Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, October 28, 2010

what digital humanities is and isn't

On Twitter, Tim Carmody says that "Digital Humanities can be a methodology for doing history, but it can also be a methodology in other disciplines too." My first response was to say that DH is not a methodology but a set of questions and concerns in search of a method, but now that I've thought about it, I would revise that: DH is a set of tools which tends to generate certain questions, but neither the tools nor the questions have yet coalesced into a method.
If there is one overriding theme in the DH conversations I've seen, it's "What should we do with all these fabulous toys?" The answers to that question that I've seen are speculative and even tentative: I think DH is still waiting for someone (someones) to come along with really distinctive, powerful, and useful ways to slice and serve the data we now have available to us.
(By the way, Tim Carmody is one of the sharpest critics of and thinkers about the brave new world of DH, and someone needs to give him a job — or a fat book contract — so the rest of us can benefit further from a first-class mind.)


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