Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities

By Davis Broadwater, Tamillia Brown, Jacob Case, Diamond McNeill, and Whitney Rusk

What is Digital Humanities?

    Digital humanities is a field of study, research, teaching, and invention concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. (Wikipedia) It involves investigation, analysis, synthesis, and presentation of information in electronic form. It studies how these media affect the disciplines in which they are used, and what these disciplines have to contribute to our knowledge of computing. (mkirschenbaum) Digital humanities developed from a field called humanities computing and today digital humanities embrace a variety of topics ranging from ministering online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. (Wikipedia) Digital Humanities currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from the traditional humanities disciplines with tools provided by computing and digital publishing. (Wikipedia) Digital humanities is also involved in the creation of software, providing “environments and tools for producing, curating, and interacting with knowledge that is 'born digital' and lives in various digital contexts.” (Wikipedia) What this is saying is basically that digital humanities come into play and is used most when creating and designing software. It is a pretty broad topic that is used a lot, but people do not realize that they are using it when they do.

    Roberto Busa is a pioneer of the late 1940s. Digital humanities descends from Busa's work in the field of humanities computing, of computationally enabled “formal representations of the human record.” A project to create a standard encoding scheme for humanities electronic texts was established in 1987. The project was the “Text Encoding Initiative” which is the outstanding achievement of early humanities computing. The first full version of the TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) was published in May of 1994. The Women Writers Project, the Rossetti Archive, and the William Blake Archive are three centers in the United States of humanities computing where major digital text and image archives emerged. The text and images demonstrated the enlightenment and strength of text-encoding for literature.

    Digital humanities went from being called “humanities computing” to “digital humanities” in the early 2000's. John Unsworth and Ray Siemens were two editors of the monograph A Companion to Digital Humanities, who tried to prevent the digital humanities field from being looked at as mere digitization. The double meaning term created an overlap between fields like rhetoric and composition, which use “The methods of contemporary humanities in studying digital objects,” and digital humanities, which uses “digital technology in studying traditional humanities objects.

    The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is a federal granting agency for scholarships in the humanities. In 2006, it launched the Digital Humanities Initiative which made world wide use of the term “digital humanities” permanent in the United States. In 2008, the Digital Humanities Initiative was renamed Office of Digital Humanities. Digital humanities was never that big until it emerged at a 2009 MLA convention in Philadelphia. The convention was held for digital humanists to make some of the active and most visible contributions.

    There is an ongoing discussion about the evaluation of digital humanities work. Two programs are developing resources to help the producers and evaluators of digital humanities. These programs are Digital Humanities Now and the Journal of Digital Humanities. They are attempting to do this is by building a bibliography of existing statements and institutional policies in the Digital Humanities Zotero Group Library. They have a group membership open to the public encouraging them to add materials and citations to the library. There are people trying to help people understand what digital humanities is exactly and they are giving out scholarships to them for submitting information. This is good because even I did not understand what digital humanities was until now.

    Digital Humanities, an area of research, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities, has went through many changes over the years. It continues to improve over the years and will continue to do so for many more years to come.

Digital Humanities

    The humanities can be described as the study of the myriad ways in which people, from every period of history and from every corner of the globe, process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries. All interactive media—whether in art, entertainment, education, or research---are driven by computational processes. But it has become apparent that as interactive media have been rapidly growing in importance to the field of computer science; other disciplines in the arts and humanities are also developing new approaches to computational processes. In fact, interaction between media-focused computer science, the digital humanities and digital arts might have the potential to drive major progress in interactive media creation and understanding. Computer science, the digital humanities, and the digital arts are making important new connections--particularly around our changing view of computational processes as cultural objects, tools, and expressions.

    Digital technologies have the power to transform humanities research, making it easier and more efficient, enabling new ways of working, opening up new questions and creating new knowledge, or answering existing questions more fully and systematically. Among other things they provide
  • integrated and accessible collections of dispersed research materials
  • new ways of processing data, particularly large bodies of data
  • new ways of representing data
  • new connections between different types of data
  • new desktop working environments
  • support for collaboration, networking and community building
  • new forms of output and dissemination
        Doing digital humanities does not necessarily mean becoming a technology specialist, but it does entail gaining some idea of the relevant technologies and exchanging expertise with technologists. Exchange is the key term: the digital humanities are most successful where there is a two-way collaboration between scholars and technologists, not where either side is merely at the service of the other.

