s Faculty” (which he notoriously blogged and had read in absentia at the MLA conference-pg. 8) would have got if he posted it on Reddit.com. I digress. Reddit has been wonderful find for me. As I read more about the disciplines of Visual Culture and Digital Humanities, Reddit only becomes more important to me. I hope you will check it out and consider the implications behind sites like this.
Upon finishing the article I felt excited to know that if we utilized computers to teach and interact with information then we are a part of the digital humanities revolution. I am excited for the future of this field. Why am I excited you ask? Well just take a look at the Debates in Digital Humanities book’s website:
You can find out all sorts of information about the authors and contributors. You can ask questions and contact people as well. But the “crème de la crème” of this book’s website is the interactive full length articles. You can read the entire book online. But wait there’s more! If you find a passage you think is interesting you can mark or add a comment to it! It’s like group highlighting. Just imagine the possibilities for education if every book we read had an accompanying website like this.
That is DIGITAL HUMANITIES!!! Are you interested yet?