Electronic Collaboration in the Humanities: Issues and Options

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An accessible, free example of an online textual analysis program is Voyant Tools , [47] which only requires the user to copy and paste either a body of text or a URL and then click the 'reveal' button to run the program. There is also an online list [48] of online or downloadable Digital Humanities tools that are largely free, aimed toward helping students and others who lack access to funding or institutional servers.

Free, open source web publishing platforms like WordPress and Omeka are also popular tools. Digital humanities projects are more likely than traditional humanities work to involve a team or a lab, which may be composed of faculty, staff, graduate or undergraduate students, information technology specialists, and partners in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. Credit and authorship are often given to multiple people to reflect this collaborative nature, which is different from the sole authorship model in the traditional humanities and more like the natural sciences.

There are thousands of digital humanities projects, ranging from small-scale ones with limited or no funding to large-scale ones with multi-year financial support. Some are continually updated while others may not be due to loss of support or interest, though they may still remain online in either a beta version or a finished form. The following are a few examples of the variety of projects in the field: [49]. The Women Writers Project begun in is a long-term research project to make pre-Victorian women writers more accessible through an electronic collection of rare texts.

The Walt Whitman Archive [50] begun in the s sought to create a hypertext and scholarly edition of Whitman 's works and now includes photographs, sounds, and the only comprehensive current bibliography of Whitman criticism. The Emily Dickinson Archive begun in [51] is a collection of high-resolution images of Dickinson 's poetry manuscripts as well as a searchable lexicon of over 9, words that appear in the poems.

The Slave Societies Digital Archive [53] formerly Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies , directed by Jane Landers [54] and hosted at Vanderbilt University, preserves endangered ecclesiastical and secular documents related to Africans and African-descended peoples in slave societies. This Digital Archive currently holds , unique images, dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries, and documents the history of between 6 and 8 million individuals.

They are the most extensive serial records for the history of Africans in the Atlantic World and also include valuable information on the indigenous, European, and Asian populations who lived alongside them. The involvement of librarians and archivists plays an important part in digital humanities projects because of the recent expansion of their role so that it now covers digital curation , which is critical in the preservation, promotion, and access to digital collections, as well as the application of scholarly orientation to digital humanities projects.

The initiatives at the National Autonomous University of Mexico is another example of a digital humanities project. These include the digitization of 17th-century manuscripts, an electronic corpus of Mexican history from the 16th to 19th century, and the visualization of pre-Hispanic archaeological sites in 3-D. The lab has been using methods from the field of computer science called Computer Vision many types of both historical and contemporary visual media—for example, all covers of Time magazine published between and , [58] 20, historical art photographs from the collection in Museum of Modern Art MoMA in New York, [59] one million pages from Manga books, [60] and 16 million images shared on Instagram in 17 global cities.

Cultural Analytics research is also addressing a number of theoretical questions. How can we "observe" giant cultural universes of both user-generated and professional media content created today, without reducing them to averages, outliers, or pre-existing categories? How can work with large cultural data help us question our stereotypes and assumptions about cultures? What new theoretical cultural concepts and models are required for studying global digital culture with its new mega-scale, speed, and connectivity?

The term "cultural analytics" or "culture analytics" is now used by many other researchers, as exemplified by two academic symposiums, [62] a four-month long research program at UCLA that brought together leading researchers from university and industry labs, [63] an academic peer-review Journal of Cultural Analytics: CA established in , [64] and academic job listings. WordHoard begun in is a free application that enables scholarly but non-technical users to read and analyze, in new ways, deeply-tagged texts, including the canon of Early Greek epic, Chaucer , Shakespeare , and Spenser.

The Republic of Letters begun in [65] seeks to visualize the social network of Enlightenment writers through an interactive map and visualization tools. Network analysis and data visualization is also used for reflections on the field itself — researchers may produce network maps of social media interactions or infographics from data on digital humanities scholars and projects.


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Culturomics is a form of computational lexicology that studies human behavior and cultural trends through the quantitative analysis of digitized texts. A study [40] published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America compared the trajectory of n-grams over time in both digitised books from the Science article [70] with those found in a large corpus of regional newspapers from the United Kingdom over the course of years.

The study further went on to use more advanced Natural language processing techniques to discover macroscopic trends in history and culture, including gender bias, geographical focus, technology, and politics, along with accurate dates for specific events. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy begun in is a dynamic reference work of terms, concepts, and people from philosophy maintained by scholars in the field. MLA Commons [71] offers an open peer-review site where anyone can comment for their ongoing curated collection of teaching artifacts in Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments Some research institutions work with the Wikimedia Foundation or volunteers of the community, for example, to make freely licensed media files available via Wikimedia Commons or to link or load data sets with Wikidata.

Text analysis has been performed on the contribution history of articles on Wikipedia or its sister projects. Lauren F. Klein and Matthew K. Gold have identified a range of criticisms in the digital humanities field: "'a lack of attention to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality; a preference for research-driven projects over pedagogical ones; an absence of political commitment; an inadequate level of diversity among its practitioners; an inability to address texts under copyright; and an institutional concentration in well-funded research universities".

