Burdick et al. (2012) Digital_Humanities

This book is to Digital Humanities as Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media is to new media.


We are living in a time of transformation and revolution. Just as the printing press permanently altered the world view of early modern Europeans, our cultural materials are migrating to digital media, thus changing the way we function in society.   This moment is “a fundamental shift in the perception of the core creative activities of being human”  and so humanities questions and problems are more important to understanding society and culture than ever.  This book asks: “what it means to be a human being in the networked information age.”

Chapter 1 – Humanities to Digital Humanities

What is the Digital Humanities?  Digital Humanities is a new mode of scholarship that has developed out of our modern computer networked culture.  It responds to traditional humanities inquiries with collaborative projects, digital/transmedia forms of argumentation (instead of monographs), and broad dissemination.  Digital Humanities challenges the primacy of text and respond with graphical and transmedia tools, environments and platforms.

This chapter traces a history of the Humanities as a discipline and highlights how computational methods have been applied to these studies since the 1940s.  Late 1990s the discipline shifted to projects that focused on making “cultural legacy available to broad publics for a wide range of purposes.”


re-read this part (pgs 18-19)

“Generative Humanities” Approach

Research is becoming more collaborative and generative as digital technologies shape the discipline.  “Generative Humanities” is a cyclical process involving rapid prototypes, testing and iterative versioning.   The authors explain it as “a mode of practice that depends on rapid cycles of prototyping and testing, a willingness to embrace productive failure, and the realization that “solutions” …will spawn new “problems””.  In other words, there is never a final product because the cycle of improvement never ends.

Chapter 2 – Emerging Methods and Genres

This chapter provides an overview of the different knowledge models emerging in the Digital Humanities.

**Enhanced Critical Curation – Collection-building and curation require “informed critical judgements regarding the relationship between originals and copies, the greater or lesser authority of a given object or set of objects, and the work’s meaning [.  These] all become far more significant that the mere fact of accumulation” (33).  “Curation refers to a wide rage of practices of organizing and re=presenting the cultural record of humankind in order to create value, impact, and quality” (34).

Augmented Editions and Fluid Textuality (Phil’s Project)- Critical editions, migrating texts to digital environments, new modes of content and rhetoric applied to traditional texts

Scale: The Law of Large Numbers – We are producing data so fast that we can’t possibly store it all, much less catalog, analyze and archive it in meaningful ways. (ex. emails, tweets, websites etc.)  This method rests on the premise that the larger the data sets analyzed, the more statistically reliable the conclusions.  Ti involves the development of new tools to parse and asses large volumes of data.

Distant/Close, Macro/Micro, Surface/Depth – Distant reading ignores the specifics of texts and looks for overall patterns and trends gleaned from large volumes of text.

Cultural Analytics, Aggregation, and Data-mining

Visualization and Data Design

Locative investigation and Thick Mapping  –

**The Animated Archive –  Instead of items dying in dusty archives, these projects animate them and provide greater access to the cultural record and news ways of experiencing them.  Often involves collaboration between scholars and citizens to “establish new models of imagination, quality and rigor” (49).  research emphasizes the creation, preservation, and interpretation of the cultural record.

Distributed Knowledge Production and Performative Access – working on teams, crowd-sourcing.

**Humanities Gaming – Games for change and educational gaming as highly engaging forms of immersion and simulation.  Games are “exploring interactive models for learning and ways of critically grappling with the human experience” (52).  Case study – Virtual reconstruction of an Afghan refugee camp (68-69).

Code, Software, and Platform Studies

Database Documentaries

Repurposable Content and Remix of Culture

Pervasive Infrastructure

Ubiquitous Scholarship

Projects are the basic units for Digital Humanities scholarship.

Chapter 3 – The Social Life of the Digital Humanities


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