My Experiences and Thoughts on the Digital Humanities
A blog I wrote for my master's program.
I have never been the most technologically literate individual, though I concede that it is imperative as an interdisciplinarian to engage with the digital humanities while nevertheless remaining critical of the discipline. To understand how I am able to create knowledge by using technology, I must adopt computational thinking. (Berry and Fagerjord) In my work as a content writer, I utilize search engine optimization (SEO) tools such as keywords and meta descriptions to not only effectively answer my targeted audiences' questions but to also provide them with innovative insights that reflect my credibility as an expert in that particular area. I am prioritizing relevance in public culture, and this demonstrates my adherence to algorithmic practices. (Berry and Fagerjord)
However, I have also encountered experiences that are comparable to the humanities in a digital context. One such example is the recorded interviews I conducted with unionized healthcare workers before they were due for collective bargaining with the objective of converting their responses into campaign materials that highlighted workplace issues impeding their ability to deliver quality care to their clients. I used shot listing techniques to produce a consistent and emotionally driven video narrative that focused not only on how those conflicts directly affect participating citizens in society but also on the workers' sincere bonds with their clients. Any unused dialogue was allocated to advertising messages, which involved specific graphic design choices and creative direction reinforcing a constant theme based on what I learned about the workers and their employer. Although I was isolating contexts and repurposing truths - with permission, of course - I nonetheless contributed to storytelling for a transformational movement in ways I would not have considered without the workers' accounts. (Rosenbloom 222)
Another instance in which I find myself amalgamating the humanities and digital technologies is the creation of video essays. I would write a paper that would normally be graded or peer-reviewed and conversationalize it for a wider audience on a video sharing network that enables commentary by supplying voiceover along with relevant assets such as music, sound effects, visuals, and/or animations depending on the subject being examined. In doing this, I am accommodating qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis because I broaden my scope beyond studying texts to include other media and fields. (Hayles 44) I also help to heighten discourse surrounding various works as I offer alternate perspectives or generate new questions for audiences to ponder in a more accessible and participatory fashion. (Hayles 46)
For all the opportunities digital technologies have given me, however, I cannot neglect my apprehension about the political and cultural responses toward content sharing. We live in an age where identities and information can be easily manipulated, decontextualized, or omitted altogether to push particular narratives intended to sway consumers toward ideological agendas as opposed to allowing independent thought. I agree with digital humanities professor Johanna Drucker (46) when she said that government regulation is essential to maintaining net neutrality, but that we are also responsible for upholding it as quotidian Internet users. The latter point especially resonates with me, and I aspire to educate those who engage with my content on why my online assertions should never be regarded as the ultimate truth and encourage them to frame counterarguments in a manner that does not alienate others, but rather is conducive to dialogic learning and development.
In closing, I would like to comment further on the lack of political attention surrounding dataism and artificial intelligence (AI). Not only are we in need of concrete mandates to protect the freedom of information, but we also do not even have the opportunity to vote on design choices that impact our privacy and free speech online. The justification is that digital advancements are happening too quickly for policy to keep up, (Harari) though I predict that, since political processes are what slow down movements and advocacies in the first place, cyber legislation will be taken more seriously as federal regulatory bodies should be capable of cooperating with the private sector on forming best practices that combat the aforementioned risks.
Berry, David, and Anders Fagerjord. "On The Way To Computational Thinking." Digital Humanities: Knowledge and Critique in a Digital Age. Polity Press, 2017.
Drucker, Johanna. “At The Intersection Of Computational Methods And The Traditional Humanities.” Digital Humanities and Digital Media: Conversations on Politics, Culture, Aesthetics, and Literacy, by Roberto Simanowski, 2016, p. 46
Harari, Yuval N. "The Data Religion." Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, HarperCollins, 2017.
Hayles, Katherine. “How We Think: Transforming Power And Digital Technologies.” Understanding Digital Humanities, edited by David M. Berry, SAGE, 2012, p. 44, 46
Rosenbloom, Paul. “Toward A Conceptual Framework For The Digital Humanities.” Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader, edited by Melissa Terras et al., Ashgate, 2016, p. 222