This is also to foreground the importance of the politics and norms that are embedded in digital technology, algorithms and software. We need to explore how to negotiate between close and distant readings of texts and how micro-analysis and macro-analysis can be usefully reconciled in humanist work. How is knowledge transformed when mediated through code and software? What are the critical approaches to Big Data, visualization, digital methods, etc.? How does computation create new disciplinary boundaries and gate-keeping functions?

What are the new hegemonic representations of the digital — 'geons', 'pixels', 'waves', visualization, visual rhetorics, etc.? How do media changes create epistemic changes, and how can we look behind the 'screen essentialism' of computational interfaces? Here we might also reflect on the way in which the practice of making-visible also entails the making-invisible — computation involves making choices about what is to be captured.

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Klein and Gold note that many appearances of the digital humanities in public media are often in a critical fashion. Armand Leroi, writing in The New York Times , discusses the contrast between the algorithmic analysis of themes in literary texts and the work of Harold Bloom, who qualitatively and phenomenologically analyzes the themes of literature over time. Leroi questions whether or not the digital humanities can provide a truly robust analysis of literature and social phenomenon or offer a novel alternative perspective on them.

The literary theorist Stanley Fish claims that the digital humanities pursue a revolutionary agenda and thereby undermine the conventional standards of "pre-eminence, authority and disciplinary power. Its distinctive contributions do not obliterate the insights of the past, but add and supplement the humanities' long-standing commitment to scholarly interpretation, informed research, structured argument, and dialogue within communities of practice".

Some have hailed the digital humanities as a solution to the apparent problems within the humanities, namely a decline in funding, a repeat of debates, and a fading set of theoretical claims and methodological arguments.

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Burdened with the problems of novelty, the digital humanities is discussed as either a revolutionary alternative to the humanities as it is usually conceived or as simply new wine in old bottles. Kirsch believes that digital humanities practitioners suffer from problems of being marketers rather than scholars, who attest to the grand capacity of their research more than actually performing new analysis and when they do so, only performing trivial parlor tricks of research.


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This form of criticism has been repeated by others, such as in Carl Staumshein, writing in Inside Higher Education , who calls it a "Digital Humanities Bubble". There has also been critique of the use of digital humanities tools by scholars who do not fully understand what happens to the data they input and place too much trust in the "black box" of software that cannot be sufficiently examined for errors.

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Tara McPherson attributes some of the lack of racial diversity in digital humanities to the modality of UNIX and computers themselves. Amy E. Earhart criticizes what has become the new digital humanities "canon" in the shift from websites using simple HTML to the usage of the TEI and visuals in textual recovery projects.

According to Earhart, there is a "need to examine the canon that we, as digital humanists, are constructing, a canon that skews toward traditional texts and excludes crucial work by women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

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Practitioners in digital humanities are also failing to meet the needs of users with disabilities. George H. Williams argues that universal design is imperative for practitioners to increase usability because "many of the otherwise most valuable digital resources are useless for people who are—for example—deaf or hard of hearing, as well as for people who are blind, have low vision, or have difficulty distinguishing particular colors. Digital humanities have been criticized for not only ignoring traditional questions of lineage and history in the humanities, but lacking the fundamental cultural criticism that defines the humanities.

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However, it remains to be seen whether or not the humanities have to be tied to cultural criticism, per se, in order to be the humanities. As the field matures, there has been a recognition that the standard model of academic peer-review of work may not be adequate for digital humanities projects, which often involve website components, databases, and other non-print objects.

Evaluation of quality and impact thus require a combination of old and new methods of peer review. This accepts non-traditional submissions, especially mid-stage digital projects, and provides an innovative model of peer review more suited for the multimedia, transdisciplinary, and milestone-driven nature of Digital Humanities projects.

Other professional humanities organizations, such as the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association , have developed guidelines for evaluating academic digital scholarship.

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The edition of Debates in the Digital Humanities recognized the fact that pedagogy was the "neglected 'stepchild' of DH" and included an entire section on teaching the digital humanities. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved December 26, Archived from the original PDF on Retrieved Digital Humanities in Practice. Facet Publishing. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December UK: Polity. Digital Humanities Quarterly. Companion to Digital Humanities.


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Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell. Historical Social Research. Cambridge: Polity. University of Calgary, McGann ed. Critical Inquiry. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Culture Machine. Archived from the original on ADE Bulletin Northwestern University Library. Archived from the original on 19 September Retrieved 19 September Collaborative Research in the Digital Humanities. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate. Retrieved 25 January National Endowment for the Humanities.

Archived from the original on September 26, Retrieved May 1, Digging into Data. Archived from the original on May 17, January 3, The New York Times. New York.

Electronic collaboration in the humanities : issues and options

Council on Library and Information Resources. De; Mosdell, N. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Liu, and H. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. Learn how to determine if a book is rare. Wondering how to take care of the leather books in your collection?

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