Why DH?

When the semester began, I wanted to explore the presence of othering in digital spaces; however, as the weeks pressed on, I realized that DH wasn’t exclusively about critiquing the works created or shared with digital tools, rather it was about analyzing how the tools, their construction, and their reception, influenced the language utilized by users concerning certain groups within culture, particularly in this case, American culture. As a result, my project first began with a simple need to analyze the existing cultural literature and discussions on digital platforms. Now, I want to learn how the presence of certain algorithms, like the filter bubble, commonly applied on sites like Facebook and Google, affects the language individuals used towards those who they determine as “other.” To answer this week’s prompt directly, this topic and research grows out of an interest to expand DH practices outside of the university’s walls in an attempt to study humanity and the languages it uses on new digital spaces.
By using tools like AntWord Profiler (Diction didn’t download properly on my computer…such a bummer), I plan to compile extensive data that demonstrate the othering language that occurs on political SNS during presidential elections. In his book Digitized Lives, TV Reed introduces the debate of technological determinism, or the question of what exerts more influence on the other: culture or technology? Most of the readings we’ve engaged with thus far has been limited to the classroom or, in considering a wider scope, academia and how students and scholars alike would ultimately benefit from the increased presence of technology in their works. And while this proves beneficial in its own ways, we’ve rarely read works that address the non-academic side of the argument–the side that looks at how technology, and the making of technology, influences the lives outside of the university. Crediting this project as DH matters as it extends the theories, pedagogies, and philosophies outside of the humanities building on the college campus and uses the developing methodology to explore the ways in which our students communicate with each other in specific contexts once they graduate. While it doesn’t necessarily alter methodology, it provides a new environment to apply it to, as it moves from codex analysis, as we’ve seen in most literature and historical projects, to ones that occur on digital screens, giving DH scholars the opportunity to expand and refine existing methodology. What I’m hoping to deliver with this project is an example that DH tools and methods, though as initial as they may be, provide new ways for not only understanding and disseminating academic scholarship, but for also understanding the language practices of those we interact with everyday.

2 Comments

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  1. Lacy,
    I really love how you discuss why DH matters to your project, especially addressing the significant transformation and focus your project has taken. I especially like that you analyze the semester thus far, and argue that the considerations of DH makes you think ultimately about the public sphere. I hadn’t really considered how deeply embedded our scholarship was in pedagogy and academia until your discussion prompted an urge to look at our students lives OUTSIDE of how we interact with them, and instead focus on how they are interacting with each other. I am curious though about what readings in the course DID shape your adaptations of your final project? I agree that much of our reading was rooted in the academy, but I would also argue that many of the articles in the Debates in the Digital Humanities, particularly Tara McPherson’s “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?” or Dave Perry’s “The Digital Humanities or a Digital Humanism” would be scholarship that could largely contribute to your final project (Particularly Perry’s) because they consider us to look outside of the academy and especially to consider the cultural implications of DH and its focus. I think the revisions you’ve made really make your project a strong DH project because while you are using DH tools, you are still keeping the human central in your goals and conceptual framework. I’m really excited to hear your final proposal, and I would encourage you even when the semester is over to continue to look at this, because I think you’re onto something really great and important. Awesome job!
    Lucy

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  2. Lacy,

    Thank you so much for sharing your blog entry with us. It was very much a pleasure to get a sense of how your DH project has developed up to this point, and also, as Lucy pointed out, your project seems to really push towards more structural questions and interrogations. That being said, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of your distinction between “academic” and “non-academic” spaces. On the one hand, I absolutely understand where you’re coming from and why you’re making this distinction in the sense that students’ lives outside of the university are often elided from scholarly conversations. On the other hand, though, asking the sorts of structural questions you’re asking would entail that these spaces and more are encompassed by that larger structure of which your DH project is analyzing, no? Which is not say that you should not make the distinctions you’re making so much as you should perhaps articulate more in your proposal how and where these spaces diverge and converge in those larger structural questions. Also, oftentimes the sort of “othering” language that you discuss above gets deleted by users but is still taken up by other users. What role do you think this strange archive of retracted “othering” language should play in your overall DH project? Thanks again for sharing all of this. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!

    Mark

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