Week 3 Video Lecture — Digital Humanities

Digital humanities is such a broad topic that seems to encompass everything. From the video lecture, it is defined as the process of taking what we have in reality and turning it into information that the computer can understand and process. However, there exists so much information about human culture that it would be impossible to document every single piece of information. What do we do then? We would have to decide what we want to focus on.

How do we decide which information is relevant to a topic and which we can ignore? How do we decide how to divide this information?

This would depend on our goal for gathering and classifying this information and the topic that we are interested in discussing. Even now, as I type this post, I would have to decide what information to include based on my aim of writing this blog post.

What came across my mind was research. There is just too much information in the world that we do not understand, and thus we do research. However, research has to have a focus, a research question, a topic. As mentioned in the video, no computer can handle everything that exists in reality, so we as humans have to decide what is important enough to feed to the computer.

We would need a direction to begin the research with. The direction of the research would usually be led by the interests of the researcher, their opinions, their ideals, perhaps even their supervisor’s views as well. From here, the rest of the field of research in this area is ignored, in favour of focusing on what draws the attention of those involved in the research, because it is just not possible to include everything in one paper.

From there, the research would need to have a structure, and the information would have to be divided according to how the information should be presented to the readers. In other words, the information is divided for the sake of the readers, to make it easier for them to digest and to understand. For example, the rationale for the research, the process and methods, the findings, and the thoughts taken away from carrying out the research.

What are the implications of these decisions?

By taking liberties and classifying the information we want and those we ignore, there would definitely be implications.

Dividing the information would affect how they are perceived. Some things might be deemed more important or more worth looking at than others, by the readers, which would then shape the way they think about the topic.

Additionally, the way the information is interpreted by the researchers in order to be classified might not be what the original provider of the information had meant it to be, thus there is a risk of losing the original meaning.

Even with the immense advantages that digital humanities provides us, there are still some issues that have to be taken note of when we put it to use, in order to utilise the information to its full potential.