The Key to this is Diversity: Digital Humanities

Today was the first day of a new quarter at DePaul for me. I’m taking two electives, both centered on digital humanities, one in theory (pray for me) and one in practice. I’ll post a lot about it for at least the next 10 weeks [fair warning].

I didn’t even know what digital humanities was when I registered for these courses, but I have used my time at DePaul to try to gain as many new skills as possible. See my design struggles. My interest in libraries and library science and other social sciences in general lead me to digital humanities.

I’ve since done some reading and learned that digital humanities is the study of the integration of digital tools into the humanities [I think]. How humanities professional use digital tools in order to research, collaborate, and publish. All I could think was… so COOL! I knew I was attracted to this course for a reason.

In a way, digital humanities is sort of subcategory to new media studies, which is just the study of the integration of digital tools into society as a whole. Not a far throw from the stuff I study regularly, so after a lot of initial trepidation, I’m ready to jump in head first.

The other thing I love about digital humanities is its interdisciplinary nature. I hate working and studying in homogeneous groups. That is boring! I expect that these classes will allow me to meet and share scholarship with students from all around the humanities. That makes for great discussions and debates and that is the key to this.

Drawing a Blank… I forget everything

So of course the week I volunteer to be one of the class discussion leaders I have nothing. The reading was not cool or interesting and I had the hardest time coming up with something dynamic to engage my class. Yay for me! The following is my attempt at questions to stimulate the discussion my class will have later:

Before reading this I had never thought of the computer as an encyclopedia, but now more than ever we turn to our computers whenever we have questions. Nine out of ten conversations I have with my mother at some point one of us says, “let’s just google it.” Our computers remember everything for us. I know only two phone numbers by heart, my mother’s and my grandmother’s. I have hundreds of numbers stored in my phone though. Not just phone numbers but email addresses and physical addresses as well. I don’t even try to remember things anymore. I just store them on my computer and go on with my day.

Do our computers allow us to forget everything?

In a different class we talked about the idea of trust. We just trust that our machines and networks will work properly although we don’t really understand how they work or know how to repair them if the malfunction. A primary example is an ATM. We simply trust that the ATM and its network will just know that we deposited $200 and our online bank account will reflect.

Do we trust these machines to remember forever?

We know these. They're all over campus. And when we see them we assume that when we use them they will work.

We know these. They’re all over campus. And when we see them we assume that when we use them they will work.

What happens on that God forsaken day when we wake up and the computers have decided to forget everything too?