    The Digital Age to Age-Old Languages

        There are 6,909 known languages that are used today, with the combination of Africa and Asia containing 64.1% of them (Lewis). In order to better understand the human condition, especially when the majority of humans do not speak our native tongue or you or me, we must first better understand how our fellow humans use language to communicate. With the ever increasing computational abilities of our common desktop to large supercomputing cluster, as well as an expanding internet, it is extremely beneficial to leverage these computing resources to better understand linguistics as well as share information among everyone, of all languages, via the vast and open web.

        Of course the age of networks of more networks has allowed us to get more in tune with tunes from around the world, or view our favorite videos, as well as share our own media to the billions of people on our planet. Before we could share any of that over the internet, or even before we had internet, computers have allowed us to type documents and put our thoughts to digital paper for decades. We can now publish papers faster without needing to rewrite an entire page because of a few grammatical errors, and we can now distribute them much more easily, whether it be over the internet, portable storage, or even projected to a screen in front of hundreds. Today we can access all of our news online: CNN, NBC, Fox, and even smaller journalists and writers can get their information and stories out. Today we don’t even need to rely only on reading text, but rather live coverage of news via video from around the world to anywhere in the world.

        If a research scientist in Russia conducts research and publishes the results in a Russian scientific journal, and you hear about it and are interested in it, how can you read and understand their research if you don’t read Russian? Well, tradition says that you have to get a translator, learn Russian, or try and find a version already translated to English. However, today there is another option: Translation software. Take a look at things like Google Translate, Bing Translator, or even find software you can run on your desktop. They all allow the translation between vast numbers of languages. Now knowledge is available on a global scale to everyone whom has a computer (and maybe an internet connection). On sites like YouTube and others we can watch tutorial on just about anything: A new language, programming and computer hardware, movies and shows from other countries. We can indulge in the arts of thousands of cultures of people speaking thousands of different languages around the globe.

        Another promising use of the fusion of language and software is voice commands. To users with disabilities, voice commands for various systems would make life much easier and manageable for someone that can’t walk, or even use their arms. Being able to sit down at your computer and talk to other people half way across the world is now easier than ever for disabled individuals. Microsoft Windows now comes with voice recognition software for speaking commands and for speech to text, allowing you to write entire documents by simply talking to your computer. Understanding language and using that understanding to help people control their technology is one of the next steps for technology.

        The digital age affects humanities in many ways, but the thing that almost all people share is that they speak some sort of language. Studies of language in the digital humanities can help people of different tongues communicate and share ideas, allow people to interface with technology with language, and allow people to share their ideas across the globe.

