Digital Humanities: Week 2

William G. Thomas: “What we think we build


William G. Thomas, “What we think we build..”

From <>

  • In digital humanities, what we think we will build and what we build are often quite different.
  • When we produce a work of scholarship in whatever form, Jerome McGann reminds us that “to make anything is also to make a speculative foray into a concealed but wished for unknown.”
  • The work that we make, McGann tells us, “is not the achievement of one’s desire: it is the shadow of that desire.”
  • We have only a “glancing bird’s eye view.”
  • The distance between our wish and our object is often so great because the forms and practices and procedures of creation in the digital medium remain profoundly unstable and speculative.
  • McGann’s premise might be restated: if you have produced what you thought you would, perhaps you’ve not created anything really; if a digital project becomes what was specified it might not be a digital humanities work.
  • How does scholarly practice change with digital humanities?
    • Is an archive an argument? And a related question, where is our scholarship?
  • How do we work differently?
    • How do we work in teams of scholars in the humanities?
  • A third question we face in digital humanities right now concerns the form of born digital scholarship.
    • What does scholarly argument look like in digital form?

I was not aware of the unpredictability of a Digital Humanities project. This article fills me with motivation.

While working on the ‘Create Digital Humanities Project 2021 – 2022’, I felt that I was facing a dead end. I also felt like I was behind and lost. I expected the work to flow a certain way. However, the path to completion felt like it was constantly changing; similar to the movie ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’.

Now that I know how unpredictable a DH project can be, I can worry less when I feel like I have no idea what the final project is going to be.

Overall, I feel like this article acts as a stress reliever for me.

Trevor Owens: Please write it down


Trevor Owens, Please Write It Down

From <>

What kinds of writing should humanities scholars who design software and make things in code be doing?

  • Everybody working on a digital humanities project needs to be writing.
  • Purposeful design necessitates the creation of documentation at nearly every step.
  • To have made something interesting in code you probably went through a reflective process that inevitably created a wake of valuable texts that were central to both the creation of the argument the code made, and potentially the most viable communication of that argument.
  • At the end of a project, taking time to sit down and write out what you learned is an invaluable reflective practice.
  • Taking a few moments at the end of a project to reflect on what you wanted to accomplish, what actually happened, and what you learned from the process is critical not only for communicating results, but for really coming to know them.

With Design and Humanities Research We are Still Only Beginning

  • People who make stuff have to write a lot about what they are doing as part of the process of making stuff.
  • Instead of contriving wonky experimental designs, it would be better for researchers to adopt the role of designer and think through how formalizing the iterative practice of design could serve as a basis for research methods.
  • The idea behind design-based research is that there is some kind of hybrid form of doing, theorizing, building and iterating that we should turn into a methodology.

Before signing up for this internship, I was not aware that I would’ve needed to write this many reports.

Even though writing was considered as one of my best skills, I’ve been having writer’s block for about a year now. Knowing the number of reports and blogs I would need to write makes me feel overwhelmed. However, I think that forcing myself to write often would help me to get over this writer’s block.

I noticed that the more I write, the better I get. I can express my thoughts better. To me, this is a great improvement and accomplishment.

Using the advice provided by the article, while I’m working on the project, I will jot down my thoughts and feelings about what I’m doing.

Overall, I feel hopeful about improving my writing and getting over writer’s block.

Miriam Posner: “How’d they make that?”

Miriam Posner, “How did they make that?”

From <>

A Gallery of Primary Sources: Making the History of 1989

A Digital Scholarly Edition: The Willa Cather Archive

  • What it is
    • A carefully edited digital archive of the writings of Willa Cather, along with extensive scholarly essays, analysis, and multimedia galleries.
  • What you’d need to know:
    • TEI
    • XSLT / XML Publication System
  • Get started

*The article continues to list several more projects in this format*


Paige Morgan, “What do Digital Humanists Do?”

From <>

Digital Humanists do Digital Humanities

  • A Knowledge Site
    • A collection of primary (and/or secondary sources and resources for research and/or teaching.
    • Why?
      • To make a set of works in the public domain more accessible
      • To introduce a particular subject or specific angle to people who are unaware, and promoting it by making it more accessible for research.
      • To build up your reputation
      • To store them in a way that makes it easy to work with and/or find collaborators.
    • What’s involved?
      • Finding images or texts from the public domain that can be displayed for your target topic.
      • Cleaning and/or proofreading texts.
      • Determining standards for inclusion and methods for submission.
      • Uploading the texts.
      • Writing commentary instructions.
      • Publicizing the site.
      • Adding and removing objects from the site as necessary.
  • A Digital edition of a text, or texts
    • Placing a copy of a text, which does not have a digital version, on the web with permission.
    • Why?
      • To make texts widely available in an open and accessible format.
      • To have a specific concept for the edition you think will be particularly illuminating.
    • What’s involved?
      • Your edition can be simple, or much more complicated.
      • For a simple edition, your work is to make sure the text is 100% accurate and will display correctly for all users.
      • For a complex edition, you’ll need to encode the text so that it effectively describes the features that you want to focus on.

*The article continues to list several more projects in this format*

I decided to write one reflection for these two since they are so similar. At first. I struggled with writing the reflection on these articles because it didn’t seem like there was anything to reflect on. However, I noticed that there are many different types of projects and I realized that Digital Humanities is a diverse field of work. Digital Humanities can help us to achieve so many things; we just need to introduce it to more people and get them interested.

Also, there are multiple different tools that can be used to complete a project, and I feel like there is something for everyone to do.

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