    Animation Improving Humanity

        Animation has played a large role in the entertainment for the people of the world. Before the introduction of computer animation it had to be traditionally done by hand. In order to see the progression of Computer animation as a humanity we most first look at the methods used in order to animate and object. The process that was involved in old traditional animation would first require the animator to construct a story board. The story board is essentially a giant comic strip this allowed for the animating team to plan the flow of the plot. This could be done many times for the final approval. The next process back in the day involved creating a voice recording however with the lack of technology they would often have to wait tell the film was done and watch it to sync the voices and sounds with each other. The third process is animatic which is made after the soundtrack is created but is not the full animation. They tend to synch the pictures to the sound track this allows for the team to work out any script and timing issues that currently exist in the storyboard. After everything has been synchronized together and everything is perfect the director will approve it moving the process to Design and Timing. Design and timing involves in the Character designers to make character model sheets for all of the important characters and the props that will be used. The sheet will look at the props and characters at many different angles and with many different expressions. In the times before computers were used in animation sometimes maquettes may be produced to give the animator a three dimensional few of the character. Now with the use of computers this process can be made much easier and more efficiently saving the animator time. An exposure sheet would be made that would reveal what lip movements would be used for the characters but once again the computer has improved this entire process by being able to record the voice actors and animate over their mannerisms. Currently in today's time instead of using paper to do this entire process the animation team is able to use tablets. This saves the team money and time as it allows them to work in a much faster pace and to be much more accurate with the animations, also they do not have to spend money on paper. Not only does tablet animation allow for this but it also allows the animator to control the size of the drawing and the ability to draw directly onto a layout eliminating the need for photographing and scanning. Although computer animation has taken over the traditional way to animate this forum of animation is still completely different then 3D computer animation. Many of the cartoons seen today and anime is done by the above process. 3D computer animation uses a three-dimensional representation of geometric data and is stored into the computer for the purpose of calculating and rendering 2D images. These images can be stored to view later or in real time. 3D computer animation relies heavily on the same algorithms as 2D computer vector graphs in the wire frame model and 2D raster graphics. 2D techniques may sometime use the same ones done by 3D in order to achieve proper lighting. 3D graphics are usually referred to as models. The model is then stored within the graphical data file. This has been extremely helpful in the entertainment industry as Disney uses 3D computer animating for the majority of their current films that come out. The process makes everything look more crisp than what the traditional methods do. Without the use of computers then we would still be stuck today with old style cartoons and movies and would not have the amazing movies Disney has brought out such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Computers have revolutionized the way we look at movies and how they are made.

    Digital Humanities and Its Effect on Art

        Art has been used throughout history to show what an individual felt at the time. It has been used to show past events to people of the future so the same mistake would not happen again. Art can move a person to tears. People have been affected by art since the beginning of time. People understand the importance of expression and feel the need to preserve it. In today's day and age, even though technology has taken over it has been able to move art onto the next level.

        Art is a broad term to discuss in its entirety. In this section, we will be exploring art being digitized as well as its effects. When people think of art they think of paintings, drawings, and sculptures. This answer is partly correct. In today's society, art is described as any form of expression that shows any particular idea. With that new definition, people wonder how art in its entirety can be digitized. There are different ways that art has been moved to the digital world.

        As it was mentioned before, people have been involved with art for a long time. The problem with any form of art is that it tends to fade as time goes on. Technology has put a halt, or at least slowed down, the test of time by putting everything at the bit level. This means that works of art are being coded and stored on special hard drives. Art is being scanned in different ways to be stored and be seen on a monitor. There are people that also use this method to create a database of old works of art. Google is currently working on a database that houses every book ever written. The same thing is being made for performances only it is stored on video files. This is beneficial since hardware can store so much information and it also takes less space to store it. The drawback to using technology for storage on a huge scale is the amount of money that will need to be paid to keep the systems from overheating. Another problem with storing them this way is the potential of being hacked. Since the information is now digital, hackers can steal, delete, or alter the information stored on the files. Though there have been measures to prevent this, there are still people that can crack even the toughest of security codes. This can also be pared with the money problem since funding has to be able to keep cyber security going.

        Other than using technology to store art, it has also been used to create it. This is especially true for music. Music used to be created only using the voice and various instruments. It is still created in the same way but more and more musicians are turning to computers to create it for them. For the voice, if a person cannot sing a certain note then the process of auto-tuning is used to make it sound better. In the old days people like Mozart wrote pieces by hand. After that they would hand it to instrumentalists to play. If it did not sound right to the writer, they would take it back and write it over again. Today, there are music writing programs that can read what music you wrote and play it back to you in whatever instrument you would like. This saves a lot of time, making new songs to become available faster. That is not the only thing that technology has changed. Creating masterpieces can be done at a click of a button. With a computer, a person can create 2D and 3D art without having to buy supplies at the local art shop. The problem with this new wave of art is that it takes credibility away from people that do it for a living. An artist that spends time making a piece can easily make less than someone making a piece in an hour on a computer. Traditional musicians are going out of business because more music has no need for them. This is what is adding to the unemployment rates.

        There are obviously positive and negative points to every side about technology and the arts. Think carefully about what you have learned from this section. Should the arts continue to be digitized, why or why not? How can the situation with traditional artists be improved? What can be done differently about this digital humanity?

    Works Cited
    Digital Humanities lecture